Lilac and Lime

Contrasts in colour, contrasts in life – Mary Bruce

Law firms take a novel approach, and other joyful tidings

[Published in the OSALL newsletter of November 2012]

The main reason Facebook still lives in my phone is the link it provides between the past and the present. Most of my FB contacts date back to teenage friendships and if it wasn’t for FB I would have lost touch with many of them. FB keeps tabs on the globetrotters and provides opportunities for the “if only”s and “thank goodness”es, should I be inclined to indulge in either. My single twisted and unnatural chromosome derives a fair amount of joy from watching some of the previously unfettered and childless become parents and start twitching and squeaking with exposure to the responsibilities that aged their parents. It’s the only form of blatant hypocrisy that causes little flashes of delight to illuminate dark corners of my being. Don’t misunderstand : those areas light up frequently but not for that reason.

Another pleasure I owe to FB has been the forging of new friendships through the old. Quite a few second generation friendships have come to life in this forum. Only last week the recesses glowed in the light of many candles when the son of a good friend posted on his wall a line drawing with the caption “One day things will get better. Until then here is a drawing of a cat”. The post came to mind when I sat down to construct this column and was joined by the ginger feline who is at a loose end while his personal assistant, formerly known as the Teen, is out earning her holiday stash. He is a whole maze of dark corners in stripey pyjamas and knows that I know it. After a number of suggestive glances at the keyboard then my face he gave up trying to get me in a twitter and is now faking deep and peaceful slumber between me and my qwerty.

Talking of Twitter, should you be in need of a short and to-the-point motivation to start tweeting, the article Trending on Twitter : how Twitter can help #lawlibrarians1 fits the bill.

Two legal library initiatives have caught my eye this month :

a) Web developers at the Harvard Law Library are making use of Twitter to showcase an innovative project : the Awesome Box2 aims to create dialogue within the community by encouraging library users to make use of specially marked ‘awesome boxes’ when returning books they feel are outstanding. These are used to compile a database of suggestions that others can access via a website or Twitter, a kind of recommended reading list by peers.

b) A topical development to counter ever-shrinking library budgets has been put into place by the San Diego Law Library Foundation3. The program offers benefits and discounts to law firms for developing or hosting educational law library projects. Individuals are encouraged to contribute to the Speakers and Bloggers Bureaux. These are only three of a number of programs that have been put into effect.

Although it was published last year, I found Christine Sellers’ account of her search for a particular piece of case law4 fascinating. The initial query was whether there was ever a court case in New York between Barnum and Hannum in 1869 or 1870. On investigation, the question was really whether Hannum ever told Barnum that “a sucker is born every minute”. The search lead through online and hardcopy resources and proved to involve two “Cardiff giants”, fake prehistoric men. The case was traced to the New York Supreme Court and the judge and the date of the decision were identified – illustrating perfectly how less authoritative (news) reports can supply details that are not easily found elsewhere. Whether or not this search ended satisfactorily you will find out by reading the article.

On the theme of hoaxes involving the legal community, had you read that both Barack and Michelle Obama had “voluntarily surrendered” their law licenses after allegedly lying on a Bar application and to escape a fraud trial respectively? You may find the story behind the story5 interesting.

I was reminded of how dependent I am on running quick online checks for hoaxes when I was suckered by the Facebook copyright notice ; a wonky Internet connection decided me against checking on this occasion. Lesson learnt. David Pogue, as interesting as ever, explains the reasons this notice is not valid6.

It was sobering to read that the best selling Kindle book for 20127 is one of the Fifty Shades of Grey set. It is likely you have read in the news of a law firm that is offering visitors to their website a (ahem, non-binding) contract based on the novel/s8. Sauce for the goose, so to speak, has brought the gander into the equation and another law firm has also secured business linked to the novels9 by negotiating a deal for clients giving them exclusive world rights to the design, manufacture and sale of “adult pleasure products” inspired by the books. It may not be convincing to say I have read nothing more than the covers of any of the trilogy but my word is my bond. As brief as it was, that literary encounter was deeply satisfying, being precipitated by the antics of a guy a bit further down the bookshop from me as he tried to have a surreptitious sneak peek without leaving fingerprints. I’m currently engaged in rereading many of my favourite books and, besides, at my age one doesn’t take the threat of going blind lightly.

May 2013 be the year that returns with interest the vibes and energy we have been putting into the universe. As tempting as it is to say ‘sunshine and happiness to all’, we do not need any escalation of the former so I’ll end with the wish that your dark corners also frequently have reason to sparkle with delight

1 Trending on Twitter : how Twitter can help #lawlibrarians. George Carter. AALL Spectrum. November 2012
http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/spectrum/vol-17/No-2/pr.pdf
2 Library Lab puts on show. Brianna D MacGregor. The Harvard Crimson. 15 November 2012
http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2012/11/15/library-lab-projects/?print=1
3 Law library announces partnership program. San Diego Source. 6 November 2012
http://www.sddt.com/News/article.cfm?SourceCode=20121106tjd – .ULSmsR1JMfU
4  The hoax is on you : a short question about a tall tale. Christine Sellers. In Custodia Legis. 25 August 2011
http://blogs.loc.gov/law/2011/08/the-hoax-is-on-you-a-short-question-about-a-tall-tale/
5 Obama’s law license. David Emery. Urban legends on about.com
http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/barackobama/a/Obama-Law-License.htm
6 You can stop spreading that Facebook notice now. David Pogue. New York Times. 26 November 2012
http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/26/you-can-stop-spreading-that-facebook-notice-now/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
7 Amazon best sellers of 2012
http://www.amazon.com/best-sellers-of-2012-for-kindle-ebooks
8 Personalised lovers’ contract. McEntegart Legal
http://www.mclegal.co.uk/fifty-shades-of-grey-contract/ ; http://www.mclegal.co.uk/lovers-contract/
9 Thrings ties up Fifty Shades of Grey deal for Lovehoney. Insider Media Limited. 2 November 2012
http://www.insidermedia.com/insider/south-west/79585-thrings-ties-fifty-shades-grey-deal-lovehoney/

Mary Bruce

Opinions expressed in this column are my own and not necessarily those of my employer.

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