AALL 2017 Recap: Global Energy Law: Perspectives from North America and Africa

By Susan Gualtier

Energy Law Program.jpgOn Sunday, July 16, I attended the Global Energy Law program curated by Yemisi Dina and featuring guest speaker Emeka Duruigbo.  Professor Duruigbo is an internationally recognized Energy Law, Business Law, and Economic Law scholar and has taught at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University since 2006.  He has made a number of media appearances and was featured in the documentary film, Crude Impact, which explores our global dependency on fossil fuel energy and examines the future implications of “peak oil.”  He is licensed to practice law in Nigeria and California.

Professor Duruigbo began the program with a few statistics, followed by an overview of the geology of petroleum drilling and of the petroleum industry for those of us unfamiliar with the processes.  Energy use evolves over time, with oil and gas dominating modern energy use.  Texas is considered the energy capital of the world, encompassing not only oil and gas, but also wind and solar energy.  Professor Duruigbo predicts that by 2040, oil, gas, and coal will still make up approximately 80% of the world’s energy demands, with gas usage growing the most over the next several decades.  The use of nuclear energy and renewables will also grow, while the use of wood, dung, and other biomass will decline slightly.

Crude oil and natural gas occur naturally in rock formations and can be drilled either horizontally or vertically.   The oil and gas industry consists of upstream, downstream, and midstream components. The largest and most lucrative oil and gas companies are engaged in upstream activities, which include exploration, field development, and production operations (referred to as “E&P.”)  E&P companies in turn hire midstream companies – those engaged in the transportation, processing, storage, and distribution of fuels – to drill their wells and to maintain and service them afterward. Downstream companies are those engaged in manufacturing, wholesale, and marketing.  The industry also includes companies providing supporting services to the upstream, midstream, and downstream operations.

Moving on to the legal portion of the presentation, Professor Duruigbo focused primarily on the human rights and environmental issues arising from the oil and gas industry.  Problems in the U.S. appear to be largely environmental.  The U.S. currently accounts for about 18% of the world’s energy consumption, despite making up only 4.5% of the world’s population.  One of the primary concerns in the U.S. oil and gas industry right now is that of fracking, which is a process for making shale more permeable to allow for drilling, and which may damage water, cause earthquakes, or have other environmental implications. Horizontal drilling is also at issue, as it allows for drilling underneath residential areas without the necessity of drilling a well nearby.  The U.S. oil and gas industry is governed by federal and state statutes, agency regulations, common law (which dominates areas such as trespass, strict liability, nuisance, and negligence), international law, and soft law.

In Nigeria, by contrast, the industry is not well-regulated.  Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and is one of the largest oil and gas producers; however, despite its rich natural resources and successful oil and gas industry, poverty levels have not improved much over time. Natural disasters, gas flares, and human rights abuses are common, and there is little redress for the victims through the Nigerian court system.  This has led victims to seek alternative venues in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.  It has also exposed U.S. and Canadian companies to lawsuits arising out of their alleged role in human rights abuses abroad.  Professor Duruigbo believes that Nigeria and other developing countries need to better embrace a “culture of legality,” in which the law matters and there are consequences for disobedience.  He also believes that in countries that suffer from government corruption, it may be better for natural resources to be owned by private companies, as they are in the U.S.

Professor Duruigbo finished the presentation by stressing the need for international cooperation on environmental and human rights issues, as well as the need to develop alternative energy policies and sustainable development models.  Overall, this program was a helpful introduction to the oil and gas industry and the current legal issues surrounding it.

AALL 2017 Recap: Social Media Use in Law Libraries: Learn from Our Successes and Failures

By Caitlin Hunter

panel photoI began my current job fresh from an online course in social media for libraries and enthusiastic about all the possibilities. I carefully identified target patron groups, then crafted goals and selected appropriate platforms for each. I made detailed Twitter and Facebook schedules in Word, Google Calendars, and Excel. Today, the library’s Twitter has three posts in the past three months, none of them by me. The library’s Facebook is long gone, courtesy of marketing’s suggestion that the law school would be better served by a single, unified Facebook that was actually updated.

Accordingly, I was excited to learn from librarians who are making social media work. Mari Cheney (Digital Resources & Reference Librarian, Lewis and Clark Law School; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and Nickholas Harrell (Student Services & Outreach Librarian, University of Colorado Law School; Facebook, Twitter) are academic librarians who are personally responsible for updating their libraries’ social media accounts. Cathryn Bowie (State Law Librarian, State of Oregon Law Library; Facebook, Twitter, Blog) is a public law library director who guides and supports her library’s social media program.

They offered the following tips for social media success:

  1. Avoid Facebook. All three panelists have Facebooks but this was misleading. Both Cheney and Harrell said their biggest Facebook failure was not deleting Facebook. (I was pleased to learn that my library was ahead of the curve on this one.) Cheney described Facebook as “a failure I continue to update.” Generally, the panelists felt that Facebook was geared towards the personal, rather than the professional, and had limited reach because of Facebook’s pay-for-views policy. Unless a library has the budget and willingness to pay, only about 10% of the library’s followers will see each post they make.
  2. Twitter is a must-have.  All three panelists had Twitter and agreed that Twitter is a good fit for libraries. Law students and attorneys use Twitter to promote themselves professionally, rather than to share their personal life. This means more retweets of legal research tips and fewer awkward encounters with photos of students partying.twitter
  3. Consider blogs and Instagram, but skip Snapchat. Bowie’s library also maintained a blog and Cheney maintained an Instagram. Cheney had investigated the possibility of having a Snapchat but students advised her that Snapchat was even more personal and less professional than Facebook.
  4. Retweet, repost, reblog- especially from vendors and other university departments. My biggest struggle with social media is generating content. How do successful social media users generate original content day after day? The answer is they don’t. A key part of effective social media use is engaging with the social media community by reposting others’ content. All of the panelists drew from a long list of sources, including AALL’s KnowItALL, SLAW, Lawyerist, Above the Law, Tech Dirt, Real Lawyers have Blogs, Boing Boing, In Custodia Legalis, and blogs by Hein and other vendors. Many vendors will retweet you if you retweet or mention them, pushing library content out to a much broader audience than the library could reach on its own. Likewise, engaging with other departments within the law school or university helps the law library reach audiences they otherwise wouldn’t and posting new books encourages the authors and their fans to repost your content and follow you.
  5. Enlist help. Harrell said he couldn’t do it without the help of a co-worker who rounded up her own list of content each morning. Another co-worker had a master’s in poetry and pitched in by selecting legally themed poems that were a hit with followers. Cheney reported great success asking student workers with high follower counts to like or retweet library posts. An audience member reported that her library’s trick to push out Facebook content without paying for the privilege was to have the librarians like and reblog library posts using their own accounts.
  6. Automate with tools. Feedly streamlines browsing blog posts, while TweetDeck streamlines browsing Twitter mentions and hashtags. Repost automatically reposts others’ Instagram content with appropriate credit. HootSuite automatically reposts the library’s own content to all of the services the library uses, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
  7. Post what patrons like–but expect surprises.  Paradoxically, both big trends and highly local content are popular. Popular trendy content included Pokemon Go at the library, ProQuest’s guide to Supreme Court nominations, the Law of Library of Congress’ guide to Olympics law, and portraits of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Popular local content included a mariachi band celebrating graduation weekend outside the library, a post identifying the library floors where alumni could find their class pictures, oddball library lost and found items, and Bacon, the Lewis & Clark library’s bronze pig. Bowie observed that the courts were “not allowed to do fun things” but nevertheless found social media success by providing practical tips on topics their patrons cared about, like finding legislative histories, using PACER, and downloading and printing from library computers. However, don’t expect to accurately predict everything patrons will like. Students were shockingly uninterested in Cheney’s gift card give-away and I was surprised to learn that one of the Oregon Law Library’s most popular blog posts was about dictionaries.instagram wins
  8. Engage with students– cautiously. Both Harrell and Cheney followed, retweeted, and replied to students on Twitter. Cheney initially made the mistake of following students on Instagram, too, only to find her Instagram feed inundated with photos of partying students she would rather not have seen. Audience members suggested approaching these encounters as learning opportunities for students who, after all, would soon be expected by law firms to keep their public social media accounts clean of partying photos and controversial opinions.
  9. Have clear policies for dealing with questionable comments–especially if you work for the government. If the library uses a social media platform that allows public comments, eventually the library will receive hostile or inappropriate comments. Be prepared beforehand with clear policies on what can stay and what crosses the line. This is especially key for court libraries, which must take into account their patrons’ free speech rights before removing comments.
  10. Make social media part of your daily workflow–but don’t be an addict. All three librarians set aside half an hour to forty-five minutes when they first arrived at work to review blogs and repost content. For those of us who struggle to post regularly, making social media part of our daily workflow can help maintain the consistent posting schedule necessary to get and keep followers. What about those rare souls who have the opposite problem, like the self-described “social media addict” who asked for advice during question and answer? Harrell’s advice was succinct: Don’t be an addict. Review your feed, make your posts, and then move on to the rest of your day. As Bowie observed, social media comes second- the patron in front of you always comes first.

AALL 2017 Recap: Yemisi Dina & Thomas Mills win Spirit of the FCIL-SIS Awards!

The Spirit of the FCIL-SIS Award is presented each year to members whose work furthers our mission, serves the entire FCIL-SIS, and inspires other to act. This year during the AALL 2017 Annual Meeting, Yemisi Dina and Thomas Mills received Spirit of the FCIL-SIS Awards.

yemisi 2

Yemisi Dina is an Associate Librarian and Head of Public Services at Osgoode Hall Law School Library in Toronto, Canada.  Yemisi currently serves as Chair of the African Law Interest Group and was responsible for proposing, coordinating, and moderating the FCIL-SIS sponsored program at this year’s Annual Meeting: Global Energy Law: Perspectives from North America and Africa.  Yemisi has published two research guides on the Globalex platform: one on Nigerian law and one on Caribbean law , based on her prior experience as a librarian in both Nigeria and the Bahamas. Additionally, Yemisi developed a project that digitizes and summarizes customary court decisions from Ibadan and Abeokuta, two major cities in South Western Nigeria.  These court decisions are not published in an official record, so Yemisi’s summaries provide one of the few means of access.  As many members may remember, Yemisi shared the results of her project at the jurisdictions IG joint meeting held during last year’s Annual Meeting in Chicago. Thank you, Yemisi!  Congratulations!

 
millsThomas Mills, now the Director of the University of Notre Dame Law School Library, served with a team of consultants for the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in the summer of 2009, providing advice on how to archive materials on the genocide trials.  He has also served as Chair of the FCIL-SIS Strategic Planning Committee; Chair of the FCIL-SIS Pre-Conference Summit Task Force; a member of the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals committee; and a member of the indexing of periodical literature committee.  More recently he has worked as a member of the project team of Global Online Access to Legal Information(GOALI).  Congratulations, Thomas!

AALL 2017 Recap: Authors of the Mexican Law and Legal Research Guide win the Reynolds & Flores Publication Award!

The Reynolds and Flores Publication Award is named after the authors of the Foreign Law Guide, a source that we all gratefully consult on daily basis. This award recognizes FCIL-SIS member(s) who have created a publication that enhances the professional knowledge and capabilities of law librarians. Winning publications may be print, digital, or electronic initiatives. Thus, journal articles, treatises, symposia papers, digitization projects, websites, databases, and ebooks are all eligible for consideration. This year, all authors of the Mexican Law and Legal Research Guide won the Reynolds & Flores Publication Award: Bianca T. Anderson, Marisol Floren-Romero, Julienne E. Grant, Jootaek Lee, Lyonette Louis-Jacques, Teresa M. Miguel-Stearns, Jonathan Pratter, and Sergio Stone. Julienne and Jonathan, as co-editors of the Guide, accepted the award on behalf of the group.

The Guide was most recently published in March of  2016 in Volume 35, Issue 1, of the Legal Reference Services Quarterly.  It covers all types of  primary sources of law and secondary legal literature, including international agreements, state gazettes, law journals, textbooks, and monographs.  Additionally, it filled a gap in the literature: it contains an extensive bibliography of secondary literature in English on Mexican law and legal research, which is not found in other research guides or treatises on Mexican law and legal research. Since its publication, it has received approximately 500 views (on the Taylor & Francis platform that hosts Legal Reference Services Quarterly) and over 200 SSRN downloads.  

The Guide is a significant contribution to our field in terms of its content, but it is also a fantastic example of the quality of work we can achieve when we collaborate with each other for the benefit of our profession.  Congratulations to all!

AALL 2017 Recap: Sergio Stone receives the Daniel L. Wade Outstanding Service Award!

Sergio

Each year, we honor an FCIL-SIS member who has made outstanding contributions to the Section in any number of the following areas: outstanding leadership in the Section, at meetings, and through committee work; special and notable service to the Section; participation in Section educational programs and public-speaking activities; mentoring activities that inspire others in the Section; and activities that encourage others to join the section. This year, our colleague, Sergio Stone won the Daniel L. Wade FCIL-SIS Outstanding Service Award

Sergio is currently the Deputy Director and Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Librarian at Stanford University Law School’s Robert Crown Library.  He has contributed to the FCIL librarianship community both nationally and internationally throughout his career. Sergio served as Chair of the Asian Law Interest Group from 2006-2010 and then as Chair of the FCIL-SIS in 2011-2012.  In addition to his work with the FCIL-SIS, he serves as the Chair of the Nomination Committee of International Association of Law Libraries and as the Chair of the Nomination Committee of Chinese-American Forum on Legal Information and Law Libraries.  

Sergio’s scholarship on Mexican legal research, Cuban legal research, Chinese legal research, and international legal research appears in many well-known legal research publications such as Globalex, Legal Reference Services Quarterly, and American Society of International Law’s EISIL. He is also a contributor of the Mexican Law and Legal Research Guide, which won this year’s Reynolds and Flores Publication Award.

For his contributions to the FCIL-SIS and the world of FCIL librarianship overall, join us in congratulating Sergio Stone as this year’s recipient of the Daniel L. Wade Outstanding Service Award!

AALL 2017 Recap: Cuban Law and Legal Research: A Snapshot During the Deshielo

By Caitlin Hunter

PanelDuring this year’s AALL conference I enjoyed the opportunity to attend “Cuban Law and Legal Research,” a panel discussion by Jorge R. Piñon (Director, Latin America and Caribbean Energy Program, University of Texas at Austin), Julienne E. Grant (Reference Librarian/Foreign & International Research Specialist, Loyola University Chicago School of Law Library), Marisol Florén Romero (Assistant Director for Library Services & Foreign & International Law, Florida International University), and Teresa M. Miguel-Stearns (Law Librarian and Professor of Law, Yale Law School Lillian Goldman Library.) The three librarians explained the theoretical structure of Cuban law, which Piñon tempered with his own practical experiences on the ground promoting trade between Cuba and the U.S.

Government StructureCuba is a civil law country and, more importantly, a socialist legality, where law is an instrument for moving society to socialism and communism. The basic government structure is established by the Constitution of 1976 and includes four branches:

  • The National Assembly of People’s Power, a legislative body that issues laws (leyes) and agreements (acuerdos) and is nominally Cuba’s highest authority;
  • The People’s Supreme Court, the highest judicial body;
  • The Office of the Attorney General, responsible for enforcing the laws; and
  • The Council of Ministers, an executive body that issues decrees (decretos) and is roughly analogous to the U.S. cabinet.

Except for the Council of Ministers, each branch has both provincial and municipal lower levels. Someone bringing a case would file it in a People’s Municipal Court, appeal to a People’s Provincial Court, and finally appeal to the People’s Supreme Court. Correspondingly, in addition to the national Office of the Attorney General, there are also Municipal and Provincial Attorney Generals. The legislative branch has not only Provincial and Municipal Assemblies, but also People’s Councils consisting of delegates elected down to the neighborhood level.

However, Piñon observed, you can rip up the formal chart and throw it out the window. Real power is actually held by much smaller groups. Within the People’s Supreme Court, only the smaller Governing Council issues binding decisions, in the form of instructions (instrucciones), agreements (acuerdos), and opinions (dictámenes.) Both the National Assembly and Council of Ministers also have smaller councils that are responsible for decision-making when they are not in session. The Council of State consists of 31 delegates from the National Assembly, issues decree-laws (decretos-leyes), and handles international treaties (tratados internacionales). The Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers consists of an unfixed number of ministers and issues resolutions (resoluciones). These smaller bodies wield considerable power because the National Assembly meets only two weeks a year and receives its marching orders from the Council of State when it does meet. Raúl Castro is the President of both the Council of State and the Council of Ministers. Regardless of the organizational chart, Castro and the Cuban Communist Party hold the real power.

Sources of LawCuban laws are difficult to find due to a lack of publishers and the government’s low commitment to transparency. There is no Lexis, Westlaw, or CLII Cuba. Government websites are here today, gone tomorrow and not necessarily accurate or intuitive to use. Cuba’s Gaceta Oficial posts Cuban laws in rar format, an old school competitor to the zip file that requires special software to decompress. The Gaceta includes codified Cuban law, but the codes aren’t up-to-date and there are differences even between the HTML and PDF versions posted on the Gaceta’s website. The problem is not restricted to online access. The government’s Instituto Cubano del Libro reviews all books and only authorizes a handful of publishers (e.g. ONBC) to print short runs that quickly sell out. During a recent book-buying trip to Cuba, Miguel-Stearns struggled to find something as simple as the current commercial code and spent hours waiting outside a bookstore while the Uruguayan publishers serving as intermediaries haggled for the handful of books available. Nevertheless, resources on Cuban law are expanding. For years the Supreme Court’s website was routinely down and nearly impossible to access, but following a recent reworking, it is now (usually) up and filled with useful information about the court and its rulings.  Other useful websites are the government-sponsored Granma and EcuRed; the independent Translating Cuba and Havana Times; and Cuba Trade Magazine, which focuses on the growing trade between the U.S. and Cuba.

Piñon believes that promoting trade between the U.S. and Cuba is key to both countries’ interests. Castro is now in his mid-eighties and has failed to identify a sufficiently charismatic, popular successor. Additionally, Cuba is heavily dependent on subsidies from Venezuela, which will end as soon as Maduro’s government falls. The imminent power vacuum could leave Cuba vulnerable to drug cartels. However, if the U.S. helps Cuba build a stable economy now, Americans and Cubans alike can benefit from the buying power of Cuban consumers and the contributions of the well-educated and entrepreneurial Cuban workforce. The Cuban government understands that it cannot continue to support hundreds of thousands of government workers once the Venezuelan subsidies end and is actively pushing both foreign investment and small businesses, such as B&Bs. For their part, American corporations are eager to access Cuban workers and markets and don’t care about the property the Cuban government seized from them decades ago. (Piñon quipped that most American companies would happily settle with Cuba for a dollar–and if Cuba does not have a dollar, they will reach into their pockets and give it the dollar.) The current re-freezing of Cuban relations has nothing to do with Cuba and everything to do with domestic U.S. politics. American politicians support the embargo because they fear losing support for their own policies from colleagues such as Marco Rubio, who in turn fear losing the votes of their Cuban exile constituents. It is up to us to counter this pressure and lobby the politicians who represent us to oppose the embargo.

All of the speakers were passionate and knowledgeable about their subjects and I wished this had been a deep dive so I could have heard everything they had to share. Happily, however, the presenters have also extensively documented their work elsewhere, including on this blog. Grant’s detailed travelogue of the Latin American Law Interest Group’s trip to Cuba is a special highlight. The presenters also provided an extensive handout, documenting and expanding on their presentation. Finally, I’ll be keeping an eye out for the Latin American Law Interest Group’s full guide to Cuban law, forthcoming in the month’s issue of the International Journal of Legal Information.

AALL 2017 Recap: Schaffer Grant Recipient Presentation–I am the river, and the river is me

By Jessica Pierucci

schaffer_openingslide
On Monday afternoon, July 17, 2017, the 2017 Schaffer Grant recipient, Rosemarie Rogers, delivered a fascinating presentation titled “Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au” or “I am the river and the river is me” about the personhood of the Whanganui River. Rosemarie traveled to the AALL 2017 conference in Austin, Texas all the way from New Zealand, where she is an Information Services Adviser at the law firm of Buddle Findlay.

Rosemarie started by taking us back to 1840, when over 500 Māori chiefs and the British Crown signed the Treaty of Waitangi. The English and Māori versions of the treaty differed significantly, which created substantial disagreement over the meaning of the treaty.

This disagreement ultimately led to the establishment of the Waitangi Tribunal in 1975 to settle treaty claims by the Māori arising from the actions of the British Crown. The tribunal initially had limited powers over claims arising before 1975, but its reach was extended in 1985 to historical claims that date back to 1840.

schaffer_riverslideThe dispute over the Whanganui River is one of those historical claims.

Before discussing the dispute over the river, Rosemarie shared two additional notable settlements coming out of the Waitangi Tribunal to provide context: the settlement of the Ngāi Tahu dispute and the settlement of the Te Urewera dispute.

First, the Ngāi Tahu dispute emerged from a complaint about land acquisition by the British Crown. In simple terms, the tribunal concluded that substantial compensation was required for the land and rights to significant sites were transferred as part of the settlement.

Second, the Te Urewera dispute arose over the status of a national park and is in many ways a precursor to the outcome of the Whanganui River dispute. The tribunal concluded that the, now former, national park, in Rosemarie’s words, “owns itself,” in that it is a legal entity. This vested the land in Te Urewera, granting personhood to Te Urewera.

These prior outcomes provide foundation for the tribunal’s conclusion that the Whanganui River is a legal person. This conclusion can be found in a settlement officially finalized through the passage of a bill by the New Zealand Parliament just a few months ago, in March 2017. Rosemarie shared the sad history of the Whanganui River explaining that it was used by the Māori for transport and food until the British Crown destroyed much of their ability to do so. Māori people brought this claim to right this wrong.

Now, as a result of the settlement, there is hope for the future of the river because, as a legal person and taonga (meaning ancestral treasure), the river has rights. The river will be appointed representatives to represent its interests.

schaffer_rosemarierogers

Rosemarie Rogers gives her Schaffer Grant Presentation at the 2017 Annual Conference of the American Association of Law Librarians in Austin, TX.

During the Q&A, Rosemarie shared that this recent settlement has been covered by many major news organizations (NPR, The Guardian, BBC, and the New York Times, to name a few). She also entertained a lively discussion with attendees about the potential implications of personhood for the river. According to Rosemarie, the Whanguanui River is the first river to be legally declared a person, so many of the decision’s implications are not yet clear. That will be the next chapter in this river’s story. Maybe the topic of a future Schaffer Grant lecture? We’ll just have to wait and see.