Latest & Greatest – How to Build and Manage a Family Law Practice

 By Mark A. Chinn  Published by the American Bar Association, Section of Family Law, Law Practice Division  KF 300 .C455 2018

By Mark A. Chinn

Published by the American Bar Association, Section of Family Law, Law Practice Division

KF 300 .C455 2018

Author Mark Chinn, an attorney specializing in family law since 1988, notes in his book, How to Build and Manage a Family Law Practice, that family law is “one of the most unique and challenging specialties in law” because practitioners are required to know more than just the law; they must be litigators, accountants, and psychologists. He doesn’t say this to dissuade lawyers from taking on this specialty but rather to remind them how special and how personal this area of law is. Drawing on his own experience in starting a family law practice, Chinn encourages lawyers who are seeking to specialize in family law to set aside any fears and make the jump. To help those who are willing to take that leap, Chinn offers some practical advice about establishing a family law practice. He guides the reader through the initial tasks of starting out: dealing with the tangible items, i.e. location choice, furniture, equipment; establishing procedures for day-to-day and regular operations and customer service; marketing; and making decisions regarding staffing. He then moves onto the practicalities of maintaining and managing a law practice: fees and billing and managing cases, time, and finances.

When it comes to client relations, Chinn, however, takes a different tack. He discusses how to deal with clients from initial intake through trial preparation and addresses how to interact with them, stressing throughout that in many family law cases, the level of emotion involved increases, thereby making client interactions a bit more challenging and perhaps requiring a bit more counseling on the part of the lawyer. He also devotes a chapter to service and suggests ways for lawyers to become more service-oriented rather than results-oriented. Lastly, Chinn reminds lawyers that to be able to do one’s best, one must be healthy in mind, body, and spirit.

If you are considering a family law practice or even your own legal practice, consult How to Build and Manage a Family Law Practice first for some solid advice.

Legal History of Mexico: From the Era of Exploration of the New World to the Present

 By Francisco A. Avalos  Published by William S. Hein & Co., Inc.  KGF 292 .A93 2017

By Francisco A. Avalos

Published by William S. Hein & Co., Inc.

KGF 292 .A93 2017

Author Francisco A. Avalos, a retired law librarian and associate professor of legal research, set about compiling a comprehensive research guide for the legal and general history of Mexico in his book, Legal History of Mexico: From the Era of Exploration of the New World to the Present. He traces Mexico’s legal history beginning with the exploration, discovery, and conquest of the New World through the Aztec Empire to the current Mexican legal system with the Colonial Period of New Spain and the Mexican Revolution in between.

During the period of exploration, discovery, and conquest, legal principles were based primarily on papal bulls, proclamations issued by the Pope having legal and moral authority and allowing for the expansion of lands over which the Catholic faith would have domain. Because the actual conquest was a contractual relationship between the Spanish Crown and the explorer, conquistadors were required to follow a legal procedure established by the Crown prior to and during the undertaking of the conquest. When the conquistadors arrived in Mexico, namely Hernan Cortés, they found a civilization that already had a legal system in place. Many of the primary materials concerning the legal system of the Aztec Empire have been lost as are a lot of the details describing it. However, according to Avalos, much of the Aztec law was based on custom and tradition. Religion also played a large role in the legal system devised by the Aztecs, and, in the Aztec judiciary structure, religious courts had jurisdiction over all religious matters. The author examines in detail some substantive areas of Aztec law, including family law, property law, economic law, tax and tribute law, criminal law, treaty law, and the law of war. Other areas of interest discussed by the author is the Aztec social system, which was separated into classes, and the Aztec government, which was divided into two entities with the Emperor sitting at the head.

Avalos also focused on the legal history of New Spain, covering the period from the fall of the Aztec Empire (1522) to the independence of Mexico (1821). This period is characterized by the establishment of the government and judiciary by the Spanish Crown and the enactment of various laws, including the Laws of the Indies, a three-volume compilation divided into nine books and 218 titles. One of the unique laws to come out of this period was the Derecho Indiano, a combination of Castilian law and indigenous law that was meant to be the major source for public and administrative law in New Spain.

The author also discusses the legal systems and laws that arose during important parts of Mexican history, such as the Independence Period (1800-1821), the Reform Period (1857-1861), the Second Mexican Empire (1861-1867), the “Porfiriato” Period (1877-1911), the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), and present day. He focuses on laws that were enacted during those specific periods and the legal and historical significance surrounding such laws and how the events occurring in those periods affected the laws that were enacted. For instance, the Reform Period, coming on the heels of Mexican independence, is historically significant because its laws formed the basis of the Mexican Constitution of 1857 and the current Mexican Constitution, which is that of 1917. Avalos also examines in detail the provisions of the Constitution of 1917, which was viewed as a document that would ignite and bring about social change.

Throughout history, the legal system of Mexico has undergone numerous changes. Avalos sets out to document these changes, from the legal system and government implemented by the Aztec Empire through its existence as New Spain to its tumultuous existence in the 20th Century. If you want to learn more about Mexico’s complex legal history, have a look at Legal History of Mexico: From the Era of Exploration of the New World to the Present.


Latest & Greatest – I Remember Atticus: Inspiring Stories Every Trial Lawyer Should Know

 By Jim M. Perdue  Published by Texas Bar Books  KF 8700 .P47 2004

By Jim M. Perdue

Published by Texas Bar Books

KF 8700 .P47 2004

Taking perhaps the most famous fictional lawyer as his inspiration and muse, author Jim M. Perdue weaves together true stories that inspire trial lawyers to strive toward the attributes that Atticus Finch embodies and become the type of lawyer who commits to his clients and sees that justice is done. Perdue divides his book, I Remember Atticus: Inspiring Stories Every Trial Lawyer Should Know, into five main sections, each focusing on a different quality: faith, freedom, equality, courage, and perseverance. Using the story of Susanna from the Book of Daniel as the basis for his discussion of faith, Perdue delves into the role that faith played in the modeling of the law and how justice is a product of faith. From the Ten Commandments to the parables of Jesus, Perdue points out the lessons and morals to have come from these laws and stories. For his chapter on freedom, the author relates the story of Edward Bushell, a juror on a case against William Penn and William Mead, who refused to be bullied into giving a verdict with which he did not agree. He and several jurors were subsequently jailed for their verdict. For equality, Perdue examines the Haywood trial, a case in which the general secretary of the Western Federation of Miners was accused of hiring a hitman to kill the former governor of Idaho and yet, despite the powerful forces against him, was found not guilty. Courage is exemplified by the story and trial of the so-called Scottsboro boys, African-American youths who were accused of raping two white women on a train in Alabama. Reverend Joseph DeLaine is the author’s inspiration for perseverance for his fight to achieve equal educational opportunities for African-American schoolchildren in Clarendon County, South Carolina. Rounding out his book, Perdue offers facts that every trial lawyer should know and describes how trial lawyers can frame their own stories.

Be inspired. Read this book.

Ex Libris Juris Named "Blog of the Year" by Law Firm Librarians

Last week, law librarians at the Harris County Law Library returned from the 111th American Association of Law Libraries Annual Meeting in Baltimore with some new hardware to display at our reference desk. The Private Law Librarians and Information Professionals Special Interest Section (or PLLIP-SIS) of AALL named Ex Libris Juris "Blog of the Year" (link opens PDF), which

recognizes a member who has made significant blogging/writing contributions to the private
law library profession, their organization, or the PLLIP-SIS and who demonstrates outstanding
potential for continued service and leadership within the SIS or the profession.

See 2018 AALL Accolades & Acknowledgements Brochure, p. 11 (link opens PDF)

Incoming PLLIP-SIS Vice Chair and fellow Houstonian Saskia Mehlhorn, director of knowledge and libraries at Norton Rose Fulbright US, (right) was on hand to recognize avid Ex Libris Juris contributor and HCLL assistant law librarian Heather Holmes (left).

Many thanks to all who read our little blog and have contributed to its success!

Latest & Greatest – Fastcase: The Definitive Guide

 By Brian Huddleston  Published by American Bar Association Law Practice Division  KF 242 .A1 H833 2018

By Brian Huddleston

Published by American Bar Association Law Practice Division

KF 242 .A1 H833 2018

In 2017, Fastcase released Fastcase 7, a new version that promised greater ease of use with its new features and tools, including an overhauled interface. For those of you who may not know, Fastcase is an electronic legal research service providing users with access to cases, statutes, and regulations and secondary sources like treatises and law reviews. If you are new to Fastcase or just want to search more efficiently, Brian Huddleston’s book, Fastcase: The Definitive Guide, is the book for you. From the basics of searching to downloading and printing documents, Huddleston demonstrates how to get the most out of Fastcase and your time. With this book, you will learn how to:

  • Search for cases using official reporter citations or natural language or keyword searching;
  • Search across different jurisdictions;
  • Narrow search results with filters or through the Tag Cloud;
  • Perform authority checks using the Bad Law Bot;
  • Print, email, or save documents or copy and paste text; and
  • Perform legal research using the Fastcase mobile app

Fasctcase isn’t simply limited to finding relevant case law. As the author explains, users can search statutes, consult Statute Annotations Reports, and look at historic statutes and session laws. They can search regulations and administrative law resources for most states and the federal government. Based upon their subscription, users can also access secondary resources, such as treatises, law reviews, bar journals, practice guides, and forms. No matter what the search, the author provides ample illustrations throughout the book demonstrating how users can find the desired information.

Fastcase: The Definitive Guide is just as its title implies. It provides all of the information you need to know to use Fastcase 7 like an expert. You can find this book at the reference desk in our new Legal Tech Collection.

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Did you know that as a member of the State Bar of Texas, attorneys have free (yes, free) access to Fastcase? If you are a member of the State Bar of Texas, you already should be taking advantage of this membership perk.

If you would like additional training using Fastcase, Harris County Law Library can help. Come to our Free Legal Tech for Legal Professionals course offered by our Legal Tech Institute.