For LLM Students, Exchange Students and Humphrey Fellows*
*Humphrey Fellows enrolled in a law school course.
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General Library Information
The University of Minnesota Law Library is one of the best law school libraries in the country. Most of the collection is available for browsing in the "stacks" (the shelves) on the four floors of the Library. To find a book or other item, you will usually start by searching the catalog, MNCAT, and getting its “call number.” This number represents the item’s location in the Library. Once you have a call number, check this chart to see what floor the item is on: http://library.law.umn.edu/locationguides.html#Callnos
Generally, frequently-used U.S. law books are located on the first floor. Government documents and books on sociology, criminology, economics, and other topics are on the second floor. The third floor contains some of the international law materials, United Kingdom and Canadian materials, a special Human Rights collection, and some U.S. state materials. The fourth floor has most of the foreign law collections, including European Union materials; more international law materials are on this floor too.
Maps of the Law Library are available here: http://library.law.umn.edu/librarymaps.pdf.
Checking books out
Once you find a book or other item that you would like to check out, bring it to the Circulation desk. If you cannot find what you need, ask the reference librarians for help. They are located in the Reference Office. Consulting the reference librarians is a good way to save time, and to learn US legal research. They can help you find the right electronic database, use LexisNexis and Westlaw, get materials from another library, and much more.
Some library material is in areas restricted to library staff. The most important of this material is the Reserve Collection, located behind the Circulation Desk. (Your professors may refer to some reading materials that are "on Reserve.") These frequently-used materials can be checked out for only two hours. You can also check out Reserve items two hours before the Library closes, but they must be returned within half an hour after the Library opens the next morning. If you do not return Reserve items on time, you will be fined $1.50 per hour. For other information about Library fines and Circulation policies, see the Circulation Services web page.
Some of the Library’s older books and certain items from India and Pakistan are located in Storage. To get these items, ask for them at the Circulation desk. Other old and rare books are kept in the Library’s Riesenfeld Rare Books Research Center, located in Room N-30 Subplaza Level of Mondale Hall. For information about the Center's collection, visit their web page at: http://library.law.umn.edu/riesenfeldcenter/home.html
Library hours and acceptable use
The library’s hours are here. But as a law student, you can use the Library at any time. Your U Card should provide access after hours. If you are in the Library when it closes to the public, you will need to leave briefly and be checked in by a security guard.
It is acceptable to nap, drink beverages, and eat snacks in the Library. Please clean up after yourself. Students have asked that the Library remain quiet, so please do not talk loudly (either on your cell phone or to anyone in the Library). If someone is making noise, you may ask them to be quiet or ask a library employee to take care of the problem.
Books and other resources to help you in law school
Books that explain the law in a simple, brief format.
Many law students (LLM and JD) find that their lectures and casebooks are confusing. If you would like a straightforward explanation of the subject of your class, you may want to look at a “Nutshell.” A Nutshell is a trademarked name for a small paperback book, used mostly as a study aid. Lawyers also use Nutshells as a quick introduction to a legal subject.
For most law school classes, there is a Nutshell on the topic. Here is a Law Library guide with information about Nutshells and other study aid publications that you can check out from the Library’s Circulation desk: http://library.law.umn.edu/researchguides/studyaids.html.
The most recent Nutshells are kept on Reserve at the Circulation desk, which means that you may check them out for only two hours. You can often find a slightly older Nutshell in the regular library collection, and can check these out for much longer. These older Nutshells are still useful because they explain basic principles of law on the subject. Newer cases or changes in the law, however, will not be included.
Some professors allow the Law Library to place one or more old exams on the Inside Law part of the Law School website. Generally, these exams are not available until halfway through the semester. Some professors do not choose to make any old exams available. They are not required to do so.
You will find these old exams by using the link to “Sample Exams" on the Law Students section of the library web site (under the "Study Aids" column). (The Sample Exams page is the same as the Law Library Course Reserves List.)
You will see a list of Law School professors. Click on the name of your professor, then click on Access Online Items. At this point, you will be asked to log in with your University of Minnesota x500 id and password.
Some professors also provide sample or model answers with their sample exams. Other professors just offer a sample exam. Even without the answers, you can benefit from looking at the exam. Many law school exams require you to read a long hypothetical situation and identify the relevant legal issues—this is sometimes called “issue-spotting.” Try to identify the issues in the practice exam. You may want to talk to other students in the class, or to your professor, to see if you have correctly identified the issues. Then, you may want to practice writing an answer to each question.
Professors Ann Burkhart and Robert Stein have written a very useful book to help law students succeed on their exams. It is called Law School Success in a Nutshell: A Guide to Studying Law and Taking Law School Exams (2d ed. 2008). Reserve KF283.B871x 2008.
If your professor does not choose to make old exams available, you may want to look at exams from other professors who teach the subject. Remember, however, that each professor may choose a different format for the exam.
- What are study aids?
Many law students buy “study aids.” Study aids are books, outlines, audio recordings on tape or CD, and “flash cards” (paper cards that usually have a legal term or question printed on one side and a definition or answer on the other). Many of them come with a disk or some other way to download the information into your computer.
Some study aids, such as some commercial outlines, are written to correspond with a particular casebook. For example, Emanuel outlines, published by Aspen/Kluwer, include a generic outline of civil procedure, but also an outline that corresponds with a particular edition of Stephen Yeazell’s Civil Procedure casebook. Either of these two outlines could help you learn civil procedure. The main advantage of the outline corresponding to Yeazell’s casebook is that it would cover every case in that casebook. Emanuel outlines also contain sample short-answer and multiple-choice exam questions, with explanations of the answers.
Other popular study aids include Gilbert Law Summaries and Casenotes Legal Briefs.
Gilbert Law Summaries, such as Gilbert Law Summaries on Contracts, are outlines of legal subjects. They also include practice exam questions with answers.
Casenotes contain “briefs” of cases. A “brief” is a summary of a court opinion. It contains specific information including case title and citation, facts, issues, decisions (holdings), reasoning, and any separate opinions (such as dissenting opinions). Some law students prepare these for each case reprinted in their case books. Others rely on case briefs done by others, such as the authors of Casenotes.
For example, Casenote Legal Briefs: Business Organizations/Corporations, Keyed to Choper, Coffee & Gilson contains briefs of all the cases in Jesse Choper et al.’s Cases and Materials on Corporations.
- Study aids at the Law Library
Because study aids have no value in scholarly research, the Law Library has only a small collection of study aids.
The Law Library buys selected titles from four series of study aids:
- Examples and Explanations, published by Aspen/Kluwer.
Example: Alan R. Palmiter, Securities Regulation: Examples and Explanations, 3d ed. (2005). Most of these are listed on the Law Library Research Guide, Study Aid Publications & Resources.
To check for other titles in this series, use MNCAT’s Advanced Search feature. Using the first drop-down menu, select “Series Keywords,” and enter “examples and explanations” in the corresponding search box. In the box below, enter the topic (e.g., administrative law).
- Understanding series, published by LexisNexis.
These are listed on the Law Library Research Guide, Study Aid Publications & Resources.
- Concepts and Insights series, published by Thomson/West.
Most of these are listed on the Law Library Research Guide, Study Aid Publications & Resources.
To check for other titles in this series, use MNCAT’s Advanced Search feature. Using the first drop-down menu, select “Series Keywords,” and enter “concepts and insights” in the corresponding search box. In the box below, enter the topic (e.g., tort law).
- Sum & Substance series of CD-ROMs, from Thomson/West:
Corporations KF1414 .C6934x 2004 Securities Regulations KF1439 .C69x 2004 Evidence KF8935 .G663x 2004 Contracts KF801 .W43x 2002 Criminal Law KF9219 .D737x 2001 Criminal Procedure 2001 KF9619 .D737x 2001 Civil Procedure KF8840 .M55x 2001 Property KF561 .J84x 2000
To find other sound recordings, use the Advanced Search feature in MNCAT. Enter the subject (for example, corporations) in the upper search box. Use the lower drop-down menus to limit the format to Non-music Sound Recordings, and to limit your results to the Law Library. Ask a reference librarian if you need help.
- Buying study aids
You can order study aids (new and used) from internet retailers like Amazon. To save money, you may want to buy used study aids. The Law School has a small used bookstore, run by the Women Law Students Association. It is located on the Plaza level, near the exit into Willey Hall. During the school year, this bookstore is usually open twice a week, during lunch. Hours are posted on the door to the bookstore.
The William Mitchell College of Law, located at 875 Summit Avenue in St. Paul, has its own Student Bar Association Used Bookstore. Students from other law schools are welcome to visit and buy materials there. It is located in Room LL74. Its telephone number is (651) 290-6378. Hours vary throughout the year, so be sure to telephone the store to learn when it is open. For directions to William Mitchell, see http://www.wmitchell.edu/about/directions.html.
- Foreign Language Dictionaries
Oxford Language Dictionaries Online
This online source includes 5 languages (Chinese, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish). These dictionaries can be accessed off-campus as well by U of M faculty, students & staff. To locate additional foreign language dictionaries, online or hardcopy, try the following search in the MNCAT Advance Search: subject contains french language dictionaries (replace french with the desired language).
A book especially for LLMs
You may want to read Rachel Gader-Shafran, The International Students' Survival Guide to Law School in the United States: Everything You Need to Succeed (2003) KF283 .G33x 2003. The author of this book, who received a J.D. from American University, surveyed many LLM students and wrote a book designed to help future LLM students succeed in law school. Her excellent book includes information about culture shock, strategies for dealing with law school classes, and many more topics. Another, more recent title you may also find helpful is, George E. Edwards book, LL.M. Roadmap: An International Student's Guide to U.S. Law School Programs (2011) Reserve KF272.E385 2011.
The Law Library has a separate guide to books about succeeding in law school here: http://library.law.umn.edu/researchguides/lawschoolsuccess.html.
I need help finding books or articles about the topic for my paper.
The reference librarians can help you find books and articles for any papers you need to write. We can show you how to search electronic databases, such as Westlaw and LexisNexis databases, and how to search the library catalog, MNCAT.
I need help finding a topic for a paper.
The reference librarians can help you choose paper topics. For example, we can show you how to find recent issues of interest in the subject. The Law Library also has a guide written to help law students choose topics for law review articles, and some of the information in that guide may be helpful.
You may also want to talk to your professor.
How do I get access to LexisNexis and Westlaw?
LLM students usually get their LexisNexis and Westlaw passwords during the LLM orientation. Exchange students should receive their passwords when the JD students do—i.e., at the beginning of the school year. Humphrey Fellows who are taking classes at the Law School can request LexisNexis and Westlaw passwords at the beginning of the semester, by coming into the Reference Office.
Who can help me with a problem with my Westlaw or LexisNexis access?
For problems with Westlaw or LexisNexis access, contact Vicente Garces (612-624-2597), the Law Library’s Westlaw and LexisNexis coordinator.
Who can help me in my own language with Westlaw research?
Westlaw Reference Attorney assistance:
If you call the Reference Attorney at 1-800-850-9378, you can request an interpreter. Interpreter assistance is available in Armenian, Arabic, Cantonese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese. This assistance is available 24/7.
How can I prepare for exams?
To help prepare for your exams, you may want to use study aids or practice exams.
How can I get books that are not in the Law Library?
While a student at the University of Minnesota, you have access to all of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities libraries. This includes a large Bio-Medical Library, a Science and Engineering Library (Walter Library), a Social Sciences/Humanities Library (the Wilson Library), and several other libraries. You can study at these libraries and check books out from them. If you would like a map showing their locations, ask for one in the Reference Office. You can also find their locations here.
University of Minnesota law students, including LLM students, can also study at and check out books from other local law school libraries. Information about these libraries is available here.
Occasionally, you will need books from other libraries. You can obtain these materials without charge by using “interlibrary loan.” You can place an inter-library loan request by sending an email with the details of your request to firstname.lastname@example.org. NOTE: It sometimes takes a few weeks for books to arrive. If you need books for a paper, request them as early in the semester as possible.
The reference librarians can help you find books at other libraries, and help you with inter-library loan requests.
What is plagiarism?
Plagiarism is stealing and passing off the ideas or words of another as one's own: using another person’s words or ideas without crediting the source. [Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/plagiarize]
When you write law school papers, legal writing memos, and examinations, you must give the source of others’ words and ideas. If you use their exact words, you should enclose those words in quotation marks. If you paraphrase their words, you must still identify the source in which you found the words.
At the Law School, plagiarism is an Honor Code violation. Make sure you understand how to avoid plagiarism.
What is “Bluebook” citation format?
Your professors may refer to “Bluebook format.” The Bluebook is a set of rules for citing legal materials. Its full name is The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (19th ed. 2010). You can borrow a copy from the Law Library’s Circulation/Reserve desk.
Where can I fax something?
The Career Center makes its fax machine available to students during its regular hours (Mon. - Fri. 8:30am - 4:30pm, without charge. You can also send faxes from the Law Library when the Career Center is closed; ask at the Reference Office.
Where can I receive a fax?
If you need to receive a fax at the Law School, you can use the Law Library’s fax number: 612-625-3478. When you expect that your fax has arrived, check for it in the Reference Office. The Reference Librarians will also try to notify you by email if you have received a fax.