Hispanic Heritage Month

 https://www.army.mil/article/87962/army_aims_outreach_at_hispanic_community

https://www.army.mil/article/87962/army_aims_outreach_at_hispanic_community

Saturday, September 15, marks the independence day of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile, and Belize follow shortly after, on the 16th, 18th and 21st. The Harris County Law Library extends Happy Independence Day wishes to the more than 57 million Americans, and roughly 11 million Texans, who claim Hispanic roots. We would also like to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 through October 15, by recognizing the contributions of several of our era’s high-profile Hispanic lawyers, including Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor; former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; United States Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio; New Mexico Governor, Susana Martinez; and former Director of Intergovernmental Affairs under President Obama, Cecilia Muñoz. We also honor the trailblazers who came before, including the rich history of Latina and Latino lawyers practicing before the United States Supreme Court.

National Bar Associations

State and Local Bar Associations

Fashion Law: A New Frontier

 Law librarian uniform, standard issue.

Law librarian uniform, standard issue.

Law librarians are no strangers to fashion. Anyone familiar with our cardigan game knows what I’m talking about. Increasingly, other lawyers are catching up, with fashion law rapidly expanding as both a practice area and a field of general interest.

What even is fashion law? It covers everything from intellectual property, to business, to international human rights.

 Classic cinema.

Classic cinema.

Traditionally, fashion has enjoyed only limited intellectual property protection in the United States, where clothing design has been considered such an essential (or maybe inessential, depending who you ask) part of culture development that copycats have been encouraged by the market and the lack of legal constraints. Readers may recall the classic scene in “The Devil Wears Prada,” when Runway Magazine editor Miranda explains this phenomenon to fashion neophyte Andy, who had no understanding of the lofty origins of her "lumpy blue sweater."

A recent Supreme Court ruling, however, has shifted the conversation. In Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc., 580 U.S. ___ (2017), the Court held that graphic designs applied to useful articles can be subject to copyright, even if those designs are apparently essential to the usefulness of the article. This ruling certainly favors large shops with the resources to create novel designs, register them with the Copyright Office, and litigate against smaller operations with fewer resources. However, it also means that independent artists will now have recourse when their designs are mass produced without permission by behemoths like Walmart or Urban Outfitters.

 The cheerleader uniforms at the heart of the Star Athletica case.

The cheerleader uniforms at the heart of the Star Athletica case.

 View of the Dhaka, Bangladesh river walk.

View of the Dhaka, Bangladesh river walk.

The fashion industry is using the law to combat human rights abuses long associated with “fast fashion.” An international organization called Fashion Revolution is leading the charge to provide safe working conditions and fair wages for everyone employed by the industry, including floor shop laborers in developing nations. International scrutiny of these issues increased significantly in the wake of the November 2012 Tazreen Fashion factory fire, which killed at least 117 workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Attorneys and legal professionals can now obtain specialized degrees in fashion law. The Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School offers both an LLM and MSL in this burgeoning space, as well as two CLE “bootcamp” events, one in New York and the other in San Francisco.

Interested to learn more? Check out The Fashion Law, which tracks legal developments in the fashion industry.

Legal Tech Institute Guest Speaker Wins National Association Election

In September, 2017, Saskia presented a CLE for the Law Library's Legal Tech Institute on artificial intelligence in the practice of law. Find a recording of the program on the Legal Tech Institute page today.

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Be an Einstein. Use the Library.

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Happy Birthday to Albert Einstein, who was born on this day in 1879. Celebrated as a brilliant theoretical physicist and one of the greatest minds of the 20th century, Einstein's very name is synonymous with genius, but in some ways, he was just a regular guy. He enjoyed smoking his pipetook great pleasure in riding his bicycle, and encouraged playfulness as the key to discovery and creative thought. He also placed great value in visiting the library.

Einstein claimed to possess no special talents but described himself as "passionately curious." What better way to satisfy one's curiosity than to visit the library? He once said, "The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library," a sentiment that we at Harris County Law Library share. Knowing where to access accurate, authoritative, and trustworthy sources of legal information is critical for both legal professionals and the public. Those who represent the best interests of their clients need not only information but a supportive environment in which to work, and those representing themselves need unrestricted access to unbiased sources of information to help them address their legal needs.

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In the digital age, libraries have changed tremendously, evolving from the traditional institutions that Einstein would have known to vibrant, dynamic hives of activity where people from all walks of life come in search of not only information but for guidance, services, education, training, support, and community. We at Harris County Law Library take the needs of our visitors very seriously, and we continue to expand our range of offerings on an ongoing basis.

For guidance, we partner with the Houston Volunteer Lawyers to offer our pro se patrons access to attorneys at no expense (Monday - Friday, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm). Our reference staff provide services and support 11 hours a day, 5 days a week by assisting self-represented litigants in finding forms for a variety of legal needs. Our Legal Tech Institute, an ongoing series of free learning opportunities for attorneys and the public, provides legal tech education and skills training in both face-to-face and virtual settings. 

We aim to cultivate a sense of community for our regular visitors, both attorneys and the public, and to create an environment conducive to productivity, exploration, problem-solving, and achieving justice. Knowing where to find this kind of environment and the resources it offers is a must. We like to think that Einstein would agree.