Productivity Tips for the Upcoming Academic Year

office-work-1149087_1920 Although studying from home has its advantages, it also presents its challenges. The potential lack of structure, combined with the absence of social reinforcement and the presence of myriad distractions, can exacerbate the already-acute anxieties associated with law school’s heavy workload. Learning how to efficiently manage that workload should be part of any strategy to mitigate that stress. If harnessing the power of your smartphone to get organized sounds appealing, you may want to try productivity apps (all of the ones described here come in free and paid versions, and are available for iOS and Android.)

The first app to check off your list is a to-do list. The purpose is easy to understand for anyone who’s ever composed a grocery list: it helps you organize your most immediate tasks for action. As you complete action items, you virtually “check” them off, and they disappear from your list, giving you a nice little rush of positive reinforcement. My go-to to-do is Todoist. Its intuitive interface makes it easy to create tasks, break them into subtasks, and of course, check them off. In addition, the combo of voice integration and natural-language processing allows you to speak your tasks into your phone as they occur to you, which is valuable when you inevitably recall a critical but heretofore forgotten task while knocking out your household chores.

Next, you’ll want a dedicated note-taking app for creating and organizing notes and materials that won’t fit into a list format, such as class notes. In this category, I’m a fan of Evernote. It has excellent optical character recognition, allowing you to, say, take a picture of that maddening Pennoyer v. Neff case, annotate it during your WebEx lecture, and then search it all by keyword later in the semester when you’re pulling all of that personal jurisdiction material together for your Civ Pro outline.

habitica screenshot

The final element in your productivity suite should be a habit tracker. Habit trackers, which are designed to directly incentivize your healthiest and most productive behaviors, really help to keep you on track in a world full of distractions and diversions. For its considerable fun factor, I like Habitica here, which gamifies your habitual behaviors and presents them as a SNES-style RPG. So, yeah, you can totally earn experience points, find some sweet magical armor, and slay dragons just by washing your dishes, wrapping up those Con Law readings, and getting your steps in.  It also allows you to create even more accountability by questing with your real-life friends (while maintaining social distance) in a party of habit-forming adventurers.

Are there any other productivity apps you find to be especially helpful in organizing your law-school life at home? Let us know in the comments.

Summer Online Content Suggestions

Summertime is fast approaching, which means it’s time for our annual summer reading suggestions!

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Every year we solicit summer reading suggestions from the Georgia State Law faculty. We usually purchase any books not available in our collection and add them to a summer faculty leisure reading suggestions display. Once it’s time to take the display down, the books are then added to the Law Library Leisure Collection.

Due to the new remoteness of all of our work, we’ve decided to change things up a bit.  Instead of asking for physical books that we can buy, we decided to ask faculty and staff for online content like blogs, videos, or really anything else they enjoy while away from the law school or relaxing at home.  Below are the answers we received… Enjoy!

*The recommendation list will be updated as submissions are received.

Pam Brannon

Bon Appetit – Bon Appétit is an “opinionated food brand” with it’s own YouTube channel. The channel features video content of recipes that everyone can create at home. There’s even a video with DeAndre Jordan cooking vegan pancakes!

Meg Butler

This summer I am considering a trial of the not-so-new Disney Plus service. There seems to be multiple options available to make my family happy, like Sophia and the Marvel heroes and villains. I, however, am most excited about July 3, 2020. According to the man himself (Lin Manuel Miranda), the Hamilton film will be available for streaming. We had tickets (a gross indulgence of my children and my own impulsivity) for the show at the Fox. I’m not sure how I feel about seeing the live show in August, but I’m super excited to be able to stream it from the comfort of my living room. Now that we are working from home, it sure seems to be “the room where it happened”!

Kris Niedringhaus

Buried Truths – Peabody Award-winning podcast. “Buried Truths acknowledges and unearths still-relevant stories of injustice, resilience and racism in the American South. The podcast is hosted by journalist, professor, and Pulitzer-prize-winning author, Hank Klibanoff.”

The Slowdown – 5 minutes of poetry and commentary from The Slowdown podcast or email newsletter.

A History of the World – A History of the World in 100 Objects from the BBC and The British Museum.

Recipes – A variety of recipes from Food52.

Patrick Parsons

Pasta Grannies – It’s exactly what it sounds like – short videos of older Italian grandmas making homemade pasta.  It sounds underwhelming, but I think it’s the best thing on the internet.

Cassandra Patterson

Goalcast – A “content production powerhouse”, Goalcast provides videos and other content intended to empower people authentically using real-life stories. It provides resources and practical advice to help motivate people.

Summer Hours & Online Access to Library Resources

By Gilbert Morales, Reference GRA

For Blog

During these uncertain times, it’s important to know your resources. No, not Netflix or endless TikTok videos, I’m talking about library resources. Many Law Library resources are accessible to every law student online. For example, study aids are available online for class prep such as Sum and Substance Audio and Acing series by West Academic and Examples and Explanations (E & E) and Emanuel Crunchtime series by Wolters Kluwer. Learn more about those resources from our previous post titled Featured Resource: The Library’s Online Study Aids. Also, don’t forget about the library exam archive!

Along with class prep, students can access other basic library services remotely throughout the summer. For example, did you know that students can still chat with a librarian? Simply visit lawlibrary.gsu.edu and click on the “Chat Reference” tab in red. There, students and others can chat with the librarian on duty. You can also leave a voicemail at 404-413-9102, or ask a question via email to lawreference@gsu.edu. Reference Services will be provided during the summer at the hours below:

  • Monday – Thursday: 8:30 am – 6 pm
  • Friday: 8:30 am – 5 pm
  • Saturday – Sunday: 1 pm – 6 pm

If you have books checked out from the law library, you may renew your books by signing in to your account from the GIL-Find catalog. You can also access the Gil-Find catalog by searching first for a title from the Law Library home page. Students–and anybody else with a library account–can view their books or other things checked out and simply renew them. I just did with one click! Of course, students can still return books to clear their library accounts. You can return books by dropping them at one of the drop boxes outside of other GSU campus libraries.

Lastly, A.L.E.R.T. sessions remain available! Simply visit the ALERT iCollege page, watch the video, and complete the session’s quiz satisfactorily. Remember students completing six topics will earn a Distinction badge, students completing eight topics will earn a High Distinction badge, and the Highest Distinction badge will go to students completing 10 topics. So what are you waiting for, earn some bragging rights by going after that High Distinction badge!

The library is open online for your convenience, and lots of resources are available for you! To learn more about available resources through remote access, visit here.

Resources for Final Exams & Papers

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Flickr photo by Jesse Michael Nix

By Tiffany Williams, Reference GRA

Preparing for final exams and final papers remotely add an added level of stress to an already daunting task.  Fortunately, the Law Library offers an array of online resources and tools to ensure that your new study environment does not hamper your ability to have a successful and triumphant final exam period.

Students may utilize the library’s research guides to begin strategizing the best way to tackle their final papers.   There are guides in more than 25 subject areas, ranging from Alternative Dispute Resolution to Wills, Trusts, and Estates.  In addition to a comprehensive list of both Federal and Georgia-specific primary sources, the guides also provide links to several secondary resources like treatises, statistical reports and data sites, and blogs.

Students can also take advantage of the library’s online research databases.  HeinOnline, for example, offers thousands of law review articles which not only help students to develop a greater understanding of the law surrounding their topic area but also serve as a great way to find references to primary law authority. Pro Tip: Footnote scouting is a great way to find relevant and useful sources to help guide you in your research.

The reference desk is also a great way to obtain further direction in completing research as you begin mapping out the direction of your final written assignments.  The reference desk staff is offering reference desk services during finals via online chat and email from 8:30AM – 7:00PM Monday through Thursday and 8:30AM – 5:00PM on Friday.  Whether your question involves locating an online version of a print resource or simply obtaining guidance in figuring out where to start in your research, the reference desk chat is a priceless resource to be included in everyone’s final exam/final paper toolkits.

For final exam preparation, one of the most invaluable resources is the library’s online study aids.  Check out an in-depth review of the Law Library’s online study aids in this Featured Resource blog post. The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instructions (CALI) also provides students access to over 1,000 interactive legal tutorials and lessons across 55 topic areas.  CALI lessons serve as a great way to supplement your course study by filling-in the areas in which you may not have obtained a strong understanding of the substantive material.

We wish you the best of luck on your finals!

Miss Your Study Room? Here’s a Virtual Option!

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Most of us never would’ve thought a month ago that we would all be working remotely – or from our own kitchen table/patio/wherever we find ourselves working from these days. We’ve all had to adjust our lives to address our new work/learning environment.

While, currently, you are unable to physically visit the library or make use of your favorite study room, you can still have a virtual study room of your own with your study group with Webex – an online platform provided to you by GSU. It’s very similar to Zoom and it allows you to meet with people, virtually, and share your desktop, files, etc.

Learn more about hosting these virtual meetings at https://technology.gsu.edu/technology-services/it-services/collaboration-tools/webex/. You will have to log in with your CampusID and Password to be able to access WebEx. This link also provides the steps you can use to secure the WebEx session on Windows and Mac desktops. You can also download WebEx on your iOS or Android device. It’s very accessible!

WebEx even has a “personal room” that allows you to instantly meet and schedule meetings. You can start this personal room and allow people to pop in and out as they like. I think it’s a great option for a study group. Once all of your group members are in, you can even lock the meeting so no one else can intrude!

Personal RoomLock Meeting

Once in a WebEx meeting, you can assign roles to people within the group. For example, you may want to designate someone as the note taker or maybe you want to pass the role to someone else to present. (We used to call this “passing the ball”.) You can present your screen to your peers!

Change Roles

Sharing Screen

Similar to Zoom, WebEx also allows the user to change or blur their background image. These options may differ depending on what type of device or desktop you use.

Check out these three short tutorials on using WebEx, each under 3 minutes, prepared by law IT: https://insidelaw.gsu.edu/technology/webex-related/! Included are tutorials on scheduling and launching WebEx meetings, as well as an audio tutorial. You can be up and ready to go with your study group session in just over two minutes.

Summer Westlaw & Lexis Access

WestLexis-holding-hands-on-beach-3727554Westlaw and Lexis have historically altered their access policy for students and recent graduates during the summer. The Law Library has recently received an update from both Sue Moore at Westlaw and Brittany Conklin at Lexis. Westlaw and Lexis will provide summer access as described below.

Access and Restrictions for Rising 2Ls and 3Ls

Lexis

Law students will automatically have free unlimited use of their law school Lexis Advance ID this summer. No registration is required.

Westlaw

You do not have to do anything to gain access to Westlaw over the summer.  However, there are use restrictions.

You may only use Westlaw over the summer for non-commercial research. You can turn to these resources to gain understanding and build confidence in your research skills, but you cannot use them in situations where you are billing a specific client at a law firm. Examples of permissible uses for your academic password include the following but are not limited to:

  • Summer coursework or any type of academic research
  • Research Assistant assignments
  • Law Review or Journal research
  • Moot Court or any trial competition research
  • Non-Profit work
  • Clinical work
  • Externship/Internship sponsored by the school

Access for Graduating 3Ls

Lexis

Updated 5/11/2020.  Lexis has extended their access through Feb 2021.

Graduates may access Lexis for free through December 31, 2020 February 28, 2021. No registration is required.

Westlaw

You must register for Graduate access.

Your access is “normal” until May 31, 2020. Starting June 1st and ending November 30, 2020, graduates will have extended Westlaw and Practical Law access for 60 hours per month for six months. This access is part of your academic subscription and there is no charge for this extended access.

To check if you signed up, graduates can go to lawschool.tr.com, sign on with their user name and password, and click on their name in the top right corner. They will see a link there for “Grad Access Status” and they can see if they have already extended. Graduates can extend at any time during the 6 month period but grad access will end on November 30, 2020. Any questions about Westlaw grad access, please email Sue at sue.moore@tr.com.

ALERT 2020 Certificate Awardees

ALERT Certificate

The library is pleased to announce our list of 2020 ALERT Program Awardees.

The Applied Legal Experience, Research, & Technology (ALERT) Program is a non-credit program that provides students with additional opportunities outside of the College of Law’s curriculum to learn advanced legal research and technology skills. Each student listed below will graduate in the Spring of 2020 having completed a predetermined number of ALERT sessions during their careers at the Georgia State College of Law.

Each session is approximately 1 hour and covers an advanced topic in legal research, technology, or an intersection of the two.  Students are awarded different levels of distinction according to the following requirements:

  • With Distinction: 6 Topics completed
  • With High Distinction: 8 Topics Completed
  • With Highest Distinction: 10 Topics Completed

Now without further ado, the 2020 ALERT Program Awardees are:

Highest Distinction

  1. Ovidiu Balaj
  2. Andrew Coffey
  3. Latrevia Collins
  4. Emily Gaston
  5. Timothy Graves
  6. Richard Quarles
  7. Justin Showalter

High Distinction

  1. John Hooven
  2. Tiffany Williams

Distinction

  1. Julia Collins
  2. Kristi Gibbs
  3. Tyler Graff
  4. Mark Hunter
  5. Courtney LeBeau

Keeping Up With the Courts

Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals

11th Circuit Court of Appeals, via Wikimedia Commons.

Over the past few years an increasing number of courts have provided the public with the opportunity to view or listen to court proceedings online. Georgia’s appellate courts, the Georgia Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Georgia, have offered live video of their oral argument sessions for several years now. The Supreme Court of Georgia has announced that its oral arguments for the week of April 20th will take place on Zoom and will be live-streamed as normal.

With the need to move court services online, now even more courts are offering online live access to court proceedings. Both the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit have announced that they will livestream their oral arguments in April 2020.

As for the Supreme Court of the United States, there is no indication when oral arguments will resume. On April 3rd the Court issued an order postponing oral arguments originally scheduled for the April session. UPDATE: On April 13th the Court announced that in early May it will hold oral arguments by telephone conference. The Court also stated that it “anticipates providing a live feed of these arguments to news media.”

We are (remotely) available! Library Services for the rest of the semester.

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Like many of you, we are making adjustments for the next couple of months. Although the building is currently closed, we are still available!

We prepared an online LibGuide with helpful information and links to the services available, such as reference, circulation, and student services. It will be updated as we receive new information. You can find this LibGuide at https://libguides.law.gsu.edu/refcircaccess.

Additionally, we are offering chat, email, and phone reference service at the hours below:

  • Monday – Thursday: 8:30 am – 7 pm
  • Friday: 8:30 am – 5 pm
  • Saturday – Sunday: 1 pm – 6 pm

Questions can be submitted through chat reference, emailed to lawreference@gsu.edu, or you can call us at 404-413-9102.

Remember, that the library’s catalog is a great place to start your search and find out if any of the resources are available online. Using the catalog will allow you to check not only the resources available online via the law library, but it will also search the entire University System of Georgia!

All of the online services remain available, such as our Study Aids and LibGuides. There’s even a LibGuide on Free Legal Resources available online!

Even though we’re physically away from the law school, you can still use the library as a resource. If you ever have questions, please reach out to us! Keep up to date on library hours and access by visiting our homepage at https://lawlibrary.gsu.edu/.

Featured Resource: The Library’s Online Study Aids

By Gilbert Morales, Spring 2020 Reference GRA

It goes without saying that understanding the law is hard work, but you’re not alone in this endeavor. The library has many resources to chart your path to crushing those pesky law school exams. One of the most invaluable resources is the library’s online study aids. Students anxious to begin exam prep can access online the West Academic Study Aids and the Wolters Kluwer Study Aids by visiting the GSU Law Library website and clicking “Online Study Aids” in the Services tab.

Blog Study Aid

In West Academic Study Aids, students can take advantage of the newly added Exam Pro quizzes. To find this tool, simply search the Exam Pro Series then filter by “Quizzes” under “Type” in the left navigation bar. Exam Pro quizzes allow students to immediately see correct answers and problem explanations. It also breaks down law school subjects into subtopics so students can focus on specific areas.

West Academic also provides access to the entire Acing Series. Like Exam Pro, the Acing Series also dives into subtopics and provides easy to understand explanations. However, it focuses mainly on short answer essays. Students can also benefit from double-checking their outlines by using Acing’s easy to follow topic checklists. Line by line students can understand the logic and sequence of contract formation, civil procedure, and rules of evidence.

Moreover, for the podcast generation, West Academic has the Sum and Substance Audio series where every major law subject is broken down into bit size audio clips ranging from 3-20 minutes. Listening to audio clips offers flexibility that can be used most effectively during exam crunch time.

Students can also access the Wolters Kluwer Study Aids that has a range of accessibility features. One notable feature is the ability to download study aid content. Downloadable materials make it easier for students to quickly access study aids on their desktop. Wolters Kluwer also offers audio and video content. For the visual learners among us, the “In Other Words” video series provides understandable material explained by law professors and legal practitioners from nearly all major areas of law.

Additionally, Wolters Kluwer offers invaluable content like Examples and Explanations (E & E) and Emanuel Crunchtime. Much like the Acing Series, E & E provides easy to understand explanations of topics and subtopics but also includes more short answer hypotheticals. So if your exam includes short answer questions, E & E is your go-to.

Emanuel Crunchtime is another terrific study aid because it’s among the most comprehensive. To give you an idea, this study aid typically includes short answer questions, multiple-choice questions, and essay exam questions, all with answers included. Emanuel Crunchtime even has flowcharts!

It’s important to remember when reviewing study aids that explanations will differ from your professors but as one 3L advised me, “use study aids to fill in the gaps.” Meaning where a professor was ambiguous, use a study aid to clarify. With that being said, it’s best to sample study aids to see what suits your study style. Remember you’re not alone on this journey, use study aids to reach your goal and crush your exams!