Thursday, April 17, 2014

Count Your Bitcoins!

Do you have any virtual currency in your wallet?  Treasury Notice 2014-12, titled Virtual Currency Guidance, was issued by the I.R.S. on April 14, 2014. The document is in the format of questions and answers; it provides background on how tax principles will be applied to virtual currency transactions.  Want to know more about the regulation of  bitcoin and other virtual currrency?  The BC Law community can search Knowledge Mosaic using the Law Library's database link to track announcements, guidance documents and testimony from officials at Treasury, SEC, and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

Friday, April 11, 2014

Legal Implications of the Heartbleed Bug

Reporting Requirements: State and federal law require reporting "data breaches" in many circumstances, particularly in the health care and banking arenas.  For example, HIPPA requires covered entities to provide notification for a breach of unsecured protected health information.  45 CFR §§ 164.400-414.   Many of these reporting requirements provide a safe harbor for encrypted  data.  Since the Heartbleed bug targets the OpenSSL encryption code used by many websites, it might make it harder for companies to use these types of safe harbors.

Read more about the Heartbleed Bug and Data Breaches at the JD Supra Business Adviser Blog.

Antitrust: Companies had expressed concerns about sharing data to address security concerns in the wake of the Heartbleed Bug due to antitrust issues.  Yesterday, the FTC and the Department of Justice issued a joint statement [PDF] that the legitimate sharing of data to thwart security threats is unlikely to violate antitrust laws.

Read more about the FTC/Department of Justice position.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Working on a research paper?

Here are a few basic tips for researching a paper:
1.  Use periodical indexes: These aren't as scary as they sound. When you search law review articles on Westlaw and Lexis, you're doing what's called a full-text search. This can lead to an overwhelming number of results, many of which simply aren't that helpful. Indexes narrow those results because you aren't searching the full-text of the article but rather just the basic information about it.  One of the best is the Index to Legal Periodicals, available under "I" from our Law Library Database List. If you're doing research for which older articles might be useful, check out Index to Legal Periodicals Retrospective. 

2.  Use books: Also not as scary as they sound.  They can also be a lot more useful and easier on the eyes than online tools.  Try a catalog search in Holmes for your keywords and see what's available in our collection.  If something looks helpful but we don't have it in the law library, you can request the book from another BC Library. If you see a reference elsewhere to a book that BC doesn't own, you can do an interlibrary loan request. Ask a librarian for help if you can't figure out how to do this, and don't wait until the last minute or you might not get your book in time! 

3.  Make use of databases other than Lexis or Westlaw: They're great, but they're not the only game in town.  Check on other law-related databases via our Law Library Database List (such as a BNA source on your topic) or browse around all of the BC databases that are not necessarily related to legal research.  There are tons of databases out there that contain newspaper and magazines material and content on other subjects like environmental studies, political science, sociology and gender studies that could very helpful for a law school paper.  

4.  Ask for a librarian for help: We aren't scary either!  If you can't find what you're looking for or if these tips make no sense, feel free to ask at the information desk for a librarian!  We're happy to direct you to resources that are best suited for your particular research needs. 

Charting the Flow of Unaccompanied Alien Minors through the Immigration System

An enormous number of unaccompanied immigrant children navigate the complex U. S. immigration enforcement system.  Many of them do so without a lawyer.  Since 2003, the Department of Homeland Security has transferred between 5,000 and 8,300 children to the Division of Unaccompanied Children's Services each year.

Many different federal and state agencies are involved in the handling of unaccompanied immigrant children. I recently challenged my Immigration Law Research class to find flowcharts which depict the various paths unaccompanied immigrant children can take through the immigration enforcement system.  The class rose to the challenge and found four different government agency reports and practitioner guides with flowcharts and graphics, each with a slightly different focus.  The following resources can help scholars, practitioners and interested parties understand the movement of unaccompanied immigrant children through the U. S. immigration system:

Many thanks to Lauren Danskine, Sarah McGlaughlin and Renu Sagreiya for finding these resources!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Diversity Read with author Tara Conklin

We had an exciting experience during our annual Diversity Read lunch today!  Author Tara Conklin joined us via Skype to discuss her book, The House Girl. We chose this title as an appropriate book for our 6th annual Diversity Read, held to commemorate Diversity Month,  due to its theme of racial conflicts and oppression during the slavery era in the U.S. Students and staff had a unique opportunity to hear Tara describe her inspiration for her novel and her memorable characters.  It was fascinating to hear of Tara's research for her novel, as well as how her former law practice informed her character and plot development. Thank you, Tara, for a most memorable and stimulating Diversity Read experience from all of us at Boston College Law School!  We can't wait to read your next book.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Law360 on LexisAdvance

Academic users have seen the Law360 menu option on LexisAdvance since the initial product roll-out.  Access to Law360, however, has not been available for academic users.  As part of the latest enhancements, Law360 has become available to academic users, but access is cumbersome due to restrictions Law360 imposed  in its licensing deal with Lexis.  Access via the initial menu and selection screen is still blocked.  Instead, academic users must  run a search using the term Law360 and select this source after it populates in the word wheel.  Run a search on a desired topic. Once the search results are returned, academic users are advised to set up an alert.  That alert will then run and deliver articles from Law360 to the user.  It's not an elegant solution, and the alert results can be quite broad. Links within a given Law360 article to related Law360 content are blocked for academic users.  To access that content, yet another search is required. Also, given the timing of update loads from Law360, don't expect to see Law360 articles from the currrent day in your alert results. See screenshots with instructions available from LexisAdvance.

Friday, February 21, 2014

New enhancements on Lexis Advance

Lexis has just rolled out some important new enhancements on the Lexis Advance platform.  First and foremost, there's now the ability to browse sources by subject.  Previously, it was hard to find, say, secondary sources on criminal law.  Now, by clicking on Browse Sources in the upper-right hand side of the screen, one can filter by Content Type (e.g., secondary materials) and then by practice area (e.g. criminal law & procedure).  Over 40 different practice areas are represented.

Other useful enhancements include: the ability to directly access sources and their tables of contents from the main red search bar; more targeted search results; search terms highlighted in the result list, making it easier to zero in on the most helpful hits; the removal of the persistent filters (they now reset to all content when you log out).

In the next week or so, Lexis will be adding some more content to Lexis Advance, including 50 state surveys, historical codes, and the CourtLink materials.  Keep an eye out!