New FCIL Librarian Series: Spring Cleaning: Weeding the International Reference Print Collection

By Sarah Reis

This is the fourth post in a series of posts about adjusting to my new position as a foreign and international law librarian. I started my position at the Pritzker Legal Research Center at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in February 2018.

Reis - I REF Collection.jpg
Our library has a collection of international reference materials (I, REF) in print that includes items such as dictionaries, research guides, directories, and encyclopedias intended for in-library use only. In anticipation of upcoming renovations, I have been doing a bit of spring cleaning—reviewing our international reference collection to determine which books should stay in our new downsized reference section and which books should be sent to our closed stacks/basement, off-site storage, or withdrawn.

I created a spreadsheet with all of the titles in the collection to keep track of my recommendations for where the various books should go. We had a little over 250 titles (including series) for a total of nearly 900 individual books spanning over three short bookcases in the international reference collection. It was easier than expected for me to recommend reducing the size of this collection down to about 15% of that initial size (to approximately 125 books).

A significant number of titles in this collection were either outdated or available electronically, which made it easy for me to suggest for them to be stored elsewhere. But occasionally, I would recommend for us to keep a print copy of a title in our reference collection despite having online access. I primarily suggested keeping titles such as the bilingual/multilingual legal dictionaries as well as dictionaries or encyclopedias pertaining to specific areas of international law (e.g., international trade, terrorism, human rights).

During the course of this project, I discovered several items for which we also have electronic access either through one of our subscription databases or freely available online. For instance, we had digital access to many of the encyclopedias in this collection, such as the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World (via Oxford Islamic Studies Online), Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity (via Gale Virtual Reference Library), and the Oxford Companion to Politics of the World (via Oxford Reference Premium Collection). Additionally, many other titles were available through HeinOnline. I am brainstorming effective methods to make students aware of the availability of electronic access to many of these international reference books, whether it be by adding them to our A-Z database list or perhaps creating a new research guide on international reference materials available electronically.

Many items in the collection were outdated, particularly the directories, but also items like Treaties in Force (we had 2012 and 2013 on the shelf!) and research guides geared toward conducting research online from 1996 or 2000. On several occasions, I even discovered that our online access to a title was more up-to-date than the print copy on the shelf.

A project like this would be beneficial for a new FCIL librarian who is looking for a good way to familiarize herself or himself with an important part of the law library’s FCIL collection. Going forward, I intend to review this international reference collection every year or two to ensure that it remains fresh and up-to-date. Too many outdated titles bring down the usefulness and perceived value of the collection as a whole. The collection also needs space to grow. I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of new materials that will be “planted” in this collection, such as the International Citator and Research Guide: The Greenbook!

GDPR and Data Privacy at the ABA TECHSHOW

GDPRBy Meredith Capps

I recently attended the ABA TECHSHOW in Chicago, IL (along with quite a few other law librarians, an impressive turnout!), primarily to stay current on recent e-discovery practices and platforms as my library’s resident e-discovery expert, per my prior life as a law firm associate.  As an FCIL librarian, however, I was compelled to step out of former-litigator mode and attend what proved to be a fascinating session on the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and data privacy laws.  The speakers, Steven M. Puiszis and Judy Shelby, described the ways in which the practices of U.S. law firms and their clients regarding personal information may run afoul of the law, and how U.S. entities should analyze their risk and approach compliance.

Puiszis and Shelby discussed the GDPR’s expansive reach, noting that even minimal activity in an EU state may render a foreign entity “established” in the EU for purposes of the regulation, and that even data that is not “processed” in the EU is covered by the regulation.  They emphasized that “personal information” is defined in a manner far broader than U.S. lawyers would expect, that there is no small business exception to the regulation, and that this information may reside in many repositories maintained by the typical U.S. firm or business, such as human resource databases, marketing databases, client databases, and, of course, email correspondence.  They discussed lawful bases to process personal information, noting that a law firm conflict check should qualify as information necessary for the defense of legal claims, and discussed anonymizing data as one means of ensuring compliance with GDPR.   Though there is uncertainty as to how GDPR will impact requests for documents in U.S. litigation, Shelby noted that federal courts are generally not receptive to enforcing foreign blocking statutes, and that the typical U.S. approach to discovery runs counter to GDPR’s goals of minimum storage.  Cautious U.S. litigants should nevertheless consider narrowly targeting requests for data that may be subject to GDPR, and consider whether anonymized data would suit their purposes.

Their discussion raised a few issues that brought to mind research questions well suited to a course on FCIL research:

  1. National law: Though as a regulation, rather than a directive, GDPR is directly applicable to member states and does not require domestic implementing measures, Puiszis emphasized that EU states maintain their own privacy laws and policies that U.S. entities must consider in addition to GDPR.  Furthermore, I found that European Commission guidance issued in May 2018 specifically notes that the regulation empowers member states to impose conditions and limitations beyond those imposed by GDPR, and contemplates individual member state determinations as to the applicability of the rules in certain sectors.  The EC also states that interpretation of the regulation will be left to European national courts.  In constructing an EU research question concerning GDPR, instructors could well introduce foreign law questions into their hypothetical research problem–questions for which researchers would not enjoy the benefit of the national transposition measures list provided only for directives in EUR-Lex.
  2. Cyber-insurance: Shelby discussed the possibility of obtaining cyber insurance to cover fines associated with GDPR violations, but noted that these fines may not be insurable under the domestic law of some states, raising another potential foreign law companion question.
  3. Recognition of foreign judgments: Though due to time constraints they could not discuss enforcement issues in depth, the speakers mentioned difficulties surrounding the imposition of fines when an entity lacks assets in the EU, and that international treaties or domestic laws such as the U.S. Uniform Foreign Money Judgements Recognition Act may provide mechanisms for cross-border enforcement.  As enforcement proceedings inevitably proceed, they should raise interesting examples involving a mix of foreign and international law.
  4. Data Protection/Processing Agreements (DPAs): Puiszis discussed the importance of entering into, and modifying per GDPR, agreements with vendors and third parties with whom firms, and their clients, may share personal information.  Asking students to locate sample agreements would be an excellent way to reinforce research instruction from 1L and Advanced Legal Research courses regarding publications containing forms and sample contracts.

Locating UK and EU Guidance on Brexit

By Alison Shea

Brexit
Over the past week, two things happened which inspired me to write this post.  First I read this story on how the Dutch government had set up a website to provide guidance to its citizens on how to prepare for Brexit, and of course I immediately imagined how awesome it would be if the Dutch Brexit monster featured in the story teamed up with Gritty for a buddy comedy.  Second, I read FCIL-SIS Chair Catherine Deane’s column in the FCIL Newsletter asking for people to volunteer to write a blog post for Diplawmatic Dialogues.

As much as I know you were hoping to read my script ideas for the Gritty/Brexit monster buddy comedy, I began wondering if any other countries had created a comprehensive guidance site for its citizens and businesses in advance of Brexit (and especially a no-deal Brexit).  It had previously occurred to me that teaching an EU and/or UK research classes this semester would be very challenging given the timing of Brexit, and I figured the best thing I could recommend to students given this uncertainty would be to look for and follow government guidance documents.

Why recommend government guidance documents?  Because the actual withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU – currently scheduled to occur at 11pm GMT on March 29 – now looks like it will be very abrupt (if it happens at all), it will not be possible to amend all relevant laws to reflect the changes immediately (check out this blog post for a brief overview of the magnitude of changes that need to occur).  Thus, it will be important for anyone with an interest in Brexit to follow the government’s guidance on how to deal with it until the law can catch up.  Not only is the guidance going to be crucial for those living and working in the UK, it will also be extremely important for any country that currently engages with the UK in its (soon to be former?) capacity as a fellow EU member.   Therefore, a list of places to locate government guidance seemed like a good tool to create for librarians and FCIL instructors to have in their toolbox over the coming month(s).

After spending a few days searching and locating guidance information for most of the EU member states, I realized that the EU had already beaten me to creating a list of the relevant government guidance sites.  This was an extremely disappointing discovery, since I had already pitched this as a great blog post to Alyson and Susan and was really proud of my advanced Google (and Google Translate) skills.  However, from all my searching I can at least share my top research tip: because “Brexit” isn’t a real word, it’s a great search term to use in any language!   In the end, Alyson and Susan convinced me that there could still be value in my post, and so I humbly present a (shorter) list of relevant sites for locating government guidance on Brexit.

It should go without saying that this is what I was able to locate as of February 26, 2019; the landscape of Brexit guidance will undoubtedly change the closer we get to “B-day”, and will also change if the UK government takes new action in the interim (the latest update is that a “meaningful vote” will be held by March 12), so stay tuned!*

United Kingdom guidance

European Union guidance

Individual European country guidance

Even non-EU member states are finding it necessary to prepare for Brexit, as these countries interact with the United Kingdom under various bilateral agreements with the European Union and the European Economic Area; see, for example, this recent agreement on arrangements of citizen’s rights for many of these non-EU countries.  Three countries that have especially close ties with the UK are listed here:

 

*Looking for suggestions on how to “stay tuned” to the ever-changing world of Brexit?  Here are some of my go-to sources for Brexit coverage:

From the Reference Desk: Is There An Annotated European Union Code?

By Amy Flick

“Is there an annotated European Union Code? I have an EU directive, and I need to find some cases that interpret it.”

First, having just taught a class on U.S. statutory legal research, I’m thrilled that a student thought to use an annotated code to find cases interpreting legislation.

There isn’t a European Union code, not exactly. But the European Union does have a classification system for its law, and there are sources for finding cases on a particular EU directive, from the European Court of Justice and from national courts.

The student was looking for cases on Directive 98/44/EC on patents for biotechnological inventions.

Although European Union law isn’t codified, the closest thing to a codification would be the Directory of Legal Acts on EUR-Lex. It arranges EU legislation in force by subject and includes consolidated acts incorporating amendments. Directive 98/44/EC is classified with Intellectual Property legislation at 17.20, but with a general heading at 17 of “Law relating to Undertakings,” I’m not sure I would have found it without already having found the Directory Classification. There is also the EuroVoc thesaurus for browsing legislation (and caselaw) by subject. Either the thesaurus terms or the Directory codes can be used in the EUR-Lex Advanced Search, along with text and other criteria (including type of legislation). In this case, a text search for “biotechnology AND patents” worked just as well.

The student already had the citation for Directive 98/44/EC, but I recommended that he look at the Directorate-General on Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. The European Commission’s executive agencies are a great source for finding current legislation that they administer, with links to EUR-Lex. The DG’s page on Protection of Biotechnological Inventions includes the Biotech Directive with a summary, reports, and related documents, plus a State of Play of the Implementation of Directive 98/44/EC that has dates and citations for national legislation implementing the directive.

Summaries of EU Legislation on EUR-Lex are also a good way to find legislation by subject, including by general topic or to search. Again, a search for “biotechnology and patents” retrieved the summary for Directive 98/44/EC.

With a directive citation in hand, my student can find cases interpreting the directive. The EUR-Lex Document Information for the directive includes a “Relationship between documents” section that has links to Court of Justice judgments as published in the Official Journal of the European Communities.

The European Court of Justice’s CURIA site has an advanced search page with a field for “references to case law or legislation,” including directives by number. It even allows searching for pinpoint references to paragraphs within the directive.

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Since directives require that EU member states implement them with national legislation, there are also national laws and cases in national courts on the directive.

Once a directive is found in EUR-Lex, the links in the left navigational side bar include “National Transposition.” These National Transpositions by Member State provide the citations to each member state’s implementing laws for the directive. He could also use EUR-Lex’s Advanced Search Form. Choose National Transposition as the collection and search by directive number (1998 and 44).

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For this particular directive, that “State of Play” from the Directorate-General cites national implementing legislation. If a Google search doesn’t retrieve the cited legislation, the student could use the Foreign Law Guide database or the Law Library of Congress’ Guide to Law Online to find sources for national legislation.  There’s also the European Union’s N-Lex gateway to search for national legislation in N-Lex with the directive citation.

Back to looking for cases interpreting the directive, the EUR-Lex advanced search can be used to search national caselaw as well. He could use the same EUR-Lex Advanced Search Form, choose National Case Law as the collection, and enter the directive number in the Instruments Cited field.

The European Union’s Association of the Councils of State and Supreme Administrative Jurisdictions has its own Dec.Nat. database for searching national decisions on European Union law. The search page includes a field for Provision of European Union Law for searching by directive number, or other EU legislation. The results list includes country, date, title of the case, and parties, with case details including a citation to the national law and link to related ECJ judgements.

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So, the European Union doesn’t have annotated code, not is there an “EU Code.” But it does have subject resources for finding legislation. And it offers multiple ways through EUR-Lex and other EU databases to find cases that interpret an EU directive, and national legislation implementing the directive.

And my thanks to Alison Shea for sharing her European Union expertise!

New FCIL Librarian Series: Supporting the International Team Project Program

By Sarah Reis

This is the second post in a series of posts over the next year about adjusting to my new position as a foreign and international law librarian. I started my position at the Pritzker Legal Research Center at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in February 2018.

At the start of this academic year, I took over as director of the International Team Project (ITP) program at Northwestern Law. In this program, students spend a semester studying the legal system, culture, and political system of another country and then travel to that country to conduct interviews with in-country contacts. Since the program started in 1999, students have conducted research in more than 40 countries.

During this initial first year of taking over this program, my goal is to provide a research guide and an in-class research presentation for each class. The countries of study differ from year to year and are typically not repeated in consecutive years, which is both a challenge and a great learning experience for a new FCIL librarian because it means that I need to quickly familiarize myself with researching the law of various foreign countries.

ITP courses are student driven: students are responsible for developing the syllabus with the approval of a faculty advisor, leading class discussions, setting up interviews with in-country contacts, and arranging travel. Generally, the law school offers one ITP course in the fall with travel occurring over winter break and four or five ITP courses in the spring with travel occurring over spring break.

Students in the fall ITP course will be traveling to Tanzania in a few weeks. Earlier this semester, I created a research guide on researching Tanzanian law and also visited their class to give a research presentation. This presentation provided the students with a basic introduction to international legal research as well as an overview of how to research the law of Tanzania and keep up with current events in that country. I customized the presentation to include hands-on exercises geared toward their research topics.

I have also been brainstorming methods to support the ITP classes beyond a research guide and in-class presentation. Students in an ITP class form small research groups of 3-4 students who work together on a research topic and write a paper together. I am eager to explore possible opportunities for students to publish these papers (as long as their interviewees give consent). Countries of study are selected in the spring prior to the academic year when the courses will be offered. The countries of study for the ITP courses being offered this academic year were set prior to my taking over this role, but I am looking forward to assisting students and faculty advisors with selecting countries and providing resources to help generate research topic ideas for next academic year’s course offerings.

So far, this role has been a helpful way for me to get to know students outside of the classroom and beyond the reference desk because approximately a hundred students participate in the program each year. I held a few trainings for the student team leaders earlier this year and frequently communicate with them on an ongoing basis about logistics pertaining to travel, curriculum, and finance. The program has also been a great way for me to get to know faculty members who I may not otherwise work with often because our library has a liaison system. Additionally, this role has provided me with the opportunity to work with other law school and university departments, including the Registrar, Office of Financial Aid, Alumni Relations, and the Office of Global Safety & Security.

Students in our five spring ITP classes will be traveling to Morocco, Switzerland, Iceland, South Africa, and Argentina. If other law schools have a similar program to this one or offer comparative law classes that require presentations or trainings by FCIL librarians on researching the law of particular foreign countries, I would love to be able to share materials, ideas, and exercises.

Reis - ITP Photo

From the Reference Desk: FIRRMA and CFIUS

By Amy Flick

Conversation at the reference desk:

Student: “I heard that you were the librarian who knows everything about international law and that you can help with my journal topic.”

Me: “That’s certainly flattering. What are you thinking of writing about?”

Student: “FIRRMA. It’s a federal act on national security that just passed.”

Me: “FEMA?”

Student: “No, FIRRMA, the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act. It adds to the powers of CFIUS, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.  I know that’s what I want to write about, but I don’t know what issue to focus on.”

Me: “uh, okay….”

Sometimes students ask me for help with journal research where I don’t know much about their proposed topic, or, sometimes, anything about their proposed topic. So, I have to do some quick reading to get up to speed.

For FIRRMA, and CFIUS, I started with Google. The Department of the Treasury has a helpful page of background information on CFIUS and FIRRMA. From that: “CFIUS is an interagency committee authorized to review certain transactions involving foreign investment in the United States (“covered transactions”), in order to determine the effect of such transactions on the national security of the United States.” And, “[t]he Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018 (FIRRMA) expands the jurisdiction of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to address growing national security concerns over foreign exploitation of certain investment structures which traditionally have fallen outside of CFIUS jurisdiction.” (Whew!)

The student wants to find issues or questions with FIRRMA to explore in his comment. I see three avenues for finding recent sources that might raise questions about FIRRMA: international investment law, national security law, and legislative history sources.

We have a subscription to Transnational Dispute Management, which is an online journal covering the subjects of international arbitration and international investment law. A search for “CFIUS” retrieves a 2018 article republishing a 2016 OECD Working Paper on “Investment Policies Related to National Security – A Survey of Country Practices.” It does not cover FIRRMA, but it discusses national security issues in international investment law and might be helpful for comparing the U.S. approach with those of other countries.

I like BNA Reports for journal and seminar students looking for current issues to write about, and BNA’s International Trade Reporter has news from recent months on CFIUS reform. A broader search on Bloomberg Law for “FIRRMA” retrieves some recent news articles as well. I tried a search in Business Source Complete for 2018 news articles on FIRRMA, and the International Financial Law Review had several short articles with “key takeaways.”

For national security news, the two important blogs are Just Security and Lawfare. Just Security has a March podcast titled “Beware the Ides of CFIUS!” It’s focusing on “the CFIUS process putting a spike in Broadcom’s attempted acquisition of Qualcomm on national security grounds,” but the summary promised that it would “provide more history than you could possibly want regarding the CFIUS process.” Lawfare has a tag for finding its posts about CFIUS, and it has several 2018 posts on FIRRMA, including from August 2, 2018, “The Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018,” including a section on “what’s missing.”

For new legislation, I wanted to see what was in the congressional and legislative history sources. There is a July 2018 CRS Insights summarizing FIRRMA, Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA). There is also a longer CRS Report from July, The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)  with sections on national security concerns. Looking at legislative history documents, I found  S. Hrg. 115-160, a hearing of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs on CFIUS reform with questions and issues raised about CFIUS and national security.

So, my takeaways:

  • When confronted with topics that you know nothing about, a Google search isn’t a bad start. With a few minutes to spare, get up to speed on federal legislation with CRS Reports.
  • For students needing to turn a general subject into an issue to write about, go to current awareness sources: authoritative blogs, financial and legal news, BNA Reports.
  • If it’s federal legislation, look at hearings for questions raised about the bill during the legislative process.

 

Embracing My Unofficial FCIL Role

worldBy Yasmin Morais

I am the Reference and Cataloging Librarian at the David A. Clarke School of Law, a small, public law school in Washington, D.C. My previous position was Resident Librarian at the Georgetown Law Library for two years. While there, I responded to a heavier volume of international law queries. There is no Foreign and Comparative Law Librarian (FCIL) position at my current institution, and reference queries and faculty research on international and comparative law issues are relatively few. However, when requests for help with international law research are received, increasingly, I am asked to assist with these requests. I enjoy getting these requests and am embracing my role as the unofficial FCIL librarian.

Long before I became a law librarian, I think that my background, education and work experience were molding me to assume this role. I grew up on the island of Jamaica, and I think that island people instinctively want to reach out and discover the big, wide world that lies beyond their shores. I started learning Spanish in elementary school and chose it as my undergraduate major. I later decided to pursue a master’s in Government, with a focus on International Relations, and while living in Jamaica, I worked as a Program Officer for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which involved extensive travel throughout the Caribbean and parts of South America. My own personal travels have taken me to Cuba, Scotland, and England, and I lived about eight years in Canada, where I completed my master’s in information studies.

For my LLB degree, which I pursued through the University of London, European Union law was a required course, which enhanced my understanding of the legal systems of this vast area. My interest in FCIL work has also led me to create research guides on topics such as Scottish Legal History, Cuban Legal Research, and the Caribbean Court of Justice. For many years, I have also chosen to be a part of the FCIL-SIS, in order to stay current in this area, and within the last year, I assumed the position of Chair of the Latin American Law Interest Group. My duties from being both a Cataloging and Reference librarian allow me a unique perspective of being aware of FCIL resources and their organization, as well as being able to provide reference help in international law for those who need it.

For this blog post, I decided to review our library’s reference analysis program, Gimlet, to get a sampling of the FCIL reference questions that I have responded to over the past two years. Below is a summary of ten queries from faculty, students and alumni:

  • Gender equality in Cuba and economic opportunities and entrepreneurship for women.
  • Sources of Australian law, and particularly the laws of South Australia relating to children in foster care
  • Customary international law for procedure and trial practice
  • International resources for a comparative labor project
  • Out-migration and the debt crisis in Puerto Rico
  • Request for help in compiling a bibliography for a Human Rights Seminar
  • Resources on international law for a dissertation topic for Oxford University
  • Cuba’s laws on cooperatives
  • Sources for French commercial arbitration decisions.
  • Research on the health laws of Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Switzerland. This request led to my being invited to teach an evening session on researching international law to students in the Legislation Clinic.

These questions, and the occasional invitations to teach informal sessions on researching international law, have helped me to hone my skills in this area, as well as allowed me to pursue a niche interest of mine. I thought I would share this post to encourage other librarians who have an interest in FCIL law, but who might not have the official title, or might be apprehensive about tackling reference questions in this area. I am encouraged that there have been similar postings on DiplawMatic Dialogues in recent times.