Jennifer Allison

Today: Election Day in Israel!

Nearly 6 million people are eligible to vote in today’s Parliamentary election in Israel, in which several parties from across the political spectrum are vying for control of the Knesset. This is explained in a thorough English-language election primer written by Maayan Lubell and published by the Reuters news service, available at
https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-israel-election-parties-explainer-idUKKCN1RJ0AQ.

Polls are showing that the parties expected to win the most Knesset seats in today’s election are Likud (headed by current PM Benjamin Netanyahu, English-language website is at https://www.likud.org.il/en) and Blue and White (led by former chief of the Israel Defense Forces Benny Gantz; website, only available in Hebrew, at https://bg19.co.il). No party is expected to win an outright majority in the election, which means that a coalition government, in which multiple parties join forces to form a parliamentary majority, would have to be established.

There are several English-language news sources offering coverage and analysis of today’s election. Below is a selected list.

Here are some pre-populated searches of Harvard’s HOLLIS library catalog for materials in the Harvard Library collections related to elections in Israel:

Getting to Ellen: A Trial Lawyer’s Gender Transition and the Lessons of Vulnerability and Self-Compassion

Several colleagues from the library were among the Harvard Law School staff members who attended a talk this morning given by Ellen (Ellie) Krug, who transitioned from male to female while working as a trial lawyer and heading a law firm in Iowa in 2009.  Today, Ellie travels around the country to talk to audiences about coming out as a transgender person, and discusses the roles that vulnerability, authenticity, and compassion play in accepting yourself and others.

She opened, appropriately, by reminding us that “we’re all working to survive the human condition.”  She followed by making it especially clear that she was not there to speak about or for all trans/non-binary people.

Then, she began the educational part of the program by describing the three camps in the transgender world:

  • Gender Correctors:
    People who live their life presenting according to their birth gender, until they decide that they have had enough of that life and need to correct.
  • Trans Kids and Trans Youth:
    Children and young people who identify and declare early that they are not their assigned gender.  Because of the expansion of the internet, this group has grown much larger in the last 20-25 years, as they and their families can more readily research what this means and connect with others who are also going through the same experience.
  • People Not Identifying As Male or Female: These people may be called gender non-binary, gender non-conforming, genderqueer, genderfluid, or something else.

Tip: Visit http://www.transstudent.org/definitions/ for a comprehensive list of definitions of LGBTQ+ terms.

During the next part of her talk, she discussed three concepts that are critical to transgender people and their experience.

  • Gender Identity:
    This is how you perceive your gender according to your brain.  It is private, secret, and can be accompanied by fear.  Not only can people facing gender identity issues be afraid of losing everything they have built and would build by staying in their birth gender, but also of being being marginalized and ending up alone.  Stating that you do not identify with the gender you were assigned at birth can cause confusion to people who are “cisgender” (someone who identifies as the gender to which they were assigned when they were born).
  • Gender Expression:
    This how how you express your gender in public.  It is a means by which people, by wearing certain clothes and accessories and adopting certain physical characteristics, make an effort to “grab authenticity.”
  • Transitioning Genders:
    For some (but not all) people, this is the final stage in the path toward living with gender authenticity.  It can involve elements that are social (changing your name, changing your government identity documents, taking hormones) and surgical.  Note that not everyone chooses to have surgery.  It is expensive ($30-35,000) and takes a long time; also, in some places, there is a lack of access to health care professionals who can perform it.

Following a brief discussion of her own experience, Ellie discussed the concept of choice.  She made it very clear that transitioning from male to female was more than just a choice for her: it was an issue of survival because identifying as a woman was such a fundamental part of her core identity.  She also mentioned that she is much happier, relaxed, and more comfortable with herself now, and that people who have known her for a long time tell her that she is a much better person as a woman than she was as a man.

Finally, Ellie advised us about how we, as members of the law school community, can be more welcoming to trans and gender non-conforming people.  At the top of the list?  PRONOUNS.  Using someone’s preferred pronoun shows that you see them as a human being.  If you make a mistake, apologize and move on.  Ellie also listed a number of things that trans people should not be asked to do: educate non-trans people about trans issues, be a spokesperson for the trans community, or discuss their own experience with surgery or hormones.  Finally, when it comes to bathrooms, encourage them to use the bathroom of their choice.

Tip: To view a map of gender-inclusive bathrooms on the Harvard Law School campus, visit https://hls.harvard.edu/content/uploads/2018/10/HLS-Map-Gender-Inclusive-Bathrooms.pdf.  

At the end of her talk, Ellie reminded us of three important points to remember when working with any law students, but especially trans students:

  • “Human authenticity won’t leave you alone until you listen.”
  • Many people, especially in a law school environment, feel that they are not good enough or a failure.
  • It is important to have compassion, for both your students and yourself.

Tip: Regarding point #2, this is often referred to as “impostor syndrome.” I attended and wrote a blog post about an excellent program on impostor syndrome at the American Association of Law Libraries annual meeting in 2018.

Obviously a blog post cannot do justice to what a powerful speaker and human being Ellie is.  My hope in writing this is that people take away the educational points that we learned from her, and feel encouraged to attend one of her talks themselves.  To learn more about Ellie and her work, visit https://elliekrug.com/.

You can also explore the Harvard Library collections’ works on this topic by searching the HOLLIS library catalog using these pre-populated searches:

TODAY: Professor Naz Modirzadeh to Speak Before the UN Security Council

HLS Professor and PILAC Director Naz Modirzadeh, pictured at the UN Security Council in preparation for her address to them at their 8499th meeting, April 1, 2019.

HLS Professor of Practice and Founding Director of the HLS Program on International Law and Armed Conflict (HLS PILAC) Naz Modirzadeh will speak before the United Nations Security Council during their 8499th meeting this afternoon.

She will discuss issues of international humanitarian law (IHL), focusing on counterterrorism and safeguarding humanitarian action.

The session is scheduled to begin at 3pm EDT.

UN Security Council meetings can be viewed online through UN Web TV, available at http://webtv.un.org.

More information about PILAC is available at https://pilac.law.harvard.edu.

The library’s PILAC research guide is available at https://guides.library.harvard.edu/PILAC.

New Research Guide: Law and Society

As I suspect is the case with many academic research librarians, I have several research guides that are “in progress.” Therefore, it is always exciting to finish one!  My latest guide, published today, is on Law and Society research (https://guides.library.harvard.edu/law-and-society).

I really enjoyed working on this guide, because, to me, multidisciplinary research is the ultimate exercise in language and semantics.  Legal scholars and sociology scholars may use completely different vocabulary to refer to and describe what may, in essence, be very similar concepts.  As a librarian, I have to figure out how to bridge those two vocabularies together so that searches for library materials are optimized for relevance.

Librarians spend a lot of time in the social science literature in library school; however, practicing academic law librarians rarely get a chance to look at much beyond legal periodicals and treatises.  This is too bad, because the literature in anthropology, sociology, linguistics, political science, history, philosophy, economics, and other areas can really help a researcher gain an understanding of law in a broader sense.  These disciplines can provide a framework for legal scholars to craft difficult, yet important, questions about law.  How does society benefit from law?  How does law contribute to the development of a community?  How should and do our understandings of history and ethics inform the development of a legal system?  In a societal sense, what does “justice” or “rule of law” mean, both theoretically and practically? What is the linguistic and social significance of legal terms of art?

If you are curious about the ways in which such questions can be addressed, I hope this new research guide can help direct you to library resources that are interesting and informative.  As always, I welcome your feedback.

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.

Administrative Law Research: The Department of Education’s Proposed Title IX Rule

On November 16, 2018, a press release was issued by the U.S. Department of Education announcing a proposed new rule related to Title IX.  The press release includes links to the proposed rule in its entirety, as well as a one-page summary and a section-by-section summary.

Title IX is a federal law under which sex-based discrimination is prohibited in educational institutions that receive federal funding.  This law is codified under 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681-1688.  Any federal agency that “extend(s) Federal financial assistance to any education program or activity” is authorized to promulgate rues and regulations related to Title IX enforcement (20 U.S.C. § 1682).

The new rule has been crafted to incorporate what the Department of Education views as additional due process and fairness protections for parties who are involved in Title IX complaints in schools.  These include the introduction of hearings in which people who testify can be subject to cross-examination.  It also seeks to clarify the definition of sexual harassment in a Title IX context, and to specify when a school is and is not required to investigate alleged incidents of sexual harassment.

The federal Administrative Procedure Act requires, with certain exceptions, that federal agencies use a notice and comment rulemaking process when creating new federal rules and regulations.  This section of that federal statute has been codified at 5 U.S.C. § 553.  In accordance with this requirement, the Department of Education issued a notice in the Federal Register of its intent to promulgate its new Title IX rule, and invited the public to make comments on it.  This notice was published on November 29, 2018, and can be found at 83 Fed. Reg. 61432.

The online venue for submitting public comments for many federal regulations is the government’s regulations.gov website.  Since this proposed rule was posted to this site, under the document number ED-2018-OCR-0064-0001, there have been nearly 100,000 comments submitted.  Today, on the final day of the comment period, three members of the Harvard Law School faculty, Professor Jeannie Suk Gersen, Judge Nancy Gertner, and Professor Janet Halley added their voices to this conversation, and submitted a detailed comment on the proposed rule.  They have made this comment available for public view at https://perma.cc/3F9K-PZSB.

In their comment, these faculty members, “who have researched, taught, and written, on Title IX, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and feminist legal reform,” outline the aspects of the proposed rule with which they agree and those with which they disagree.  Among their concerns are the proposed cross-examination mechanism for Title IX hearings.  They also object the proposed rule’s definition of the “deliberate indifference” standard used to determine a school’s legal obligation to respond to sexual harassment.  Additionally, they believe that the rule should mandate that sexual harassment claim inquiries focus on the “threat of harm” and consider the interests of both complainants and respondents.

As they mentioned, all three authors of this comment have written on the topic before.  Professor Halley published a 2015 article about Title IX in the Harvard Law Review Forum, Trading the Megaphone for the Gavel in Title IX EnforcementProfessor Suk Gersen published “Betsy DeVos, Title IX, and the ‘Both Sides’ Approach to Sexual Assault”  in the New Yorker in 2017.  A piece by Judge Gertner, “Sex, Lies and Justice: Can We Reconcile the Belated Attention to Rape on Campus with Due Process?” appeared in the American Prospect in 2015.

The collections of the Harvard Library include a number of books and journals about topics related to Title IX, such gender discrimination in educational settings (HOLLIS library catalog search) and sexual harassment in educational settings (HOLLIS library catalog search).  For more information about the notice and comment rulemaking process, run this HOLLIS library catalog search to view a list of books that discuss the Administrative Procedure Act.

Researching Dockets and Court Filings

Happy new year!  I hope you had some wonderful, relaxing time off for the holidays and are getting ready to hit the ground running in 2019.

As many legal researchers know, researching court dockets to find criminal complaints and other filings can be frustrating and time-consuming.  While the subscription database BloombergLaw (https://www.bloomberglaw.com/) and its comprehensive docket database (including dockets for many state courts) has made docket research much easier than it used to be, it is always helpful to find a resource where this work has been done on the topic you are interested in already.  After all, there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

I recently found a great example of this.  The George Washington University Program on Extremism (https://extremism.gwu.edu) has created an online database of “criminal complaints, indictments, affidavits, and courtroom transcripts detailing Islamic State-related legal proceedings.” The database is available at https://extremism.gwu.edu/cases.

This is a very helpful resource for researching U.S. judicial proceedings in which criminal charges have been filed against suspected terrorists.  This database is organized alphabetically by defendant name, and, as of this writing, it includes entries for 168 cases.  Access to the database and its materials is freely available online.  The browsing interface is very clean and straightforward, and the PDFs of the scanned documents are of good quality and highly legible.

Looking for more information in general about researching court filings?  Check out our Records, Briefs, and Court Filings Research Guide at https://guides.library.harvard.edu/recordsandbriefs.

Also, the Yale Law Library has an excellent Docket Research Guide at https://library.law.yale.edu/guides/docket-research.

 

Spotlight on Research: Looking Up Legal Terms of Art

Picture of a pile of legal dictionaries and encyclopediasLaw is full of legal terms of art that are used to express a specific thing or idea in a legal context.  While some may dismiss legal language as “legalese,” the words that lawyers and legal scholars use when talking about law are important because they communicate specific legal concepts, rather than general ideas.

Take, for example, a word like fraud.  According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, fraud is an “intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right” or, more generally, “an act of deceiving or misrepresenting.”

A person can also be a fraud (suggested synonym: impostor).

If you look up the word “fraud” in a legal dictionary, the basic definition is largely the same.  However, that is not the end of the story.

The definition of “fraud” in the Bouvier Law Dictionary that sits on my desk is quite a bit longer than the Merriam-Webster definition.  According to Bouvier, a fraud can be “actual” (“affirmative statement of misrepresentation”) or “constructive” (when the actor, knowing that it will be relied upon by someone to his or her detriment, “conceals a fact or is silent regarding it”).  Fraud can be a criminal action, and it can also void a contract.

That said, not everything that people may think is “fraud” actually is.  According to Bouvier, “a statement that is too outlandish to be reasonably believed, one that requires illegal conduct in order to rely upon it, or one that is too general to be the basis for specific reliance may not be fraudulent.”

So, before a (good, responsible) lawyer tosses around a term like “fraud” or “fraudulent” to describe an action or a person, he or she should probably double-check its legal definition, especially since the use of that word may have legal implications in both civil and criminal contexts.  Because language is important to lawyers and legal scholars, we should know where to look up legal terms of art to make sure that we understand and are using them correctly.  The law library has a lot of resources for this type of research.

Legal dictionaries like the Bouvier Law Dictionary described above provide legal definitions of words and phrases.  Both the Westlaw and Lexis Advance subscription databases include legal dictionaries in their collections.  One of the most well-known American legal dictionaries, Black’s Law Dictionary, is available through Westlaw.  To access it, in the Westlaw home screen’s search box, start typing “Black’s Law Dictionary” and select it from the drop-down menu that appears below the search box.

Harvard’s libraries have more than 600 titles that are classified as legal dictionaries that were published in 2000 or later.  To view a list of them, run this HOLLIS search: subject = law AND dictionaries; date limit = 2000-2018; location limit = in library.

You will see, when you run this search, that many of the dictionaries are not in English.  Some of them are exclusively in another language, while others are multilingual legal dictionaries, which provide translations of legal terms.

Tip: Even if you were a  ______ (language) major in college, you might not know what a __________ word means when it is used in a legal context.  It is also not a good idea to blindly trust Google Translate to get it right.  If you want to be sure of its legal meaning, take the time to look it up in a legal dictionary.

While legal dictionaries are great for basic definitions, what if you need just a little bit more information — maybe not as long as a book or an article, but just a few more paragraphs to provide additional context?  This is the role that legal encyclopedias were created to fill.

Two well-known American legal encyclopedias are American Jurisprudence and Corpus Juris Secundum.  The law library has both of these encyclopedia sets in print in the main reading room; however, they have not been updated in a few years.  Fully updated versions of both are available electronically through Westlaw.

Legal encyclopedias can focus on a narrow area of law, or be quite broad.  They are published in many jurisdictions and languages.  Some are multidisciplinary, such as the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Law, which is available in the Harvard Divinity School Library’s reference collection.

To view a list of the more than 200 legal encyclopedias in the Harvard libraries’ collections that have been published since 2000, run this HOLLIS search: subject = law AND encyclopedias, date limit = 2000-2018; location limit = in library.

Finally, a little story.  Right before I quit my former job to go to law school, the lawyer I worked for gave me a copy of Black’s Law Dictionary as a gift.  I didn’t know what to make of it at the time.  Now, however, I see the thoughtfulness of that choice.  He knew how important words are to lawyers, and that we must have the tools we need to make sure we’re using those words correctly.

Research at the Law Library

IMPORTANT NOTE:
Right now, it is exam period at the law school, and the law library is filled to capacity with studying law students.  During this time, with very limited exceptions, the law library is only open to current HLS affiliates and an HLS ID card must be shown to gain admission.  For more information, inquire at the circulation desk.  The telephone number is (617) 495-3455.

I recently gave a library tour to a group of conference attendees here at the law school.  Like many visitors of this nature, they asked me about opportunities to come and research at the law library.  So I thought I’d do a quick blog post about it, with links to the relevant websites that provide more information.

For general information about the law library’s admission policy, visit the Admission to the Library page on our website.  This page includes a link to the form that anyone who is not a Harvard student or a member of the Harvard staff or faculty must fill out to be admitted to the library, including HLS alumni.  The form requires you to indicate your affiliation information, and provides information about admission fees, if they are applicable to your situation.

If you have an academic affiliation, and are wondering whether you can access our library for research and how much, if anything, it would cost, this form will likely answer that question for you.  However, if you would like more more information, you may send an email to access@law.harvard.edu.

The HLS Graduate Program has a Visiting Scholar / Visiting Researcher Program, for which admission is competitive and which has admitted law professors and graduate students from all over the world to conduct research related to specified scholarly projects.  Participants in this program are in residence at the law school, which provides them admission to the law library, for either a semester or an academic year.

Finally, in each of the last several years, the law library’s Library Innovation Lab has sponsored a summer fellows program, during which fellows work on their own projects and on other projects in collaboration with Lab members.  The website does not have information yet about the 2019 summer fellows program, but stay tuned!

PaperShip: Access Your Zotero-Stored Sources on your Phone

I have spent a lot of time this semester learning and using the Zotero citation management software, which provides researchers with a way to store and organize resources for scholarly writing projects.  Our LLM students often ask us about Zotero, so I decided to learn it myself and offer a class in it.  I gave this class several times, and discussed the following:

  • Installing and Configuring Zotero on Your Computer
  • Using Zotero with Harvard’s HOLLIS Library Catalog
  • Using Zotero to Generate Citations for Your Paper

The last topic was, of course, of the most interest to our LLM students, since many of them are foreign-trained lawyers who are unfamiliar with (and do not really want to learn the fine details of) the Bluebook.  While I get that, I also want them to realistically know what Zotero can and cannot do in terms of Bluebook-proper citation.  Spoiler alert: it handles some types of sources well and some others not so well, and unless you know the Bluebook you won’t be able to fix the automatically-generated citations that are incorrect according to the Bluebook rules.

I have posted the slides for the Zotero class I gave this semester in my Zotero Training for LLM and SJD Students research guide.  You are welcome to check them out if you are interested in learning more about how Zotero works, and the benefits it can provide when writing a work of legal scholarship.  If you are affiliated with Harvard, and use your Harvard email address when you create your Zotero account, you will have free unlimited storage.

On a related note, I just wanted to put in a quick word about a new app that I discovered recently, PaperShip.  You can install this app on your phone to get immediate access to the sources you have stored in your Zotero account.

This is so great!  I was doing some research yesterday for an article that I am working on, found some articles that would be helpful, and saved them to Zotero.  Through PaperShip, I was able to call up the PDF of one of those articles in about 2 seconds, and read it on the train during my commute to work this morning.  When compared to scrolling through political fights on Twitter, what a superior (and less aggravating) use of that time!

The free version of PaperShip provides access to your sources only.  There also appears to be an add-on, available for purchase, that you can use to highlight PDFs and make notes in them.  These annotations, it is claimed, are then synced right back up to your Zotero account.  I am going to test out this add-on and report back on it.  But even add-on free PaperShip is a productivity-enhancing winner as far as I’m concerned, and I recommend it.

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