Author: Ellie Margolis

Local Service Matters

I was recently appointed to serve on the Cheltenham Township Human Relations Commission. Like many local cities and towns, Cheltenham Township, where I live, has a Human Relations Ordinance prohibiting discrimination in housing accommodations, certain commercial property transactions, employment, and public accommodation, within the Township. The CHRC is a citizen committee that hears complaints and mediates disputes under the ordinance, and works with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission on situations that go beyond mediation to disputes in court. The CHRC also plays a valuable role in providing community education about the kinds of discrimination that are unlawful and what community members can do about it. The Cheltenham ordinance, like many similar local laws, covers a broader range of categories than the state or federal anti-discrimination statutes. Its purpose is to “ensure that all persons, regardless of actual or perceived race, color, age, religious creed, ancestry, sex, national origin, handicap, disability, or use of guide or support animals and/or mechanical aids because of blindness, deafness or physical handicap of the user or the user is a …

Temple-Law-Library

Mind the Gap

We are in the midst of a major paradigm shift in legal research—both how it is done and how it should be taught. For generations of lawyers, the process of legal research remained static, rooted in a bibliographic approach that reflected the print publication of legal materials. However, as legal sources have become digitized and migrated online, it is now impossible to talk about legal research from a purely bibliographic perspective. The organization of legal materials in digital databases is getting further and further away from the world of books it once replicated. The search box has replaced most print finding tools for legal research, and lawyers conduct most of their research electronically. Today, it would be irresponsible to teach legal research without a focus on electronic research, and many have abandoned teaching book research at all. In recent years, legal writing professors and law librarians have given much scholarly attention to questions of pedagogy and training in a world of online legal research. One question that poses a serious and ongoing challenge is that …

Laptop and paper

Is the Medium the Message? Unleashing the Power of E-Communication in the Twenty-First Century

The technological revolution has brought dramatic changes to the world of law practice, including legal research and writing, yet the basic conventions of legal writing have remained unchanged for decades. Memoranda and briefs today look much as they did early in the last century. Yet if the medium of legal communication has shifted from print to pixels, shouldn’t that lead to changes in the way legal analysis is communicated? This article considers the differences as a result of both writing and reading in a digital medium, and addresses the changes in writing that should flow from that, including changes in typography and document design, changes in document navigation and communicating organization, and the use of hyperlinks and images to create multi-dimensional documents. The article suggests that lawyers must make changes in traditional forms of legal writing in order to be effective writers for the 21st century. Download the paper at SSRN.