In mid July, law librarians from all across the country gathered for the annual meeting of the American Association of Law Librarians (AALL). This year, the meeting was held in our hometown of Philadelphia, which meant that we were all able to attend and participate in the festivities. Over the next couple of months, we will be sharing our varied experiences at the conference, to give you all a better idea of how we hone our skills and learn about emerging trends on law librarianship.
What I Did Last Summer
by Robert Hegadorn
Although the seminars I attended at AALL this year were interesting and informative, as usual, I found that the things I learned from the many legal information vendors in attendance at the exhibit hall would be of the most immediate interest to our community of brand-new and returning Villanova Law Students.
The things I found most interesting were the upgrades Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg are rolling out. What I found myself most impressed by was something seemingly simple: The link-creator function now available for many Lexis Advance pages and documents. I had discussed the process of creating such links before with Villanova’s Lexis vendor representative—and apparently many others in other organizations must have discussed it as well, since Lexis has definitely come through with what will be, for me, a very useful tool. The reason I’m so impressed is that this new Lexis feature will readily allow links from important information in Lexis Advance to the various research guides our Library provides through its web page. Students and others will find it useful in their collaborative work in school and beyond. As for WestlawNext, a fairly new feature is their “Practical Law” resource. This feature will likely also prove to be valuable material for research guides and for students. Bloomberg Law likewise have interesting new features, such as their “Draft Analyser” function.
Another new resource (new too me, at least) that I believe will be of use to students is Ravel Law. One nice feature is the price: Free for law students; just make a user account. Ravel’s issue-mapping feature (available with the free student account) provides an interesting visual chart of a selected issue, displaying leading cases along with their precursors and progeny. I believe law students will find this visual display of the development of case law to be very helpful in tracking down leading authorities. Case presentations in Ravel Law provide a number of useful features, including a page-by-page analysis of citation. Video demonstrations are available on Ravel’s website.
So, my final take-away impression of the Philadelphia Conference is that there is always something new to learn. For law students, this is something to keep in mind—law school marks the beginning of a process of learning that does not end with a graduation ceremony, but continues throughout a lawyer’s professional life. With luck, the process will frequently be as congenial and enjoyable as an AALL Conference. Good luck this year to old and new learners alike!