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June 26, 2014

New features on Congress.Gov

As Thomas.gov continues to evolve into Congress.Gov, more features are being added. Recently, In Custodia Legis, the Law Library of Congress Blog, announced some of most recent bells and whistles that were added:

*You can now search for presidential nominations back to 1981.

*Congress.Gov also allows you to create an account so you can save customized searches and other bookmarks on the site.

*Possibly most importantly, the About Section has been expanded to be more user-friendly and transparent.

Check out Congress.Gov here and read the original In Custodia Legis post on the updates here. Happy Searching!

June 25, 2014

Article: Is Confidentiality Really Forever -- Even If the Client Dies or Ceases to Exist?

A recent article available on SSRN examines the question, "Is Confidentiality Really Forever -- Even If the Client Dies or Ceases to Exist?"

Here's the abstract:

The law firm of Lizzie Borden's lead attorney continues to maintain her client files in a confidential manner. In contrast, the trove of notes kept by another attorney on the defense team were discovered by his grandson, who willed the client materials to the local Massachusetts historical society, making them generally accessible some 100 years after the murder trial.

Which is the right result? Does client confidentiality live forever? What if the client is an entity rather than an individual? Should there be some point in time -- 50 or 100 years -- when this right to confidentiality expires? Who will enforce the privilege once all the participants are dead? These questions have important implications for attorneys, law firms, and corporate entities. But they are also questions of importance to librarians whose libraries might be given papers that were protected by the attorney-client privilege, represented work product, or were the subject of an attorney's ethical obligation to protect the confidentiality of client matters.

This short essay raises these questions and considers the legal, policy, and practical issues involved. Several approaches are outlined and briefly evaluated.

June 23, 2014

Visually Trace Progress of Federal Bills & Resolutions with Legislative Explorer

Legislative Explorer is a new tool to visually trace the progress bills and resolutions as they move through Congress. This tool help researchers observe large scale patterns and trends in congressional lawmaking without advanced methodological training.

At first view, it's a little confusing, but this tutorial explains its value:

Free Copyright Course for Educators & Librarians

Want to brush up on your copyright? Coursera is offering a free web course on Copyright for Educators & Librarians. The course is taught by faculty members from Duke University, Emory University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Here's the course description:

Fear and uncertainty about copyright law often plagues educators and sometimes prevents creative teaching. This course is a professional development opportunity designed to provide a basic introduction to US copyright law and to empower teachers and librarians at all grade levels. Course participants will discover that the law is designed to help educators and librarians.

Coursera is an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free.

Thanks to my colleague, Mary Jo Koranda, for the tip.

June 17, 2014

Researching Tribal Law

If you've ever had to research an issue related to Native American law, you know how difficult locating tribal law sources can be. An article that I wrote, which was just published in Law Library Journal may help you track down those elusive tribal law materials.

The article, entitled 'Whatever Tribal Precedent There May Be': The (Un)Availability of Tribal Law, appears in the Spring 2014 issue of Law Library Journal.

The article explores the costs and benefits of publishing tribal law. Part I analyzes why tribal law is not more widely available; part II illustrates the benefits of making tribal law more accessible; and part III describes publication options for tribes. An appendix lists currently available tribal law collections.

Summary of the 2013-2014 Wisconsin Legislative Session

The Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau has created a research bulletin providing an overview of the acts and joint resolutions of the 2013-2014 Wisconsin Legislative Session.

Legislation is organized by topic with acts described under the appropriate subject heading or headings.