Welcome to Yale Law School
Over the next months and years, you will become familiar with and will use the law library and the library’s services. We would like to encourage you in this and to also encourage you to take advantage of our resources and services. Most importantly please remember that if there is anything that you want or need, please ask. It’s likely that you are not the only person with that need and there is a good chance that we already have a resource or service that will meet your need or that we can direct you to a resource that can meet your needs.
Although it’s too late to avoid being long-winded, the object of this post is to highlight a “top ten” lost of services and resources that we think will make your transition to YLS as straightforward as possible. So without further ado, here is the top ten.
The library web site is located at library.law.yale.edu. The web site can direct you to our services and to tools that will enable you to find the materials that you will need to study law and to conduct legal research.
- One L students should be aware that you will receive some research instruction during your “small group” class time. Your “Coker Fellow” will schedule your research classes and Bloomberg, Lexis, and Westlaw instruction sessions.
- The Reference and Instructional Services Department has also prepared a number of short video tutorials describing some research methods.
- The Department has also created a number of research guides that you may find useful during your time in law school.
- Librarians also teach several for-credit research courses that you may consider taking in order to improve your research skills or to delve a little deeper into legal research. A list of some of these courses appears below, please note that these offerings may change and if there is a course that you would like to see us offer, please let us know and we will consider it.
- Other opportunities for legal research instruction are also available at the law school. You will see that the major legal database providers offer sessions designed to introduce you to their research systems and the library will offer research based one-off sessions and blog posts. You may also encounter legal research instruction in your journal or clinical work. We are also adding research guides and tutorials. If you would like to see a tutorial or guide on a particular topic, please let us know.
- The reference librarians are always happy to schedule a meeting with you to discuss your research, to help devise a research plan, or to teach you about resources and research methods.
- Finally, reference librarians are available seven days a week through a variety of methods of contact. You can walk up to a librarian’s office or the reference desk, you can call us, emails us, send us a text message, or use IM. Please note that IM widgets are installed on almost all library web pages.
The Law Library’s catalog is MORRIS (and its one-box searching interface Encore). It is one of the most important research tools available to you. MORRIS contains the records of the books, and many databases, owned by the law school. MORRIS also contains links to many other databases and lists of electronic publications. Please note that not everything at Yale is included in MORRIS. Any material that is held by a Yale library other than the law library can be found in Orbis and NOT in MORRIS.
The Law Library and the University offer access to a large number and wide variety of databases.
- Access to Bloomberg Law, Lexis, and Westlaw is restricted to law students. Each law student will be supplied with an individual password. You will get this password during your library orientation. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Reference Desk.
- The Law Library also supplies access to a large number of specialized legal databases. A list of these databases and others that are often of interest to law students appears on the library’s web site. A few databases other than Bloomberg Law, Lexis, and Westlaw, require that you enter a password in order to gain access. A list of these passwords appears on the “Inside Site” under the link “Library Database Passwords” that appears in the left-hand column.
- The University supplies access to many, many more databases. You can find the list of these databases from a link on the University Library’s main web page.
- Almost all of the databases that Yale subscribes to regulate access via your IP Address. If you are connecting to the Internet from off-campus, you will not have a Yale IP Address and will, therefore, have to use the University’s VPN service to gain access to these databases. Information about this as well as a link to the necessary software is available from the Off Campus Access link on the University Library’s main web page.
The Yale Law School Digital Legal Scholarship Repository is an online, open access website containing almost all of the legal scholarship by Yale law faculty. It is recognized as one of the most valuable free portals to legal scholarship available on the Internet.
Sometime this academic year, the repository is going to hit a significant milestone: 1,500,000 full-text downloads. We want to celebrate this event, by giving a free iPad to the Yale Law student who guesses the date this will happen.
To enter the competition, do the following:
- Visit the repository site http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu and take a look around;
Based on the information you gather there, email Julian.email@example.com with your best guess for the date we will hit our milestone. Please use a subject line of ‘Repository Competition.’
- If no one guesses the exact date, we will take the closest guess. If there is more than one winner, we will draw names from a hat. This competition is only open to Yale Law School students.
Library Shelving Facility (LSF) and Eli Express. Eli Express is a delivery service operating among most of Yale's libraries. It allows library readers to request that books be delivered from any of Yale's participating libraries to another Yale library of their choice. You will receive an email when your item is available for pick-up.
While searching our MORRIS online catalog, you may occasionally come across items with the location “Lib. Shelving Facility”. This is off-site storage. You can request materials from LSF to be delivered here. It generally takes less than 24 hours, and you will receive an email when your item is available for pick up at the Law Library circulation desk.
Borrow Direct and Interlibrary Loan - If you need material that is not available on the Yale campus, Borrow Direct is a service that can be used to borrow books from other libraries. Most books borrowed through Borrow Direct are available for pickup at the Law Library within four business days. A link to Borrow Direct can be found on the website http://library.law.yale.edu/borrow-direct-interlibrary-loan-and-scan-demand-services
If the book you want is not available from Borrow Direct, you should use Interlibrary Loan. Request forms may be submitted through the Web http://library.law.yale.edu/borrow-direct-interlibrary-loan-and-scan-demand-services
In an effort to improve our customer service to everyone, we no longer allow library patrons to place recalls on material checked out from the law library. Instead, we are encouraging our patrons to use Borrow Direct.
If the material you are looking for is not available via Borrow Direct, contact a staff member, and we’ll be happy to obtain the material.
Scan on Demand is a free electronic document delivery service that enables members of the Yale Law School community to obtain scanned portions of books or journal articles from the library's collections. Requests should be made online, directly from our catalog. Requested documents will be scanned and delivered within two business days. We will scan single chapters from books or single articles from journals. This is our ‘signature pajama service,’ designed for wet days: when you just don’t want to go outside, the library will come to you.
How to read a citation – Legal citations are one of the most important languages that lawyers use in their communication. The citations that lawyers use not only indicate that law supports the preceding statement, but it also tells the reader a great deal about the law that supports the given proposition. One of the first skills that a new law student should master is reading legal citations.
Because cases are the form of law that you will encounter more than any other, at least for the next few weeks, the citation form that is used by cases is similar to those used by other types of law, and case citations are more straightforward than many other types of citations, we will use a case citation here.
Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971) is a citation to a court’s opinion. The first part of the citation, “Cohen v. California” is the name of the case. In most instances, the party that brought the case to the court making the decision is listed first and the party answering is listed second.
The next part of the citation, “403 U.S. 15” tells that reader a lot about the case. First it tells the reader where to find the case. In this instance the case is in volume 403 of the United States Reports and it starts on page 15. Most citations will follow a similar form: volume, source, and page (or section). In this case, the source is a set of books published by the United States government that contains the opinions of the United States Supreme Court. Not only does a reader know where to find the case, but they know that it represents the definitive word on the subjects covered, unless of course the opinion has been modified by later United States Supreme Court cases.
The final part of the citation “(1971)” is the year that the case was decided. Please note that if the named reporter included cases from several courts, the parenthetical will contain information that tells the reader which court made the decision.
The opinions of some courts can appear in several reporters. The Uniform System of Citation (or “Bluebook”) will tell you which reporters are to be used. For example, Cohen v. California also appears at 91 S.Ct. 1780 and 29 L. Ed. 2d 284. These citations are read in the same way as the United States reports citation is read. The only difference is that the first directs you to the Supreme Court Reporter, published by West, and the second to United States Reports, Lawyers’ Edition, published by Lexis. There are a number of reasons, why you may not want to use the official reporter. Those reasons will become clearer as you become familiar with the reporters and learn about legal research.
As you work through law school, the language of citation will become clearer and it will become a valuable part of your research and writing agenda.
Through your Small Group, you have been assigned a Legal Research Advisor. Your Legal Research Advisor will be teaching the research sessions to your Small Group. You can also consider your LRA as a point of contact in the library. Please note that this does NOT mean that you can contact only your LRA. Please feel free to contact other librarians and get to know as many as can be helpful to you. You can find your LRA’s contact information on the library’s web site.