The Waiting Room

This could take a while...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Kickin' It Old School

Posted by Seeking Solace |

After some procrastinating, I was able to complete about two hours or research yesterday. In case you were wondering, I am working on a paper about people who suffer from chronic illnesses and the Americans with Disabilities Act. My focus is how this impacts the workplace. I am looking how chonic illnesses are defined and handled by the ADA and the caselaw surrounding it. Let's just say I have personal experience that this issue.

I have found a few cases that are quite interesting. But the problem is that I don't know if they are still good law. I don't have access to Westlaw or Lexis, which are the two primary legal research tools to "Shepardize" the case (check Shepard's Citations to see if these cases are still good law). Westlaw and Lexis require a subscription and unless you are in law school, you have to pay for the service. This is not cheap. A good friend has offered to help. I am also going to head to the law library at Prestigious Law School to Shepardize the cases the old fashion way, going through the bound Shepard Citations volumes.

It's a lost art, no? Actually going to a bricks and mortar library and going through the stacks of books to find what you need. I am not even sure if law school students learn how to research that way. When I was in law school back in the early 90's, computer legal research was in it's infancy. In my first semester of my first year, we learned the old fashion way. Then, in the second semester, we were allowed to use Lexis or Westlaw. Now, it seems everyone is glued to their laptop. I've seen with recent law grads and even my own students that when you ask them if they have ever gone to the library to walk through the stacks and hold an actual book, they look at you like you are from another planet.

Even in my practice days, I used more tradition research than computer. The first law firm I worked for only had limited Lexis access. So, I would have to haul my butt to the Court Library or the Law School. The very large firm that I worked for next had a well stocked library; no one really used computer research. Once I started my own practice, I couldn't afford a subscription, so I used a on line version of Lexis for the solo practitioner that was free. But, I would still have to head to the library for most things like Shepardizing. It wasn't a big deal because I am quite good at old school research.

Don't get me wrong. I am not against computer research. It's easier, faster and open like 7-11. And there is something to be said about sitting in your PJ's with a cup of coffee and clicking away. I love having that option.

But sometimes, you have to kick it old school.


Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

There's something really nice about the trip to the library -- the quiet gives you time to think and looking at the stacks often brings up unexpected sources.

The best of both worlds would be if you could take a scanner around with you, scan the book tag/article title or whatever and have it waiting for you in your e-mail...

Seeking Solace said...

I love looking through the stacks. It does allow that unexpected source moment to present itself.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Nothing against kicking it old school - stacks are great - but if you are in the law school library, you can access Lexis and Westlaw on their computers, right? So you could Shepardize electronically there.

(We did learn how to do research with the books, and got told a bunch of times that we *have* to know how to do that because not all firms/employers will have unlimited online access, and because it's a different process and it can be really useful. I can actually see how some of the things I do online would be easier to process on paper - I find clicking link after link disorientating, whereas looking stuff up in the books gives you a clearer sense of how you got there and what you've actually done.

That said, for my briefs and for my work this summer, it was online ALL the way! except when I had to look up the earlier version of statute. I kinda suck.)

rented life said...

I always prefer old school. I'll go to my stacks of books and research journals first before ever looking online. I'm also the person to print off articles rather than trying to read on a computer. I can't do that.

"open like a 7-11" I miss you and your funny lines!

BrightStar (B*) said...

Sounds like a really interesting idea for an article!

Brigindo said...

I love libraries. I discovered the quiet of "the stacks" in high school and continued to spend many an hour there throughout college. Even in my early years of graduate school I was able to disappear into that world. But now with the ease of the internet, I rarely find my way there. It is a becoming a lost art and a lost refuge.

I agree with sounds like an fascinating paper. Can't wait to hear more about it.

Judy L. said...

FWIW, during my first semester of law school, all students were required to attend three 2-hour weekend sessions on Westlaw research. Each session trained 3-4 students to use the dedicated Westlaw terminals (WALT?) that were in the school's library. That was in 1977.

Beginning in 1981, I subscribed to Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis (which is how the name was written then), Dialog, and ORBIT, and for many years made big bucks working from home with an Apple ][+ and an (expensive!) AJ 1200 Baud modem, performing patent searches, trademark searches, case law research, and occasional online info retrieval for academics and businesses. But by 1987 or so, the legal segment of my work was no longer profitable because most law firms in SoCal had in-house online search capability.

So to me, "kickin' it old school" would mean formulating and transmitting arcane search queries via dedicated terminals in the library, as we did in the late '70s -- or perhaps might be stretched to include transmitting slightly less arcane search queries via really slow dialup modem and a 64K "micro" from home in the early '80s. ;-)

Seeking Solace said...

Thanks everyone. I am really excited about this.

JudyL: LOL. I remember using the old terminals back in high school and college in the early 80's. I remember the dial up system where the phone receiver had to go in the jack to access the mainframe.

We have come a long way. :)