Monday, June 25, 2007

Summer Musings -- Spring 2007 Law LIbrary Journal

“When I thought I could fly, you became the sky.” Darling UnderDog” by Exene Cervenka and John Doe

The articles in this issue recognize Robert Berring’s contributions to law librarianship. I have to acknowledge my own debt to him, because Professor Berring was Dean of UC Berkeley library school when I applied. He may have approved my admission and thus saved me from unemployment from the San Francisco Newspaper Agency. The UC library school program gave me an education and opportunities to participate in the world. I am very grateful.

Much as I admire these articles, I wonder if we librarians overemphasize our contributions to the legal process. I have read that working attorneys spend only twenty percent at most doing library research. The legal databases emphasize appelalte decisions. Trial decisions have not been available for review and most are not appealed. The trial decisions are final. There has been no review of them. The May 31, 2007, New York Times Article “Wide Disparities Found in Judging of Asylum Cases,” proved that decisions are not legally consistent. This is not to blame the overworked judges—it does demonstrate that overwhelmed, poorly supported knowledge workers make inconsistent decisions.

That report seems far more serious to the legal process than the differences between key word searching and digests.

Another thing that confused me in the articles was the unstated premise that Law seems to be a natural principle. I must be a cynic, or a legal realist, but laws are made from a political process. This morning’s New York Times reports Murdoch has influenced media law. That’s not a surprise, but it does affect trial preparation.

I will follow up on this. Now the attorneys of Kings County need me.

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