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 BannedBooksWeek.org, “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 http://lawschool.westlaw.com/twen.

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Welcoming the Institute of Design

This summer we rearranged our library space on the 6th and 7th floors to make room for the IIT Institute of Design. We’ve been looking forward to learning more from ID as we welcome them to our campus, and learning how their discipline offers unique insights into a changing world.

Design thinking was also a major theme at this year’s national AALL Meeting in Chicago, from the keynote presentation by Will Evans to the Chicago Public Library sessions describing how they’ve applied this type of research and practice to create new services and initiatives.

ID Open House 2016

Last Tuesday, ID offered their first open house at the Graduate Campus, giving history of the school, an alum’s overview of his career path, and highlights from recent academic research and student projects. See more details in the photo album below by clicking on any photo. Continue reading

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Welcome (back?) to Chicago!

Calendar Pages and Clock

As we inch closer and closer to the beginning of another school year, the Chicago-Kent Law Library would like to take this opportunity to welcome students (both new and returning) to Chicago, the Illinois Tech Graduate Campus, and the library!  We would also like to extend a special welcome to the Illinois Tech Institute of Design, which moved into the Graduate Campus this summer.

In anticipation of the wave of incoming students that will arrive in the coming weeks, we wanted to draw attention to a pair of welcome guides that library staff members have put together to help ease the transition to Chicago and to law school.

Welcome to Chicago

Chicago Skyline

If you are new to Chicago, our Welcome to Chicago guide is a great place to begin orienting yourself to the city and to the area surrounding Chicago-Kent.  In this guide, you will find a wealth of information about the City, the school, and how to navigate around the two.

If you are hungry, our handy restaurant guide provides dining options near the law school. With new restaurants frequently popping up in the area, you will have options at your disposal no matter what you have a taste for:

For those unfamiliar with the public transportation system in Chicago, we have provided a convenient overview of your options for getting Chicago and getting to the law school.  These options include bike sharing, Metra trains, and CTA trains and buses.

Welcome First Year Students

Library Tours 2015

For first year students who already know their way around Chicago and are looking ahead to their first semester, the library has put together a Welcome Guide for 1Ls.  In this guide, you will find tips and resources for taking law school exams, the law school experience, and how to use the library as an effective resource throughout law school.

You can find these guides and other informative guides to help you throughout your Chicago-Kent journey on the Library Guides page of our website.

We hope that all incoming students are as excited to begin school in the next few weeks as we are to see everyone!

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Required listening

Ulysses S. Grant

U.S. Grant wrote what is widely considered to be a fascinating and funny memoir.

As summer winds down and school looms on the horizon, I have two podcast recommendations to get you excited to get back to learning about the law.

SCOTUS Podcast

One is More Perfect, a podcast from WNYC’s Radio Lab.  This podcast does a very deep dive into a Supreme Court case or legal issue.  Past episodes include an exploration of the death penalty and Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, the Indian Child Welfare Act case with a lot of history behind it.

Plus, there are some great Chicago-Kent connections to the podcast.  The Supreme Court audio comes from none other than our own Oyez Project.  And Prof. Nancy Marder was interviewed for the episode about Batson v. Kentucky, the case prohibiting the use of peremptory challenges to exclude jurors on the basis of their race.

POTUS Podcast

My other podcast recommendation will make the presidential election year perhaps just a little bit more palatable, the Washington Post’s Presidential podcast.  There will be 44 episodes leading up to Election Day, each focusing on one president.  We’re currently at Herbert Hoover, if you’re curious.

Host Lillian Cunningham interviews famous historians and authors like David McCullough and Doris Kearns Goodwin as well as less famous experts from places like the Library of Congress and many presidential libraries.  Did you know there’s a Rutherford B. Hayes presidential library (the first one) staffed by Hayes experts?  I do!  And they are fascinating!

The episodes of Presidential do not necessarily represent a straight history of the president.  The episode on Lincoln focused only on his use of language and the episode on Grant talked about his autobiography, which apparently is widely considered to be the best presidential memoir of them all.  Cunningham had literary critics come on to talk about his autobiography as a work of non-fiction.

There are also fun discussions of the presidents as human beings.  Cunningham frequently asks guests to comment on what it would be like to go on a blind date with the president.  The answer is usually that it would be terrible, but anyone who makes it through the Ulysses S. Grant episode without a tiny crush on him just isn’t listening close enough.

These podcasts should get you through those last few days commuting to work and a few trips to the beach.  You’ll be inspired by the attorneys arguing the cases and ascending to the Supreme Court.  Or at least you’ll be better entertained by the time school rolls around again.

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Tech You Should Know: Panopto Mobile

It’s hard to believe it’s almost time for the fall semester to start!  Many faculty now make recordings and host them on our Panopto server.  These recordings might be an entire class, student performances, or even a short video to watch for homework.  You can view the videos online here.  But did you know you can also watch them on your mobile devices?

Panopto offers a mobile app for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.  Once downloaded, it’s easy to login and watch your videos.

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Chicago-Kent and the AALL 2016 Annual Meeting

AALL 2016 Make it New LogoThe 109th Annual Meeting for the American Association of Law Libraries is being held here in Chicago July 16-19. This is the first time in 29
years that the meeting will be held in Chicago, which is also the home to AALL.

Chicago-Kent librarians and faculty will be very active in this year’s conference, speaking in programs, organizing events and welcoming law librarians from around the country to our city.

If you’re attending the conference, we hope you’ll find the sessions listed below helpful and of course you are welcome to tour our library in person or attend events like the CALL trivia night!

AALL President

The most active representative of Chicago-Kent at AALL 2016, of course, is Keith Ann Stiverson. She is not only our Library Director, but has also served as the 2015-2016 President of AALL. She shares the goal behind this year’s conference theme:

As the legal community and our profession continue to undergo massive change, let’s see it as an opportunity and react positively.

I chose Make It New: Create the Future for our 2016 theme to highlight the fact that we are the knowledge professionals who have more skills than most of our colleagues in the organizations we serve. We are the people who can truly help move our organizations forward into the future, so let’s do it.

Look around your organization to see what you can do to help solve its challenges, and then share your successes with all of us.

You can find the full conference program as a pdf or as an event app through the eventmobi program

Chicago-Kent Speakers at AALL 2016

Chicago-Kent librarians and faculty are presenting on a wide variety of research and technology themes at this year’s conference. Debbie Ginsberg was also very active in the Annual Meeting Program Committee that reviewed all the proposed sessions.

Sessions below are listed in chronological order – click on titles for session details.

  • Time & Location: Monday, July 18 at 9:45am – Hyatt-Regency Ballroom B
  • CK Speaker: Debbie Ginsberg, Educational Technology Librarian

Building Pro Bono Partnerships That Deliver

  • Time & Location: Monday, July 18 at 2pm – Hyatt-Columbus EF
  • CK Speaker: Ronald W. Staudt, Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Access to Justice & Technology

Disruption in the Legal Industry: What’s Arrived, and What’s Coming

  • Time & Location: Monday, July 18 at 2pm – Hyatt-Regency Ballroom D
  • CK Speaker: Daniel Martin Katz, Associate Professor of Law and Director of The Law Lab

iSpy: Hot Topics in Internet Privacy

  • Time & Location: Monday, July 18 at 2pm – Hyatt Regency Ballroom B
  • CK Speaker: Lori Andrews, Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Institute for Science, Law and Technology

Scaling Initiatives into Larger Services

  • Time & Location: Monday, July 18 at 2pm – Hyatt-Grand Ballroom B
  • CK Speakers: Clare Gaynor Willis, Research Librarian and Emily Barney, Technology Development & Training Librarian

Innovations in Teaching with Technology

  • Time & Location: Tuesday, July 19 at 11am – Hyatt-Regency Ballroom C
  • CK Speaker: Debbie Ginsberg, Educational Technology Librarian

Welcoming Attendees

Any AALL 2016 attendees who are interested in touring our library are very welcome to stop by our service desk to pick up a self-guided tour as part of the Law School Library “Open Houses” event.

On Saturday, July 16, Chicago-Kent will also host two special pre-conference all-day workshops that were in high demand this year:

Our Research Librarian Scott Vanderlin served on the 2016 Annual Meeting Local Arrangements Committee and will be helping to host two of the local tours, which also filled up very quickly:

Trivia Fun

Clare Gaynor Willis has helped organize the CALL Trivia Night on Sunday, July 17 at Timothy O’Toole’s Pub at 8pm, an event with teams of librarians competing and local Quizmaster Dave acting as MC.

Scott Vanderlin will also be representing the Chicago Association of Law Libraries with an interactive trivia game at their display in the exhibition hall – stop by to test your knowledge of Chicago’s History, Geography, Entertainment, Science & Nature, and Sports!

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Expert Systems and Robot Lawyers

robot waves "hi:You may have read about the “Robot Lawyer” DoNotPay who can fix parking tickets (not in Chicago, sorry).  It sounds amazing, but the reality turns out to be quite simple.  The parking ticket regulations are pretty clear, and clients can get out of the ticket if they meet certain exceptions.  The “robot” asks a series of questions to determine if the client can meet any of those exceptions.

Is this the start of a new robot lawyer takeover?  Not exactly.  Products like these have been around for quite a while, answering all kinds of legal questions.  These “expert systems” ask clients a series of questions about their issue.  Based on a set of rules – or sometimes even sophisticated artificial intelligence – the systems then provide answers clients can use to resolve issues or even documents they can file in court.

One early example of an expert system is Chicago-Kent’s and CALI’s A2J Author software.  A2J Author was originally used to provide guidance for a simple divorce in Illinois.  Over time, CK students in the Justice and Technology Practicum have developed a variety of guided interview products, from discrimination complaint forms for the Illinois Department of Human Rights to child support documents for the California Administrative Office of the Court’s Center for Families, Children & the Courts.

Some of these systems can directly resolve disputes.  On eBay, buyers and sellers can use an automated system to resolve disputes.  No one wants to go to court over a $100 sale.  This system provides a convenient alternative.  The company that made this system – Modria – now creates resolution systems for other companies and organizations.

Do these systems compete with lawyers?  Not really.  Some lawyers offer systems like these on their own websites.  Potential clients may find that their issue can be resolved quickly with the online system.  The lawyer doesn’t make money, but now has a satisfied client who is likely to return.  Or clients may use the system to find that they need to hire a lawyer, something that’s often easier to hear from an impassive website than from a live person.

If you’d like to see more examples, check out this site from Neotoa Logic, a company that specializes in software for legal expert systems.


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