Category Archives: Research

Understanding the Federal Deficit Debate

As the August 2nd deadline looms, the debate continues to rage over the federal government’s fiscal health.   If you would like to learn more about this issue, the BLS Library has several resources you can consult.

Alan J. Auerbach & William G. Gale, Brookings Inst., Tempting Fate the Federal Budget Outlook (2011).

Excerpt taken from the report’s abstract: 

We present new estimates of the budget outlook, based on the latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office and the Medicare and Social Security Trustee reports. The medium-term and long-term budget outlook have not changed appreciably since last year. Under reasonable assumptions, the federal government is likely to face deficits in excess of 6 percent of GDP by late in the decade, even with a strong economy, with the debt-GDP ratio reaching 98 percent by 2021. The long-term budget outlook is sensitive to assumptions about how health care spending will respond to recent legislation. However, even under the most optimistic assumptions regarding health care spending, the most likely estimate suggests a long-term fiscal gap of between 6 and 7 percent of GDP. Policy makers and the public will eventually be forced to address these issues, but addressing them sooner rather than waiting until a full-blown crisis hits would allow for more reasonable and gradual adjustments.

 U.S. Cong. Budget Office, Reducing the Deficit Spending and Revenue Options (2011).

Excerpt taken from the report’s preface:

The report begins with an introductory chapter that describes the current budgetary picture and the uses and limitations of this volume. Chapters 2 and 3 present options that would reduce mandatory and discretionary spending, respectively. Chapter 4 contains options that would increase revenues from various kinds of taxes and fees. The options discussed in this report stem from a variety of sources, including legislative proposals, various Administrations’ budget proposals, Congressional staff, other government entities, and private groups. The options are intended to reflect a range of possibilities rather than to provide a ranking of priorities or a comprehensive list. The inclusion or exclusion of a particular policy change does not represent an endorsement or rejection by CBO. In keeping with CBO’s mandate to provide objective, impartial analysis, this report makes no recommendations.

U.S. Nat’l Comm’n on Fiscal Responsibility & Reform, U.S. White House Office, The Moment of Truth Report of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility & Reform (2010).

 Excerpt taken from the report’s preamble:

As members of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, we spent the past eight months studying the same cold, hard facts. Together, we have reached these unavoidable conclusions: The problem is real. The solution will be painful. There is no easy way out. Everything must be on the table. And Washington must lead.

We come from different backgrounds, represent different regions, and belong to different parties, but we share a common belief that America’s long-term fiscal gap is unsustainable and, if left unchecked, will see our children and grandchildren living in a poorer, weaker nation. In the words of Senator Tom Coburn, “We keep kicking the can down the road, and splashing the soup all over our grandchildren.” Every modest sacrifice we refuse to make today only forces far greater sacrifices of hope and opportunity upon the next generation.

Daniel N. Shaviro, Do Deficits Matter? (1997).

Review from the Library Journal:

Federal budget deficits have long fueled public-policy debates. Law professor Shaviro traces these debates back several centuries, showing how they developed. Then, considering ways in which the deficit might matter, he presents the case both for and against its impact. Deficits have macroeconomic and generational influences, he concludes, but it is not clear whether these influences are positive or negative. Contrary to much commonly held opinion, Shaviro does not view deficits as necessarily bad. He argues that the deficit, a cash accrual measure subject to manipulation, is a flawed indicator of budgetary effects. He also discusses Social Security and the value of a balanced-budget amendment. The author’s background as a legislation attorney shows in his insightful analysis of political gamesmanship and the unintended consequences of legislation. Shaviro’s history, economics, and political analysis are right on the mark. Copyright © 1997, Reed Business Information Inc.

David P. Calleo, The Bankrupting of America: How the Federal Budget Is Impoverishing the Nation (1992).

Review from Kirkus Reviews:

An exacting audit by Calleo (European Studies/Johns Hopkins) of the federal government’s mismanagement of financial affairs, and of the resultant risks. Drawing on Washington’s own data, Calleo explores how and why budget deficits have grown to levels that make them engines of national decline. He sheds light on a wealth of ad rem subjects- -e.g., changes in spending priorities over the 1950-90 period; exploitation of the dollar’s international stature (i.e., borrowing abroad to avoid domestic adjustments); manipulative monetary policies (which relied on inflation to underwrite fiscal shortfalls); and the grave implications of current fiscal trends in the context of likely demographic, geopolitical, and socioeconomic developments. The author also puts the country’s income/outgo situation in perspective by comparing its not altogether analogous expenditure patterns after WW II with those of France and Germany. Calleo concludes that inefficiency and waste rather than excessively self-indulgent consumption are root causes of US problems, and he decries unregulated markets that, in his view, have proved wholly inadequate substitutes for a stable currency and allied common goods. While unpersuaded that a peace dividend will make any real contribution to genuine prosperity, Calleo remains sanguine on the prospects for US renewal. His remedial prescriptions, however, are appreciably less specific than his detailed diagnosis. If nothing else, though, Calleo’s principled plea for a more rational balance between the power to govern and the capacity of special-interest groups to obstruct merits consideration, as does his unabashed appeal that the electorate and its leaders embrace the generous, visionary ideals that long made America a tower of economic strength and a beacon of hope. A challenging, fully documented tract addressing the overleveraged and frequently dysfunctional state of the union. The text brims with helpful tabular material. — Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP.


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Filed under Book Review, E-Resource, Research, Uncategorized

A New Catalog, A New Look

The Brooklyn Law School Library is excited to announce a new and improved version of SARA, our library catalog. The new version is better suited to research in the 21st century.  For example, its search screen and search algorithm are more modern than the old version of SARA, showing book jacket images of newly acquired titles, and assuming fuzzy searching, which forgives a researcher’s typographical errors or misspellings.  After running a search, researchers can further refine their result list by values on the left hand side of the screen.  For example, they can filter their results by topic, author, or place.  They can also limit their result list to only items currently available in the library.  Another useful feature is that a researcher can subscribe to a RSS feed of the result list.  If she does so, every time the library adds a new title that meets the search parameters the item will appear in that researcher’s RSS feed.

Besides these new capabilities, users can login to view their library account.  Once logged in, users can see what items they currently have checked out, along with the items’ due dates.  This list will include overdue items.  If a user would like, they can renew any overdue item online while logged into the system. Users can also view their complete fine history, including outstanding fines and fines paid.  Finally, users can review their personal information the library has on file, including their mailing address, phone numbers, and email address.  The library staff is very excited about the new transparency the system provides for our users.  We hope you find value in it too.

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Practical Law Company: A New Tool Designed for the Transactional Attorney

If you are considering becoming a transactional attorney, then you should explore one of the library’s new databases, Practical Law CompanyPractical Law Company is a database that is designed specifically for transactional attorneys.  It specializes in providing straight forward information on how to complete a variety of transactions.  It is designed to help get a deal done.    PLC specializes in Corporate/Securities Law and Finance.  They are, however, branching out into other areas of law, including Labor and Employment and Intellectual Property.  Using PLC, you can learn how to form and organize a corporation, run a closing, conduct due diligence, draft a loan agreement, negotiate a merger agreement, analyze and compare deals, etc.  The database contains numerous checklists, model documents and general overviews of transactional practice areas.

The information contained on PLC is original content created by their own attorney editors who have practiced at top law firms and law departments.  The attorney editors continuously update their resources to reflect current law and practice.  A majority of AmJur 200 law firms subscribe to PLC.

One of the most useful and exciting tools on PLC is the What’s Market platform.  What’s Market allows attorneys to create custom reports which analyze, summarize, and compare public deal documents and securities filings.  For example, you can create a report which details recent merger agreements of pharmaceutical corporations.  This type of tool is not available on Westlaw or Lexis and can save attorneys inordinate amounts of time.

If you would like to request access to this database, go to the url listed below and complete the form.  You need to use your Brooklyn Law School email address in order to register.

If you have any questions about this resource please do not hesitate to contact one of the reference librarians at

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The Wonderful Web of Science

If you are interested in interdisciplinary research, then Web of Science is an excellent database to utilize for your non legal research.  Web of Science is a multidisciplinary indexing tool, which means that it provides citation information for scholarly journals, books, conference proceedings, reports, and more.  The database contains citations to over 10,000 high impact journals and over 120,000 conference proceedings. You’ll find current and retrospective coverage in the sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities, with coverage available to 1900.

Two useful tools available on Web of Science are the journal impact factor and the cited reference tool.  The first tool, the journal impact factor, is a measure of the frequency with which the “average article” in a journal has been cited in a particular year. The impact factor helps you evaluate a journal’s relative importance, especially when comparing it to others in the same field.  Much like Keycite or Shepards, the second tool, the cited reference tool, allows you to view what sources have cited to a previously published source. 

If you identify an article from Web of Science that you would like to read, you can search the Library’s E-Journal Portal to determine whether or not the journal is available electronically.  If it is not available electronically, then you can request that the article be delivered to you through ILLiad, the Library’s interlibrary loan system.    See this previous post for more information on how to submit a request through ILLiad

If you have any questions about Web of Science, E-Journal Portal, or ILLiad, please contact a reference librarian.

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Filed under E-Resource, Research

Enter Library’s Wordle Contest Today!


It’s easy to participate:

1. Go to Brooklyn Law School Library home page.

2. Check out the Monthly Wordle. Here is February Wordle

Wordle of this Article

3. Guess the official title of the legal document (from around the world), which the Wordle describes.

4. Provide the Bluebook citation.

5. Submit your answer to BLS Library Wordle Contest HQ’s.

It’s that simple!

The winner will receive a $30 gift certificate to the Brooklyn Law School Book Store. Contestants may only submit one entry per monthly contest. Learn more about the contest and  examine the official contest rules.

The Brooklyn Law School Library has thousands of legal documents in its print and electronic collection. This contest is part of the Library’s ongoing efforts to promote its resources to students and alumni.  Current BLS Alumni Association members are also entitled to use the Library’s print resources and many of its digital resources for research purposes. Join today.

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. Cooked up by Jonathan Feinberg, Senior Software Engineer at IBM Research, Wordle lets you enter text or any URL with an RSS feed and turns the words into ‘wordles’, great looking visualizations of the entered text. The more times a certain word is mentioned throughout a text, the bigger it’s displayed, sort of like tag clouds.

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Filed under Alumni, Research

Zotero and your legal research

Brooklyn Law School Library launched its Spring Lunch and Learn with Zotero. You can view the presentation by Karen Schneiderman, Emerging Technologies Librarian and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Law here.

What is Zotero? Zotero (pronounced /zoʊˈtɛroʊ/) is a free, open source research management platform. Designed as an add-on for the Firefox web browser, Zotero  manages bibliographic data and related research materials (such as PDFs).  Users can install a separate word processor add-ons, available for Microsoft Word and Writer, for automatic in-text citations, footnotes and bibliographies.

How Does it Work? Zotero detects when a book, article, or other resource is being viewed and with a mouse click finds and saves the full reference information to a local file. If the source is an online article or web page, Zotero can optionally store a local copy of the source. Users can then add notes, tags, and their own metadata through the in-browser interface.

Does it Support Bluebook Citations Styles? Yes, but partially. Zotero has a  Bluebook Law Review style in its  list of available output styles.  Specifically, Zotero is also compatible with HeinOnline’s Law Journal Library. Users are able to bookmark articles directly from a search results list in HeinOnline, or when viewing the pages of an article.Hein Online created  a short tutorial on using  Zotero. Unfortunately, Zotero does better with secondary legal materials than with primary legal materials.

What Does the Futrue Hold? In June 2010, there was a Call for Participation: Zotero Bluebook Development. Zotero  is seeking  input from actual legal writers. Unfortunately, there are very few lawyers in the Zotero community now.  With more lawyers and legal researchers involvedin Zotero’s development,it can only become more useful.   The Zotero developers are looking for people to do beta-testing.  Candidate should be comfortable with a few basic things: a) technical things like installing Firefox and installing plugins, b) invest a small amount of time playing with software with limited and occasionally broken functionality, and c) have the patience to report a bit of detail when things do not work correctly.

Brooklyn Law School Library would like to help build a Zotero that is useful and welcome to law students and other legal writers.

Links to the development forum and utilities:

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Filed under Legal Writing, Research, Training

How to Write Legal Seminar Paper

A seminar is a course offered for a small group of advanced law students.  A seminar paper is a record of what you say to the group about a topic you have studied.

How to Write Legal Seminar Paper: Brooklyn Law School Library is co-hosting  a workshop on February 2, 2011, at Brooklyn Law School,  Room 504 from 4:00 to 6:00 PM.

The workshop focuses on finding topics, researching topics, developing theses, and avoiding plagiarism. Led by  Elizabeth Fajans, Associate Professor of Legal Writing and Kathleen Darvil, Reference Librarian and Adjunct Professor of Law, this workshop will help improve and sharpen your skills.

Professor Fajans is the winner of the 2011 Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning & Research Section Award. The award is given to an individual who has made a significant lifetime contribution to the field of legal writing and research. Professor Fajans has been Brooklyn Law School’s writing specialist since 1984. She is a co-author of the seminal book, Writing and Analysis in the Law, now in its 5th edition, and the more recent Writing for Law Practice, as well as the publication, Scholarly Writing for Law Students: Seminar Papers, Law Review Notes, Law Review Competition Papers, co-authored by Fajans and BLS Professor Mary Falk.

Law Students and Seminar Papers: Here are five great reasons to write a legal seminar paper:

1.       Opportunity to publish, develop professional reputation

2.       Writing product for jobs, especially judicial clerkships

3.       Opportunity to specialize in area of interest and to learn substantive law

4.       Self-fulfillment achieved from producing a truly independent scholarly writing

5.       Enter and win a legal writing competiton

Legal Writing Competitions: Entering a legal writing competition helps you hone your legal research and writing skills, which increases your attractiveness to potential employers.  You’ll have a superior writing sample which you’ll be proud to discuss and show others.  Moreover, the odds are excellent that your paper will be published, you’ll win a monetary prize, or you’ll be invited to present your paper at a conference of practitioners in your area of interest.

Locating Legal Writing Competitions:  Unless specifically noted, all contests listed are open to students at all ABA-accredited law schools.

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Filed under 1Ls, Legal Writing, Research