A survey of law librarians was recently conducted by the Advanced Legal Research Instructors at Stanford Law School’s Robert Crown Law Library and was “designed to answer a few of our key questions: which database could be canceled?, what some of the effects might be from cancellation?, and what low cost or free legal research alternatives are available and recommended?,” according to the report.  It gives thought to the age-old question, Can you live without one or the other?  The survey addresses many issues that are commonly discussed among law librarians and legal researchers, and the comments in the appendices are particularly enlightening.

 

An executive summary can be viewed at the blog of Stanford’s Advanced Legal Research Instructors, Legal Research Plus, and the report can be viewed here: Law Librarians and LexisNexis vs. Westlaw: Survey Results. 

There are a few resources you can check for information about state court judges in New Jersey.  The first place to start if you know the year in which the judge was appointed  is the web site of the New Jersey Judiciary.  Biographical information can often be found in the press release issued by the court

Another source to check is the New Jersey Court Guides at the web site of the New Jersey Law Journal.

Although these guides are not updated past the date of publication, they are based on interviews with the judges and include reviews of significant cases presided over by them.  A subscription to the New Jersey Law Journal is required for access.

Guide to the New Jersey Supreme Court, February 16, 2004

Guide to the Superior Court Appellate Division, March 15, 2002.

And don’t forget, information about their temperament and judicial philosphy can often be gleaned from the opinions they’ve written.   To find opinions written by a particular judge, select the appropriate court database in Lexis or Westlaw and use the following fields in your search:

Lexis:         writtenby(smith)

Westlaw:   op(smith)

Members of the the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) are eligible for free access to New Jersey and Federal legal research information via NJ CiteLine, according to the NJSBA. Coverage includes court opinions, statutes, rules and regulations. LexisNexis and the NJSBA “teamed up to provide NJSBA members with [this] customized FREE legal research member tool [which is] available exclusively to NJSBA members, helping us to support lawyers in their practices.” A NJSBA ID number and password are required to register. 

Does your law library subscribe to HeinOnline?  If so, you have access to a fantastic resource for federal legislative histories.  HeinOnline’s Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories database is derived from Nancy Johnson’s print publication, Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories: A Bibliography of Government Documents, Periodical Articles, and Books, which is often the first step for researchers who are hoping to divine the legislative intent behind the language of a law.  In addition to providing you with the citations to sources of the legislative history for public laws however, HeinOnline provides links to the full text of the congressional documents, legal periodicals, treatises and looseleaf services which are often seen as the holy grail for many a researcher.  What a useful resource.

Check out this excellent review of web-based sources you can use for searching the news. Cindy Chick at LawLibTech’s recent post,  Old News? Google News! talks about the differences between the premium news aggregators, Lexis and Westlaw, and the free web-based aggregators such as Yahoo News and Google News.  What’s the difference? The short answer: historical archives versus up-to-the minute news coverage.  But with Google’s new Google News Archive Search, you can go further back in time, some 200 years.  Although you may be prompted to purchase many of the articles from Google News Archive Search, membership at your local public library may get you remote access through an online subscription such as Americas Newspapers

More on the generation gap…An article from the Akron Law Review, Forty-Two: The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Teaching Legal Research To The Google Generation, discusses the legal researcher’s increasing reliance “on computers to answer complex questions ” and how that impacts legal research.  Issues dicussed include “balancing precision and completeness,” “the economics of legal research” vis-a-vis the cost of print materials versus Internet-based resources, and “teaching legal research as a client-based activity.” The preprint version of the article is available at bepress Legal Repository. The citation to the published article is:

Gallacher, Ian.  Forty-Two: The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Teaching Legal Research To The Google Generation 29 Akron L. Rev. 151 (2006).

If you want to get copies of one or several citations from Lexis or westlaw, here are two easy and convenient ways to get them using the specialty web sites, Lexis’ Get&Print.com and Westlaw’s Find&Print.com.  You can retrieve cases, law reviews and statutes from these sites.  You can even Shepardize or Keycite.  All you need is your Lexis/Westlaw password and a client/matter number.  You can choose to print, email, or download your results. Once you’ve entered the cites and selected your delivery option and they’ll all be processed at the same time.  For more, here is the Documentation for Lexis Get & Print and the Documentation for Westlaw Find and Print.