AALL Conferences lawlibrary

AALL Annual Meeting Roundup: My Experience

The Annual Meeting and Conference of the American Association of  Law Libraries (AALL) was held July 10 to July 13 in Denver.  I was fortunate to receive a grant from the LISP-SIS (Legal Information to the Public Special Interest Section) making the travel cost less burdensome as the court could not pay any travel expenses this year.    Attendance at the AALL annual meeting is a valuable experience that I felt worthwhile enough for me to still foot a large part of the bill for attendance.

The obvious benefit of attendance is the many educational programs but the meeting and getting to know other law librarians from across the country is invaluable as well.  The contacts made at this and past AALL conferences have come in handy here in Anne Arundel County and Maryland.  Most recently contacts made with librarians in other states have helped in the creation of our “Ask a Lawyer in the Law Library” program.  The Conference of Maryland Court Law Library Directors was created after following the example of other states with the input of the librarians involved.

Now that I have returned to work after taking some additional personal time  I will report on my experience in Denver over the next few days.

lawlibrary Legal Technology

Google Scholar adds new feature: “search within citing articles”

In the beginning of this month the 3 Geeks and a Law Blog reported that Google Scholar has added a new feature that allows searching within the citing articles.    Their review states that this new feature “takes its “cited by” function up a notch by allowing you to limit the search to cases or secondary resources that have all cited the same document.”  The post provides a good description of how it works.  You can also read about it in the Google Scholar Blog.

lawlibrary Pro Bono Self Represented

“Ask a Lawyer” Article in the MSBA Bar Bulletin

The library finally received the June 15, 2010 issue containing the article, “Ask a Lawyer” Gains Momentum by Adrienne Hagepanos in the PRO BONO Profile of the MSBA Bar Bulletin.  It is now available at the MSBA website, too.

lawlibrary Maryland Law

New Maryland Foreclosure Laws and Rules

HB472/CH. 485, Residential Property Foreclosure Procedures – Foreclosure Mediation, makes changes to MD. CODE ANN., REAL PROP.  7-105.1 (2009). Changes include requirements for notice of intent to foreclose and mediation.  These changes are effective July 1, 2010.

There are new corresponding rules that will go into effect on July 1 as well.  The 164th report of the Court’s Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure was submitted on May 21, 2010 and the order was filed on June 7, 2010.  The Rules order with amendments to Rules 14-102, 12-202, 14-205, 14-206, 14-207, 14-208, 14-211, 14-212, and 14-214 will take effect on July 1, 2010.   The new rules were published in the June 18, 2010 issue of the Maryland Register (37:13 Md. R. 840-847 (June 18, 2010)).  They can also be found at the Rules Committee website.  They should be available on Lexis by July 1 – but the history should be checked before relying on them.

Other foreclosure laws passed were SB562/CH. 322 (crossfiled with HB633/CH. 323) Real Property – Mortgages and Deeds of Trust – Authority to exercise a Power of Sale, SB654/CH. 587 (crossfiled with HB711/CH. 588) Real Property – Tenants in Foreclosure – Conforming to Federal Law, and SB784/Ch. 611 Maryland Statutory Trust Act.  All of these are effective June 1, 2010.

A notebook containing printouts of these new laws and rules is available in the law library.  Copies will also be on the LAN @ J:\Lawlib\Foreclosure 2010 changes.

lawlibrary Pro Bono Self Represented

Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Service

I am proud to say that I just attended my first in person Court of Appeals Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Service meeting last Wednesday on June 16 as the newly appointed public member.

This was a joint meeting with the local and regional pro bono committee chairs of  Maryland.  All of the chairs described the pro bono activity sponsored by their committees.  Dan Andrews, the AABA Pro Bono Committee Co-chair, was there to report on Anne Arundel County’s pro bono projects.  He concentrated on the “Ask a Lawyer in the Library” program that has gotten underway this year.   This meeting was a great source of inspiration for new ideas for the pro bono committee in Anne Arundel.

Another source of  ideas for local committees can be found in the new Best Practices Manual for Local Pro Bono Committees written by Claire A. Smearman  and edited by Sharon E. Goldsmith of the PBRC  who staff the Standing Committee.   Each meeting attendee received a copy of the new manual.

The standing committee is established by Maryland Rule 16-901 Maryland Rule 16-902 calls for the creation of local pro bono committees.   The rule outlines the composition of the local committee and requires the creation of a local plan.  I am not aware of the existence of any local committee in Anne Arundel County other than the bar committee chaired by Dan Andrews and Elizabeth Leight.  I hope to obtain more information about the local committee and the local plan through my participation on the statewide committee.

lawlibrary Pro Bono Self Represented

Award Winning Pro Bono Program in the Law Library

Last night at the AABA Annual Meeting outgoing President, Hon. Danielle Mosley,  mentioned the that the joint AACPLL\AABA “Ask a Lawyer in the Library Program” had received an award.  It was nice to have this program recognized before the Anne Arundel County Bar.

On June 12, 2010 I received the PBRC 2010 Maryland Pro Bono Service Herbert S. Garten Special Project Award for the library’s “Ask a Lawyer in the Library” program.

(I have heard that the program was described in the June 2010 MSBA Bar Bulletin.  I have not yet read the article as our issue has not yet been received and it is not yet available on the MSBA website.)

The program brings volunteer attorneys into the law library each Wednesday to provide brief, limited legal advice to the public.  This program has expanded into public library branches in west and north county.  The law library has also coordinated the AABA’s participation in Anne Arundel County’s Homeless Resource Day with an “Ask a Lawyer” service there.

Program participants can speak to an attorney for up to twenty minutes for legal advice and information.   There is no time limit at the Homeless Day event. The law library offers back up research and reference service for the volunteer attorneys and the participants.

Since the program’s inception 303 clients have been served by 34 attorneys for a total of 144 hours.  For a listing of all of the volunteers and links to program descriptions and pictures, visit the AACPLL wiki Pro Bono Stats page.

The attorneys who volunteer have been more than generous with their time.  Those who have made use of the program have been appreciative of the guidance the attorneys have provided.


Social Media Best Practices for Courts to be Developed in Massachusetts

A recent article in the ABA Journal online reported that the Knight Foundation awarded a grant to John Davidow of WUBR in Boston for his project to create best practices for the use of new technologies and digital reporting in the courts.  A Boston courtroom will act as a laboratory with Wi-Fi to allow for live blogging and use of live streaming of court proceedings.

Other goals are to publish the daily docket on the web (the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court already publishes the Daily Docket on its webpage) and to create a wiki of legal terms for the public (the Peoples Law Library of Maryland includes a Dictionary of Legal Terms than might act as a good model).


Something silly in an URL

The Law Technology News provides links to blogs of interest everyday.  Recently they linked to Larry Bodine’s Law Marketing Blog which discussed the importance of choosing the URL for your website wisely.  This blog post on June 8, 2010, Five of the Funniest Web URLs, shows what happens when a new URL is not reviewed carefully.   He cites examples from the book, Slurls: They Called Their Website What? by Andy Geldman.  The only one I will repeat here is that  the website for Choose Spain can be found at


Legal Research on a Budget

In a recent issue of the Law Technology News I saw a link to an article in the Texas Lawyer entitled “Legal Research on the Cheap.”  This  article described ways to perform legal research for free.   The author talked about his inability to construct first search successful Boolean queries using Lexis or Westlaw and suggested the use of free resources to get a better handle on the legal research question.  These sources were also recommended as a way to reduce client legal research costs.

Google Scholar is recommended because of its user-friendly interface and the large coverage of the database that includes caselaw and journals.   Still, he found limitations and would not recommend using this tool instead of Westlaw or Lexis.  Using  Internet searches as a means of getting basic, general information about a research issue is another recommendation.   He cites legal blogs as good resources on legal topics.  The third recommended resource is the Cornell University Legal Information Institute as a user-friendly site with links to state and federal statutes and rules.  LexisOne Free Case Law Research is recommended as well, again with limitations.

When I read the post I was compelled to reply.  What is missing  from this list is the best free resource I know, the law library and law librarian.  Attorneys who are fortunate enough to work in a firm with a comprehensive  library and professional librarians should be aware that the librarian is expert at formulating queries for use in Lexis and Westlaw.  A librarian can also suggest resources, in print or online, that would provide the overview needed for the research to begin.  Secondary sources such as topical treatises and encyclopedias are a great way to get a handle on a new research project.

Attorneys without a firm library or librarian might be able to take advantage of the local county, court or state law library.  The website of the State, Court and County Law Libraries Special Interest Section of the American Association of Law Libraries contains a listing of law libraries on the web and an interactive map for locating law libraries across the country.  Links to information on Maryland law libraries can be found on the Maryland’s Peoples Law Library.

Public law libraries often provide free access to the legal research databases such as Westlaw, Lexis, HeinOnline and BNA as we do here in the AACPLL.  Librarians can suggest other sources and assist with query formulation.  All for free and much more personalized.  A visit to the law library can be a much more efficient use of attorney time than multiple, unsuccessful searches on Westlaw, Lexis or the Internet in general.


Mandatory CLE for Maryland Attorneys?

Paul Mark Sandler stated in his blog “The Art of Advocacy”  how important he thinks that Maryland should join most other states in requiring mandatory continuing education for  lawyers in his post: Why Maryland Needs Mandatory CLE.  Paul Mark Sandler chaired the MCLE subcommittee of Maryland’s Commission on Professionalism.

The Commission on Professionalism, created by the Court of Appeals as a permanent commission in March 2009, has recommended the adoption of rules requiring mandatory CLE.  The (Proposed) Rules of the Maryland Commission on Mandatory Continuing Legal Education would require 10 hours of mandatory continuing legal education each year.  Frequently Asked Questions Concerning the Commission on Professionalism and its Proposed Rule on Mandatory MCLE can be found on the Maryland Judiciary’s website.

Maryland law libraries should explore the opportunities such a rule would create.  Court libraries could partner with local bar associations to provide legal research programs that could range from the basics of  online legal research to the use and evaluation of Internet resources.