Monday, June 2, 2014

Build Your Business Knowledge with CORe and the Harvard Business School

In the world of higher education, web-based learning is nothing new. Many institutions offer online degree programs in a variety of disciplines, and the world of MOOCs is growing by leaps and bounds, but, according to critics, online education has a long way to go. A standard model of online instruction that fully leverages the technology of our interconnected world, they argue, has yet to be fully realized. Even so, progress is steady and the pressure for schools to compete in the growing marketplace of online learning is undeniable. This competition will shape tomorrow's web-based content-delivery platforms and determine how the world will learn in the future. 

For its first foray into the online realm, Harvard Business School has created HBX, which uses a proprietary software platform to offer educational content over the Web. Beginning on June 11th, the first HBX program will launch. It's called CORe or Credential of Readiness and it's designed as a primer (especially for those with a liberal arts background) on the fundamentals of business. Three courses -- Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting -- will be offered, taught by HBS professors, for a fee of $1,500. The first enrollment period has already closed, but the program will be offered again. What a great credential to include on your resume! And for those who plan to hang out a shingle, what useful knowledge to apply as you build your practice. 

If you'd like to learn more about CORe and to be notified of the next enrollment period, register here.

And for the backstory, read about CORe and the development of HBX here: Business School, Disrupted

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Elizabethan Law Library

by Heather Kushnerick, Special Collections Librarian

      Finals have begun and, after three years of dedicated work, the end is in sight for the class of 2014. This year also marks the 450th birthday of William Shakespeare.  Granted, the two events don’t have much (or anything) in common, but it got me thinking: good ol’ Bill did write quite a bit about the law and lawyers; i.e. Measure for Measure, The Merchant of Venice, etc., so what would an Elizabethan lawyer’s library look like? Further, can I recreate it out of the library’s Special Collections Department? As it turns out the answers are: kind of small and yes.
     The legal history of England is long and complex. Picking a starting point is almost impossible: should we start with tribal custom, Roman law, Anglo Saxon law, Alfred the Great, or King Cnut? We can’t ignore those early influences and start with William I, nor can we jump to King John and the signing of Magna Carta. Alfred the Great developed a law code, King Cnut’s laws introduced an early form of the grand jury, and William introduced orderly methods to the laws and government of England and separated the secular and ecclesiastic courts.
     In the reign of William’s son Henry I (1100-1135), the law was still primarily Anglo-Saxon and was administered locally by sheriffs. Under Henry II (1154-1189), the system of itinerant judges expanded as did the use of the jury and the petty assizes were established. Criminal procedure was remodeled and the use of grand juries was systematized. “Henry II was far more than an inventor of legal forms or of the machinery of taxation. He was one of the greatest politicians of his time; a man of such wide influence, great estates, and numerous connections that the whole of the foreign relations of England during the middle ages may be traced directly and distinctly to the results of his alliances and his enmities.” (Bishops Stubbs, Constitutional History, 1954, as quoted in Plucknett, p. 19)
     The earliest known treatise on the common law was completed at the end of Henry II reign. Ranulf de Glanville’s Tractatus de Legibus; Consuetudinibus Regni AngliƦ was a major contributor to the development of the common law tradition. While it deals mostly with writs and the modes of civil litigation, it shows the importance of land law and the emphasis on procedure in the medieval legal system. The common law is, of course, based on judicial decisions, on the reasons and principles that made a judge decide the case in a particular way. Plea rolls exist from the time of King Richard, but it was Henry II that began the enrollment of judicial decisions. By 1221, every justice in the Eyre had his own roll. Those rolls did not always make it back to the treasury, however, as some of the justices preferred to keep their rolls on hand. Judges had to be required by law to hand them over in 1335 and again in 1409.
     Ultimately, these rolls became known as the Year Books, the precursors of today’s Reporters. Each volume preserves the memory of the court proceedings and serves as a record of the facts and judgments handed down in each case. The volumes were quite cumbersome as there was no organization to them at all.  Lawyers must have rejoiced, then, when Nicholas Statham wrote the first abridgement of cases – a digest for the Year Books – in 1490. Though it was supplanted by Fitzherbert’s La Graunde Abridgement in 1516, Statham was the first to organize the cases alphabetically by subject.  This facilitated access to case law thus solidifying its importance to common law.
     It is, therefore, not surprising that the Elizabethan lawyer would have several abridgments in his library. A dictionary and Glanville’s Tractatus could also be found on a lawyer’s bookshelf. All in all, a successful lawyer might own as many as thirty books including treatises on land law, criminal law, civil litigation, writs, books of legal maxims, and, of course, Sir Edward Coke’s Institutes of the Lawes of England. A library of this size would be a considerable investment given that in a good year a lawyer would make the equivalent of £26 and Fitzherbert’s Abridgement originally cost £2.
     On display now in the Library Lobby is The Elizabethan Lawyer’s Library, an exhibit of rare books from the Special Collections Department. All of the materials on display were originally published prior to 1615. These rare items will be on display until August 29, 2014.
Sources cited:
Year books of Edward II, vol. 17. London: Quartich, 1903-
Select pleas of the crown, vol 1., ed. for the Selden Society by F.W. Maitland. London: Quartich, 1888.   
Hogue, Arthur. Origins of the common law. Indianapolis: Liberty Press, 1966.
Plucknett, Theodore. A concise history of the common law. Boston: Little, Brown, 1956.
Topulos, Katherine. “A common lawyer’s bookshelf recreated: An annotated bibliography of a collection of sixteenth-century English Law Books.” 84 Law Libr. J. 641 1992.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Summer Clerkship Videos by Bloomberg

As the spring semester comes to an end and students prepare for their summer clerkships/ internships Bloomberg Law is posting a series of video lectures on Federal Research in Bloomberg Law.  In your spare time view some of the videos to enhance your research skills using Bloomberg Law.  Here is one of the recently published videos.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Terri LeClerq and Lydia Brandt, Leading Legal Research and Writing Experts in Texas are Criminal Justice Reformers

By Jessica R. Alexander, J.D., M.L.S.

Terri LeClercq and Lydia Brandt are experts in the legal research and writing field. LeClercq, formerly taught legal writing at the University of Texas Law School. She consults and lectures widely on legal writing, emphasizing a clear and straight forward style.  She is the author of  Expert Legal Writing, (Austin: The University of Texas Press, 1995) and Guide to Legal Writing Style, 4th ed. (New York: Aspen Publishers, 1997) and most recently a graphic novel designed for Texas prisoners on writing prison grievances, Prison Grievances, When to Write, How to Write. She also publishes a blog, Prison Grievances, When to Write, How to Write, (Captive Audiences Publishing, 2013). Just last Friday, I found out that she is a call-in contributor to KPFT Radio, 90.1, Houston, The Prison Show.  Today she has a post on their Facebook page.

Lydia Brandt, is an attorney and the author of the wonderful book called, Texas Legal Research: An Essential Lawyering Skill, (Dallas: Texas Lawyer Press, 1995.)  Although outdated in the sense that it was written pre-web, it contains vital information about the Texas legal system, such as statute and case law publication, precedent and authority, and organization of the courts, both historical and contemporary. She now represents prisoners on Texas death row. One of her clients, Anthony Doyle, was recently executed on March 28, 2014. See a Channel 11 Dallas news article regarding the subject. An example of her advocacy (Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus relief) can be read at the following PACER link in the case of Ronnie Paul Threadgill v. Rick Thaler, No.3:13-CV-1138. He was executed in April, 2013.

It is interesting that these two women who could have rested on their laurels, have undertaken the hard and unpopular task of advocating for the least of us.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Play Ball!

It’s opening day and the cries of ‘play ball’ begin to echo over the diamond shaped fields, it’s my favourite time of the year, baseball season! With all it’s tradition and history, the game known as “America’s pastime” has arrived.

If you don't have time to catch a game, you might want to try:

Courting the Yankees: legal essays on the Bronx bombers.
KF 3989 .A75 C68 2003
John H. Minan & Kevin Cole, Little White Book of Baseball Law.
KF 3989 .M563 2009

or search our catalog with the keyword ‘baseball’ and browse the 165 titles we own.

A League of Their Own
Angels in the Outfield
Bull Durham
Eight Men Out
Field of Dreams
For the Love of the Game
Headin Home (1920 silent movie starring Babe Ruth)
Jackie Robinson Story
Major League
The Natural
The Pride of the Yankees (featuring Babe Ruth)
The Rookie
Stratton Story
Take Me out to the Ballgame
That Touch Of Mink (not about baseball but features Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle & Roger Maris in one scene)
Trouble with the Curve
For more, check out
or view them at

If you want to refresh your memory on the rules (and the new rules on replay) check out

Or you want to write that substantive paper take a look at  SABR – Society for American Baseball Research -

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Guidance on Same Sex Marriages and Federal Tax Law

By Jessica R. Alexander, J.D., M.L.S., Reference Librarian
Tax filing season is upon us. Below are some web resources on same-sex marriage and federal and state income taxes:

Monday, March 17, 2014

Historical Texas Statute Publications

Jessica R. Alexander, J.D., M.L.S., Reference Librarian

Lately I had a personal need to find and understand a repealed Texas statute that was in effect in 1931.  I had never anticipated that I would have to use the Revised Civil Statutes of the State of Texas Adopted at the Regular Session of the Thirty-Ninth Legislature 1925, including Constitution of the United States and Constitution of the State of Texas. (In Two Volumes) Published by Authority of the State of Texas. This information is not available on expensive online paid subscriptions like Westlaw or Lexis. They only indicate that the statute in question was repealed and the date of the repeal.

However, this resource is available in paper in our library's collection and online through the Texas State Law Library. Interestingly, one of our paper sets came from the office of the Criminal District Attorney, Harris County, Texas.  It was sent to him by Emma Grigsby Meharg, Secretary of State, with the exhortation that he "turn the set over to his successor in office, taking his receipt for the same and file such receipt with the County Judge of your county." Obviously, along the way, there was no need for the Harris County DA to comply with the request.

These and earlier statutes are called codifications and re-codifications of Texas law.  They are also called bulk revisions. The publications reflect both substantive and non-substantive changes (reorganization) of the laws. Our paper volumes can be found at on the fifth floor of the library. Our catalog has two links to the digitized version.  One is for use in our library through our Making of Modern Law Subscription and the other is digitized by the Texas State Law Library.