Thursday, November 4, 2010

oral arguments

The US Supreme Court has transcripts and audio files of oral arguments. According to their site:
A case selected for argument usually involves interpretations of the U. S. Constitution or federal law. At least four Justices have selected the case as being of such importance that the Supreme Court must resolve the legal issues.
Worth a look, and maybe a listen.
If you've ever been uncomfortable contributing to tutorial discussions, imagine dealing with this (from the recent Schwarzenegger case transcript dealing with violent video games):
JUSTICE SCALIA: An average minor is halfway between 0 and 18; is that 9 years old?
You don't have to understand the issues to find this interesting. Simply seeing how language changes when the arguing attorneys have to think on their feet is illuminating. And (from my cursory look) the justices aren't always eloquent. I'm guessing that that's partly because they don't need to show off; and partly because getting to the point often involves a bit of murkiness. Bathos alert... the murk factor is true in libraries too. Sometimes the question you most need to ask (and answer) is the one you can't express clearly. That may put you out of your comfort zone, but don't let it put you off. Research is a process, not a checklist; and teasing things out is part of your job and also part of ours. So don't hesitate to bring unclear questions to the desk. The good news is that we're not judges, we're just here to help.

You can find the oral judgment transcripts and audio files and more on the Supreme Court site.
You can find us at the Law Library desk, 8th floor, Richardson Building.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

applying for jobs

We recently advertised for next year's team of student assistants. They're the ones (usually senior law students) who keep the library up and running in the evenings and weekends, when the permanent staff are home growing vegetables and feeding chickens and doing whatever else we do when we're not here.
We're always really impressed by the calibre of the applicants, and it's always disappointing that we can employ so few of them.
Anyway, for those of you thinking of applying for work here in 2012, or even if you're applying for summer clerkships or permanent jobs, here are a few tips based on our recent recruitment experience.

Please do:
  • include a cover letter. It's the best way to get your voice across.
  • sign your letter - old-fashioned but still expected in a formal context.
  • keep your CV brief. At least for our purposes, a double-sided A4 sheet is about right.
  • provide a work referee, if you have one, since it's a job you're applying for.

And please don't:
  • send us the job description. We already know about the job. We want to know about you. With as few page-turns as possible.
  • send us scruffy forms. Presentation counts, so don't change pens half-way through filling out a form. And if you spill coffee on it, get a clean one and start again.

These are minor points, but that's what counts when you have 50 good applicants and only five jobs.

And from the ridiculous to the sublime: thanks to the Law Librarian Blog I recently found the Yale Law School admissions blog. It's interesting, entertaining and potentially useful to anyone making any kind of application any time soon.

Parliamentary practice in New Zealand

David McGee's 2005 text is now available online at the NZ parliament website.
It's free (yes!) and searchable (yes!) but not necessarily updated - read the fine print
in the About this publication section.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

End of Looseleaf Services?

A debate is currently occupying law librarians in the blogosphere about the future of looseleafs. Ruth Bird from the Bodleian Library at Oxford has described looseleafs as
"one of the legal publishing world’s more interesting phenomena of the last third of the 20th century."
Here at the Otago Law Library we encourage students to use looseleaf services for their frequency, their usefulness - and just because we pay so much for them we want people to use them. But do you think their time has come? Can online resources do what looseleaf services have attempted to do for the past 50 years but better?
If you want to follow this debate then check out posts from Ruth Bird, from Jason Eiseman at Yale and Joe from the Law Librarian's blog.
My take. I love the looseleaf services we provide here at Otago. But that may be due to familiarity of the print versions and the cluttered interface of some of the online services. I find I can use materials more intensely if in print.
Comments welcome

Intellectual Property Treaties and Laws

WIPO Lex is a one-stop search facility for national laws and treaties on intellectual property (IP) of WIPO, WTO and UN Members. It also features related information on those laws and treaties.
WIPO Lex currently features the complete IP legal texts for over 60 countries with substantial coverage for a further 100 legal systems.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

WorldLII goes international

OK so it's last week's news but it's very good news.
From their press release:
The International Law Library contains over 80,000 searchable documents for free access. This includes over 25,000 decisions of International Courts and Tribunals, over 30,000 treaties and international agreements (including the League of Nations and UN Treaty Series), international law journals and law reform materials. These materials cannot be jointly searched elsewhere on the Internet. AustLII’s LawCite citator tracks where international cases, treaties and law journal articles have been cited.
Have a look.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

EndNote for NZLSG

More fun with mindmaps. This time, EndNote for NZLSG.
The NZLSG Otago style is modelled on the University of Queensland's AGLC2 style (before it morphed into AGLC3), and it follows their practice of using default EndNote reference types where possible, and using a single reference type for everything else; here, the NZLSG Citation reftype. It was tempting to call it the Too hard basket reftype because effectively that's what it is - a catch-all for all the quirky things that default EndNote can't handle - NZ cases (reported, unreported), NZ legislation etc.
It is possible to re-engineer EndNote to format a wider range of local legal material. Canterbury has done it, and it works. But it does limit your use of EndNote. And it doesn't make things easy. Neither does this style. At some point you need to grapple with the complexities of legal citation and the idiosyncracies of NZLSG.
And you'll be grappling with or without EndNote. The beauty of EndNote is that you only grapple with each citation once. And if you get it right, it should stay right throughout the research and writing process.
Anyway, here it is. A bit shaky, but starting to take shape.
And as always, if it doesn't make sense, just ask.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Khan Academy

Anyone with an interest in teaching and learning, social justice, technology, maths or science should have a look at the Khan Academy. Oh, and anyone with school-age kids.
Lots (1600 and growing) of short videos, low-tech so they load easily even on low-grade home computers. Each video is like a very charming talking blackboard - you hear, you see, you understand. Low-tech, low stress.
All of them created by one man, Salman Khan, who describes his work like this:
I teach the way that I wish I was taught. The lectures are coming from me, an actual human being who is fascinated by the world around him. The concepts are conveyed as they are understood by me, not as they are written in a textbook developed by an educational bureaucracy. Viewers know that it is the labor of love of one somewhat quirky and determined man who has a passion for learning and teaching.

I don't usually like online learning packages much but here it's not the technology you take note of, it's the way it all makes sense.
And what an end: "With just a computer and a pen-tablet-mouse, one can educate the world!" Inspirational.

Friday, September 3, 2010

LexisNexis NZ database trials

We currently have trial access to two Australian databases.
CaseBase is a hybrid LINX/BriefCase product. Chiefly case law; plus a citation signal service (like CiteCase but with different symbols to indicate positive, negative, cautionary or neutral treatment by the court); plus articles. Great for Laws 498 students wanting to find Australian cases which cite Donselaar v Donselaar. Probably good for other things too. You'll find CaseBase via the Cases tab.
Halsbury's laws of Australia is like Halsbury's laws of England and our very own (Halsburyless) Laws of New Zealand. Find it via the Commentary tab, under International Commentary. Or if you're in LONZ, the cross-references to Halsbury's laws of Australia will take you where you want to go.
Worth a look, via the LexisNexis NZ homepage. Trial runs to the end of next week.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

HeinOnline ScholarCheck

This is pretty cool (aside from CompoundNoun thing). You can link directly to material cited in the article you are reading. And you can link to material which cites the article you are reading - assuming that the cited or citing material is also in Hein. So pretty much a BriefCase/CiteCase approach to Hein's journal literature. And if you search the Hein Law Journal Library for articles by, well, anyone really, you can see at a glance how often their articles have been cited - potential here for PBRF.

More info about ScholarCheck here including a link to a webinar. Shame about the language but there we are.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Free (US) legal research guide

This is a great idea - something for (US) law students that more-or-less matches the material peddled by the big legal publishers. But in this case, both the guide and the research tools are free, and will continue to be free even after the students graduate. Chiefly a website, but it contains a short (3-page) PDF which is worth a look too.
If only we had an NZ equivalent, preferably put together by some Judi-like someone with a good grasp of freebie sources and how they can be used...

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Here's a quick guide to printing bits of the LexisNexis NZ version of Laws of New Zealand (or Halsbury's laws of England) - easy when you know how, frustrating when you don't!

Monday, August 23, 2010

General reading

In this week's display (in the Quiet Reading Room, remember?!) is the fourteenth edition of Glanville Williams: Learning the law, which contains (amongst many other worthy things) a chapter on general reading - fiction, biographies, trials, essays, jurisprudence and a few other categories. So, recreational reading related to law. The section on jurisprudence (we're still with recreational reading here) includes a reference to Tom Bingham's The rule of law, which was on display recently. Kind of cool.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


The World Treaty Index provides access to information on more than 50,000 bilateral and multilateral treaties formed between 1945 and 1997. When full coverage for the 20th century is complete, the database should feature in excess of 80,000 agreements. Though the WTI does not provide the full text of each agreement, it is an excellent resource for identifying when a state (or states) formed a number of international agreements of a particular type. With a list of relevant agreements (including their volume and page number), an end user interested in obtaining the full text can simply collect them using the primary source material (i.e. UNTS, LTS, etc.)
Next month look for an announcement about AustLII's new International Law Library - the highlights of which include
• Over 25,000 decisions from almost all significant International Courts and Tribunals Collection (38 databases)
• Over 30,000 documents in the Treaties & International Agreements collection (26 databases) including the League of Nations and UN Treaties Series (to 1960 so far) and the Australian Treaties Library.
• Other key international law materials such as 15,000 UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.
• Over 6,000 law journal articles and papers, and law reform reports relevant to international law.

Friday, August 20, 2010

New Zealand Law Style Guide

The New Zealand Law Style Guide is a wondrous beast. We're trying to tame it - with a mindmap. Here's a sneak preview - expect to see it on the Law Subject Guide soon.

New books display, all things new

Each week we put on display all the new books, journals and reports we received in the preceding week. It's a good chance to see what's new and interesting. And to relax, look at the big picture of legal literature, look out the window...
Normally you'd find the display just inside the main entrance but this month we've been trialling alternative locations. The display has just been up on the ninth floor but as of today you'll find it in the quiet reading room - 8th floor South Tower, just beyond the lift well.
Let us know what you think.
If you prefer an online experience, you can keep track of new books via the library catalogue's New Books facility. If you want to keep track of new journals (including those we only get electronically), you can set up saved searches or Table of Contents alerts - there are some tips for LegalTrac here . Detail on other options coming soon, but in the meantime, just ask. If you want to keep track of recent parliamentary business, the New Zealand Parliament website has an alert feature. If you want to keep track of recent case law, check the case law databases, or even better, just ask Judi.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Graduate research student seminars

The Library is running a series of seminars for post-graduate students. Details here. Ferret around long enough and you'll find that the seminars on the 12th, 19th and 26th are to be held in Committee Room 2, Central Library (Floor one) from 1-2pm.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Brookers trainer here this week

Allan Rowland will be here Wednesday and Thursday, based in the 6th floor seminar room. He's offering
  • speed updating sessions - that's your chance to get to know Brookers, choose the database that's right for you, find what you're looking for... Fast, easy and free. Wed And Thurs, 1pm
  • McGechan on procedure sessions. An in-depth look at the online Civil Procedure library. Particularly useful for Civil Procedure students but also a chance to see how to get the most out of an online looseleaf (as they are called by the New Zealand Law Style Guide). Wed and Thurs, 2pm

Friday, July 30, 2010

New UK legislation site launched

From their press release: is a newly launched website for UK legislation from all jurisdictions (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) and statutes. From 1267 to the present day, the site carries all legislation and laws that the UK National Archives was able to obtain and make accessible on the Web. The site's Help section details the legislative and statutory coverage and coverage gaps.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

fun with mindmaps

I've been experimenting with mindmapping as a way of presenting an overview of NZ legal literature - the link to the mind map is currently sitting on the Law Subject Guide under Research Aids.
I like the big picture approach, the Notes option for further detail or advice, and the online links. I'm hoping it will be helpful to non-Law students. I'm also a bit worried that it might be unhelpful to Law students - it's a very basic guide and doesn't integrate well with the richer content of the Law Subject Guide. Simple? Simplistic?
Let me know what you think.
Cheers, Carolyn

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Court Report - New NZ TV program

Victoria University of Wellington in conjunction with TVNZ 7 is producing a weekly TV show on issues within the New Zealand justice system. The first episode is available on demand
It dealt with the Legal Aid report by Margaret Bazely and the decision of the HC in

AMM, re HC Wellington CIV 2010-485-328

on de facto spouses adopting - for commentary on this decision see this from our own Andrew Geddis.
This show may be well worth keeping an eye out for, it screens on TVNZ on Thursdays at 9.35pm, repeated on Mondays at 9.35pm

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Guardian Legal Network (UK)

The Guardian newspaper site in England has a dedicated area for Legal information including news stories and links to other relevant legal blogs (for example, that of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom). It covers not only relevant English legal commentary but some from the European Community. It describes itself as

The Guardian Legal Network brings together the best blogs and sites that cover legal affairs and developments from around the world. The network connects sites that provide high-quality news, comment, analysis, blogs and multimedia.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

International Statistics on Crime and Justice

Looking for statistics on crime and justice with an international/comparative perspective?

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control has combined to provide a report which analyses data up to 2006. PDF download.
The Law Library of Congress (US) has launched the Global Legal Information Catalog
It describes itself this:
The Global Legal Information Catalog includes information about publications which reprint the laws and regulations of multiple jurisdictions on a particular legal topic. The purpose of the database is to provide additional identifying information about titles, beyond that which is provided in the Library's online catalog. The database works as an interface with the Library of Congress's online catalog and is searchable by jurisdiction, title, subject and keyword.

Results are returned in alphabetical order.
Interesting resource for comparative law

Monday, May 31, 2010

New Zealand Legislation Online

New Zealand Legislation online has announced that from 2012, legislation on its site will be recognised as official. Historic and repealed legislation may also be made available through the same site.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

All New Zealand Law Reports now online

Where "all" means starting from volume 1, apparently published in 1883.
And "online" means subscription-only, in a LexisNexis kind of way.
If you have a university username and password, you'll find all the NZLRs on the LexisNexis NZ site, via the Law Subject Guide, where you can browse (like a table of contents for each volume) or search (indexed fields and/or full-text searching).
Any questions? Just ask.
Cheers, Carolyn

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Legal fiction

Easter coming up, and mid-semester break. Time for a good book. Or a good pile of good books - I've just raided the Central Library to stave off the panic that creeps in whenever the pile of books by my bed gets too small or too familiar. Mainly 20th century British fiction for me this Easter, but also some memoirs and essays.
A few years back we occasionally slipped a bit of fiction in to the new book display, typically by or about lawyers. Partly as an antidote to the technical side of law, partly because finding fiction about law is not always easy (though you could start by keyword searching the catalogue for: lawyers fiction); mainly to encourage reading for pleasure.
Any way, here is a list of the first few titles in our Legal Fiction series, for your reading pleasure. I'll drip-feed a few more in due course.
Feel free to let us know of any other books that deserve a place in the series.
Cheers, Carolyn

Friday, March 12, 2010

Help for Mooters seeking US cases

For the mooters seeking several US cases (linked from our Law Subject page) has a very quick way of obtaining the American decisions.

From the page, choose the third tab along the top called Get a Document

From there, you type in the citation for your case - for example 123 F Supp 456 and press the red Get button. Your case should be retrieved and available for printing or emailing.

To obtain the English case reported in the QB reports (apart from getting it in paper form from our shelves at KF55 C8) you will need to go into the Lexis main page and choose United Kingdom, then Case Law, the The Law Reports of England and Wales.

Make sure you choose Terms and Connectors and under the Select a Segment section, from the pull down menu choose Name and enter in the name of the case as below.

Remember to click on the ADD button to put your search term into the search box. Click on search and your case should appear!

Looking at legal literature

We've put together a small display of legal literature. It's based around a recent Otago Law Review article by Andrew Geddis and includes a statute and a case referred to in that article, plus a relevant textbook.
It's designed to let you get your hands on those different forms of literature, and to see the connections between them. We've also added some notes on finding statutes, cases, articles etc. And there are some related handouts nearby, if you want them.
The display is on the 8th floor of the Law Library, just opposite the Desk - look for the red hand. We'll keep it there for a while, so you can look at it in your idle moments.
And if you want help with any of the resources or processes mentioned in the notes, just ask - at the Desk.
Cheers, Carolyn

Group study rooms

If you have taken a library tour, you will know that we have two group study rooms on the 9th floor.
And if you have taken a catalogue class (OK, so they don't start until next week, but you get my point), you will know that you can book the group study rooms. Go to the library catalogue, select the Group Room Bookings tab and click the link for the Law Library group rooms. Enjoy!
Cheers, Carolyn

Catalogue classes & library tours

As previously mentioned, we're offering a brief introduction to the library catalogue, followed by a tour of the Law Library. Allow about 45 minutes to do both. We'll start with the catalogue, in the Seminar Room, on the 6th floor (South Tower - if you're not sure how to find it, just ask - at the Desk on the 8th floor).

Available times are: Mon 15 March 11am; Tues 16 March 11am; Thurs 18 March 11am; Mon 22 March 11am; Tues 23 March 11am; Thurs 25 March 11am; Thurs 1 April 11am.

If you can't make any of these times, just ask - at the Desk.

And if you'd rather work it out for yourself, have a look at our Tour guide and Catalogue guide. They're also available in print. Just ask - at the Desk.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lexis-Nexis outage Sunday 14 March

The platform, which includes our subscriptions to the New Zealand Law Reports, Linxplus and Laws of New Zealand amongst other things, and the site will be unavailable in the evening of Sunday 14 March 2010 from 5pm to 12 midnight for system maintenance to accommodate the US switching into Daylight Savings Mode.
Lexis-Nexis and the Law Library apologises for any inconvenience this may create.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What's on offer in the Law Library

Welcome! Welcome back.
What can we do for you? We're working on things that you can do to help yourself.
The programme so far looks a bit like this:

Each week day at 9.15, starting this Thursday (04March); plus Tuesday and Friday evenings at 6pm. A 20-minute tour of the Library, to help you discover the resources we have and the services we offer. Particularly useful for Torts students, who need to know some of this for the first Laws 498 assignment.

Tour-catalogue class combo
A brief introduction to the library catalogue (including finding Reserve lists, journals, and getting books from other libraries using BorrowDirect), followed by a tour of the Library. Particularly useful for first- and second-years who want to understand what we’ve got and how to get it; and for anyone else who hasn’t used the Law Library much yet. Allow about 45 minutes if you do both parts. We’ll start running these in the week starting 15 March. Details of times and places to come.

Database classes
Compulsory for Laws 498 students; optional for everyone else. An introduction to some of the key NZ legal databases – how and when to use them.
Sign up for these at the Desk. Note that tutorials run over a two-hours period.

Any questions?Just ask. And check our blog for updates.

Cheers, Carolyn

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Welcome back to the Law Library

A new academic year is upon us, and we're looking forward to catching up with old acquaintances, and making some new ones.

Speaking of new, we have lots of new online resources to try out this year. For example, have a look at LexisNexis NZ, and see many familiar titles that have up until now, only been available from Reserve.

Not sure what is where and how? Come to the Law Library desk, and ask one of the friendly staff. We will be running tours and classes throughout the year.

Starting LAWS498? We'll be running special hands-on classes during semester 1, specifically tailored to you.

See you soon,