Tag Archives: Susan Catterall

Check Out Our New Research Guide: International Comparative Law – the Business of Wine

America loves wine and North Carolinians are no exception.  The state boasts a thriving industry, comprised of more than 100 wineries and 400 vineyards and ranks tenth in wine production.  Wine from the Raffaldini Winery has even been served at the White House.  In general, the U.S. population has developed a very discriminating palate with regard to grapes and wines.  Industry associations and subject blogs have proliferated. Wine is big business, whether in the U.S. or abroad.

For the past several summers, students and faculty from Charlotte School of Law have studied the business of wine and experienced a “field trip” of sorts in France.  If you share an interest in the study of wine, check out the “International Comparative Law: the Business of Wine” research guide created by the Charlotte Law Library.


~Susan Catterall~

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More Advice from “The Reference Desk” – Technology Skills

“The Reference Desk” is a regular column featured in the AALL Spectrum.  The column below originally appeared in the Sept/Oct 2015 issue and is reprinted here with permission.

What goes into developing a technology skills course for law students? Are there opportunities to teach these skills in private and government law libraries, as well? Attorneys are tasked with understanding the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, and, according to Susan Catterall, law librarians are in a position to provide that knowledge.

Q: My academic library director oversees IT as well as library operations. I would like to propose a technology course to the curriculum committee—one which might involve co-teaching with members of the IT staff. I’m not talking about Microsoft certification, but my library colleagues and I have seen too many students who don’t know how to create a PDF document or manipulate an Excel spreadsheet. I’m concerned that there will be push back, not only from our overworked IT staff, but also from the faculty because the course will be more of a skills course than a doctrinal course. Do you have any suggestions?

A:Yes, you definitely should propose the course. Technology skills are emerging as critical “practice-ready skills,” in part due to the upsurge in the number of attorneys who have gone solo or who work within small practices. These practitioners are responsible for the equipment and software needed to support the business of law. Today’s attorney needs to familiarize himself or herself with e-filing, e-discovery, cloud computing, and litigation support products, for example. In addition to the regulations that dictate document retention, there are potential privacy and metadata issues affecting the dissemination of information and security issues that may impact attorney-client privilege.

The American Bar Association has recognized the role that technology plays in the practice of law, and, in 2012, its House of Delegates amended Comment 8 to Model Rule 1.1, which addresses attorney competence and strongly encourages attorneys to keep current with relevant technology. Attorneys are tasked with understanding the “benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.” By now, at least 13 states have adopted a technology competency rule.

This requirement begs the question of how attorneys are supposed to acquire this knowledge, and that burden seems to be shifting to law schools. If it provides any comfort to you, your school wouldn’t be the first to offer courses focused on technology skills and law office management. Some trailblazers have been offering courses for decades and have honed sophisticated syllabuses. This means that you can tap into the collective experience of those who have gone before you. Your timing is great, and there is so much low-hanging fruit that your major challenge may be one of focus.

Creating a technology skills course can easily become overwhelming. Start by determining the needs of your students. The concerns you previously addressed are similar to those identified by Casey Flaherty, who, as corporate counsel of Kia Motors American, Inc., developed a basic technology competency audit, now referred to as the “Kia Audit.” He found that many lawyers were unable to efficiently use Word, Acrobat, or Excel.

As librarians, we are dedicated to helping each other as well as our clientele. We are able to turn to each other for advice and assistance. In this instance, I turned to Katie Miller, Research & Instructional Technology Librarian at Florida State University’s College of Law Research Center, for advice.

“Our students studying in the library were asking for help with things like creating PDFs or manipulating data in spreadsheets,” Katie told me. “After conducting enough one-on-one trainings in our offices, we decided to try to include some technology topics in our lunchtime workshop series. Now those workshops are being developed into a technology skills course for our students. If there is not support for an entire skills class at your school, start small with some seminars or workshops. Try offering to teach some basic law practice technologies identified by the Kia Audit to clinics or journal students. This would highlight the proactive skills and responsiveness of the library staff.”

Another way in which we librarians shine is in providing our patrons with the tools for self-sufficiency. We don’t just give a man a fish; we teach him to fish. The American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center has some great primer tutorials, as well as other resources. Likewise, many local bar associations have similar resources.

You were specifically inquiring about a “for credit” law school class, but there are also opportunities for private and government law librarians. Within firms, the library and IT personnel should work together to provide ongoing instruction to attorneys and staff members. Similarly, government librarians should be proactive in partnering with in-house IT staff members and local bar associations to create training and CLE opportunities. Consider your first effort to be a work in progress, and be willing to evaluate your efforts and build upon them.

Good luck.

~Susan Catterall~

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A Little More Conversation About Elvis: Another look at his life through two very different books

It’s been thirty eight years this August, since Elvis Presley passed away.  That may seem like yesterday to the baby boom generation, who were acquainted with the man as well as the artist known as the “King of Rock and Roll.” Subsequent generations, however, are more familiar with the fables and legends surrounding Elvis than they are with Elvis himself.

Elvis is iconic.  His music synthesized the pop, country, gospel and blues elements which also served as his inspiration and which significantly transformed music for his and future generations. His story has been dramatized many times.  Cirque du Soleil has choreographed a production based on his life and music (“Viva Elvis”).  He has appeared as “walk on” characters in books and movies (for example, “Walk the Line”). He is the frequent object of impersonators (a/k/a “tribute artists”) and parody (such as the king in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”). One can’t walk the streets of Memphis or Las Vegas without spotting an Elvis.  The intellectual property rights attached to his music, image, brand, etc., are so extensive that I once heard a CLE presenter paraphrase that Elvis has not left the building.  All of above perpetuate the myths but do little to reveal the man behind them. In honor of his legacy, I recommend two books, in very different styles.


“Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley” is the first of a two volume biography by Peter Guralnick.  It is well-researched and sensitively-written and narrates the journey of a shy, awkward young man with a raw talent.  It follows his rise from poverty to national acclaim.  Guralnick concludes the first volume of Elvis’ life with several life-altering events: Elvis has been drafted, sent to Germany, is worried that his career won’t survive and has lost his mother, with whom he had been very close. Yes, all life-changers, but somehow there is an element of optimism.  (Volume two, “Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley” is just as well-researched and sensitively-written, but the title sums it all up and we know how the story ends.)

If you’re in the mood for something lighter, try “Blue Suede Clues: A Murder Mystery Featuring Elvis Presley” by Daniel Klein.  Klein wrote several detective novels which portrayed Elvis as rock star by night and amateur detective by day.  The titles of the books were based on the titles of Presley’s hit songs: “Kill Me Tender”, “Viva Las Vengeance” and “Such Vicious Minds.”  In “Blue Suede Clues”, Elvis has just completed filming a movie and finds himself coming to the aid of one of his Army buddies.  The book features fictional characters and references some of the real individuals who played integral roles in Elvis’s life. Klein knows his Elvis facts and weaves them into the mysteries. He also foreshadows some of the darker elements in the performer’s life.

Add these books to your end-of-the-summer reading list and reflect on the man who continues to inspire so many.

~Susan Catterall~

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Partnering to Promote Professionalism

At Charlotte School of Law, we embrace the idea of “interdependence.”  I recently attended the Southeastern Chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries conference, which was held in Lexington, Kentucky.  I had the privilege of presenting, as part of a panel, on the topic of “Partnering to Promote Professionalism and Effective Practitioners: What Every Law School Graduate Should Know.”  My co-panelists were law firm librarians.  In addition to having been friends for many years, we each, at some point, had been responsible for training and coordinating the training of young associates.

Law firm librarians have always played an indispensable part in the nurturing and development of new associates.  They still do, but as the hiring practices of “Big Law” firms have undergone a change, the responsibility of providing students with the practice-ready professionalism, the technology skills and the business acumen necessary to succeed has shifted back to law schools. The message that I, an academic librarian and former law firm librarian, and my two law firm librarians attempted to impart was that we are more effective when we work together.

In order to prepare for my portion of the presentation, I drew upon the first annual BarBri “State of the Legal Field” survey, Wawrose’s, “What Do Legal Employers Want to See in New Graduates? Using Focus Groups to Find Out” 39 Ohio N. U. L. Rev. 505 (2013) and Stouffer’s “Closing the Gap: Teaching ‘practice-ready’ legal skills,” 19 AALL Spectrum 10 (February 2015).  I also interviewed Associate Dean Michael Farley, Director of the Center for Professional Development Aretha Blake, and Program Coordinator for Process Excellence Krystyll Gardner in order to gain an overview of the Charlotte School of Law “Student Success Initiative.”   The CSL library staff also implemented its own projects and while those projects contributed to the goal of focusing on professionalism, GRIT and relationship-building, it was clear that greater inroads were made when the library partnered with other departments.

Likewise, when law school librarians join forces with their counterparts in firms and government libraries, the impact is greater than when they work alone.  My co-panelists discussed the “Business Side of Law Firms” and “Making the Transition” from law student to practitioner.  We encouraged all attendees to work with each other, not only for the betterment of their own employer, but for the greater good that can be achieved.  To quote Mark Shields, “There is always strength in numbers.”

~Susan Catterall~

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Charlotte School of Law Librarian, Susan Catterall, Named Best Blogger/Writer of the Year by PLL

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Congratulations to our very own Susan Catterall on being named Best Blogger/Writer of the Year by PLL for her professional advice column, “The Reference Desk,” published monthly in AALL SpectrumPLL is the Private Law Libraries Special Interest Section of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL).  The PLL Best Blogger/Writer award is designed to recognize a member who has made significant blogging/writing contributions to the Private Law Librarians Special Interest Section and/or law library profession and who demonstrates outstanding potential for continued service.

Susan created “The Reference Desk” about five years ago when Mark Estes (former AALL President and editor of AALL Spectrum) asked Susan if she would be willing to write an “advice” column for AALL Spectrum.  AALL members had suggested that such a column would be a valuable resource for the law librarian community and Susan rose to the challenge.

The first column was published in the September/October 2010 issue of AALL Spectrum.   The monthly column addresses professionalism subjects such as appropriate dress and use of technology, as well as training matters and succession planning.  Susan sometimes addresses the questions on her own, but she often consults other librarians and taps into their greater expertise. Their contributions not only make for a richer more credible column but also provide an opportunity to identify authorities within our profession and make the column more relevant.

In addition to the advice of former AALL Board members and Presidents and librarian colleagues from all types of libraries, Susan has also asked for assistance from library consultants, information vendors and several human resources specialists.  In particular, she has reached out to Liz Johnson, Reference Librarian at Wake Forest University Law and former Reference Librarian at Charlotte School of Law, and Jeremy McCleery, Health and Wellness Counselor at Charlotte School of Law.

Stop by the library to congratulate Susan and to wish her well as she travels to the annual AALL Conference in Philadelphia this summer.

Want to know more?  Learn about Susan and all of the Library Staff in our Meet Our Librarians and Staff LibGuide

We are proud of you, Susan!

Below are links to some of Susan’s blogs:

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