This past Sunday, we wrapped up the law library's annual student survey. More than 90% of our students answer that access to the Exam Archive is a reason for visiting the library's website. Hopefully 100% of our students know about this collection. In case that's not true, here's what the system provides, as well as a technical note for Firefox users.
The library manages the Exam Archive to provide access to documents from our Registrar's Office. The system is available to all Georgetown Law students, where you can download past exams from 1998 to the present. Using the system, you can download exam files in batches (as a zip archive) or individually by semester.
In the survey, one person commented about problems with the Firefox browser that's useful to know. If you are using the Firefox browser, a bug in Firefox’s built-in PDF viewer may cause the Georgetown Law watermark to obscure the text in exam files.
If you encounter this problem, please try viewing exam files in another browser (Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, etc.) or a standalone PDF viewer such as Adobe Reader. This page has more information about Firefox’s PDF Viewer, including how to turn it off or use a different PDF plugin.
What happens to a person's Facebook page after they die? What about other social media accounts and digital assets? In New Hampshire the House is considering a bill that would give control over a decedent's social media accounts (e.g, Facebook, email, blogs) to the executor of the estate. Other states have addressed the issue via legislation as well, but not all. And the laws vary across the states.
"A fiduciary who is administering a decedent's estate or the affairs of an incapacitated individual needs to be able to find, access, value, protect and transfer the individual's online accounts and digital property. Because of the need to provide protection against fraud and identity theft, in recent years it has become increasingly difficult for fiduciaries to obtain the necessary access to digital information promptly and efficiently. Beginning in 2005 a number of states have enacted legislation covering some of these issues, but the legislation varies greatly. The study committee will consider and make recommendations concerning the authority and powers of a fiduciary to access digital information related to a decedent's estate or the affairs of an incapacitated individual."
The draft document the Drafting Committee reviewed at its first meeting (in the Fall of 2012) is posted online. According to the document, only five states have enacted legislation dealing with fiduciary access to digital assets but several are considering it. The work of the Committee should provide needed guidance to all states.
Can "big data" predict the outcome of cases? How can law firms leverage the power of "quantitative legal prediction" to better serve clients while reducing costs? Law Technology News has published an interesting article presenting the challenges of this exciting technology and how law firms may benefit from "big data." Several law firms implementing these new technologies and companies providing data analysis services are profiled in the article.
On January 30th the law library will host a conference entitled Big Data and Big Challenges for Law and Legal Information. By bringing together academics, governmental staff, policy advocates, and librarians, the day-long program will examine how to use data for the public good while protecting personal privacy.
A new "Big Data" resource of tax material has recently been made available. On October 30, Public.Resource.Org made available 10 years' worth -- nearly 6.5 million -- Exempt Organization Form 990 returns filed by exempt organizations and private foundations as well as unrelated business income (UBIT) returns filed by these organizations. The data set contains returns from January 2002 through September 2012, and will be updated monthly.
At this time, these returns are only available in pdf format, but Public.Resource.Org plan to extract the underlying data from these returns to make them more amenable for data analysis.
"Big data" is a term perhaps too narrow for the topic: the size of data sets is not the key to big data issues. Rather, society is changing because of our growing ability to discover meaning by connecting points of information electronically, across multiple, often unrelated, sources. When thinking of quantitative decision making, big data may include "small data," but lots of it.
This conference will examine the public good and collective harms that follow from the large-scale aggregation of information from public and private sources. During the course of the day, panelists will also examine how scholars, researchers, and information professionals manage very large or complex data sets to distill meaning and develop public policy.
If you'd like to attend the symposium, please register here to reserve a place as attendance is limited. You may also view the symposium agenda online.
The Bluebook is now available for iPad and iPhone users for $40 to download for use in the app called rulebook, from Ready Reference Apps. This contains the full text of the entire 19th edition of the book, which is fully searchable. You can bookmark sections, add notes and highligt sections. There's been an online version of the Bluebook for a while, but this is the first time this content is available in a native mobile app. You can't get it on an Android or Windows Phone device, but if you own an iPhone and an iPad, you can get it on both devices with a single purchase, as long as they share the same iTunes account.
Because it's available as an app, this version of the Bluebook gets you easy access to the book's contents. Searches are quick, and it should be easy to get to find what you need. Following is a view of the search results for "parallel citation" with the iPhone and iPad results shown together. Text in the iPhone display is understandably truncated, but it shows rule number or bluepage reference. By comparison, the web-based version of the Bluebook lets you sort search results by table, rules, bluepages and personal notes. Both are pretty easy to scan.
In terms of pricing, the Bluebook app cost is comparable to the other electronic version. For $40, you get the 19th edition to keep. By comparison, current price for the other version is: $32 for 1 year, $42 for 2 and $50 for 3 years. On that system, you get access to the 18th and 19th edition, and there are differences to the way materials are browsed and searched. In print, it costs around $34.
The app version is very useful, but there are a few small features not yet fully implemeted. Though you can highlight text, you cannot copy and paste it yet. The app designer says that this feature is expected in an update soon. This will be especially helpful if you use this app platform for other content, such as court rules.
One quirk to the rulebook app is that moving from section to section isn't a smooth reading experience, like you find in a Kindle or iBooks. Sometimes it works to browse from one section to the next, but the app is a bit finicky right now. Admittedly, the Bluebook isn't exactly a "pager turner" kind of publication, so this is probably okay. Also, this might be something addressed in a future update to the rulebook app.
If you use an iPhone or iPad and have to reference the Bluebook, consider this app as an option. To explore the rulebook app platform before buying, you can dowload the free app and get a version of the Federal Rules of Evidence for free to try the platform.
Georgetown Law students are reminded that we've got a comprehensive Bluebook Guide to help understand many of the features of this citation resource.
Lexis and Westlaw both restrict student access over the summer, but continuing students may request an extension of their passwords if they meet certain conditions. Examples of these conditions include:
Taking summer law school classes that require access for their course preparation and assignments;
Doing research associated with law review, law journal, or moot court work over the summer;
Serving as a research assistant for a faculty member; or
Working in an unpaid, nonprofit public internship or externship position for school credit or to fulfill a graduation requirement.
Note that this continued access must be for academic purposes only. Using a Lexis or Westlaw password for a commercial purpose is in direct violation of our academic subscription terms.
If you have additional questions regarding summer password extensions, please direct them to Pedro de Lencastre at Westlaw (email@example.com) and/or Lori Sorenson at Lexis (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Law Library is conducting a survey of all Georgetown law students. Please take about 10 minutes to give us your feedback on the law library's collections, services and a related matters. We promise to read every comment submitted, and we'll do what we can to act on and respond to your feedback.
One lucky student completing the survey will win an Amazon Kindle Fire. We will keep the survey open through Thursday, April 12, and plan to announce the student winner during April after the survey closes.
It should only take a few minutes to complete the voluntary survey. Based on feedback in prior years, we revised the past exam archive, created an online group study reservation system, relocated the reference desk in the Wolff Library and purchased new chairs for the Williams Reading Room and Williams library fifth floor. In addition, we have added book scanners, and we enhanced frequently-used library collections, including our collection of DVD and study aids.