Category Archives: law students

Oct 1
2:50 PM

Election 2012: Are You Registered?

this week, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that would allow California
voters to register to vote as late as Election Day.  While the law does
not take effect this year
, it is expected to be in place by the 2016
presidential election or even sooner, depending on how quickly the State is
able to establish the required voting database (more information about the
legislation, AB1436, can be found here).

the meantime, California’s current law requires registration 15 days prior to
an election: October 22 for this year’s General Election (November 6).  Also, it is very important to double-check your registration status even if you already registered, because technical errors often prevent voters for accessing the polls on Election Day.  For California,
below are some useful links:

Register to Vote:

Already Registered?  Check Status:

San Diego County Status:

laws vary, so if you’re registered to vote (or plan to register to vote) in a
different state, you may want to check out the following:

Register to Vote:

More Information, Including Deadlines:

states require submission at least 30 days prior to an election, so take a
moment to make sure you’re ready to go once November 6 rolls around! [REG]

Sep 20
8:44 PM

The Myth of Multitasking

I saw a great presentation today "Examining the Myth of Multitasking and
Its Impact on Learning" by USD Psychology Professor Anne Koenig. It was
a dynamic presentation full of multimedia and audience participation.

The audience was comprised of college faculty and administrators —
likely lifelong high-achievers, many of them juggling families along
with their scholarship and teaching. I mention this to point out how
particularly noteworthy it is that by the end of the session, she had
most of us laughing at our own ineptitude, utterly convinced that we're
lousy at multitasking and that we should probably stop trying.

Now, I know multitasking is practically a religion in law
school, so I expect a little skepticism, but bear with me. You might
just find this as liberating as I did.

Our conscious mind is the part of our mind that allows us to assess a
situation, comprehend what we are seeing, problem-solve, and create a
memory that can be accessed later. The conscious mind is limited in its
capacity – it can only process one thing at a time. So, even when we
think we are multitasking, we are really just switching our attention
back and forth between tasks. The typical reason we give for
multitasking is to save time, but all that switching means that it
actually takes longer to accomplish both task than if you'd just
completed each task separately.

Our unconscious mind, on the other hand, can process multiple pieces of
information simultaneously, and works much more quickly than the conscious
mind. The unconscious mind allows us to do routine tasks that don't require the attention of our conscious mind.

Many of our everyday tasks
are so routine that there's simply no need for the conscious mind to
engage most of the time. So, you might think that so long as one of the
tasks is routine enough to be managed by the unconscious mind, you can
successfully accomplish two tasks at once. Unfortunately, there are
still two problems.

First, no matter how routine the task, it is occasionally going to call
your attention away from the other higher-order task you are trying to
accomplish. These intermittent periods of inattention, however brief,
negatively impact the quality of your performance of the higher-order

Imagine you are talking on the phone and folding laundry. The mindless
task of folding laundry, will only occasionally and
briefly distract your conscious mind from the demands of the phone
conversation. Your friend chatting about her day may not even notice
that you're briefly distracted as you check to see that you've match the
right socks together. And even if she does notice, she likely won't
think too badly of you. But imagine that phone conversation was a job interview — you
wouldn't want to be distracted even for a split second.

We all know
that when a task is extremely important, we should give it our full,
undivided attention. The obvious corollary, that's a little harder to
swallow, is that when we attempt two tasks at once, we are implicitly
choosing to perform each of them less than perfectly. Of course, that's
not an invalid choice. It's not the end of the world if you mismatch
your socks or have to ask a friend to repeat a sentence or two. It
really depends on how important your higher-order task is. Just don't
kid yourself that there's no trade-off.

The second problem is that even the most routine tasks can be
occasionally punctuated by the unexpected. This is most tragically
exemplified in the dangers of distracted driving. For experienced
drivers, the mechanics of driving are routine. We adjust the steering
wheel and regulate our speed without thinking. Sometimes, we can be
half-way to work and not remember leaving our driveway. And *most* of
the time, our unconscious mind is all we need to get us to our

The problem is when another driver unexpectedly swerves
into our lane, or there's debris in the road, or traffic suddenly stops
short. When the unexpected occurs, our unconscious mind cannot assess
and problem-solve the way our conscious mind can. If our conscious mind
is occupied with another task, there's a delay as it has to first
recognize that there's a more pressing safety hazard, and then figure
out how to respond. That's why hands-free laws only address part of the
problem of distracted driving.

It's tempting to think you're the exception to the rule. I think there
were more than a few of us in the room who weren't completely convinced
until she had us do these exercises:

1. Monkey Business: 
2. Whodunnit? Video: 
3. Tones & Letters: (this is similar though not identical to the exercise we did in the session)

I won't spoil the surprise here, but I highly encourage you to watch the
videos and try the exercises. It'll only take a few minutes and you might just come away with a commitment to minimize the multitasking in your life. [JML]

Aug 14
5:42 PM

Our Summer Project: Flipping the Classroom

The LRC librarians were hard at work all summer on a number of projects, but my favorite summer project was "flipping our classroom." Looking to recent trends in education (most famously embodied in the Khan Academy), we decided flip our legal research class. We recorded lecture material for students to view prior to class, freeing up class time for interactive, practical exercises. It made class time more fun for the students and instructors and gave students a chance to practice their legal research skills while we were there to guide them and answer questions.

LRC reference librarians Anna Russell and Jane Larrington had the honor of presenting our work at two national conferences. In June, we presented “Technology that Counts: Tools that Improve the Quality of Legal Research Instruction” at the 2012 CALI Conference. The presentation chronicles the process of developing the lecture recordings.  Video  Slides

In July, Anna and Jane again presented the project in the form of a poster session at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries. MiniPoster [JML]

Sep 6
4:53 PM

Free Federal Rules eBooks (Civil Pro, Criminal Pro & Evidence)

The great people over at CALI (Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction), have partnered with the Legal Information Institute (LII) at Cornell Law School to bring free* .epub files of the Federal Rules of Civil ProcedureCriminal Procedure and Evidence. The downloads will currently work on iPads, iPhones, Nooks, and other devices that can read the .epub format (like Mobipocket if you're on Windows). Note: These are E-Book formats, so it won't work in your PDF Reader.This isn't just a bare-bones version of the Rules, either. The ebooks have the following features built into this initial version (with promises of more to come):

  • The complete rules as of December 1, 2010.
  • All notes of the Advisory Committee immediately following each rule.
  • Internal links to rules referenced within the rules.
  • External links to the LII website's version of the US Code.
*Although you can download and use the Federal Rules ePubs for free, you can show your support for the hard work of the LII crew by donating an amount (go ahead and make it an even $20.00), and help support their work and encourage them to produce even more great content.
Thanks to CALI for this great free resource and thanks to 3 Geeks for the tip! [JML]
Aug 24
10:25 AM

Student Cyber-speech: An update on last spring’s McLennon Moot Court topic

Over the summer, there was a flurry of activity on the topic of last spring's Paul A. McLennon, Sr. Honors Moot Court Competition. For those of you who spent many, many hours last semester preparing your briefs and oral arguments (congrats to winner Craig TenBroeck and all the competitors), you need no reminder. But for the rest of you, here's a brief synopsis of the competition topic:

A high school took disciplinary action against a student for posting a link on his blog to a song he'd written containing violent and offensive lyrics. The song referred to a school administrator by name and to a fellow student by the initial "M." The disciplined student posted the link using his home computer. There were two primary issues: (1) whether the school had authority over the student's off-campus cyber-speech; and (2) if the school did have such authority, whether the school's disciplinary action was proper under the First Amendment.

On July 25, 2011,the student in Doninger v. Niehoff, 527 F.3d 41 (2d Cir. 2008), one of the cases cited by Moot Court competitors, petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari. Read a summary of the issues before the court here and here.
Also, a number of appellate cases concerning school discipline over a student’s off-campus, online speech were handed down over the summer. Two 3rd Circuit cases favored students:

J.S. ex rel. Snyder v. Blue Mountain Sch. Dist., No. 08-4138 (3rd Cir. Jun. 13, 2011)
Layshock ex rel. Layshock v. Hermitage Sch. Dist., No. 07-4465 (3d Cir. Jun. 13, 2011).

And cases from the 4th and 8th Circuits favored school districts:

Kowalski v. Berkeley Co. Sch., No. 10-1098 (4th Cir. Jul. 27, 2011)
D.J.M. ex rel. D.M. v. Hannibal Pub. Sch. Dist. No. 60, No. 10-1428, No. 10-1579 (8th Cir. Aug. 1, 2011)

Here's some of the coverage of these cases around the blawgosphere:
J.S. and Layshock: LawProfBlog & SPLC
D.J.M: EdWeek & Fire
Kowalski: EdWeek & WSJ Blog

Here are a couple of other recent interesting blog posts and articles on the topic:
Ed. Law Rep. article & Justia blog post  [JML]

Apr 26
1:16 PM

No More “Exploding Offers” from 16 High-Profile Law Journals

A number of student-edited law reviews and journals have recently signed a joint letter announcing that they will no longer make "exploding offers" to authors. They explain that the practice of requiring authors to accept an offer of publication within days, hours, or even minutes, has had a "corrosive effect" on the article selection process and has "inevitably favored established authors, popular topics, and broad claims at the expense of originality and merit."

The signers of the joint letter commit to giving authors at least seven days to consider an offer of publication. They expect the seven-day offer window to reduce the stress of the article selection process for authors.They also believe the seven-day offer window will allow article selection committees to engage in a more deliberative process before extending offers of publication: 

Student editors… will be able to engage more deeply with the articles we review. We will have the time to consult scholars regularly regarding an article’s significance and novelty. As a result, all of us will be able to publish more of the stellar pieces that, under the current system, slip through the cracks.

Read the whole letter here. Hat tip to The Chronicle. [JML]

Jan 19
11:15 AM

Kindle Editions of Law Reviews

Yesterday, Prof. Orin Kerr (GWU Law) posted about the inevitability of Kindle editions of law reviews, following Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy’s Kindle offering. Prof. Orin Bainbridge’s (UCLA Law) rejoinder lists the many reasons that the Kindle platform is less than convenient (or even adequate) for law review articles, including Kindle's problem with footnotes.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen many posts about the adequacy of Kindles, iPads, as well as other e-readers and e-tablets, for lawyers, academics, and law students. Here are just a few:


Aug 31
9:06 PM

LRC Brown Bag Series – Research 101

Over the next few weeks, the LRC librarians will be offering a series of brown bag sessions designed to get you up to speed on legal research. We'll introduce you to secondary sources, case law, statutory law, and administrative law.

Our first session is:

Session #1: Secondary Sources
Thursday, Sept. 16th
12:00pm-12:50pm -or- 4:30pm-5:20pm
LRC Room 132  

This session will cover: 
* Legal encyclopedias, annotations, legal periodicals, treatises, and practice guides
* California and Federal materials
* Print, Westlaw, and Lexis 

Bring your lunch — we'll bring cookies!

Watch here for announcements about future sessions.