It’s Crunch Time!

What have I done!?

@ miguelavg  on Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license 


How can it be? Do exams really start a week from today? The spring exam period is so short compared to the fall so you may be wondering how you’re going to cram in all of that studying into just one week? Well, you don’t have to go it alone-let the Law Library give you a helping hand!

Try:

  • Listening to free podcasts from Lawdibles on your commute or while at the gym. These 10 minutes or less lectures cover narrow subjects of law including things like character evidence and causation in criminal law. Available via iTunes or download from the blog.
  • Taking old exams to practice your skills. They are available online and in print (ask at the Circulation Desk for the list)
  • Answering some shorter sample questions to test yourself on specific topics. The Examples & Explanations series is great for this as is the Questions & Answers series!
  • Reviewing concepts using the CALI online tutorials—completely free and gives you a chance to answer questions as you go through the lesson. Click on Lessons to browse by subject. Many different topics are covered, everything from Contracts to Evidence even Tax! There’s even a list of what lessons correspond to what chapters in particular textbooks—see if your casebook is included!
  • Checking out headphones at the Circulation Desk if you want to re-watch a recorded class lecture or listen to one of the Lawdibles podcasts
  • Organizing your notes using outlining software

You can find many other study aids and exam prep suggestions on our Study Aids & Exam Prep online research guide.

And if you’re finishing up a research paper, check out some of these resources or stop by the Library Reference Desk for some last-minute help. We also have other research guides chock full of resources!

And take a deep breath—the good news is that this will all be over in 2 weeks!

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Get Up, Stand Up – Standing Desks in the Library!

standing desk 2In response to numerous requests from library visitors over the past few months, the law library has converted some of our carrels into standing desks to keep you on your feet while studying.

Currently we have two standing desks on the third floor of the library in the Northwest corner.  Coming from the main stairway, turn right as soon as you reach the bookshelves and you’ll see them.  One of these carrels has a functioning monitor that you can plug your laptop into to reduce neck strain while you work (Mac users will need a VGA/Displayport adapter to connect to the monitor).

Unfamiliar with the benefits of using a standing desk while you work?  It has been quite a growing trend over the last few years, as research has shown the health risks involved with extended sessions of sitting and sedentary life.  For a glimpse at the upside of standing desks, see this article on Smithsonian.com

Although we are starting with two converted desks, we will certainly consider adding more depending on demand from the student body.  If you are excited about this new development and would like us to add more or make improvements, come by the desk or use our online suggestion box!

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Advanced Legal Research Student Wins Philly Bar Association Writing Competition

by Matthew McGovern

Tohanczyn Article2015 graduate Katherine Tohanczyn won the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Pursuit of Justice Legal Writing Competition with the paper she wrote for Advanced Legal Research last spring.  The Competition’s purpose is to recognize the importance of excellence in legal analysis and writing skills.  More information about the Competition is available here.

Katherine’s submission grew out of her interest in public health and vaccine laws.  She wanted to research and write about the problem of parents requesting exemptions from school vaccination requirements because they wrongly believed the vaccines caused serious adverse effects such as autism.  The opening paragraphs of Katherine’s article are reprinted in the the Winter 2016 issue of The Philadelphia Lawyer.  Or, read the full article here:

You Could Be a Winner Too.  Check out the Library’s guide to Writing Competitions for Law Students: http://libguides.law.villanova.edu/content.php?pid=658047

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The Dean Abides

This… might require some explanation:

The Librarians Abide2

El Deanerino Vicenc Feliu atop his steed in the library with librarians Matt McGovern, Robert Hegadorn, MaryJo Heacock, and Karen Gause

A motorcycle in the library? A coffee can? A heart attack? A white russian? What is going on in the law library these days?

This photo is a submission to the AALL 2016 “Day in the Life” Photo Contest (You can see the growing list of current entries here).  Every year law libraries across the country stage and shoot funny, poignant, and beautiful images of librarians and libraries to the contest to be voted on by members of the American Association of Law Libraries.  It should be clear that we’re going for the “funny” angle.

But, what’s going on in this photo?  Many of you will notice the obvious references to The Big Lebowski, including Assistant Dean Feliu in the classic dude sweater holding a white russian, Professor McGovern’s spot-on Donny impression, Professor Hegadorn mourning his lost friend, dreamy viking Maude, nihilism, and of course the rug tying the reference desk together.

mersky_roy_4

Roy Mersky showing off his cowboy side in the law library

You may also wonder why the director of the library is sitting on top of a motorcycle in this shot, as that is not a reference to the movie.  Well, the motorcycle is his (he is an avid rider), and this is actually a subtle reference to a famous photo of the late Roy Mersky, a celebrated law librarian from the University of Texas, depicting him upon a horse at the circulation desk of Tarlton Law Library in Texas.  We had a lot of fun staging this shot!  Wish Dean Feliu luck when the voting begins in a couple of months!

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Resources for Researching Federal Judge Information

by Matt McGovern

Robert N. C. Nix, Sr., Federal BuildingFor anyone considering applying for a summer externship with a federal judge (which all 1Ls and 2Ls should consider!), it can really help to do some research before you write that cover letter.  Knowing more about a judge’s career path, history, and even articles he or she has written can give you invaluable information to customize your cover letter and make your application stand out above the rest.

Here are some resources that will help you discover more information:

  • Insiders Guide to the Pennsylvania Judiciary and the Courts - 2015 editionInsider’s Guide to the Pennsylvania Judiciary and Courts. Pages 16-32 cover the judges of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  The latest edition is available in the Library reference Collection (near the Reference Desk) at Call No.: KFP508 .A19 .P4 2016.
  • Westlaw and Lexis both provide tools with contact information, career history, and in some instances, articles authored by the judges:
    • Westlaw’s Profiler tool – Log in to WestlawNext and look for “Profiler” under the “Tools” tab, or just type “Profiler” in the main search box and click on the first drop-down result.
    • Lexis’ Litigation Profile Suite  – Log in to Lexis Advance and click the arrow in the top left next to “Lexis Advance Research”, then select “Litigation Profile Suite” from the drop-down menu.
  • Leadership Directories is another database providing biographical and contact information.  Most judges can be found here by entering their names in the main search box.
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How to Be a Well-Informed Interviewee this Winter Break

Are you a 1L assigned to complete a mock interview before next semester? Or a 2L or 3L who might be looking to make some professional networking connections over the winter break? Or just interested in researching potential employers? You may be wondering how DO you learn more about an attorney, law firm or judge?  Not just where they went to school or their contact information but what about their caseloads, practice areas and clients? Things you can actually strike up a conversation about at a cocktail party or during an interview? We have a number of online databases and print resources to help you track down that kind of information! Continue reading

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The Battle for Veterans Day

“The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.”

 —Patrick Henry

US flag and certificate in display case

The Law Library would like to thank Michael O’Neill for his gracious gift of a flag that was flown over the U.S. Capital Building on September 11, 2015. Please stop by the library display case to take a look!

The United States celebrates two important holidays in November. Thanksgiving springs to mind first, a day set aside to give thanks for our family, friends, and our good fortune. But we must also give thanks earlier in the month to those who have served in the United States Armed Forces. Veterans Day is celebrated annually on November 11th but it has an interesting history. It began as Armistice Day, a day to remember the peace agreement that was signed between the Allied powers and Germany the year before, ending World War I. President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation the following year 1919,  declaring that a two-minute moment of silence was to be observed on November 11th at 11 AM. But unlike the official proclamations issued by sitting presidents on each subsequent November 11th, that original proclamation was not a government document and was published on November 11th in the The New York Times rather than in the official United States Statutes at Large. You can read the article in Falvey Library’s Historical New York Times ProQuest database.

In 1926, Congress took up the cause and passed a joint resolution calling for the observance of Armistice Day, asking the nation to commemorate what was the “cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far-reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed.” This resolution also called upon the President to issue a proclamation ordering all government buildings to display the United States flag on November 11th and to invite schools and churches to observe the day “with appropriate ceremonies.” While the president in office continued to issue proclamations recognizing Armistice Day each year, the flag was not ordered to be flown until 1936 when Franklin Roosevelt issued his annual proclamation. Two years later, Congress enacted Public Law 75-510 which declared November 11th of each year a public, legal holiday.  In 1954 the name of the holiday was changed to Veteran’s Day to honor all veterans, not just those who served in the First World War (P.L. 83-380).

Many organizations in the Philadelphia Area provide legal services to active, reservist, and retired military personnel, offering attorneys a way to give back to those who are serving or have served our country not just on November 11th but all year round. The Philadelphia Bar Association provides pro bono services to deployed military personnel and veterans through its Military Assistance Program (MAP). The Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) Veteran’s Project is the only legal assistance program in Philadelphia that specifically targets homeless veterans. There is even a specialized court for veterans—the Philadelphia Veterans Court. This court is a collaboration between the District Attorney, the Public Defender, the Veterans Administration and numerous Veterans agencies all working to assess and provide services to veterans who find themselves involved in the criminal justice system in Philadelphia.

Continue reading

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