AALL 2019 Recap: Locating Latin American Legal Sources

By David Isom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creating Training Resources for GOALI

By Latia Ward

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Title slide from the GOALI Basic Course Tutorial.

Purpose of GOALI

Global Online Access to Legal Information (GOALI) is a project of the International Labour Organization (ILO) (a United Nations agency) and its partners which include publishers and academic institutions.  One of these partners is Cornell University Law Library where I work as a Research Services Librarian and Diversity Fellow.  As part of my work I have created how-to resources for conducting research with GOALI.

The purpose of GOALI is to facilitate access to legal information for researchers in the Global South.  To that end, GOALI aligns with Goal 16 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals:  “Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies.”  Researchers have access to GOALI through their institutions and the Research4Life website lists nations eligible for GOALI.  In their paper entitled Global Online Access to Legal Information (GOALI) – A New Legal Training Resource for Developing Countries, Richelle Van Snellenberg, Unit Head of the ILO Library and Edit Horvàth, User and Outreach Officer of the ILO Library note that GOALI is about more than providing information resources to researchers in the Global South, but also about closing the “knowledge gap in academic research” between nations of wealth and nations of more modest means.  The facilitators of GOALI aim to close the “knowledge gap” through the provision of information resources from authoritative and current sources.  In addition, Van Snellenberg and Horvàth contextualize the implementation of GOALI within the Free Access to Law Movement and its Declaration on Free Access to Law which states that “Public legal information from all countries and international institutions is part of the common heritage of humanity.”  Included within this definition of public legal information are both primary and secondary sources of law.

GOALI is one of the five programs or platforms for information that the Research4Life partnership has produced.  Research4Life is a partnership of WHO, FAO, UNEP, WIPO, ILO, Cornell University, Yale University, the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers, and other international publishers.  The four other platforms for information are Hinari (health research), AGORA (agricultural research), and OARE (environmental research), ARDI (development and innovation research).  GOALI, the newest platform, became available for use on March 6, 2018.

Through GOALI, researchers may access journals, books, databases, and reference sources.  GOALI includes resources from the legal field as well as other fields within the social sciences.  An example of resources provided by GOALI include open access resources which cover a variety of jurisdictions such as African Journals Online (AJOL) and the ILO’s NATLEX database of national labor, social security, and human rights legislation.

Guides for GOALI

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Screenshot from the GOALI Tutorial Video.  Image of computer monitor from Pixaby.

During the spring of 2018, I created a video, tutorials (which consist of slides showing research paths), and exercises on how to use the GOALI database.  My goal in creating the video (for which I included closed captions), the tutorials, and exercises was to provide a step-by-step manual on how to conduct research within GOALI.

When I created the tutorials and exercises for GOALI, I began by familiarizing myself with the platform by searching for resources and reviewing training materials that other information specialists had developed for Research4Life’s AGORA platform.  I reviewed AGORA exercises and modules for the AGORA Portal and Summon Searching to use as templates (although I had to research and create exercises and tutorials specific to GOALI).

The first tutorial and set of exercises are called the GOALI Basic Course.  In the GOALI Basic Course, I explain how to browse the entire GOALI collection, how to locate specific journals, publishers, and subjects, and how to find specific citations.  In the second tutorial and set of exercises, I explain how to do a basic Summon search, refine the search, and conduct an advanced search within GOALI.  In the third tutorial and set of exercises, I explain how to access publishers’ websites from the GOALI platform, identify general features on publishers’ websites, and how to use these features to find articles.  In the GOALI video, I include demonstrations on how to find journals by title, language, and publisher and how to access full-text books.

News about GOALI

The GOALI Launch Event of March 6, 2018 is available on YouTube and includes additional information on why GOALI was created and commentary from Research4Life Partners.  To keep up with current news regarding GOALI, follow #GOALI on Twitter (look for posts related to @R4LPartnership and #Research4Life as there are many posts related to soccer and people named Ali) and visit the ILO’s GOALI website often.

AALL 2019 Recap: FCIL Advanced Bootcamp

By Meredith Capps

Whilst the morning sessions of the 2019 AALL FCIL “bootcamp” covered broad, general categories of law (foreign, treaty, European Union), with a focus on research in these areas, the afternoon sessions examined several substantive areas of law: international trade, international taxation, and international anti-bribery/corruption law.

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All the speakers of the morning and afternoon sessions of the FCIL Bootcamp Pre-Conference Workshop at AALL 2019. From left to right: Heather Casey, Georgetown University Law Library; Prof. Heidi Frostestad Kuehl, Northern Illinois University School of Law; Prof. Jennifer Hillman, Georgetown University Law Center; Mabel Shaw, Georgetown University Law Library; Prof. Lilian Faulhaber, Georgetown University Law Center; and Charles Bjork, Georgetown University Law Library.

In “The International Trade Law System Under Fire,” Jennifer Hillman, a professor of practice at Georgetown Law Center and former WTO appellate body member, described the three major areas of international trade:  1) trade in goods, 2) trade in services, and 3) foreign direct investment.  In the area of goods, manufacturing dominates, and trade in goods is traditionally governed by common tariff schedules, organized around type and origin of good.  Trade in services, Hillman explained, is more complicated, as there are no tariffs, and data is difficult to gather. Services cross borders in a number of ways, including individuals crossing borders to utilize or provide a service, or service providers establishing a commercial presence in another jurisdiction.  Foreign direct investment often follows the movement of goods and services.

Both domestic and international law, including a few key conventions, govern international trade:

  1. Convention on the International Sale of Goods.
  2. Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs)
  3. GATT/WTO frameworks
  4. Intellectual property treaties
  5. Hundreds of regional and bilateral trade agreements

Hillman described the GATT/WTO system in some detail, including key legal principles such as national treatment and most favored nation, and its active dispute resolution system.  She noted that the WTO often coordinates efforts with other international standard-setting organizations, such as the IMF and WIPO.

Hillman went on to review the Trump administration’s major initiatives with respect to trade, why they represent significant departures from prior policy, and their likely illegality under international law.  She discussed the current system’s failures, but emphasized that the world economy is now too interconnected to depart from a rules-based system of trade.

Next, Lilian V. Faulhaber, also of Georgetown, discussed digital taxation, i.e. efforts to tax the “digital economy.”  Traditionally, the nation where an entity is headquartered or maintains a physical presence taxed corporate income/revenue, and “transfer pricing” accounted for the value of tangible assets.  Intangible assets such as data are difficult to value, and the existing tax system does not well account for the realities of this current economy.  Some see efforts to tax the digital economy as targeting profitable U.S. corporations, and indeed, some such taxes are named after the likes of Amazon, Google, and Facebook.

Faulhaber described initial international efforts to address the digital economy, the Base Erosion and Profit Sharing (BEPS) Project (2013-2015), and Tax Force on the Digital Economy (TDFE).  Feeling that these efforts have not gone far enough, nations including the UK, Australia, India, and France have enacted domestic legislation designed to tax entities that may not have a physical presence in their borders, but derive income from sales or services in the country.  The U.S. has also responded to concerns that intangibles are being inappropriately valued with the “GILTI” a worldwide minimum tax of about 15%, applied to global intangible low tax income, and the “BEAT” tax on related party payments.  These provide a disincentive for U.S. corporations to move offshore to low tax jurisdictions such as Ireland.

The OECD digital tax work program is currently examining coordinated solutions including a user contribution tax, marketing intangible tax, and “significant economic presence” test, and is targeting consensus in 2020.  The most effective OECD measures, Faulhaber says, are those that reward nations who opt in to the system.  Faulhaber predicts that we will not return to the traditional model of taxation, but is unsure whether cooperation or unilateral measures will predominate.

Finally, Heidi-Frostestad Kuehl of NIU College of Law discussed international anti-corruption and anti-bribery frameworks and resources.  She noted that corruption and bribery implicate several other areas of law, including labor, ethics, environment, torts, contracts, human rights and criminal law.  Several persistent issues underlie corrupt practices including poverty, slavery, and global supply chain forces.  Major domestic laws governing corruption include the U.S.’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which has established the U.S. as a leader in anti-bribery enforcement, and the more recent UK Bribery Act.  Challenges in developing national enforcement frameworks include investigative scope, language, cultural differences, whistleblower protection, privacy and data protection laws, labor protections, ethical rules, non-disclosure agreement standards, undeveloped case law, mens rea standards, the role of judiciary, and the regulatory environment.  OECD and UN conventions provide international frameworks, but these do not have the same hard law effects as domestic legislation.

Kuehl then described several useful research tools, beginning with the Global Compliance website, which organizes content by jurisdiction, Transparency International, and the Stanford University FCPA siteOECD country reports on implementation of the OECD anti-bribery convention are another useful tool.  Domestically, researchers may turn to the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission sites listing enforcement actions.  Kuehl recommends researchers begin by searching for relevant treaties, then implementing national legislation, national regulations and judicial decisions, and relevant cultural norms.

New FCIL Librarian Series: Advice to Prospective FCIL Librarians from a (Still) New FCIL Librarian

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My time as the New FCIL Librarian blogger went by quickly, but I’m eager to see what year 2 brings!

By Sarah Reis

This is the sixth and final 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.

During my first full academic year as a Foreign & International Law Librarian, I experienced many “firsts.” Although I still consider myself as a new FCIL librarian, I wanted to use my last post in this series to offer advice and encouragement for anyone considering becoming an FCIL librarian.

#1: Learn from Others

The FCIL library community is generous with sharing knowledge and expertise:

  • Consider attending webinars and/or conference programs pertaining to FCIL research to learn from more experienced FCIL librarians.
  • Read FCIL-related blog posts and articles. When I was preparing to apply for this job, I consulted Lyonette Louis-Jacques’ So You Want to Be a Foreign Librarian article on Slaw, Jessica Pierucci’s New FCIL Librarian Series on this blog, and other posts collected by KnowItAALL.
  • Sign up for listservs like INT-Law and IALL to connect with other librarians around the world.
  • Don’t feel shy about contacting other FCIL librarians for assistance. Earlier this year, I reached out to Alex Zhang (editor of the Foreign Law Guide’s China guide) to get her thoughts on a database we didn’t subscribe to and to confirm whether my findings for a Chinese law research project seemed comprehensive based on the resources I had consulted.

In addition to learning from other FCIL librarians, get to know and learn from the international students at your law school. Several international LLM students enrolled in my FCIL research course. My favorite class session was when each of them discussed how they conduct legal research in their home countries. We covered South Korea, Brazil, Nigeria, China, and the Dominican Republic.

#2: Familiarize Yourself with the Collection

Familiarize yourself with your library’s collection of print and electronic resources. One of the most helpful projects I’ve worked on was conducting a survey comparing the FCIL databases our library subscribed to with databases our peer law libraries subscribed to. This project allowed me to explore and evaluate our subscription resources and identify databases to add to our collection. Another useful project was weeding our international reference print collection.

#3: Welcome New Opportunities, but Recognize Limitations

Many librarians have a hard time saying “no.” I am admittedly one of those, but I have at least figured out how I can say “yes” while still ensuring that I do not over-commit myself. A few months into the job, I was asked whether I would like to take over as director of the International Team Project program. I accepted the position, but chose to defer serving as a faculty advisor for one of the ITP courses until a future academic year. I knew I would have my hands already full in Spring 2019 with teaching my FCIL research course for the first time. I am glad I did not over-commit by squeezing the ITP course into my schedule and am now looking forward to serving as a faculty advisor for ITP Greece next spring.

#4: Take Advantage of Existing Teaching Resources, but Adopt Your Own Style

Teaching an FCIL research class for the first time was the most anxiety-provoking, yet ultimately rewarding, experience from my first year as an FCIL librarian.

If you are very new to teaching and have the opportunity to co-teach your first semester with a more experienced librarian, take it! My FCIL research class was scheduled for Spring 2019 and would be the first time I would ever teach a class on my own, so I co-taught an Advanced Legal Research class with one of my colleagues, Clare Willis, in Fall 2018. I learned so much from Clare during that semester and transferred what I learned over to when I taught the FCIL research class on my own in the spring. Several students in my FCIL research class expressed appreciation for the clear rubrics accompanying each assignment so they never felt tricked and knew exactly what my expectations were. Credit goes to Clare and my other colleagues, Jamie and Jesse, for perfecting the rubrics we use in our ALR classes, which I adapted and used for my assignments in my FCIL research class.

Observing my colleagues’ effective teaching styles during the fall helped me feel more at ease in front of my own class in the spring. Each of my FCIL research class sessions included an in-class exercise (or several small exercises), but I actively looked for ways to turn the “lecture” portion of the class into more of a discussion to facilitate engagement, thanks to Clare’s advice. Nothing is more effective in piquing the interest of a class as having one of the students rave about how useful a resource is based on their own experience!

To assist with designing an FCIL research-focused class, the teachers’ manual for Heidi Kuehl & Megan O’Brien’s International Legal Research in a Global Community, Don Ford’s teaching survey on FCIL Advanced Legal Research prepared for the Big Ten Academic Alliance Law Libraries meeting, and materials in the FCIL-SIS Syllabi & Course Materials Database were all extremely helpful. I consulted these resources for inspiration and guidance, but developed my own assignment hypos, PowerPoint slides, and materials to fit my own style.

#5: Have Fun!

I really enjoyed my first year as an FCIL librarian and look forward to what is to come, especially now that the first year (which everyone always says is the hardest) is over. I hope to continue crossing off other “firsts” from my list in the near future, such as attending the IALL conference and writing a book chapter. Researching foreign and international law is challenging AND fun. Don’t be intimidated!

From the Reference Desk: Using Treaty Body Websites to Find Implementing Legislation

By Amy Flick

A student working as a research assistant for a professor came to me looking for help finding information on implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity. He had a list of Caribbean and Latin American countries, and he wanted to find legislation and regulations of each country implementing the provisions on digital sequence information on genetic resources from the Nagoya Protocol. He had attended the library’s orientation for summer research assistants, so he had been using resources I mentioned at the orientation (Foreign Law Guide and the Law Library of Congress’ Guide to Law Online) to go country by country searching for legislation.

Major multilateral conventions usually have governing or supervisory bodies that track status and implementation of the treaty. The best known treaty bodies are for the core human rights instruments under the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, but other important conventions have them as well. For example, Heidi Frostestad Kuehl and Megan O’Brien’s textbook International Legal Research in a Global Community uses the Kyoto Protocol as an example of treaty research at pages 47-49, recommending the official homepage of the UN Framework Convention as a starting point for research on developments related to the Kyoto Protocol.

Treaty body websites are a great resource pulling together all kinds of information on the treaty, including the text, parties, status, and history. For treaties in force, they may include reports and other information on implementation and progress meeting the treaty’s objectives. They may include publications on the work of the treaty body and on projects related to the convention, and they usually include news and press releases for recent developments. If there is a dispute resolution or complaint procedure in the treaty, those cases or jurisprudence may be on the treaty’s website.

An easy Google search led to the webpage for the Nagoya Protocol on the treaty body website for the Convention on Biological Diversity. We found digital sequence information listed as a key issue on the navigation bar; digital sequence information on genetic resources was not mentioned in the protocol’s text, but was addressed at the Second Meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol in December 2016. We also found the list of parties to the protocol, where we found that some of the countries on the student’s list are not yet parties to the Nagoya Protocol. The country profiles on the site were a great resource. For parties to the Protocol, the Access and Benefit-Sharing Clearing-House listed and provided text for legislative, administrative or policy measures on access and benefit-sharing, even providing English translations for some. Reports on implementation of the Nagoya Protocol were available for many of the parties. For non-party signatories and some other non-parties, National Reports and the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans on the country profile pages had some information on progress toward ratification of the Nagoya Protocol and towards meeting its targets. And many of the country profiles, including some for the non-parties, included an ABS National Focal Point, contact information for a government environment minister who might respond to questions about the country’s implementation of the Nagoya Protocol.

Although we didn’t find any mention of digital sequence information in the national reports, the CBD website did have pages on Digital Sequence Information on Genetic Resources in the Key Protocol Issues. These included submissions of views and information on Digital Sequence Information, listed by party or organization. And the “relevant decisions and documents” included a Survey on Domestic Measures Addressing Benefit-Sharing from Digital Sequence Information on Genetic Resources, sent out on June 19, 2019 with return requested by July 1, 2019, so the student will be watching for survey results to be reported.

Knowing that the professor the student is working for does a lot of research on issues of intellectual property and genetic resources, I also recommended a few other resources to the student for finding national laws more broadly on genetic resources. WIPO Lex collects national laws and regulations on intellectual property topics, and one of the topics listed is “genetic resources.” ECOLEX has legislation on environmental law, with keyword filters including “genetic resources” and “biodiversity.” And Foreign Law Guide, although not the student’s best source for this treaty question, does have “genetic engineering” as a subheading under the subject Intellectual Property for some countries, with citations to legislation.

Once the student left, I was left still wondering “What is digital sequence information?”  The Food and Agriculture Organization has a topic page on digital sequence information. It says that “the term “DSI” currently has no agreed definition.” But the page explains that DSI is a “critical tool in the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources for food and agriculture,” and it noted that the implications of DSI are being discussed under instruments including the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Library of Congress and LLMC Announce Availability of the Indigenous Law Portal on LLMC Digital

Press Release July 2019  Library of Congress and LLMC are excited to announce that the Indigenous Law Portal (ILP) is now publicly available on LLMC Digital.      

The Indigenous Law Portal (ILP) was begun by the Law Library of Congress staff as a way to provide access to American and Canadian indigenous materials at the Law Library. It is based on the subject arrangements and structure of the Library of Congress Classification schedules for Law of Indigenous Peoples in the Western Hemisphere (Classes KI-KIZ) developed by Dr. Jolande Goldberg, Senior Law Classification Specialist. The Portal has grown to include 1,165 Tribes and links to 4,539 external websites, far beyond the original Law Library boundaries.  In 2018, the Law Library of Congress agreed that LLMC could assume ongoing development of the ILP going forward.

Jane Sánchez, Law Librarian of Congress, said, “We are proud to have developed this substantial resource providing enhanced access to information of Indigenous Peoples. The proof of its considerable value is the consistently high usage of ILP around the world.  It is now time to responsibly transition this service to LLMC, committed to expanding coverage while maintaining and growing its potential.”

LLMC, a non-profit consortium serving hundreds of libraries and other institutions, has supported this initiative from the beginning by providing access to relevant content, especially Hawaiian Kingdom and Native American charters and constitutions.  In addition, LLMC’s Chairman of the Board, Dr. Richard Amelung, Emeritus Professor of Legal Research Vincent C. Immel Law Library Saint Louis University, has worked with Jolande Goldberg to verify thousands of Indigenous Peoples’ websites in North, Central and South America in order to establish the proper name authorities for tribes and indigenous organizations and to identify other informative ILP links.

The Indigenous Law Portal will continue to be accessible to the public at no charge on LLMC Digital.  Users of ILP on Library of Congress site will also note that LLMC designed its version to closely resemble features of the Library of Congress service, such as the popular tribe selection through maps, while offering greater sustainability and scalability as an updatable database.

LLMC’s Amelung, and Library of Congress’ Goldberg will lead a committee of experts to monitor existing ILP links as well as adding new content.

Dr. Amelung said, “On behalf of the LLMC organization, we are very excited to take on such a meaningful resource.  The original concept for the design of ILP was developed by the Library of Congress and both organizations appreciate its success as well as the opportunity to continually expand its coverage and outreach, and secure its relevancy.  With the assistance of Library of Congress and LLMC’s extensive network of libraries, we are uniquely qualified and honored to be ILP caretakers.”

For additional information, please send an email to llmc@llmcdigital.org.

Webinar Recap: Working with Non-English Materials for the English Speaker

By Jessica Pierucci

On June 6, 2019, the FCIL-SIS Continuing Education Committee hosted its inaugural webinar, Working with Non-English Materials for the English Speaker. This engaging and information-packed session featured three panelists who discussed the best resources and provided research tips for finding the most helpful English translations of laws in European, Asian, and African countries.

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This post briefly discusses some key takeaways from the webinar, but for a complete list of resources, please check out a helpful handout and set of slides from the presentation both freely available through the Continuing Education page on the FCIL-SIS section of the AALL website. A webinar recording is also available to AALL members at this site.

Europe

Erin Gow, Online Services Librarian at University of Louisville Law Library, started the panel with European languages. She suggested starting with EUR-Lex and N-Lex when looking for documents from EU member states. In EUR-Lex, she pointed out annotations noting the source of translation (official, machine translation, etc.). In N-Lex, Gow demonstrated how the search boxes helpfully translate English language searches to other languages.

Gow also recommended places to find guides for this type of research. GlobaLex is often her first stop. She also checks for research guides from European law libraries, because those guides are generally developed by librarians who regularly work with European resources. Gow specifically mentioned guides from the Bodleian Law Library at Oxford and Middle Temple Library, including Middle Temple Library’s National Information Links for Lawyers PDF chart (PDF on the right).

Gow provided global tips as well. She explained that government websites, websites for relevant multinational organizations, and the International Encyclopaedia of Laws can also be potential sources of translated laws. She also recommended checking Lexis, Westlaw, HeinOnline, treatises, encyclopedias, and law review articles for any translations contained therein. For performing machine translations, Gow noted that she prefers the translation application Linguee. She also discussed the general helpfulness of Google Translate, but she cautioned to always be aware of the limits of machine translation.

Asia

Alex Zhang, Assistant Dean for Legal Information Services at Washington & Lee School of Law, focused on Asian languages. Zhang explained that for countries in which English is an official language, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, the researcher’s focus should be on finding the most authoritative source. Singapore Statutes Online is a helpful government resource for finding Singapore’s laws online, but it only contains unofficial versions of legislation. The official text is published in the print Gazette. On the other hand, electronic Hong Kong e-Legislation documents with “verified copy” marks are the official text.

For countries in which English is not an official language, the best bet is often finding a translation produced by a governmental entity (e.g. Japanese Law Translation), but it’s crucial to remember translations won’t have official status. Zhang emphasized considering the translation’s origin, focusing on the translation source, date, version history, and format. She also encouraged comparing multiple translations where possible.

Zhang also shared some broadly applicable tips. Great research guides may come from academic libraries in a relevant country, such as the Chinese University of Hong Kong Library. The Foreign Law Guide, GlobaLex, and Law Library of Congress Guide to Law Online: Nations are all great resources for locating information about the availability of translations. Further, Lyonette Louis-Jacques’ “How to Find Cases in Translation, Revisited” in Slaw is a valuable tool for case research ideas.

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Africa

Yemisi Dina, Acting Chief Law Librarian at Osgoode Hall Law School Library capped off the panel by discussing African languages. Dina focused on the presence of many indigenous languages across the continent, which can lead to loss of the true meaning during translation from language to language. One manner in which meaning can be lost occurs when customary court judges, who often do not produce written decisions, elect to have their decisions written in a language other than the indigenous language spoken during the proceedings. Meaning can also be lost during international tribunal hearings, when interpreters translate from an indigenous language to the official language of the tribunal.

Although true that many African countries have English, French, Arabic, and/or Portuguese as official languages, the text in those languages may not fully capture the meaning originally intended by law originated in an indigenous language.

Dina suggested using AfricanLII as the go-to resource, but noted that it, like LLMC and other collections, is incomplete and still has a way to go toward becoming a complete resource for African legal information.

Want more information?

Don’t forget to check out the webinar resources posted on the Continuing Education page on the FCIL-SIS section of the AALL website. They’re super helpful including citations and links to a wide array of translation-related resources.