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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Empathy, Nostalgia, and "Playa Hating"

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

Academic law librarians are an underpaid lot. However, there is a huge "happiness return" in mingling and providing service to law students. I admit to being nostalgic about my age, weight and naive outlook on life as a law student in the mid-seventies. I also admit to being a "Playa Hater." During law school I could not imagine having twenty-four hour access to subscription databases which may have aided my study.

Observing the tension overcoming law students as exams approach I surely empathize with their plight. I also know from my interaction with students that they need to be reminded about study aids they can access through our databases:

CALI Lessons:

One of the study aids that law students either forget or never knew about are interactive lessons from the Center for Computer Aided Legal Instruction, http://www.cali.org/. It is a consortium of law schools and features lessons for almost all subjects and levels for law students. I started a character evidence lesson for the purposes of this blog piece. I am definitely a "player hater" for students who have access to this study aid. This would have been so great on the Saturday that I took my evidence exam from Professor McElhaney at SMU, and had to dress, feed and get my son to the baby sitter before I could study.

The SMU Law Review Annual Survey of Texas Law

According to its website the SMU Law Review Annual Survey of Texas Law, "provides an overview of recent Texas case law and legislation. This edition features articles on 31 specialized areas of law, written by practitioners and experts in each field. In addition to the practice areas traditionally covered by the Survey, this year's edition includes articles on attorney's fees, business torts, conflict of laws, energy regulation, family law: parent and child, real property, Texas securities law, wills and trusts, and zoning and land use." Note that each annual survey comes out in the Summer edition of the journal.

From our web page follow the Database List in Alphabetical Order to access the InfoTracLegalTrac advanced search feature. Use the pull-down menu to search the SMU Law Review as a title, "annual" and "survey" as keywords. Refine the search with an additional keyword for your desired subject, i.e. bankruptcy. You will then have citations to specific full-text articles. Follow the link in InfoTracLegalTrac called "see if this journal is at South Texas College of Law." That link will pull up the journal in HeinOnline. Notice that the link takes you through our STELLA catalog to HeinOnline.

There are two other ways to access the full-text: (1) Go directly to HeinOnline and access the journal database.; (2) Go to Stella and title-search for the SMU Law Review; or (3) use E-Journal Portal and title-search for the journal.

The BNA Databases

The library has invested in many of the subject matter BNA databases (employment, labor, professional ethics, intellectual property, family, securities, etc.). These databases provide useful commentary on past decisions, statutory law and developing trends. BNA's USA Law Week has federal, Supreme Court, and criminal divisions. The paper version is a gold-standard publication for constitutional law research. For example, there is specific information on conflicts between the federal circuits in substantive law areas.