As summer jobs and internships start, one of the questions we get at the Library is “how do I start my research?” The good news is, there are lots of resources on how to do that!
Some of the best resources are Libguides on legal research. Libguides are created by librarians, and there are lots of law librarians helping you out! Florida Coastal has a great one for low cost legal research.
If you want more, run a search in Google for libguide starting legal research: .edu (that : .edu restricts the search to only school websites). Or change up the language and run starting legal research libguide: .edu (it will give you slightly different results). Switch up the words for more results libguide beginning legal research: .edu for example.
Or, call a Librarian! We are here all summer for you, whether it is for class, an externship or work! You can call and leave a message, we will call you back – (904) 680-7612. Or you can email us your question email@example.com or use the Ask A Librarian page.
No matter where you fall on the hot-button topic of climate change there is no denying it’s an important issue. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released a summary of its most recent set of findings and figures in March. The WMO is a specialized agency of the United Nations with a membership of 191 Member States and Territories (as of January 1, 2013). It originated from the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), which was founded in 1873. Established in 1950, WMO became the specialized agency of the United Nations in 1951 for meteorology (weather and climate), operational hydrology and related geophysical sciences.
As weather, climate and the water cycles know no national boundaries, international cooperation at a global scale is essential for the development of meteorology and operational hydrology as well as to reap the benefits from their application. WMO provides the framework for such international cooperation.
This summary and website can lead you to a ton of other international sources on climate and environmental law. Use the list of topics at the top of WMO’s home page or the facets on the left to find relevant information that may be more difficult to get to simply by using the web site search box. Evaluating and making use of all access points (also known as finding aids) are important research processes.
- Low Cost Legal Research Workshops;
- Make-up (Statutes, Shepards, Cases & Secondary Sources) Workshops;
- Navigating Lexis & Secondary Sources Training;
- Cases & Statutes in Lexis Training;
- Navigating Westlaw & Secondary Sources Training;
- Cases & Statutes in Westlaw Training;
- Hot Dog Wednesday hosted by the Library & IT;
- Pick up your new Coastal ID in the Atrium on Monday & Tuesday from 10am-2pm;
- Possible noise from the Atrium on Tuesday & Thursday at noon.
If your response is, “What is sunshine week?” you are probably not alone. Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know. This is an important topic because access to the law is really important to lawyers, law students, and law librarians. Check out all the great FREE legal information available on FDSys. The Library of Congress makes finding legislative and congressional information a breeze with Thomas. Here is an example of how an open government can force a public figure to answer for their use of public funds. The list of reasons supporting open government and freedom of information is huge. What reasons can you think of?
The Jenkins Law Library located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is over 200 years old, but don’t let its age cause you to think that it is just a relic of the past. The Jenkins Law Library is still going strong and makes available a wealth of legal research tools and resources. Students, solo-practitioners, and law firms can become members of the law library and take advantage of the many databases and resources available. Even if you are not a member of the Jenkins Law Library, the law library offers services that may be useful to attorneys, such as legal research, copying, Shepardizing or Keyciting cases, and document delivery. The Jenkins Law Library is a great low cost alternative to other well-known legal information providers.
Have you seen the recent development in Florida concerning funeral protests? There was an article in the Jacksonville Times Union describing a bill that has been passed in the Florida Senate that would affect those protests. If you notice they give you a citation to that bill: SB 118. If you want to keep track of how that bill makes its way through our legislature you can head over to the Florida Senate’s website at http://www.flsenate.gov/. Once you are there just put the bill number (118) in the search box at the top of the screen and you can see all the exciting things that have happened as the bill makes its way through the senate. One of the options allows you to view the staff analyses of the bill which can often give you some insight into the legislative intent. This is a great way to get comfortable with Florida legislative history research. (This can be very tough) If you want to be notified any time there is activity concerning this or any other bill just sign up for Senate Tracker account. With a Senate Tracker account you can track items throughout the website, view the latest updates on the Tracker tab, and receive email notifications when those items are updated. You can create an account here. All you need is an email address. Did I mention this is all free? It is!
By now, most of you have probably used Encore – our library’s catalog. More efficient (though no less magical) than the card catalogs of old, Encore allows you to see all the library resources you have access to as a member of the Coastal Community.
But what about when you are off site? Maybe you want to do some light ConLaw reading over holiday break? Or maybe that last minute preparation for Moot Court oral argument has to be done out of town?
Fear not, just as Encore is a catalog that shows you what we have here at Coastal, WorldCat.org is a catalog that can show you what is available wherever you are around the world.
Simply type in your preferred search using title/author/keyword terms and then you can narrow by facets on the left, similar to Encore. Once you locate a particular record, you can see which libraries hold that resource and how far they are from your location.
Take Legal Research in a Nutshell, for example, since we all know how important it is to keep your legal research skills sharp.The WorldCat.org record for this resource can he found here. Follow that link and you’ll have the chance to Enter your location – zip code, city/state (or province), or country.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the warnings about Wikipedia: Don’t use it! Steer clear of Wikipedia! It can be edited by anyone!
You can use Wikipedia, just use it responsibly. And how do you do that? Here are a few examples on how to use Wikipedia responsibly.
When I lived in Pittsburgh, I read an article about jitneys being held up. What’s a jitney? I went to Wikipedia and got the disambiguation page. Ah, that was enough for me to understand what the article was about. If I was writing about jitneys in my ALWR, I would not cite Wikipedia. Nope. Wikipedia’s just a starting point. The first option, Share Taxi, has few citations and is disputed. So I’d go back to the disambiguation page and go the next option, Dollar van. Again, this one is suggested to be merged with another, but does have a few citations I would check out from government agencies. This is a good starting point for something I knew nothing about a few minutes ago!
Now, how can we tell whether a Wikipedia entry is a good source of information or not? Consider the entry about Hurricane Sandy. On it’s face, it looks to be a good entry. Lots of citations to reliable outside sources. But who actually wrote it and edited it? At the top of the entry, select the “View History” tab. This is the actual history of what was written on the Hurricane Sandy entry. Here’s where things get rather interesting. There is no mention of global warming or climate change. Every mention is “scrubbed” from the entry by Ken Marmpel, who refers to himself as just a contributor, “I have no title, I’m just a Joe Blow.” Yes indeed, this is where the danger of relying solely on Wikipedia lies. Anyone can edit an entry, and can direct the tone and message of the entry.
In summary, the value of Wikipedia lies in the sources it can lead you to, not in the entry itself.
But case filings are not available online from the Broward County Clerk of Court. so I’ll have to wait until the case is decided. Most likely it will show up in the Florida Law Weekly Supplement, which is available form our subscription database page. If you’ve never used Florida Law Weekly (FLW) or Florida Law Weekly Supplement (FLWS), it can be a bit confusing. At the top of the screen, select which you want; FLW has Florida Supreme Court and District Court of Appeals opinions while FLWS has Florida Circuit Court and County Court opinions. At the top of the page, select which you want. From the next page, below the publication names, select search FLW or FLW Supplement. This will bring you to an advanced search page. A pretty neat way to find cases not normally found in Westlaw or Lexis.