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June 28, 2006

A Magical Moment at Lake Kegonsa

One of those magical pursuits of childhood, my kids have a fascination with catching fireflies. Last weekend, equipped with butterfly net and bug house, we journeyed to Lake Kegonsa State Park for what turned out to be a very soggy camping trip.

But just a twilight Saturday night, there was a break in the rain clouds so off went the great firefly hunters. With our daughter riding on his shoulders and our son gleefully striding alongside, my husband led the way down the trail. At the end was a large meadow filled with thousands of dancing fireflies. It was a truly magical moment which brought to mind one our of favorite books:

"When all was quiet, the firefly flew through the night flashing its light, looking and searching again. Then the very lonely firefly saw what it had been looking for...

A group of fireflies, flashing their lights. Now the firefly wasn't lonely anymore."
-- From The Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle

June 27, 2006

The Truth About Blogging

Connie Crosby has a nice article on The Truth About Blogging. Although it is aimed at librarians, the truths she shares are universal.

She notes that "We often hear 'to be seen as an expert, write a blog,' but how quickly this medium opens doors has really been a great surprise to many." I absolutely agree with her on this. Blogging has definitely opened doors for me personally - I've had more invitations to speak and write articles than I can accept. And it's pretty cool to go to a conference and have people recognize you from your blog - I've met more great people through blogging than I could have otherwise.

Skype v. Gizmo

Bob Ambrogi has a nice summary of the difference between Gizmo and Skype, two VoIP services. (What's VoIP?)

I've used Skype but haven't tried Gizmo. The call recording feature is intriguing, however.

Batgirl Was a Librarian

Who knew? - Batgirl was a librarian! A colleague noticed the reference to Wonder Woman in my bio and clued me into Batgirl's career. Here's the scoop from Batgirl was a Librarian:

Barbara Gordon, the niece and adopted daughter of Police Commissioner Jim Gordon, graduated summa cum laude from Gotham State University with a degree in Library and Information Science. After graduating, she became the head reference librarian at Gotham Public Library.
The librarian transformation into Batgirl happened one night on her way to the policemen's masquerade ball. Dressed in a homemade "Batgirl," costume, she accidentally encountered the villain Killer Moth and foiled his attempt to kidnap wealthy Bruce Wayne. Barbara enjoyed the thrill and risk of crime fighting, and after modifying her motorcycle to create the Batcycle, Batgirl was born.

June 26, 2006

What is a Blogger Worth to a Law Firm?

In the wake of moves by two big-name tech bloggers, Law.com has an interesting article on how to value a law firm blogger.

Note the response by Kevin O'Keefe:
"These recent moves should be wake up calls to law firms with high-profile lawyer bloggers. Many of your high-paid marketing and PR people have not a clue about the power of blogging and the marketing value of these blogging lawyers.

"Not only are such lawyers a source for new work, but they can also bring the firm into this century when it comes to effective Internet marketing by being a mentor to other lawyers learning to blog. Don't appreciate what these bloggers are bringing to the firm and you are going to loose them, their rainmaking and much more."

June 22, 2006

Article on the Ins and Outs of Blogging for Legal Professional

A while back I mentioned that I gave a talk about blogs at the Association of Legal Administrators Annual Meeting in Montreal last month. Upon the request of the editor of the Risk Management Memo, I've turned that presentation into an article entitled, Blogs: The Hot New Technology for Communication and Information.

The article discusses how legal professionals can use blogs in their practice. Here's the outline:

- What is a Blog?
- Establishing a Blogging Policy
- Reading Blogs
- Creating a Blog (for internal and external communication)
- Is Blogging Right for You?

I also give a brief run down of blog software and hosting options.

Over Twenty Percent of Execs Read Blogs Weekly

From Kevin O'Keefe's Real Lawyers Have Blogs:

21% of senior executives reports are reading business-related blogs at least once a week. This per a 2006 State of Corporate Blogging Survey, conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Makovsky + Company, one of the largest global independent public relations firms in the U.S. Here's a pdf file of the report.

Strange thing is Kenneth D. Makovsky blogs the finding's as demonstrating that corporate executives are slow to adopt to corporate blogs. I look at the world as a glass half full, not half happy.

21% of corporate exec's reading blogs is a big deal. And it's unlikely they're reading teenage diary blogs. The execs are obviously finding valuable information and insight not available elsewhere. The execs are reading blogs to stay ahead of their competition because of the timely info in blogs.

I agree with Kevin on this. It's significant that corporate execs are beginning to see the value of blogs. I suspect that this number will grow.

Full Text Searching in EDGAR

From BeSpacific: Search Full Text of EDGAR Filings From Last 2 Years

SEC: "This page allows you to search the full text of EDGAR filings from the last two years. The full text of a filing includes all data in the filing as well as all attachments to the filing. We are still developing this feature, and we plan to enhance it based on user feedback."

Other new SEC search features:
- EDGAR Mutual Fund Search - From this page you can search for current information on mutual funds. For closed-end funds and for filings prior to February 6, 2006, click here.

Google UncleSam Gets a Make Over

Google UncleSam is now Google U.S. Government Search. From Google:

Google U.S. Government Search offers a single location for searching across U.S. government information, and for keeping up to date on government news. You can choose to search for content located on either U.S. federal, state and local government websites or the entire Web -- from the same search box. Below the search box, the homepage includes government-specific news content from both government agencies and press outlets. You can personalize the page by adding content feeds on government or other topics that you're interested in.

The name seems a bit misleading to me since it indexes not only federal sites, but state and local ones as well.

The big changes seems to be with the personalization features. Looks like you can customize what information you would like to see displayed on this page by choosing from a handful of syndicated content providers (via RSS feeds) such as the NYT Washington news or LLI's Supreme Court opinions.

Perhaps I'm missing something, but I don't really see the value of this. The beauty of syndicated content is that you can have all of it displayed in a single RSS reader (such as Bloglines). To have to go separately to individual sites - like Google U.S. Government Search to get my gov news; Google News to get my news news; and so on - seems like a waste of valuable time.

June 21, 2006

Things Found in a Jail Book Cart

Nichole, a Madison librarian who volunteers with the Jail Library Group has compiled a fascinating Flikr collection of "things I find abandoned in books or stuffed on the book cart at the [Dane County] jail where I volunteer"

This is a really insightful collection. There are snippets of letters, poems, drawings, etc. Worth a look.

As an aside, the Jail Library Group accepts donations of books and magazines at several dropoff locations in Madison.

Source: Boing Boing

Let a Law Librarian Guide You Through the Blogosphere

Here's the title of a recent post over at Human Law:
Discuss - Librarian law bloggers are more astute than top law firms marketing departments about the blogosphere

Enough said, I think.

Source: Law.com Blog Network

Employee Use of Blogs IM, IPods & Camera Phones

If you are a firm administrator or someone else who manages employees, you should take a look at an article from FindLaw's Modern Practice entitled, Workplace Worries: Blogging, IMing, IPods, and Camera Phones, Oh My!.

Despite the cheesy title, this article highlights some interesting - and troubling - issues surrounding employees' use of these technologies in the workplace.

June 14, 2006

Google Spreadsheets

From LibrarianInBlack:

Google Spreadsheets

Well, I posted early in the day that Google was launching Spreadsheets, all incredulous and cranky that it hadn't appeared yet. But it did, and here's the information: spreadsheets.google.com/. They're still sending out invitations to folks, so you can get one if you sign up soon! (LIB posted this yesterday)

Legal, Factual & Other Internet Sites for Attorneys & Others

Timothy L. Coggins, Associate Dean for Library and Information Services and Professor of Law at the University of Richmond School of Law has compiled a very comprehensive list of Legal, Factual and Other Internet Sites for Attorneys and Others. It appears in the Richmond Journal of Law and Technology, Spring, 2006 (12 Rich. J.L. & Tech. 17)

This list is divided into eleven categories:

  • Part I covers search engines.
  • Part II identifies some important "comprehensive" or portal web sites.
  • Part III includes those web sites that can be used to search for legislative and administrative materials, both Federal and state.
  • Part IV covers case law research sites.
  • Part V lists some important Virginia legal research and other web sites.
  • Part VI is a listing of foreign and international law sites.
  • Part VII covers secondary materials.
  • art VIII is a fairly long listing of web sites for people, places, weather, vital records, company information, expert witnesses, and more.
  • Part IX presents some helpful sites for legal and other news, as well as a brief introduction to some law blogs (blawgs).
  • Part X covers sites that are difficult to categorize into one of the preceding nine parts.
  • Part XI, is a listing of URLs for the law schools in Virginia, many of which have legal research sections that might present additional sources for the legal researcher.

June 13, 2006

UW Law School Legal Studies Research Paper series

The UW Law School has put together a new edition in its Legal Studies Research Paper series (via SSRN).

The following papers are available: (Bloggers take note of the last one)

"The New versus the Old Legal Realism: 'Things Ain't What They Used to Be'"
University of Wisconsin Law School

"A New Realism for Legal Studies"
University of Wisconsin Law School

"Destabilizing the Normalization of Rural Black Land Loss: A Critical Role for Legal Empiricism"
University of Wisconsin Law School

"Is it Time for a New Legal Realism?"
University of Wisconsin Law School
Southwestern University School of Law
University of Wisconsin Law School
American Bar Foundation
University of Wisconsin Law School
Harvard University - Harvard Law School

"Crossing Boundaries: Legal Education and the Challenge of the New Public Interest Law"
University of Wisconsin at Madison Law School

"Bit by Bit: A Case Study of Bloggership"
University of Wisconsin Law School

Blog on Balancing Life & Librarianship

I recently learned of a new blog called Callinan the Librarian. The blog deals with the the challenges of balancing life and librarianship and shares the successes of all librarians pursing and achieving good.

The blog is an off-shoot of a law librarian consulting practice developed by Ellen Callinan, a 20 year law librarian veteran. Her goal is to create "a virtual workforce of librarians we'd otherwise be losing to life transitions who are available to assist with special projects and training." Sounds like a great idea.

June 8, 2006

Webcasting from the Courtroom

Court Webcasting is a new project weblog from WV Supreme Court Clerk, Rory Perry. For a list of courts who webcast their proceedings, see the list on the right hand side of the page. (Note that the link to the WI Supreme Ct is broken. Here's the right one.)

Why should legal researchers watch these webcasts? From the Moritz Legal Information Blog:

- Determine whether the court is "hot" (asks many questions) or "cold" (asks few questions) to prepare for oral argument
- Find similar cases (from your state or another state) to determine what issues concerned the judges
- Learn about the etiquette and procedures for a court before appearing there

Saying Yes to Everything

MADreads reviews a pretty funny sounding book called Yes Man about a man that literally said yes to everything for a year. Here's the review:
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! By Sarah - Alicia Ashman on Nonfiction

Yes Man - Next time a telemarketer asks if you'd like to learn more about their fantastic offer, just say YES! When asked if you'd like to "say it with flowers," just say YES! When asked to go anywhere, anytime, with anyone, just say YES!

Can you imagine living this way? Author Danny Wallace did, for a whole year. And, luckily for us, he wrote a very funny, very strange, very British book (Yes Man) about his experiences, which varied from the euphoric to the disheartening (and back again). Perhaps my favorite example of his saying "YES!" involved his agreeing to help the Sultan Qaboos, who sent him an email requesting his bank account details and phone number. Although Wallace was willing, he was lucky enough to have a quick-thinking friend who responds to the Sultan's email with an email of his own:

"Dear Omar: I wish to flee the country and move to somewhere like Oman, where I could live with you in your Sultanate…If you help me move $1000 into a safe foreign bank account then for your troubles I am prepared to give you 25 %... send me your bank details.

P.S. This is not an e-mail scam." (p. 108.)

Just say YES to reading this book. If you do, I promise great things will happen.

P.S. This is not an internet scam.

June 7, 2006

Seminar: Internet Research in Wisconsin

If you are looking to brush up your Web-based legal research skills this summer, you might want to consider attending a one day seminar entitled, Internet Research in Wisconsin. The seminar, put on by Lorman Education Services, will be held in Brookfield on August 16th & again in Madison on August 17th.

I'll be presenting at both seminars along with my colleague, Bev Butula of Davis & Kuelthau, S.C. in Milwaukee.

Here's the blurb about the course from Lorman:

This course will introduce attendees to online legal research, improve their searching efficiency by developing better strategies and create a list of reliable online resources. The sessions will promote cost-effective searching and offer a look at the most current approaches to capitalizing on information available via the Internet.

Seminar highlights:

* Searching smarter - source selection and search strategies
* Search engines and meta engines
* The invisible Web
* Legal search engines and portals
* Primary law sources on the internet
* Investigating individuals
* Company research
* The new kids on the Web - blogs, RSS, alerts and podcasts

June 6, 2006

Cows Invade Madison

A herd of 101 painted, costumed, and whimsically transformed cows have invaded the Capitol City. They are part of CowParade Wisconsin 2006 and they will be on display throughout Wisconsin all summer.

This week they're in Madison, mostly downtown and around campus. Check out the Cow Locator for the exact locations. Or if you can't make it to Madison, take a look at some Cow Parade images on Flickr here and here.

This cow is located near the Law School on the corner of University and Park. It's titled the "Mookal Leckrone" in honor of famed UW Badger Band director, Michael Leckrone, who apparently flew in on a cow to a band concert this year.

June 5, 2006

Best Practices for Legal Blogging

Law.com has created a guide to Best Practices for Legal Blogging.

Why should you care? From the article:

As the use of blogs as a marketing tool proliferates among lawyers, differences in quality between blogs covering the same topic will become evident. There are only so many blogs that prospective clients can read on a daily basis, and as the number of choices grow, readers will become more and more selective. It is therefore critical for any lawyer launching a blog to consider best practices that will set his or her blog apart from the pack.

Source: Law Librarian Blog

June 2, 2006

Legal Technology & Research Workshops at the State Law Library

Once again, the Wisconsin State Law Library has a great slate of workshops scheduled. Registration forms are available on their Classes & Tours webpage.

- 25 Legal Tech Tips in 90 Minutes

Wednesday July 12, 2006 10:00-11:30 a.m.
During this fast-paced romp through technology tips for the law office, you’ll learn how to recover fast from a computer crash; discover a free tool to find lost client documents in a flash; see how to keep track of your legal research website passwords without post-it notes; learn an easy way to create fill-in legal forms; and more! And, bring along your computer questions and see if you can "Stump the Geek!" Don't miss this class - it might just change your relationship with your computer. The instructor is Art Saffran, technology consultant and former State Bar of Wisconsin IT Director. Fee: $50.00.

- Using Loislaw.com @ the State Law Library: How Does It Work?
Wednesday, September 6, 2006 9-10 a.m.
Here’s an opportunity to become more familiar with the various Loislaw.com databases provided on our public access computers and how they can save you research time and money. Learn the basics of searching and printing while exploring everything from the primary law of all state and federal jurisdictions to the wealth of information in the State Bar of Wisconsin CLE books. Tired of slogging through print digests? There’s a better way! FREE Class. 1 CLE credit applied for.

- Mining for Company Nuggets: Locating Corporate Information on the Internet

Friday, October 6, 2006 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Join guest instructor and law librarian Carol Bannen as she demonstrates the skills of finding company information on the Internet. Learn how to locate background information, financial data, litigation history, and more. Whether your law firm is courting new clients or investigating an opposing party, this class will help you find the facts you need. Learn how to access Securities and Exchange Commission filings, navigate the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institution's Corporate Records Information Service, uncover Standard and Poor's ratings, and discover corporate news sources. Fee: $50.00. 1.5 CLE credits applied for.

- Introduction to Google Scholar and Google Book Search
Wednesday, November 1, 2006 9-10 a.m.
This one-hour class will explore new tools from Google: Google Scholar and Google Book Search. Learn searching techniques and discuss the pros and cons of using these tools for law related research. FREE Class.

- Wisconsin Briefs Online

Wednesday, December 6, 9-10 a.m.
Streamline your search for briefs! This class covers Wisconsin Briefs available on the Internet. Learn how to access Wisconsin Briefs on the UW Law Library's website, and gain a basic understanding of how to best use WSCCA in your search for Wisconsin Briefs. FREE Class. 1 CLE credit applied for.

June 1, 2006

"Facing Life: The Retrial of Evan Zimmerman" Premiers Monday on A&E

"Facing Life: The Retrial of Evan Zimmerman," a new true-crime documentary involving the University of Wisconsin Innocence Project will be broadcast on the A&E cable television network on Monday, June 5 from 8-10 p.m. central time.

From the Innocence Project press release:

"Facing Life" documents Zimmerman's decision to face the possibility of life in prison rather than accept an offer of freedom that would falsely brand him as a murderer.

When Zimmerman's former girlfriend, Kathy Thompson, was strangled on her wedding night in February 2000, her husband had a perfect alibi - one that made Evan Zimmerman the perfect suspect. Although Zimmerman proclaimed his innocence and police had no physical evidence against him, Zimmerman was investigated, arrested, convicted, and sent to prison for life.

Three years later - with help from law students and professors at the University of Wisconsin Innocence Project - Zimmerman won a new trial on appeal, and with it a second chance to clear his name. But before the retrial, the prosecution offered him a deal - plead guilty to a lesser charge and go free.

MS Office Add-in Strips Metadata - To Be Added to CCAP Workstations

Judge Daniel Anderson responded to yesterday's post Metadata: What You Can't See Can Hurt You. He recommends using the Microsoft Office add-in that removes hidden data.

With his permission, I'd like to share his comments:

Metadata is a big problem in an appellate court because documents are circulated among a large group of people and the hidden data can be very "revealing" to someone who knows how to look for it.

I suggested that the add-in be used in the Wisconsin Court System. After evaluation, CCAP--the best government IT program in the State--will be updating all work stations with this add-in.

Child Booster Seat Law Takes Affect Today

Heads up Mom and Dad. Wisconsin's new Child Booster Seat Law takes affect today. See the fact sheet with diagram from the DOT.

Written warnings will be issued instead of citations for first violations during a grace period from June 1 until December 31, 2006. On January 1, 2007, law enforcement officers will begin issuing citations for violations.

Note also that there was a change to mandatory safety belt law. Under the new law, drivers may be cited for allowing passengers of any age to be unbelted in their vehicle (The new law removes a previous provision that did not make the driver responsible for unbelted passengers age 16 or older.)

MADreads, A Book Review Blog from MPL

Looking for a few good titles to add to your summer reading list? Check out MADreads, a new blog from the Madison Public Library.

Each day they'll feature a new fiction or nonfiction book review from a Madison Public Library staff member. Reviews are archived by genre.