« August 2008 | Main | October 2008 »

September 30, 2008

U.S. Courts RSS Feeds

AbsTracked reports that U.S. Courts website is offering RSS feeds:

Odd Wisconsin Exhibit Opens at WI Historical Museum Next Week

First it was a website, then a book, and now it's a full-blown exhibit. "Odd Wisconsin" opens at the Wisconsin Historical Museum on October 3rd.

From the website:

WARNING! Objects Are More Intriguing Than They First Appear!
How did a rock, a plastic pink flamingo, and a few strips of aluminum make history? Why did a family collect skunk oil in a jar? How did a Wisconsin Congressman come to possess a 7-foot-long bowie knife? From séances and college pranks to assassinations and the fight for civil rights, Odd Wisconsin features scores of curious and authentic artifacts, documents, and images which may surprise, perplex, and astonish you. Odd Wisconsin... satisfy your curiosity.

Channel 3000 also reports that the exhibit will feature the poster announcing the auction of serial killer Ed Gein's items, Orson Welles' 156-page typed script for "Citizen Kane" and an original speech Abraham Lincoln gave in Milwaukee.

Nominated as WLJ Unsung Hero

I'm very honored to share that I've been nominated for a Wisconsin Law Journal's 2008 Unsung Heroes award. The program recognizes outstanding work by "behind the scenes" personnel in the Wisconsin legal community.

The other two nominees in the Law Library Staff category are Diane L. Duffey of Habush Habush & Rottier, S.C. and Jane B. Moberg of Michael Best & Friedrich LLP. I'm definitely in good company. Other categories include Secretary, Paralegal, Administrator, Human Resources, IT Specialists, Marketers, and Court Staff. See the press release for the full list of nominees.

A celebration luncheon will be held November 14 at Milwaukee's Italian Community Center. For registration and directions to the luncheon site, see the WLJ website.

This year's honorees will be featured in the Unsung Heroes issue of the Wisconsin Law Journal, to be published November 17, 2008.

September 29, 2008

Thomson Reuters Claims GMU Reverse Engineered Endnote to Create Zotero

From Slashdot:

Thomson Reuters, the owner of the Endnote reference management software, has filed a $10 million lawsuit and a request for injunction against the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia's George Mason University develops Zotero, a free and open source plugin to Mozilla Firefox that researchers may use to manage citations. Thomson alleges that GMU's Center for History and New Media reverse engineered Endnote and that the beta version of Zotero can convert (in violation of the Endnote EULA) the proprietary style files that are used by Endnote to format citations into the open CSL file format.

See madisonian.net for analysis of the suit.
Update: Robert Ambrogi over at Legal Blog Watch also has a good write-up about the suit.

September 26, 2008

haika Semantic Search Engine Looking for a Few Good Law Sites

The following post was written by my law librarian colleague, Bev Butula:

A couple of weeks ago, I discussed the hakia search engine on my blog for the Wisconsin Law Journal. If you are not familiar with this engine, it uses semantic search technology. They look for quality results, recognizing that the most credible sites might not be the most popular. Their website indicates that a quality result needs to satisfy "three criteria simultaneously: It (1) comes from credible sources (verticals) recommended by librarians, (2) is the most recent information available, and (3) is absolutely relevant to the query." For popular queries, the search results are categorized, and presented in an easy to read fashion.

Shortly after my post, I had the pleasure of speaking with Melek Pulatkonak, their CEO and Farrah Hamid, the Communications Coordinator. During this conversation, they discussed their goals for hakia. Currently, they have an established vertical for medical searches having included the Medical Library Association's top credible web sites into their database.

Their next goal is to move to a legal vertical. They want to use the collective knowledge of law librarians to enhance the users search experience. As a result, they have created a submission tool to assist in this process. They ask that suggested sites have some editorial review, there is no commercial bias, that the site remains current, and has source authenticity. A recent press release outlines the process and their expectations. As an added bonus, anyone submitting an eligible website will be entered into a drawing.

They are also reviewing established websites such as the Librarians' Internet Index and Cornell's Legal Information Institute to improve this evolving process.

September 25, 2008

Article about Carl Malamud's Crusade for Open Law

Thanks to Greg Lambert for passing on this CNet article about open-law activist, Carl Malamud.

He's devoted his life to liberating laws, regulations, court cases, and the other myriad detritus that governments produce daily, but often lock up in proprietary databases or allow for-profit companies to sell for princely sums....

Malamud's solution typically has been to create a proof-of-concept Web site, with the hopes of embarrassing government entities into building that infrastructure themselves. In the 1990s, his activism was responsible for persuading the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Patent and Trademark Office to make their data available for free on the Internet. Now, on his public.resource.org Web site, he's resumed posting hundreds of thousands of pages of government documents--all of which are, or at least should be, in the public domain....

"I believe access to knowledge is a human right," Malamud said. "When I see people putting barriers around useful information, I find that offensive."

Malamud even created a lego animation to make his point. lego.jpg

Some of Malamud's recent acquisitions include the CFR and state safety and building codes.

September 24, 2008

Great List of Presentation Tools

In a recent Wisconsin Technology News article, Paul Gibler has compiled some great presentation resources. There are tools for content creation, presentation delivery, presentation distribution, and presentation asset management. Lots of good stuff.

Cheney Ordered to Preserve Official Records

"A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction yesterday ordering Vice President Cheney and the National Archives to preserve all of his official records." Read more at the Washington Post.

Attorney Social Networking Success Stories

Jane Pribek of the Wisconsin Law Journal has put together a nice article on the benefits of social networking for attorneys, including some success stories from local attorneys using LinkedIn.

From the article:

Just a few months ago, Michelle M. Friedman recommended all attorneys at her Milwaukee firm, Davis & Kuelthau s.c., join LinkedIn, a popular online social networking Web site for professionals from various disciplines. To date, about 70 percent of them have taken that advice, with positive results...

Among the D&K lawyers who took her advice was a partner who was skeptical at first. But, he later told her that, in response to two of his e-mails asking clients to connect, not only did they accept his invitation, but also, they contacted him, saying, "I've been meaning to get in touch with you about..."

Two new matters landed on his plate, with very little effort on his part..

Former State Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler to Teach at UW Law School

"Louis Butler Jr., a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice and the first African American to sit on the state's highest court, will teach at the University of Wisconsin Law School as Justice in Residence beginning this fall." Read more at the UW Law School News.

Site Pays Students to Share Notes

The UW Madison Daily Cardinal reports on a new website which pays students for note-taking.

Knetwit, the creation of former Babson College fraternity brothers Ben Wald and Tyler Jenks, encourages college students to upload and share study materials for money....

According to the website, Knetwit allows college students and teachers around the world to share notes, ideas, issues and other content from their education....

"It is similar to Facebook, only it has an academic twist to it. It has the whole networking aspect where people can contact one another."...

The website encourages students to participate in note-taking by offering to pay those who post their notes.

Knetwit pays students based on the number of file downloads they receive. Each student's profile contains a User Statistics section, allowing other members to view the downloaded file levels.

September 23, 2008

Pretrial Discovery Affected By Federal Rule Amendment

From the U.S. Courts Newsroom:

A new Federal Rule of Evidence 502 was enacted on September 19, focusing on inadvertent disclosure of attorney-client privileged material. The new law limits the consequences of inadvertent disclosure, potentially lowering discovery costs and limiting the need for exhaustive "privilege review." Text.

September 22, 2008

Advice on Blogging for Attorneys

Kevin O'Keefe, Wisconsin native and president of LexBlog, has written an excellent article on blogging in this month's Wisconsin Lawyer. He discusses the benefits of blogging, offers advice for how to get started and what to write about, tips on designing a blog, and more. Definitely worth a read if you've been thinking about starting a blog.

Kevin will be the plenary speaker at the Solo & Small Firm Practice Convention, October 23rd in Wisconsin Dells.

Univ. of Michigan Installs Espresso Book Printing Machine

The University of Michigan Shapiro Library is the first university library to install the Espresso Book Machine. The book print machine produces paperback books on demand. From the press release:

The book machine, located in the Shapiro Library lobby on U-M's Central Campus, prints out-of-copyright books from the University's digitized collections. At a cost of about $10 per book, the service is available to researchers, students and the public.

The printing process begins with a reader selecting a digitized book from U-M's pre-1923 collection or from another online source, such as the Open Content Alliance. Most books printed prior to the early 1920s can be reprinted without seeking the permission from whomever holds the copyright. Then the file is downloaded to the Espresso Book Machine, where it is formatted, printed and perfect bound with a four-color cover.

A finished printed book takes 5-7 minutes, depending on the number of pages.

A short video about the Espresso project accompanies the U-M press release. See also my earlier post about the Espresso machine.

Thanks to my colleague, Bill Ebbott, for the tip.

September 19, 2008

New UW Law School Faculty Scholarship

From the latest edition of the UW Law School Legal Studies Research Paper Series as published by SSRN.

SnackUpon Creates Suggestions RSS Feed Based on Delicious Bookmarks

SnackUpon creates a customized RSS feed that delivers content you might like based on your Delicious bookmarks. Read more at Lifehacker.

I was curious about this so I created and subscribed to a feed based on my Delicious account. I was surprised by the volume and variety of the sites that it suggested. Nothing particularly noteworthy yet, but it definitely has the potential to uncover some interesting stuff.

September 18, 2008

AALL Spectrum Blog

Editor Mark Estes has launched the AALL Spectrum Blog, "a tool to continue the conversation about law librarianship and the opportunities we face."

AALL Spectrum is the monthly magazine of the American Association of Law Libraries.

"We Expect to See the Wholesale Disappearance of Materials on Federal Agency Web Sites"

"Countless federal records are being lost to posterity because federal employees, grappling with a staggering growth in electronic records, do not regularly preserve the documents they create on government computers, send by e-mail and post on the Web," writes Robert Pear of the New York Times.

This confusion is causing alarm among historians, archivists, librarians, Congressional investigators and watchdog groups that want to trace the decision-making process and hold federal officials accountable. With the imminent change in administrations, the concern about lost records has become more acute.

"We expect to see the wholesale disappearance of materials on federal agency Web sites," said Mary Alice Baish, the Washington representative of the American Association of Law Libraries, whose members are heavy users of government records. "When new officials take office, they have new programs and policies, and they want to make a fresh start."

AALL's Washington Blawg has more on the potential disappearance of these government records and the "short-sighted and disappointing decision of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) not to harvest agency Web sites at the end of this administration."

WI Courts Introduce New, Interactive Small Claims Website

The Wisconsin court system has created a new, interactive small claims website for the public. This user-friendly program is intended to provide an inexpensive alternative for people in need of small claims assistance but who do not have an attorney.

The website guides users through a series of questions, and the Summons and Complaint form is automatically filled in based on the answers provided. The Web site operates much like the software used to complete a tax return. Blank versions of the statewide-standardized forms are also offered for people to fill in by hand. Additionally, the site offers many county-specific instructional guides to assist users.

Source: The Third Branch

September 17, 2008

Jureeka! Creates Links to Cases, Statutes, etc. in Ordinary Webpages

Jureeka! is a new Firefox add-on that looks for legal citations in ordinary web pages and turns them into hyperlinks that lead to a free version of the cited source. Pretty nifty. You can download it at the Jureeka! blog, but you'll need to register first.


It apparently works for statutes, case law, regulations, federal court rules, international law sources, and more. See source coverage spreadsheet for a complete listing.

Jureeka! also has a toolbar which allows you to search for source material by legal citation and to find HTML versions of PDF pages.

Source: ALL-SIS listserv

City of Milwaukee's Legislative Research Center Offers Offers Improved Access to Legislative Documents

In her Wisconsin Law Journal blog, Law Librarian Bev Butula highlights some changes to Milwaukee's Legistar service, now called the Legislative Research Center.

"If you are not familiar with Legistar, it is a system to help manage the flow of documents through the municipal legislative process. Obviously, a great help to the Clerk's office. However, there is also a significant benefit to the legal community. This system contains detailed information, including documentation, pertaining to resolutions, ordinances, reports and other items."

The Milwaukee upgrade features a cleaner interface, video of Common Council meetings, RSS feeds, and more. Read Bev's post for full details.

Madison also uses the Legistar system. Its Legislative Information Center offers access to legislative documents such as legislative files, agendas, minutes, etc. for City Council and committees.

Google to Digitize Historical Newspapers

Earlier this month, Google announced that it is partnering with newspaper publishers to digitize millions of pages of news archives.

From the announcement:

You'll be able to explore this historical treasure trove by searching the Google News Archive or by using the timeline feature after searching Google News... Not only will you be able to search these newspapers, you'll also be able to browse through them exactly as they were printed -- photographs, headlines, articles, advertisements and all...

This effort expands on the contributions of others who've already begun digitizing historical newspapers. In 2006, we started working with publications like the New York Times and the Washington Post to index existing digital archives and make them searchable via the Google News Archive. Now, this effort will enable us to help you find an even greater range of material from newspapers large and small, in conjunction with partners such as ProQuest and Heritage, who've joined in this initiative.

State Board of Bar Governors Supports Petition for Citation of Unpublished Opinions

WisBar reports that The State Board of Bar Governors has voted to support Wisconsin Judicial Council Petition 08-02 to amend Wis.Stat. 809.23(3) to allow the citation of unpublished appellate opinions for persuasive value.

From WisBar.org:

Petition 08-02, asks the Supreme Court to expand the opportunities for citation by adopting the following:

(a) An unpublished opinion may not be cited in any court of this state as precedent or authority, except to support a claim of claim preclusion, issue preclusion, or the law of the case.

(b) In addition to the purposes specified in sub. (a), an unpublished opinion may be cited for its persuasive value. Because an unpublished opinion cited for its persuasive value is not precedent, it is not binding on any court of this state, and a court need not distinguish or otherwise discuss it.

September 12, 2008

U.S. Courts Announce Victim Notification System Enhancements

U.S. Courts has announced that starting this fall they will be launching a system which automatically sends crime victims and their families information from federal courts, helping ensure that crime victims are afforded the right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any relevant public court proceeding.

Victim notification data will be sent from a court's CM/ECF replication servers to the Department of Justice's Victim Notification System.

WI Law Review 2008 Symposium: The Continuing Evolution of Securities Class Actions

The Wisconsin Law Review has recently announced its 2008 Symposium: The Continuing Evolution of Securities Class Actions. It will be held on Friday, October 17, 2008 at the Edgewater Hotel in Madison, Wisconsin. The symposium is co-sponsored by the Institute for Law and Economic Policy.

For more information, please contact the symposium editors.

Search Twitter and Track Updates with RSS

Here's an update to my post earlier this month on Tracking Blog Posts & Comments. Now, it seems that you can search and track what people are saying on Twitter, as well. [What is Twitter?]

Go to the Twitter search page and run your search. On the results page, you'll see a RSS Feed for this Query button.

For more info on using Twitter as a Knowledge Base & Expertise Resource, see LawyerKM. Cindy Chick also has a good post on just what you can do with the Twitter search.

September 10, 2008

WI Dept of Children & Families Offers Search of Licensed Child Care Facilities

The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families' licensed child care search seems to be a hit, according to Gov. Doyle. Since its debut in July, it has logged over 200,000 visits.

The licensed child care search website contains information and regulatory history on nearly 6,000 child care centers licensed by the Department of Children and Families. Individuals can search for licensed child care by county, city, zip code or facility name. Once a child care center is located, individuals can review the center's licensing history for the past two years, including compliance history and enforcement actions.

Source: The Wheeler Report

September 3, 2008

Fastcase Free to State Bar of WI Members Starting Nov. 1st

Beginning November 1st, Fastcase will be available free to State Bar of Wisconsin members. See the press release for more information.

The Fastcase database contains state and federal caselaw, statutes, administrative codes, and court rules. See this list of documents included in the State Bar of Wisconsin Fastcase subscription. Per the rep I spoke with on the phone, the subscription does not include the public records service available from Fastcase.

Check out the video demo for an overview of the Fastcase system.

Fastcase is the service behind the free Public Library of Law.

Fastcase has been much in the news lately. See this recent article on Forbes.com and this interview with Fastcase CEO, Ed Walters and president Phillip Rosenthal about the business of legal research and competing against the big vendors.

Badgerlink Databases Available to All Wisconsinites - Now with Federated Searching

If you're a regular WisBlawg reader you know that I often sing the praises of Badgerlink. Badgerlink is a collection of databases containing over 11,000 periodical titles and over 700 newspapers (including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and many Wisconsin newspapers), children's and adult literature, business, medical, and education sources, and many other specialized resources not available through regular Internet search engines.

And the really cool thing is that Badgerlink is free to all state residents via Wisconsin's libraries through funding from the DPI. If your Web access is provided by a registered Internet Service Provider, you should automatically have access to Badgerlink from your home or office. Users whose ISP is not registered may be able to access one or both of the database resources using a WI library card as a log-in ID.

Yeah, I've said all this before - so why am I talking about Badgerlink again? Because now you can do a combined search ("federated" search in library lingo) of all the Badgerlink databases at once. Very nice!!

Source: WSLL @ Your Service

September 2, 2008

LexisOne Doubles Coverage of Free Case Law from 5 to 10 Years

WSLL @ Your Service, the newsletter of the Wisconsin State Law Library, reports that "LexisOne recently doubled the number of years' worth of free case law on its website - from five years to ten. Users can search by keyword or citation, or browse by year. As before, U.S. Supreme Court cases are available for free back to 1781."

Tracking Blog Posts & Comments about You, Your Firm, Clients, Competitors, Employees, Jurors, Experts, & More

Tracking what people say on blogs can be important to legal professionals for a number of reasons:

  • Image Monitoring - What are people saying about you, your firm, your clients?
  • Competitive Intelligence - What are people saying about the competition?
  • Personnel - What is being said by and about potential employees?
  • Litigation - What is the buzz about your case and your clients?; are your jurors or expert witnesses blogging or commenting on other blogs?

Fortunately, there are some tools you can use to track this information.

Google Blogs is a search engine for blog content. Using the subscribe options on the left of the search results page, you can set up an email alert or RSS feed so that you'll be notified if your search terms appear in any new blog posts.

That works well for people who have their own blogs, but what about those who leave comments to other people's blogs? That is a bit trickier - or at least it used to be.

I just learned about a new comment search engine called BackType. backtype.gif
With BackType, you have two search options:

  • Search People - search blog comments from all over the web or search for comments left by individual people. Think of this as comments "from"
  • Search Comments - search blog comments matching any keyword, including a name. This of this as comments "about"

To track future comments, subscribe to the RSS feed on your BackType search results page.

Source: MakeUseOf.com

Kiplinger's Fabulous Freebies 2008

Kiplinger's presents Fabulous Freebies 2008. This list includes web sites and services featuring all kinds of free goodies. Some are classics and others are newer.

Source: Lifehacker

ABA Survey Show Attorneys Prefer Low-Tech, Free Services

The ABA Journal reports some interesting findings from the latest annual Legal Technology Survey Report. In general, the survey indicates that lawyers are slow to adopt cutting-edge technology.

For all the hype--at conferences, on the Internet, and in this publication and others--about how Web 2.0 technologies are changing the way lawyers practice, the bulk of the profession is only now on the verge of beginning to use those tools in their daily professional lives...

If the history of technology in the legal profession is any guide, most lawyers will eventually understand the utility of today's latest technology as well as any of today's college students do. And they'll come to that understanding about the same time as those college students make partner.

The survey... shows that websites and e-mail newsletters are still the digital way that most at­torneys stay current with the news. A small minority reports reading blogs; but actually creating a blog is something the geeky lawyer down the hall--or, more likely, across town--is into.

Also interesting is that according to the attorneys surveyed, free online legal research services are being used more often than fee-based services. This reverses the finding from five years ago.