Monday, January 30, 2017

Easy as ABC

Easily offended
I can't believe that I have to blog about this stuff over and over but it amazes me the things people decide to get offended by.  Take, for example, the lady who came in the other day.  Lady was confused and needed to know how to conduct basic legal research.  Having taught students and lawyers for years, I walked her over to where she was needing help and asked, do you know the alphabet?  Indignant, she spats out that of course she knows the alphabet (I ask because some people don't).  I say, OK, let's say it together. Lady FREAKS out and makes a bee line to my boss demanding that I be fired on the spot.  

I suspect the reason most anyone might get offended is because they don't the basics of the "how" of working with print legal resources.  The first thing people need to know when working with print resources is the key word of the day (which is): RANGE.  While "Range" is the distance between two points, it is also the means whereby a person can locate information in print (or some online) resources not readily apparent from the spine of the/a book.  Let me elucidate.

Say you are using the legal encyclopedia Corpus Juris Secundum and you are looking for information about RIOT(s).  Not wanting to take time to look in the Index, you look on the spine of every book and can't find the word: Riot.  Frustrated, you pick up your marbles and run out of the law library vowing never to return simply because you don't know how Range and the alphabet work.  

So, say the alphabet with me:  A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R,...OK, so we're looking for RIot.  Volume 77 covers everything between RELIGIOUS SOCIETIES to ROBBERY.  Is RIOT in this Range (and, thus, in this book)?  Short answer, yes - because RI(ot) is after RE(ligous) but before RO(bbery).

Get it?  First recite the ALPHABET and then get the RANGE. Can't get any easier!

Let's try another one.  Say you are looking for information on EASEMENTS and are using the legal encyclopedia American Jurisprudence, 2d.  Ready? Let's say the alphabet together.  A, B, C, D, E...OK, so we're looking for EASEMENTS and EASEMENTS starts with EA.  Volume 25 (pictured to the right) covers everything in the Range of DOMESTIC ABUSE AND VIOLENCE to ELECTIONS §§ 1 to 198. Is EASEMENTS in this Range (and, thus, in this book)?  Short answer, yes - because EA(sements) is after DO(mestic abuse and violence) but before EL(ections).

One more?  You come barreling into the law library demanding every case you can find on the subject of SECURITIES (people do it all the time).  I say, do you really want every case we have on the subject of securities or would you rather read up on how securities is applied or, more to the point, how the specific securities you are using is used and/or applied.  You scream out that NO, I WANT ALL THE CASES YOU HAVE ON THE WORD: SECURITIES. OK, OK, calm down, and I lead you over to Words and Phrases.  Let's say the alphabet together.  A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S...OK, so, we're looking for SECurities and we find volume 38A which deals with cases relating to the words SCORE to SEIZURES.  Is SECurities in this Range (and, thus, in this book)?  Short answer, yes - because SEC(urities) is after SC(ore) but before SEI(zures).

If the concept of RANGE and need to recite the ALPHABET is still not clear - that's OK.  Just head on over to your local county law library and your local professional law Librarian can help you find what you're looking to find.  Just, please, leave your angst at the front door.