First Time Teaching FCIL Research: Weather Woes & Student Conferences

by Alexis Fetzer

After a strong beginning of the semester, the middle of the semester got off to a rough start. Susan Gualtier, FCIL Librarian at LSU Law, was scheduled to guest lecture via Skype on the topic of Customary International Law on a day our University cancelled classes. While you can plan out every detail of your course, you can never control the weather. The month of February brought new record low temperatures for Virginia and with that class cancellations related to snow fall. While Susan has graciously agreed to reschedule her guest lecture, the shuffling around of schedules and assigning days to make up classes missed has been a challenge.

snow in richmond

On a more positive note, I recently held individual conferences with students to discuss progress towards their final paper and presentation. Students were asked to choose a topic they would like to research involving international and foreign law, including any seminar paper topic they may be currently writing, and then compose a 6-8 page narrative of their research process. During the final two weeks of class, students will present on their research strategies and any problems they came across along the way. I modeled this final assessment after an assignment Susan Gualtier had previously shared with me.

The leeway in topic choice has been great in playing off of student interests but I believe it may eventually pose some problems in terms of assessment. I love the idea of having students researching topics they are currently writing about for a seminar course or have been employed to research as an assistant to a professor. At the very least simply being motivated by a personal interest gives the student more of a stake in the end product. The problem arises when topics range to such a degree that the types of relevant sources and strategies employed are very inconsistent. Granted the subject matter of this class ranges a great degree. Unless I were to force students to pick from a narrowly defined list of topics, I have to expect such variation.

Because this is the first time I have ever given this assignment, I put no restrictions on topic choice so long as it required substantial research in the sources covered in class. I indicated I prefer they address a fairly specific inquiry, but I did not place a scholarly survey of a topic off limits. In the future, I will give more guidance in choosing topics based on how I intend to assess these papers and presentations. I may also reassess my order of topics covered in class. Because we focus on researching foreign law during the last three weeks of class, students who chose topics centered heavily around finding foreign law are at a slight disadvantage.

Like topics chosen, preparation and discussion that took place in individual conferences varied widely. Some students came with a clear vision of the types of sources they need and examples of problems that had already encountered. Others had more of a theoretical idea of what they would be looking for and expected to find. This was another good lesson in the value of giving clear instruction.

One thing I had not expected were the questions I would come away with from student conferences. During each session I made suggestions of sources students should consult, but students also had questions about sources I did not immediately know how to find. For example, one of my students would benefit in finding Irish legislative history for her project. Not being an expert on Irish legal research outside what is readily made available through Justis and BAILII, I was challenged to find an answer to my student’s question.

I am looking forward to seeing my student’s final presentations a month from now. I anticipate learning just as much from them as they will from each other. In the meantime we still have several important topics to cover in class including researching the law of the European Union, customary international law, and foreign law focusing primarily on a select few common and civil law jurisdictions.

Introducing…Eugene Hsue as the March FCIL Librarian of the Month

1. Where did you grow up?Hsue photo

I grew up in Vestal, a small town in beautiful upstate New York. As a kid, my backyard was a fantastic nature preserve.  Along with my friends, we would hike up hills, build forts, scout for waterfalls in the creek, and stumble upon grazing deer. It was a great place to grow up.

2. Why did you select law librarianship as a career?

While I was a law student, I worked as a student worker at Temple Law Library. There, the Director, John Necci, and the Head of Reference, Larry Reilly, mentored me through the ropes of answering questions at the Circulation Desk. I grew to really love helping people find exactly what they needed.

John and Larry started strongly hinting that I should think of law librarianship as a career. And they shared so much of what they know with me. Before their retirement, each of them had been in law librarianship for more than thirty years. I am very thankful for their openness and generosity – these traits helped me discover a warm and helpful law library community.  I am grateful to have found great informal mentors in David Mao, Greg Lambert, Wei Luo, Joan Liu, Sergio Stone, and Al Dong. And I’ve had the chance to work with amazing peers internationally, like Michèle Hou of the ICRC and Jim Hart at the University of Cincinnati.

Second, I love research, both doing it and teaching it. I love the rush of identifying the seminal article for a point of law or watching a student’s eyes light up.

3. When did you develop an interest in foreign, comparative, and international law?

While I was an undergraduate at Cornell, I lived in a great dorm called the Language House, which at that time was housed in a beautiful Anna Comstock Hall. During the two years I spent in the French House, I made close friends from France, China, Taiwan, Japan, Italy, and Latin America. We would often stay up late at night discussing the rich differences between our cultures, languages, music and movies.  This gave me a passion to truly comprehend the world beyond my own country.

Then, during my third year there, I had the opportunity to study at Jussieu, Paris VII. One of the courses I took was the history of the European Union. Our teacher from Sciences Po, Marc Germanangue, lectured superbly. He told a riveting tale of the negotiations and friendship between Jean Monnet and Konrad Adenauer, which resulted in the CECA. It was my first introduction to a supranational organization.

After graduating, I went to live and work in China and Taiwan for two and a half years, in order to master Mandarin. When I came back to study at Temple Law, I took every foreign and international law class I could find: Japanese Law, WTO Law, Israeli Constitutional Law, among others.

4. Who is your current employer? How long have you worked there?

I work at Temple Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia. I have been here full time since November 2008. If you include the time I was a student worker – wow! – I started that in Spring of 2005.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

I speak French, Mandarin, and a little Taiwanese and Italian. I’m learning Latin. I find learning languages to be super fun. It’s like doing a crossword puzzle for me.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I’m still a “young” law librarian, so I still have some achievements ahead of me! However, there are two dear to my heart.

Along with a team of six research assistants, I translated two law review articles from English to Chinese. The reason why I view it as significant is because I learned a lot:  how to motivate a team, communicate expectations, and have everyone accomplish goals by set deadlines. I also learned a lot of Chinese terminology in many disciplines. For example, how do you say Rawls’ “veil of uncertainty” in Chinese? Good times doing research!

Second – during my second year as a FCIL, Temple’s International and Comparative Law Journal gave me a tie and a card as a gift of appreciation for helping them find sources. The tie is sharp and smart. I was touched that they noticed I like to dress well.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

I like to try out cheap eats and street food in Asia and Europe. I’m fond of oatmeal raisin cookies.

8. What song makes you want to get up to dance and sing?

This one. And this French one! Definitely this Taiwanese one too.

9. What ability or skill do you most wish you had (that you don’t have already)?

I would love to develop mobile apps to view rare and ancient documents, like the Vatican Secret Archive’s Lux In Arcana app. This requires mastering PHP, Python, ancient Greek, Latin, and classical Chinese. I would love to develop skills to bring cutting edge technology and the ancient world together.

10. Aside from the basic necessities, what is one thing you not go a day without?

Every day I try to make my baby girl laugh! Isabella is nine months old now. I cannot go a day without seeing her gummy smile.

11. Anything else you would like to share with us?

I look forward to reconnecting with my FCIL colleagues in Philly this July. There are so many foodie spots to discover!

Book Review: Managing Cyber Attacks in International Law, Business, and Relations: In Search of Cyber Peace

By: Charles BjorkImage

Scott J. ShackelfordManaging Cyber Attacks in International Law, Business, and Relations:  In Search of Cyber Peace  (Cambridge University Press, 2014).

The National Academy of Sciences defines the term “cyber attack” as a deliberate attempt to alter, disrupt, deceive, degrade or destroy computer systems or networks and the programs that run on them.  In recent years, this once obscure term has entered the mainstream.  Hardly a month goes by without a cyber attack making headlines – from the breach of customer data at Target, to the hacking of emails and theft of intellectual property at Sony Pictures Entertainment, to the hijacking the Pentagon’s social media accounts by ISIS.  As a result, the issue of cyber security has captured the attention of policymakers around the world, including President Obama.

In the wake of these developments, the need for a comprehensive survey of cyber security law and governance has never been greater.  Managing Cyber Attacks in International Law, Business, and Relations:  In Search of Cyber Peace, by Scott J. Shackelford, ably fills this need.  The author, a member of the faculty at Indiana University and a senior fellow at the Center for Applied Cybersecurity, begins with a brief overview of the history of Internet governance.  He contrasts the initial period of organic, bottom-up governance exemplified by ad hoc entities like the Internet Engineering Task Force, which still develops and publishes the standards for Internet transfer protocols, with the subsequent emergence of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a centralized, top-down entity created to manage IP addresses and domain names.

In the following chapter, Shackelford turns to the future of Internet governance, which will be dominated by the need for enhanced cyber security and demands for greater national and international regulation.   A recurring theme throughout this chapter and the remainder of the book is that a fragmented and dynamic ecosystem like cyberspace is too complex to be successfully governed by a unitary regulatory framework.  Shackelford makes a persuasive case that the best way forward is a system of “polycentric governance,” which he defines as regulation at multiple levels by overlapping sets of state and non-state actors employing a combination of national law, international norms, industry standards and best practices, and market forces to achieve a desired end.  This “all-of-the-above” approach relies on multi-stakeholder governance to harness the benefits of both top-down and bottom-up regulatory regimes while avoiding their respective shortcomings.

The second section of the book focuses on managing vulnerabilities in cyber space.  Shackelford begins this section by describing the three-layered structure of the Internet and assessing the principal weaknesses of each layer:  the physical infrastructure (hardware), the logical infrastructure (software), and the content layer (data and users).  This is followed by a discussion of the most common types of cyber weapons, including spyware, Trojan horses, viruses, worms, logic bombs, and distributed denial of service attacks.  In the next two chapters, Shackelford examines the steps being taken by national governments to safeguard critical national infrastructure (CNI) from cyber attacks and efforts to enhance cyber security in the private sector through the development of industry standards and best practices.  Readers interested in pursuing any of the foregoing topics in greater depth may rely on Shackelford’s copious footnotes to guide them.

The final section of the book is devoted to the role of international legal norms in cyber governance.  Shackelford begins this section by assessing the applicability of existing international law, particularly the law of armed conflict, to cyberspace.  A recurring theme in this section of the book is the vexing problem of attribution.  How can we accurately identify the perpetrators of cyber attacks, especially when shadowy, non-state actors (who may or may not be operating under the direction or at the behest of a national government) are involved?   In the final chapter, Shackelford examines the prospects for developing new international norms for cyber governance.

Writing for a wide audience about a subject grounded in technology is no easy task.  Fortunately, Shackelford manages to make the underlying technical issues intelligible to lay readers without dumbing things down to the point that those with technical expertise will lose interest.  His explanation of how the routing protocols that make the Internet flexible and scalable have also left it vulnerable to security breaches is especially helpful.

Managing Cyber Attacks in International Law, Business, and Relations: In Search of Cyber Peace would make a welcome and timely addition to any law library seeking to augment its existing collection in the fields of law and technology and national security law.  For libraries operating under budgetary constraints, this broad survey of cyber security issues provides an excellent alternative to purchasing multiple titles on related but narrower topics, such as cyber crime and cyber warfare.

Voices from the Rwanda Tribunal

By Mary Whisner

This post originally appeared on Gallagher Blogs.

After the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the UN set up the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). This historic tribunal delivered its last trial judgment in December 2012 and is now winding down its appellate work.

In 2008,  a team from Seattle—including information scientists, lawyers, and videographers—went to Tanzania (where the tribunal is) and Rwanda to interview judges, prosecutors, defense counsel, interpreters, court administrators, and others connected with the ICTR. The result is 49 video interviews, publicly available on the Voices from the Rwanda Tribunal website as well as carefully archived for the future. The project’s principal investigator is Prof. Batya Friedman, from the UW Information School.

The project’s vision is to “provide to the world, especially the people of Rwanda, free and open access to these interviews with personnel from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).”

Our intention is to enable as many innovative, derivative uses as possible. We imagine such uses may include documentaries on Rwanda, textbooks discussing genocide, Pan-African justice capacity building, blogs, school projects, a handbook for future tribunals, plays, performances, legal curricula, and reconciliation projects within Rwanda. We are currently designing information systems to support appropriation and use within Rwanda, within the international justice system, and for the global public, now and into the future.

Any user can watch the videos. Users can also select clips and label them to highlight them for others. For example, someone watched the interview with Judge Dennis Byron, the President of the tribunal, and marked a clip on “the need for international criminal justice to become routine [1:17].” And someone marked a clip from the interview of Hassan Jallow, the chief prosecutor, on “the limitations of legal justice [1:48].” (The staff have to process the clips for start and stop times, so if you mark one it won’t be displayed immediately.)

Users can tag clips. Interestingly, the form for tagging invites users to identify nationality, gender, birth decade, and profession or interest. As the tags accumulate, the team will be able to get a sense of the tags used by Rwandans, Africans, and others; by people born before or after the genocide; by journalists, high school students, lawyers, or historians. That will help evolve future access responsive to different communities.

The site is still being developed. This spring searchable transcripts of each interview will be posted.

Here’s a short video about the project:

First Time Teaching FCIL Research: Initial Class Meetings

By Alexis Fetzerred-legal-scales-hi

We are now five classes into the semester of my first time offered course of International & Foreign Legal Research at the University of Richmond School of Law. Each class thus far has been a significant learning experience. You truly never master a subject until you are asked to teach it.

During our first week I gave an introduction on researching international law generally. I wanted to draw similarities between the legal research process students are familiar with in researching domestic law and then apply that to the international legal research context. One thing highlighted was the importance of beginning research using research guides and secondary sources. In emphasizing the utility of research guides I have assigned a corresponding research guide for the topic considered each week as material to be consulted prior to class. This way students not only get an idea of the type of sources we will be discussing, but can also see the value of having such a compilation.

I also emphasized secondary sources in this first class. As with any unfamiliar legal research topic, secondary sources are always a good place to begin to gain a better understanding of the subject matter you are researching. With international law, however, sometimes these sources can be the only means of searching for primary material by subject. If they took away nothing from this first class, I wanted them to take away this concept. Max Planck’s Encyclopedia of International Law was a great source to highlight for this purpose. An entry in Max Planck can quite literally “direct” you to primary authority through use of the Oxford law citators. A great example of this is the Max Planck entry for “UNCITRAL”. The first paragraph indicates that UNCITRAL was established by “UNGA Resolution 2205 (XXI) of 17 December 1966.” Clicking on the link to this resolution, you are directed to an Oxford Law Citator entry which then allows you to navigate to where this document can be found on an external web resource.

Following this introductory class, we covered U.S. and non-U.S. treaty sources. Having spoken on this topic before, including guest FCIL research lectures in our law school’s general Advanced Legal Research class, I was confident this area would not be difficult to prepare for. This was true, but now I had more of an opportunity to expand upon the information delivered and give my students more practical instruction with treaty research.

The next topic we addressed was researching intergovernmental/nongovernmental organizations. This transitioned nicely from non-US treaty resources since the students were already familiar with the UN Treaty database. While we discussed the elements of an intergovernmental organization and how to find nongovernmental organizations, much of the material was focused on the United Nations. In the future, I may consider researching United Nations material as a part of its own separate class. We could have gone into much more depth but I made the mistake of allotting this topic to a single class.

In contrast, I do not believe my next week’s topic of international courts and tribunals should not have been allotted an entire class worth of material. While I like the idea of transitioning from talking about intergovernmental organizations to talking about their judicial organs, I could have summarized this information without discussing individual international courts and the type of material they produce. The students quickly grasped the material and the in class exercises proved rather simplistic.

Thus far, each class has been a tremendous learning opportunity. One of the benefits of only having 5 students is that there is constant dialogue and questioning. My students are keeping me on my toes and forcing me to answer questions I have yet to think of myself. In those moments where I clearly do not have the answer, I never shy from admitting to it. Instead, I tell them “let me make sure I give you the correct answer to that at a later time” and always make a point of following up either through email or in the next class.

Book Review: Refashioning Secularisms in France and Turkey: The Case of the Headscarf Ban

CoverBy Mary Beth Chappell Lyles

Amélie Barras, Refashioning Secularisms in France and Turkey: The Case of the Headscarf Ban (Routledge, 2014).

In Refashioning Secularisms in France and Turkey: The Case of the Headscarf BanAmélie Barras explores the struggle between the codified state concepts of secularism in France and Turkey and the Muslim activists who try to navigate and reform them. Moving beyond the idea of a simple separation of church and state, Barras thoroughly explores the French concept of laïcité and the Turkish concept of laiklik detailing both countries’ historical practices of heavy state involvement in religious affairs, especially those of minorities. Through the particular example of the headscarf ban, Barras traces the discourse surrounding secularism in France and Turkey and highlights how it impacts and often marginalizes observant Muslim women.

Barras astutely observes of the current situation that “tensions have not been triggered by women wearing headscarves per se, but rather by the precise fact that they have been wearing it while demanding active participation in the life of the polity and to be fully-fledged citizens,” which serves to challenge “aspects of the model of citizenship imagined by secular elites—a model characterized by a ‘neuter’ woman emancipated from her differences, and by an inherently dualistic thinking where religion (or particular religious expressions) are understood as being opposed to the secular (and by correlation secular spaces) .”

Barras skillfully illustrates her arguments with fascinating examples taken from real life. Her description of the spillover effect of headscarf bans in Turkey was particularly enlightening. Noting that the headscarf ban in Turkey has officially only been applied to students and government workers, Barras, describes the real-world consequences of the ban. White-collar women working for private firms are relegated to inferior back office jobs with lower pay and less job security under the rationale that they cannot interact with government officials in government settings while wearing their headscarves. That is if a firm will hire them at all. Barras’ argues that the state’s assignment of an inflexible, one-dimensional identity to these women bars them from full citizenship.

This thorough, well-written book is a fascinating read, especially for the American reader who will bring a very different conception of religious freedom and the separation of church of state to the material. It is highly recommended for all academic libraries as well as organizations with interests in countries where headscarf bans exist.

Anna Wiberg of Lund University on the Introduction to European Business Law MOOC

By Anna Wiberg

Anna WibergSome weeks ago, Lund University’s first MOOC, Introduction to European Business Law, started.  It is an introductory course that teaches students the essentials of European Business Law. For some students it may also be followed by studies at the Master’s Programme in European Business Law at Lund University in Sweden.

Members of Lund University’s law faculty were chosen to create the MOOC because of their previous experience in making films for online courses.  I am one of the librarians on the faculty that helped create the course.  I appear on films throughout the course that focus on how to find and use European Union materials.  My colleague, Annika Hellbring, and I created the PowerPoint slides and talking points that appear on these films. The aim of these films is to support students taking the course; to make it easier to find and read the documents you need during the course or when practicing European Union law.

The faculty is often involved in new areas and projects and for many years I was part of a project that the faculty had together with the law faculties in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. This included many discussions and teaching sessions in both Lund and Vietnam. It was therefore natural for the law faculty and the library to collaborate in a MOOC.

The actual filming process for the MOOC occurred in August 2014. It was both scary and interesting to be in the studio, to use a teleprompter and to act in front of the camera for the very first time. When sound, picture and speech were put together by the production team and when I finally saw the films, I was impressed by the construction, even though it is hard to ignore the somewhat odd feeling of watching myself on the screen.

I began my employment at Lund University in 2003.  There are six librarians on the Lund University faculty with me, all specialists in different areas. An extensive part of our work is to support our researchers, to educate the students in information skills, to handle the European Documentation Center and of course, to build excellent printed and digital collections. Besides many other things, I mainly work with teaching the students how to search, find and evaluate legal documents. I enjoy working closely with the students and I find it challenging to support the students to develop their information literacy. The library is well integrated in the law faculty and has an ongoing discussion with the teachers about the learning outcomes in the area of information skills.

I am sure that the faculty will produce more courses and more films, and I would not hesitate to be involved again.

In the meantime, for a refresher on European Business Law research, join the MOOC for free!