Donate to the Syllabi and Course Materials Database & Pay It Forward to Help Others

By Paul Moorman

I recently received a call from a student at my undergraduate alma mater asking for a donation. The student who called me was a pre-law history major who lived in the same dorm I had lived in and had received a scholarship to help pay for his tuition­—so basically he was me 30 years ago (although I was a political science major, but let’s not quibble over details). While I was talking to him, all the great memories I have from my undergraduate years came flooding back. When it came time for him to make the “big ask,” I was ready to say no like I usually do, but then I thought about it some more and decided that this time I would say yes and donate some money for a scholarship fund.  What ultimately helped me decide to make a donation was a realization that I had benefited from all those who had given generously to the school in the past.  I was now in a position in my life to be able to step up and help “pay it forward” by showing the same generosity that was shown to me by donating to others.

So why am I telling you this story? I’ll get there, but first let me start by saying that I’m one of the current co-chairs of the FCIL-SIS Teaching Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Interest Group. I, along with my co-chair, Amelia Landenberger, have a lot planned this year. One of our most important goals is to update the Syllabi and Course Materials Database and I am taking the lead on this project. As the readers of this blog likely know, it’s an amazing source of useful information for anyone teaching foreign, comparative, and international legal research and I’m confident many of you have used and consulted it while planning their courses. The database only exists because your colleagues have generously donated their courseware to help you. As useful as the current database is, it hasn’t been updated for a few years and it is starting to get long in the tooth. Legal research has changed dramatically in the past few years and FCIL-related legal research is no exception. As the tools and methods we use change, the way we teach our research courses needs to adapt to those changes.

So now it’s time for me to make my “big ask.”  Please consider this blog posting to be my first official request for you to donate your courseware to the Syllabi and Course Materials database. Unlike my alma mater, I’m not asking for money—instead I’m asking you to help by sharing your knowledge, expertise, experience, and hard work to help others who could benefit from it. If you have any FCIL-related courseware (you know who you are!), whether it be a syllabus, test, assignment, PowerPoint presentation, or even an entire module (really anything course related), now is the time to “pay it forward” and help your colleagues. If you’ve donated your courseware to the database in the past, please donate a more current version.  If you’ve never donated before, now is time to review your files and see if there’s anything you have that others could benefit from. Your colleagues have helped you in the past, now it’s time to help your colleagues.

My plan for the next few months is reach out to those who have donated to the database, and also to those who teach FCIL-related legal research courses, and ask you to donate your courseware to the database.  If you send the materials to me now by emailing it to me a, you’ll save us both a lot of time and effort. Thank you in advance for your generosity.  Your colleagues and I are grateful.

Upcoming Webinar — Cross-Border Cultural Competency: Teaching Foreign Law Students and Training International Lawyers

On Thursday, December 5, 2019, 12 pm to 1 pm US/Central, please join the FCIL-SIS and ALL-SIS Continuing Education Committees for a webinar on Cross-Border Cultural Competency: Teaching Foreign Law Students and Training International Lawyers. FCIL-SIS members can access a registration link here. ALL-SIS members can access a registration link here.

As law schools increasingly recruit foreign students, librarians are increasingly called upon to provide legal research training to foreign LL.M.s, S.J.D.s, and exchange students.

This webinar will provide insights from four panelists with extensive experience teaching foreign students in a variety of capacities:

  • Jodi Collova, Director of LL.M. Legal Research and Writing at Berkeley Law
  • Karina Condra, Foreign, Comparative & International Law Librarian at University of Denver Sturm College of Law
  • Heidi Frostestad Kuehl, Director of the Law Library at Northern Illinois University College of Law
  • Mike McArthur, Head, Foreign Comparative & International Law and Collection Development at Duke Law.

The panel will be moderated by Jessica Pierucci, Research Law Librarian for Foreign, Comparative, and International Law at UC Irvine School of Law.

The panelists will address cross-border cultural competency issues in answering a series of questions about their experience and learned best practices. Panelists will address helping foreign law students understand the skills needed for U.S. law practice and understanding, effectively addressing cultural differences that can impact learning, teaching classes with a mixture of U.S. and foreign law students, and bringing cultural competency skills to teaching U.S. students.

We encourage you to join us by registering now! FCIL-SIS members can access a registration link here. ALL-SIS members can access a registration link here.

Creating Training Resources for GOALI

By Latia Ward


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


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.

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

Reis - DipLawMatic Dialogues Post 6 Photo (002)

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!

AALL 2019 Recap: Let’s Get Experiential! Creating Strategic Partnerships to Develop Experiential Simulation Courses

By Meredith Capps


On Monday, July 15th at 11:00 a.m., Alyson Drake moderated the session, “Let’s Get Experiential! Creating Strategic Partnerships to Develop Experiential Simulation Courses.”  Drake first provided an overview of the ABA Simulation Course Requirements in Standards 303 and 304, focusing on the requirement that courses provide “substantial experience…reasonably similar to the experience of a lawyer.”  Drake explained that since the practice of skills is central to a simulation course, research courses might well meet these criteria, as most lawyers conduct complex, analytical research in practice.  Firm and court librarians can assist academic librarians in designing their experiential courses by identifying common research difficulties their practitioner patrons encounter.

Presenter Ryan Methany of the LA Law library noted that most of his attorney patrons begin their research with a keyword search; rarely do these researchers begin by using a secondary source.  To address this deficiency, Methany teaches a course several times a year for new attorneys highlighting six to eight beneficial secondary sources.  He finds that employment law provides a particularly suitable subject area for these sessions as there are many excellent secondary publications covering the area, and the fact patterns are accessible to practitioners of all backgrounds.  During his course, Methany provides a hypothetical research problem, and allows time for attorneys to review secondary sources and describe their findings.  Methany said that many attorneys still use print materials, and that since attorneys typically better understand the differences between resources when viewing them in print format, he does encourage them to use secondary sources in print.  He also emphasizes the price of secondary sources to highlight their value.

Methany also finds that attorneys often hurry through their research, and fail to engage in “deep reading” or thoughtful analysis of their findings.  To address this, in his research course he identifies an issue that is difficult to research using a keyword search, providing attendees 10-15 minutes to initially research the question in Westlaw or Lexis.  He then directs them to use a secondary source such as a treatise, and asks them to reflect on which approach was more effective.  He emphasizes using annotations and digests, rather than relying solely on keyword searches.  Methany recommends that in a training setting, librarians ask attendees to research the same question using several different methods (ex. for cases–keyword searching, starting with a statute, using Key Numbers, and using a secondary source).

Presenter Morgan Wood of Holland and Knight finds that attorneys rely heavily on Westlaw and Lexis, to the detriment of other sources, and she encourages new attorneys to explore free resources such as court and agency websites, as well as specialized resources such as Cheetah.  Though some attorneys maintain print collections in their offices, the firm prefers to acquire electronic versions of resources when available so that they are accessible to attorneys in multiple offices. Like Methany, when training attorneys she provides a hypothetical research problem, but asks them to use a free or low cost research tool (in the example she provided, Casemaker) to initially research the problem.  She finds that incoming attorneys are comfortable using Google, but as a result are not accustomed to searching with terms and connectors.  They tend to construct either too broad or too specific a search, and they struggle to narrow their search results effectively.  To address this, she provides attorneys a problem for which she knows there to be a defined set of relevant results, and then encourages them to narrow their findings to those results.  She finds that summer associates most often ask for assistance with very simple research tasks other than researching cases, so she provides them exercises that require tasks such as locating 50 state surveys, locating a statute and legislative history, and searching for parties in litigation.

Attendees then reviewed the hypotheticals research problems provided by the presenters and discussed ideas for additional hypothetical exercises.


Seven Things I Learned From Co-Teaching an FCIL Research Class

By Amelia Landenberger


Image from Pixaby.

This spring I co-taught an FCIL Research Class, my first since beginning as an FCIL librarian at Boston University in August of 2018. The best teachers I know engage in a good deal of self-reflection after teaching, and I’ve decided to share some of my self-reflection with you.

  1. Find a Mentor. I was lucky enough to be able to co-teach this class with my mentor, who has many years of FCIL and teaching experience. I know that isn’t an option for everyone, but I can’t imagine how hard it would have been to do this without guidance and support. It is always a good idea to find a mentor, if you can. If you can find a mentor or colleague who is willing to co-teach the course, even better!
  2. Have Patience with Yourself. Because this was my fourth year of teaching legal research, I had unrealistic expectations about my ability to teach FCIL research. Learning a new subject while also teaching it takes far longer than adapting to new methods of teaching citators or adapting to new database interfaces, for example. I wish I could go back and change my expectations, but I also wish I could make peace with my own pace.
  3. Preparation and Timing. My mentor and I had preparation meetings for each week of the class. We would talk about the objectives for the week and figure out which parts of the class would work best as in-class exercises. The class was scheduled for 4:30-6:30pm. Many people are not their best during these hours of the day, so we focused on making sure the class was broken into manageable chunks and made sure to give the students a break in the middle of class.
  4. Movement: We made as many exercises as possible group exercises or interactive exercises, with a focus on getting the students to move and speak. We took a lot of ideas from our Lawyering Class (the 1L Legal Research Component of the Legal Research and Writing Class). We used a relay-race format for an exercise in Lawyering, so we worked that format into the FCIL class as well. Students appreciated the competition, and some of them insisted on working through the break to complete the relay race. The movement exercises were one part of the class where it was very helpful to have two teachers. It can be hard to coordinate all the moving pieces of an exercise while also making sure no students are stuck or frustrated, but with two teachers, the exercise ran much more smoothly.
  5. The Structure of FCIL Law. I didn’t understand the importance of repeating the structure and grounding each class in the structure of foreign and international law. We focused on making sure students knew where each part of the class fits into the broader scheme. Most students coming into the class expect the class will be entirely about foreign law, so it was important to orient their focus to public and private international law as well.
  6. Don’t Focus on Foreign Law. Our students wanted to learn foreign law, but we aren’t qualified to practice law in foreign jurisdictions, and neither are they. We had to focus on what would be most useful to our students rather than what they thought would be the most useful.
  7. Something Will Go Wrong. In one class, an entire database unexpectedly wasn’t working. I might have been overwhelmed, but it was wonderful to watch my co-teacher keep her cool and move on to a different exercise. The students learned what they needed to learn, and we were able to show the database the next week.

I learned a lot from co-teaching FCIL research this spring, and I’ll be teaching the class again in the fall, without a co-teacher this time. Wish me luck!

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.

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.


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.


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.

Zhang Slide Screenshot.PNG


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.