Islamic Law Resources

April 2nd marked the beginning of the Islamic Holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month on the Muslim Lunar Calendar and lasts 29 to 30 days. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Since we are in the middle of this Holy Month I wanted to share some free resources that provide information about Islamic Law.

There are a few journals which publish articles about Islamic Law.

Harvard Law School Publishes the Journal of Islamic Law. This journal is fairly new and provides a look at Islamic law from a historical, comparative and social context.  Harvard also provides access to Shariasource a resource that provides context about Islamic Law as well as primary sources.

UC Berkeley publishes the Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Law. This journal is a little older and provides articles that relate to the Middle East as well as Islamic Legal Traditions. The journal focuses mostly on legal issues but also provides information about the philosophical and sociological issues that underpin the legal issues.

Finally, UCLA Law publishes Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law (JINEL). This journal has been around the longest of the three that I have highlighted. JINEL covers all issues related to Islamic Law. They also cover legal topics that may be unrelated to Islamic Law but affect the Near East.

In addition to the Journals above there are a few LibGuides that provide more resources.

Copyright Resources

Libraries are often impacted by issues of copyright. Copyright can be complicated and requires some research to determine outcomes of using resources that may be under copyright. However, there are freely available resources available that will help anyone to learn more about Copyright.

The United States Copyright Office provides a wealth of information to learn more about copyright. The homepage provides detailed information for anyone who wants to register a copyright or would like to learn more about the rights and responsibilities of a copyright holder. As with most federal agencies, the Copyright Office provides access to the relevant laws and regulations directly from their homepage in the “Law & Policy” tab. This section provides more than just primary law.

One of the useful links in this tab is for Copyright Office Circulars. The circulars provide detailed information about various aspects of copyright. The subjects range from simple topics such as “Copyright Basics” to more complex topics such as “How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work.” Some of these circulars are older but the Copyright office is in the process of refreshing and updating the circulars.

Another link in the “Law & Policy” tab that is extremely useful is the Fair Use Index. The Fair Use index is a database of cases dealing with fair use that have been curated by the US Copyright Office. The database can be sorted by jurisdiction, or category such as “parody/satire,” “music,” or “textual work.” In addition, each case entry has an outcome which indicates if Fair use was found.

The Copyright Office also has a “Research” tab, which provides links to the databases to find information about existing copyrights. In addition, the “Research” tab provides a series of videos known as the “Learning Engine Video Series”. The series provides information about copyright basics as well as links to more detailed information.

The Copyright Office’s “About” page has the History and Education section which provides more detail about history of copyright in the United States as well as resources to learn more about that history. Finally, there is an extensive Frequently Asked Questions page which provides answers to many of the questions that come up related to Copyright.

In addition to the Copyright Office, there are some guides that may help us learn more about copyright. The Stanford Libraries have a Copyright and Fair Use guide which provides detailed information about copyright. In addition to providing information about copyright generally, the page has a “What’s New” section with tabs to track up and coming information on copyright laws and how they may be changing.

Resources for Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month, which is a time to celebrate the diverse cultures of the indigenous peoples on the United States and for all of us to learn more about these cultures.

As part of Native American Heritage Month, CRIV is highlighting some resources that are helpful for learning more about the legal systems that govern Native Americans. This list is not exhaustive.

  • National Indian Law Library – The National Indian Law Library provides legal information in a variety of ways. They publish the Indian Law Bulletin which provides up to date information legal issues related to Native American from both the Federal Courts and Tribal Courts.  In addition, the NILL provides Research Guides on a variety of Indian Law Topics including Indian Child Welfare, Tribal Enrollment, and Jurisdiction among many other topics. Finally, the NILL provides the Tribal Law Gateway, which provides links to find the primary law of various tribes. The NILL is created and operated by the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), an organization that seeks to provide legal assistance to Native American Tribes, Organizations and Individuals.
  • Tribal Court Clearinghouse – the Tribal Court Clearinghouse provides resources at the Tribal, State and Federal levels. The resources provided cover both primary law sources and secondary sources. The site also provides background information and guidance related to subject specific legal issues involving drugs, advocacy for children, and violence against women among many other topics. There are also links out to other useful organizations. The Tribal Court Clearinghouse is a project of the Tribal Law and Policy institute, which is an organization that works to promote Tribal Sovereignty and justice within Native American Communities.
  • Indigenous Peoples of the Americas – HeinOnline’s Indigenous Peoples of the Americas: History, Culture & Law provides is a database that gathers the various resources that HeinOnline has related to Native Americans. This database includes Tribal Codes, Indigenous Treaties, and the Indian Law Reporter, as well as the specific federal resources that cover Native Americans.
  • Native American Law. Westlaw provides access to a limited number of Tribal Codes, and cases. They provide specific State, Federal, and Secondary Sources that deal with Native American Law.

Westlaw partners with Write.law

Westlaw is partnering with Write.law to provide more practical guidance for law students. In recent years, Westlaw has increased the number of products providing practical skills available to law students. These resources are meant to supplement law students’ studies and provide knowledge that will be useful in their careers.  Write.law is a product developed by attorneys and law professors that aims to help practitioners develop their knowledge of the technology related to legal practice.

Westlaw already provides certifications in several areas mostly under the banner of Legal Research. There are Legal Research Certifications for the Foundations of Effective Legal Research, Essential Legal Research and Advanced Legal Research. These certifications are very generalized and focus exclusively on Westlaw resources. In addition, there are advanced options in Litigation Research and Transactional Research. Westlaw provides a Prepare to Practice certification, which is shorter and provides information on starting a Legal Business. The new partnership adds more practical skills certifications to the Westlaw Knowledge Center.

The Westlaw and Write.law partnership provides certifications in the areas of Core Tech, Practice Tech, and Legal Soft Skills. The Core Tech certification trains students in using the Microsoft Office Suite efficiently for their legal careers. This certification provides tools and tricks to prevent time loss related to formatting issues in Microsoft Office products. The Practice Tech certification allows students to learn about the technology that students may use in practice. The information covered is general but does introduce students to the types of technology that they may encounter in practice and how that technology would serve them in practice. The Legal Soft Skills certification provides training in skills needed to successfully build a legal business. The skills taught include brand development, presentation to both supervisors and clients, and advice for working virtually.

FastCase-Casemaker Merger Seeks to Create More Robust Cost-Effective Legal Research Alternative

On January 5, 2021 FastCase and Casemaker announced a merger. FastCase and Casemaker provide a cost-effective alternative to other legal research databases. According to the CEO of FastCase, Bar associations in all 50 states provide FastCase or Casemaker at no or low cost, so the merger creates the largest lawyer subscriber base of any legal research database.

Although the merger was announced 2 months ago, the two companies still provide two separate databases. Since the announcement, the companies are working on ways to combine their resources to provide the best service to their customers. The first half of the year will be spent examining the two products and deciding how best to merge the existing platforms. Both companies bring different strengths to the merger.

In the last few years, FastCase acquired several companies that strengthened and broadened its services, including Docket Alarm, Next Chapter, Law Street Media, and Judicata. Docket Alarm provides docket tracking and litigation analytics. Next Chapter is a practice software that provides attorneys with assistance preparing, managing, and filing bankruptcy cases. Law Street Media is a legal news service. Judicata is another legal research service that provides advanced legal search tools for researching and analyzing California law. FastCase is working to expand that technology to their much larger database. In addition to its various acquisitions, FastCase has developed a publishing arm under the name Full Court Press, to provide practice guides and other secondary sources.

Casemaker is known for its continuous updating of state codes, and regulations. They also provide support products, such as CaseDigest, CaseCheck+, and CasemakerLibra. CaseDigest provides summaries of Federal and State case law, produced by attorney editors. CaseCheck+ is a citator that provides users with information about negative treatment of case law. CasemakerLibra provides a library of secondary sources, published by CaseMaker.

Anticipating the benefits of combining the best of both platforms, it is possible that the FastCase-Casemaker merger will create a robust and substantial low-cost alternative to other legal research databases.