News and information useful to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law students, faculty and staff.

Need Help Researching for Your Paper?

At the beginning of the semester there is lots of activity in the library—especially for those students who are writing a paper for a class, seminar, competition, and/or journals and law review.

Don’t fret – the law library has you covered: we offer scheduled Research Consultations, and reference help (hours available) in person, via phone at 216-687-6877, by e-mail, or via chat (access via link on the library home page).  Let us know what you need help with, and what you have already done and a librarian will assist with finding resources and information.  Most research consultations are approximately 30 minutes in length depending on need.

The library has several research guides designed to assist you in starting your research: Scholarly Writing, Scholarship Technology, Finding Articles in Law Reviews and Journals, Bluebooking and Legal Writing Software, Research Databases, and our Citation Checking guides.


Resources for Conducting Multi-State Surveys

Multi color map of United StatesWhether you are researching in a developing area of law, or one that is well-settled, you may find that you need to compare and contrast laws in multiple states. Conducting a multi-state survey can be challenging and time consuming, but fortunately there are many tools available to help.

Westlaw offers 50 state surveys, located on the Secondary Sources page. There is one database for state statutes and another for state regulations. Each database is searchable by keyword and contains surveys on a variety of topics. Each survey provides links to the states’ statutes or regulations. Lexis Advance also offers 50 state surveys of statutes and regulations, and has a database dedicated to state tax charts with analysis. Users can search the databases or browse the table of contents. Bloomberg Law offers a State Chart Builder feature on a variety of topics that lets you select which states you want to compare and then displays your selected results. You can find the Chart Builder within each Practice Center. Hein Online offers a National Survey of State Laws that is browseable by topic or searchable by keyword.

There are great free tools available as well. For example, the Uniform Law Commission keeps track of which states have passed or are considering their proposed uniform laws, mentioned on this blog in the post about Digital Assets. Cornell LII offers a Topical Index of State Statutes, which is a compilation of state laws organized by topic, but does not provide comparison charts. is a project developed by the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to governmental transparency. features  a searchable database of legislation from all 50 states, voting records, and bill tracking tools. Finally, the National Conference of State Legislatures compiles summaries, analysis, and charts of state laws on a variety of topics.

Digital Assets Act and the Uniform Law Commission

Smartphone with mobile apps iconsEarlier in 2016, a number of states passed legislation that gives a decedent’s personal representative access to the deceased person’s digital assets. The 20 states that have enacted such legislation based it on the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA), a model act proposed by the Uniform Law Commission. The UFADAA defines digital asset as “an electronic record in which an individual has a right or interest.” Those electronic records can include computer files, web domains, and virtual currency. Access rights are provided for four types of fiduciaries, including personal representatives, trustees, conservators, and agents under power of attorney.

Not to worry though, this does not automatically grant your trustee access to your Facebook account and text messages. The Act takes some steps to protect the privacy of decedents and individuals placed under conservatorship. In order for a fiduciary to access email, texts, and social media accounts, the individual must have expressly consented to such disclosure in a will, trust, power of attorney, or other record.

The UFADAA is just one of the many pieces of legislation proposed by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC). The ULC is a non-profit association that seeks to bring clarity and stability to critical areas of state statutory law, by providing states with non-partisan, carefully drafted legislation. Members of the ULC must be lawyers qualified to practice in their state, and include practicing lawyers, judges, legislators, and law professors. The Commissioners are appointed by state governments, and provide their research and drafting expertise entirely pro bono. The ULC cannot enact laws, and may only propose uniform state laws in areas of state law where uniformity is desirable and practical. The Commissioners also work to keep state laws up to date by addressing timely and developing issues. The ULC addresses a wide variety of topics, which can be viewed on their website. Studying one of the proposed uniform laws, and suggesting changes or discussing whether it should be adopted in your state could be an interesting paper topic.

Legislation to enact the UFADAA in Ohio was introduced on September 27, 2016, see SB 358.

Announcing the APA’s Student Writing Competition

apaThe Planning and Law Division of the American Planning Association (APA) is holding the 33rd Annual Smith-Babcock-Williams Student Writing Competition. The grand prize for the winning entry is $2,000 and publication in The Urban Lawyer. Entries are due by June 3, 2016, and must address a question of significance in planning, planning law, land use law, local government law, or environmental law. Please refer to the attached file for more details: Rules APA-PLD Student Writing Competition 2016

“May the odds be ever in your favor.”

Updated Ohio Constitution Guide



Looking for information on the Ohio Constitution and current constitutional issues? Check out the Ohio Constitution – Law and History Guide, which has recently been updated. This research guide includes references to primary and secondary sources, information on Ohio’s previous constitutions and conventions, tables tracking proposed amendments, suggested resources by topic, and more.

The Court Decisions tab features brief summaries of Ohio Supreme Court opinions weighing in on constitutional law issues, now including very recent 2016 opinions. The research guide also features information on pending cases, and links to the Supreme Court’s docket and video recordings of oral arguments.

A new table was just added to track Proposed Bills and Resolutions that amend the Constitution and are currently before the Ohio Legislature. If you are looking for proposed amendments decided by Ohio voters, those can still be found under the Table of Proposed Amendments and Votes.

Another source for current constitutional issues is the Ohio Constitution News blog, operated in conjunction with the research guide.

Keep in mind that proposed amendments and constitutional revisions can be good fodder for upper level research papers.