Announcements • Et. Seq: The Harvard Law School Library Blog

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:

852 RARE: When the French Revolution was a Current Event

A recent Harvard Law School Library project—undertaken in preparation for the renovation and re-purposing of the Lewis building—resulted in a spreadsheet of hundreds of older titles for me to sift through, verify, and (often) catalog.  While the list is daunting it has led to a trove of fascinating books and pamphlets all of them are intriguing to anyone who appreciates primary materials.

I’ve particularly enjoyed working with copies of the French constitution in its various iterations, published in 1791, 1793, and 1795. Some are elegantly bound; others are still in their original paper wrappers.

A particularly lovely specimen of the former is this 1791 constitution, not even 10 cm (4 inches) tall, bound in green in morocco with marbled pastedowns, gold-tooled spines, and gilt edges. The frontispiece showing the King Louis XVI accepting the constitution, which established a constitutional monarchy.  Folded in towards the end of this pocket-size volume is a map of France.

An edition of the same constitution, printed in the provincial city of Le Puy in south central France, is in its original cheap (and wonderfully tactile) paper wrapper with the bookseller’s simple title and date (14 septiembre 1791) in manuscript and pages untrimmed.

Naturally events in France and its constitutions were of great interest beyond France, and a number of titles in the collection–such as these two–reflect that:

Detail of title page of London edition of the constitution published in Year I of the French republication calendar (1793).

 

Landau edition of the Year III constitution (1795), with manuscript note on title page: “5 Fructidor III” (i.e. 24. August 1795). Text is in French and German on facing pages.

 

 

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.

Book Talk: The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: A Commentary, Wednesday April 17th at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion in celebration of the recent publication of The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: A Commentary edited by Ilias Bantekas, Michael Ashley Stein & Dimitris Anastasiou (Oxford Univ. Press, Oct. 2018).

Professor Ilias Bantekas and Professor Michael Ashley Stein will be joined in discussion by:

Jacqueline Bhabha, Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Lecturer in Law, Harvard Law School; and Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School;

Professor Gerald L. Neuman, J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law at Harvard Law School;

Professor Ruth Okediji, Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and Co-Director of the Berkman Klein Center.

The discussion will be moderated by Professor William P. Alford, Vice Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies, Jerome A. and Joan L. Cohen Professor of Law, Director, East Asian Legal Studies Program, and Chair, Harvard Law School Project on Disability.

This talk is co-sponsored by the Human Rights Program and the Harvard Law School Project on Disability.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019, at noon
Harvard Law School Milstein East A (Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA
No RSVP required

UNCRPD Commentary poster

About The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: A Commentary

“This treatise is a detailed article-by-article examination of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Each article of the CRPD contains a methodical analysis of the preparatory works, followed by an exhaustive examination of the contents of each article based on case law and concluding observations from the CRPD Committee, judgments from national and international courts and tribunals, pertinent UN and other reports, and literature on the topic in question.

Although primarily addressed to lawyers, the volume features commentary from a broad range of scholars across a variety of disciplines in order to provide a comprehensive study of the legal, psychological, education, sociological, and other aspects of the CPRD. This encyclopaedic commentary on the CRPD effectively covers all the issues arising from international disability law and practice.” — Oxford University Press

About the Editors

Ilias Bantekas is Professor of International Law and Arbitration, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, and a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) of the University of London. He acts as consultant to various inter-governmental organizations, such as UNDP, UN special procedures, the Council of Europe, and the EU. He also advises state entities, law firms, and NGOs in most fields of international law, human rights, international development law, and arbitration and is regularly appointed as arbitrator in international disputes. Key books include International Human Rights Law and Practice (2nd ed, CUP 2016), International Law Concentrate (OUP, 3rd ed, 2017), Sovereign Debt and Human Rights (OUP 2018), and The International Criminal Court and Africa (OUP 2017).

Michael Ashley Stein holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a Ph.D. from Cambridge University. Co-founder and Executive Director of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability and a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School for over a decade, Stein holds an Extraordinary Professorship at the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Human Rights, and a visiting professorship at the Free University of Amsterdam. Stein previously was Professor (and Cabell Professor) at William & Mary Law School, and also taught at New York University and Stanford law schools. An internationally recognized expert on disability law and policy, Stein participated in the drafting of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, works with disabled peoples’ organizations around the world, actively consults with governments on their disability laws and policies, advises a number of UN bodies and national human rights institutions, and has brought landmark litigation.

Book Talk: Cass Sunstein’s How Change Happens, Wednesday, April 10 at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion in celebration of the recent publication of How Change Happens by Cass R. Sunstein (MIT Press, April 9, 2019). Professor Sunstein is the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard University.

Wednesday, April 10, 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

Sunstein How Change Happens Poster

About How Change Happens

“How does social change happen? When do social movements take off? Sexual harassment was once something that women had to endure; now a movement has risen up against it. White nationalist sentiments, on the other hand, were largely kept out of mainstream discourse; now there is no shortage of media outlets for them. In this book, with the help of behavioral economics, psychology, and other fields, Cass Sunstein casts a bright new light on how change happens.

Sunstein focuses on the crucial role of social norms—and on their frequent collapse. When norms lead people to silence themselves, even an unpopular status quo can persist. Then one day, someone challenges the norm—a child who exclaims that the emperor has no clothes; a woman who says “me too.” Sometimes suppressed outrage is unleashed, and long-standing practices fall.

Sometimes change is more gradual, as “nudges” help produce new and different decisions—apps that count calories; texted reminders of deadlines; automatic enrollment in green energy or pension plans. Sunstein explores what kinds of nudges are effective and shows why nudges sometimes give way to bans and mandates. Finally, he considers social divisions, social cascades, and “partyism,” when identification with a political party creates a strong bias against all members of an opposing party—which can both fuel and block social change.” — MIT Press

About Cass Sunstein

Cass R. Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School, was Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration. He was the recipient of the 2018 Holberg Prize, one of the largest annual international research prizes awarded to scholars who have made outstanding contributions to research in the arts and humanities, social science, law, or theology. He is the author of The Cost-Benefit Revolution (MIT Press), Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness (with Richard H. Thaler), and other books.

More About How Change Happens

“It’s often said that the only constancy in life is change. Cass Sunstein weaves threads from diverse traditions in behavioral science to explain how big shifts get started.” — Angela Duckworth, Founder and CEO of Character Lab and Professor of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania; author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

“If you think you’d like to change something—another person, an organization, or even your society—then try this test: Pick up this book and read five pages. If you don’t have your eyes opened with a fresh insight or useful tool, well, you’re probably not serious enough about making change.” — Chip Heath, Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Business; coauthor of Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

“For those lamenting the status quo, and questioning whether change is possible, Cass Sunstein provides a ray of hope. Integrating insights from his own, and others’, research on topics such as social norms, group polarization, and pluralistic ignorance with his intimate knowledge of law and public policy, Sunstein provides a road map of how change can and does happen. Characteristically wise and erudite, How Change Happens is a must-read for those who want to understand, and help to instigate, social change.” — George Loewenstein, Herbert A. Simon University Professor of Economics and Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University

“Many prominent scholars write about why desirable changes occur in some contexts but not others. None brings to the challenge the breadth of Cass Sunstein, or his depth of insight into the complexities involved. How Change Happens provides a breathtaking tour of the vast intellectual landscape on the subject, bringing into focus critical elements of the topography and interactions among its features. Academics and the wider public alike will benefit from Sunstein’s profound ideas, lucid exposition, and engaging writing.” — Timur Kuran, Professor of Economics and Political Science, Gorter Family Professor of Islamic Studies, Duke University

“Cass Sunstein’s new book is a tour de force exploring one of the most urgent problems of our time: how and why seemingly stable societal norms collapse and long-standing institutions come apart. Containing a feast of ideas on policy intervention, the book is bound to open up new avenues of research, and deserves to be read by students of economics, law, and politics.” — Kaushik Basu, Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies, Cornell University

 

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

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