AALL 2015 Recap: “International Attorneys and LL.M. Students: Filling Research Gaps”

By Alexis Fetzer

scalesThe late Sunday afternoon session entitled “International Attorneys and LL.M. Students: Filling Research Gaps” targeted librarians working with international students in an instructional setting. Each speaker presented on his or her experience working with foreign LL.M. students.

The first of the three speakers was Jinwei Zhang, Reference and Instructional Technologies Librarian at the University of Tennessee School of Law. Ms. Zhang had a unique experience in that she had been a foreign LL.M. student herself. She began by discussing some of the unique challenges instructors face in teaching these students, such as language barriers, cultural differences, and introducing a new legal system. One cultural difference that Zhang emphasized was a reluctance to ask questions in class. Many of these students are coming from learning environments in which they are not encouraged to interrupt a lecturer with comments or questions. It is important to be patient and encouraging of these students in order to get them to open up in class. One suggestion offered was instituting more one on one meetings with students in order to get them comfortable talking to instructors and to answer any questions that they are too uncomfortable to pose before an entire class.

Nina Scholtz, Head of Reference Services & Instruction Coordinator at Cornell University Law School, was the second of three speakers. Ms. Scholtz spoke on her experience as an academic law librarian instructing LL.M. students in legal research in their Principles of American Legal Writing course. In this course she instructs students in four class sessions and then works with students individually on their research for writing projects.

One challenge she highlighted was the difficulty in overcoming language barriers for legal citation abbreviations. It is important for instructors to keep in mind that what appears to make sense in the English speaker’s mind as an abbreviation for a court or publication may not always translate clearly to the foreign student. An instructor should look for ways to make this easier for students to understand and should be able to point to resources that can assist students in abbreviating or deciphering abbreviations of citations.

Scholtz shared one of the exercises she performed with her students, entitled “Thinking like a Common Law Lawyer.” This exercise focuses on the factual analysis that needs to take place before students can begin tackling legal research. Students are tasked with finding the basis of the case, generating search terms, and looking to other synonyms and antonyms of those terms. After the class performs this exercise together as a whole, students are broken up into smaller groups and given the same type of assignment with a different fact pattern.

The final speaker was Furman Scott DeMaris, Research Services Librarian at Reed Smith LLP, who spoke of his experience as a firm librarian when Reed Smith took on several Chinese LL.M. students as apart of work-study program with Temple University School of Law. One thing the firm did was to offer research refreshers and training for these students. Mr. Demaris found that it was important to let these students know that the librarians were there to assist them, because otherwise they might not have identified the librarians as a resource. Research guides were also offered to students on topics such as how to avoid research pitfalls and how to perform cost effective research. One challenge in hosting these LL.M. students was that, because they were guests rather than employees, they could not be given access to all of the firm’s resources. At the end of their time with Reed Smith, the students were asked to give a presentation on Chinese Law. This was a great way take advantage of the special knowledge of these foreign educated attorneys and to educate the firm’s attorneys on a foreign legal system.

After the final speaker, attendees were asked to discuss amongst members seated at their table the challenges in training foreign attorneys in an LL.M. instructional program or similar setting. The microphone was then opened for attendees to share and for the speakers to answer any questions.

Follow Up: Changes to EU Case Publishing Not Included in 20th Edition of Bluebook

by Alison Shea

Last summer I wrote a short pbluebook 20ost for this blog detailing the changes to official reporting of cases from the Court of Justice of the European Union, and asked the question of how librarians would deal with this while waiting for the 20th edition of the Bluebook (BB) to be published.

Now that we have received our shiny new copies of the 20th edition, it would appear that there have been no changes to rule 21.5.2(a) that would indicate to the reader that the Reports of cases before the Court of Justice and the General Court, aka the ECR, has ceased publication in print as of January 1, 2012. Not only is the wording of this rule almost verbatim to what appeared in the 19th edition, but “Reports of cases before the Court of Justice” in T3.3 lists the coverage as 1973-date [n.b. not to nitpick even further, but this is technically incorrect, as cases decided before the English-language countries joined the EU in 1973 were translated into English and printed in special retrospective editions of the English-language ECR]; with the recent changes, the most correct coverage date range should instead read 1973-2011. Although the Court’s website indicates that the “Reports of Cases” are now published exclusively online, for BB purposes these Reports should not be cited in a similar fashion, as they obviously lack both a volume number (I for Court of Justice cases, II for General Court cases) and consecutive pagination.

The lack of direct guidance on this format change is disappointing because although rule 21.5.2(a) includes a secondary preference for citing to an electronic source “if an official reporter is not available in print”, for journal students and other users who are unaware that the ECR is simply no longer published, I can imagine that much time will be wasted searching for an ECR cite first instead of realizing that anything decided 2012-date will not have an ECR cite.

Going further, I was also disappointed to see that in this secondary preference paragraph, the BB editors have added new guidance for finding ECJ cases online outside of Curia: “for cases before June, 1997: http://old.eur-lex.europa.eu”.  This is unhelpful on a number of counts, most notably because it implies that cases decided before June 1997 cannot be located and retrieved on Curia (incorrect) and that to find cases before June 1997 one would have to use the “old” version of Eur-lex (also incorrect), which is no longer being updated and currently exists for archival purposes only. One theory as to why the BB editors would direct users to an archival site is that on the old Eur-lex one was able to go to the “Access by year” feature at the bottom of the Case-law page and select any year from 1954-onwards. In the “new” Eur-lex, under “Direct access to case law”, one can only select back until 1973. This again is not a correct assumption of coverage, as case law going back to the beginning can be retrieved via full text search, document number or CELEX number in the “new” Eur-lex.

So what is to be done? Even without any guidance in the BB, the sun will still rise in the East and law students will still come to ask for help at the reference desk. My simple solution will be to instruct law review editors and other users to cite the ECR for judgments issued from 1954-2011, and to use the electronic version via Curia for everything 2012-date. Also, let me make a small plug here for the Fordham International Law Journal’s EU Citation Manual which, although they have only made the 2010-11 version publicly available and thus this version does not address the ECR issue, goes into far greater detail on standardizing citations for EU documentation than the BB does and can be quite useful to students writing an EU-source heavy note. The further question of whether to adopt the European Case Law Identifier (ECLI) is still unresolved, but so long as the BB is fine with citations to the URL of Curia, the issue of whether to include the ECLI can wait for another day!

Finding Foreign Case Law By Citation: A Practical Guide

By Lyonette Louis-Jacques

The following guide was originally posted to the INT-LAW listserv on July 10, 2014, in response to one of the list’s most frequently asked questions.  What happens when you or a patron have a case law citation, but don’t know how to find the text of the case? Here are a few tips to get you started.

universitylogo1-300x288First, figure out what the abbreviation for the case report stands for.  To do so, use the Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations, a free, online database that allows you to search for the meaning of abbreviations for English language legal publications, from the British Isles, the Commonwealth and the United States, including those covering international and comparative law, as well as a wide selection of major foreign language law publications.

Let’s say you want that famous cannibal case, R v Dudley and Stephens (1884) 14 QBD 273 –  but you don’t know what “QBD” stands for.  Plug it into the Cardiff Index and you will discover as follows:

Q.B.D. L.R.Q.B.D. ; L.R.Q.B.Div. ; Law Rep.Q.B.D. Law Reports, Queen’s Bench Division England & Wales

Now that you know that QBD stands for the “Law Reports, Queen’s Bench Division,” you can search local, nearby library catalogs for holdings, or use a free OPAC or union catalog to find out which libraries near you own it.  I like using Open WorldCat, AMICUS, KVK (Karlsruhe Virtual Catalog), Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and so on.  It depends on what I am trying to locate and whom I know at the library that holds it.

Proceeding with your search for R v Dudley and Stephens, you search a catalog to see which libraries have the 1884 volumes of the Law Reports, Queen’s Bench Division.  Then you have three options:

  1. Contact someone you know at a library that has the volumes, and ask for copies.
  2. Place an interlibrary loan request directly with a particular library.  There might be a document delivery service.
  3. Place an ILL request via OCLC or another established lending and borrowing arrangement.

dudleyIf a case is famous, it may be “Wikipedia’ed,” in which case there is a possibility that the article will contain links to the full text:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R_v._Dudley_and_Stephens

If no links are given, you may still be able to locate the full text as reported in a print resource by using Google Books, HathiTrust, Gallica, or one of several other digital libraries.  These virtual libraries digitize older case reports/reporters, so the text of cases are likely to be available here only if the cases are old enough.  Googling the case generally helps to establish a date if you don’t already have one.  There are also the legal information institutes that form part of the Free Access to Law Movement, but the text there might not be exactly as it is in in the QBD or in other print sources.

And you always have a fourth option:

  1. Ask your INT-LAW colleagues for help!

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DipLawMatic Dialogues thanks Lyonette Louis-Jacques for granting us permission to edit and post this guide.

Changes in ECJ Case Publishing and Citation Methods

By Alison Shea

Many of us have a nice splash of color in our stacks thanks to the purple European Union case law reporters, known to our students as the ECR but to our catalogs as “Reports of cases before the Court of Justice and the General Court…” However, unbeknownst (or unremembered) to many, as of April 2014 this print reporter has ceased publication – see here, here, and here for more information.  The last volumes issued were 2011 v.12C for Series I and 2011 v.11/12 for Series II.

One thing we might consider doing to help alert users to this change is to ask our catalogers to include some type of link to the electronic databases – either Curia or Eur-Lex – from our current ECR records, similar to what IALS in London has done.  But what does this mean for FCIL reference services, and especially for all of the journal students who are going to come asking for citation help once school is back in session?  It’s hard to tell.

Bluebook (19th edition) Rule 21.5.2 states that European Union case law citations should include a reference to the official reporter, which is defined in 21.5.2(a) as the ECR.  Subsection (a) does go on to state that if an official report is not available in print, one should cite to the Curia website, an electronic database, or a private service.  So, one might assume that from 2012 onwards we should instruct students to provide a citation to the HTML version of the case (which are considered official per the court’s own website) using rule 18.1.

But there’s a twist!  In announcing the cessation of the ECR in print, the Court also announced a new citation method for ECJ cases.  As stated on the Curia website:

I. The context of the alteration of the method of citing the case-law

As part of an initiative taken by the Council, a European Case-Law Identifier (ECLI) has recently been created.  That identifier is intended to provide an unambiguous reference both to national and European case-law and to define a minimum set of uniform metadata for the case-law.  It thus facilitates the consultation and citation of case-law in the European Union.

The ECLI is composed of the following four mandatory sections, in addition to the prefix ‘ECLI’:

  • The code corresponding to the Member State of the court or tribunal concerned or to the European Union where it is an EU Court;
  • The abbreviation corresponding to the court which gave the decision;
  • The year of the decision;
  • An order number of a maximum of 25 alphanumeric characters, in a format decided by each Member State or supranational court or tribunal concerned. The order number may not contain any punctuation sign other than full stops (‘.’) or colons (‘:’), the latter separating the sections of an ECLI.

Following the recommendation of the Council that the Court of Justice of the European Union adopt the European Case-Law Identifier system, the Court has assigned an ECLI to all decisions delivered by the European Union Courts since 1954 and to the Opinions and Views of the Advocates General.

For example, the ECLI of the judgment of the Court of Justice of 12 July 2005 in Case C-403/03 Schempp is the following: ‘EU:C:2005:446′. 

It is broken down as follows:

  • ‘EU’ indicates that it is a decision delivered by an EU Court or Tribunal (if the decision were one of a national court, the code corresponding to the relevant Member State would appear in the place of ‘EU’);
  • ‘C’ indicates that this decision was delivered by the Court of Justice. If the decision were delivered by the General Court or by the Civil Service Tribunal, the indicator would be ‘T’ or ‘F’ respectively;
  • ‘2005′ indicates that the decision was delivered during 2005;
  • ‘446′ indicates that it is the 446th ECLI attributed in respect of that year.

It is interesting to examine some of the cases that are being published online using this new method – see, e.g. Minister Finansów v Kraft Foods Polska SA, available at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:62010CJ0588&rid=1.  It “feels” similar to what the ECR looked like in PDF, but again, it is important to note that it is not consecutively paginated as part of an official reporter and instead carries the new ECLI citation.

So the big question is…how do we advise our students to cite ECJ cases until the new Bluebook comes out?  Also, how can we go about ensuring the editors of the Bluebook are aware of this change?  Please leave your comments/thoughts/questions below, and do be sure to stop by the European Law Interest Group Meeting in San Antonio, to be held on Sunday, July 13, 2014 at 7:00 AM in Marriott Rivercenter-Salon C (as part of the FCIL-SIS Subject Groups meetings) to continue the discussion there!