Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New York Times, Sunday, December 17,2011 "For Law Schools, a Price to Play the A.B.A.'s Way."

David Segal wrote the article discussing how American Bar Association accreditation standards contribute to tuition costs at law schools. The first paragraph is actually the only part of the article discussing the standards for law libraries. You can find these standards on the A.B.A. website. (Standards of Rules and Procedures for Approval of Law Schools.)

The standards for law libraries are in Chapter 6. Segal's article talks about how a school in Appalachia, the Duncan School of Law, copes with the requirement that the library maintain a "core collection." Duncan meets this requirement by providing online access to the core collection. The required core collection is:

Interpretation 606-5
A law library core collection shall include the following:
(1) all reported federal court decisions and reported decisions of the highest appellate court of each state;
(2) all federal codes and session laws, and at least one current annotated code for each state;
(3) all current published treaties and international agreements of the United States;
(4) all current published regulations (codified and uncodified) of the federal government and the codified regulations of the state in which the law school is located;
(5) those federal and state administrative decisions appropriate to the programs of the law school;
(6) U.S. Congressional materials appropriate to the programs of the law school;
(7) significant secondary works necessary to support the programs of the law school, and
(8) those tools, such as citators and periodical indexes, necessary to identify primary and secondary legal information and update primary legal information.

Interpretation 606-6
The dean, faculty, and director of the law library should cooperate in formulation of the collection development plan,
While the requirements for a core collection may be straightforward, the more abstract principle and one that almost necessarily requires a large expenditure of money on materials and access is:

(a) A law school shall maintain a law library that is an active and responsive force in the educational life of the law school. A law library’s effective support of the school’s teaching,scholarship, research and service programs requires a direct, continuing and informed relationship with the faculty, students and administration of the law school.
(b) A law library shall have sufficient financial resources to support the law school’s teaching, scholarship, research, and service programs. These resources shall be supplied on a consistent basis.
(c) A law school shall keep its library abreast of contemporary technology and adopt it when appropriate.

While refraining from getting into Segal's arguments on ABA accreditation, one can contend that a library located in a large and sophisticated community like Harris County and contending with schools like the University of Houston and the University of Texas law libraries, requires at least a "Mercedes library." Our alumni also practice in sophisticated and demanding specialities like international arbitration, intellectual property and maritime law. Of course our library is a Rolls-Royce, "Silver Cloud." Our students, faculty, and alumni deserve no less!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Attorney, Employ Thyself! - Jennifer Kim Chau, Maritime Specialist

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

This will be the first in a series about young attorneys, who in the face of hard economic times have found success in solo practice.

Jennifer Kim Chau,12335 Kingsride Ln, No. 388, Houston, Texas 77024, hails from the small coastal town of Palacios, Texas. She is a patron of our library. I am always curious about the backgrounds and aspirations of young lawyers. I am fearful for young lawyers with student loan debt who cannot find employment with law firms or governmental agencies. However, it is possible to thrive with determination and creativity.

Jennifer graduated from the independant, Thomas M. Cooley School of Law, in Michigan. After graduation she aspired to work in criminal law and become an assistant district attorney. She did an internship with the Matagorda County District Attorney, but permanent employment was not possible.

Jennifer's dad who used to be in the shrimping business is now a municipal judge. The president of a corporation who owned a shrimp boat was talking to her dad about his need for an attorney to represent the corporation in an ad volarem tax matter. Jennifer landed the work and the rest is history. She now represents the corporation full-time, and is stimulated and excited about her new found speciality.

She comes to our library often to use our extensive maritime collection, and to consult other resources as well. Our maritime collection includes the major standard works in the area. You can peruse our collection on the fourth floor at KF 1096-1114. She said she loves our library and "its the best library she's ever been to hands down!"

Reference Tidbit, Briefs Available Online 14th Court of Appeals

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

The 14th Court of Appeals, Houston, has just implemented online access to briefs. Dates of inclusion are not apparent from the website. In the meantime, this is an important addition to their existing search utilities.

I have published a piece before on simultaneously searching Texas courts using Google scholar since the court system itself has never instituted cross-court searching. This new access by the 14th Court probably grows out of the fact that attorneys have been filing petitions and briefs online. Beginning January 1, 2012, attorneys in civil cases will be required to file all petitions and briefs through e-Filing for Courts. This requirement does not extend uniformly to the trial courts, so be sure refer to the official page of each trial court to find out if it participates in the efiling program.

There will be more information to come on these developments. One question to be answered is whether the ProDoc eFiling service will continue to be an option for filing in Texas Courts.