Nicole Black benchmarks how legal research is something lawyers do nearly every day and why convenient, affordable access to legal research materials is so important. Web-based legal research has truly provided solos and small firms the tools they need to compete – and at a price they could afford. The trick is to set aside time to learn the ins and outs of conducting legal research on Google Scholar. To make this process even easier for you, Nicole has provided Part 2 of her series on this topic. (Part 1 is here)
David Rothman provides critical insight into the inequities in the availability of public school library resources between different areas within DC, but which are not at all unique to this city.
From Ken Strutin’s introduction to this guide: In the legal system, such intonements have taken on the form of specialized briefs called amicus curiae (“friend of the court”). And through extension and by complement they have appeared in the form of law reviews, media articles, exposes, and books. Indeed, there is an oscillating relationship between amici and law reviews, which has been beneficial for scholarship and public discourse. In the end, it is the passion for justice that drives individuals, governments, academics, lawyers, journalists and other interested groups to befriend the courts. The amicus has the power to speak to many audiences simultaneously. In the courtroom, it is the honest broker; in the public media, it is the educator; in academia, it is scholarly analysis and historical perspective. Bounded by common law, court rules, and the conventions of publishing (briefs, articles or books), the amicus can yet move knowledge into venues where it is most needed. An amicus can serve as an “oral shepardizer,” expert witness, or quasi-litigant that extends the range of judicial notice and culls, concentrates and vets information into a case-specific resource. Still, there is a tension between the role of the amicus as independent expert offering facts and a party arguing an agenda, which can ultimately impact the quality and constitutionality of decision-making. Indeed, there are concerns that unregulated amicus practice can undermine development of case law by opening the door to issues and arguments beyond the threshold of standing and jurisdiction. Lastly, the free range of amicus briefs can exacerbate already problematic judicial information seeking behavior. Roman legal tradition fashioned the amicus into an interlocutor, an explainer in all kinds of cases. Today, their roles are circumscribed by court rule and common law. However, the scope of this article is confined to a discrete precinct of the amicus universe, criminal justice.
Nicole Black surveys the new landscape for access to legal research databases, which previously cost a considerable sum – back in the day when Westlaw and Lexis had cornered the market. Today researchers have a range of reliable, affordable choices for legal research, such as Fastcase and CaseMaker, and even entirely free alternatives such as Google Scholar.