Keeping you current at the speed of law school.

Federal Mobile Apps Directory – Resource of the Week

Posted by Mary Paige Smith on January 23, 2015

This week we are highlighting the Federal Mobile Apps Directory, a United States government resource. This directory, part of, allows you to browse through the apps alphabetically, or search by topic or source agency, to find the apps that are the most useful to you. You can also limit your search by device type: iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android, Blackberry, Windows, or mobile web. iOS, Android, and mobile web apps are by far the most numerous.

Some apps make it easier for you to report problems and get help from the government. FEMA has disaster assistance app, while Dolphin & Whale 911 allows you to report stranded, injured, or dead marine mammals along the Southeast U.S. coastline. There’s an Emergency Response Guide for iPhones, which can help first responders and affected individuals deal with hazardous materials emergencies.

Other apps can help you improve your life and the lives of your loved ones. The Administration for Children and Families has and app that provides HeadStart Resources. Know Bullying offers conversation starters for talks with your kids about bullying, and resources for additional assistance. iUSAJobs and several agency-specific apps link job-seekers to Federal government job postings.

There are plenty of apps just for fun. The Centers for Disease Control has Solve the Outbreak, a learning game that lets the player be a “disease detective”. NORAD tracks Santa lets children follow Santa’s progress on December 24. Brrrd Brawl seems to be the Department of Health and Human Services’ answer to Angry Birds™.

My award for the app least likely to be identified by agency goes to Breathe2Relax, a “portable stress management tool” listed under the Department of Defense. Turns out that the app is offered by the National Center for TeleHealth and Technology. Here’s how they describe themselves: “The National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2) is a component center of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE). In FY 2013, DCoE was aligned with the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.” You can read more about all the mobile apps that were designed to help veterans cope with stress in this recent article from Federal Times.

Take a few moments to explore the Federal Mobile Apps Directory, and get a little bit more from your tax dollars!

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SEAALL Annual Conference 2014 in Knoxville, TN

Posted by averyple on May 14, 2014

A little over a month ago, some of the Nova Law librarians had the opportunity to attend the SEAALL (Southeastern Chapter of American Association of Law Libraries) Annual Conference in Knoxville, TN. University of Tennessee Law and Lincoln Memorial University Law did a fantastic job of welcoming us into their city. Rob Beharriell, Carolyn Brown, Dean Eric Young and I had a blast while taking in the Knoxville local cuisine and culture as well as learned about some very insightful topics from the presenters at the conference. I want to share a little bit about our SEAALL trip with you in this entry so that you can have an idea of how beneficial it can be to put hundreds of librarians together in one place!

Knoxville’s Downtown Market Square, across the street from our hotel:


We started our Conference by attending the Institute, which is a series of presentations catered to beginning law librarians to give them extra ins and outs about the profession.

The first presentation that caught my attention was Job Satisfaction: What Can Each of Us Do to Put It in Reach, presented by Maureen Cahill, University of Georgia; Caroline Osborne & Judy Stinson, Washington & Lee University. The program discussed some of the challenges librarians and staff face when working in a library environment. The presenters came up with some suggestions about how to relieve work-related stress and maintain a balance between your work and personal life so as not to drown yourself in too many responsibilities that you lose sight of who you truly are. That way, you can genuinely have a passion for your job. At the end of the program, the presenters asked us to share some things we did to “escape” from our work environment momentarily to get a recharge to finish the day out on a strong note. I thought about it and realized that it really helped me to utilize my lunch break in that manner. I either had lunch with members of other departments at the school, such as Student Affairs, Administration, or IT, so that I didn’t have to talk about library-related topics. If no one was available, I would drive to a nearby local eatery for lunch, even if it is a fast food place, just to get some fresh air away from the officer. If I can’t leave campus, I try to take a walk to the University Center, which has the food court for the main campus, instead. That way, it allows me to physically pull away from my desk and take my mind off work for just an hour. When I come back, I’m ready to tackle the rest of the day! What things can you do during your work day to give yourself a breather?

The presentation, How Low Can You Go? New Frontiers in Applying the Tools and Strategies of Succession Planning, by Elizabeth Outler & Patricia Morgan from University of Florida, discussed plans to make succession transitions go smoothly. The presenters suggested that the library should have a game plan in place for both successions and unexpected position vacancies (people moving on to other positions, people having family emergencies and leaving their jobs for personal reasons). It involved cross-training most of the librarians and staff and allowing everyone to have a little experience in each department, if not just the basics of how to perform a certain job task, so that there could be a structural shift to fill the void if and when the time comes for one. I thought that was a neat backup plan to instill. I support the notion of cross-training not just for succession planning, but also just so each person can truly appreciate their colleagues’ and coworkers’ special skills and have a general understanding of how crucial each department’s part is to running an effective law library. Sometimes, you have to step into someone else’s shoes in order to fully acknowledge the contributions they bring to the team. And that way, your library is covered if a particular person leaves (even if only to go on vacation), knowing that there is at least one other person who can temporarily take over for them.

And then the Conference began the next day, officially. Since there were about three different programs happening at one time, I can only report about the highlights of the programs that I was able to attend, but I hear from Rob and Carolyn that the programs they attended were equally as comprehensive and informative, and I commend all of the presenters at SEAALL for their hard work in putting the programs together for us.

While all of the programs gave me priceless tips to take back to Nova, the most engaging program for me was by Sara Sampson and Tim Gallina of the University of North Carolina Law School called What’s Your Problem: Designing Engaging Assignments for Your Course really gave me great ideas about how to create lesson plans, since I am new to the profession and have not taught my first solo class yet. Sara and Tim did a great job identifying how to keep the students’ attention and to make the assignments relatable to them.

The other program I really enjoyed was Law Lib Tech where the University of Georgia law librarians Thomas Striepe, Jason Turbinis & Anne Burnett gave us a good overview of how technology use in the classroom can increase productivity. For instance, UGA Law promotes the use of clickers in their classes to not only draw the students’ into actively participating, but it also gave the professors an additional tool to gather statistics about the students’ learning habits and what areas they needed the most help in. Another way UGA supported student services was through their Digital Repository, which hosted both faculty scholarship as well as student scholarship and provided another database of resources for the students to tap into for their research needs. This included digitizing the Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law and making all of its issues accessible through the Digital Repository.

And now, the best part: the food, sights and atmosphere! We had the opportunity to experience some downright Tennessee cookin’. Over the week, I ate my heart out at as many local places as possible, including CRU, Bijou’s Bistro, Tupelo Honey, Blue Coast Grill, Preservation Pub, and Stock and Barrel. The consensus among the group was that the Tupelo Honey presented itself as the favorite, especially impressing us with their Southern style delectable such as shrimp & grits, biscuits, fried okra, and the like. If you’re craving mama’s home-cooked meals, this is the place to go. They even had their biscuit mix and homemade jam for sale, and I’m sure some of the librarians at the conference took advantage of loading their suitcases up with that, because they were to die for!


Photo courtesy of

During the day between programs, we enjoyed the art culture surrounding the Market Square and perused the delightful corner shops for unique souvenir items. I bought a few items from the Wallace Paper Company which held unique and witty greeting cards, posters, and stationary that I truly have never seen anywhere else. There was also a stroll through the World’s Fair Park to catch a glimpse of the landmark Sun Sphere and was treated with a llama race event nearly! I also took a little detour with some old friends to the McKay’s Bookstore because what kind of a librarian would I be if I didn’t go on a hunt for books? McKay’s turned out to be a giant two-story warehouse of used books, movies, records, cds, action figures, comics, and so much more! The prices were incredible, anywhere from $0.99 and up. It made me wish there was something comparable in Fort Lauderdale.

McKay’s Used Bookstore:




Art Festival at Market Square:






Sun Sphere:




Llama Race:



We got a taste of the nightlife, including a hidden speakeasy called The Peter Kern Library ( where the whole place followed a library theme. The coziness of the speakeasy, whose entrance could only be found through a narrow back alley tucked behind the Oliver Hotel, boasted a fireplace and bookshelf painted background, a hollowed out book as a menu, cocktails named after literary characters and books, and even a tab that was printed on a “Check Out / Return By” slip that are commonly found in the back of public library books. It was definitely a unique experience that was apropos to the Conference.

Peter Kern Library Speakeasy:



Stroll past Tennessee Theater at night:



Overall, Knoxville exceeded my expectations with its small-town charm juxtaposed with big city activities, the nice weather and Tennessee River breeze, and the many treasures that we found at the Downtown shops and restaurants. My only wish was that we had more time to explore the rest of the city and its natural landmarks such as the Smoky Mountains. Until next time, thanks for the hospitality, Knoxville, and thank you to the SEAALL committee members who worked hard to make the Conference possible!

Postcard Wall Mural:


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’12 Years a Slave’ Movie Night & Panel Discussion 3.25.14

Posted by cbrown32013 on April 14, 2014

On March 25 the Law Library, in conjunction with the Inter-American Center for Human Rights, and the Black Law Student Association, hosted a screening of the Academy Award Winning movie, ’12 Years a Slave.’ Professor Jane Cross introduced the movie and, later, moderated a discussion with Professors Imoukhuede and Wilets.


12 Years a Slave- what a movie! I think that everyone that attended our last movie night is still reeling from the harsh realities portrayed on screen.  Movies dealing with slavery are difficult to watch largely because of the atrocities that were committed by Americans against other humans. It is a dark period of history for America- the effects of which are still felt today.

Professor Cross gave a wonderful introduction to the movie, giving us a sense of the atmosphere of the time, and some issues and events to look for while viewing the movie. Prevailing issues in the movie included racism, religion, and the constitution. While the racism elements were pronounced, religious issues were more hidden, and constitutional issues a background noise.


The movie is based on the 1853 memoir of Soloman Northup, a free man living in New York kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841. Northup worked on plantations in Louisiana for 12 years before regaining his freedom. Northup had two separate “owners” during his time as a slave, and while both treated Northup differently, they both used their Christian religion as a justification for enslavement. Both men preached the word of God to their slaves as their duty, and used religion to justify their “ownership” and mistreatment of slaves. Professor Wilets spoke after the movie about how many slave owners used the Bible and the Consitution to justify their barbaric treatment of black people. The Constitution allowed black slaves to be treated as property, not as people. This was not remedied until after the Civil War, and after the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.

Professor Imoukhuede rightly pointed out in his closing remarks that this movie is perhaps more accessible to us, in the 21st century, because we can somewhat identify with Northup. Northup was an educated, talented, free man, kidnapped and forced into slavery. By making Northup more identifiable to us, makes slavery seem all the more real and terrifying to us. Racism and slavery still exist today, and it is important to understand the roots of slavery in America. Only by understanding our past can we begin to heal these wounds.

The ending credits stated how Northup and his lawyers were unable to bring his kidnappers to justice. During this time (1853), under Washington D.C. law, black witnesses were prevented from testifying against white defendants. The plantation owners were protected under Louisiana law since they claimed they hadn’t known Northup was a free man, and Northup was unable to testify on his own behalf. His kidnappers were found in 1854 and a case was brought against them in New York state court where Northup WAS allowed to testify. Unfortunately, his kidnappers were not brought to justice despite numerous appeals.

It is difficult for most of us to think that this movie took place less than two hundred years ago. It is also difficult to think of how our ancestors were treated or how they treated others. Slavery is not that far back in our past. It is important that we recognize the horrors and civil rights violations that took place in our country so that we are sure to not repeat them. 

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“Gank”: Coining a neologism for fun (but not profit)

Posted by mitchsilverman1 on February 9, 2014

I coined a new word (a neologism): “to gank.” It's a word particularly well-suited to us librarians, but it's also useful for law professors, lawyers, and law students.

“Gank” means “to copy data (including metadata, data about data, or an entire document) from one location (e.g. a document or database), to another, to make it more useful or accessible (e.g. save as a file or record, or print).” It's a transitive verb, meaning that it takes a direct object: “Rob ganked three citations and a partridge in a pear tree.” (Or maybe he didn't.)

My use of “gank” is sort of similar (if you squint when you look at it) to one from the Urban Dictionary, from American slang: “To steal in a surreptitious or underhanded manner” ( — the definitions at that link are fine, but other definitions of the word there are not safe in polite company). When I started “ganking,” I didn't know that.

Usage of “gank”

For library use: “Becka showed me the first page of a cool journal article. I just wanted to be able to find it, so I ganked its DOI [Digital Object Identifier, like a URL for journal articles]. I put it into MLZ [a citation management program], and MLZ ganked the citation from an online database–now I'm good to go.”

Helping a library patron: “I ganked a new Supreme Court brief from Bloomberg for an NSU Law alumn the other day.”

Law professor: “I ganked a law review article that's perfect for benching my Moot Court team.”

Law student: “Instead of retyping the citation format for a case from a Zimbabwean administrative tribunal, I ganked the citation format from the online Bluebook and used it as a template.”

(There's also Urban Dictionary definition 3: “3. vt. (Am. H-Hop) Character assassination“: “It's easy to gank the Bluebook; Judge Posner said it's a cancer.”)

Writing a blog post: “I've been using a cool new word I invented. But no one else knows what it means. So I ganked the definition and posted on the LLTC blog.”

How do you use “gank”?

(Edit 12:07PM: Corrected spelling, changed title, fixed a few stylistic infelicities.)


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Human Rights Day, December 10 2013

Posted by Mary Paige Smith on December 4, 2013


Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, (United States) holding a Declaration of Human Rights
© UN Photo

Visit the Human Rights Day website, and you will see that this event “is observed by the international community every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day in 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. When the General Assembly adopted the Declaration, with 48 states in favor and eight abstentions, it was proclaimed as a ‘common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations’, towards which individuals and societies should ‘strive by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance’. Although the Declaration with its broad range of political, civil, social, cultural and economic rights is not a binding document, it inspired more than 60 human rights instruments which together constitute an international standard of human rights.”

 Human Rights Day 2013 also celebrates 20 years of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. At the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna in June 1993, 171 states approved the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA). One of the recommendations in the action plan was the creation of a United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. In December 1993, The UN General Assembly approved the creation of this office.

For 20 years, the Office of the High Commissioner has proven to be a driving force in supporting and defending human rights across the globe. Some of the most important achievements involve bringing issues of human rights to the fore in discussions and formulations of national, regional and international policies.  Also high on the list of successes: working for the rights of women, children, migrants, people with disabilities, the elderly, LGBT individuals, indigenous and minority communities, and victims of torture or slavery.

To learn more about these activities, watch the Office of the High Commissioner’s 20th anniversImageary promotional video, view feature stories from around the world, go to the United Nations Human Rights page on Facebook, and get the latest news on Twitter at #UNRightsAt20.

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Getting to Know the LLTC- Carolyn Brown

Posted by cbrown32013 on November 11, 2013


Where did you grow up?:

I was born in Staten Island, NY where I lived for the majority of my life. I moved to Brooklyn while getting my Master’s in Library and Information Science at Pratt Institute, and then to State College, PA for law school before landing in Fort Lauderdale.

Where did you work prior to LLTC?

I worked in wholesale jewelry sales for about 6 years before deciding to go back to school to get my library degree…and then my law degree. I have interned at Columbia Law Library and the criminal court in Brooklyn.

When did you begin working for the LLTC?

I began working at the LLTC at the beginning of October.

What do you do at LLTC?

I am an Outreach and Reference Services Librarian. I’m also now in charge of MOVIE NIGHTS so make sure to come to the next one on Nov 21 at 6pm in the faculty study!

What do you like best about your job?

I really enjoy helping students and public patrons to figure out how to maximize library resources. It’s always great to help someone find exactly what they are looking for.

What are your proudest accomplishments on the job?

I’m still new! So I will say that I really enjoyed helping with our recent Halloween event- I hope that some of our tricks and tips came in handy!

Tips and tricks_Page_1Tips and tricks_Page_2

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I love to cook and am always looking for delicious yet healthy recipes. I also love to travel and read- I will literally read anything and everything.

What is your favorite food?

NYC pizza. I can’t get enough.

What is your favorite book?

The Unbearable Lightness of Being is my all-time favorite, but I just read Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl which was a great read.

Is there any particular advice you would like to share with the students?:

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And don’t be afraid to start with Google. 

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A New Frontier

Posted by averyple on October 30, 2013

Greetings readers,

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Avery Le and I am the new Emerging Technologies & Institutional Repository Librarian here at the Nova Southeastern Law Library. I chose the word “frontier” for the title of this post for several reasons. It is a new frontier for me, this sunny land of South Florida, as I made my move down here for this new position at Nova that I am truly excited about! Not only is the region new to me,  but this is also my first year as an academic law librarian – so that is another new frontier for me to explore. Going even further, I want to tackle the new frontier of technology, because in case you haven’t noticed, it is changing — and at a rapid pace! I can’t wait to bring the new technological breakthroughs and apply it to the library field, so that it can benefit the librarians, the students, the faculty, and everyone else in order to take your library experience to the max!

Below are a few things about me that will help us get acquainted:

I am a graduate of the University of Florida Levin College of Law in 2011. I stayed on as first a full-time Technical Services Assistant, and became the Institutional Repository Assistant at the UF Legal Information Center, where I learned most of the behind-the-scenes library work.


Go Gators! That means I am a Gator Football fan as well, but more of the comraderie screaming and yelling and rooting for the team, and less of actually following the scores and rankings and rules that go along with actually “watching” football. There’s no conflict right now since NSU does not have a football team, but I promise, if NSU ever gets one, I will gladly be a Shark fan over a Gator fan any day!

I went on to get my Master of Library Science from Florida State University in 2013. So I kind of like the Seminoles, too. And my B.A. is from University of Southern California. Go Trojans, and ohhh how I miss the easy California lifestyle…minus the traffic on the 101.

While we’re on the topic of geography, I’d also like to share that it is my ultimate goal to visit all fifty states. I mean, *really* visit them, not just drive through them on the way to another destination. So far, according to my list, I’ve hit about 23 of the states. The Midwest has not been touched, and neither has the upper northern regions like Michigan, Montana, etc. While I’m in a major city, I also like to purchase a shot glass with its name on it as a souvenir. You know, as evidence that I was actually there.

On the academic front, I have a special interest in Intellectual Property such as Copyright, Trademarks, and Cyberlaw. I am a professional photographer as well, so much of that has to do with my interest in maintaining and developing a business.

Aside from that, I also enjoy hanging out with my cat Maveryck:


We like to sing karaoke together (that’s her karaoke pose). Especially country music. I can’t get enough of that! I just went to the recent Luke Bryan and Florida/Georgia Line concert, and it was amazing. I enjoy all types of concerts in general — this Saturday, I am going to the Michael Buble concert here in Ft. Lauderdale.

I think that is plenty enough about me for now. I will leave you with some of my favorite iPad apps.

1. DuoLingo

The absolute best FREE language learning app on the market, in my opinion. Currently, I am using it to teach myself Spanish, but you can also use it to learn French, German, English, and some other languages as well. It is about as comprehensive as one can get, with translation exercises as well as speaking exercises. And so much fun!


2. Law School Dojo

How about combining some ninja skills with multiple choice questions about the law? Brilliant! I would not rely solely on this app to study for my exams if I were you, but it is good practice for just some general law trivia to warm up with.


3. Genius Scan

This is an okay app for the iPhone, but it is ten times better on the iPad. The quality of the scan, of course, comes from the iPad camera – but if you are on the go (or you are like me, and do NOT want to leave the comfort of your office chair), this app can allow you to scan documents and photos in a jiffy (in black and white, grayscale or color). My favorite feature of this scanning application versus other ones, is the ‘wifi sharing’ option, which uploads your documents straight to the web and then gives you a URL web address to retrieve your files from. In less than two seconds, I can pull up my scanned document on my computer without having to e-mail it to myself as an attachment or uploading it to dropbox, etc. Very useful if you’re pressed for time!


Please feel free to stop by my office if you have any reference or research questions, or you just want to say hello!


Avery Le

Shepard Broad Law Center

Law Library & Technology Center

Rm L207B

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What To Do, What To Do

Posted by mitchsilverman1 on December 19, 2012

There are days, like today, when I really don’t want to do what I need to. Sometimes I’m procrastinating so badly that I don’t even know what I need to do. But I still need to get my necessary tasks done. I’ve used to-do lists for a long time. I’ve used them in a variety of situations, in various forms, using various tools, and with varying amounts of sophistication (“complication”), and varying degrees of success.

I’ve finally settled on a new to-do list “workflow.” It’s a “workflow,” because tasks flow through it: Tasks are formulated or assigned, added to the to-do-list, and swirl around, being prioritized, completed, procrastinated upon (heh), or even dropped.


A double-barreled disclaimer, at that. First, this system works for me. For today, for now.  It will change. It may have changed before you read this. (And again before you finish.) Second, this system is an ideal, a goal, some of the time. This is how I would do things if I had immense intellectual stamina and an attention span longer than a gnat. Some days, everything runs according to plan. Others, they don’t—but I still grind away.

So read on. Look at some of these links, if you like. If you see something you like, please try it. If you like it, and it works for you, great! If not, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I’ve tried all of these ideas, with varying degrees of success—but you’re not me.

Me, Me, Me!

I have four basic rules, or techniques, I’ve been using, or trying to, of late, that have been working well. I’ve borrowed these techniques from the Lifehacker productivity blog,, from an article called “How to Make Your To-Do List Doable” ( two modes, chunks, 3 + 2, and KISS.

Two Modes

I think of working on my to-do list as being done in two modes. One mode is thinking mode, where I’m the boss; the other is action mode, where I’m the personal assistant. There’s a simple division: In thinking mode, I plan what I need to do, and in action mode, I do it. I have weekly meetings scheduled with my (real) boss, which help keep me focused. The meetings also emphasize for me that when I get or create projects, I’m in a different context than when I actually get work done.


Also, if you were setting out tasks for a personal assistant, you would simplify what needed to be done. I break tasks down into doable chunks, whether putting tasks in my to-do list or breaking those tasks down and doing them. (Breaking tasks down on the fly is not a best practice, probably, but see my last rule below.) Merlin Mann, creator of the no-longer-updated productivity blog 43 Folders ( gives examples of how to do this in his post on “project” versus “next action” verbs ( use “draft” rather than “implement,” or “call” rather than “handle.” This works because next-action verbs are concrete and specific: “Call Fred about pricing karaoke system for office lounge” is much more doable than “implement Friday karaoke party at work.”

Mann also suggests, in another article (“Building a Smarter To-Do List, Part I,” that:

Framing your work in the physical world is easiest when you imagine what’s being done, and the best trick here is to simply phrase your task in a form like: “verb the noun with the object.” That means instead of reminding yourself with the mystery meat of “Year-end report,” you’d more accurately first “Download Q3 spreadsheet from work server.” And, instead of “Get with Anil,” you’d probably want to “Email Anil on Monday to schedule monthly disco funk party.” Get specific in whittling the task down to one activity that you can accomplish completely at a sitting. “A sitting” will vary for you, but I try to never plan a task that would take more than ten minutes (your level of busy-ness might command even smaller-sized tasks).

3 + 2

No matter how organized my to-do list itself is, I find it hard to actually look at the list and pick a task when I’m in action mode. And looking at my whole to-do list can be jarring, disorienting, and kind of a downer. So instead, at the beginning of the day I pick a few tasks—some long, some short—to concentrate on. One technique I really like for this is the 3 + 2 rule, discussed on the Lifehacker blog at “Take a More Realistic Approach to Your To-Do List with the 3 + 2 Rule” ( – the original blog post, by Jakub Stastny, is at The simple version: Take three long to-do tasks and two shorter ones, selected by priority, convenience, desire to complete, and write them on an index card, and you have that day’s list. You can even select to-do items that will get your day off to a good start, even if they aren’t the absolute highest priority on your list. Even if my 3 + 2 list is overwhelming, it’s still not as depressing as looking at my entire list when I’m trying to just get work done.


You get it. Keep It Simple, Sunshine. (Or it isn’t.) Don’t mix planning and doing, break tasks up, “verb the noun with the object” instead of writing a complex sentence for each to-do, and so forth. An example: I keep a very short to-do list proper, with tasks I can feed into my 3 + 2 list, and a separate project list (as a separate outline topic). That way, I don’t get confused or overwhelmed by a list of stuff.

Beyond that, I’m not going to elaborate. Instead, I’m going to keep it simple.


I also try to keep the capturing and organizing part of my to-do list as simple as I can. In addition to Post-Its (how did law school even happen before they existed?) and paper printouts of my to-do list (useful for large-scale reorganizations of my to-do list), I use only three main tools: Workflowy, a whiteboard… and my office voicemail.


Workflowy (, my to-do list manager of choice; a whiteboard; and my office voicemail.  Workflowy is like many outliners and to-do list tools, but it has four  features I really like. The first isn’t a feature, really: Workflowy is very simple. It has a minimum of bells and whistles, and what features it does have are generaly useful in a to-do list manager. Completing a task crosses it off, but you can choose to display completed tasks. You can export a single outline heading and whatever is beneath it, or you can export the entire list at once. Each user has only one document, but Workflowy will let you click on an outline heading, and all you will see is a context view—only the subheadings below it. In fact, the list display looks almost as if nothing else exists. (Because of that, I have separate Workflowy topics for work and personal items—allowing me to keep the tasks separate, but still manage them in the same place, just like my separate to-do and project lists under my work list.) The third feature is that Workflowy has a Notes field for each to-do item. It can contain text, but also weblinks, which let me link to project materials (like Evernote notes). The fourth is that Workflowy is ubiquitous. It works well on a PC, pretty well on my iPad, and tolerably well on my Android cell phone. And Workflowy is working on off-line editing, so changes to your list made without an internet connection will be updated when you get a connection back.


A whiteboard is where I put my 3 + 2 list. It’s easy, it’s always visible, and it’s right next to my desk. A downside is that, unlike the notecard suggested in the blog post, there’s no way of recording what gets put up and completed. But I take pictures with my cellphone camera (a minor tool), email them to myself, and print them, if necessary.


I use one other odd tool. As organization guru David Allen, author of the seminal Getting Things Done discusses, collecting open loops—bits of information, including project details and to-do items—can be a major problem. So I have a speed-dial button on my cellphone for my office voicemail. As soon as I remember something, no matter how minor, I call my voicemail and leave myself a message. As Allen says, “Incompletions, uncollected, take on a dull sameness in the sense of the pressure they create and the attention they tie up…. You’ll feel better collecting anything that you haven’t collected yet” (p. 232).

One thing I haven’t address is prioritizing tasks. This blog post is about my to-do list system, not my to-dos in general. And prioritizing to-do tasks is still something I’m working on. Perhaps that will be the subject of a future blog post.

So, my organization system. It’s idiosyncratic, and it works—mostly, most of the time, for me. I’ve been looking at time management and to-do-list management for quite some time now; what I’ve mentioned above is not only the tools I use, but the sources (Lifehacker,; 43Folders,; and Getting Things Done, I’ve collected most of them from. (Workflowy, , I got from Becka Rich, my boss and a satisfied Workflowy user.)

I’m beaming this blog post out into the ether. Please, look my ideas—my borrowings from others—over. Try something out, if you like. And please, signal back and let me know what you think.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | Comments Off on What To Do, What To Do

Posted by William on November 6, 2012

Dear Students,

Beginning tonight at 8:00 PM (and continuing for the remainder of the semester), the Law Library will administer a special session of the LLTC’s Trivia Game. Please be sure to check the LLTC’s Twitter and Facebook pages every Monday at 8:00 P.M. for the initial clue regarding a particular week’s trivia series.

Clues are posted weekdays and correct responses are worth up to 50 points if submitted to on the day of release; points awarded for correct submissions will decrease by 10 points following each daily period, i.e. Monday 8PM-Tusday 7:59:59PM = 50 points, Tuesday 8PM-Wednesday 7:59:59PM= 40 points, etc… No points shall be awarded for incorrect responses or for responses submitted after 7:59:59 P.M. on the Saturday following the release of that week’s final clue. All responses MUST be submitted to Please DO NOT post your responses to the LLTC’s Twitter or Facebook accounts.


5 total clues are released from most difficult to least difficult that lead to a single correct response in one of the following categories: a Case, a Movie, Pop Culture, a Legal Resource or a current Nova Law Professor.

A $50 Visa gift card will be awarded to the points leader at the end of the semester. If there is a tie, then tied players will be entered into a drawing to determine the final disposition of the prize.


Multiple submissions are permissible (only one response per 24 hr. period), but the points awarded shall correspond to the daily period during which the correct response was submitted.

Please see the Novalawcity blog for more information regarding the trivia game.

Best Regards,

William Owens, J.D., M.A.

Outreach & Reference Services Librarian

Nova Southeastern University

Shepard Broad Law Center Law Library & Technology Center

3305 College Avenue

Fort Lauderdale, FL  33314-7721

Office:  (954) 262-6171


Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on

Celebrate National Spirit Day – Fly Your Purple!

Posted by Steph Hess on October 19, 2012

Please join the Shepard Law Center staff in celebrating National Spirit Day – a day to wear purple to speak out against bullying and to show your support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth.  Today we reject the bullying of LGBT youth everywhere and cheer the progress being made in civil rights legislation as evidenced by recent court rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Yesterday the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (NY) decreed DOMA unconstitutional, stating that the federal law violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause.  The court ruled in favor of Widow Edith Windsor, an 83-year-old lesbian who sued the federal government for charging her more than $363,000 in estate taxes after being denied the benefit of spousal deductions.  This is the second court to strike down DOMA as unconstitutional.  Read the opinion here.   In May 2012, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston unanimously agreed with a lower court ruling that DOMA was unconstitutional on the basis that it interferes with  individual states’ right to define marriage.

Signed by President Clinton on September 21, 1996, the divisive law bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages by defining marriage as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” and effectively means that states cannot be forced to recognize such marriages from other states. Currently, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Maryland, Washington, Maine and Minnesota are voting on the issue in November referendums.

Prior to DOMA, the Clinton administration implemented “Don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT), the official United States policy on homosexuals serving in the military from December 21, 1993 to September 20, 2011.  As set forth in 10 U.S.C. 654, the policy prohibited military personnel from discriminating against or harassing closeted homosexual or bisexual service members or applicants while barring openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual persons from military service.  Regrettably, DADT was wielded by conservative groups with anti-gay agendas in a harsh, punitive manner against military personnel and applicants who happened to be gay.  Many fine servicemen and women were unjustly discharged from their positions and military recruiting efforts were gravely undermined.

The Law Library & Technology Center offers a growing number of excellent resources relevant to LGBT to its patrons which I encourage you to check out.  Among our holdings, you’ll find titles like the stellar documentary Ask Not which addresses the negative impact DADT had on hiring qualified military personnel.  The film takes an in-depth look at the tangled political battles that prompted the enactment of the discriminatory law and profiles the charismatic young activists who fought to abolish DADT.  The personal stories shared by gay Americans who served in combat under the veil of secrecy are particularly moving, a grim reminder that we must always remain vigilant to discrimination in all its forms. View the trailer here.

Thankfully, DADT was repealed by H.R 2965 a.k.a. the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 and we recently passed the one year anniversary of the repeal. I find it heartening to see follow up news stories reporting that the repeal is having a positive effect on military readiness and that openly gay military personnel are now being promoted.

However, a great deal remains to be done in order to guarantee equal protection for all citizens under the U.S. Constitution.  Civil rights are *rights* — not privileges to be enjoyed by a few select members of the populace.  So let’s wear our purple proudly today and continue working for justice for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, skin color, gender, religion, etc.  Download GLAAD’s resource kit for more ideas on how to participate.


Posted in Court decisions, Current Affairs, Current awareness | Tagged: | Comments Off on Celebrate National Spirit Day – Fly Your Purple!


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