"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
Those who haven't purchased the new edition of Black's Law Dictionary may wish to consider using the mobile app version. The 10th edition of Black's Dictionary was released as an app in April and is available for Apple devices. The app provides, among other things, access to over 50,000 definitions, 1000 abbreviations and acronyms, and audio pronunciations for more than 7000 terms. The ability to track viewed definitions and a "Did You Mean" tool (that assists the user in finding the correct term), are just of the new features that were not available on the 9th edition of the mobile app. The app is $54.99 and is available on the App store. See iPhoneJD's review for more details.
Each semester the law library presents a series of presentations on legal research topics. These presentations are held at 12 noon on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in Room 4 BLB. We will be offering the following sessions during the Fall 2015 semester:
1. Bluebook Update: Welcome to the 20th Edition!
Tuesday, 9/29, Wednesday, 9/30
Katy Badeaux, Reference and Research Librarian
2. Federal Legislative Research
Tuesday, 10/6, Wednesday, 10/7
Robert Clark, Reference and Research Librarian
3. Federal Administrative Law Research
Tuesday, 10/13, Wednesday, 10/14
Dan Donahue, International and Foreign Law Librarian
4. Researching Federal Income Tax Law
Tuesday, 10/20, Wednesday, 10/21
Chris Dykes, Reference and Research Librarian
5. Power Searching on Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg Law
Tuesday, 10/27, Wednesday, 10/28
Emily Lawson, Reference and Research Librarian
This Monday, August 24, is the first day of classes for the Fall 2015 semester at the University of Houston Law Center. Many of the arriving students will be 1L or foreign LLM students, each of whom will receive their first introductions to an academic system that in some ways is notably different from anything in their educational background.
For anyone interested, the O'Quinn Law Library collection contains a number of resources designed specifically to help these new law students find their footing. The following books are held on reserve:
The federal rulemaking process is governed by 5 U.S.C. § 553. This code requires the publication of proposed rules in the Federal Register, as well as requiring that federal agencies invite public comments regarding new rules. This is currently done through the government website, www.regulations.gov. In this case, the proposed emission rules are expected to be published in EPA-HQ-OAR-2010-0505, the docket in which the EPA has posted changes to emissions standards in the past. Any legal researchers investigating this rule specifically or this subject generally may be interested in following this docket.
When practicing in areas heavily regulated by government
agencies, guidance documents can be invaluable resources. Generally, guidance
documents describe the agency's interpretation of or policy on a regulatory
issue. While these documents are often available through the agency’s
website(s), they are often scattered throughout site and not always kept up to
date. The larger the agency, the more difficult it can be to make sure you have
performed a comprehensive search. For example, it is easy to find the EPA’s list of significant guidance documents, but there is no tool to perform comprehensive
searches of all the agency’s guidance documents.
The Food and Drug
Administration is another large agency that produces a large number of guidance
documents addressing a wide range of topics. The FDA’s guidance documents
include documents relating to (1) the design, production, labeling, promotion,
manufacturing, and testing of regulated products, (2) the processing, content,
and evaluation or approval of submissions, and (3) inspection and enforcement
Recently, the Food and Drug administration unveiled its new guidance document database containing many guidance documents issued by all of
FDA's various offices and centers, and it is updated to clearly list all of the
agency's most recent documents. The database allows the user to filter results
by product type, FDA organization, type of document, subject, and whether the
document is a preliminary draft or has been made final. Users can also choose to browse the guidance
documents by subject matter rather than performing a search. The ability to
keyword searches in conjunction with useful filters makes researching FDA
documents significantly more efficient. Hopefully, other agencies will follow the FDA's lead and advanced databases
will become the norm across agency websites, rather than the exception.
Nearly every day at our reference desk, I direct patrons to the wide array of resources accessible through HeinOnline. From journal articles to session laws and treaties to agency decisions, I am still amazed at the breadth and depth of our HeinOnline content. Starting today, the O’Quinn Law Library now has even more content accessible through HeinOnline for researchers to discover.
The newly available collections include:
Foreign & International Law Resources Database: A vast collection of international yearbooks, international tribunals and judicial decisions, English translations of foreign penal codes, and materials from the Court of Justice of the European Communities.
American Law Institute Library: Materials from the American Law Institute including restatements, drafts, studies, and more from the American Law Institute.
History of International Law: Library includes more than 1,100 titles and 800,000 pages dating back to 1690 on International Law subjects
Intellectual Property Law Collection: Focusing on copyrights, patents, and trademarks in the United States, this collection features more than 100 legislative histories, which provide researchers with a complete history of copyright laws from 1909 to date, along with other books and materials.
Congress and the Courts: This library, featuring William H. Manz's Congress and the Courts: A Legislative History 1787-2010, brings together materials reflecting congressional concern with the composition and structure of Article III Courts and provides all relevant documents prepared by various Congresses relating to the purpose, formation, organization, and restructuring of the federal government.
Immigration Law & Policy in the U.S.: This monumental collection is a compilation of the most important historical documents and legislation related to immigration in the United States as well as current hearings, debates and recent developments in immigration law. This first comprehensive database includes BIA Precedent Decisions, legislative histories, law and policy titles, extradition titles, scholarly articles, an extensive bibliography, and other related works.
Bar Journals: This collection features more than 100 state and local Bar Journals.
Hein has also announced that HeinOnline will have an enhanced interface coming later this month. The new, streamlined look will be more responsive to mobile devices and is more user-friendly. You can see a preview of HeinOnline’s new look here.
Last month, seven federal agencies announced a six-month pilot
program that would provide greater public access to documents requested via the
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).Under
the new “release to one, release to all” policy, the participating agencies
will provide online access to records released to individual requestors.Previously, such records were sent to the requestor,
but were not generally posted on agency websites as well.The six-month trial policy for these agencies
will help the federal government determine the feasibility of expanding the
program to all federal agencies subject to FOIA.
The participating agencies include the Environmental
Protection Agency, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the
Millennium Challenge Corporation, as well as some components of the Department
of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and
the National Archives and Records Administration.
For more information about the pilot, see the announcement provided
on the Department of Defense website.For more information regarding FOIA, see the federal government’s FOIA website.
The 84th Regular Session of the legislature wrapped up this
summer, and many of the bills passed during the session will take effect on
September 1.If you are interested in
learning more about some of the new laws that may impact your life, and your
clients’ lives, take a look at the Texas Tribune’s 31 Days, 31 Ways series.Just as they did after the 83rd legislative session, during the month of August the Texas Tribune will be a
running a story each day about a new state law and how it will impact the lives
Only five days into August, they have already highlighted
some important new laws including one repealing the professionals tax on
lawyers, doctors, and many other professions and another overhauling the state’s
controversial “pick-a-pal” system for grand jury selection.To learn more about these laws as well as
others passed by the legislature, see the Texas Legislature Online
website.And stay tuned for more stories from the Texas Tribune
this month regarding other important changes taking effect September 1!