Law students: don’t forget to plan for your legal research accounts over the summer.
- Bloomberg Law. Sign up to request a student ID for Bloomberg Law. It can take a few days to process a request for a new password. You do not have to go through a special summer registration, and there are no summertime restrictions on using Bloomberg Law – you can even use your account if you’re at a firm.
- Lexis: If you’ve registered for Lexis Advance, you can use your Advance account to do research over the summer. You do not have to go through a special summer registration for Advance, and there are no summertime restrictions on using Advance – you can even use your account if you’re at a firm.
- Westlaw: For Westlaw, there are important restrictions on law school accounts over the summer, regardless of whether you sign up for a Summer Extension. Non-academic* use is prohibited.
*Check Westlaw’s Summer Extension form for details about their distinction between academic and commercial use.
Imagine getting helpful infographics instead of long lists of names when you search for cases. Some research systems are starting to move in that direction by offering innovative, graphic-focused results that make it easy to see relationships among cases. You might consider trying a search in one of these systems if you’ve already done some background research in secondary sources and are having a hard time finding good cases.
Ravel search results. Query = “quid pro quo sexual harassment.” Larger circle = more frequently cited. Federal cases only (as of early 2013)
Ravel (www.ravellaw.com) is a project that recently came out of Stanford Law School. At this time, there are a few options for the charts, and all of them make it immediately obvious that some cases are more “important” than others. To try Ravel, go to their website and give it a whirl.
FastCase search results.* Larger circle = more frequently cited.
Fastcase (www.fastcase.com) has also been offering a visual search result option for a while now. Fastcase is a research platform that’s popular with many smaller firms; over 20 state bar associations offer Fastcase subscriptions for their members. (California is not one of those states.) To try Fastcase, sign up on their website for a 24-hour trial.
*Fastcase image comes from a talk given by Fastcase CEO Ed Walters on “Who Owns the Law” at the 2013 “Reinvent the Law” conference – skip to about 11:30 to see Walters mention this “Interactive Timeline.” (You can also skip to about 1:15 to listen to the story of how Westlaw “stole” the roots of its online research system from the federal government in the 70s. And then skip to 4:04 to listen to the story of how the state of Georgia has locked away their own state statutes in a contract with LexisNexis.)
No, think again! If you asked me that last month, I would have told you that the core cases on a Shepard’s® and KeyCite report would be roughly the same, although not identical. But a new empirical study just came out showing just how wrong that conventional wisdom is. The author found that even though both systems use computer algorithms to generate the results:
…Shepard’s is finding twice as many unique relevant results as KeyCite, but it is not finding all of the relevant results… It was surprising how few cases each citation system had in common…
The takeaway: definitely use both Lexis and Westlaw when you are trying to identify all relevant cases, and if you don’t have access to both then make sure to run some redundant searches in the cases database.
Source: Susan Nevelow Mart, The Case for Curation: The Relevance of Digest and Citator Results in Westlaw and Lexis. Available on SSRN and forthcoming in Legal Reference Services Quarterly.
Prepare-to-practice training sessions for law students are at the following times:
- Wed. Mar. 20, 12-1 in Law 3750
- Thu. Mar. 21, 12-1 in Law 3750
RSVP by email to Shaina Zamaitis at SZAMAITIS@BLOOMBERG.NET.
If you don’t yet have a Bloomberg Law account, you can sign up at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/activate.
- No restrictions. At this time, law students can use academic Bloomberg Law accounts at any summer job — paid or unpaid.
- 3Ls take note: Bloomberg Law provides access for six months after graduation.
About Bloomberg Law
Bloomberg Law is an online research platform. You can find: cases and statutes; dockets and filings; SEC filings; BNA content; search and alert tools; and news, market and company information.
This week, the Guardian UK has a brief and informative overview of Google’s search algorithm for its News product.
But how exactly does Google News work? What kind of media does its algorithm favour most? Last week, the search giant updated its patent filing with a new document detailing the 13 metrics it uses to retrieve and rank articles and sources for its news service. …
What follows is a summary of those metrics, listed in the order shown in the patent filing, along with a subjective appreciation of their reliability, vulnerability to cheating, relevancy, etc.
Neat stuff! Check it out: Frederic Filloux, Google News: the secret sauce, The Guardian, Feb. 25, 2013.
I talked about the “secret sauce” of big-box search in the fall during research labs. It’s a tired metaphor, but I think it works well here because once you look at the ingredients of Google’s ranking system, it makes quite a bit of sense (even if you couldn’t replicate it in your own kitchen.) These types of sophisticated algorithms are fantastic tools in the right context, and the article above give you a little peek into how one of them works.
Law students: are you working on a project that could benefit from some research in Economics, Political Science, or another social science discipline? Are you available around lunch time on Wednesday, January 30? You might want to drop by the Graduate Resource Center for an intro to some of the fantastic social science research tools here at UCI.
One theme from 1L legal research classes is that legal research tools all have their shortcomings, and careful researchers should make informed choices about how they use them. A recent white paper demonstrates that “how was this case cited” reports are not all created equal. (Spoiler: in some cases, the expensive ones do a much better job.) The authors do, however, note a workaround:
While we recommend NOT relying entirely on any of the citator services provided by Google Scholar, Fastcase, or Casemaker, legal researchers can still use these databases to learn if their cases are still good law by taking the extra step to run a search using the party names as keywords. . . You’ll need to read the resulting cases (but only those decided after your case was decided) and then discern for yourself how the subsequent cases treated your case.
Carole A. Levitt and Mark Rosch. Are all Citator Services Created Equal? A Comparison of Google Scholar, Fastcase, Casemaker, LexisNexis, WestlawNext, and Bloomberg. (PDF, ePub, and Kindle-friendly versions available online at netforlawyers.com; PDF also available online from Stanford Law Library.)
Via Stanford Law Library Blog, Jan. 10, 2013.
Now you can search for books, journals, and other material in the new mobile-friendly version of ANTPAC. This simplified interface is much easier to read and use on a small-screen device. Try it out at airpac.lib.uci.edu.
You do still have to use the “Classic” desktop version of ANTPAC if you’d like to log in to see what you have checked out. And there are a few other little things that you can’t do in the mobile version. But in general, this new mobile site provides a zippy, clean way to find books and journals at the Law Library and other UCI Libraries.
We hope you’ll like it!
Bloomberg Law is now the exclusive online source for titles from the Practising Law Institute. PLI titles offer guidance on fairly narrow practice areas, and they include several titles that are updated yearly.
One way to browse the list of titles in Bloomberg Law is to go to Search & Browse > Books & Treatises. (Law students can register for a Bloomberg Law account at bloomberglaw.com/activate.)
This update brings up a couple of issues related to legal publishing, and academic publishing in general:
- Digital still has room for improvement. The layout of the these titles is not highly optimized for on-screen reading. For example, links aren’t live. (Not in the indexes in the titles I checked, and not in the footnotes.) And there’s an awful lot of white space around the textual content. But page numbers are there, and footnotes are displayed at the bottom of each section so that the body text is scan-able. So, while this is a nice start, it still seems like we’re waiting for beautifully-designed and highly-usable digital titles from legal publishers.
- Online is evolving. These titles used to be available from another online legal research vendor, but that changed this month. It’s yet another example of online content moving around as publishers and licensing agreements change.
From the “Westlaw Insider” blog comes a series of posts that detail how a Supreme Court case – here, the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act case – is dealt with by editors at West Publishing.
- Part 1 – Loading the electronic document - Technical teams prepared for loading the document; they even tested different scenarios since they weren’t sure how the Court would send the data.
- Part 2 – Keycite - An editor verified the procedural history and updated flags for related cases.
- Part 3 – Headnotes - Editors added the short restatements of legal issues that appear in the digest at the beginning of a case.
- Part 4 – Key Numbers - Editors classified the headnotes into a system of 400 major topics. For the ACA case, there was a team of 10 classifiers! Favorite line: “[W]hen you are classifying a monumental case, you feel like you are part of a historically significant event.”
- Part 5 – Codes validity - Editors from the “USCA team” added notes to all code sections affected by the original act and, after review, added a “Validity” note to the section that dealt with state plans for medical assistance.
There’s a huge amount of intellectual capital that goes into online legal research systems, and this series of posts gives some nice background on where all that information comes from.