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Charlotte joined the LII in 2012 as a part-time editor/publisher for the Supreme Court Bulletin and Previews. She also helped create the videos on our YouTube Channel. Since then, Charlotte’s roles have transformed into becoming one of our own virtual librarians for the site as well as coordinating our social media. Continue reading to find out more about who Charlotte is and what she does.

You’ve been working with us for 5 years now, how did you get started?

Once upon a time, I spent a semester as an intern in the Cornell Law Library. One of my projects was to make educational videos explaining some free law sites. One of those sites was the LII, and because the LII was in the same building, I was encouraged to reach out to Tom [Bruce] and Sara [Frug] to get some helpful information so that the video about the LII site would be that much more informative. I guess they liked me because the very same day that my internship ended, I got an email from Tom wanting to talk about a job. The email’s subject line was “An offer you can’t accept.” I never knew if that was a typo or an enticement, but 5 years later, I still have that email, and Tom still leaves me wondering, sometimes.

What is your primary job?

I am a librarian at Rutgers Law School, in the Camden location. Specifically, I am the Government Documents and Reference Librarian, managing the library’s Federal Depository Library collection. I do other stuff, too, but that list would probably be long.

Where did you go to school?

I got my BBA from UMass Amherst, my JD & MBA from UMass Dartmouth (School of Law and College of Business, respectively), and my MSLIS from Syracuse.

What’s your current role at the LII?

I am the librarian! I manage the Virtual Reference Desk and much of LII’s social media.

What is the Reference Desk?

The Reference Desk is what it sounds like, but virtual! It’s a forum that allows people to ask questions about legal information that can be answered by law librarians or knowledgeable members of the community.

What other roles have you held with us?

I started out helping with the Supreme Court Bulletin–editing the Previews and publishing them online, and helping out with the end of Term review. I have helped out with some data collection and updating of the Federal Rules and some state information pages. And I also made some of the videos you see on the LII’s YouTube channel.  

What’s your favorite question from the Reference Desk?

Actually, it depends. There are a few instances where other registered users will answer a reference question (before or instead of a librarian), and I think that’s just fantastic because that is exactly one of the reasons we went with the forum setup. There are other questions that turn into those teachable moments, and some others that are just really interesting exchanges. Some posts unearth hidden gems.

Most difficult question from Reference Desk?

I would say that questions might be more frustrating than difficult, if anything. In general, it’s difficult to do a proper reference interview in an asynchronous format, so some of the more frustrating questions are the ones where it is hard to decipher a question from what was posted or where there’s just some disconnect, or where the patron just keeps pushing back. Other times, there’s just only so much information you can give, and it just doesn’t feel like enough.

Favorite feature of the site?

I can pick one thing, but that will just get me to another thing, and then another, and before we know it, everything about it would be listed as my favorite. If I were to start somewhere, I might say the Table of Popular Names or the Parallel Table of Authorities.

What motivates you to stay involved with us?

Mostly, the mission; also, the people. A little bit because I am quite attached to my LII email address.  

Can you say in a few words about the importance of making the law available and accessible to everyone, without cost?

Nearly everything that we do is governed by some kind of law, whether federal, state, or even more local, or some combination of these. Since ignorance of the law is no excuse for disobeying the law, people must be able to know, find, and understand these laws by which they are bound. And in order for there to be equal justice for all, everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, must be able to access this information.

Do you like to skateboard?

I do! Some people at the 2014 CALIcon in Boston may have caught a glimpse of the joy it brings me!

Interesting facts about you? First job, weirdest job, etc

First job… here’s the Jersey Girl in me: beach badge checker. All the kids were doing it, so I woke up extra early every morning and I got paid to sit on near-empty beaches. Life’s a beach.

Weirdest job… I guess weird is relative. I will probably always think it a little weird that I worked as a switchboard operator at the local hospital on my college vacations. It did take me a few months on the job to get comfortable paging doctors and calling codes but once I was okay being the voice heard throughout the hospital, it turned out to be a pretty cool job.

Interesting facts: I play in a pool league year-round, and I play on a softball team in the Fall and Spring seasons. I love to garden, cook, and bake. I grew up on horse farms and around horses.

It’s conference season again, and we’re back from the 2017 Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction conference, where presenters and audience members were fired up about algorithmic accountability and, well, drumming.

Librarians, as a group, are highly attuned to developments in information retrieval, and during the past several years, long-standing legal information providers have been joined by numerous startup companies in applying new technologies to legal research. In past years, legal informatics conferences covered these topics. This year, University of Colorado Law Library Director Susan Nevelow Mart presented a talk entitled “The Human Element in Search Algorithms: Bias and Accountability in Legal Databases”, based on her article “The Algorithm as a Human Artifact: Implications for Legal {Re}Search“.  

Mart presented the results of her research on search query performance across six services: Castext, Fastcase, Google Scholar, Lexis Advance, Ravel and Westlaw. The research found less than a 10% overlap in results across all six databases, and on average, 40% of the results were unique to one of the six.

The research has implications for practicing attorneys, scholars, students, and technologists. And it’s helping us refine our own thinking about how we inform people who use our website about what we’re doing behind the scenes to try to help them get the information they need.

Can you match laws to current events?  We put together this five-question quiz as a fun way of showing how current events drive people to our website to read the laws behind the headlines.  See how you do–answers are at the bottom.

 

  1. Traffic on this page spiked on January 29, 2017 with 95,434 pageviews:
    1. The First Amendment to the US Constitution
    2. 8 USC 1182 – Inadmissible Aliens
    3. Wex article – Executive Power
    4. The Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution

     

  2. Two days later, Twitter sent more than 50,000 of the 146,000 people who came to this page:
    1. 50 USC 3021 – National Security Council
    2. 8 USC 1187 – Visa Waiver Program for Certain Visitors
    3. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26
    4. Wex article – Second Amendment

     

  3. 14 CFR 250.5 saw a huge traffic spike on April 11, 2017.  What is it about?
    1. Income taxes on foreign subsidiaries of US businesses
    2. Sanctuary cities
    3. Oil and gas exploration in national parks
    4. Compensation for airline passengers denied boarding

     

  4. Facebook users came to our site more than 90,000 times on February 14, 2017 to read which of the following:
    1. Wex article – Executive Power
    2. The law declaring Valentine’s day a federal holiday
    3. The statutory definition of treason
    4. The Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution

     

  5. Links from the February 9th edition of the online Washington Post sent thousands of visitors to our website to read the regulation concerning:
    1. Proper retirement of American flags
    2. Use of public office for private gain
    3. Placarding requirements for vehicles transporting HAZMAT
    4. Disclosure of executive compensation under the securities laws

     

Answers:

  1. After the President’s executive order on immigration, users flocked to our site to read 8 USC 1182 and other statutes related to immigration.  (Answer b)
  2. A statute no one paid much attention to until the President announced his attention to appoint his advisor Steve Bannon to the National Security Council, 50 USC 3021 deals with the composition of the NSC.  (Answer a)
  3. 14 CFR 250.5 addresses compensation of passengers denied boarding by airlines.  Its popularity in April was tied to news accounts of an incident aboard a United Airlines aircraft.  (Answer d)
  4. On February 14, 2017 the American public was reading about the circumstances surrounding the resignation of Michael Flynn as the National Security Advisor.  Apparently as a result of those stories, the definition of treason found in 18 USC 2381 was a topic of debate on social media and a major source of traffic on our website. (Answer c)
  5. On February 9th, the Washington Post was sending us traffic from multiple stories covering Kellyanne Conway’s televised statement about Ivanka Trump’s merchandise.  Those articles linked to 5 CFR 2635.702, which addresses the use of public office for private gain.  (Answer b)

In 2016, NPR and The Marshall Project published an article exposing abuse of inmates in the Special Management Unit inside the Lewisburg Prison. Featured in that article was the Lewisburg Prison Project (LPP), a non-profit organization that provides support for prisoners and fights to ensure that their human and constitutional rights are upheld. The three person staffed organization consists of an outreach coordinator, paralegal and legal assistant Elayne Sobel, who also happens to be a donor to the LII. We were intrigued by Elayne’s role and wanted to know more about her.

How did you first get involved with the Lewisburg Prison Project?

I was hired at Lewisburg Prison Project (“LPP”) in 2007 as a Legal Assistant and remained until 2010 when I retired due to family illness. I continued as a volunteer until I returned as a paid employee in April 2015

You have been recognized for your exceptional work at the Prison Project in the past. Can you share a little bit about that recognition and any other accomplishments you’ve had?

In June, 2012, I received the Karl and Isabelle Patten Award.  Isabelle Patten was a founding member of LPP in 1973.  Karl Patten (who just celebrated his 90th birthday) remains a board member of LPP.  The Patten Award reads:

“Awarded to ______ for following in the footsteps of Isabelle and Karl Patten who inspire us all with their lifetime of standing up for oppressed people here and everywhere: Inmates in prison, Citizens denied their civil liberties, The innocent victims of imperial wars, Communities besieged by marauding corporate polluters, Working people tossed away by an indifferent economic order.”

What do you find most challenging about your job(s)? Most rewarding?

Most challenging is the amount of letters we receive daily describing the abuse and injustices experienced in the prisons throughout the state and the country.

Most rewarding is the appreciation that prisoners express for any amount of help that LPP can provide.

Volunteering at the LPP isn’t your only job. How did your interest in Central Susquehanna Valley Mediation Center (CSVMC) begin and evolve? *CSVMC is now a non-profit mediation center that works closely with local county courts in Pennsylvania generally focused on personal conflicts such as custody, elder care, and consumer disputes.

My husband started CSVMC it in 2010 before he died that year of cancer.  With the help of 4 other volunteer mediators, we became the first board of CSVMC.

What is your current role with CSVMC?

I am currently finishing my last term on the board which ends this year.  Over the past 7 years I  held the positions of secretary, treasurer and president of the board.  I continue as a volunteer mediator.

How and when did you first hear about the LII?

The paralegal that I work with first directed me to LII (although we just refer to it as “Cornell website”)  years ago when I came back to volunteer.

How long have you been using the LII as a resource for your work and why do you use us?

I want to say at least the last 5 years, maybe longer.  It’s the first site that normally pops up on when I search for a legal code or citation.

You recently made a gift in support of our work. Why did you decide to give?

Because at LPP we use the LII site so often to help inmates who sometime have no other resource to get information.  We are limited in manpower and financial resources, so if we can get information from a reliable source, without cost, to pass on to indigent prisoners, we will do it.

If you were to tell others about the LII and why it’s worth supporting, what would you say?

“How much is the information that is obtainable from LII worth to you?”

“I come from an era when legal research meant paging through legal books, so I’m sure that to me, I am appreciative of saving any time on the LII site.  LPP produces legal bulletins for prisoners at little or no cost and we make them available to download at no cost from our website.  And yes, LPP is out there raising money like all nonprofits, but we can’t forget about the clients we are here to serve.”

On May 12, LII engineers Sylvia Kwakye, Ph.D., and Nic Ceynowa hosted a presentation by the 14 Cornell University Masters of Engineering students they’d supervised this spring as they presented their project work on the Docket Wrench application to LII and Cornell Law Library staff.

LII adopted the Docket Wrench application from the Sunlight Foundation when it closed its software development operation last fall. Docket Wrench is designed to help users explore public participation in the rulemaking process.  It supports exploration by rulemaking docket, agency, commenting company or organization, and the language of the comments themselves. It is a sprawling application with many moving parts, and when LII adopted it, it had not been running for two years.

On the infrastructure team, Mahak Garg served as project manager and, along with Mutahir Kazmi, focused on updating and supporting infrastructure for the application. They worked on updating the software and creating a portable version of the application for other teams to use for development.

The search team, Gaurav Keswani, Soorya Pillai, Ayswarya Ravichandran, Sheethal Shreedhara, and Vinayaka Suryanarayana, ensured that data made its way into, and could be correctly retrieved from, the search engine. This work included setting up and maintaining automated testing to ensure that the software would continue to function correctly after each enhancement was made.

The entities team, Shweta Shrivastava, Vikas Nelamangala, and Saarthak Chandra, ensured that the software could detect and extract the names of corporations and organizations submitting comments in the rulemaking process. Because the data on which Docket Wrench originally relied was no longer available, they researched, found a new data source, and altered the software to make use of it. (Special thanks to Jacob Hileman at the Center for Responsive Politics for his help with the Open Secrets API.)

Deekshith Belchappada, Monisha Chandrashekar, and Anusha Morappanavar, evaluated alternate techniques for computing document similarity, which enables users to find clusters of similar comments and see which language from a particular comment is unique. And Khaleel R  prototyped the use of Apache Spark to detect and mark legal citations and legislation names from within the documents.

So, where is it?

The good news is that after a semester of extremely hard work, “Team Docket” has Docket Wrench up and running again. But we need to ingest a great deal more data and test to make sure that the application can run once we’ve done so. This will take a while. As soon as the students have completed their final project submission, though, we’ll be starting a private beta in which our collaborators can nominate dockets, explore the service, and propose features. Please join us!

A couple of years back, we asked our donors a pair of related questions.  The first was, “How much do you value the LII’s work on innovative features?” The second was, “How much do you agree or disagree that the LII provides useful, innovative features?”  I’ve been puzzling over the answers ever since.   On the one hand, it seemed as though you guys didn’t particularly value our work on innovative features.   On the other, it seemed as though you very much like the ones we provide.   It didn’t occur to me at the time, but I should’ve been looking at a third question, one we have asked in nearly every survey and fundraising campaign for the last 5 years: “What can we change or improve about the LII’s services”.   Overwhelmingly, people answer, “Don’t change a thing”.

You could read that in two different ways:  it’s either the highest possible endorsement, or a panic-tinged plea that we not break anything with some misguided feat of techno-hotrodding.  We have done our share of techno-hotrodding, heaven knows, and not a little of it has been misguided — but that stuff has almost always ended up on the cutting-room floor.  That said, we have some very definite opinions about where innovation fits.

A long time ago, almost a quarter century, I wrote the first web browser for Microsoft Windows.  It has gone to a happily anonymous fate, overshadowed by more famous contemporaries.  But it did a number of things that nobody else had done before, including background fetching and caching of web pages, search-engine integration, and most widely known of all, the “mailto:” link.   That’s the trick that allows you to send an e-mail by clicking on a link in a web document.  Something like it had been suggested by a few people, back in 1992, but we were the first to do it. And now, everyone in the world uses it, and nobody thinks much about where it came from.  And that is exactly what we want.

The best innovations do things that are obvious in hindsight, and they do them so unobtrusively that nobody really notices them.  That quality of readiness-to-hand is overwhelmingly important  to us (and yeah, you just caught an aging stagehand having a Heidegger moment).   There is, too, a kind of technologist’s Hippocratic oath:  first, do no harm.  The improvements can’t get in the way.

We don’t let that scare us off; we’ve seen what happens when others let the worst Luddites among their users blockade improvements, or neglect them altogether — just take a look at PACER, which has remained in technological stasis for more than a decade.  But it takes a long time.  Twenty-five years ago, Peter Martin could spend a winter afternoon putting a Supreme Court decision into HTML, with hyperlinks, and create a Web-wide sensation.  Today, something like the linked-definitions feature we just added to the CFR takes 3 years of effort by teams of student software engineers who go on to work for Amazon, Facebook, Oracle, and Google.   But we hope that by the time a new feature appears at your fingertips, it just seems… obvious.  

Just like it should have been there all along.

T.
PS:  Bob Ambrogi, the noted legal-tech journalist, just published a piece on our guest-blog that talks about the LII’s history of innovation.  I recommend it.

Soon we’ll start seeing opinions trickle out of the Court that include the vote of the newest Justice, Neil Gorsuch.  Before you read his words, read some lesser-known facts about him:

1:  His mother was the first female Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency.

2:  He was nominated to his prior position on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals after a recommendation from billionaire Philip Anschutz.

3:  His wife is English.  He met her while studying at Oxford.

4:  He has opted out of the “cert pool.” He is only the second Justice on the current Court not to participate.  (The other is Justice Alito.)

Right now, we’re reworking all of the pages on the website that tell you about what we do.  And we’re settling into an approach to this newsletter that makes some assumptions about what you want to know about the LII and what it does. Assumptions are dangerous, of course, and so we thought we’d ask you to tell us what you think.

The result is the very short survey.  Go ahead and fill it out right now if you want —  the rest of this story just explains it a little. How many of these topics are interesting to you, and which ones are the most interesting?

Information about what we do with your money.  We try to be as transparent as possible about our projects and expenses.  Oddly, that’s harder for a small organization to do than it is for a larger one.  Well over 80% of our expenses are in salaries for our very small staff, all of whom work on multiple projects simultaneously, and many of the projects apply to more than one collection.  It’s hard to say exactly which dollar goes where, but we can surely try.  What would you like to know?

Information about impact. This is a hard story to tell clearly; there’s a lot that we ourselves don’t know about the 32 million people who come here each year.  But (for example) we could tell you that traffic on the site is up more than 25% this calendar year, apparently as the result of public curiosity about controversial areas of Federal law.   There’s a lot more hidden in those numbers; what would you most like to know?

Information about technical innovation.  We ran a survey a couple of years back and discovered an interesting thing about you folks:  almost none of you claim to be interested in innovation in legal information per se.  And almost every one of you loves the features that that innovation has produced. We’re trying to figure out how to tell a more interesting story about how one leads to the other, and it would help us to know what you want to know.

Information about the people who work here.  LII people tend to be very, very interesting, and very, very shy.  On the staff here we have people who have developed nanotechnology-based pathogen detectors, been favorably reviewed in the New York Times for modern-dance performance, been captains on good-sized sailing vessels, staged professional opera productions in Eagle Pass, Texas, flown drug-interdiction missions for the Navy,  edited case-study materials for the Harvard Business School, and been production manager for an offset-printing business.   Want to know anything more about them?

Information about open access to law worldwide. We regularly work with organizations like ours all over the world.  We’ve advised LIIs in Africa, consulted for the Hague Conference on Private International Law and the European Commission, taught courses and given presentations in Australia,  and hosted visiting scholars from Spain, Finland, and Serbia among many other places.  More than 20 organizations worldwide have “LII” in their names somewhere.  What would you like to know about them?

Last and very far from least, information about you. LII donors are varied, interesting, committed and motivated to help us by a very, very wide variety of concerns and interests.   It’s a diverse and exciting community; what would you like to know about it?

Please take a minute and fill out the survey (it’s really short).  If surveys aren’t your thing, just write to me at tom.bruce@liicornell.org.  I’m eager to hear what you think.

When looking for the next LII donor to interview, we thought: who better than a Thomas Jefferson interpreter during the birthday month of our third president? Meet Steve Edenbo, historian and impersonator of Thomas Jefferson for the last 18 years. Upon finding out that the Legal Information Institute has helped Edenbo in his career, we wanted to ask him a few questions.

Can you tell us how your role as Thomas Jefferson first began?

In 1999[,] American Historical Theatre, based in Philadelphia, saw me performing in unrelated theatrical productions. After observing my acting work and learning that my other favorite undertakings were reading and writing, they approached me for the role. I was surprised when they told me that I looked like Thomas Jefferson. I was even more surprised (and delighted) when I began to realize how fulfilling this work could be. The rest is history.

How many different scenes do you reenact as Thomas Jefferson? What is your favorite?

Technically, I don’t really reenact any scenes. My presentations —both monologue and dialogue— are interpretations of Jefferson’s life & philosophy. They’re based on careful research and study, but they’re less like a reenactment and more like a theatrical thesis. That being said, my favorites are the debates, which I think are usually more entertaining for the audiences too. As Jefferson, I regularly debate Chief Justice John Marshall and President John Adams for CLE seminars, judges retreats, etc. One of my most popular debates is with Alexander Hamilton. I’ve also debated Abigail Adams (a debate that really ought to be more popular), Patrick Henry, George Washington, Thomas Paine, John Dickinson, and others.

Are there personality traits that you would say you and Thomas Jefferson share?

Sure. Like him, I enjoy my privacy, which of course is an ironic thing to say while participating in an interview. Unlike him, I like speaking to audiences. After the show, however, I turn to solitude for replenishment. Early in my study of Jefferson, I connected with his universal curiosity. He loved learning and wanted to know about everything. Admittedly, his intellectual tools for gathering and processing information were exponentially greater than my own are, but I nonetheless feel a kinship of curiosity with him.

If you could have lunch with Thomas Jefferson, what is one thing you would ask him?

I’ve often thought about that kind of scenario. What I’ve determined is that he’d never answer the most nettling questions about him. He’d be an utterly charming lunch companion, but he wouldn’t hesitate to use his sparkling conversation and kaleidoscopic knowledge to mask anything he didn’t want to reveal. That’s part of where my interpretation of him parts from what he’d really be like if you met him; I work hard to engage directly with the most difficult questions that he would evade. Fortunately, it’s not my job to be Thomas Jefferson; it’s my job to tell his story.

Can you give a few examples of different events you have performed for?

Every July 4th for the last 16 years I have participated in a public reading of the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives in Washington D.C., followed by a day of interactions and discussions with the thousands of people who attend the event. This year at Monticello, on June 3d & 4th, we’re doing our second annual event centered on the story of how Jefferson was almost captured by the British at his home. Every year at Hamilton Grange National Memorial we invite the public to attend Hamilton v. Jefferson debates —one for younger audiences and one for adults (This year it will be on June 17th). I’ve appeared in a few episodes of the historical cooking documentary series “A Taste of History” with Walter Staib.  I perform regularly for Independence National Historical Park. Those are some highlights. I also give motivational speeches at corporate events, more traditional presentations at libraries, schools, colleges & universities, and other community events, and in-character “meet & greets” at cocktail hours, among other event categories. Sometimes I sit to lunch or dinner with very small gatherings of as few as two or three people. I send as much of my work as possible through American Historical Theatre, because they continue to be a wonderful organization serving a great purpose.

Is there a place you have not traveled yet, that you would like to for a performance?

Well, I’ll be checking a big one off of my “Jefferson Bucket List” this year when I speak at Mount Rushmore on October 6th. I’ve received inquiries from them before, but the scheduling never worked-out until now. Beyond that, I’d like to expand into the international schools market. I gave a series of presentations at the American School in London a number of years ago, and I loved everything about the experience. There are American schools all over the world, and I’d love to visit them.

You also play William Clark. How did that role begin?

It began in 2003/04 for the bicentennial of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, with a series of appearances at Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences. They were hosting the traveling exhibit on the Journey of Discovery. Clark is a fun role; his stories are much more exciting than Jefferson’s.

How did you first find the LII?

I found you while doing research. I do most of my research on the computer. I’m always looking for online sources of primary documents, partially because I footnote my scripts for later reference, and partially because I like to accompany my in-character social media posts with links to primary documents. LII has been especially helpful in researching and preparing the scripts and social media posts associated with the scripts I’ve been writing for the CLE Marshall v. Jefferson debates.

For those who don’t know, can you explain what the American Bar Association’s CLE programs are and how you’re involved with them?

Continuing Legal Education seminars (“CLE’s”) are accredited courses designed to maintain or sharpen the skills of licensed attorneys and judges. They are primarily operated and developed on a state-by-state bar association basis. My actor-historian colleagues and I join with attorneys, who serve as moderators in the debate programs, to present the 3&1/2-hour seminars. My favorite moderator to work with in this capacity is Donald Scarinci of Scarinci-Hollenbeck. Not only does he know his Constitutional law history, but he also gets the spirit of what our in-character presentations are trying to achieve. He helps bridge the gap between the “cut-off” dates of the historical figures (Jefferson can’t comment beyond July 4th, 1826, for instance) and modern day. The debate structure allows us to present complicated and often dense Constitutional history in an entertaining format. Personal conflict, and personality, of the founding fathers helps us to make the educational experience an enjoyable one. For instance, John Marshall and Thomas Jefferson hated each other, and the hatred was personal. Their families hated each other, and that intensely personal quarrel fed the political fire while it currently increases the theatrical tension of the CLE presentations.

What parts of the LII do you use the most?

I suppose I’ve already hinted at it, but your online SCOTUS opinions have been tremendously useful for me.

How would you describe the process of finding information on our website?

I’ve come to your resources by Googling specific court cases. When your name comes up in the search (which is basically always), I go to LII because I know that I can trust the resources and that they’re easily accessed.

You recently made a gift to support the LII’s work. Can you tell us why you decided to give?

LII’s free online resources played a key role in my research and writing of the new scripts for our Marshall v. Jefferson debates, which debuted for the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education in December. They were a big success, and will continue with the Pennsylvania Bar Institute in May and the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges in July. It’s become clear to me that LII is a valuable resource, and I wanted to help you continue to make it available to all.

What is one thing you like doing outside of your work?

When my work schedule allows, I add sightseeing to my Jeffersonian travel. National Parks are my favorites. I camped in Joshua Tree in January, and I’ll camp in Yosemite in May. Last week in Texas I visited Mission San José in San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Another place I’d love to check off of my “Jefferson Bucket List” is Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortugas National Park, so if anybody in the Florida Keys is interested in a visit by Mr. Jefferson, do give me a call.

Last summer, we announced our plans to take over the operation of the Women & Justice caselaw collection, which has been created by Cornell Law’s Avon Center prior to its closure. We thought it was time for an update.

Under the leadership of Jocelyn Hackett, Cornell Law School Class of 2012, the collection continues to grow. Jocelyn was able to maintain and build upon earlier pro bono relationships between the former Avon Center and two major American law firms: White & Case and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.  Attorneys from those firms are researching and writing about important cases affecting women’s rights in areas from employment to property to domestic violence and other criminal law in various jurisdictions across five continents. The list of jurisdictions is so long that just alphabetizing it seems like work:  Algeria,  Armenia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium,  Belize,  Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, China, Costa Rica,  Cuba, Dominican Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia,  Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana,  Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Malaysia,  Mali, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Suriname, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Zambia.

In addition to national courts, researchers are considering materials from such bodies as the African Commission and Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights; The Committee Against Torture; The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR Human Rights Committee); European Committee on Social Rights; European Court of Human Rights; European Court of Justice; and the Inter-American Commission and Court on Human Rights.

All involved are committed to exploring ways to improve and grow the database. These include revamping the technical aspects of the database as we port it over to the LII domain, teaming law students with the volunteer attorneys who do the research and writing, creating complete resource guides for several of the countries featured in the collection, and potentially someday offering searchable native language and English version of the collection’s various resources.

We’ll keep you posted on our progress with this exciting and important project!