Law Library: Examining the Past, Enhancing the Present, Envisioning the Future
The Law Library's critical and diverse responsibilities range from preserving and expanding one of the nation’s finest legal rare book collections to integrating emerging technologies into every aspect of its services for faculty and students. With a laser focus on responding to the current and evolving curricular, research, and scholarly needs of current and future generations of law students and faculty, the Law Library is constantly assessing its priorities and strategically planning for the future. The following are a few important initiatives the Law Library has undertaken to fulfill its mission.
New Law Library Exhibit: “Tools of the Profession: Law Books and the History of Legal Education”
The Law Library’s Riesenfeld Rare Books Research Center recently opened a new exhibit, “Tools of the Profession: Law Books and the History of Legal Education,” curated by curator of rare books and special collections Ryan Greenwood and digital technology specialist Patrick Graybill. The exhibit offers an overview of the history of legal education through the literature that has profoundly shaped that history. From statute books to casebooks, and from treatises to dictionaries, legal literature was developed not only to explain the law and aid professionals in practice, but also to guide students from the earliest stages of study.
The exhibit highlights the reciprocal nature of early legal literature and legal education. Early English legal treatises were based in part on classroom lectures, and collections of writs and pleadings were organized for students in London’s Inns of Court. In the United States, law books published for law students show the growthof American legal doctrines from their English common law roots. Christopher Columbus Langdell’s 1871 casebook on contracts exemplifies the case method of teaching that revolutionized American legal instruction. The trove of legal literature in the Riesenfeld Center illustrates transformative developments in legal education overmany centuries.
An accompanying exhibit, “Law Books in Legal Education at Minnesota,” curated by special collections assistant Lily Eisenthal, showcases literature drawn from the Law Library’s rich archives. The exhibit centers around historical coursebooks, lectures, exam prep material, student notebooks, and early exams that shed light on the history of legal education at the University of Minnesota Law School. Selections from the growing student notebook collection reveal how students engaged with the law through a rigorous and dynamic education.
University of Minnesota Law School Scholarship Repository
The Library’s Law School Scholarship Repository provides open access to published articles written by faculty during their time at the Law School, broadening the scholarly impact of our exceptionally prolific faculty. The Repository also serves as an archive for the Law School’s four student-edited journals and the faculty-editedConstitutional Commentary
Future content in the Repository will include selected content from Law School- sponsored lectures, conferences, and other scholarly events.
Journal Note Research Consultations
To optimally support the Law School’s journals, Law Library faculty members are assigned as personal research advisors to each student editor and staff member. The Library faculty conduct extensive research about each note topic in preparation for individual meetings with students. Throughout the academic year Library faculty provide support to students, as needed, to assist them in the development and drafting of their articles.
Experiential Learning: Legal Research Simulations
A Law School priority is to ensure that each student has ample opportunities to complete the required six credits of “experiential coursework.” The experiential educational requirement is designed to provide students with exposure to the actual practice of law through law clinics, externships or field placements, and simulation courses. Two Law Library faculty join the many other law faculty teaching the Law School’s broad array of experiential learning courses.
Professor Andrew Martineau teaches Practice-Ready Legal Research each semester. In addition to covering traditional types of legal research, this course incorporates advanced concepts and tools including litigation analytics and legal research platforms that utilize artificial intelligence.
Professor Loren Turner teaches Practice-Ready International Legal Research. This course prepares students to research and analyze legal issuesthat involve international law and foreign law. Students gain knowledge that will assist them in policy and advocacy work, arbitration practice, and litigation in international tribunals and U.S. federal courts.
By Michael Hannon, associate director for access services & digital initiatives, and Ryan Greenwood, curator of rare books and special collections