New Tools: LearnLeo

LearnLeo is an online platform that allows students to categorize case information and organize briefs and outlines easily.  It estimates that it saves law students on average of ten hours of work per week.

LearnLeo allows students to highlight passages and choose colors that correspond with sections of their case (issue, holding, etc.).  Students can also annotate each case.  After students finish reading, highlighting and annotating the case, they can see their notes in a brief format that is both printable and easy to read.

learnleoCurrently, students from the top 20 U.S. law schools have full access to LearnLeo, but students from unaffiliated law schools still have access to 13,000 cases in the LearnLeo library.  And it’s free, so it’s worth at least checking out!

Today in History: US Senate Ratified the United Nations Charter

UNcharterSeventy years ago today, on July 28, 1945, the United Nations Senate ratified the United Nations Charter in an 89 to 2 vote.  It was a significant moment in United States international relations, as the Senate had declined to ratify its predecessor, the League of Nations Covenant.  Delegates from fifty countries had previously signed the treaty at the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center on June 25th, 1945.  The treaty would enter into force a few months later, on October 24th, after being ratified by the five permanent members of the Security Council.  Today, 193 countries are members of the United Nations.

The United Nations charter is the organization’s founding document and a symbol of global peace and international development.  It sets out the structure and organizations of each organ within the United Nations, including the General Assembly and Security Council.

The Bar Exam by Will Bullas

Bar Exam Day Is Here!

Today marks the first day of the South Carolina Bar Exam. A large number of our recently graduated University of South Carolina Law students, along with students from other institutions as well as a few re-takers, will be attempting the test. For those of unfamiliar with the process, recently graduated students go straight from their last semester final exams into bar studying. They continue studying throughout the summer, many taking bar prep courses and spending 40 plus hours a week refreshing all the knowledge they learned in law school. Then, in late July (TODAY!) they begin the three-day examination in hopes of passing and receiving a license to practice law.
Almost every lawyer remembers this summer. I remember waking up early every morning, the bar exam classes, the afternoons studying in the local library, and even the magical moment I walked out of the exam. This is my actual to do list from the summer of 2009 (I just found this to doto do list extension hidden away in some remote corner of Gmail.) My Facebook posts from that time period focus only on the bar exam, with themes ranging from self-deprecating defeatism to unabashed confidence in my test taking abilities. Meals were eaten, work arranged, and vacations planned all around bar exam preparation. All I can truly say for sure about the process is that it was hard, stressful, and ultimately rewarding when I finished and subsequently passed the exam.
So, in light of this momentous occasion, here are 29 facts about the best movie ever inspired by someone taking the bar exam; my professional and personal favorite, My Cousin Vinny.

Go Set a Watchman

To Kill a Mockingbird is often considered one, if not THE, greatest works of legal fiction.  In fact, ABA named it the #1 greatest law novel ever.  With quotes like, “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience,” Atticus Finch, the novel’s central character, a lawyer, has been an inspiration to many a law student and lawyer.

According to reviews, the release of Go Set a Watchman brings his character into question.  The Guardian says that the new novel “shatters the traditional reading of Atticus.”  The new novel released today, so you can pick up a copy and decide for yourself.

See the New York Times book review here.

All the Fun Facts about the Bluebook

bluebookWell, maybe not all of them.

The Bluebook citation guidebook is introduced to every law student and has become synonymous, in good and bad ways, with American legal education.  Many see it as the bane of their first year existence, while others, usually Journalers, grow to appreciate and even love the guide.  So, in the spirit of having nothing better to write about in the middle of the steamy South Carolina summer, here are some interesting facts about everyone’s favorite legal manual.


  1. Erwin N. Griswold created the first Bluebook as a 26-page manual for Harvard Law Review footnotes. Griswold was a lowly second year student at the time.
  2. The Bluebook was not originally blue.  Its first cover was “grayish olive” and the next four editions were brown.  In 1939, the cover changed to a more patriotic blue, perhaps as “an attempt to disassociate with the brown worn by the Nazi troops.”
  3. The 11th edition, published in 1976, was actually white with a blue border and unofficially called the “white book.” I think this was probably an attempt by the Bluebook editors to copy The Beatles “White Album” which similarly substituted the color of its coverings for the actual title of the album.  This is, of course, total speculation.
  4. The fourth (1934) was the first used outside Harvard. Columbia, Harvard, Penn, and Yale jointly published the version.
  5. As late as 1976, the Bluebook was still shrouded in obscurity. One reviewer bemoaned that “(t)he popular press has ignored the new edition of the Blue Book, and the literary establishment considers the book closed even before it has been opened. Not since the St. Louis Browns played their last game has so much labor produced so little public acclaim or public interest . . . .”
  6. Even the four schools that produce the Bluebook do not always agree on style. There even seems to be some behind the scenes bickering between the schools about institutional interpretation and customization (scandalous, right?).
  7. Not every legal mind appreciates the Bluebook.  Judge Posner in particular once wrote “The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation exemplifies hypertrophy in the anthropological sense. It is a monstrous growth, remote from the functional need for legal citation forms, that serves obscure needs of the legal culture and its student subculture.”   Posner instead provides his clerks with his own guide which is reproduced in the article below.

For more information, see A. Darby Dickerson, An Un-Uniform System of Citation: Surviving with the New Bluebook, 26 Stetson L. Rev. 53, 58-60 (1996).

Judge Posner’s critique on the Bluebook available at The Bluebook Blues, 120 Yale L.J. 850 (2011).

Head Turning Article on the Criminal Justice System

In his preface to the Georgetown Law Journal’s Annual Review of Criminal Procedure, Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit lays out some harsh truths.  He notes that few criminal defendants go free after trial, and wonders whether it’s because jurors start with a strong presumption that a person wouldn’t be charged with a crime if prosecutors and police officers weren’t convinced of his or her guilt.  He then lists out twelve presumptions about the legal system that have “been undermined by experience, legal scholarship and common sense.”  Those presumptions include the reliability of eyewitnesses and types of forensic evidence; the infallibility of confessions (basically, the idea that innocent people never confess), and many more.  He cites authorities on why these presumptions are flawed.  Later in the preface, Judge Kozinski identifies some potential reforms that would help better the criminal justice system.

You may especially enjoy his conclusion: “‘Nuff said.”

Read Judge Kozinski’s preface here.


South Carolina Signers

On July 4, 1776, a delegation of men called the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence.  We all know some of the more famous signees.  These include names like John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson.  However, there were also a number of relatively unknown signers, including four delegates from South Carolina.  So, in honor of the recent Independence Day holiday, here are your signees, South Carolina!

Thomas Heyward, Jr.Thomas_Heyward_Jr

Thomas Heyward, Jr. signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation as a representative of South Carolina.  He studied law in England, and returned to South Carolina as a judge.  He commanded a militia force during the Revolutionary War and was taken prisoner during the siege of Charleston.

Thomas Lynch, Jr.Thomas_Lynch_Jr.

Thomas Lynch, Jr. was born and raised in Georgetown, South Carolina.  He studied at the Indigo Society School in Georgetown until his parents sent him to Cambridge to finish his education. Lynch eventually became a company commander in the 1st South Carolina regiment in 1775 and was elected to the Continental Congress where he signed the Declaration of Independence.  Interestingly enough, in his will Lynch stipulated that heirs of his female relatives must change their surname to Lynch in order to inherit the family estate, Hopsewee, which still stands in South Carolina today.

Arthur Middleton220px-Arthur_Middleton_from_a_painting_by_Benjamin_West

Arthur Middleton was a famous South Carolina politician.  He lead the American Party, who were the key advocates of Rebellion, and was widely known to be ruthless toward British loyalists.   He was elected to succeed his father in the Continental Congress in 1776.  Middleton was also captured during the defense of Charleston.  The US Navy ship, USS Arthur Middleton, was named for him.

Edward RutledgeEdward_Rutledge

Edward Rutledge was born in Charleston, South Carolina.  He was the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence and later served as the 39th Governor of South Carolina.  During the American Revolution, he worked to have African Americans expelled from the Continental Army. He was a strong proponent of colonial rights; however, he was instructed by state leaders to oppose Lee’s Resolution of independence.  This resolution would have called for the dissolution not only of ties to Britain, but also to the other colonies as well.


Check Out Our New Home!

As you may or may not know, The University of South Carolina School of Law is getting a new home.  We will be moving from our current location on Main St. to a brand spankin’ new building on Gervais St sometime next year.  We’re all terribly excited for a new place to stash all of our books (We’re librarians, It’s what we do.)

Moreover, you don’t just have to take my word for it.  The Law School has created a Tumblr page to track the progress of the new building.  Check it out here! It even has a webcam so you can watch the construction in real time.  Believe me, there’s nothing more fun than watching someone build you a new house.

What Not To Do Department

There are many things that one can do to invite trouble in any profession, and the legal profession is no different.  Here are some tips for avoiding various sorts of difficulties:

1.  Don’t alter court records.

2.  Don’t ask your paralegal to “friend” a party in a case with which you’re involved.

3.  Don’t let your donkey (or zebra) attack a judge.

4.  Don’t forget to clean out your pockets before going to court.

New Scholarship: Crimes of Terror, by Prof. Wadie Said

saidbookProfessor Wadie Said’s new book, Crimes of Terror: The Legal and Political Implications of Federal Terrorism Prosecutions, was published in May by Oxford University Press.  The book examines the advantages the U.S. government has over suspects in criminal prosecutions of terrorism, and how the practices in place impede the usual aims of criminal prosecution.

After a brief introduction, the book includes the following chapters: Chapter I: Information, Spies, Radicalization, and Entrapment; Chapter 2: Material Support; Chapter 3: Evidence and the Criminal Terrorist Prosecution; Chapter 4: The Implications and Broad Horizons of the Terrorism Prosecution; and Chapter 5: Sentencing and Confinement–Even When Imprisoned, the Terrorist is Exceptional.

Crimes of Terror is available for checkout in the library at call number KZ 7220 .S235 2015.  Check it out today!