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Extras - Seminar Summaries - The Southern California Association of Law Librarians 25th Annual Institute: Celebrating the Past, Looking Toward the Future

By Carol Ebbinghouse, Robin Mayer, Jane McMahon and Catherine Meller, Published on March 19, 1997

February 7-8, 1997, San Diego, California

(Archived April 21, 1997)



Teaching Legal Research in Specific Organizations - Summarized by Cindy Chick.

Professor DR Jones

There are certain realities in academic institutions. The types of people we're teaching include faculty, administrators, and each other, in addition to the students. Each group has special needs.

When teaching students case research, we also need to discuss West Publishing and court publishing as a business in order to provide our students a context for legal research. We also have to develop ways to communicate and teach adult learners.

We're incorporating some technology into legal research instruction using Powerpoint, videos, etc. but the extent of its use is dependent upon the money available for that technology. In some situtations, there can be a high-tech computer lab, but no personnel to help set it up and use it. There have been cases where an instructor has had to project on the floor, while the students gathered around to watch the presentation. Instructors in acadmic institutions have to work with whatever they can get.

Teaching and learning legal research is an ongoing process, and involves learning by doing and then having that learning re-inforced. An instructor needs to demonstrate how the system works, show the students how to do legal research, then have them actually DO the legal research, and then provide them with feedback. This kind of instruction requires a lot of staffing and a great deal of work.

What do we need to change in the way legal research is taught?

Nanna Frye

In a court environment, teaching legal research involves a lot of hand-holding because the library's constitutency includes judges, secretaries and students, and their skill level varies widely. Psychology plays a role because you need to know how to deal with panicked people who need an answer right away. The stress level can be even higher when they're trying to deal with technology.

A lot of instruction takes place during "5 minute training." This involves working with a problem when it arises and having the researcher do the work. Explaining something isn't enough. It doesn't sink in unless they see it, so we go to their desk and do it a step at a time. It is important that they have a good experience with technology. Listen to their problems for clues on how to help. Do you need a cheatsheet for a particular question? Are there problems with the system? Is there another group that needs help, such as secretaries?

Sometimes we conduct legal research training, for example, Westcheck training, in small groups on a chambers by chambers basis. We do some training ourselves, but also sometimes bring in vendor representatives for training. I work with the rep about what they're going to cover, and also sit in on the training.

When doing formal training, you should always have a handout, and check back later to see how everyone is doing.

Tips on Handouts- Cheatsheets should be short and simple, covering one specific topic. For example, I have one cheatsheet for Shepardizing cases and one for shepardizing statutes. This way we can give them what just what they need without confusing them with extra information. Remember KISS - Keep is Simple and Short. Go step by step, use examples, and keep your cheatsheet up to date. Always date your cheatsheet so you know when it was last updated. Keep your audience in mind. Different audiences, such as secretaries, may require different cheatsheets.

Cheatsheet Samples:


Editors Note: If you don't have Word for Windows, and you want to see these cheatsheets, you can download from Microsoft a Word for Windows Viewer. You will, of course, need Windows, however. To download from the MS page, click here: Microsoft Word Viewer

June MacLeod

Training is critical, especially with library staffs being reduced in many organizations. Attorneys from non-California law schools need information about California law. Other topics for research instruction include Internet Searching, California Legislative Intent and How to Do California Research.

We use The Internet Movie for basic Internet training. It's about 1 1/2 hours long and provides a good overview of the Internet. During National Library Week, we turn the library into a theater, complete with popcorn. Sometimes we run the movie all day for viewing by the staff so that they have an understanding of what the Internet is.

We use video-conferencing to teach classes to attorneys in different offices. A portion of a videotape is shown in each office, then documents can be displayed on the screen. When doing this, it is important that they have all of the transparencies ahead of time, and of course, copies of the videotape in each location. But the use of technology, such as videoconferencing, can be very expensive.

Some of the other classes we've offered have been training on CD-ROM and classes on looseleaf services for secretaries.

The challenges involved with legal research training include:

Training can be an excellent marketing tool for the library. The technology is only as good as the time and effort put into it by the librarian.

QUESTIONS


Making Your Point with Multimedia - Larry Dersham, Computer Services Librarian, University of San Diego Law School. Summarized by Cindy Chick.

Multimedia is quite common on home, desktop computers. Most people buying computers for home opt for a complete package. A standard configuration should include:

For presentations, microphones can be useful to voice annotate. If you're buying a multi-media laptop/notebook, make sure you have some kind of "audio out" port so that you can connect to speakers and play any audio you've included in your presentation.

Tools that are invaluable for preparing training presentations are:

  • Screen capture programs - such as Collage Complete. This utility is all you need for capturing Windows or DOS screens, and cropping, editing, converting and cataloging images for uses in manuals, presentations, training and online help. The cost is $149.
  • WebWacker - A great product for capturing and saving Internet Web sites, including graphics. The saved files can then be played back for your Internet presentations without having to worry about phone connections and modem speeds.
Editors Note: For a review of another screen capture utility, see:

PC Magazine, February 18, 1997. "When Okay is More than Good Enough," p. 93. Includes a hot tip about a screen capture program called SnagIt/32. If you're doing Internet presentations, and need to capture a full browser screen, even the part that is not displayed, this utility will to it. To download an evaluation copy go to www.techsmith.com.

Other useful products are digital cameras, though these are not really necessary if you have a scanner to capture your photographs. As an alternative, you can use your video camera in conjunction with a product called Snappy. Snappy will capture a picture in digital form from your video camera.

(Editors note: for a brief product review of Snappy, see: PC World, New Products: GrabIt and Snappy Video Snapshot 2.0 (3/97)

But actually the most important item to buy if you want to get pictures into your computer would be a scanner. Flat bed scanners are best.

One of the top presentation software packages is Powerpoint. The easiest way to put together a presentation is by using the Auto-Content Wizard. The new Powerpoint '97 includes a helper which guides you through the process of constructing a presentation. You can insert sound, a videoclip, screen captures or connect to a Web page. Speaker tip: With onscreen help and the Microsoft manual, you don't really need a third party book.


Privacy Issues in the Online Environment - Beth Givens, Project Director, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse - Summarzied by Catherine Meller.

In discussing "Privacy issues in the online environment," Beth Givens, the Project Director for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (www.privacyrights.org), noted that consumers are becoming better educated and aware of the types of personal information they can refuse to provide to requesting agencies. However, as illustrated by the recent P-TRAK controversy (credit header information available via LEXIS/NEXIS, originally including SSNs that were later removed from display in the records), the media did not address the real issue: almost every adult person in the U.S. has a credit report, and the credit header information (name, prior names, current and prior addresses and phone numbers) is readily available from a variety of sources, not just LEXIS/NEXIS.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act puts limits on who can access your credit history, but there are no limits on the release of the credit header information. Unfortunately, there is little that an individual can do at this time to stop access to this information, and the Internet has of course assisted in the release and dissemination of many types of information. Following are some lists of people-finder sites on the Net: www.four11.com, www.infospace.com, www.lookupusa.com, www.switchboard.com, www.whowhere.com; email addresses can be found on www.bigfoot.com, and the following sites can document which usenet groups you may frequent: www.altavista.com, dejanews.com and excite.com.

Ms. Givens promotes the development of the right to control the release and access to personal information. There should be a right to redress for illegal access and use of personal information, and individual information rights should be safeguarded. There are not any laws or regulations, at present, that specifically provide these protections. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development has enumerated the following criteria concerning the collection and dissemination of personal information:

  1. collection limitations
  2. data quality
  3. purpose specification
  4. use limitations
  5. security safeguards
  6. openness to individual's participation
  7. accountability

While no overall safeguards such as the preceding have yet been provided by our governmental sources, you can always promote your concerns and ideas regarding personal privacy to your senator or congressional representative, and to the FTC:

Commissioner R. Pitofsky, chair, Commissioner Christine Varney, and/or David Medine, Division of Credit Practices, 601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20580.

Editor's Note: For more information on privacy as it relates to online services and the Internet, see LEXIS/NEXIS Held Hostage By the Internet:The P-Trak Debacle - By Cindy L. Chick and PC World's Special Report: The Web and You: No Privacy on the Net (2/97)


Computer/LAN Security - Donald P. Jaycox, Director of Information Systems, Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich / Summarized by Jane McMahon.


Intranets and Web Pages - Frederic V. Bien, CEO Bien Logic, Inc. / Summarized by Robin Mayper.


Copyright Issues in Electronic Media - James C. Weseman, Esq., Law Offices of James C. Weseman. / Summarized by Carol Ebbinghouse.

Mr. Weseman gave the attendees a basic grounding in the fundamental principles of copyright.

The first and foremost principal is that of "fundamental fairness," which provides for just compensation for the creation of a work--the fruits of one's labor.

To obtain a copyright, a work must be original or creative and the work is copyrighted upon creation in a tangible medium (it does not require notice and/or registration, however these can be very helpful in enforcing the copyright later).

The copyright is not in the work -- it is separate and distinct from the work. If you possess a work, you only have the right to possession and private display. The rights of copying, performing and public display reside with the copyright holder/creator.

Copying without a license is infringement, with but a few exceptions:

The emergence of the computer age and digital media has made copying easy and convenient. Mr. Weseman traced the history of copying from monks copying texts, to Gutenberg, who could make more copies and distribute them more widely, to photo-lithography, mimeographs, photocopiers and now scanners. He pointed out that while the technology is still evolving, it is still copying.

With digital sampling of one copyrighted work, it is now possible to "morph" it, change it, and put it in your own work. In determining whether there has been a copyright violation, the courts look to the fair use tests, especially the questions as to whether this is a substitute for the original.

With computers, it is easy to replicate digital media and to widely distribute it. Now computer-generated literary works in the style of living and dead authors can be accomplished through artificial intelligence. These may not be copies, but they might be considered derivative works. It is unlikely to be considered plagiarism, but should have attribution. This is a "moral right" issue, which goes beyond copyright law.

The Internet is just an extension of copyright with new and evolving issues in enforcement, identification and attribution of identity. As a copyright holder, you may not have a remedy outside your own jurisdiction. As an infringer, you may be sued anywhere there is an Internet packet or availability.

Mr. Weseman asked when copies of copyrighted works are posted on the Internet, who is responsible? The person who uploads the work to bulletin board (BBS) systems? The BBS sysop, who may have more or less content control? What if the sysop requests the infringer to cease? What if s/he blocks access to the infringer? What about a direct Internet service provider who does not, and cannot, police all postings? These are the types of questions that the new technology raise.

Using some examples, Mr. Weseman went through the four part analysis for fair use. For example, in the case of coursepacks of materials sold to students (instead of forcing them to buy the books or make their own copies), the effect of the copying on the market for the books, and the substantiality of the copying were analyzed. It is infringement.

In the end, the audience was urged to "behave defensively" by learning the ground rules of your institution, request permission before copying, register with the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), and use the four-part analysis to decide for yourself whether your particular use is a "fair use."


The Future of Legal Publishing- Robert C. Berring, Law Library Director and Professor of Law, Boalt Hall, U.C. Berkeley. Summarized by Catherine Meller.

Bob Berring rarely needs a formal introduction to most law librarian audiences, and his presentations are always delightfully informal and instructive. The Library Director and Professor of Law at Boalt Hall, UC Berkeley, shared his thoughts concerning "The Future of Legal Publishing." To introduce the four stages of the history and consider the future of legal publishing, Bob provided a quote from Chairman Mao (who at the age of 23 was an attendant in the periodical room of the library at the University of Beijing):

There is chaos under the heavens, the situation is excellent.

Thus began his saga of legal publishing in the U.S.:

First stage: The "pre-age" of reporting, the nominative reporters recorded their own synopsis of judicial opinions, provided the drafts to the justices for their approval, then printed them. This was a purely verbal culture, and answered the needs of the day.

Second stage: The age of the Book: When courts were eventually required to collect and print the written opinions of the justices, they usually were relieved to turn the process over to an experienced publisher. This is when the entrepreneurial salesmanship of one company, West Publishing, created the national, and many state's, reporting systems. As a result, this standardization built reliability and trust in this product over many years. Authority and accuracy will continue to be concerns for the future, as well as during this time.

Third stage: Computerized Legal Research: Initially, online services emulated the old technology, simply providing the printed text of opinions in electronic, searchable, form. The competing services' investment in the training of students has paid off in making it the service of first choice for most law students. The preeminence of the leading online services will fade as the options that the Internet will provide continue to emerge. One important sea change that online services created was the "costing out" of research time. What was once considered the cost of doing business was transformed into a legitimate cost to the individual client.

Fourth stage: The Book will Fade: People will move to quicker and cheaper modes of information retrieval. The fourth generation of information will face:

Chaos, indeed - the conditions are excellent!