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lawlibrary Legal Technology Libraries

Worth a read: Curfew Shall Not Ring Tonight! – the Value of Libraries

This RIPS blogpost is a good response to why a library when “everything is online.” No matter the format of the material, it is the librarian in the library that makes the difference and the case for the library.

The struggle between librarian and technology is real, but the situation is a lot more nuanced than saying that librarians and technology are at odds. We go together. (Like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong.) Yes, there can be entire libraries available on smart phones, but guess what makes them available. Libraries. And guess who makes them navigable. Yup, librarians. Even the free stuff is there because of the efforts of libraries and librarians—both academic and local. In a time where more and more students are having difficulty navigating truth from lies or bogus stories, librarians and libraries—even the ones sans books and chock full of the latest technology—are needed more than ever.Earlier this month, fellow RIPS blogger Paul Gatz wrote about the service aspect of librarianship and how librarians are “at the nexus between the system and the user, benefiting one no less than the other.” A huge part of our service is to connect patrons to information, and not just any information, but relevant and accurate information. We are the navigators, we are the beacons, we are the silent, mostly unacknowledged, partners in research. Take away the librarians, strip down the libraries, and there will be consequences. Maybe not 80 stanzas worth of them, but consequences none the less. We are in the day and age where finding information isn’t a problem—it’s the next step that matters. No matter what you type into a search box, you’re bound to find an answer. Is it the correct answer? Is it the best possible answer?

Source: Curfew Shall Not Ring Tonight!

Categories
lawlibrary Legal Technology

Tech Solutions for Marylanders’ Legal Needs

The trend of creating tech solutions for everyday problems has finally come to the legal world. These recent innovations signal a new model for providing legal services. One where saying, “There’s an app for that,” can truly change a person’s life.

One example is an expungement program developed by an attorney at Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, Matt Stubenberg., as reported in the New York Times. Even though, “as many as one in three Americans have some type of criminal record,”  many are unaware that they may qualify for expungement, the deletion of their criminal records. Some may not be able to afford a lawyer to help them expunge their records.

On MDExpungement.com, users type in a case number and the program determines if a case may qualify for expungement. The program even automates and fills out a form for filing.

Beyond making expungement available and affordable, Stubenberg also developed CLUE – Client Legal Utility Engine. Used by attorneys during client intake, this program will search for expungeable records, public utility records, and documents filed by banks to help the attorney determine whether a client is also at risk of losing their home for failure to pay water bill or foreclosure. The program is unique in that it works toward solving one of the greater problems with access to justice: a person who comes to an attorney with one legal problem is likely to have another legal problem that does not get addressed.

Technology for legal assistance is new territory, but now the Maryland Judiciary has launched the Maryland Law Help app. This app helps users find a court, access forms, locate statutes, and get connected to legal assistance in the Judiciary’s law libraries and self-help centers through their mobile devices.

Civil Justice, Inc., a Maryland non-profit legal services organization, will soon release an online referral program called JusticeReferrals. Meant for attorney’s working for Maryland pro bono, reduced-fee, and legal services organizations, it helps those seeking help get effective legal representation in one place. First, a client’s answers to intake questions gets input into the system. Next, statewide attorneys and member organizations who handle the client’s type of case will be notified and determine if and how they may be able to help the potential client. This data driven, inter-agency referral process should help find the client the best fit for their legal concerns. It is also meant to solve the frustrations many people have when interacting with legal service providers: the feeling of being bounced from one referral to the next without knowing why and without getting effective assistance.

Categories
Attorney Training lawlibrary Legal Technology

Do you need A/V Equipment for your trial?

The Circuit Court’s Information Services Department is responsible for the court’s evidence presentation equipment, which is available on a first-come, first-served basis. To reserve the equipment, you can fill out an online form (available here) or call the Information Services Department at (410) 222-1484. If you are unfamiliar with the evidence presentation equipment and would like training on the equipment, contact the Information Services Department.

Are you interested in learning more about different programs and technologies available to attorneys for evidence presentation? If so, check out these articles.

Categories
lawlibrary Legal Technology

Tech Troubles?

If you are having tech troubles or you’re not sure if your firm’s technology is up to snuff, check out these articles.

Also, the ABA TECHSHOW, a conference and tech expo for lawyers, legal professionals and technology, is this week. You can learn more about the TECHSHOW, including CLE programming and education here.

Categories
lawlibrary Legal Technology Pro Bono Self Represented

Getting Acquainted with the Law and the Justice System

Last month, a patron asked your friendly law librarian if Black’s Law Dictionary was a good place to begin reading if someone wanted to start learning about the law and the justice system. The answer is no — unless you really love reading dictionaries, in which case, the Law Library has several editions of Black’s Law Dictionary, Ballentine’s Law Dictionary and Bouvier’s Law Dictionary available for your perusal.

Where to start your research will really depend on your interests and goals. The library user that inspired this post did not have a specific question or topic in mind. He just thought it was a good idea to learn about the law and the justice system. If you’re of the same mind, then check out these resources, which will help you get started.

  • Court Websites
  • Legal Information Websites
  • Legal Encyclopedias
    • American Jurisprudence 2d – available in print and online through the Law Library’s WestlawNext subscription
    • Maryland Law Encyclopedia – available in print and online through the Law Library’s WestlawNext subscription

We will publish a more detailed post on each resource throughout the month of March, so stay tuned! There are many more great resources to help you get acquainted with the law and the justice system. If you would like more personalized guidance, please contact the Law Library!

Categories
lawlibrary Legal Technology

Online Databases in the Limelight – Verdict Search*

Online databases can be invaluable, time-saving  tools to any legal researcher as they provide organized access to a wide array of legal resources as well as sophisticated search tools.  Many online databases, including fee-based databases, are available at the Law Library, free of charge, to library patrons.  This month, the blog will feature six of the online databases available at the Law Library.

Are you looking for assistance with case valuation (i.e., what is the amount of money that you can reasonably expect in damages)?  Then look no further because the Law Library subscribes to VerdictSearch, an online database for verdict and settlement research.  VerdictSearch at the Law Library provides users with access to federal and state cases from Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. Search results may assist you with your trial research and strategy development.

How do I search on VerdictSearch? You can search by keywords (e.g., “car accident”) and then use any of the following filters:

  • Type of Injury (e.g., back, neck, head)
  • Venue (state and/or federal)
  • Case type (e.g., motor vehicle, insurance, wrongful death)
  • Award Type (e.g., verdict-plaintiff, settlement, mediated settlement)
  • Date Range (any range from 1988 to 2015)
  • Award Amount (e.g., less than $10,000, $10,000 to $100,000)

You can further refine their searches by plaintiff type (e.g., age, gender), expert name, attorney name, judge name, and insurance carrier. Once you have your results, VerdictSearch’s document delivery includes printing and email (PDF and Word).

Can I access VerdictSearch at the Library? Yes! The Law Library offers FREE, in-person access to VerdictSearch on a designated computer in our computer room. Please come to the service desk to request assistance in accessing VerdictSearch.

What to do if you need help with VerdictSearch? Please ask for help at the Law Library’s service desk. We can provide technical and research assistance.

Can I access the Law Library’s VerdictSearch subscription from home? No. The Law Library’s current subscription permits in-person use at the library only.

*This blog post is an update of a blog post previously published on December 22, 2014.

Categories
lawlibrary Legal Technology Self Represented

Online Databases in the Limelight – NOLO

Online databases can be invaluable, time-saving  tools to any legal researcher as they provide organized access to a wide array of legal resources as well as sophisticated search tools.  Many online databases, including fee-based databases, are available at the Law Library, free of charge, to library patrons.  This month, the blog will feature six of the online databases available at the Law Library.

NOLO publishes do-it-yourself manuals, a lawyer directory and form books in print and electronic formats all written in plain English, meaning that you do not need a legal background to understand the text. For legal research, NOLO’s materials can be a great starting point to get a general understanding of the law in a specific subject. Through the library’s online subscription, you have access NOLO’s publications, which include titles on topics such as auto accidents, bankruptcy, business law, criminal law, debt management, disability law, LGBT law, medical malpractice, real estate, small businesses, workers’ compensation and much more! You can search for specific keywords or browse titles. However, NOLO does not provide legal advice, and you should not consider these materials as a substitute for legal advice from an attorney.

Can I access NOLO at the Library? Yes! The Law Library offers FREE, in-person access to the NOLO database.

How to use NOLO in the Library? You can access NOLO from any of the public access computers available at the Law Library.

What to do if you need help with NOLO? Please ask for help at the Law Library’s service desk. We can provide technical and research assistance.

Can I access the Law Library’s NOLO subscription from home? No. The Law Library’s current subscription permits in-person use at the library only. However, NOLO offers many free articles on topics like accidents, bankruptcy, immigration, taxes, wills, and much more. You can access this free information at www.nolo.com.

Do you prefer print resources? Then check out the Law Library’s print collection of NOLO titles, which includes the following:

  • NOLO’s Encyclopedia of Everyday Law (SELF HELP KF387 .N65 2014);
  • NOLO’s Essential Guide to Divorce (SELF HELP KF535 .D67 2014);
  • NOLO’s Guide to Social Security Disability (SELF HELP KF3649 .M6 2014);
  • Patent, Copyright & Trademark (SELF HELP KF2980 .E44 2014);
  • Contracts: The Essential Business Desk Reference (SELF HELP KF801 .S75 2011);
  • Neighbor Law: Fences, Trees, Boundaries & Noise (SELF HELP KF639 .J67 2014);
  • Plus many more!

For more information about understanding legal research, including the difference between primary and secondary legal resources, check out these research guides.

Categories
lawlibrary Legal Technology

Online Databases in the Limelight – HeinOnline*

Online databases can be invaluable, time-saving  tools to any legal researcher as they provide organized access to a wide array of legal resources as well as sophisticated search tools.  Many online databases, including fee-based databases, are available at the Law Library, free of charge, to library patrons.  This month, the blog will feature six of the online databases available at the Law Library.

Do you want what’s on the computer screen to match what was printed? Are you interested in accessing historical articles? If so, then HeinOnline may be the online database service for you! Launched in 2000, HeinOnline is the largest, image-based legal research database with full-text and page images of law review articles, treatises and primary sources of law.  HeinOnline users can search for specific resources or browse one of the database’s many collections.  For example, you can browse the Law Journal Library collection and see a listing of a specific Law Review’s articles, organized chronologically. Or, if you are interested in railroad case law from the 1800s, you can search HeinOnline’s Early American Case Law collection.

In addition, the Law Library’s subscription now includes the ABA Law LIbrary Collection Periodicals! Through this database, library users have digital access to 98 ABA titles, including ABA Journal, ABA Journal of Labor & Employment Law, Family Law Litigation, Mass Torts Litigants, Products Liability, and Trial Practice. A complete list of publications is available here.

Why use HeinOnline? Can’t I access the same information through LexisNexis or WestlawNext? Yes, there is overlap between the resources available on HeinOnline and the resources available on the WestlawNext and Lexis.  However, there are two big reasons why you may prefer to use HeinOnline over WestlawNext and LexisNexis.  First, HeinOnline is an image-based database. This means that you can see page images of documents, including graphics, which match the print versions of the resources.  Second, HeinOnline has a greater focus on retrospective historical coverage, meaning that you can find older documents that may be unavailable in the other databases.  

Can I access HeinOnline at the Library? Yes! The Law Library offers FREE, in-person access to HeinOnline.

How to use HeinOnline in the Library? You can access HeinOnline from any of the public access computers available at the Law Library.

What to do if you need help with HeinOnline? Please ask for help at the Law Library’s service desk. We can provide technical and research assistance.

Can I access the Law Library’s HeinOnline subscription from home? No. The Law Library’s current subscription permits in-person use in the courthouse only.

For more information about understanding legal research, including the difference between primary and secondary legal resources, check out these research guides.

*This blog post is an update of a blog post previously published on December 9, 2014.

Categories
lawlibrary Legal Technology

Online Databases in the Limelight – LexisNexis*

IMG_1894
Here is one of the computers in the Law Library with access to LexisNexis.

Online databases can be invaluable, time-saving  tools to any legal researcher as they provide organized access to a wide array of legal resources as well as sophisticated search tools.  Many online databases, including fee-based databases, are available at the Law Library, free of charge, to library patrons.  This month, the blog will feature six of the online databases available at the Law Library.

Lexis is one of the biggest players in the world of legal publishing and online legal research.  Lexis offers LexisNexis, a platform for searchable databases with access to a wide array of primary resources, such as federal and state statutes, federal and state regulations and case law, as well as secondary resources, such as encyclopedias, treatises, journal articles and form books.*  

There is a myriad of tools, resources and services available through Lexis.  Some of the most popular secondary Maryland resources available through our LexisNexis subscription are Pleading Causes of Action in Maryland  and MICPEL’s Marital Settlement Agreement Form. In addition, LexisNexis provides Shepard’s Case Citations, which identifies all published cases and other sources that cite (e.g., refer to) the case being reviewed by the legal researcher and provides additional information, such as the reason why the later case cited the case at hand.  This is important information to have as later cases can affect the value of the case at hand or later cases may better address the matter being researched.  In addition, the Law Library’s subscription includes document delivery services (e.g., email, print, PDF downloads, RTF downloads) so that users can access certain resources after the online session has concluded.

Can I access LexisNexis at the Library? Yes! The Law Library offers FREE, in-person access to LexisNexis. As access to LexisNexis can be cost-prohibitive to attorneys and self-represented litigants, the Law Library provides free access to meet its users’ legal research needs.

How to use LexisNexis in the Library? There are three computers designated for public LexisNexis access in the law library. Each computer has a small sign indicating the availability of LexisNexis. You do not need log-in information — simply double-click on the LexisNexis icon on the computer’s desktop.

What to do if you need help with LexisNexis? Please ask for help at the Law Library’s service desk. We can provide technical assistance (e.g.,  how to get started, how to use and search the database) as well as research assistance (e.g.,  how best to formulate your search, which resources to target for more refined searches).

Can I access the Law Library’s LexisNexis subscription from home? No. The Law Library’s current subscription permits in-person use at the library only.

*This blog post is an update of a blog post previously published on December 2, 2014.

**For more information about understanding legal research, including the difference between primary and secondary legal resources, check out these research guides.

Categories
lawlibrary Legal Technology

Online Databases in the Limelight – WestlawNext*

IMG_1889
Here’s a snapshot of one of the computers in our computer room with WestlawNext access.

Online databases can be invaluable, time-saving  tools to any legal researcher as they provide organized access to a wide array of legal resources as well as sophisticated search tools.  Many online databases, including fee-based databases, are available at the Law Library, free of charge, to library patrons.  This month, the blog will feature six of the online databases available at the Law Library.

Thomson Reuters is one of the biggest players in the world of legal publishing and online legal research and is the publisher of WestlawNext, a platform for searchable databases with access to a wide array of primary resources, such as federal and state statutes, federal and state regulations and case law, as well as secondary resources, such as encyclopedias, treatises, journal articles and form books.**

There is a myriad of tools, resources and services available through both WestlawNext.  One of the most popular services provided through WestlawNext is KeyCite, which is an online case citator service. KeyCite identifies all published cases and other sources that cite (e.g., refer to) the case being reviewed by the legal researcher and provide additional information, such as the reason why the later case cited the case at hand.  This is important information to have as later cases can affect the value of the case at hand or later cases may better address the matter being researched.  In addition, document delivery services (e.g., email, print, PDF downloads, RTF downloads) are available through the Law Library’s WestlawNext subscription. This means that users can access certain resources after the online session has concluded.

Can I access WestlawNext at the Library? Yes! The Law Library offers FREE, in-person access to WestlawNext. As access to WestlawNext can be cost-prohibitive to attorneys and self-represented litigants, the Law Library provides free access to meet its users’ legal research needs.

How to use WestlawNext in the Library? There are two computers designated for public WestlawNext access in the law library. Each computer has a small sign indicating the availability of WestlawNext. You do not need log-in information — simply double-click on the WestlawNext icon on the computer’s desktop.

What to do if you need help with WestlawNext? Please ask for help at the Law Library’s service desk. We can provide technical assistance (e.g.,  how to get started, how to use and search the database) as well as research assistance (e.g.,  how best to formulate your search, which resources to target for more refined searches).

Can I access the Law Library’s WestlawNext subscription from home? No. The Law Library’s current subscription permits in-person use at the library only.

*This blog post is an update of a blog post previously published on December 2, 2014.

**For more information about understanding legal research, including the difference between primary and secondary legal resources, check out these research guides.