Learn Real World Legal Skills this Summer

The Practicing Law Institute, a leading provider of professional legal education, offers law students scholarships providing free access to all of PLI’s online educational programing (excluding its Patent Office Registration Exam Course). The program enables students to “quickly improve [their] skills and substantive knowledge, as well as gain a competitive edge in the job market with a better understanding of the ‘real world’ practice of law . . . [learning from] nationally known leaders in their fields on such topics as: Writing for Litigators; Trial Evidence; Trial by Jury; and Entertainment Law.”  Visit PLI’s website for additional information, www.pli.edu.  You can fill out the application for scholarships here.

Course Registration: Why You Should Consider Legal Research

Among the most important skills all lawyers rely upon ins the ability to do legal research– to find what’s needed to interpret and analyze legal issues. It’s an integral part of the “competencies” that NYLS and the ABA require of law students.  Effective research skills are vital to students engaged in any type of legal writing, to those who are clerking or participating in externships, and to those entering legal practice.

To help prepare you for the realities of law practice, we offer a number of courses that will make you a more efficient, confident and successful researcher.

Legal Research: Practical Skills (1 credit)
Builds on fundamental research skills through refining students’ techniques, introducing shortcuts and new approaches, and developing effective strategies.  The course focuses on finding legislation, administrative materials, and related cases; using the secondary sources relied on by practitioners; attaining greater proficiency and comfort with Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg BNA, and other online research tools, including reliable free and low-cost sources.  We also offer this class with a focus on a particular substantive practice area, including Corporate & Business Law; Criminal Law; Family Law; Foreign and International Law; Intellectual Property Law; Labor and Employment Law; and Real Estate Law.

Legal Research: Skills for the Digital World (3 credits)
Continues to build on the fundamentals described in Legal Research: Practical Skills.  Students concentrate on more advanced techniques and strategies and learn to evaluate online and print materials in order to choose the best and most cost effective source for projects.  Some assignments are geared to students’ individual subject interests.  Take-home assignments test and enhance students’ ability to perform various research tasks and strengthen their understanding of important research process and strategy consideration.

Want more information? Contact Associate Dean and Professor Camille Broussard or Professor Michael Roffer.

PLI Webinar: First 90 Days in a Firm

The Practising Law Institute’s new on-demand webinar, Your First 90 Days in a Firm, offers new and aspiring attorneys practical advice on navigating life as a new lawyer.  Experienced attorneys address basic questions new associates may have about their role in a firm and suggest best practices to adopt and conduct to avoid as a new lawyer.  Presenters also discuss the gray areas new lawyers may find themselves in offering lessons learned from years in the profession and reflecting on real-world scenarios.


Topics discussed include:

  • Professionalism as a Member of the Bar
  • Work Product
  • The Billable Hour and the Business Side of Law
  • Exceeding Expectations
  • Working with Firm Staff
  • Time Management, The False Deadline and Work Life Balance
  • Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility
  • Building Your Reputation


This webinar is free.  You will need to create a free PLI account if you don’t already have one.

Finding Federal Court Records Online

Finding federal court records online has always seemed more difficult than it should be!  While Westlaw and LexisNexis provide access to the federal docket sheets that list the filings for each case, the filed documents themselves are not always available.  Instead, a service called “PACER” (an acronym for “Public Access to Court Electronic Records”) became the method of choice for obtaining federal court documents.  PACER is not without its shortcomings: there is a $0.10 per page fee (but a maximum charge of $3.00 per document), and some users complain of PACER’s clunky interface, limited functionality, and inability to update more than once a day.

PacerPro is a free commercial service offering a better way of searching federal court records.  Updating in “real time” from all 214 federal court sites, PacerPro provides a more streamlined search interface, the option of downloading an entire docket with a single click, and the ability to bookmark cases.  Using PacerPro still requires a PACER account, however, and users will generally still incur the charge of $0.10 per page.   PacerPro does not include documents from federal bankruptcy or appellate courts.

For NYLS students, Bloomberg Law remains an even better option.  Bloomberg provides full-text searching of federal and state court dockets and available filings.  Most importantly, all documents are available via Bloomberg for free to law students and faculty.

The Bluebook App

Have you tried the Bluebook app yet?  It’s available for iPads, iPhones, and iPods (with an Android version probably in the works we’re told). The app supports full-text searching, browsing, highlighting, bookmarking, and annotating.  Among its features, the continuous display of the Table of Contents and hyperlinking of cross-references make navigation a breeze.  You don’t have to worry about losing your Internet connection either.  Once downloaded, the rules reside on your device for offline use.  Give it a try!  Here’s the link.  There is a special promotion for law students; with purchase of the app, you will also get access to the 2013 Federal Rules.

A few things to note:  If you have an iPhone and an iPad, one purchase enables you to use it on both devices.  Second, at $39.95, it is a little more expensive than the print Bluebook (which is $37.15 (new) at the NYLS bookstore).  But for folks who want the convenience and search capability of digital access it may well be worth it.  An extra benefit is that all Bluebook updates between editions are automatically added to the app and you “own” the app; there’s no need to purchase it again unless you want to once a new edition is published.  (New editions of the Bluebook are published every five years, with the 20th edition scheduled for 2015.)

Comparing it against the Bluebook’s online version, the app’s pricing may still be more favorable.  The online version is $32 for one year, with annual renewals priced at $15, although you can pay $42 for two years or $50 for three years with corresponding $15 renewals. But that is only available “online,” meaning on a PC or Mac, and you’ll need an Internet connection while using it.  Remember: the Mendik Library has a subscription to the online Bluebook, which can be accessed from two PCs in the Library.  Contact the Reference Desk for password information.

Save Money!

Learn how to do cost effective legal research using WestlawNext and Lexis Advance.  It’s a vital skill that employers expect you to have and that you’ll want to tout.  Check the training calendars for Westlaw and Lexis and register while you can.  On Westlaw, select the Training tab at the top of the toolbar.  Then choose the Training at my school link. On Lexis, click the Training Calendar tab and follow the on screen instructions.  It’s never too soon to start saving money!

Court-PASS: Online Database for NY Court of Appeals

On February 1, the New York Court of Appeals launched a free online document database called Court-PASS. Practitioners will be able to upload court papers and the database will serve as permanent digital archive of all cases filed after January 1, 2013. Researchers will be able to search or browse Court-PASS and view decisions, briefs, motion papers, criminal/civil case records, and videos/transcripts of oral arguments. For more information see the Court’s Notice to the Bar.

Bloomberg Law Training Sessions

Bloomberg Law is offering a series of trainings on how to use Bloomberg Law to search for various content types.  If you are a 1L, these trainings satisfy the Research Skills Workshops component of your Legal Practice Course requirement.

The current schedule of training classes is as follows:

Finding and Researching Administrative Regulations on Bloomberg Law (B5)

Oct 11 — 12:50 pm — 1:40 pm (Tuesday)
Oct 14 — 2:00 pm — 2:50 pm (Friday)

Finding and Researching Statutes on Bloomberg Law (B4)

Oct 12 — 1:00 pm — 1:50 pm (Wednesday)

Formulating Effective Searches on Bloomberg Law (B2)

Oct 15 — 12:30 — 1:20 pm (Saturday)

All classes will be held in the Mendik Library in L207.

Please contact Omesh Seemangal (contact information below) if you would like to reserve a spot for one of the above listed dates.  Bloomberg Law may add more dates as needed.


Omesh V. Seemangal, Esq.
Law School Relationship Manager Bloomberg L.P.
(212) 617-6632 (Phone)
(917) 369-66587 (Fax)



First Monday in October

The 2011-2012 term of the United States Supreme Court begins Monday, October 3, 2011, the first Monday in October.  In most terms, the Court usually completes its work by the following July 1.  Of the approximately 10,000 petitions filed with the Court each term, very few cases are granted review and receive signed opinions.

Many interesting cases are on the 2011 October Term docket, including the indecent broadcast regulations case between the FCC and Fox Television and the 4th amendment case dealing with the warrantless use of a GPS tracking device.  Two great sources for learning about the new term are the ABA’s Preview of the United States Supreme Court Cases and Scotus BlogPreview is published eight times during the term.  Each issue provides a concise analysis of cases granted review and summarizes decisions reached by the Court.  The Preview website links the researcher to a list of the cases granted certiorari for the 2011-2012 term with links to the merits briefs filed in each case.  Scotus Blog provides comprehensive coverage and discussion of the Supreme Court and generally reports on every merits case before the Court at least three times: before argument; after argument; and after decision.

In preparing for the new term, you may also want to look back at earlier terms.  At the end of each term, a number of journals and blogs provide a wealth of information on the types of cases heard by the Court, a breakdown of cases by major subject areas, analysis of key cases and opinions, and discussion of interesting voting trends.  For example, the eighth issue of Preview is a special issue devoted to a review of the newly completed term.  Harvard Law Review devotes its November issue to coverage of the previous term and the Scotus Blog provides a comprehensive end-of-term statistical analysis.  As noted in the analysis of this past term, the Court decided a total of 82 merits cases.  That number includes 75 signed opinions, five summary reversals, and two cases that were affirmed by an evenly divided court.  End-of-term reviews are a great way to learn more about the work of the nation’s highest court.





Harvard Law Review (via HeinOnline)


FCC v. Fox Television Stations, No. 10-1293, 613 F. 3d 317 (2d Cir. 2010) http://www.americanbar.org/publications/preview_home/10-1293.html

United States v. Jones, No. 10-1259, 615 F.3d 544 (D.C. Cir. 2010)