"Nota Bene" means "note this well" or "take particular notice." We at the O'Quinn Law Library will be posting tips on legal research techniques and resources, developments in the world of legal information, happenings at the Law Library, and legal news reports that deserve your particular attention. We look forward to sharing our thoughts and findings and to hearing from you.

N.B: Make a note to visit "Nota Bene" regularly.

-Spencer L. Simons, former Director, O'Quinn Law Library and Associate Professor of Law



Monday, April 28, 2014

Summer & Graduate Access to Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg Law

As the Spring semester comes to a close, students often ask if they can use their Westlaw, LexisNexis, and Bloomberg accounts over the summer. Here’s a breakdown of how the three systems will handle summer and post graduate use by law students in 2014:

Westlaw: You can request a password extension if you are (1) attending summer law school classes or participating in study abroad (2) employed as a research assistant (3) participating in moot court, or (4) have an unpaid internship or externship (provided you are not being paid for your research and your employer is not being paid for Westlaw research you conduct for your employer). If you don’t request a password extension, you will be limited to 40 hours of access during the months of June and July. To request a password extension, click here. Graduating students’ passwords expire 6 months after graduation.

LexisNexis: No registration for summer access is required if you already have a registered Lexis Advance ID; students have unlimited use of legal and news content for work OR academic purposes. Graduating 3Ls may register for one of our Graduate Program IDs that will extend your access beyond graduation until December 31, 2014. To learn more, visit http://www.lexisnexis.com/grad-access/

Bloomberg Law: All registered students will have unlimited Bloomberg access during summer for academic OR work purposes. Graduating students will have unlimited and unrestricted Bloomberg access for 6 months following graduation. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Texas State Law Library Remote Access Databases


The Texas State Law Library now allows Texas residents to access some of their electronic databases remotely.  Users must sign up for a free library card, either online or in by visiting the library in Austin, to gain access to these resources.  Currently, several sources are available remotely including Loislaw and EBSCO legal resources.  

The Loislaw database includes access to federal and state primary legal materials including cases, statutes, and administrative regulations.  It also contains over 25 Aspen Treatise Libraries such as the Aspen/CCH Bankruptcy Law Library, Elder Law Library, General Litigation Library, and Personal Injury Law Library, which include explanations, forms, and checklists.  Specifically for Texas practitioners, it provides access to Stevenson's Legal Forms & Practice Guide for Texas.  This resource has information for a variety of practice areas including family law, criminal law, collections, probate, real estate, and civil litigation. 

The EBSCO resources include the Legal Information Resource Center and Legal Source.  The Legal Information Resource Center contains legal self-help publications from Nolo Press as well as a variety of state-specific legal forms.  Legal Source provides access to full-text articles from over 1,200 law journals. 

For more information about the Texas State Law Library resources, see their electronic databases page. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

RateDriver App


Interested in learning what other attorneys are charging per hour?  If so, take a look at the RateDriver app, which provides estimates of average attorney billing rates in over 50 major U.S. markets including Houston, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio.  The estimates take into account attorney practice areas such as employment and labor, intellectual property and trademark, and real estate.  It also allows users to customize the estimates based on the firm size, whether the attorney is a partner or associate, and the years of experience the attorney has.  The rate estimate information is pulled from the TyMetrix Legal Analytics data warehouse.  Currently, however, the most recent data available is for 2012.

The app is free to download and is available for iOS, Android, and BlackBerry devices. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Family Law Resources

Whether you are taking a course in family law or have an interest in this field, the law library has a number of sources ranging from treatises and practices to study aids:

  • Practice Guides/Treatises:
  • Study Aids

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

SCOTUS Blog Mobile App

The SCOTUS Blog Mobile App, available for Apple devices, provides the same contents and search options available on the SCOTUS Blog. Specifically, this app provides access to explanations of opinions and oral arguments, audios of oral arguments, briefs for all cases on the merits docket, list of petitions currently being considered, and compiles news articles and interviews throughout the country. The App allows users to connect to Bloomberg Law materials with their subscriptions, but all the other content is free. This is one of the best legal news apps available on the market in terms of content and usability and will hopefully also be available for Windows and Android devices in the near future.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Exam-Time Apps for Law Students

With the end of the spring semester approaching, law students are paying special attention to studying for final exams.  For students interested in studying on the go, several apps have been created specifically as law school study aids:
  • The Seigel’s 1L Q&A, Law in a Flash and CrunchTime apps provide practice questions and study aids on various law school exam topics.
  • The Paper Chase series of apps provide questions and explanations for Contracts, Property, Torts and Criminal Law.
  • The Law Dojo app provides quizzes on various areas of law.  The free version offers general legal knowledge quizzes, buy students can purchase different versions featuring quizzes on specific course subjects.
  • The LexisNexis Law School Q&A app provides a different preview feature, offering a few free questions and answers before making an in-depth app on a specific course subject available for purchase.
  • The Bar Exam Edge app offers a similar product for graduates taking the Multistate Bar Exam.  Students and graduates enrolled in the respective bar prep courses may download complimentary copies of the Bar Bri Mobile and Kaplan Bar Review apps.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Today's Release of Medicare Data


Today, for the first time in decades, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released information regarding physician reimbursement for Medicare coverage.  National news agencies are already covering this event; any legal scholars considering contributing to the discussion by writing from a legal standpoint might find the following references and citations useful:
The Medicare reimbursement data that has just been released may be found here on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website.
Data on Medicare reimbursements had originally been sealed in 1979 following an order issued in Florida Medical Association v. Department of Health, Education, & Welfare, 479 F. Supp. 1291 (M.D. Fla., 1979).  The injunction was vacated last year by Florida Medical Association v. Department of Health, Education, & Welfare, Case No. 3:78-cv-178-J-34MCR (M.D. Fla., 2013).
In both of these cases, information regarding Medicare reimbursement had been requested of the federal government.  Generally, the right to request information from the government is covered by the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, as amended by the Government in the Sunshine Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552b.

Friday, April 4, 2014

New Resource: Climate.Data.gov


The federal government’s Data.gov website recently launched Climate.Data.gov, an open resource for government data related to climate change. At the moment, the coverage is mainly focused on rising sea levels, but eventually it will be expanded to include topics such as the impact of climate change on food supply and human health. Here is a selection of some of the resources currently available:
  • USGS Coastal Change Hazards Portal – This service of the U.S. Geological Survey uses data on climate and geomorphology to assess the vulnerability of U.S. coastal regions to extreme storms, shoreline change, and sea-level rise. It includes interactive maps. 
  • Digital Coast – This is a project of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal Services Center. In addition to scientific data, it provides tools and training for the management of coastal communities. Areas of focus include resilience planning and habitat conservation. 
  • Sea Level Trends – The Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services measures changes in sea level over time. This resource provides graphic representations of the Center's sea level data, as well as an interactive map that allows users to view historical data and trends from dozens of locations around the world.
Climate.Data.gov is currently in its pilot stage and encourages feedback from users, so now would be a good time to suggest other resources you would like to see made available.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Human Rights Reports for 2013 Now Available


The State Department recently submitted its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013 to the United States Congress. These reports, which are submitted annually in accordance with U.S. law, cover individual, civil, political, and worker rights in all United Nations member states and all countries receiving U.S. assistance. They are influential in shaping foreign policy, and are a valuable resource for anyone interested in foreign and international affairs.  

In addition to the current reports, past reports going back to the year 1999 are available on the State Department’s website. They can be navigated by region and by country. Since 2011, the online versions of the reports have included the “Build a Report” feature, which allows the user to create a customized report by selecting the desired countries and subject areas, such as “Arbitrary Arrest or Detention” and “Freedom of Religion.”