Et. Seq: The Harvard Law School Library Blog

New Research Guide: Researching “Civil Law” Topics at the HLS Library

Over the last several months, I have been working on a research guide that, hopefully, will help bridge one of the gaps that researchers from civil law jurisdictions face when they do legal research in the United States.  The guide, Researching “Civil Law” Subjects at the Harvard Law School Library, was published today, and can be found at https://guides.library.harvard.edu/civil-law.

I designed this resource to provide suggested searches for topics that are normally covered in the civil code in a civil law jurisdiction:

  • Picture of a paperback copy of the German civil code that features many colorful tabs on the pages on the side.Legal Obligations under Contract and Tort
  • Family Law
  • Property Law
  • Law of Succession
  • Remedies

While I was working on this project, I really tried to channel my civil-law self, and my heavily-used copy of the German Civil Code (pictured at right) came in very handy during this process.

The guide provides links to pre-populated searches, by subject, of the Harvard Library HOLLIS catalog.  Searching by subject keyword is a great way to make sure that you are finding materials across multiple languages during your search.

The challenge, of course, is that there is not one single, all-encompassing controlled vocabulary for subject keywords across all types of materials.

What does that mean?  When cataloging books, our library catalogers generally use the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) controlled vocabulary.  However, library catalogers do not catalog individual periodical articles too, of course.  Unfortunately, there is not a similar controlled vocabulary for all periodical articles across all journals and databases — at least not one that I’ve found.  So “subject” keywords can technically be assigned by anyone — authors, editors, database administrators, etc., which means that multiple subject keywords may be used to represent the same concept.

So what’s the big deal about that?  Since, as of a few years ago, HOLLIS can be used to search for both books AND periodical articles, it can be hard to feel assured that you’ve found everything that is relevant to your research when searching by subject.  This is why I have included both LCSH and non-LCSH subject keyword searches — as many as I could think of that are relevant.  I readily admit that the guide is still a work in progress, and that I will likely find and add many additional subject searches as I discover them.

I hope civil law researchers find the guide to be helpful, and welcome any comments and feedback.

Book Talk: Lawrence Lessig’s America, Compromised, Wednesday, March 27 at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion in celebration of the recent publication of America, Compromised by Lawrence Lessig (Univ. Chi. Press, Nov. 2018).  Professor Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019, at noon
Harvard Law School WCC Milstein West A/B (Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA
No RSVP required, light lunch will be served

America, Compromised Poster

About America, Compromised

“There is not a single American awake to the world who is comfortable with the way things are.”

So begins Lawrence Lessig’s sweeping indictment of contemporary American institutions and the corruption that besets them. We can all see it—from the selling of Congress to special interests to the corporate capture of the academy. Something is wrong. It’s getting worse.

And it’s our fault. What Lessig shows, brilliantly and persuasively, is that we can’t blame the problems of contemporary American life on bad people, as our discourse all too often tends to do. Rather, he explains, “We have allowed core institutions of America’s economic, social, and political life to become corrupted. Not by evil souls, but by good souls. Not through crime, but through compromise.” Every one of us, every day, making the modest compromises that seem necessary to keep moving along, is contributing to the rot at the core of American civic life. Through case studies of Congress, finance, the academy, the media, and the law, Lessig shows how institutions are drawn away from higher purposes and toward money, power, quick rewards—the first steps to corruption.

Lessig knows that a charge so broad should not be levied lightly, and that our instinct will be to resist it. So he brings copious, damning detail gleaned from years of research, building a case that is all but incontrovertible: America is on the wrong path. If we don’t acknowledge our own part in that, and act now to change it, we will hand our children a less perfect union than we were given. It will be a long struggle. This book represents the first steps. — University of Chicago Press

About Lawrence Lessig

Lawrence Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School. Prior to rejoining the Harvard faculty, Lessig was a professor at Stanford Law School, where he founded the school’s Center for Internet and Society, and at the University of Chicago. He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court. Lessig serves on the Board of the AXA Research Fund, and on the advisory boards of Creative Commons and the Sunlight Foundation. He is a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Association, and has received numerous awards, including the Free Software Foundation’s Freedom Award, Fastcase 50 Award and being named one of Scientific American’s Top 50 Visionaries. Lessig holds a BA in economics and a BS in management from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in philosophy from Cambridge, and a JD from Yale.

More About America, Compromised

“America, Compromised is about the country in the Trump era, but not about Trump. Indeed, Lessig would have written much the same book if Hillary Clinton were president and if Democrats had control of both houses of Congress. His focus is not on bad people doing bad things, but on how incentives across a range of institutions have created corruption, with deleterious consequences for the nation. . . . America, Compromised join[s] an impressive array of books and essays that may, someday, have a future intellectual historian using them as examples to lament the fact that his or her contemporaries are not as eloquent or important as the group that arose in the Trump era to combat the threats to our way of life.” — Norm Ornstein — New York Times Book Review

“Lessig lays out a working definition and theory of corruption that is at once simple and comprehensive, a devastating argument that America is racing for the cliff’s edge of structural, possibly irreversible tyranny.” — Cory Doctorow

 

HLS faculty and students: join us for Notes and Comments!

On Wednesday, April 10, from 2:30-5pm, the normally quiet* tables of the HLS Library Reading Room will become collaboration zones for student-faculty interaction on scholarly topics during Notes & Comment: Connecting Students and Faculty on Scholarship. Faculty will be available to meet with students seeking guidance on their research and writing for publication — including student Notes in HLS journals, writing competitions, and other extra-curricular publishing opportunities.

Faculty members will be available to advise you on the scholarship process and discuss your ideas and outlines during one-on-one and small group meetings in the Library Reading Room with a food and drinks networking reception. The reception begins at 2:30 and the advising at 3pm. You will also be able to sign up to meet with a librarian for a research consultation.

Please let us know you’re coming at http://bit.ly/ncspr19 so that the event coordinators can plan appropriate student-faculty partnerships in advance. We will schedule partnerships based on signup time, so it is to your advantage to sign up early. Advance registration will be available through April 2nd.

Photo credit:
Writing Tools by Pete O’Shea on Flickr, CC BY 2.0

“Why I Changed My Mind” — Video Now Available

On March 4, 2019, the Harvard Law School Library sponsored a community gathering for the purpose of fostering intellectual discussion on the topic of “Why I Changed My Mind.” Professor Jonathan Zittrain moderated the discussion which featured Kendra Albert, Professor Jeannie Suk Gersen, Professor Jill Lepore, and Professor Laurence Tribe, each of whom commented on professional views that they had once embraced and perhaps advocated for, and how it came about that they no longer believed in them.  For those of you who missed the event, it is now available on Harvard Law School’s YouTube Channel.

Jonathan Zittrain and Jeannie Suk Gersen

Momentum Builds for PACER Reform and Free Public Access to Court Records

On February 13, 2019, Rep. Collins (R-GA) introduced the Electronic Court Records Reform Act (H.R. 1164) to enable free public access to federal court records in machine-readable form via PACER.

The bill is short and sweet (text available here), enjoys bipartisan support from co-sponsors Rep. Quigley (D-IL), Rep. Roe (R-TN) and Rep. Johnson (D-GA) and has earned the praise of the AALL, ACLU, ALA, ARL and many other organizations committed to public access to government information.

In summary, the bill would require the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to:

  • Consolidate all of the federal court filings and record systems into a single system;
  • Make all federal court filings publicly available online at no charge (with exceptions for redactions and filings under seal);
  • Make all federal court filings available in machine-readable, searchable, linkable form;
  • Offer states the opportunity to participate in the system at a fee set to recover the cost of the services provided to each state.

All of these are important provisions that, if enacted, will improve access to legal information and enhance the transparency of our court system.

The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, which last year considered and reported out other measures designed to enhance public access to federal court records. Jonathan Zittrain, Jocelyn Kennedy and I recently submitted a letter to the Committee expressing support for the bill.

The bill also comes in the midst of a legal challenge to PACER’s current fee structure filed by several non-profit organizations. The case, NVLSP v. United States, is now pending on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and numerous prominent groups have filed supporting amicus briefs.

Many people have been working tirelessly on this issue for years, and much work remains before this bill becomes law. But the momentum for PACER reform is building.

 

Listening to the Law – the Neil Chayet collection of audio and transcripts from “Looking at the Law”

“This is Neil Chayet Looking at the Law.”

That was how Neil Chayet (HLS 63’) began each of the more than 10,000 recordings he made for his radio program “Looking at the Law,” which he recorded almost daily from 1976 to 2017. The Harvard Law School Library is pleased to announce that nearly all of these episodes are now available online and open for use.

The Neil Chayet collection of audio and transcripts from “Looking at the Law” allows users to listen to the shows, as well as read the transcripts.  In one or two minute segments Chayet would summarize court cases from around the country. He tended to be more interested in obscure or quirky cases rather than those more widely known.  It was likely his ability to make any case accessible to a general listener combined with a good sense of humor that resulted in the shows enduring popularity.

Examples of the show include:

Want to learn more about Cohen v. Minneapolis Star, et al?  Take a look at HLS alumnus Elliot C. Rothenberg’s case files from Cohen v. Cowles Media Company collection.  Rothenberg represented Cohen from February 1986 until it was heard by the Supreme Court in March 1991.

Digitization of the original cassettes is ongoing.  Audio for shows broadcast between 1976 and 1995 are available now, as are digitized transcripts from 1975 to 1989.  The entire collection should be available by early summer 2019.

Please direct any question to Historical & Special Collections.

Book Talk: Sovereignty and the New Executive Authority, Wednesday, March 13th at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion in celebration of the recent publication of Sovereignty and the New Executive Authority edited by Claire Finkelstein and Michael Skerker (Oxford Univ. Press, 2018).  Professor Finkelstein will be joined in conversation with Professor Charles Fried and Professor Adrian Vermeule.

This book talk is co-sponsored by the Harvard Law School Students for the Rule of Law.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019, at noon
Harvard Law School Milstein West A/B (Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA
No RSVP required

Sovereignty and the New Executive Authority Poster

About Sovereignty and the New Executive Authority

“This volume explores moral and legal issues relating to sovereignty by addressing foundational questions about its nature, examining state sovereignty between states, and dealing with post 9/11 developments in the U.S., potentially destabilizing received views of democratic sovereignty. With essays addressing foundational, state and international sovereignty, the book focuses on Post 9/11 developments including the profusion of secret national security programs, including those pertaining to the interrogation, rendition, and detention of terror suspects; signal intercepts and meta-data analysis; and targeted killing of irregular militants; prompting questions regarding the legitimacy of executive power in this arena.” — Oxford University Press

Claire FinkelsteinProfessor Claire Finkelstein is the Algernon Biddle Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy; Director at the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School. She has published extensively in the areas of criminal law theory, moral and political philosophy as applied to legal questions, jurisprudence, and rational choice theory. One of her distinctive contributions is bringing philosophical rational choice theory to bear on legal theory. She has focused in recent years on the implications of Hobbes’ political theory for substantive legal questions. She is the series editor, with Jens Ohlin, of the Oxford Series in Ethics, National Security and the Rule of Law. Within that series, she has co-edited three volumes to date: Targeted Killings: Law & Mortality in an Asymmetrical World (2012), Cyberwar: Law and Ethics for Virtual Conflicts; and Weighing Lives in War (2017). She is also the editor of Hobbes on Law (2005). She is the Faculty Director of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law at the University of Pennsylvania.

Charles FriedProfessor Charles Fried will join Professor Finkelstein in discussion of Sovereignty and the New Executive Authority.  Professor Fried is the Beneficial Professor of Law and has been teaching at Harvard Law School since 1961. He was Solicitor General of the United States, 1985-89, and an Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, 1995-99. He contributed a chapter to Sovereignty and the New Executive Authority titled Defining and Constraining the Sovereign.

Adrian VermeuleAdrian Vermeule is the Ralph S. Tyler, Jr. Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School. Before coming to the Law School, he was the Bernard D. Meltzer Professor of Law at the University of Chicago. The author or co-author of nine books, most recently Law’s Abnegation: From Law’s Empire to the Administrative State (2016), The Constitution of Risk (2014) and The System of the Constitution (2012). He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2012.

 

 

 

SAVE THE DATE— March 4th at noon — “WHY I CHANGED MY MIND”

The Harvard Law School Library is sponsoring a community gathering for the purpose of fostering intellectual discussion on the topic of “Why I Changed My Mind”. A panel of five faculty speakers will each comment on a long-held professional view that they’d embraced and perhaps advocated for, and then how it came about that they no longer believed in it. Professor Jonathan Zittrain will moderate the faculty discussion and questions and answers from the audience.

Unlike many other professions — including trial advocacy in an adversarial system — academics often represent that they aspire to “get it right,” whatever that means, and being shown new data or arguments that undermine or negate a previously-held conclusion is an occasion for excitement and joy, an opportunity to revise and refine one’s sense of the world, more than a source of embarrassment for having gotten anything wrong to begin with. This event offers an opportunity to see this process in action.

Monday, March 4, 2019, at noon
Harvard Law School WCC Milstein East C (Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA
No RSVP required

Poster Why I Changed My Mind

Faculty Participants

Kendra Albert

 

 

Kendra Albert
Lecturer on Law

 

Jill Lepore

 

 

Jill Lepore
David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History

 

Michael Moffitt

 

 

Michael Moffitt
Roger D. Fisher Visiting Professor in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution

 

Jeannie Suk Gersen

 

 

Jeannie Suk Gersen
John W. Watson, Jr. Professor of Law

 

Laurence Tribe

 

 

Laurence Tribe
Carl M. Loeb University Professor

 

Moderator

Jonathan ZittrainJonathan Zittrain
George Bemis Professor of International Law, Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Director of the Harvard Law School Library, Faculty Director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Professor, Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government

 

 

NEW EXHIBIT! Creating Community: Harvard Law School and the Bauhaus

2019 marks the centennial of the Bauhaus, and Harvard is celebrating! The Bauhaus, considered the twentieth century’s most influential school of art and design, has deep connections to Harvard, including the Harvard Law School. Did you know that Harvard’s first example of modern architecture is on the HLS campus and was designed by Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus? Or that Gropius commissioned Bauhaus pioneers to create site-specific artwork for the buildings? Come explore HLS’s connection to the Bauhaus and its role in shaping campus life.

 

Harvard Graduate Schools Alumni Day Luncheon on Jarvis Field, with Graduate Center and World Tree Sculpture in Background. Walter R. Fleischer, Harvard University News Office, June 1951, Photographs of Alumni Groups, Harvard Law School Library, Historical & Special Collections

Harvard Graduate Schools Alumni Day Luncheon on Jarvis Field, with Graduate Center and World Tree Sculpture in background. Walter R. Fleischer, Harvard University News Office, June 1951, Photographs of Alumni Groups, Harvard Law School Library, Historical & Special Collections

 

This exhibit was curated by Karen Beck and Lesley Schoenfeld, Historical & Special Collections. It is on view daily 9 to 5 from February 4 – July 31, 2019 in the HLS Library’s Caspersen Room, Langdell Hall. A sampling of the exhibit is available online.

Be sure to visit all of Harvard’s Bauhaus-related exhibits, tours, and events happening in 2019!   #bauhausatHLS; #bauhaus100

 

Harvard Law School Students at an Orientation Party on Jarvis Field with Caspersen Center in background, 26 August 2016, Martha Stewart, photographer, HLS Communications

Harvard Law School Students at an Orientation Party on Jarvis Field with Caspersen Student Center in background, 26 August 2016, Martha Stewart, photographer, HLS Communications

Tags:

Book Talk: Cass Sunstein’s On Freedom, Wednesday, February 27 at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion in celebration of the recent publication of On Freedom by Cass R. Sunstein (Princeton Univ. Press, February 2019). Professor Sunstein is the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard University.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019, at noon
Harvard Law School WCC Milstein West A/B (Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA
No RSVP required

Sunstein On Freedom poster

About On Freedom

“In this pathbreaking book, New York Times bestselling author Cass Sunstein asks us to rethink freedom. He shows that freedom of choice isn’t nearly enough. To be free, we must also be able to navigate life. People often need something like a GPS device to help them get where they want to go—whether the issue involves health, money, jobs, children, or relationships.

In both rich and poor countries, citizens often have no idea how to get to their desired destination. That is why they are unfree. People also face serious problems of self-control, as many of them make decisions today that can make their lives worse tomorrow. And in some cases, we would be just as happy with other choices, whether a different partner, career, or place to live—which raises the difficult question of which outcome best promotes our well-being.

Accessible and lively, and drawing on perspectives from the humanities, religion, and the arts, as well as social science and the law, On Freedom explores a crucial dimension of the human condition that philosophers and economists have long missed—and shows what it would take to make freedom real.” — Princeton University Press

More About On Freedom

“Real freedom is the freedom to reach your goal, not to get lost at every turn. In this powerful book, Cass Sunstein shows when policy can help us navigate to where we want to go, where policy might overstep by choosing the end point for us, and how to tell the two apart. A delightful masterpiece.” — Esther Duflo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

On Freedom is an elegant, clear, deceptively simple book about a fiendishly complex problem. How can free societies help citizens to navigate among a perplexing multitude of forking paths, only some of which lead toward desirable ends? How is a nudge in the right direction distinct from coercion? What is the best way to enable people to choose paths that enhance life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Drawing on a wealth of probing examples from social policy, literature, and his own experience, Sunstein brilliantly illuminates the challenges that face governments and individuals and sketches plausible ways forward.” — Stephen Greenblatt, author of The Swerve: How the World Became Modern

“In this eloquent and timely book, Cass Sunstein asks urgent questions relevant to the crisis of democracy in which we find ourselves. As the author has demonstrated in the past, he is a thoughtful navigator of territory we may have prematurely believed we understood.” — Joyce Carol Oates

“An important and engaging book on freedom and choice by a top scholar. Sunstein gives us a comprehensive and cutting-edge treatment of his enormously influential work on nudging and well-being.” — L. A. Paul, author of Transformative Experience

“By redefining freedom, this becomes a book about the meaning of life.” — Robert J. Shiller, Nobel Prize–winning economist

%d bloggers like this: