Uncooked Data

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Library related events, questions and links: My professional life on a page

If they’re not filing, you’re not finding…

On Monday 8 November Uncooked Data had the pleasure of attending a CLIG event purely as participant, after several years as a committee member.

Barry Vickery and Peter Jenkins from 7Side Ltd presented an entertaining run through of the mysteries and vagaries of finding company information in a variety of jurisdictions.

Starting with the easy ones, and the UK’s Companies House, we had a compare and contrast session…
Malta: “a cracking little registry
Latvia, Estonia, Hungary: “pretty good
Poland: “sometimes comical
Russia: “nightmare

Moving on to the US (“it might be the land of dreams, but it is the land of extremes”) Barry explained exactly why so many companies incorporate in the “teeny tiny” state of Delaware and just how useful the ‘general purpose clause’ might be.

Then we went offshore to the Channel Islands & the Isle of Man before heading out to more far flung places: Seychelles, Bahamas, Bermuda and the Marshall Island (“worse than Russia. You might get a name & date of incorporation but anything else is very very very very very unlikely*”) I’ve often been asked for information on Marshall Islands businesses and now I’m able to quote 7Side’s mantra “if they’re not filing, you’re not finding.” With studied understatement the challenge of getting information on a Cayman Islands company was described as ‘a bit of a pain.’

The highlight for me was learning how to make a company disappear – how different filing regimes can be combined to obscure the existence of offshore subsidiaries. One participant suggested that one can check the Cayman Islands registry, but oftentimes what we need is evidence linking similarly named entities together. Now I understand how this disappearing trick might work, I can explain it more effectively the next time I’m asked to help find a hidden company. As it was pointed out, companies are registered offshore for a reason.

We concluded with a look at common suffixes – where one might find a GmBH, an OOO or a YEH (sound more interesting than our plain old PLC).

7side are experts in what they do and this depth of experience shows clearly in this kind of informative and entertaining event. They know what we need to know. Thanks to Jas Breslin for hosting the event and to Mary, Barry and Peter for providing the insight.

*I counted and clarified the number of verys – important to be able to feed back to enquirers…

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Filed under: Event report, research, , , ,

Writing: an inventory.

It occurred to me recently [actually – in April, and I have just retrieved and completed this draft…] that I didn’t have an inventory of things I had written over the past few years. The kind of thing one might put together if one was aiming for chartership, which I’m not, but that would be useful to remind myself when I next get hit by writers’ block. I haven’t included postings here, on the BIALL blog or on the SLA Europe blog.

So here it is. A good way to track my plans for world domination, sorry, career development from the MSc in 2005 to date.

February 2006: My MSc and why I started it, for BIALL’s newsletter, in response to an article in a previous edition about whether such a course was worth undertaking

August 2006: Conference writeup: I was awarded a bursary for BIALL’s Brighton meeting.

August 2007: “I wish I’d known that” – a collection of useful information for the perplexed (for example, the difference between the Family Law Journal and the Family Law journal, or that the Yellow book is actually purple). I had great fun collecting people’s anecdotes about misunderstandings and various howlers for this.

July 2008:  Conference writeup, again for BIALL’s newsletter, after BIALL awarded me a bursary to Conference in Dublin

July 2009:  SLA event reports on the SLA Europe blog and the B&F division journal

April 2010:  Trainees’ induction, for the SLA Legal Division newsletter

August 2010: Putting a survey together , another one for the BIALL newsletter

October 2010: Internet Librarian International conference presentation

I’m also putting together a webinar for the SLA’s First Five Years Council; and preparing a joint presentation for Online Information in December.

Filed under: Personal narrative, , , , , ,

CLIG – Spring Party

Now the dust has settled here’s a brief report from last week’s CLIG Spring Party. CLIG’s run of good weather continued with a beautiful sunny evening, just right for enjoying the view from the 31st floor. I forget how spoiled I am to work in a building that allows me to see so much of London on a daily basis – it was great to be able to share the facilities with fellow CLIG members and point out now-familiar landmarks.

Daniella King’s London-based quiz was well received and a great topic of conversation to start the night with. CLIG’s ever-popular raffle included some great prizes – two gorgeous hampers, champagne, and various gift vouchers all generously donated. And as mentioned, the weather obliged with clear skies allowing us to enjoy a beautiful (ash-enhanced) sunset.

I’m standing down from the CLIG committee at the AGM later in the year so this is my last Spring Party with responsibilities – it’s always fun, if exhausting, to host events but I am starting to look forward to being able to attend relatively incognito as a normal member in future.

Filed under: Committee, Event report, , , ,

US Legal System and Sources, 14 April

On 14 April Hester Swift of the IALS took 25 CLIG members on a whistlestop tour of the key points and main sources of the American legal system. I knew much of the terminology but what this talk did was to put those words and phrases in context. It felt a bit like being given a dictionary to help unlock the meaning of a foreign text and was an enormously helpful evening. Writing this blog post is part report on the event and part consolidation for my own purposes of the links provided and the information imparted.

Hester pointed us to good free sites for finding case law and statutes. She also compared the available content on the international versions of Westlaw and Lexis. I’ve previously used a well-known search engine to find both statutes and case law without incurring charges; but have never had a fairly definitive sense of which were the official free sources and why.

Points that I found of particular interest were as follows, in no particular order.

Federal and state courts

I generally needed to stop and think about which was which and which set of courts belonged to which, Hester’ explanation of the differences made this much clearer. We were also pointed towards the US Courts website which has an explanation and a comparison of the two kinds of court and associated processes. There’s also a Federal districts map via Westlaw.com.

Citations and abbreviations

There’s always been something about US legal citations that has flummoxed me. I don’t know why. I can be perfectly at home with [2008] 3 W.L.R. 345 or [2009] EWHC 1843 (Comm) yet feel all at sea with 318 F. 2d 406 or 518 U. S. 515 (1996). (Caution: fairly hefty pdf). I suppose it’s all a matter of familiarity. And whilst Raistrick or the Cardiff Index are familiar tools to help decode new abbreviations I’d not fully explored the Bluebook or the ALWD Citation manual appendices. These appendices which are freely available give, amongst others:

  • General Abbreviations (Appendix 3)
  • Court Abbreviations (Appendix 4) 
  • Abbreviations for Legal Periodicals (Appendix 5)
  • Law reporters

    Key to understanding these abbreviations in citations and where to start looking is understanding the way US case reports at state and federal level are reported. Supreme Court case reports, the Federal Reporter and Federal Supplement now have their place in my mental map of information. These are pretty self-explanatory. State cases are sometimes covered by official state publications – although not all states have an official series; of the states that do, some official series are published by a commercial enterprise… so the waters get a little muddier her.

    This map shows the regions that West’s Regional Reporters cover as it’s apparently not always obvious which state is in which region for the purposes of these reports.

    Like the UK, cases in the lower (trial) courts are not reported, only those in the higher courts. And another caveat: most states have a Supreme Court, which is of course different from the federal Supreme Court. The National Center for State Courts provides a list of links for the States.

    Heather also pointed us in the direction of good sources for the US Constitution and US Code. She also included warnings about unfriendly websites and those which are authoritative, but perhaps don’t look so.

    I came away from the evening with a better knowledge of which freely available sources are authoritative,  a greater understanding of the structure and terminology of the US legal system and, as with all these things, a sense that I have so much more to learn…

    Filed under: Event report, Training, ,

    CLIG Spring Party 2010

    City Legal Information Group, for which I am currently membership secretary, has just announced details of this year’s Spring Party.
    We’ll be enjoying the views across the City from the 31st floor of Broadgate Tower, one of London’s newest landmarks. The Spring Party is always fun with a hotly contested quiz, a raffle of generously donated prizes and of course wine and canapes.

    I’m looking forward to this, not just because it is being hosted where I work, and I know that people will love the view. There’s something really mesmerising about being able to see so much of London and beyond. Full details and the booking form are on CLIG’s website.

    It will also be my last Spring Party as a CLIG committee member. I am going to be stepping down as Membership Secretary at this year’s AGM and leaving the committee altogether. It’s been a great 3.5 years since I joined – only a few months into my first full-time post as a librarian. At that time the most relevant contribution I could make was from my experience organising events and I clearly remember saying little more than ‘Hello’ at my first committee meeting. That in itself is remarkable if you know how often I talk too much!

    So if you’re looking for a way to contribute to our profession, to expand your knowledge and bring your set of skills ‘to the table’, I’d recommend volunteering for a similar opportunity.

    Filed under: Committee, Event report, Personal narrative, , ,

    CLIG: New Year Drinks

    City Legal Information Group is going to the pub. There’s no pressure for drinking – if you are still, by 19 January, on mineral water and lemon as part of your new year resolutions*, then come along anyway – we just wanted an informal evening where members can catch up with each other. We’re hoping to foster some discussions about the kind of events people would like us to run too.

    Thanks to sponsorship from TFPL, CLIG is also able to say “it’s our round” – at least for your first drink, mineral water or otherwise.

    Hope to see you there.

    *If your other new years resolution is ‘be more organised’ then here you will find a variety of freebie calendar and planner options you can print. This is one of my favourite resources.

    Filed under: Committee, , ,

    Library Routes, or, an accidental librarian

    Contributing to this project collecting stories about how people became librarians, feels like a very appropriate first post.

    It may not be too much of an exaggeration to say that I fell accidentally into librarianship. There is history in the family; my aunt and my mother both worked as library assistants – at Brightlingsea library and the University of Hertfordshire, in its Hatfield polytechnic days – but librarianship as a career was never really a hot topic of discussion.

    A Potted pre-MSc work history

    My first degree was in Psychology, from the University of Nottingham. After graduating in 1995, I worked in the University’s Accident Research Unit, on a project with novice drivers.  Then I moved into administration as the Undergraduate Recruitment Officer, travelling the UK (and a bit of the world) telling potential students about the benefits of higher education and offering advice on how to apply. Moving to London, I worked for a year with student physiotherapists at the CSP before taking on the role of organising the CSP’s conferences. In 2003, rather in need of some cold hard cash after getting divorced, I took a second job working part-time at the library at the Inns of Court School of Law. I enjoyed this work, even though much was fairly basic like processing and shelving books, and looseleafing. Lots and lots of looseleafing (although I do secretly still quite like doing it every now and again).

    I was also beginning to think about a career change. I wanted to undertake a Master’s degree, and I wanted a qualification that would be portable and recognised. I was beginning to get a feel for the wider world of legal information; finding out about new areas of work in corporate and special libraries. It therefore felt like a Good Idea to apply for an Information Science MSc. It took a year to save up cash for the fees, and I started at City in September 2005. I also began a Saturday job in the library at University of Westminster. Originally, I had intended to study part-time but then switched to full-time. The following March I left the CSP and a week later started temping at Kirkland & Ellis. That was a major culture shock, going from knowing everyone and everything at the CSP to a state of conscious incompetence.

    Qualified posts

    In August 2006, just as I finished my dissertation, I started my first full-time professional post at Addleshaw Goddard’s London office. This was a varied role, including dealing with post, book acquisitions, current awareness, general legal and business research. I enjoyed this post (apart from the acquisitions!) but I had set myself a goal that I would not stay in my first job longer than 18 months. Long enough to consolidate what I knew from K&E, ICSL, Westminster and the theory from my MSc, but not so long that I felt over-familiar and perhaps a bit trapped by fear of more change.

    In January 2008 I joined the research team at Reed Smith LLP. Here, my role involves co-ordinating training for the trainee solicitors, as well as current awareness and of course lots and lots of research.

    Along the way I have acquired a number of committee posts, attended conferences in Brighton, Dublin and Washington DC, met a range of interesting people and hopefully encouraged others.  I’m also studying part-time for a PhD.

    I think that there are themes that can be read in all my jobs to date, around research (ARU), organising information (conference proceedings), training (CSP) and facilitating people’s education and development (CSP, University). These are also core themes of the job I do now. Looking back, the path I have taken seems like a natural progression – it just took me a decade to realise that the role that combined the things I value was that of librarian.

    Filed under: Personal narrative, , , , , , , , , ,

    About me and Uncooked Data

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    Some possibly useful research links