Scholarly Communication • Et. Seq: The Harvard Law School Library Blog

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

 

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

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.

 

 

 

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

Book Talk: Will China Save the Planet?, Wednesday, February 20th at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion in celebration of the recent publication of Barbara Finamore’s Will China Save the Planet? (Polity, Nov., 2018).  Barbara Finamore is a Senior Attorney and Asia Senior Strategic Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). She has over three decades of experience in environmental law and energy policy, with a focus on China for twenty-five years. In 1996, she founded NRDC’s China Program, the first clean energy program to be launched by an international NGO.

This book talk is co-sponsored by the Harvard Law School Library, East Asian Legal Studies, the HLS Environmental Law Society, and the Harvard-China Project.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019, at noon
Harvard Law School WCC Milstein West B
1557 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA (Directions)
No RSVP required

Will China Save the Planet Book Talk

 

About Will China Save the Planet?

“Now that Trump has turned the United States into a global climate outcast, will China take the lead in saving our planet from environmental catastrophe? Many signs point to yes. China, the world’s largest carbon emitter, is leading a global clean energy revolution, phasing out coal consumption and leading the development of a global system of green finance.

But as leading China environmental expert Barbara Finamore explains, it is anything but easy. The fundamental economic and political challenges that China faces in addressing its domestic environmental crisis threaten to derail its low-carbon energy transition. Yet there is reason for hope. China’s leaders understand that transforming the world’s second largest economy from one dependent on highly polluting heavy industry to one focused on clean energy, services and innovation is essential, not only to the future of the planet, but to China’s own prosperity.” — Polity

More About Will China Save the Planet?

“A hugely informative and readable book about how much China is doing – and needs to do – to spur the clean energy revolution that is a crucial element in the fight against climate change. I highly recommend it.” — Todd Stern, Former Special Envoy for Climate Change under President Obama

“Finamore has written an impressively well-researched and truly fascinating account of China’s fitful odyssey to climate consciousness. In an otherwise pretty bleak global tableau, this progress offers some welcome grounds for hope.” — Orville Schell, Arthur Ross Director, Center on US-China Relations, Asia Society

“A must-read.” — Make Wealth History

‘Barbara Finamore has written a highly readable and informative overview of China’s role in the global climate change battle. Will China Save the Planet? is a good primer for environmental policy analysts and anyone else interested in studying feasible solutions to climate change, humanity’s greatest threat.’ — Eurasia Review

Book Talk: FIBER: The Coming Tech Revolution—and Why America Might Miss It, Wednesday, February 13 at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion in celebration of the recent publication of FIBER: The Coming Tech Revolution—and Why America Might Miss It by Susan Crawford (Yale Univ. Press, Jan. 8, 2019). Professor Crawford is the John A. Reilly Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

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

Susan Crawford Poster FIBER

About FIBER: The Coming Tech Revolution—and Why America Might Miss It

“The world of fiber optic connections reaching neighborhoods, homes, and businesses will represent as great a change from what came before as the advent of electricity. The virtually unlimited amounts of data we’ll be able to send and receive through fiber optic connections will enable a degree of virtual presence that will radically transform health care, education, urban administration and services, agriculture, retail sales, and offices. Yet all of those transformations will pale compared with the innovations and new industries that we can’t even imagine today. In a fascinating account combining policy expertise and compelling on-the-ground reporting, Susan Crawford reveals how the giant corporations that control cable and internet access in the United States use their tremendous lobbying power to tilt the playing field against competition, holding back the infrastructure improvements necessary for the country to move forward. And she shows how a few cities and towns are fighting monopoly power to bring the next technological revolution to their communities.” — Yale University Press

More About FIBER: The Coming Tech Revolution—and Why America Might Miss It

“If we can just finish the last mile for fiber to reach into households, Susan Crawford shows, we can unleash a revolution of economic growth, education, and health, and address inequality in a whole new way. Crawford shifts effortlessly from the heights of policy to the literal ground level and shows us the way.”— Anthony Marx, President, New York Public Library

“By vividly describing a world filled with fiber-enabled technology as well as the perils and possibilities for achieving it, Susan Crawford has written a playbook for a fairer and more prosperous United States.”— Andy Berke, Mayor, Chattanooga, Tennessee

“Engaging and accessible … An indictment of national regulatory politics and crony capitalism and a love story about the plucky local governments overcoming the odds to bring their own communities into the twenty-first century. A microcosm of what ails America—and what nonetheless can give us hope.”— Yochai Benkler, Harvard Law School

“Crawford convinces with impeccable journalism and empathetic portraits of rural communities and low-income cities in distress, the ails of which could be much alleviated by a large-scale federal investment in fiber optic connections . . . Crawford’s work is both refreshing and potent in how it clinically identifies the problem, and proposes a straightforward, feasible solution.” —Publishers Weekly

“Essential reading.” — Kirkus Reviews, (starred review)

About Susan Crawford

Susan Crawford is the John A. Reilly Clinical Professor at Harvard Law School. She is the author of FIBER: The Coming Tech Revolution And Why America Might Miss It and Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age; co-author of The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data-Smart Governance; and a contributor to WIRED.

She served as Special Assistant to the President for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy (2009) and co-led the FCC transition team between the Bush and Obama administrations. Crawford also served in the past as a member on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Advisory Council on Technology and Innovation and on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Broadband Task Force.

Crawford was formerly a (Visiting) Stanton Professor of the First Amendment at Harvard’s Kennedy School, a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, and a Professor at the University of Michigan Law School. As an academic, she teaches Internet law and communications law. She was a member of the board of directors of ICANN from 2005-2008 and is the founder of OneWebDay, a global Earth Day for the Internet that takes place each Sept. 22.

She has been named one of Politico’s 50 Thinkers, Doers and Visionaries Transforming Politics; one of Fast Company’s Most Influential Women in Technology; an IP3 Awardee; one of Prospect Magazine’s Top Ten Brains of the Digital Future; and one of Time Magazine’s Tech 40: The Most Influential Minds in Tech.

Thoughts on Legal Citation

My relationship with the Bluebook goes back to when I was a first-year law student in 2004. There have been moments of love and moments of hate, but mostly, as someone who appreciates order, structure, and rules, love.

As a legal reference librarian, my interest in legal citation is more research-focused than anything.  There are few things that make my heart soar more than a work of legal scholarship that includes carefully drafted and correct citations to the sources referenced so that readers can find those sources with minimum pain and maximum efficiency.

However, legal citation has several purposes beyond just making it easier for researchers to find stuff.  “Citation Literacy” is a fascinating new article in the Arkansas Law Review by Professor Alexa Z. Chew of UNC Law School.  In the article, Professor Chew discusses four “communicative purposes” of legal citation: “(1) to locate the cited source … , (2) to communicate information to the reader about the weight of the cited authority … , (3) to demonstrate the writer’s credibility … and (4) to avoid plagiarism through proper attribution.” (pages 879-880)

Professor Chew also discusses what she calls the “untaught skill of reading citations.”  (page 890)  By removing citation information from cases in casebooks read by U.S. law students, she argues, the “dominant message sent by the first-year law school curriculum about legal citation” is that providing support for statements of law is either unimportant, optional, or both.  (pages 891-892)

Additionally, Professor Chew contends that, when law students read cases that do not include citations, they are not learning the skill of reading cases holistically.  This is not ideal, according to Professor Chew, because “understanding a case’s citations and how the information they encode informs the surrounding text is an essential part of reading a case in the first place.”  (page 895)

I was glad that Professor Chew also discussed the impact of learning legal citation on foreign-trained lawyers who are studying the U.S. legal system.  This part of the article made me re-think this issue myself.  When I taught substantive U.S. law classes in Germany last year, I gave them versions of cases that I had edited myself.  I also, for the sake of brevity, removed citations from those cases.

Looking back, I wish I had done more with Bluebook and legal citation with my German students.  I believe it would have helped them understand our legal system better, and it also would have helped them with their future forays into the world of U.S. legal research.

Speaking of teaching legal citation to non-U.S. law students, I maintain our library’s Bluebook Citation Guide for LL.M. Students.  After reading Professor Chew’s article, this guide seems, perhaps, overly procedural in nature.  I am now considering adding a section about why citation is important, and citing Professor Chew’s article in it.

My own experience as a foreign student contributes to my thinking on this issue as well.  Germany does not have an equivalent to the Bluebook citation system, or really any standardized system of legal citation at all as far as I know.  When I was writing my LL.M. thesis in Germany earlier this year, I was given a 4-page handout by my faculty supervisor, with examples about how to cite sources in the footnotes and in the bibliography (Literaturverzeichnis).  I did my best to follow the protocol, but I’m still not sure if I got everything right.

Below is a picture of footnotes 49-52 from my German LL.M. thesis:

The sources cited here are, in order: an article from the German Basic Law (Grundgesetz), a Federal Constitutional Court decision, a scholarly commentary on the Basic Law, and a U.S. law review article.

(Of course I did not notice until this very moment that footnote 49 should end in a period and not a semi-colon.  I guess I know now for sure that I did not get everything right.)

In these and all the footnotes in my thesis, author-written works are basically cited in a shortened format because full-length citations are provided in the bibliography.

I was told by people who read my thesis that my use of footnotes and citation was, perhaps, more extensive than is the norm in German legal scholarship.  But they knew that I am trained in U.S. law, and that I have spent years reading U.S. law review articles, which are heavily annotated compared to German legal periodicals, so it was understandable.

Anyway, I am very pleased to have seen an article in the legal literature about citation, and I hope this is a trend that continues.  I agree with Professor Chew that this is an important area of legal education that, perhaps, should be considered in a different light than it has been in the past.

Finally, I would like to briefly mention a new citation guide that we recently received in the HLS Library collection:

Global Arbitration Review’s UCIA – Universal Citation in International Arbitration
General Editor, Stephen Anway ; Assistant Editors, Alexis Martinez and Jonathan Allen
Published in 2018 by Law Business Research Ltd.
ISBN 9781912377299
Hollis Catalog Record

This is a guide to the developing convention on style and citation that is used by practitioners in the field of international arbitration.  It is “intended for use in all writings related to international arbitration – from memorials to awards, from scholarly articles to student briefs.”  (Editor’s Preface)  And, mercifully, it is much shorter than the Bluebook.

 

 

 

 

852 RARE: David Sewall: Lawyer, Federal Judge, Weather Aficionado

It’s spring break at Harvard, although March can bring decidedly un-springlike weather to New England. After an unusually mild winter (except for one weekend of record-breaking cold), the first weekend of spring break started off as mild and sunny as a fine day in late April, and is now, well, very March-like. Weather is a perennial topic of conversation in New England (and everywhere else?). It affects us all and is a topic of conversation anyone can participate in and on which everyone seems to have an opinion.

Of all seasons, winter is perhaps especially ripe for discussions, whether one is marveling at, cursing, or boasting about record snowstorms, record cold, unseasonable warmth, and everything in between. Not surprisingly there’s nothing new about the weather as a rich source of conversation. As we approach the vernal equinox on March 20th this year, here’s a glimpse into the meteorological musings of David Sewall (1735-1825). Sewall was a 1755 Harvard graduate (and classmate of John Adams), a lawyer, and a judge, appointed by George Washington to the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine in 1789, a position he held until his resignation in 1818.

Historical & Special Collections has a letter from Sewall, written from his home in York, Maine (then part of Massachusetts) to an unidentified correspondent, on January 17, 1795.

HOLLIS 2204095_p1

Sewall begins with the acknowledgement of a small book, then talks of politics. But soon the topic of the weather slips in, when in the third or fourth line, he comments: “The month of December as to mildness and agreeableness of weather has surpassed any that the most ancient among us, can recollect. We have now scarcely enough for slaying [sleighing] ….” Shortly thereafter Sewall turns back to politics and government, pondering Alexander Hamilton’s intention to resign as Secretary of State at the end of the month. He mentions meeting and conversing with the Rev. David Osgood (1747-1822) in a public house in Woburn (Mass.) and discusses court and legislative issues. But the next day, a Sunday, when he picks up his pen to continue the correspondence, his opening line sets the tone for most of the rest of the letter.

HOLLIS 2204095_p2-3

“Last Evening we had a pretty fall of light snow … The cold increases and N.N.W. wind blows about the Snow considerably this Evening.” He asks “how comes it that we ever have snow?” and launches into a long, detailed, and thoughtful musing on trade winds, precipitation, temperatures, and weather patterns along the eastern coast of the United States. He marvels at having “known the thermometer to be at 6° below 0 and in less than 9 hours to be above the freezing point” and notes that “I have known the snow to dissolve faster toward the close of Winter with a Southerly Wind of 24 hours (or a little longer) continuance than with a moderate Rain, of the same duration.” Had he lived in our era, the good judge from Maine may have settled down at the end of a long day to watch the Weather Channel.

%d bloggers like this: