Design in the Law: Jury Instructions Collaborative Workshop

Earlier this semester, Professor Nancy Marder and Professor Tomoko Ichikawa organized a collaborative faculty workshop for Chicago-Kent College of Law and IIT’s Institute of Design. The workshop considered the problem of jury instructions in the legal field and how design strategies could be applied to work towards effective solutions.

Speaking at the Faculty Workshop for Chicago-Kent College of Law and the Institute of Design, these faculty members discussed issues with jury instructions and strategies each discipline might bring to a problem like this one.

Professor Marder noted the purpose, use, and specific problems with jury instructions. She also described methods that have been used to try to solve those problems and some of the major challenges to enacting changes.

Professor Tomoko Ichikawa shared processes that the design school uses to address this type of issue. Faculty from both schools offered questions and suggestions in an interactive portion that lead to a discussion of what larger issues might need to be taken into account and how formal design approaches could be misused if not well understood.  Continue reading

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Coming Up: ABA Techshow 2017 (Mar. 15-18)

ABA Techshow 2017

Now, more than ever, it’s important to understand legal technology, which can make lawyers more efficient, connect them more closely with clients – or eliminate legal jobs. With new technologies introduced every day – not to mention an ethical requirement to understand these technologies – how can lawyers and law students keep up?  (See Rule 1.1, Comment 8.)

ABA hosts an annual Techshow in Chicago that provides one of the best opportunities for students to engage with emerging legal technologies hands on.  The Techshow runs from March 15 -18 at Hilton Chicago.  The conference will feature dozens of one-hour sessions on all kinds of legal technologies – from practical tips for using Microsoft Office, to digital security, to favorite websites and mobile apps.

Students can register to attend all of these sessions for only $100 (a great bargain).  This year, for the first time, the ABA Techshow will feature an academic track which will cover issues focusing on law schools and law students.

If you don’t have time to attend all of the sessions, the free vendor showcase is open on Thursday and Friday. You can stop by any time for as long as you like.  The vendor showcase is a great way to learn about new legal technologies and services in an exhibit hall featuring more than 100 companies.  You can see live demos of legal tech systems and equipment, and pick up free pens and a few other useful gadgets.  The Techshow is also a good opportunity to learn more about alternative jobs available in the legal tech sector.

Several of us will attend, and we hope to see you there, too!

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What we did over break – Librarians during the intersession

During the recent intersession, your librarians did not rest: we were active in several intersession courses, teaching research, explaining technology, and documenting your classes for social media.

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Library Services: Websites for Student Organizations & Journals

Chicago-Kent’s student organizations and journals are an excellent example of the diversity of both our legal programs and our student body. They also offer many events and opportunities for students to contribute to our community each year.

You can find a full list of student organization and journal websites together with the latest updates they’ve posted on this page:

Did you know that these student organization and journal websites are provided as a free service of the Chicago-Kent Library? The websites are hosted using WordPress to reduce the technical burden on our students and optimize their options for design and social sharing online.

student orgs - responsive eventsCustomized Designs

Each organization and journal can choose their own look and feel, but they have all been customized to include leadership profiles and event announcements. All designs are “responsive” so they can display on mobile devices as well as computer screens, as seen in this example from the new ACLU events page.

Leadership profiles can be a simple list of names, but some organizations also fill in these profiles with photos and biographies, providing an easy way to get to know their leadership and connect with alumni who were former leaders, as you’ll find on the Criminal Law Society website:

student org - profiles

More Features:

The sites can also include blogs, if students want to publish regular updates, announcements, or topical pieces – the Chicago-Kent Journal of Intellectual Property has an active blog hosting student content.

student journal blog

You can also find our Journals on the Chicago-Kent Scholarly Commons Repository

Setup Process

Interested in setting up a student organization website? All organizations that have been officially approved by the SBA can contact Emily Barney to begin setting one up. Here are the basic steps in setting up a new website:

  1. Provide core content: organization email address, list of leaders, short “about us” text, and advisor name. Emily will use this to set up a test site and provide you with training materials online or schedule an in-person demo if you prefer.
  2. Your organization can review and customize the design of the test site, then notify Emily when it is ready. (Existing organizations can use those test sites to try out new designs or for transition training, if needed).
  3. Emily will load the new website and provide editorial access to the organization leaders.
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Crunch time-management for exams

Pomodoro timerExams are right around the corner.  Sometimes, you’re on top of everything.  Sometimes, there’s just not enough time in the day.  Here are some common time-management techniques and ideas that might help make this exam period a little less stressful.


This is a pretty easy technique.  Essentially, there are only three steps:

  1. Pick something to study
  2. Study it for 25 minutes
  3. Take a short break

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Getting the Upper Hand: Microsoft Word

You’re working on an assignment that’s due very soon (maybe tomorrow?), and Microsoft Word is driving you up a wall.  Don’t worry – we have an online guide that can help.  Here are some hints to help you get the upper hand.

Our guide features screenshots, videos, and links to expert websites.  If you’d like to meet with a librarian about Word best practices, contact Emily Barney or Debbie Ginsberg.  If Word is not working (e.g. it crashes when you try to start it), or you’d like to install the latest version, contact ITS.

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Time for some spooky legal research…

While every 1L in the country is busy unraveling the intricacies of Palsgraf, I thought I would take a moment here at the beginning of October, the spookiest of all months, to highlight just one of the many curiosities in our research collection:


That’s right.  Percival E. Jackson, who, appropriately, sounds for all the world like a powerful warlock, has the distinction of having written the essential treatise on cadaver law.  While most of us have likely not given much thought to the laws that regulate what happens once we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Percival Jackson dedicated multiple volumes to the ins and outs of this morbid topic.

Among the topics included in this treatise:

Involuntarily abandoned cemetery? Nope.

Involuntarily abandoned cemetery? Nope.

Wait, what now?

Wait, what now?


In flipping through this book, I was amazed by the breadth and depth of this relatively obscure corner of the legal world.  If your research takes a turn for the macabre this month–or if you simply need a diversion from your casebooks–come to the library and take a look at The Law of Cadavers for yourself.

Happy haunting!

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Banned Books Week 2016: Diversity

Stand up for your right to readThe ALA Banned Books Week website and lists give us a “big picture” view of how often specific authors and works are challenged in America, but the lists don’t help us see how these challenges reflect larger issues in our society.  This year, the ALA is focusing on diversity issues present in banned books lists.

According to the, “ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, has determined that 52% of the books challenged, or banned, over the past decade are from titles that are considered diverse content.” (See “Why Diverse Books are Commonly Banned“).

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1L’s! Join the pizza and beer tradition

<3 pizza

Four years ago, the library started something that became a tradition.  We ordered a few pizzas, picked up some beer, and opened the 10th floor event space to our 1L’s.  We had an amazing turn out and a great time.  We got to know the students, the students met people from other sections, and no one went away hungry or thirsty.

I think the 1L pizza party has become an annual tradition because it brings our law school community closer.  Every law school has librarians.  We want to be the ones who know your name, know your research, and make your life easier.  We understand that you don’t want to ask a stranger for help.  Once you’ve shared a beer with us, you won’t be a stranger anymore!  And the party lets students from other sections get to know each other better.  You’ll all be shuffled together next year, so you might as well start making a connection now.

So 1L’s, please stop by the 10th floor event room (not the 10th floor of the library, this is Morris Hall, accessible from the main elevators) from 4:00-6:00pm this Thursday, September 22nd.  Come for the beer.  Stay to help continue a tradition of law school community.

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Tech You Should Know: Using TWEN

Most Chicago-Kent law school course websites use the Westlaw TWEN system (TWEN stands for The West Education Network).  Faculty use TWEN to post syllabi, course readings, links to useful websites, videos, and other resources.  Some faculty use TWEN to send emails and post announcements.

You can access TWEN at

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