Monday, September 28, 2009

Fifty Tips For Writing Contracts That Stay Out Of Court

This article written by James Martin gives some helpful tips on drafting contracts. These tips may be applied to all legal writing.

Google MP3 Search

Google offers custom designed search engine that searches for MP3 download sites. Search sites include:,,,,

Any comments?

USCIS Unveiles New Website

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) unveiled a new website. User can subscribe to new updates via RSS feed or updates can be received via email. The site seems clean and easy to navigate through. It offers information about USCIS related topics, forms, laws, resources, and news.

What do you think? Comments?

Microsoft Windows 7 For Students

Via, Microsoft Windows 7 Will Cost £30 For Students.

Microsoft is offering college and university students a reduced price version of its Windows 7 operating system. Both the Windows 7 Home Premium edition and Windows 7 Professional edition will be available for £30 each, compared to the normal retail prices of £79.99 and £189.99 respectively.

Via Ars Technica, Microsoft Offers Windows 7 to students for $30.

[On September 17, 2009] Microsoft announced students would be able to purchase upgrade versions of Windows 7 for a significantly reduced price until January 3, 2010 at 12:00am CST. A valid e-mail address given by a college or university must be used. An e-mail will be sent telling the student if he or she qualifies for the discount. Eligible students are allowed to purchase one copy of either Windows 7 Home Premium or Windows 7 Professional from the online store.

Click here to find more information.

International Right to Know Day

Today (Sept. 28) is International Right to Know Day.

The 7th International Right to Know Day on 28th of September 2009 will mark a year of historic advances for the right of access to information and will be celebrated by the Freedom of Information Advocate’s Network which has around 200 organisations in 75 countries who are calling for universal respect for the public’s right to know.

The aim of Right to Know Day is to raise awareness of every individual's right of access to government-held information: the right to know how elected officials are exercising power and how taxpayers' money is being spent. Freedom of information advocates have used the day to share ideas, strategies, and success stories about the development of freedom of information laws and the goals of open government.

Friday, September 25, 2009

National Public Lands Day

National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is this Saturday, September 26, 2009. The site provides information about when people can volunteer their time to improve and enhance public lands.

This day is the nation's largest hands-on volunteer effort. In addition to NPLD being a fee-free day in many federally managed lands, all NPLD volunteers who work at a site managed by the FWS, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) or Forest Service (FS) will receive a coupon good for a "fee-free" day at any site managed by those agencies. For more information, or to register and/or find an event, please visit the NPLD's website. You may also wish to view a full listing of NPS events.

You can find more volunteering opportunities and information at the links below:'s web page on recreation-related employment
Take Pride in America Initiative
The Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) Volunteer Opportunities
Public Services and Volunteerism

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Criminal Victimization, 2008

The U.S. Department of Justice, the Bureau of Justice Statistics presents the annual estimates of rates and levels of personal and property victimization.

The report describes the year-to-year change from 2007 as well as trends for the ten-year period from 1999 through 2008. The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) collects information on nonfatal crimes, reported and not reported to the police, against persons age 12 or older from a nationally representative sample of U.S. households. During 2008, 42,093 households and 77,852 individuals were interviewed twice for the NCVS. The report includes data on violent crimes (rape/sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault and simple assault), property crimes (burglary, motor vehicle theft and property theft), and personal theft (pocket picking and purse snatching), and the characteristics of victims of these crimes. The report also includes estimates of intimate partner violent crime and use of firearms and other weapons in the commission of violent crime overall.

The page provides access to victims characteristics and crime characteristics. Information about the source data is also available as well as the press release and related spreadsheets.

Free Web-based Microsoft Office 2010

To follow up on our previous post featuring the free web-based Microsoft Office 2010, here is a YouTube demo video previewing the Office web application in Windows Live.

Prof. John A. Humbach Is Featured on Legal Theory Blog

Article titled 'Sexting,' the First Amendment and Prosecuting Teens by professor John. A. Humbach, Professor of Law at the Pace University School of Law is featured on the Legal Theory Blog.

'Sexting' and other teen autopornography are becoming a widespread phenomenon, with perhaps 20% of teenagers admitting to producing nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves and an ever greater proportion, perhaps as many as 50%, having illegally received such pictures from friends and classmates. It is, moreover, beginning to result in criminal prosecutions, and the statutory penalties are severe. Given the reality of changing social practices, mores and technology utilization, today’s pornography laws are a trap for unwary teens and operate, in effect, to criminalize a large fraction of America’s young people. As such, these laws and prosecutions represent a stark example of the contradictions that can occur when governmental policies and initiatives built on past truths and values collide with new and unanticipated social phenomena.

The focus of anti-pornography enforcement in recent years has been the child pornography laws. The landmark cases of New York v. Ferber and Osborne v. Ohio have established and defined a categorical exclusion that denies First Amendment protection to sexually explicit visual depictions of minors. Even though Ferber and Osborne may not strictly speaking require a conclusion that sexting and other autopornography are unprotected speech, at least some lower courts and prosecutors appear to regard them that way.

By contrast, the language and reasoning of the more recent case of Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition gives strong reason to believe that the scope of the categorical exclusion for child pornography should be closely aligned with the governmental objectives that Ferber and Osborne relied on - which would mean constitutional protection for teen sexting and autopornography that occur on the teens’ own initiative. Ashcroft strongly implies, though does not quite say, that the categorical exclusion should be limited to materials that are produced by means of criminal child abuse and exploitation. Also, current standards of strict scrutiny for content-based regulations, if applied, would probably prevent (on the present state of the studies and research) self-produced teen materials from being subsumed into the Ferber categorical exclusion. How this issue will be decided, however, remains to be seen.

Edgar Allan Poe Digital Collection

Via Open Culture, the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin has launched a website dedicated to the life and legacy of Edgar Allan Poe.

This digital archive was launched to accompany the 2009 Poe Bicentennial exhibition, “From Out That Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Edgar Allan Poe,” a joint venture of the Ransom Center and the Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. The digital collection incorporates images of all Poe manuscripts and letters at the Ransom Center with a selection of related archival materials, two books by Poe annotated by the author, sheet music based on his poems, and portraits from the Ransom Center collections. Poe’s manuscripts and letters are linked to transcriptions on the website of the Poe Society of Baltimore.

The digital collection includes, among many others, the Poe Manuscript Works, Poe Letters and Documents, Letters to Poe, Poe editions, or Poe Newspapers.

The Harry Ransom Center also features the Gutenberg Bible and Mike Wallace digital collections.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Microsoft Free Web Based Version of Office 2010

Via ReadWrite Enterprise, Steven Walling wrote an article titled Microsoft Previews Free Web-based Version of Office 2010 where he reviews the free web-based Microsoft office. Starting on September 17, Microsoft has made a limited preview of Word, Excel and PowerPoint available and "has officially said that a more widely-available beta of Web Apps will arrive this fall."

Click the title of the article (above) to access the full article that includes screenshots and short summaries by the author. Can Microsoft compete with already existing services such are Google Documents, Zoho, or ThinkFree? Any thoughts?

Student Debt Webinar

Via Res Ipsa Blog, a post titled Student Debt Webinar: Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Loan Repayment Assistance Programs features some details pertaining to the College Cost Reduction Access Act (CCRAA).

Equal Justice Works is presenting a number of webinars on the CCRAA. The CCRAA provides loan forgiveness for students who enter government positions, including prosecutors and public defenders, as well as public interest lawyers. The seminars provide important information on qualifying loans, loan consolidation, and managing student debt. Sign up for one of the free webinars here.

Global Terrorism Database

Global Terrorism Database (GTD),

is an open-source database including information on terrorist events around the world from 1970 through 2007 (with annual updates planned for the future). Unlike many other event databases, the GTD includes systematic data on domestic as well as international terrorist incidents that have occurred during this time period and now includes more than 80,000 cases.

This database is in Beta release. Navigation is easy. Users can search the database or browse by region, country, perpetrator, weapon type, attack type, or target type. Data is displayed in a clean format including a time line chart and a table. Table displays data by date, country, city, perpetrator, fatalities, injured, and target type. The extended display of a table adds information pertaining to region, attack type, and weapon type.

Check it out for yourself and share your comment!

Bookcases and Book Storage Solutions

Being a librarian, working in a library, and writing a library blog, I had to share this one. WebUrbanist features a post about 15 (More!) Creative Bookcases and Book Storage Solutions.

Books may seem ever more anachronistic as electronics and the Internet continue to supplant their traditional roles, yet there will always be a place for books in our lives – and in our homes. These 15 creative bookcases take outrageous storage to the next level… storageous?

Any thoughts or comments? Which one is your favorite?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Federal Register On HeinOnline is Updated Daily

Via HeinOnline Weblog, in a post titled HeinOnline's Federal Register Coverage Is Now Updated Daily it is featured that federal register is daily updated.

Regular users of HeinOnline's Federal Register Library already know that with coverage starting in 1936, HeinOnline has the most comprehensive coverage of the Federal Register available online. Now, HeinOnline's coverage is updated daily with the most current Federal Register content available!

Starting at the end of July HeinOnline began updating the Federal Register on a daily basis. This means that you are now able to access yesterday’s Federal Register today! This current content is completely browseable, full-text searchable, and image-based, just like all other content in HeinOnline.

Thoughts? Comments?

40 Years of Internet

With much of a delay, we wish the Internet Very Happy Belated Birthday. On September 2, 2009, the Internet has celebrated its 40th Birthday since it first successfully transferred data from one computer to another. Read the full story at

Barron's Law Dictionary for iPhone

Via iPhone J.D. Lawyers Using iPhone, an interesting post titled Review: Barron's Law Dictionary for iPhone features a comparative review of three legal dictionaries applications available for iPhone; Black's Law Dictionary, Nolo's Plain English Legal Dictionary, and Barron's Law Dictionary.

Black's Law Dictionary contains over 43,000 definitions and costs $49.99. Nolo's Plain English Law Dictionary contains contains over 3,000 definitions written in plain English and is free.

The Barron's law Dictionary application fits neatly between these two offerings. Like the Nolo dictionary, the Barron's dictionary contains over 3,000 terms. Like Black's, the Barron's dictionary has more sophisticated definitions, although in my random check they seem to use less legalese than Black's. And the price of $14.99 fits between the other two dictionaries.

Check it out for yourself. The mentioned review features comparative iPhone screenshots as well. Do you have an experience with any and/or all? Share your comments!

Google Book Downloader

Via Download Squad,

Google Book Downloader is a free utility that lets out download any book that's available in "full view" from Google Books. Of course, most of these books also feature download links right on the web page, but Google Books Downloader lets you queue up multiple jobs and convert all of the downloaded books to PDF files.

The application is available for Windows and requires Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1. You can either install Google Book Downloader or download a portable version which you can simply unzip and run from your hard drive or a removable disk.

You can find more instructions in the tutorial.

Note-Taking Pen Not Only For Lawyers

Via Ernie The Attorney blog, an interesting post titled An amazing note-taking tool for lawyers (and others) features a pen that also is a recorder. As pointed out in the post, taking notes sometimes is very challenging; making sure one wrote down all the necessary details when listening to a client. Even though this pen has been around for a while, I still thought it is worthwhile blogging about. Livescribe 2GB Pulse Smartpen is available at for $169.95. This pen allows you to take notes and at the same time it records and links the audio back to the notes,. It allows the user to listen to the recording by tapping on what is written and the user can search and share the notes and recordings from one's computer.
Check it out for yourself and let us know what you think!

Gale H1N1 Widget

GALE Cengage Learning offers an H1N1 flu widget that can be posted to one's homepage, Facebook page or a blog. This widget provides current and credible information about H1N1 flu.
In times like these, rumors, misinformation and conjecture lay the foundation for panic. Gale and its library partners, however, provide credible information for those looking for the truth. To learn the facts about H1N1, commonly known as the swine flu, look to resources from Gale for the voice of reason.

To provide you the most up-to-date news on H1N1, Gale is giving free access to the newly created Swine Flu Portal in Global Issues in Context. Updated daily, this portal offers: an in-depth expert overview; 279 perspectives (editorials) from international publications, such as The London Times and Africa News Service; 191 podcasts; 17,000+ news articles; and a link to the World Health Organization's pandemic alert status.

To access the widget click here. One will need to enter the Location ID (as displayed). The widget expires 10/09/2009.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Pace Law School Program Allows Law Students to Start in January

Pace Law School announced the launch of a new program for candidates seeking to start law school in January rather than September.

The application deadline for January 2010 is November 16, 2009. Admissions decisions are expected to be made before December 23, 2009.

This inaugural class will start in January 2010, completing the first core semester of law school during the spring and the second semester during a new 13-week summer session. These students will then join their second-year law student classmates in fall 2010 and graduate in two and one-half years rather than the traditional three-year path.

Example Motion is a file sharing website for legal professionals, currently still in Beta version. The idea is for legal professionals to share their work. Users can upload their documents and sell them for suggested $10.00 - $50.00. pays out quarterly. Participants are asked to delete any private information from submitted documents. Users can use the search page to locate needed documents. It allows to narrow down results by jurisdiction, type of law, stage of proceedings, general document type, and specific document type. When needed document is not available, users can use the document requests section where a particular document can be requested. founders saw the need for a site where practical legal documents, with relevant, up-to-date authority, in the form of motions and pleadings, could be intuitively searched by legal professionals. Any related sites merely peddle legal forms, or lofty treatises on the law, but nothing that "in the trenches" lawyers can use in the day-to-day advocacy of their clients.

What are you thoughts on this new services for legal professionals?


CASEMAKERDigest is a product of Casemaker. It is advertised as a tool that helps to stay current. It provides a first look at the most recent decisions published by the court. It currently covers federal courts only but it is expected to eventually cover all 50 states.

All important cases are summarized in one convenient location for a use within days of their publication.

Participants can sign up for a 30 day free trial during which the creators ask the participants to share their feedback and suggestions. After the trial runs out, the subscription is available for $39.95 a year.

You can also read about it at Robert Ambrogi's LawSites.