Category Archives: Electronic Resources

New lawyer directory: U.S. News Lawyer Directory powered by Best Lawyers

US News & World Report is partnering with Best Lawyers to release the U.S. News Lawyer Directory of lawyers who are working in private practice in the United States. The directory initially includes tens of thousands of lawyers, but eventually will cover more than 1.3 million private-practice lawyers in the United States, according to a press release. See the FAQ for details. — Joe

The No-Nonsense Guide to Born-Digital Content

From the blurb for The No-Nonsense Guide to Born-Digital Content (Facet Publishing, 2018) by Heather Ryan and Walker Sampson:

Libraries and archives of all sizes are collecting and managing an increasing proportion of digital content. Within this body of digital content is a growing pool of ‘born-digital’ content: content that has been created and has often existed solely in digital form. Providing continued, sustainable access to a wide array of born-digital content is a challenge for libraries and archives, particularly because of the broad and highly technical skills needed to build and sustain born-digital content management workflows.

The No-Nonsense Guide to Born Digital Content provides an entry level how-to guide that aims to help ease inexperienced students and practitioners into this area. It explains step by step processes for developing and implementing born-digital content workflows in library and archive settings of all sizes and includes a range of case studies collected from small, medium and large institutions internationally.

Coverages includes:

• the wide range of digital storage media and the various sources of born-digital content;

• an overview of digital information basics;

• selection, acquisition, accessioning, and ingest;

• description, preservation, and access;

• methods for designing and implementing workflows for born-digital collection processing;

• a comprehensive glossary of common technical terms; and

• strategies and philosophies to move forward as technologies change.

— Joe

Born digital only but not curated at BNA: Bloomberg BNA transforming its print and online topical news reporters into real time “news delivery portals”

On the Boston College law library blog, Mary Ann Neary reports that Bloomberg Law has notified BNA Premier subscribers that all print subscriptions will cease being published. She writes

Titles now available as electronic Resource Centers, such as Bankruptcy Law Resource Center, will cease publication and this content will be delivered via a “news delivery portal.”  Bloomberg presents this change as an  improvement due to news stories being published in real time with subscriber ability to customize e-mail alerts for user interests. What is apparently being lost in this transition is the added value of BNA’s content curation, namely its indexing features, such as searching by Hot Topics and filtering article searches to Key Features. Bankruptcy researchers depended on the ability to sort by industries and track these developments.

Neary also reports that the changes will be effective June 25, 2018, just in time for answering questions at AALL 2018 in July. Sounds to me like Bloomberg BNA is taking a step backwards in providing professional grade topical law resources. — Joe

Lawfare’s bibliography of DOJ pardon opinions potentially relevant to the Russia investigation

The scope of the annotated bibliography as explained by the compilers:

The Justice Department has issued many opinions about the president’s pardon power. In recent decades, the Office of Legal Counsel issued these opinions; in earlier years, the attorney general’s office did so. The opinions presumptively bind the executive branch. However, issues related to a pardon might be subject to judicial review by courts, which are not bound by executive branch interpretations of the pardon power.

In Part I below, we have collected and summarized the publicly available opinions most relevant to the Russia investigation. These opinions show that the executive branch interprets the president’s pardon power to be extraordinarily broad in ways that might become relevant to the Mueller investigation. After briefly describing these opinions and their relevance in Part I, we list in Part II all of the other published Justice Department pardon opinions, with links.

Recommended. — Joe

Homeland Security wants to create a comprehensive ‘media influencer’ database

HuffPost, Forbes and others reported last month that the Department of Homeland Security is seeking a contractor for a “media monitoring services” project. The job entails creating a searchable database that has the ability to track about 290,000 news sources, both foreign and domestic, according to the DHS’s statement of work. The successful contracting company will have “24/7 access to a password protected, media influencer database, including journalists, editors, correspondents, social media influencers, bloggers etc.” in order to “identify any and all media coverage related to the Department of Homeland Security or a particular event.” — Joe

Kyle Courtney and Harvard’s State Copyright Resource Center team win 2018 AALL Public Access to Government Information Award

Kudos to the award winners. From AALL’s press release:

Courtney and the State Copyright Resource Center Team at Harvard University have created an innovative website that helps users easily access information about the copyright status of their state’s legal information. By offering an easy to navigate, free to use digital resource, the State Copyright Resource Center website educates the public on copyright law and policy and provides advocacy tools for open access advocates and libraries.

Visit the State Copyright Resource Center at Harvard University here. Very helpful. — Joe

Facebook Launches Searchable Archive of U.S. Political Ads

The New York Times is reporting that yesterday Facebook launched an archive of U.S. political ads that appear on the world’s largest social network, showing who paid for them and other details. From the Facebook press release:

We believe that increased transparency will lead to increased accountability and responsibility over time – not just for Facebook but advertisers as well. We’re investing heavily in more people and better technology to proactively identify abuse. But if you see an ad which you believe has political content and isn’t labeled, please report it. Tap the three dots at the top right-hand corner of the ad, select “report,” and then “it refers to a political candidate or issue.” Facebook will review the ad, and if it falls under our Political Advertising policy, we’ll take it down and add it to the archive. The advertiser will then be banned from running ads with political content until they complete our authorization process. And we’ll follow up to let you know what happened to the ad you reported. This is the tool that makes it easier for you to find problems, which we want. We invite you to report any ad so we get better, faster.

Here’s the link to the Political Ads Archive (FB login required). — Joe

The Trump Twitter Archive

While approximately 4,000 tweets deleted prior to September 2016 will not be found in the Trump Twitter Archive, the Archive monitors Trump’s Twitter account in real time. — Joe

A best practices guide to integrating social science methodologies to improve corpus design and analysis

From James Cleith Phillips and Jesse Egbert’s Advancing Law and Corpus Linguistics: Importing Principles and Practices from Survey and Content-Analysis Methodologies to Improve Corpus Design and Analysis __ BYU Law Review __ (2017): “The nascent field of law and corpus linguistics has much to offer legal interpretation. But to do so it must more fully incorporate principles from survey and content analysis methodologies used in the social sciences. Importing such will provide greater rigor, transparency, reproducibility and accuracy in the important quest to determine the meaning of the law. This paper highlights some of those principles to provide a best-practices guide to those seeking to perform law and corpus linguistic analysis.” — Joe

Court ruling calls for partial reimbursement of PACER fees [text]

On March 31, 2018, Judge Huvelle, DDC, ruled that the Judicial Conference overcharged Pacer users. Here’s the text of the opinion. For a critique of the ruling, see Stephen Schultze, Judge Declares Some PACER Fees Illegal but Does Not Go Far Enough, Freedom to Tinker, April 1, 2018. Recommended. — Joe

Should we be concerned about data monopolies?

Should We Be Concerned About Data-Opolies?, Georgetown Law Technology Review (Forthcoming), by Maurice E. Stucke “explores some of the potential harms from data-opolies. Data-opolies, in contrast to the earlier monopolies, are unlikely to exercise their power by charging higher prices to consumers. But this does not mean they are harmless. Data-opolies can raise other significant concerns, including less privacy, degraded quality, a transfer of wealth from consumers to data-opolies, less innovation and dynamic disruption in markets in which they dominate, and political and social concerns. Data-opolies can also be more durable than some earlier monopolies. Moreover, data-opolies at times can more easily avoid antitrust scrutiny when they engage in anticompetitive tactics to attain or maintain their dominance.” — Joe

Historical Supreme Court cases now online thanks to Library of Congress (and Hein & Co.)

According to the press release, “More than 225 years of Supreme Court decisions acquired by the Library of Congress are now publicly available online – free to access in a page image format for the first time. The Library has made available more than 35,000 cases that were published in the printed bound editions of United States Reports. … The digital versions of the U.S. Reports in the new collection were acquired by the Law Library of Congress through a purchase agreement with William S. Hein & Co. Inc. The acquisition is part of the Law Library’s transition to a digital future and in support of its efforts to make historical U.S. public domain legal materials freely and easily available to Congress and the world.” You can access the collection here. — Joe

Susan Nevelow Mart’s Results may vary in legal research databases published in ABA Journal

“Call me naive,” wrote Bob Ambrogi about the conclusions reached by Susan Nevelow Mart in her excellent research found in The Algorithm as a Human Artifact: Implications for Legal {Re}Search, “but I would have thought that entering the identical search query on, say, both Westlaw and Lexis Advance would return fairly similar results.” I was somewhat shocked that Bob hadn’t realized what law librarians have known for 40 years, an insight made even more important since WEXIS implemented “black box” searching because it won’t release proprietary information about the construction of their search algorithms.

Perhaps the editors of the ABA Journal thought their readers might also be naive because the Journal published a summary of Nevelow Mart’s research results in the March issue. See Results may vary in legal research databases by Susan Nevelow Mart. Here’s a snip:

At first glance, the various legal research databases seem similar. For instance, they all promote their natural language searching, so when the keywords go into the search box, researchers expect relevant results. The lawyer would also expect the results to be somewhat similar no matter which legal database a lawyer uses. After all, the algorithms are all trying to solve the same problem: translating a specific query into relevant results.

The reality is much different. In a comparison of six legal databases—Casetext, Fastcase, Google Scholar, Lexis Advance, Ravel and Westlaw—when researchers entered the identical search in the same jurisdictional database of reported cases, there was hardly any overlap in the top 10 cases returned in the results. Only 7 percent of the cases were in all six databases, and 40 percent of the cases each database returned in the results set were unique to that database. It turns out that when you give six groups of humans the same problem to solve, the results are a testament to the variability of human problem-solving. If your starting point for research is a keyword search, the divergent results in each of these six databases will frame the rest of your research in a very different way.

Highly recommended. This ABAJ article should be assigned reading for law school students — all law school students, not just 1Ls taking their LRW courses. — Joe

Library of Congress publishes new digital scans of James Madison’s Notes on the Constitutional Convention

Don’t know how I missed this but here is the link to the new digital scans of James Madison’s Original Notes on Debates at the Federal Constitutional Convention, 1787, which Lynn Uzzell calls “exquisite” in her take on the new scans. — Joe

Pilot program will try to integrate SSRN and Bepress platforms

Last week, SSRN and Bepress announced a joint pilot to explore integration between their two platforms. The four-month pilot launches today with the participation of Columbia Law School’s Arthur W. Diamond Law Library and University of Georgia School of Law’s Library. From the Bepress press release:

Both bepress and SSRN are eager to explore potential solutions to the obstacles that professional schools and their libraries face in promoting their open access scholarship. The initial pilot offers one possible model for demonstrating the increased reach of legal scholarship when work is available through an open access repository as well as a specialized network of peers, by simplifying population of and aggregating research impact from both platforms.

Wait ‘n see. — Joe

Library of Congress makes historical versions of USC available online after buying them from Hein

More than 60 years of U.S. laws are now published online and accessible for free for the first time after being acquired through a purchase agreement with William S. Hein & Co, Inc. The Library has made available the main editions and supplements of the United States Code from 1925 through the 1988 edition here.

H/T to beSpacific. — Joe

Natural language processing and machine learning tools in HeinOnline

Check out Shannon Sabo’s two part series on HeinOnline’s implementation of natural language processing and AI: Part One and Part Two. — Joe

Inspector General reports from across the federal government now available on a single website

The Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency announced the official launch of Oversight.gov. This new website creates a single home for thousands of Inspector General reports from across the federal government.

H/T to Gary Price’s InfoDocket post. — Joe

Federal Courts Web Archive launched

From the announcement:

The Federal Courts Web Archive, recently launched by the Library of Congress Web Archiving Team and the Law Library of Congress, provides retrospective archival coverage of the websites of the federal judiciary. … These sites contain a wide variety of resources prepared by federal courts, such as: slip opinions, transcripts, dockets, court rules, calendars, announcements, judicial biographies, statistics, educational resources, and reference materials. The materials available on the federal court websites were created to support a diverse array of users and needs, including attorneys and their clients, pro se litigants seeking to represent themselves, jurors, visitors to the court, and community outreach programs.

This collection includes the websites of the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Courts of Appeals, U.S. District Courts, and U.S. Bankruptcy Courts. This collection also includes the sites of the federal judiciary’s specialty courts, including the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, U.S. Court of International Trade, U.S. Tax Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

H/T to Gary Price, InfoDocket. — Joe

Discover which corporations are the biggest regulatory violators in the US

From the press release:

An expansion of Violation Tracker, the first public database of corporate crime and misconduct in the United States, now makes it possible to access details of cases ranging from the big business scandals of the early 2000s during the Bush administration through those of the Trump administration to date. Violation Tracker, produced by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First, is available at no charge.

Violation Tracker’s entries, which come from more than 40 federal regulatory agencies and the major divisions of the U.S. Justice Department, cover a wide array of civil and criminal offenses, including: violations of environmental, workplace safety, drug safety, consumer product safety, and transportation safety regulations; banking, securities, and accounting fraud; price-fixing; collective bargaining and fair labor standards violations; employment discrimination; False Claims Act cases; foreign bribery; money laundering; and corporate tax evasion. Cases handled solely by individual U.S. Attorney offices and by state agencies will be added later.

H/T to Gary Price’s InfoDocket post. — Joe