Thursday, April 28, 2011

Summer Reference Hours

As classes end and we head into finals, the Reference Desk will be switching over to our summer & intersession hours to accommodate reduced staffing. The Law Library will continue with the regular schedule.

Summer Reference Hours
Monday - Friday 9am-6pm
Saturday & Sunday closed

If you need assistance outside of our regular hours, please email us or leave a voicemail at 303-871-6206 and we will get back to you when someone is available.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Law School Study Aids

There are a variety of study aids that are available to law students to help prepare for classes and exams. Legal secondary sources are materials written by legal commentators and scholars (including law professors, judges and lawyers). These sources try to discuss, explain and analyze law and legal concepts. Often these sources are great places to start legal research in a topic as they often provide great background information and break down the legal concepts in easy to understand ways. Further, these sources will usually provide citations to case law within the analysis. Therefore, starting with a secondary source can help direct one toward further research.

Researchers should remember, that while extremely helpful, secondary sources are only persuasive authority when cited in court. This means that courts may take the authority into consideration when making a decision, but are not required to do so (when the court must take authority into consideration it is considered mandatory or binding authority).

The majority of study aids are either treatises, hornbooks or nutshells. Treatises, hornbooks and nutshells differ in the level of detail with which each type of secondary source covers a specific area of law. Treatises provide the most in depth coverage, while nutshells provide the least. There are many of these study aids located in the Westminster Law Library, either at the reference desk or in the circulating collection.
Treatises provide the highest level of analysis on a specific area of law. They often provide extensive references to related sources in footnotes and appendices. Treatises are usually published in multi-volume works.

Hornbooks are typically secondary sources written by law professors with the specific audience of law students as the target audience. They are usually written in simple prose and condense a specific area of law into a single volume work. Hornbooks usually do not provide as in depth analysis as treatises, but do serve as great study aids or for background information.

Nutshells are usually short, paperback volumes that address a specific area of law. They often provide less references to further sources and ultimately provide the broadest overview of the three types of secondary sources. Nutshells provide great simplistic covering of difficult legal concepts and thus, are great options for non-lawyers looking to research a particular area of law.

There are also commercial outlines which can be very helpful in identifying black letter law. Most of these outlines are geared toward certain casebooks. While these outlines can be helpful, they should supplement, not replace, your own reading of the casebook.

The links below provide resources available online and in the Westminster Law Library to help you study. Although study aids can be very helpful, they cannot replace the information you get by going to class, reading for class and studying with other students. There is a danger in relying on study aids rather than putting in the actual work it takes to learn the legal concepts required by your classes. With that note of caution, study aids can be very valuable in helping you learn while in law school. Use the information and links below to find an appropriate study aid for your needs.


University of Chicago: Hornbooks and Study Aids
Villanova University Law School: Study Aids
Saint Louis University School of Law: Study Aids in Law School

University of Denver Westminster Law Library Study Aid Collection
1) The Examples and Explanations Series covers a variety of legal topics including: admin law, agency, partnership, bankruptcy, civil procedure, constitutional, contracts, criminal procedure, environmental law, evidence, torts. This series has legal questions and answers to help students better learn legal topics.

2) Hornbook Series covers Administrative law, civil procedure, constitutional law, criminal law, criminal procedure, evidence, etc.

3) Emanuel is a set of commercial hornbooks written on a variety of legal subjects.

4) Nolo creates something similar to nutshell books on legal materials and are usually written in easy to understand language aimed at the public

5) Nutshell Series (West Publishing Company) are somewhat like mini-hornbooks that explain the law in a condensed format. Their size--5" x 7"--may make them seem more palatable and less intimidating. Many of them give you just enough law so that you have a clear understanding of course rules, concepts and policy

6) Glannon GuidesThe Glannon Guides form a new series conceived by Joe Glannon, author of the highly successful Examples & Explanations titles "Civil Procedure" and "Law of Torts." Through multiple choice Q&A, one can test your knowledge and use the detailed explanations of right and wrong answers to analyze your responses.

7) CALI is short for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction. These are interactive computer exercises and questions that test your knowledge of the material and help improve your test-taking skills. The CALI lessons provide interactive exercises where you enter responses to questions based on fact patterns and receive an instantaneous evaluation of your answer, prompts to guide you to, or, the "right" answer. You learn the law and how to apply the law to a body of facts--the key to doing well on exams. Some of the CALIs are mini-tutorials on a particular subject. Most CALIs tell you how long it should take to complete the exercises, and they range anywhere from 10 minutes to one hour.

8)LexisNexis provides a variety of study aids.

9) Westlaw also has study aids. You can search in the secondary source database, and topical secondary source database and topical highlights databases to find helpful study aid products. Westlaw also provides 1L outline Shells.

Written by Brittany Cronin, Law Librarian Fellow

Friday, April 22, 2011

Small Claims Court Resources

The Westminster Law Library is pleased to announce the release of a Colorado Law Project (CLP) resource guide - on Small Claims Court actions. These research guides focus on area resources and help to answer practical questions for participants in a small claims court case. The CLP resources are written for the public and public librarians who are assisting patrons with legal issues, primarily dealing with Colorado law. Other sections of the CLP website discuss finding a lawyer, registering to vote, reporting abuse/neglect for children or animals, the difference between legal research and legal advice and a listing of some clinics available to the public to help with their legal problems.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Reference Closed 4/24

The Reference Desk will be closed on Sunday, April 24th. If you have a question over the weekend, please leave us an email or a voicemail at 303-871-6206 and we will get back to you on Monday.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Library Survey for Law Students

If you haven’t already done so, please take a few minutes to complete the student law library survey. The survey will close next week. We are conducting our annual student library survey to measure our service quality. Your participation in this survey will allow us to improve library services by better understanding your expectations and needs.

Please answer all the items. The survey will take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete. We would appreciate it if you would complete the
online survey now or in the next few days at

Thank you for your participation. This survey was approved by the University of Denver’s Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects in Research on 3/7/11.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Google Scholar Classes - 4/14/11

Learn to better utilize Google Scholar and its features, including how to set your preferences, create better searches, use the "cited by" function and more when locating cases and law journal articles. Stacey Bowers will be offering legal research brownbags on Google Scholar on Thursday, April 14th in room 330R (study room inside the library). The presentation will be offered from 12-1pm and then again from 4:15-5:15pm. Bring your own food, but cookies will be provided. Stacey is the Outreach & Instructional Services Coordinator at the Westminster Law Library.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Legal Writing Resources on Westlaw

Depending on your background and experiences, legal writing can be challenging. As a legal professional, your writing is your communication tool. Legal writing requires strong writing skills and analytical thinking. Whether you're writing for law school, law review or beyond, there are a few resources that will help you prepare for your entry into the world of legal writing. Consider checking your resources such as Westlaw when preparing your legal briefs or memorandums. Westlaw offers writing advice, tips on how to research legal authorities, and ways to develop your research strategy. Another great resource is Westlaw's Black's Law Dictionary. Legal dictionaries are essential when it comes to accurate and precise legal writing. When in doubt as to what resources are available to you, just ask a law librarian. Written By Diane Bauersfeld, Law Librarian Fellow

Monday, April 4, 2011

Colorado Legislative Council Research Publications

Colorado Legislative Council research publications are valuable resources for researching Colorado legislative intent and legislative history. In Colorado, legislative committees research a variety of issues that impact our state and its citizens. Typically, these committees produce a final report on their research and activities, and propose legislation based on their findings. These final reports are then submitted to the General Assembly for consideration. The staff of the Colorado Legislative Council provides non-partisan research and support on legislative issues and prepares the final committee reports. Each report describes the committee’s research mandate, outlines the committee’s activities in furtherance of its goals, and sets forth the committee’s recommendations (usually in the form of proposed legislation). Accordingly, these reports are a critical resource for scholars and researchers of Colorado legislative history.

In addition to committee reports, Colorado Legislative Council research publications include the Ballot Information Booklets (known as the Blue Book) and the Colorado Legislator’s Handbooks. The Blue Book provides voters with the text of ballot measures and includes an analysis of each ballot measure. This analysis includes the major arguments for and against each measure and an evaluation of the potential fiscal impact of each ballot measure. The Colorado Legislator’s Handbook sets forth the General Assembly’s rules, practices and procedures. Again, these historical materials are a veritable gold mine of legislative and electoral information.

With the approval of the Legislative Council, the Sturm College of Law’s Westminster Law Library is digitizing all of the Colorado Legislative Council’s research publications (going as far back as 1954). We invite students, researchers, and the general public to access these documents through the library’s website. Please note: digitizing these research publications is an ongoing process and many of the 2010 publications are awaiting digitization. If you need help locating any of these research publications, please feel free to contact the library’s reference desk at 303-871-6206 or email.

Written by Jennifer Chang, Law Librarian Fellow