The 2020 Call for Programming Proposals is Open Now!

By Susan Gualtier

The AALL Annual Meeting Program Proposal site is now open!

Remember all of that brainstorming and up-voting you did during the Ideascale phase of program development for the 2020 AALL Annual Conference?  Well, it paid off!  The AMPC has published its list of must-have program topics and there are a number that incorporate the FCIL perspective. For example:

  • Under the Professionalism + Leadership at every level category: Cultural and Identity Awareness and Competencies and Globalization Demands Approaches That Include Foreign, Comparative, and International Perspectives
  • Under the Research + Analysis category: Civil Law Research (including legislative processes, tools, influences on civil law, and Louisiana/New Orleans research)
  • Under the Teaching + Training category: Assisting non-JD Patrons

The AMPC has given us the opportunity to incorporate FCIL programming into almost every category of must-have programming for the New Orleans conference.  We cannot waste this opportunity!

I urge each of you to contact me ( and Dennis Sears ( and tell us what you are willing and able to do to help us transform all of the ideas listed above and on Ideascale into actual programs.  We need your help!  We are also available to help you when it comes to navigating the proposal site and developing your programs.  As co-Chairs of the FCIL-SIS Education Committee, it is our job to encourage and support you in developing ideas and program proposals in anticipation of next year’s meeting.

Congratulations on a job well done so far, and we look forward to hearing from you during the proposal process!


AALL 2019 Recap: FCIL Basics Bootcamp

By Dinah Minkoff

bootcamp.JPGI had the opportunity to attend the Preconference Workshop: FCIL Bootcamp: Basic Training at Georgetown University’s law school.  The morning session promised to provide information on FCIL resources and how to use them with a focus on foreign law, treaties, and EU law.  It delivered on its promise.  Georgetown Law librarians Mabel Shaw, Charles Bjok, and Heather Casey presented.

Mabel Shaw presented “An Introduction to Foreign Legal Research.”  She has been an FCIL librarian at Georgetown, where she is now the Head of International & Foreign Law, for over 18 years.  The presentation began by breaking down the different legal systems intrepid researchers will encounter: Common, Civil, Religious, Customary, and Mixed. As a researcher you need to know what type of legal system you are researching so that you understand not just where to look for information but if that information exists.  Interesting point of fact: outside of the U.S., not all government information is copyright free.  During her presentation, Mabel also allayed a common concern of the foreign legal researcher: you don’t have to speak every language you are researching. In addition to translations of legislation and law, there are myriad translation tools out there like dictionaries and Google Translate.  Use your evaluation skills to determine the reliability of the translation itself.  Look to the date of translation, the site hosting the translation, and whether it was done by a person or AI.

Heather Casey presented “An Introduction to Treaty Research.”  She has been an FCIL librarian for 10 years and teaches Research Skills in International & Comparative Law with Charles Bjork.  Heather’s presentation began by explaining the differences between private and public international law and the various documents that are referred to under the broad category of “treaties” (e.g. conventions, protocols, accords, declarations, charters, and Memorandum of Understanding).  Heather then outlined the best places to begin your research when the U.S. is a party to the treaty (Spoiler Alert: Treaties in Force, the U.S. State Department’s website, and HeinOnline).   After an overview of the treaty ratification process, it was on to researching treaties when the U.S. is not a party.  Good places to search include Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General at the UN, Regional Treaty Collections, and Foreign Ministry websites.  The presentation also reviewed important websites to keep in mind when conducting treaty research such as the EU, Council of Europe, African Union, Organization of American States, and World Trade Organization.  And because we were inside a law school, the session wrapped up with a hypothetical where participants got to put their newly honed FCIL research skills to the test.


Heather Casey presenting on how to conduct treaty research.

Finally, Charles Bjok presented on “An Introduction to Researching the Law of the European Union.” He works closely with Georgetown’s sizeable international LLM writing and research program and teaches Research Skills in International & Comparative Law with Heather Casey. This presentation had a two-fold benefit for me: it provided me a great refresher on the topic and confirmed for me that my own presentation on the topic did not have any glaring gaps.  The presentation began with an introduction to the EU, including a brief history, foundational documents, and its current incarnation. The presentation also reviewed the EU’s Seven Institutions and the hierarchy of EU law. What is fantastic about EU research is that despite the numerous institutions within the EU and its various types of law (treaties, legislative acts, and case law), EUR-Lex, the official website of the EU, is a portal to almost everything you will be looking for.  The website is updated daily, and contains some texts dating back to 1951.  The documents on EUR-Lex are freely accessible and available in the 24 official languages of the EU.  One caveat: although case law is available in on EUR-Lex, using CURIA, the CJEU’s website, may prove more beneficial.


The full slate of speakers from the full day FCIL Bootcamp.  From left to right: Heather Casey, Georgetown University Law Library; Prof. Heidi Frostestad Kuehl, Northern Illinois University School of Law; Prof. Jennifer Hillman, Georgetown University Law Center; Mabel Shaw, Georgetown University Law Library; Prof. Lilian Faulhaber, Georgetown University Law Center; and Charles Bjork, Georgetown University Law Library.  

I left the morning session happily on information overload and energized to respond to the future FCIL questions I receive in my role as Global Law Librarian at LA Law Library.  Feel free to reach out with questions about the bootcamp or foreign law generally. I can be reached at

For insights into the wonderful resources shared by the speakers, please visit

For the afternoon session of the pre-conference workshop, FCIL Bootcamp: Advanced, see this recap.

AALL 2019 Recap: Locating Latin American Legal Sources

By David Isom

Moderated by Sarah Jaramillo, Reference Librarian for International and Foreign Law at NYU Law School, the “Locating Latin American Legal Sources” session on July 15, 2019 consisted of presentations from Jade Madrid, Latin American Studies & Iberian Languages Liaison & Reference Librarian at Georgetown University; Shana Wagger, Program Lead for Digital Projects and Repositories at the World Bank; and Francisco Macías, Head of the Iberia/Rio Office Section at the Law Library of Congress. Each discussed unique aspects of the Latin American materials available at their respective institutions.

Locating Latin American Legal Sources panel.JPG

From left to right: Sarah Jaramillo, Jade Madrid, Shana Wagger, Francisco Macías.

Madrid began by noting various research guides on Latin American legal materials available at Georgetown and elsewhere. She also discussed the challenges that a researcher can encounter when attempting to locate sources of Latin American law: non-hispanophone/non-lusophone researchers may encounter difficulties when seeking primary sources, of course, but there can also be country-specific challenges. For example, while the Library of the National Congress of Chile includes coverage of Chilean law beginning in 1965, it has no coverage for the 17 years (1973–1990) under the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. Madrid also mentioned several special collections related to Latin American law available at Georgetown: the papers of Colombian diplomat Tomás Herrán (many relating to the Hay–Herrán Treaty of 1903, which was ratified by the United States Senate but not by the Senate of Colombia); the papers of James Theberge, director of the Latin American and Hispanic Studies Center at Georgetown and United States Ambassador to Nicaragua and Chile; the papers of Panamanian educator, feminist leader, and diplomat Esther Neira de Calvo; and the Alliance for Progress Cartoon Book Program collection, which includes digital copies of comic books produced by the American anti-communist development program in Latin America established by President John F. Kennedy.

Escuela de Traidores.jpg

Escuela de Traidores (School for Traitors), date unknown, from Georgetown’s Alliance for Progress Cartoon Book Program collection.

Wagger said that the World Bank’s open access program that publishes 90–110 books a year, primarily digitally. The program is intended to make information available to the decision-makers involved in development programs in order to support the World Bank’s broad mission of ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity. Wagger explained that the World Bank produces four major types of resources: focused publications (such as the Doing Business series of national and regional economic profiles, the Latin American Development Forum series covering economic and social issues, and the World Bank Legal Review); electronic repositories (the Documents & Reports platform which includes more than 330,000 World Bank documents from 1946 to the present, the Open Knowledge Repository of almost 29,000 publications from roughly 2000 to the present, and the subscription World Bank eLibrary); the World Bank Open Data platform, which provides free access to various types of development-related information, including demographic, environmental, financial, and industry data; and other specialized resources such as the Projects & Operations website, the World Bank Group Archives, and the Access to Information portal.

Macías started his presentation by discussing the history of the Law Library of Congress’ collection of foreign law materials, which began in 1848 (in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War) when President James K. Polk ordered the Library to begin collecting materials concerning the law of Mexico. Since then, the Law Library of Congress has grown substantially, collecting the laws of more than 270 jurisdictions in more than 200 languages. Five foreign law specialists work in the unit which covers the laws of Spain, Portugal, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Philippines. Electronic materials include country-specific research guides available in the Library’s Guide to Law Online and the In Custodia Legis blog—see, for example, this post on “Cinco de Mayo and the History of Mexican Codification.” One highlight of the Library’s Latin American materials is the Mexican Revolution and the United States exhibition, which includes historical newspaper articles, maps, photographs, and film footage.

Posada Asalto de Zapatistas.jpg

José Guadalupe Posada, Asalto de Zapatistas (Assault of the Zapatistas), 1910, from the Library of Congress’ Mexican Revolution and the United States exhibition.

AALL 2019 Recap: FCIL-SIS Schaffer Grant Presentation – African Law for Everyone: AfricanLII and Laws.Africa

By: Loren Turner


On Monday, July 15, 2019, the 2019 FCIL-SIS Schaffer Grant recipient, Mariya Badeva-Bright, who leads the AfricanLII project at the University of Cape Town, South Africa (and recently co-founded Laws.Africa, a legislative commons), delivered a fantastic presentation titled “African Law for Everyone: AfricanLII and Laws.Africa.” Mariya’s presentation was a summary of her motivations and processes for gathering and digitizing African law as well as a “call to action” to law librarians worldwide for help in making African law accessible to all.

African Law for Everyone: AfricanLII and Laws.Africa

Mariya began her presentation by stating that there is no reliable, consistent, and up-to-date access to the law in many African countries – free or not.  Mariya provided several reasons for the lack of access to legal information: indifference of commercial publishers; lack of funds and skills on the local levels; poor record keeping; and low level corruption. She argued that there can be no justice without access to legal information.  When the law is not available freely and easily, judges cannot determine precedent; rich litigants have an unfair advantage.  As support, Mariya shared visual images of legislative texts in which pages were literally cut out, edited by hand, and then reinserted.  The reality, Mariya said, is that lots of African law is in such condition and this format frustrates access to justice.

Mariya explained that the AfricanLII and the Laws.Africa projects are about building an open infrastructure of African legal information with opportunity for sophisticated searches. They have to be open to anyone and offer speed, efficiency, services, growth and development.

AfricanLII was founded in 2010 to promote the role of LIIs in Africa. It now offers a federated search of over 250k documents of African legal information. Additionally, in response to user demand, it has begun to create case indices, including the Human Rights Law Index and the Commercial Law Index. It also provides a current awareness newsletter that started out as a service for judges but has expanded to anyone interested in following legal developments in African law (subscribe at the bottom of this page). Most recently, AfricanLII launched a citator service, available in beta format. It is the first visual citator in the access to law movement, but what is more remarkable is that it creates a citator service for cases that were never published in law reports and, therefore, don’t have citations!  The AfricanLII database sees about 400,000 unique users per month, 90% of which are within Africa.  Users are primarily from the justice sector (lawyers, judges, paralegals, magistrates, law students, government workers, etc.) but there is an increase in “average joes” accessing the database.

When the AfricanLII project began, there was a conscious choice to focus on gathering and digitizing cases rather than legislation.  Cases have their own value, but outdated legislation has little value.  The creators of AfricanLII had concerns about the future credibility of their project if they uploaded outdated legislation.  Plus, the reality is that in most African countries, there is no free source of consolidated, up-to-date legislation.

The Laws.Africa project developed to address the lack of freely available access to African legislation. The creators of the Laws.Africa project surveyed other country’s attempts at making legislation current and freely accessible.  They decided that the UK’s was the model “golden” standard outside of Africa because of its rich interface and up-to-date, authoritative corpus.  Within Africa, the “golden” standards were Kenya law, an authoritative source of Kenyan legislation, and, which focuses on improving access to South African by-laws.

Laws.Africa is an open source, cloud platform for efficient cost-effective consolidation and publication of African legislation.  It aims to crowdsource an open digital archive of African gazettes and use technology (in particular, Akoma Ntoso, a non-proprietary, XML markup standard for legislative documents) to consolidate legislation. In terms of processes: once a gazette is uploaded onto the Laws.Africa platform, a group of contributors (law students and law library students) extract individual Acts and identify changes to the Act over time.  A small group of reviewers check the work of the contributors (there is a two-step review process). After review, the consolidated legislation becomes available in a variety of formats.

The Laws.Africa project has already acquired and uploaded over 13,000 national gazettes.  These gazettes are available in .pdf versions through a linked sister site called Gazettes.Africa.  But, it takes a village to make a complete collection!  Unfortunately, Mariya explained, the law of Africa is not in Africa.  Instead, many African gazettes, especially historical ones, are located in libraries outside of Africa.  To continue building the collection of African gazettes and legislation on the Laws.Africa portal, Mariya and her colleagues need law librarians and digitizers in the U.S. and U.K. to donate their African gazettes to the project.  Mariya believes that crowdsourcing these gazettes is the best way to reach the goal of a complete collection.

Mariya concluded her presentation with an appeal: Join our community! Donate your gazettes!  Spread the word about the AfricanLII and Laws.Africa projects!  She received a great round of applause.

For a video of Mariya’s FCIL-SIS Schaffer Grant presentation, as given at Yale Law Library subsequent to the 2019 AALL Annual Meeting, follow this link.

AALL 2019 Recap: The Age of AI: Emerging Regulatory Landscape Around the World

By Taryn Marks

The Age of AI: Emerging Regulatory Landscape Around the World (E1)
Presenters: Laney Zhang, Jenny Gesley, Tariq Ahmad & Nicolas Boring
Coordinator: Tariq Ahmed
Moderator: Nicolas Boring
Monday, July 15, 11:00 AM–12:00 PM

In “The Age of AI: Emerging Regulatory Landscape Around the World,” speakers Laney Zhang, Jenny Gesley, Tariq Ahmad, and Nicolas Boring (all Foreign Law Specialists at the Law Library of Congress) discuss a variety of AI topics and the regulations, policies, and ethics that various governments around the world have started to implement and develop. The program is based on a report that the Library of Congress issued earlier in the year, Regulation of Artificial Intelligence in Selected Jurisdictions. After briefly reviewing the process that they used to research and compile the report, the presenters dove straight into an hour jam-packed with information about artificial intelligence regulation.

First, the panelists reviewed national strategies related to AI regulation in four countries: Canada, Germany, France, and China. Interestingly, Canada was the first country to develop an AI national strategy. For each country, the panelists provided a short overview of the strategy, then discussed some of the concerns and criticisms related to each country’s strategy.

Next came a discussion of data protection and transparency, with the obvious first candidate the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. The heavy focus was on automated decision-making within that context. The panelists then discussed two data protection and transparency regimes that had been heavily influenced by the EU’s GDPR, Canada and China. Laney pointed out that China presents an interesting case study in this context because it has simultaneously developed a recommended national standard of data protection while rather flagrantly violating its citizens’ data privacy.

Next, the presenters turned to the laws regarding autonomous vehicles in several countries (Germany, Belgium, France, Canada, and China). Most of these laws focus on either liability for accidents involving autonomous vehicles or regulation of autonomous vehicle tests. The speakers pointed out that most countries use the Society of Automotive Engineers’ five levels of automation, and that most countries’ regulations right now focus on vehicles that fall in levels three and four (conditional automation and high automation).

Last, the speakers reviewed several jurisdiction-specific hot topics. The EU recently developed ethical rules on AI that are currently in draft form and are being tested by the industry; Canada is conducting an algorithmic impact assessment after piloting programs that used AI to review various immigration applications. In France, the government has been using AI to conduct audits, for zoning issues, and in French courts. This latter policy caused a backlash that resulted in the French legislature banning the use of AI for predictive justice. Last, the EU has been reviewing the ethical and legal ramifications behind giving robots the status of legal personhood, creating a big debate within that system about those issues.

Overall, this was an excellent panel that provided detailed substantive information about a variety of laws related to AI, although I wish they had gone into a bit more detail about the process and research methodology used to prepare the report per their third learning objective. As far as reading the report versus watching the panel, I suspect that reading the full report would likely give you the same information as watching the panel; watching the panel would clearly demonstrate the depth of the speakers’ knowledge about these issues. Whichever you choose to do, you will learn a lot.

The Dan Wade Book Club at AALL 2019: No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison

By Marylin Raisch

NoFriendBehrouz Boochani. No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison. Translated by Omid Tofighian. Toronto, ON: Anansi International, 2018.  xii, 398 pages; 23 cm ISBN: 9781487006839 1487006837

Once again this year, interested and available members of the Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Special Interest Group (FCIL-SIS) at AALL 2019 gathered at a table in the Convention Center of our host city to discuss a book, usually one focused on a relevant to international law. We do this informally in honor of Yale law librarian Daniel L. Wade, Curator for Foreign and International Law at the Lillian Goldman Law Library of Yale Law School. This year we were especially honored to have Dan join us for the discussion. He is with us every year in spirit, and he is honored every year by the eponymous FCIL-SIS award, the Daniel L. Wade FCIL-SIS Outstanding Service Award given each year to one of our members who exhibits his dedication and focus in serving the FCIL and its mission in sharing expertise in collecting or teaching about international and comparative law resources.

This year Dan’s promotion of understanding world cultures through law and human rights served to inspire us to settle upon Boochani’s story in a remarkable memoir that was communicated out of Australia’s Manus Island immigration detention center by text message (and some voice messages) to one Moones Mansoubi, who arranged to collect and arrange the messages. These in turn were sent to the translator, Omid Tofighian. With his phones at times stolen or confiscated, Boochani had to resort to scrounged paper and pen. The introductory and concluding materials surrounding the memoir itself described how the text was pieced together, and interspersed throughout the narrative were Boochani’s reflections in poetry on nature, life, and the images of an ordeal. He and others suffered both at sea and in prison on journeys that few of us can even imagine, much less transform into art. We all agreed that this multilayered discourse, interspersed with haunting poetry, can make for patchwork reading and an emotional bumpy ride for the reader. However, it is important throughout to recall that it has been translated from the Farsi in which Boochani chose to write. Related to all of this, but interwoven into the larger themes, is his life in the Kurdish minority.

Boochani is an Iranian refugee, international journalist, and poet who, earlier on in his experience as an asylum refugee, also shot a film by mobile phone (Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time, 2016) documenting the Indonesian and Manus Island chapters of his ongoing life in what one can only call an immigration prison. Stranded in stages of migration, he joined large numbers of those who are hopeless to this day of any resettlement; their torture is exacerbated by minimal and poor food, inadequate sanitation, rotting teeth, and control through often violent suppression by guards. Death by suicide becomes a frequent occurrence in the men’s prison of Manus Island; boats are being turned back to Indonesia, which is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and related guidelines, and so they return to a jurisdiction which is under none of those obligations to desperate men, women, and children, many fleeing violence. Non-compliant refugees in the camp can be disciplined by solitary confinement.

As we discussed the book, as law librarians and just as humans, we were of course faced with our own country’s current treatment of refugees, and noted Boochani’s refrain in the book that this torture of indefinite incarceration without adjudication is inflicted on people who have done nothing wrong; “what crime have I committed…?” (96), “Why must I be in prison?” (334). At least one of us also thought the essays by the translator, a professor of philosophy, and interviews with others who work with refugees or helped get this story out, were as interesting as the text, and added more coherence to the poetry and memories he relates in vivid images.

One such essay, among dialogues on language, politics/law, and discourse, was entitled “Manus Prison Theory: An Empowering Knowledge Ecology,” and it is a critical look at the “border-industrial complex” that compares refugees and the stateless to citizens in terms of colonial oppression as a “kyriarchy.” Derived from radical feminism, this neologism expresses the connection of one oppression to another such that one group can feel superior, and non-citizens evoke xenophobia about safety, employment etc. in a fair society. The book is worth reading for some of these thought-provoking perspectives on where we are in global migration right now. (Speaking for myself rather than the book group, it suggests Catch-22, in this case where one is trapped outside a treaty country awaiting an adjudication only a country with a treaty regime can provide. While the book won the (Australian) Victorian Prize for Literature and the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Nonfiction in January 2019, and the center depicted in the book was closed in 2017, Boochani is still held at a new facility on Manus Island.

Everyone in the group thought this was an excellent and challenging book that others will find inspiring, in spite of the depictions of great suffering. Thanks to Susan Gualtier for helping to organize this book club gathering again this year. The group suggests new titles each year several weeks before the annual meeting, and we vote/reach consensus on what to read.

FCIL Program Ideas in 2020 IdeaScale, Fourth and Final Week!

By Susan Gualtier

French Quarter

Mardi Gras in the French Quarter, New Orleans

Here it is… the final week of the first phase of next year’s programming proposal process!  Ideascale will close this Friday, August 16, so this is your last chance to post your proposal ideas and to vote on the ideas that have already been posted!

We’ve had several great new FCIL programming ideas posted to IdeaScale this week, so be sure and check them out and give them an upvote!  We also encourage you to submit your own program ideas to IdeaScale.  We need your ideas as much as your votes!!  You can do this anonymously if you like.  If you have questions, comments, concerns, or calls for help, please reach out to me ( and/or Dennis Sears (  As co-Chairs of the FCIL-SIS Education Committee, it is our job to encourage and support you in developing ideas and program proposals in anticipation of next year’s meeting.

Each Monday from now through August 16, DipLawMatic Dialogues will bring you an update on all of the FCIL-related program ideas currently posted in IdeaScale to encourage you to “up-vote” these programs. For more on why up-voting is important, see here.

Cultural Intelligence and Academic Law Libraries Research

As the 2019 ALL-SIS Research & Scholarship grant recipient, this presentation on “Cultural Intelligence and Academic Law Libraries” will report on my findings, analysis and recommendations based on my research study over the past year. The purpose of my research study is to examine the cultural intelligence in academic law librarians, in order to understand the perspective of these librarians and to help them better serve their stakeholders. Cultural intelligence is defined as the capability of an individual to function effectively across new cultural settings (Ang & Van Dyne, 2008). The following research questions are examined within the study and relate to areas of the American Association of Law Libraries research agenda: (a) What is the overall level of cultural intelligence of participating academic law librarians?, (b) What variations among participating academic law librarians, if any, exist among the four dimensions of cultural intelligence?, (c) What viewpoints do the law librarians have about the value and importance of cultural intelligence within their organizations?, and (d) how can academic law librarians best serve the information needs of their patrons through use of cultural intelligence? This research supports both the spirit and the practical application of at least three of the AALL Body of Knowledge Domains (professionalism + leadership, teaching + training, and marketing + outreach). The research includes a mixed-methods approach with 171 participants. I hope you will join me in learning more about my results and conclusions from our ALL-SIS membership and recommendations for practice and research.

BOK Content Area:  Professionalism & Leadership at Every Level

Improving Access to Law and Justice in Communities of the World

In emerging democracies and developing countries, access to the law is necessary for members of the public to fully participate in the democratic process. However, people in communities around the world face barriers to accessing official law and legal information. How can law libraries and legal information professionals help members of these communities (including refugees, women, indigenous communities, the poor, and pro se litigants) gain access to the law? How can a strong legal information system assist both legal providers and average people by creating tools that expand understanding of the law? This program will look at efforts being made in other countries to ensure that members of the public have access to official versions of the law and will also consider global and regional endeavors by organizations including the Legal Information Institutes and Free Access to Law Movement. Projects underway to promote increased understanding of the law will also be examined.

Potential speakers include Stephen Wyber, Manager for Policy and Advocacy for the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), and a representative from one of the LIIs around the world, such as the African LII or the Canadian LII. Another possibility is someone to provide perspective from the International Association of Law Libraries (IALL) or the Chinese and American Forum on Legal Information and Law Libraries (CAFLL).

BOK Content Area:  Marketing & Outreach

Louisiana Law/Civil Law/Comparative Law Roundtable

Building upon and combining some of the ideas already posted, this program would take place in a round table format where participants could discuss topics relating to Louisiana and other civil and mixed jurisdictions. Potential table topics include:

Collection development


Government documents


Louisiana legal history

Louisiana’s place in comparative law

Civil law generally (structure and research methods)

Civil law in Louisiana courts

Facilitators would consist of librarians familiar with Louisiana, civil, and comparative law issues in the relevant areas.

This program could also be proposed in a longer form that included an overview of Lousiana’s legal system and its place in civil and comparative law, before the participants break up into tables.

BOK Content Area:  Professionalism & Leadership at Every Level

Hebrew-script books on non-Jewish legal systems

These are books written by and for Jews in Hebrew script languages, about the legal systems they have lived under as a less-than privileged minority. Examples includes a book on Yiddish on the American legal system written at the start of the 20th century, a Hebrew/Aramaic parody of a talmudic tractae discussing prohibition in the early 20th century, a Hebrew translation of the Ottoman conscription law, and the text of the Austrian civil code written mid-19th century translated into Hebrew with an explanatory commentary in the style of traditional Jewish “rabbinical” legal commentary. This program was presented at the Association of Jewish Libraries conference six years ago and could be adapted by adding explanation of cultural background for non-Hebrew speakers. It could be enhanced or combined with a program on other examples of popular literature on the legal system written by and for minorities in a language not commonly known by scholars of those systems. It may be of special interested to the customary and religious law group in FCIL, the Jewish Librarians Caucus and the LHRB SIS.

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Obtaining & Using Copyrighted Materials from Foreign Countries

What does a U.S. law librarian do when a book or report that a patron needs to consult is only available at a library in England or India? How about when a thesis or document that another patron needs for research purposes is only available at a library in Namibia or New Zealand?Many libraries do not want to lend items internationally through OCLC WorldShare Interlibrary Loan, so ILL requests sent to non-U.S. countries are frequently returned unfilled. If a librarian—undeterred and unwilling to give up—contacts the library in another country directly to request scanned chapters of the book or a scanned copy of the report, how can the librarian ensure that the request does not violate that country’s copyright laws? Do other countries have fair use exceptions and library exemptions in their copyright laws similar to U.S. copyright law? How do copyright term lengths differ in other countries?

This program addresses how to research foreign copyright laws, how to legally obtain copies of copyrighted material from libraries around the world, and how to obtain permission to use copyrighted material that has been registered for copyright protection in another country.

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Unmasking the World’s 100 Most Influential Legal Texts

What are the 100 most influential texts in the world’s legal literature? Who better to ask than law librarians? We invite AALL members to share their expertise and diverse viewpoints in an interactive session that will be both fun and intellectually engaging. The resulting list may form the basis for a publication, a major public exhibition, and/or a dynamic, ever-growing online project. More than simply a tool for collecting or teaching, the list of the world’s most influential legal texts will demonstrate the profound impact of law on our lives throughout history and into the future.

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Legal research in civil law jurisdictions – all that different?

Legal research in civil law jurisdictions may not be as different as you may expect! The

influence of the common law can be seen, for instance, in the increased reliance on precedent and increased length in decisions. One might even question whether the emphasis on doctrine is really as strong now as it used to be.

A slight spin on the ideas already suggested, this panel is a little more introductory, but acknowledges the changing nature of practice in a civilian jurisdiction. Starting with the same research question, law librarians/ lawyers in various civil law jurisdictions will explain how they would tackle the question in their respective jurisdictions. Case law from these jurisdictions will also be compared.


BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Tips Tools & Techniques for Environmental Law Research

We don’t do as many research subject specific programs as in past. Why not take advantage of local expertise for an introductory to intermediate level program on how to research / tools for environmental law research?

See Tulane Law School

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Tools Tips & Techniques in Admiralty & Maritime Law

We aren’t doing as many legal research specific programs as in past. Why not take advantage of our location in New Orleans and the local expertise in admiralty and maritime law?

See Tulane Law School

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Screening of Documentary “Change the Subject” With Panel

“Change the Subject” is a recent documentary, about the students and librarians who have been fighting to change the Library of Congress subject heading from “Illegal Aliens” to something less pejorative, such as “undocumented people.” The struggle to change this heading even caught the attention of Congress, who until then had never taken an interest in LC subject headings that anyone could recall.

You can read more and view a trailer here: The filmmakers are excited and available to come screen the film and then answers questions during a panel session. Panel would also include law librarians involved in this struggle.

BOK Content Area:  Professionalism & Leadership at Every Level

How Codes are Made: Creating Laws in Civil Jurisdictions

Is there a difference between a code and a set of statutes? How does the process of codification differ between common law and civilian jurisdictions? What roles do legislatures and law reform bodies play? This panel will help librarians to understand the role that codes play in civilian and mixed jurisdictions and how and whether it differs from that of the “codes” that most of us would recognize as codified statutes. The panel will explore how codes are constructed in a variety of jurisdictions.

Speakers will include law faculty and drafters from Louisiana, as well as from or familiar with similar jurisdictions, such as Quebec, Scotland, and South Africa.

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Is it Napoleonic? Foreign/Domestic Influences on LA Civil Code

Interpreting and researching modern civil law depends upon an understanding of the historical sources from which those laws evolved. People often say that Louisiana uses the Napoleonic Code, but is that true? Louisiana has been both a French and Spanish colony, and it has been a part of the American legal system for over 200 years; it has also been influenced by Roman Law, Greek Law, Canon Law, and the Germanic Civil Law tradition.

This panel will help librarians understand the legal system of Louisiana, how the Louisiana Civil Code is drafted, and how the Civil Code operates within Louisiana’s mixed, partially common law jurisdiction. It will explore the relationship between codes, statutes, and cases, and how primary and secondary authority are defined and developed within Louisiana’s unique legal system. The panel will also cover elements of Louisiana legal research, including Louisiana’s unique legal publishing industry, the importance of print resources in Louisiana legal research, and available historical treatises and primary sources. The program will be accompanied by a LibGuide to assist non-Louisiana law librarians in researching Louisiana legal issues.

Speakers may include Louisiana law librarians, Louisiana law faculty, and members of the Louisiana State Law Institute (LSLI).

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Researching, Publishing, and Collecting the Laws of Louisiana

Most law librarians are aware of Louisiana’s unique and “different” legal system. But what does that mean for legal research, legal publishing, and collection development in the Pelican State?

This program will cover aspects of Louisiana legal research and collection development, including Louisiana’s small and specialized legal publishing industry, the importance of print resources in Louisiana legal research, and available primary and secondary sources. The program will be accompanied by a LibGuide to assist non-Louisiana law librarians in researching Louisiana legal issues and choosing Louisiana legal resources.

Speakers may include Louisiana law librarians, legal scholars, and representatives of university presses and other publishers of Louisiana law.

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

LA Civil Code & Other Influences on Civil Law in Latin America

The Louisiana civil code has directly and significantly influenced civil law in Latin America. It is generally believed that Spanish language translations of a mid-nineteenth century digest of world civil codes served as the first introduction of the civil law in Latin America. The Louisiana civil code was included in this digest (along with the codes of France, Sicily, Piedmont, the Netherlands, Bavaria, Austria, and Prussia), and the Spanish translation of the digest would therefore have served as the very first Spanish translation of the Louisiana civil code.

Around the same time, Spain was beginning to draft its first civil code post-unification, which would not be enacted until 1889. The commentaries provided during the drafting of the Spanish civil code, many of which referred to the code already in place in Louisiana, also heavily influenced the development of the civil law in Latin American countries.Latin American lawmakers turned to the Louisiana civil code not only because of the Spanish language translations and commentaries, but also because it was the first civil code to be drafted in the New World and could therefore serve as a model for Latin American countries that had been fighting for their own independence and that sought to express that independence through their own civil codes. Similarities between the Louisiana and French codes during this period were also significant, as the French code, which captured the spirit of post-Revolutionary France, had also captured the imagination of Latin America. As scholarship on Latin American civil law points out, the first Latin American codes were nearly word for word translations of the French civil code and its corresponding Louisiana code provisions, with departures only where the Latin American codes made reference to much older Spanish laws.

This program will explore the historical influences on Latin American civil law, which are invaluable in helping us to understand and research the modern laws. Speakers will consist of law librarians and civil law scholars who have researched extensively the development of Latin American civil law.

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Recent Reforms in the French Law of Obligations

Adapted from a symposium recently held at the Louisiana Supreme Court, this panel will address recent reforms to the French Law of Obligations and what they mean both for France and for French-influenced jurisdictions like Louisiana. Speakers will discuss the need for reforms to adapt the law to modern economic and social environments and to make French law more attractive to international markets. Specific changes to the law, as well as how they are playing out in practice, will be discussed in detail depending upon the available speakers’ expertise. We will round out the panel with a brief discussion of how the reforms in France could eventually affect the law of Louisiana and of other French-influenced jurisdictions.

Speakers would include scholars of French law, Louisiana law, and potential additional jurisdictions’ law, depending on availability. This program could be condensed into a short form program and/or proposed as a half workshop or symposium.

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Through the Codes Darkly: Slave Law and Civil Law in Louisiana

In his 2012 book, “Through the Codes Darkly: Slave Law and Civil Law in Louisiana” (, Tulane Law Professor Vernon Palmer challenged the prevailing argument that Louisiana’s slave laws were more permissive or protective than those of the other states. The differences between Louisiana’s slave laws and those of the other states have been attributed largely to the alleged adoption of ancient Roman slave laws during the drafting of Louisiana’s Code Noir, or “Black Code.” Because the Romans owned slaves of all races, some scholars have argued that the Roman laws were “color-blind” and that their incorporation into the Code Noir laid the groundwork for a more permissive body of slave law in the French territories. These scholars contrast the civil slave laws to the body of case law that developed to govern slavery in the other states, and argue that, while the common law developed specifically within a racial system, the civil law did not develop from the intent to oppress any particular race.

In “Through the Codes Darkly,” Palmer breaks with the earlier scholarship claiming that the Code Noir was based on Roman law. He instead relies on archival research, examining the Code Noir drafters’ backgrounds, the instructions they received from France, and the notes they generated during the course of their work. Palmer argues that the Code Noir was in fact based on the drafters’ own experiences in the New World, and that the Roman slave laws, which would have been largely irrelevant to slavery in the Americas, did not, in fact, form the substantive basis of the Code Noir. In breaking with Romanist scholarship, Palmer owns that the drafters of the Code Noir created a “profoundly racial document embodying the prejudices of their own white supremacist society.”

This program would explore Palmer’s trailblazing research into the law of slavery in Louisiana. The speaker would ideally be Professor Palmer himself, although other local law professors would also be qualified to speak on this topic if Professor Palmer were not available.

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

French, Spanish, African and Jewish influences in US Law

New Orleans and Louisiana in general with its rich city and legal history is the perfect set for this panel. Legal experts and historical experts will shed some light on the French, Spanish, African and Jewish influences which might have been present and even created in Louisiana or New Orleans and then made it to US law. Potential speakers include historical and legal experts on the topic, local history experts, and a local legal history expert or just legal history expert.

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Legal information from U.S. Territories

Legal information from and on the current U.S. territories is a nightmare to find. Most major commercial vendors do not include this information and local institutions do not have the resources to digitize and make this information more accessible. What should we do?

Potential speakers include law librarians from different U.S. territories, law librarian specializing in this area, perhaps a government/court librarian from the territories.

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis

Is Google Translate the only option?

The legal document or any material you are working on has a few sentences on Spanish, Estonian, Swahili or Vietnamese. What do you do? If you’re under some pressing time constraints locating and hiring a translator might not be an option. Is Google Translate the only and best option we have? Are there any other options out there either free or not?

Potential speakers include: a FCIL librarian with experience using materials in foreign languages, a certified legal translator, a rep from Google Translate or someone working in one of the other translation sites or apps such as Linguee or Lingvo.

BOK Content Area:  Research & Analysis