Call for Bloggers: IALL 2018

luxembourgThe 37th Annual Course of the International Association of Law Libraries is taking place from September 30, 2018 to October 3, 2018 in Luxembourg.

We’re looking for volunteers to recap one or more sessions for us.  Blog posts are short, between 400 and 700 ways, and easy to do–and are a great way to contribute to the SIS. Recapping a session is a great way to share your knowledge with those who are unable to attend.

We’re happy to have recaps for any session you’re already planning on attending, but think our readers would be particularly interested in the following if you’re looking for ideas of which programs to recap:

Sunday, September 30th:

  • Pre-Conference Workshop, “Workshop on Library Innovation & Robot Usage

Monday, October 1st:

  • 9:30-11:00:  Introduction to the Legal System of Luxembourg and its History
  • 9:30-11:00:  Special Features of Luxembourg Law, such as its Sources
  • 2:15-4:30:  The New Luxembourg Space Resources Act and International Law

Tuesday, October 2nd:

  • 9:30-11:00:  The Max Planck Institute Luxembourg: 50th Anniversary of EU Procedural Law
  • 11:30-1:00:  Privacy in European Cross-Border Settinsg
  • 11:30-1:00:  Traditional Cultural Expressions and International Intellectual Property Law
  • 2:15-4:30:  EiPro-Max Planck Encyclopeida of International Procedural Law

Wednesday, October 3rd:

  • 9:45-11:15:  What is the European Union, a Union of Citizens and States, a New Constitutional Topos?
  • 11:45-12:30:  Robot Law
  • 16:35-17:25:  Lecture of a Member of the Court of Justice of the European Union

We’d also be interested in a travelogue or posts on the visits to some of the tours included as part of the conference if anyone is interested.

If you’re attending and interested in blogging for us, please contact Alyson Drake at with the name(s) of the session(s) you’d like to recap.  Thank you in advance!

AALL 2018 Recap: Should One Judge Have All This Power?

By Benjamin Keele

scales-of-justiceIn recent memory, several high-profile court cases have seen federal district judges issue injunctions that purport to bind conduct and parties beyond the parties to this case and outside the judges’ districts. These injunctions have been dubbed nationwide, global, and universal. In the session “Should One Judge Have All This Power?,” Charlton Copeland (University of Miami) and Michael Morley (Florida State University) discussed the history and consequences of these far-reaching remedies.

Copeland noted that while universal injunctions were relatively new, compared to other remedies, they have been used before. In the 1960s, judges issued universal injunctions against federal agencies. These injunctions were a tool for judges to discipline agencies empowered by important legislative reforms. I found Copeland’s point that universal injunctions were primarily used as tool in conflicts between courts and executive agencies especially interesting. He also suggested that as congressional action has decreased due to partisan gridlock, then administrative actions have become more important and resulted in more conflicts with courts. More conflicts between courts and agencies put judges in more positions in which they may decide to deploy universal injunctions.

There are two risks with the universal injunction strategy. First, these judicial actions reduce the impulse for congressional oversight—if a judge prohibits an agency action, then legislators have less need to step in with hearings or other oversight measures. Second, universal injunctions undermine the Supreme Court’s discretionary jurisdiction by adding urgency for the Court’s review before the usual record can be developed (Justice Thomas complained about this in his concurrence in Trump v. Hawaii).

Morley distinguished between four types of injunctions that may count as universal: injunctions that relate to the plaintiffs, regardless of what judicial district they are in; injunctions for a nationwide class of plaintiffs; injunctions that regulate a defendant in all districts; and injunctions for a nationwide class of defendants. By separating these varieties, Morley suggested we can more clearly see when a judge is doing something unobjectionable (an injunction protects a plaintiff, even if they go to a neighboring district) or extraordinary (prohibiting any agency, whether or not they are named party yet, from implementing a policy). He also noted that some sorts of class-action remedies may be more appropriate in many cases that may involve universal injunctions.

The panelists did not spend much time directly engaged with whether universal injunctions are constitutional—Copeland did posit that perhaps courts should have more power during times of extreme partisan gridlock—but for anyone interested in these injunctions, this session is an accessible introduction. The session recording is at

Last Week to Up-Vote FCIL-Related Programs in IdeaScale

This is your last week to up-vote programs in IdeaScale! If you’d like to see FCIL-related ideas make the must-have list for AALL 2019 in Washington, DC, please get your votes in before August 17th.

In addition to the programs we’ve already highlighted, there is a new batch of FCIL-SIS related programs you can can up-vote this week:

Idea 343:  AI in the United States and China

Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs are now a part of every AALL conference. But this program will take a more global view by including China, a global leader in AI. This session will include a panel of speakers from the United States and China discussing the state of AI in the legal arena in their respective countries.

Idea 342:  Use of Big Data in the United States and China

Big Data is hot. But how can we use it effectively in our workplace? This session will include a panel of speakers from the United States and China discussing how they are using big data to increase faculty scholarship impact, encourage global collaboration, increase their university’s reputation, and how you can do the same at your own institution.

Idea 325:  FCIL Reference Toolkit

Many of the standard reference tools use for FCIL reference questions have become outdated. What is the FCIL reference toolkit for the modern reference librarian? This program would gather FCIL specialists who would discuss and demonstrate the best FCIL reference sources. The audience for this program would be reference librarians of all types.

Idea 320:  The International Aspects of Tax Reform

The world’s most profitable companies derive most of their income from intellectual property and other intangible assets, which can easily be transferred to foreign subsidiaries in low-tax jurisdictions. International tax rules, premised on outdated concepts like “physical presence” and “permanent establishment,” are increasingly unable to cope with the disruption caused by the rise of digital corporate titans.

This program will provide an overview of legislative reforms designed to prevent profit-shifting and tax base erosion and ensure that digital firms pay their fair share. They include the GILTI, FDII, and BEAT provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and the EU’s proposal for a Digital Services Tax. The program will equip librarians with the background knowledge and specialized vocabulary needed to effectively assist students, faculty, and practitioners in researching this rapidly evolving field of law. It also will familiarize librarians with the best research platforms and current awareness tools to keep abreast of the latest developments.

The substantive law component of the program will be provided by tax faculty who are able to succinctly explain complex concepts in a manner that is accessible to non-experts. The research component will be presented by law firm librarians who support the work of international tax practitioners.

Idea 317:  Creating Semester Abroad Programs for the FCIL Librarian

It is possible that collaborative programs exist between U.S. Librarians and Librarians in Other Countries. Semester abroad programs (or shorter versions) would aim to provide FCIL librarians with immersion in the laws, language, history, and culture of a jurisdiction they are interested in. This program would explore how these programs can be established, or if some already exist, what have been the benefits, challenges, etc. and how do we improve them.

Idea 313: Aligning the Library with Your Law School’s LLM Program

LLM programs have seen tremendous growth with some schools hosting several hundred LLM students each year. This can present challenges and opportunities for academic law libraries. This program will explore how to make lemonade by discussing strategies for connecting with your LLM program, supporting these students, overcoming language & cultural challenges, and offering real world examples of successful and less successful library programs for LLM students.

Idea 312:  Litigating Human Rights Abuses in U.S. and Foreign Legal Systems

Slavery in U.S. commercial fishing, child marriage, widows not allowed to inherit property, human trafficking, etc. How do lawyers pursue litigation in the fight for human rights in the United States and abroad? What statutes and international law apply? What research skills and tools do librarians need to support these efforts and market our services to them? I’m hoping to have one law firm attorney and one clinic professor who practice in these areas offer their insight and strategies when fighting for human rights in the United States and in Africa.

Idea 302:  Land, Water and Education

The program will review current international human rights principles which can be applied the contemporary land and water issues in the developing world. Also dealt with are human right to education as a solution to the third world land, water and development issues. Ultimately suggested are the research strategies and recommendations for researching human rights to water, land and education.


Get voting!

Don’t Forget to Vote on FCIL-Related AMPC Program Ideas in IdeaScale!

Do you always wish there was more FCIL-specific content at the Annual Conference?  If so, it’s time to do your part!

capitolThere are only eleven days left to vote on all the great ideas currently in Ideascale or to submit your own FCIL-related ideas for AALL 2019 in Washington, DC.  Remember, ideas with higher number of votes in Ideascale have a greater chance of being selected as a must-have by AMPC subcommittees.  There are 11 FCIL-related programs sitting in IdeaScale waiting for your votes.

Week 1 Ideas:

Week 2 Ideas:

Happy Voting!



AALL 2018 Recap: Modern Day Debtors’ Prisons: The Criminalization of Poverty and Those Who Profit From It

By Tarica LaBossiere

The Hot Topic: Modern Day Debtors’ Prisons: The Criminalization of Poverty and Those Who Profit From It sheds light on the plight of individuals imprisoned by virtue of being too poor to pay. Sanctions and their associated fees can quickly accumulate to a price far more than those charged expect–far more than many of those charged are able to pay. The Modern Day Debtors’ Prison Hot Topic highlights the vast array of fees that can accumulate after the smallest of infractions and how our system operates to criminalize those incapable of paying.

The first speaker, Neil Sobol, from Texas A&M University, defined “Debtors’ Prisons” as prisons for persons who are unable to pay their fines and fees. Their incarceration is a direct result of their inability–not reluctance or unwillingness, their inability–to pay. Mr. Sobol spoke mainly on criminal justice debt and how it supports the Modern Day Debtors’ Prisons structure. Individuals who are arrested can expect fines and fees from every stage of the arrest to release. Fines can be assessed for bail, housing while incarcerated, reimbursement of public defender services, payment plans, house arrest, and more. The Modern Day Debtors’ Prisons Hot Topic discussed the many hidden fines and fees that accompany minimum to major sanctions and the additional punishments incurred by those individuals who are unable to pay.

During Mr. Sobol’s discussion, he raised the subject of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) Investigative Report on the Ferguson Police Department. When the report was first released, as an over-eager, minority law student, I read the Ferguson Report. The system of fee assessment and consequence–the underlying structure for Modern Day Debtors’ Prisons–was a major issue examined in the Ferguson Report:

“In 2013 alone, the court issued over 9,000 warrants on cases stemming in large part from minor violations such as parking infractions, traffic tickets, or housing code violations [. . . ] [T]he court’s fine assessment procedures do not adequately provide for a defendant to seek a fine reduction on account of financial incapacity or to seek alternatives to payment such as community service. City and court officials have adhered to these court practices despite acknowledging their needlessly harmful consequences. […] [T]hese court practices exacerbate the harm of Ferguson’s unconstitutional police practices. They impose a particular hardship upon Ferguson’s most vulnerable residents, especially upon those living in or near poverty. Minor offenses can generate crippling debts, result in jail time because of an inability to pay, and result in the loss of a driver’s license, employment, or housing.”[1]

The concerns in regards to Modern Day Debtors’ Prisons are not new. For hundreds of years, Debtors’ Prisons existed in some form. Although not the formal Debtors’ Prisons they were centuries ago, the jailing of persons for their inability to pay is still a central issue in our current justice system–both civil and criminal. If an individual does not have the ability to pay, he/she can be charged higher fees and will run the risk of being incarcerated for failure to pay. It is an unfair cycle of debt and consequence that punishes the poor for their inability to pay.


Fight for human rights and dignity with the Southern Center for Human Rights

Following Mr. Sobol’s discussion, Sara Totonchi, Executive Director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, began her discussion by highlighting several minimum infractions that led to exorbitant fees for the charged. In some instances, these minor infractions led to months-long incarceration. Ms. Sotochi’s first example, Mr. Edwards, was ticketed for burning leaves in his yard without a permit. Mr. Edwards had no running water, suffered with intellectual disabilities, and was living on food stamps. He was initially fined $500. He was placed on a payment plan with a private company that multiplied his debt to $1,200, with an immediate down payment of $250. He was still unable to pay. Due to his inability to immediately pay the down payment in court, he was taken to jail. The Southern Poverty Center represented Mr. Edwards and challenged the private company’s payment plan practices. The case aided in the close of the private payment company that was managing Mr. Edwards’ debt.

Ms. Totonchi addressed several instances similar to Mr. Edwards’–instances of fines being assessed for unpaid probation fees, threats of incarceration for the inability to pay minor traffic infractions, and courts assessing victim fees to victims of domestic abuse. Don’t just take my word for it. Have a listen. The Modern Day Debtor’s Prison Hot Topic recording is currently available on AALLnet, along with the discussion PowerPoints. If you have a moment, I highly encourage you to listen. Both Mr. Sobol and Ms. Totonchi draw several real world examples to demonstrate how prevalent Modern Day Debtors’ Prisons are in our current justice system and what we can do to challenge these unjust practices.


[1] U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department 3-4 (March 4, 2015),

AALL 2018 Recap: CONELL (Conference of Newer Law Librarians)

By Tarica LaBossiere

I had been forewarned by my colleagues that the Conference of Newer Law Librarians (CONELL) was where I would make new friends with my librarian peers that would last throughout the rest of our library careers (“Just bring lots of business cards–you’ll be fine”). How right they were! It was fascinating. Speaking as a newer law librarian (in the profession less than one year), and as a newer law librarian in academia, it is rare to see other new law librarians. Just being able to network with other newly minted peers was an amazing experience in and of itself.

After a light breakfast, the newest librarianship recruits were rounded up, and ushered into Key Ballrooms 9-10. Greg Lambert’s opening speech–motivational, yet directional– served as a call to those seated at the podium before him to bring new ideas and inspiration to the profession. He advised us to use the services and guidance offered by AALL to blossom in our careers.


Q&A with the AALL Executive Board. Image via

Following Lambert’s speech was a Q&A with the AALL Executive Board. The Q&A featured questions on avoiding burnout, successful networking for the fake extrovert or low-key introvert (like me!), mentor/mentee relationships, finding leadership roles in the profession, and overall general tips on turning our new careers into lifelong professions. Knowing that almost every speaker experienced what we were going through today acted as a soothing balm to the rash of anxieties faced by newer law librarians at the beginning of their careers.

After the Q&A, there were several speakers who discussed getting more involved with the AALL Community. This included information on how to become more involved with AALL online, submitting proposals for the Annual Meeting, as well as submitting proposals to the Law Library Journal and AALL Spectrum. This was beneficial not only because we were given information about publication opportunities, but Tom Gaylord and Kris Niedringhaus, the respective speakers for the Law Library Journal and AALL Spectrum, were able to provide a clear distinction between the goals of each publication and details on what each publication was looking for when reviewing submitted proposals. This was a helpful tidbit for those considering submitting proposals to either wide-reaching publication.

We were also given details about the AALL Leadership Academy. The Academy is a weekend-long, intensive program designed to cultivate leadership skills and techniques in newer law librarians. Although the Academy was just hosted this year, the next will be available in 2020. This information is good to know for those planning to seek leadership opportunities and those considering submitting an application to the Academy.

Finally, we discussed available mentorship opportunities. I have already been gifted with great mentors through various channels, but for those who had yet to find guidance during their professional journey, there will be several opportunities available via AALL’s updated mentoring program. The program aims to match mentors with mentees through shared interests listed by each applicant when applying for the Mentorship Program.

After discussing all that AALL had to offer, we were separated by last name into two groups to attend the CONELL Marketplace and participate in CONELL’s Speed Networking.


Speed Networking at AALL 2018.  Image via

Speed Dating Networking, as its namesake implies, was where groups of two participants sat face-to-face in two rows, creating an awkward assembly line of getting-to-know-you’s. We were given two minutes to answer one of eight questions appearing on cards that were sat on the chairs of the inner most rows. After the two minutes, the whistle would blew, and the outer rows would shimmy over one seat to begin introductions all over again.

Unfortunately, the room we were in absorbed just as much sound as it did cool air, and we very quickly found ourselves shouting to perspiration how we came to be in the law library profession and where we would live if we could live anywhere in the world and why. Business cards flew like blackjack at the casino; but, I must admit, here is where I would meet new–and now familiar–friends with whom I would spend my entire conference weekend.

After leaving the Key Ballroom sized oven, we were directed over to the CONELL Marketplace, where we mingled with members of regional AALL chapters and AALL Committees. Although we received a lot of information in the Marketplace, the setting was easily navigable, all the volunteers were informational and engaging, and it was easy to gain more insight into the AALL chapters and committees we would consider joining. Depending on one’s professional goals or current position, there was a committee dedicated to gathering similarly situated professionals to promote the exchange of ideas and enable newer librarians to be successful in their librarianship positions.


The USCGC Taney at the Baltimore Inner Harbor.

After a quick lunch and break, we headed to the front of the Hilton for the annual CONELL Tour. The tour was amazing! We saw all that Baltimore had to offer. We started by passing the USCGC Taney, the last warship floating after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and continued through little Italy and little Poland, all while our vibrant tour guide pointed out the brickwork of new and historic houses and churches, like the Baltimore Basilica–the oldest Catholic Cathedral in the country! Also, she was sure to point out the history of the Baltimore Screen Paintings (“a Baltimore tradition!”). We journeyed down and around the Inner Harbor, where we gazed at the Under Armor Corporate headquarters from both sides of the lively docks, and up and around The Walters Art Museum–where a handy billboard gleefully informed us that the Museum currently housed a Faberge Egg! We passed both the Battle Monument and the Washington Monument, and we even made a brief stop at Fort McHenry, arriving just in time to catch the engaging Star-Spangled Banner mini-documentary and light show.


The Tour concluded back at the Baltimore Convention Center Hilton. Thus, we ended our CONELL 2018 adventure. Our novice introduction to the Conference via AALL’s CONELL was complete, and it was on to the big leagues–one floor down, at the AALL Opening Reception.

Overall, I felt my CONELL experience to be a successful and exhilarating start to my first AALL Conference. I thank all those who put in the work to make our 2018 Baltimore CONELL experience a great one. I can guarantee–just as my colleagues and mentors before me–that I’ll be sharing these stories with the friends I made for years to come.

FCIL Programs in Idea-Scale, Week Two

worldEach Monday, DipLawMatic Dialogues will bring you the list of FCIL-related programs currently in Idea-Scale to encourage you to “up-vote” these programs. For more on why up-voting is important, see here.  We also encourage you to submit your own program ideas to Idea-Scale (you can do it anonymously). You can see last Monday’s programs here.

Idea #249: What is Europe?

As national membership in the European Union changes, how does this effect our understanding of Europe from a legal perspective?  Find out more about the history of European laws, the current legal systems governing Europe, and potential future legal developments that may arise as a changing concept of Europe ties different nations closer together.

Idea #250: FCIL Research on a Budget

In a time of tightening budgets, money for foreign and international collections is often cut heavily or entirely. How do we continue to provide access to these materials or answer questions on these topics?  Explore freely accessible foreign and international materials, with practical ideas about where to start your research when you don’t have access to specialist subscriptions services.

Idea #251: Working with Non-English Materials for the English Speaker

So many legal materials are in languages other than English worldwide, that is it inevitable that most of us will need to find or access one of these documents at some point. FCIL librarians often work with materials in language in which they are not fluent, and can provide useful ideas and insight for the non-FCIL specialists faced with this type of research. A panel of FCIL librarians will provide practical guidance about how to find English translations of non-English laws, tips and tricks for how to gather enough understanding about a non-English document to identify whether it is relevant to your research questions, and where to find help if you’re stuck.

Idea #253: Strategic Partnerships to Create Experiential Research Classes

Developing specialized experiential research courses is a great way to help your law school meet its experiential credits requirement. To create a successful simulation in a topical area (IP law, international law, etc.), you must know the types of research most likely to be performed by your graduates. Academic librarians should have an ongoing conversation with firm and government libraries to know what kinds of research issues new attorneys are grappling with in specialized practice areas. This panel would help foster these connections, with a group of firm and government librarians discussing the types of research problems they see attorneys dealing with.

Idea #255:  What is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?

What is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and what do law firm librarians need to know in terms of collection development and research resources and need to do when dealing with vendors and internally regarding the firms information resources?

Idea #265: The Caribbean Court of Justice: Its Struggle for Full Acceptance

The Caribbean Court of Justice was established in 2001, with two jurisdictions: an original jurisdiction and an appellate jurisdiction. However, not all Caribbean States have accepted this institution as their court of last resort and have instead continued to look to the United Kingdom’s Privy Council. This program would look at the history of the court and explore the reasons for the limited acceptance of the court (including the perception of the court as a “hanging court”) and how this lack of acceptance hinders the development of Caribbean jurisprudence.