Friday, March 16, 2018

Tax Time

With just over a month left until tax day (Tuesday, April 17), it's time to get serious about completing 2017 federal and state tax returns. Although the Goodson Law Library staff cannot answer substantive tax-related questions (such as "what forms do I need to file?" or help with interpreting the form instructions), the Goodson Blogson can recommend some starting places for finding tax information and assistance.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (Public Law No. 115-97) passed by Congress in late December 2017 marked the first major reform of federal tax law since 1986. Although many of its provisions do not take effect until it is time to file taxes for 2018 or later, some portions of the new law do affect 2017 filings. The Internal Revenue Service Tax Reform page links to news releases and updates related to the new law. (If you're already thinking ahead to next year’s taxes, an interactive Withholding Calculator can help you determine if recent tax law changes should prompt a change to your federal withholdings.) A new title in the library, 2017 Tax Legislation: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Law, Explanation, and Analysis (Tax Collection KF6276.62017 .T55 2017) provides additional guidance to practicing lawyers about the recent law changes. Thomson Reuters Checkpoint contains a similar analysis of the tax reform act.

Thinking about hiring someone to help you through filing taxes? Before you pay for a professional tax preparation service, consider whether you qualify for the IRS Free File program. This service links qualifying taxpayers to free electronic federal tax preparation service (state tax preparation may also be available in some cases). Note that your adjusted gross income must be $66,000 or less in order to take full advantage of the Free File software. However, those with higher incomes can still use Free File Fillable Forms to fill out their federal returns.

You might also qualify for assistance from VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), a program in which trained volunteers assist with preparation for low- to moderate-income taxpayers (generally up to $54,000), as well as senior citizens. Duke Law's VITA chapter has some dates into early April; please note that advance appointments may be required. For readers outside the Durham area, the IRS maintains a locator service for VITA sites around the country.

If your taxes turn out to be too complicated, you might need to hire a professional. The IRS has tips for choosing a tax preparer as well as instructions for filing complaints if needed.

More information about federal tax law can be found in the Goodson Law Library's research guide to Federal Tax; for help locating these materials, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Thomson Reuters ProView Treatises Now Available

The entire Duke community now has access to more than 250 law treatises through the Thomson Reuters ProView platform. Titles from publisher Thomson Reuters Westlaw are visible to the University community and visitors when working on-campus within the University IP range; this link is accessible via Legal Databases & Links or the campus Law Databases page. (Off-campus access to ProView is available to current members of the Duke Law community via a current Westlaw login at the link above, or by clicking "Practice Ready" on the Westlaw Law School home page.)

The 255 available titles can be searched or sorted by title, author, jurisdiction, or subject; library staff are currently working to add individual links to the online catalog and Law Library research guides. Most titles focus on aspects of state or federal law in the United States, although selected titles relate to international law practice (such as International Capital Markets and Securities Practice) or domestic law of other countries (such as The French Commercial Code in English). 15 titles relate to the law of North Carolina, including nearly a dozen from the North Carolina Practice Series, such as Shuford North Carolina Civil Practice and Procedure. While many of these titles are also available to the University community in print in the Goodson Law Library, and online to Law School users within Thomson Reuters Westlaw, ProView allows campus users the convenience of online reading and searching while working within the campus IP range.

The campus ProView subscription allows for e-book viewing, searching, and printing of insubstantial amounts to PDF. (Law School users may log in with their Westlaw account to use additional annotation and highlighting features.) For help with accessing or using Thomson Reuters ProView, or for more information about books or e-books on legal topics, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Ladies Who Law

March is Women's History Month, making it a particularly good time to remember pioneering women in the legal profession. Even today, gender diversity at top law firms remains a challenge: as reported last month by the ABA Journal, only 22% of the major law firm partners are women, and even smaller numbers have represented those top firms in court appearances. But for America's earliest female lawyers and law students in the nineteenth century, a career in the law was even tougher.

The National Conference of Women's Bar Associations maintains a helpful page of Women Lawyer "Firsts", which attempts to untangle the many historical "first" facts for women in law. Generally, Myra Bradwell is one of the most famous examples, having been the first woman to appeal for admission to both the Illinois state bar and the U.S. Supreme Court bar in the 1860s and 1870s. Bradwell lost her earliest appeals, and by the time she was admitted to both bars in the 1890s, other "first" women had joined the profession. Arabella (Belle) Mansfield was admitted to the Iowa bar in 1869, and Belva Lockwood became the first woman admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court bar (in 1879).

The stories of these pioneering women are recounted in the 2013 book Rebels at the Bar: the Fascinating, Forgotten Stories of America's First Women Lawyers (KF367 .N67 2013 & online). Additional works on both historical and current women in law can be found in the Duke University Libraries catalog with a subject search for "Women lawyers – United States". Results include autobiographies and biographies of female U.S. Supreme Court justices O'Connor, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan; stories of civil rights pioneers like Dovey Johnson Roundtree, and a history of Harvard Law School's female students in the class of 1964.

Interested in local history of "ladies who law"? The Fall 1997 issue of Duke Law Magazine, available online, celebrated "70 Years of Women at Duke Law" – from the time Miriam Cox became the first woman to enroll at Duke Law in 1927; to the first female graduates in 1935; to the first African-American female students in the class of 1974; to the appointment of Pamela Gann, the first female Dean, in 1988. (Professor Katharine Bartlett later served as Dean from 2000-2007, and the Law School will soon welcome its next Dean, Kerry Abrams, this summer.) The magazine issue includes a timeline of American women in law as well as profiles of Duke Law alumnae.

For help with locating these or other resources about women in the legal profession, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Researching Canadian Law

Do you have questions about the law of our neighbors to the north? The library's guide to Canadian Legal Research might help you find the answers. The Goodson Law Library offers a variety of print and online sources for locating information about Canadian law, including the specialized database LexisNexis Quicklaw (available to the Law School community) to the multinational research database vLex Global (available campus-wide). The guide also links to excellent free online resources like CanLII and The Canadian Legal Research and Writing Guide.

The book series "Essentials of Canadian Law" is one effective starting place. Titles are available in print within the Goodson Law Library, but the full text of thirteen current titles in the series (including constitutional law, criminal law, and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms) can also be found online in vLex by following the path Browse > North America > Canada > Books and Journals.

The research guide also includes guidance for searching primary law, journal articles, and specialized citation manuals for Canadian materials. For more assistance with locating Canadian legal research materials, consult the research guide or Ask a Librarian.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Jackpot...or Not: The Law of Lotteries

The Goodson Blogson is sorry to hear that you didn't win this weekend's $180+ million Powerball lottery drawing. (We know you didn't, because no one else did, either.) Let's face facts: you will probably never win more than a few bucks playing the lottery. For a comparison of more likely odds than hitting a multimillion-dollar jackpot, play with Discovery Education's WebMath Lottery Odds Calculator. Interestingly, their calculations for winning a Powerball-like game's jackpot are even more optimistic than Powerball's official prize odds. But both calculations make a big win far less likely than being struck by lightning (1 in 2,000,000 odds in a lifetime).

Every once in a while, though, someone lucks into a large jackpot, and then must navigate the lottery laws of their jurisdiction. Consider the New Hampshire woman who beat long odds to win a $560 million Powerball jackpot in January. As reported last week by the ABA Journal, the woman (known only as "Jane Doe" – for now) signed her name on the back of the winning ticket before realizing that she could have claimed the prize anonymously by first setting up a legal trust instead. She's now suing the New Hampshire Lottery Commission for the right to remain anonymous, citing fears of harassment and violence if she accepts the prize in her own name. The complaint (PDF) cites previous examples of lottery winners who faced such threats, including two jackpot winners who were later murdered. A local paper reports that a court hearing has been scheduled for February 21.

How do New Hampshire's laws for claiming a lottery prize compare to those in your state? A quick way to begin researching such a question is a 50-state survey of statutes on a topic. The Subject Compilations of State Laws, available in print in the library's Reference Collection and online in HeinOnline, points to a helpful comparison chart on "State Lotteries" in the National Survey of State Laws (7th ed. 2015) – also available in print in the library's Reference Collection and online in HeinOnline. This source provides comparison charts of state statutes for several dozen legal topics. The "State Lotteries" chart answers some key questions about lottery operations, and includes citations to specific sections and chapters of state code publications for further research. While the chart doesn't directly answer whether a winner in each state can claim prizes anonymously, the pointers to primary law citations will help a researcher answer that question more efficiently.

It's worth noting that, just as with all other research resources, a user should verify the charts in National Survey of State Laws by looking at the primary resources, to ensure that their findings are up to date. As one notable example, the "State Lotteries" chart still describes North Carolina as a "Prohibited" lottery state, but its cited code sections now point to Chapter 18C of the General Statutes as an exception to that historical prohibition. (The North Carolina State Lottery and associated Commission were established back in 2005 – and we added Powerball to the mix in 2006.) N.C. Gen. Stat. § 18C-132 describes the process in North Carolina for claiming prizes. As the Charlotte Observer pointed out last week, the North Carolina statute provides for an exception to the public records disclosure law only when lottery winners have an existing protective order in place at the time of their win.

For more help with research lottery laws, check out the 50-state survey publications above or Ask a Librarian.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Legally Delicious

The Supreme Court Historical Society has recently published Table for 9: Supreme Court Food Traditions & Recipes. Compiled by the Society's publications director, Clare Cushman (who has authored several other works on Supreme Court history), this book also includes a foreword by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Table for 9 features eye-catching illustrations and recipes from the archives of the U.S. Supreme Court, along with trivia about food traditions among the Court and its justices.

In the Court's early days, the justices resided together at a boarding house, where meals were shared. In the late 1800s, afternoon oral argument schedules did not allow for a lunch break. Justices stepped behind the bench one at a time and ate lunch during arguments, to the dismay of counsel. Following repeated complaints from attorneys about the rotating bench, Chief Justice Fuller added a 30-minute lunch break to the schedule in 1898. Today's justices enjoy an hour-long lunch recess and often enjoy meals together in the Justices' Dining Room (where legal talk is strictly off-limits); individual justices may also opt to dine with their clerks in chambers.

Table for 9 details the varied lunch habits of justices throughout history: John Marshall was a oenophile who particularly enjoyed Madeira. Benjamin Cardozo was teased by his colleagues for bringing a slice of cake every day in his packed lunches. William Rehnquist's preferred lunch was a cheeseburger (no fries) and a Miller Lite beer. David Souter's lunch was almost always plain, nonfat yogurt.

Justices also frequently gifted each other food and drink: the book includes a recipe for beef jerky from Sandra Day O'Connor's family cattle ranch, which she frequently gave to colleagues and clerks. Antonin Scalia, an avid hunter, provided game to his colleagues on the bench. Birthday cakes were also a common sight at the Court, whenever justices and clerks celebrated the occasion; Table for 9 includes several cake recipes.

Believe it or not, Table for 9 is just the latest addition to the Goodson Law Library's growing legal cookbook collection. Other titles in our collection with a culinary focus include:
  • Chef Supreme: Martin Ginsburg (2011) was the Supreme Court Historical Society’s first foray into cookbooks. It was compiled as a memorial to Justice Ginsburg’s late husband Marty, a renowned tax professor and accomplished chef. Chef Supreme compiles Martin Ginsburg's personal recipes along with tributes and photos from his life with "the Notorious RBG." (Speaking of Justice Ginsburg's popular nickname, her favorite recipe of Marty's from Chef Supreme – pork loin roasted in milk – is also reprinted in the 2015 biography Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Several Martin Ginsburg recipes are also featured in Table for 9.)
  • The Vespers' Trial Cookbook: Italiano Cucina Rustica with Trial Tips for Lawyers (2014) is a trial practice handbook/cookbook by "the Cookin’ Cousins" Thomas and Dominic Vesper. Tom (a trial attorney) and Dom (a retired accountant with a passion for home cooking) share tried-and-true "recipes for success" in both the kitchen and the courtroom.
  • Several titles of the American Bar Association's "Little Book of...Law" pocket-sized casebook series include recipes along with their summaries of interesting court opinions on a particular topic. The Little Book of BBQ Law (2013) features barbecue-focused cases from various practice areas, interspersed with recipes for sauces, mains, and sides. As its title suggests, The Little Book of Foodie Law (2012) explores case law related to the food service and production industries, and includes a related recipe at the end of each chapter. The Little Book of College Football Law (2014) also features 18 recipes, perfect for a tailgate or a game-day viewing party.
  • You’ll have to ask a staff member to show you the print copy of Hein App├ętit! (2013), as this community cookbook from the makers of the research database HeinOnline is housed in the library's Professional Collection, a staff-only area. However, a free download of this compilation of law librarian recipes can also be found online. Sadly, no Duke Law librarians contributed their culinary expertise, but we'll be sure to correct that error if a second edition is ever compiled.

Finally, although you won’t find them in the stacks of the Goodson Law Library, a Duke Law organization once published a few cookbooks of its own. The Rubenstein Library's archival materials about the Law School includes two "Culinary Casebooks" compiled by the Duke Law Dames, a social group for law student and faculty spouses, in the early 1970s. As a fund-raising project, the group collected recipes from its membership, which were published in these spiral-bound cookbooks. (A few recipes submitted directly from Law School professors and deans also made the cut, including former Dean Elvin R. Latty's huevos en Malaga.) These fascinating pieces of Duke Law archival history can be viewed at the Rubenstein Library in the Law Dames Records, 1951-1973.

Cover of Duke Law Dames Culinary Casebook Volume II (circa 1972).
Available in the Rubenstein Library "Law Dames Records" collection.
For help with locating these legal cookbooks, or for other legal research questions, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 and Legal News Sources, the online home of American Lawyer Media (ALM) publications like The National Law Journal and American Lawyer, is now available to the Law School community. In addition to online-only content, electronic versions of the following publications are included:
  • American Lawyer 
  • AmLaw Litigation Daily 
  • Connecticut Law Tribune 
  • Corporate Counsel 
  • Daily Business Review 
  • Daily Report 
  • Delaware Business Court Insider 
  • Delaware Law Weekly 
  • Inside Counsel 
  • Legal Intelligencer 
  • Legal Tech News 
  • National Law Journal 
  • New Jersey Law Journal 
  • New York Law Journal 
  • Supreme Court Brief 
  • Texas Lawyer 
  • The Recorder

Full text access is available within the Law School's IP range at, and current Law School community members may also create a personal account (allowing mobile and off-campus access) at this site. (ALM publications are also available to the Law School community within Lexis Advance, under the "Legal News" section.) is just one source for keeping up with the latest legal news and analysis. The Law School community also has access to Law360 (within the Law School network or online in Lexis Advance), BNA Law Reports (with NetID or online in Bloomberg Law), and specialized topics such as Kluwer Arbitration, the Deal Pipeline (transactional law), and IP Watch (intellectual property). Visit Legal Databases & Links to view specialized legal resources and their access polices.

For more general (i.e., non-legal) news sources, the Duke University Libraries offer multiple options for American and world newspapers. For example, America's News includes full text of large and small-town papers, generally back to the early 1990s. The DUL research guide to Newspapers in the Duke University Libraries include tabs for U.S., U.K., and world newspapers, both current and historical. For help with finding or using a news source, be sure to Ask a Librarian.