I miss the law library

MissingItI’m not ashamed to admit I love being inside Sol Blatt Jr. Law Library. I terribly miss being able to go there and turn off the “real” world. I have spent the majority of the last two and a half years crammed in a corner, using a study room, or working the reference desk. Anybody who knows me will tell you that if you are looking for me, odds are I’m in the library. Yes, I realize I’m in the minority here. But for me the library was the place where I could tune out distractions and actually get my work done. It’s hard to imagine studying for the bar exam anywhere else, but at this point it appears that will be my reality.

After two weeks of the “new normal” I have come to a realization, your library is what you make of it, so make the best of it. I have adapted. I have figured out another way to study. Another way to learn. This is not a lesson I am learning for the first time. More than once in law school I thought I had it all figured out, such as the best way to outline, the best way to study, or the best way to prepare for class. More than once I realized I was wrong. That is because each class, each professor, each subject of study is unique. Because of this, the way each class is approached must be similarly unique. More simply put, don’t pigeonhole yourself into one way of doing things. Be prepared to constantly adapt and change.

Our library has such an amazing amount of resources available online. (Westlaw, Lexis, WestAcademic, Bloomberg, Cali, LibGuides, ect.) Not to mention an amazing library staff that is more than happy to assist you if you have any questions.

It is hard to truly quantify how much I have learned and accomplished inside the library. I have learned from faculty, study groups (shout out to section D and my 1L room 123 crew), and books I have found. Most of all I have learned from other students. It was a true pleasure for me to pass on what I learned to 1L’s and 2L’s. So many times I was saved by an upper-class student who already had the professor I had taken or pointed me to the study guide that helped them.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that reaching out to others around you is not a sign of weakness. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because odds are you will find someone with an answer or another classmate trying to figure out the same thing you are struggling with.

Work together, work better, succeed as one.

By: Matt King, 2019-20 Library Research Fellow

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3d white people difficult choiceThere are many skills students develop while attending law school. Some of these skills include analytical thinking, public speaking, persuasive writing, negotiating, simplifying and synthesizing complex ideas, and of course, research. Some students enter law school with the intention of pursuing an alternate career to practicing law, while some students later discover that they have little interest in practicing law. It is encouraging to know the skills developed in law school can transfer to other careers. Listed below are a few alternative career options for lawyers.

  1. Law librarians – If you loved legal research while in law school, then a career as a law librarian may be the right fit for you. Law librarians are often employed in higher education, but there are some law firms and government organizations who employ law librarians. Their job duties typically include providing reference assistance to attorneys and faculty, teaching and training, procuring and organizing library materials, conducting in-depth research, and managing the law library operations.
  2. Politician – One of the more recognized alternative career paths for lawyers is politics. Though a law degree is not required to become a politician, it can be very helpful because lawyers have mastered the skill of reading and understanding laws and regulation. Lawyers also possess the soft skills needed to be an effective politician such as public speaking and working with people. However, pursuing a career in politics can be very expensive and requires a lot of travel. Nonetheless, if you are interested in government—politics is a suitable option for you.
  3. Government Relations/Lobbyist – If you have an interest in government and the legislative process but do not wish to run for office, then lobbying may be the career choice for you. Lobbyists represent the interests of their clients before the legislature. Lobbyists also monitor and analyze legislation, attend congressional hearings, and influence public opinion through the media. Lawyers are trained negotiators and persuasive writers which are critical skills for lobbying.
  4. Sports Agent – Becoming a sports agent is another alternative career option, especially if you have an interest in contracts and, of course, sports! Sports agents represent the interests of professional athletes. An essential part of their job is to negotiate and secure contracts on behalf of their client. Law school teaches you the law of contracts and negotiations which will help in becoming a successful sports agent.
  5. Human Resources (HR) Manager – A career in HR is a great option if you’re interested in business or employment law. Many of the issues HR managers encounter relate to employment law. HR managers are largely employed by businesses which how the course business associations can be so helpful. HR managers oversee an organization’s recruiting, interviewing, and onboarding processes, consult with the organization’s leaders for strategic planning, and essentially serves as a liaison between the company and its employees.

Other alternative career choices include FBI agent, legal journalist, mediator, and many more! If you’re considering an alternative career to practicing law, the library and Career Services would be great resources for you. I’d also suggest taking a look at the texts Turning Points: New Paths and Second Careers for Lawyers and Nonlegal Careers for Lawyers.

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CyberIn the November 25, 2019 issue of South Carolina Lawyers Weekly, Renee Sexton (“Sexton”) provided some key information into the ever-evolving world of cybersecurity. Most people today are connected to their smartphones and other electronic devices. I have seen signs at local businesses informing customers that, “we do not have free Wi-Fi.”

Most people fail to consider the consequences of connecting to a company’s Wi-Fi network. Sexton opens her article by explaining the first thing we, as consumers, are told to do before connecting to another’s Wi-Fi network is agree to the terms of using the network. Whenever consumers connect their devices to another’s network, they become susceptible to that network’s security. Sexton continued by saying once a company has access to a person’s electronic device, then the company can track everything that person does on their device and screenshot confidential information. Thus, it is no surprise when Sexton mention how attorneys are potential targets for cyberattacks.

Attorneys have access to confidential client information and could be held liable for any breaches in that confidential information. Sexton spoke with Karen Painter Randall (“Randall”), who is an attorney, and Randall urges attorneys and law firms to view cybersecurity as “a process, not a product.” Law firms should have a plan in place to prevent cyberattacks, but also a plan to address a cyberattack.

Randall recommended law firms follow the National Institute for Standards in Technology ISO 27001 and ethics guidelines. The article concludes with suggestions drafted by the University of South Carolina School of Law Cybersecurity Legal Task Force. These suggestions include attorneys turning off the Wi-Fi setting on electronic devices, setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN), or using a separate phone for business purposes.

This article provided great insight for attorneys, as well as the general public, on the potential negative consequences of connecting to a public Wi-Fi network. Additionally, the article explains why attorneys and law firms should be mindful of connecting to third-party networks and how to take steps to enhance cybersecurity.

By: Erika Fowler
J.D. Candidate, Charleston School of Law
Library Research Fellow
Head Lexis Associate
Secretary, Federal Bar Association-Student Division
Vice Chair of Relations, Honor Council

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First Day in the Ocean

schoolfishSo today is your first day of law school, or you are reading this in anticipation of your first day of law school. Whatever the case may be, congratulations! You made it!

Now the work begins.

As you filter into the crowded halls of your respective law school and see the second and third-year law students, this can be a daunting experience, but do not worry; we have all been there before. Here are a few tips to help you be able to swim with the best sharks.

To begin, breathe, everything will be OK.

The best way to start your first day, or any day for that matter, is with a healthy and hearty meal. Breakfast is a critical meal because it influences every dimension of our being during the day; this includes both mental and physical performance.

Breakfast instantly raises the bod’s energy level and restores the blood glucose level to normal after fasting throughout the night. Breakfast also lowers the blood level of the stress hormone cortisol, which is at its highest early in the morning. In a nutshell, breakfast keeps you energized and stress-free.

The next way to start your first day off to a great start is to be on time. My first-year Property professor had a saying, “to be on time is to be 15 minutes early, to be late is to be on time.”

Before your first day, take the time to locate your classrooms and print your class schedule. Walk your route to class in advance so that on game day, you will already know the path to take and will not be lost by the influx of students walking to class.

To ensure your first day runs smoothly, be prepared for class. This is very different from undergraduate school. In undergrad, your first day is spent filling out initial paperwork and “getting to know” your professors.

In law school, your first day starts the ball rolling. Do not be behind the ball. Print out your syllabus, as this is your guide to the content covered in class. This is also the first step to building your outline.

Start working on your readings before class. The better students do not just keep up with readings, they read ahead. Read with an open mind and come to class prepared with questions.

Take notes as you read. Do not treat this reading like it’s “Joy reading” or your favorite novel. Law school reading is very dense, and it takes reading some cases more than once to understand them. Also, to better be prepared for class, make sure to have a writing utensil and paper. Some professors are sticklers about not using electronics in class.

Now you’re in class. You are probably asking, I followed all of your steps now I’m in class, what do I do? That answer is easy; pay attention, take notes, and ask questions.

All professors are different, but the Socratic Method is alive and well.

Don’t worry, my friend, we all have been called on in class, but what makes you different is the previous tip, you took the time to prepare. You read the cases before class and took notes while reading. Take a deep breath and think about what the professor asked you and why they asked that particular question. Refer to your notes and take the time to think because you’ve got this.

Finally, your day is over, and you have made it through your first day of class. Treat every day as if it is your first day of class. Prepare for every class, continue to read ahead, and take good notes. Law school will never become easy, but it can become manageable.

Congratulation little shark, you are now swimming in the ocean!!

~George E. Graham, II
Candidate for Juris Doctor, Spring 2021

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The First Amendment and Your License Plate

FirstAmendmentWhen John Kotler sent his application and request for a personalized license plate to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, he likely didn’t expect to wind up in the news.  However, instead of receiving the plates he ordered, Kotler, a life-long fan of the London-based Fulham Football Club (founded in 1879), received a resounding denial from the California DMV.

See, the “simple” plate Mr. Kotler requested had for seemingly innocuous letters: C.O.Y.W.  To the innocent bystander, these mean nothing.  However, to a life-long fan of a 140-year-old football club, this short acronym refers simply to the Fullham Football Clubs’ jersey and stands for: Come On You Whites.  When Mr. Kotler appealed to the DMV by submitting team merchandise, programs and team history to support his position, he was, again, quickly rebuffed.

What the California DMV likely never expected was to come across a personalized plate applicant like Mr. Kotler.  You see, Mr. Kotler is a professor at the University of Southern California (the other USC) and who exclusively teaches all things First Amendment.  Following the denial of his appeal, Mr. Kotler knew he had to do something.  it was obvious that an employee had researched his four-letter acronym and subjectively decided it was offensive.  As Mr. Kotler pointed out,  “If anyone actually did know what it (the acronym C.O.Y.W.) meant, then they would conversely know that the slogan was in no way offensive.”

While Mr. Kotler is not himself a lawyer, he has many friends who are.  The Pacific Legal Foundation, a non-profit organization, was founded in 1973 by members of then-Governor Ronald Reagan’s staff as the first public interest law firm dedicated to the principles of individual rights and limited government.  Shortly after Mr. Kotler filed his initial Complaint,  the state of California responded by submitting a Motion to Dismiss.  Mr. Kotler’s attorneys responded with an eloquently written Response in Opposition to the Motion.  On September 3, 2019, the court agreed with Mr. Kotler and, disposed of California’s motion declaring that the case could go forward.  Score one for the “little guy.”

This was a great victory for Mr. Kotler and his team because it allows them the opportunity to argue a case which they believe is such an obvious restriction on Mr. Kotler’s First Amendment right to freedom of expression.

The best part of all this is that the documents pertaining to Mr. Kotler’s lawsuit can be found on the Pacific Legal Foundation’s website at pacificlegal.org/case/kotler-v-webb.   The site is updated constantly and with the case moving forward, there will likely be some fantastic legal readings in the not-too-distant future.  Even if you have no interest in the First Amendment, these filings are great “real world” examples of legal writing  (which can’t but help budding students of law or freshly-minted lawyers develop their legal writing acumen).

~Matt B. King
Library Research Fellow, 2019-20

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Bloomberg’s Blooming Features


Bloomberg Law (Bloomberg) is a legal research database with intelligence centers and practical tools for legal practitioners and law students. Bloomberg often takes a back seat because law students are more familiar with its competitors LexisNexis and Westlaw. However, Bloomberg has great features to offer students such as its state law chart builder and company profiles.

The state law chart builder feature allows students to create a chart comparing laws in differing states based on a specific practice area. This is a great feature to use when you want to know how a law is applied in different jurisdictions. The chart builder allows students to choose from the following eight different practice areas: environmental, tax, corporate, privacy and data security, securities, labor and employment, banking and consumer finance, and healthcare. Once you select the general practice area, the next screen allows you to select the states you wish to compare and sub-categories within the general practice area. Once you make your selections, a chart is created displaying the laws of your selected states.

The company profile feature allows students to research law firms by reviewing the firm’s profile and litigation analytics. This is a feature every student can use in preparation for job interviews and understanding the firm’s major practice area(s). To access this feature, select “career resources” under law school success. Then, select “company profiles” under prepare for an interview. The next page will allow you to input the firm you want to research. Once you select your firm, the next page displays the firm’s profile along with litigation analytics.

Bloomberg has other great features such as its intelligence centers dedicated to business, litigation, and transactional law. The intelligence centers provide practical guidance tools students and practitioners. Users can access industry data and drafting tools, and more from the transactional intelligence center. The litigation intelligence center allows users to view judicial analytics for federal judges and find jury instructions available to the public in addition to other great litigation tools. Lastly, the business intelligence center is devoted to those interested in business law where users can view deal analytics and research businesses.

Check out Bloomberg today for its many blooming features!

Erika Fowler
2019-20 Library Research Fellow

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Chalk One Up for the Little Guy

ChalkingHave you ever gotten a parking ticket? More to the point, have you ever had your tires chalked before?  Really annoying it is sometimes.  Recently, however, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit unanimously ruled that “chalking” is a violation of the Fourth Amendment in Taylor v. City of Saginaw, et al.  Yeah, they really did!

What Is Chalking?

If you’re like me, you have probably never heard of “chalking” until now.  Chalking is mechanism parking enforcement officers have used in the past to impose parking time limits. It works like this: the officer will mark a parked car tire with chalk to help keep track of how long the car has been parked in a particular spot, and then ticket individuals which go over the time limit.

The Fourth Amendment:

The text of the Fourth Amendment states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probably cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”. Simply put, the Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures.  In determining whether a Fourth Amendment violation has occurred, courts will use this two-step analysis: 1. Does the government activity constitute a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment 2. Is the search reasonable?

As to the search inquiry, the Sixth Circuit concluded that chalking constituted a search under United States v. Jones. More specifically, “Under Jones, when governmental invasions are accompanied by physical intrusions, a search occurs when the government (1) trespasses upon a constitutionally protected area, (2) to obtain information”. (United States v. Jones, 565 U.S. 400 (2012).) Secondly, as to the reasonableness inquiry, the Court determined that the search was unreasonable under United States v. Smith, because the automobile exception does not apply due to lack of probable cause. If you aren’t familiar with the automobile exception, it allows officers to search a vehicle without a warrant so long as there is probable cause. (United States v. Smith, 510 F.3d 641, 647 (6th Cir. 2007).

If you’re interested in reading the Opinion, you can check it out  at http://www.opn.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/19a0076p-06.pdf.

~written by:
Haleigh Teegarden
Library Research Fellow, 2019-20

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Research and Networking at your Fingertips

ssrnAre you a graduate student, a scholar, a professor or just simply a research fanatic? If so, you will love the Social Science Research Network. SSRN is an online database available to assist you on beginning your early research. It’s always available, it’s worldwide and it’s free!

Yes, free.

There are many benefits of creating a free account on SSRN. On SSRN, you have access to hundreds of thousands of working papers. You also have an opportunity to submit your own research and paper. Submitting your own paper is as easy as hitting the upload link on your screen. You can also make your research data available with your article. All you have to do is upload your research data to the Mendeley Data repository, where it will be published and citable, and linked from your article.

SSRN is an online preprint community devoted to the worldwide dissemination of research.  They are known for providing valuable services to schools and government institutions. SSRN is composed of six research disciplines: Applied Sciences, Health Sciences, Humanities, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Social Sciences and they have an abundance of networks and journals within each discipline. Furthermore, SSRN is branching out into other science disciplines providing opportunities for you to post your early research and discoveries.

What I love about SSRN the most is that it is a network. You not only have the opportunity to read other author’s research, you can contact them and inquire about their data methods. The Network has professional job announcements and job openings. These announcements are distributed weekly. They include conferences, professional meetings, calls for papers, and Professional Job Openings.

The SSRN offers conferences on every research discipline, giving you the chance to learn about your field of interest and meet experts in that particular field and the opportunity to present your research and journal within SSRN’s extensive community. If you ever thought about relocating, there are job openings from all over the world offered on SSRN. The thought of endless opportunities from all over the world even makes me excited.

SSRN is the ultimate place for professionals in academia to network and gain contacts.  So if you haven’t yet, log on to SSRN and begin your journey of researching and networking from the comfort of your own home.

Shalonda Wilburn

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What is HathiTrust?

HathhiHathiTrust is a partnership of academic and research institutes that make some of the nation’s greatest research libraries and digitized collections available for all! Originally created in 2008, HathiTrust was established by thirteen universities to archive and collectively share digitized collections. With more than 10 million volumes, HathiTrust has one of the largest library collections for research of all time. Content in HathiTrust is discoverable through a variety of public domain and copyright materials from sources such as Google, Microsoft, the Internet Archive, and many more!

On HathiTrust researchers can:

  • Find Bibliographic or full-text search of all volumes
  • Create personal collections
  • Read and download public domain and open access volumes

Additionally, HathiTrust has full-text and advanced search options. Full-text searches provide information about the location of search terms that occur throughout the work, helping users discover the relevance of works to their topic or find information quickly in a print copy close at hand.

How will Researchers Benefit?

HathiTrust offers scholars access to an extensive collection of digitized material, permits researchers to produce customized searches, and makes material too difficult to access or study readily discoverable. HathiTrust aims to give undisclosed resources value by ensuring long-term access to print and electronic resources, creating scholarly tools, and improving the quality of the digitized content over time.

Wow! What a great electronic resource, it probably costs a fortune… BUT IT DOESN’T!

HathiTrust partners pay for the basic infrastructure costs of the material, including the costs of storage, backup, data centers, and servers. HathiTrust also gives researchers the option to log in as a guest through Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, and LinkedIn.

FUN FACT: Hathi (hah-tee) is the Hindi word for elephant, an animal highly regarded for its memory, wisdom, and strength. Trust is a core value of research libraries and one of their greatest assets. In combination, the words convey the key benefits researchers can expect from a first-of-its-kind shared digital repository.

Haylee Mitchell

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Why You Should Be Using PLI PLUS


PLI PLUS is an online legal research database provided by the Practicing Law Institute. Practicing Law Institute (PLI) is a nonprofit organization known for its accredited CLE (continuing legal education) and professional education programs.

This database contains over 100 treatises, over 3000 legal forms, transcripts from over 400 CLE programs, course handbooks and Q&A style answer books.

PLI PLUS is very user friendly, with a clean and updated interface. With more than 90,000 legal research documents available in 25 different practice areas, PLI PLUS has a lot to offer.

Thanks to our library, students can take full advantage. Every student can access the entire database on-campus.

Other features

PLI PLUS gives users the convenience of making notes and highlighting desired text. You can also create your own bookshelf and add certain chapters and titles to sub shelves as well. Users can share links to their shelves and sub shelves with others. PLI PLUS also allows you to view all of your notes and marks on one page.

How do you access the database?

First, go to the CSOL library website and scroll down to “Databases.” Then, just click “On-Campus Access” and you will find the link to PLI PLUS under “Legal Research Resources.” http://charlestonlaw.edu/sol-blatt-jr-law-library/databases-and-catalog/on-campus/

How do you use it?

 PLI PLUS is very easy to use with only four main tabs at the top of the page:

  • Search
  • Browse
  • My Bookshelf
  • My History

Under “Search,” there are simply four more sub-tabs:

  • Books
  • Forms
  • Transcripts
  • All Content

There are also advanced search options available to help narrow your search further.


I know what many of you may be thinking. Something as awesome as PLI PLUS can’t be free, right? Wrong.  As students of CSOL, on-campus access is at no charge.

Usually, CLE course handbooks can be very expensive when sold individually. Having access to over 400 programs a year on one database almost seems too good to be true.

For practicing attorneys, the subscription price varies depending on how many users are in the firm. An individual privileged membership with PLI charges an annual fee of $3,495.00!

With that in mind, make sure you take full advantage of this fabulous subscription! Try PLI PLUS for your researching needs.

Joseph Donohue
Class of 2020

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