Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Word of the Month for July 2016: Index

A B C D E F G....There's rarely a day that someone doesn't surprise me. Triple homicide with a self defense twist.  Child support with international kidnapping and spousal abuse. A derivative suit with a class action on the side.  A simple DUI that turns into a grand theft auto.  All good reads with an interesting "what happened next" scenario.

Then there was the recent law school grad.  Seems grad had just taken the bar exam and was looking to get into the practice of law; specifically, grad was looking to start a bankruptcy practice like his father before him.  So, I started with showing grad where the various resources were located and how to use them.  I showed him Collier's Bankruptcy Practice Guide, Collier's Bankruptcy Code, opened to the table of contents, appendix and the Index. Grad stops me and (with a straight face), "I get the table of contents and appendix, but what is this "Index" you keep talking about?!"

This, of course, brings us to our word for the month: INDEX.  According to Black's Law Dictionary, an INDEX is: 
a book containing references alphabetically arranged to the contents of a series or collection of volumes; or an addition to a single volume or set of volumes containing such references to its contents.
Basically, an index, organized from A-Z, tells you on what page a particular topic is located in that resource.

As my eyes glazed over I asked, "Uh.........what?!  You don't know what an INDEX is?!??"  I was hoping my glazed over look wasn't so obvious but it was clear grad had no idea what an INDEX was.  Seems his law school had focused so much on online research that grad was able to avoid using print resources.  For shame letting people out of your school without providing the basics to be a well-rounded researcher. If he were me, I'd consider a law suit against the school for failing in its obligation to teach me the basics.

Anyway, for those of the electronic age who really don't know where or what an INDEX is, might I elucidate the concept with a few examples.  So, say you're looking in The Little Book of Baseball Law. To find the INDEX, go to page 231 (towards the back of the book).  If, on the other hand, you were looking in Mental and Emotional Injuries in Employment Litigation, you would look on page 859 (towards the back of the book).  Other example of where you find an index include:
I suspect if there is a running theme here, it's that INDEXES are at the back of any book, resource, volume or set of volumes.  Heck, Am Jur Proof of Facts has 5 volumes for its INDEX (found at the end of the multi-volume set).  

Bottom line, if ever you find yourself in a quandary and don't know where to turn, know that your local county law library is probably the best place to start because we know what you need to know and we're willing to help you start to look for it long after everyone else has abandoned you.  Yes, we are that helpful.