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Constitution Day, September 17

September 12, 2017
U.S. Constitution

The Constitutional Convention was initially convened by the Congress of the Confederation in 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation.  Under the Articles, the new government had quickly come to somewhat of a stalemate between the northern states and those in the south.  The 55 convention delegates included Benjamin Franklin, Gen. George Washington, James Madison, Gouverneur Morris, James Wilson, Roger Sherman and George Mason.

Rather than revising the Articles, the convention took a turn with the recommendation to draft an entirely new document, based on the Virginia Plan.  The Virginia Plan was developed by Madison, Morris and Wilson and took a more nationalistic view of the new government than that of the Articles of Confederation.  Several compromises were reached by the delegates, including:  the Connecticut Compromise (representation by population in the House of Representatives and representation by state in the Senate); the veto power by the President which could be overridden by a two-thirds vote of Congress; and the Three-Fifths Compromise over slavery.

The new document was endorsed by 39 of the delegates on September 17, 1787 and sent to the Congress of the Confederation, which then submitted it to the states for ratification.  When 11 states had ratified it, the Congress called for the states to hold elections for offices under the new Constitution.  It then dissolved itself on March 4, 1789, the first meeting day of the new Congress.  Following the elections, George Washington was inaugurated as the first President on April 30, 1789.  The first Congress quickly passed legislation to set the new government into operation, including the Judiciary Act of 1789.

A notable objection to the Constitution was that it lacked a bill of rights for citizens.  Madison drafted the first ten Amendments to the Constitution to answer that objection.  The first of these was ratified in 1791.

The Thirteenth Amendment finally abolished slavery in 1865, with the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868 granting citizenship to former slaves.  The Fifteenth Amendment in 1870 prohibited the use of race, color or former servitude to determine who could vote.  It wasn’t until 1920, however, that women were given the right to vote under the Constitution with ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment.


Caffeine & Study Snacks Fuel Your Brain

August 30, 2017

Did you know caffeine is considered a brain food that can help you focus?

There are plenty of coffee and food spots within walking distance of the Law School.  So grab a cup of joe or other brain food and head on over to the Law Library to get your study on.  Drinks and food are allowed in the library – you just need to Find The Library Zone that suits your study needs:  will it be collaborative, quiet, or social?


Local Food & Drink

Starbucks (next to the Gelman Library)
2130 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052

Juan Valdez cafe
1889 F St NW
Washington, DC 20006

Greenberry’s Coffee & Tea
1919 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20006

Uptowner Cafe (located in Lisner Hall at GW Law)
2023 G St. NW
Washington, DC 20052

District House (next to Marvin center)
2121 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052
Eateries include:
Chick Fil A
GRK Fresh Greek
Peet’s Coffee
Sol Mexican Grill
Wiseguys Pizza

Shops at 2000 Penn (entrance on H Street, N.W.)
2000 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington D.C., DC 20006
Eateries include:
Au Bon Pain
Paul Bakery & Café
The Perfect Pita

1928 I Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20006

Penn Grill
825 20th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20006

Roti, Circa Bistro, Whole Foods and Sweet Green
Located on I Street, between 21st St & 23rd St, near Foggy Bottom Metro Station

New research guides available to help you!

August 29, 2017

The Reference Librarians at the Burns Law Library have created research guides for the following required 1L classes: Civil ProcedureConstitutional LawContractsCriminal LawProperty, and Torts. Each guide includes links to helpful study aids, casebooks, hornbooks, and treatises, and where you may find them in the Library or access them online. Other guides recently created by the Reference Librarians include State MaterialsPublic International LawFederal Grant Law Research, and Internet Law. If you have a question about any of the guides or a source listed in one of them, please contact the Reference Desk.

These research guides are part of the Library’s expanding collection of guides created to help you succeed. The collection covers a wide range of topics; in addition to guides on selected legal topics, the Library maintains guides concerning library information and services and instructional technology. Be sure to visit our Research Portal and let us know how we can help you!

ILL @ Jacob Burns Law Library

August 28, 2017
It’s a plane. It’s a bird. No,it’s the new ILL system in the cloud.
On August 1, 2017, the library introduced a new interlibrary loan system – ILL@Jacob Burns Law Library.  What makes it different from the old system is the ability to access it anywhere as it is a cloud-based system.  If you want to use the new system, be sure your GWorld bar code number (on the back of your GWorld card) is in your record for the library circulation system.  If you need to add it, stop by the circulation desk and have your bar code scanned.  And if you have questions, checkout the ILL LibGuide.
Remember interlibrary loan is not just for school related material.  If you want to borrow items for your own reading pleasure, by all means do so and enjoy.

Welcome to the Jacob Burns Law Library

August 14, 2017

New to law school?  We have a number of materials to help you succeed:

Never heard of res ipsa loquitur?  Try Black’s Law Dictionary, which provides definitions of legal terms, including res ipsa loquitur, ex parte and prima facie.  Click here for an online version.

And be sure to ask us—we’re here to help you succeed!

Rights Fights Over Songs Used in Political Campaigns

July 21, 2017

Check out our current display, “Rights Fights Over Songs Used in Political Campaigns,” which explores the fallout when politicians use musicians’ songs without permission. For example, Jackson Browne brought copyright infringement and false endorsement claims against John McCain for the unauthorized use of his song “Running on Empty” in a presidential campaign ad in 2008 that mocked Barack Obama’s energy policy. The case settled with Browne receiving a public apology from McCain.

The display highlights three databases to which the Burns Law Library provides access: 1) the National Law Journal, a news source that provides up-to-the-minute reporting on legal news both national and local. To access the go to NLJ,; 2) Law360: news articles report on major litigation developments in more than 20 specialized practice areas as well as developments from state, federal, and international legislatures. To access Law360, use Lexis Advance or go to; 3) the Patent, Trademark & Copyright Journal, which provides comprehensive news of important IP cases, statutes, trends, and other key developments. To access the P,T&CJ, use Bloomberg Law or go to

As a bonus, the display includes an actual 8-track tape (Joni Mitchell’s 1974 album “Court and Spark”) and a 45 rpm single (the song “If You Don’t Want Me,” by Norman Nardini).

Pre-1870 Copyright Records

June 15, 2017

The Jacob Burns Law Library is pleased to announce a new online collection: “Pre-1870 Copyright Records.” The collection provides access to over 2,000 pages of digitized U.S. copyright records created prior to 1870 that had generally been assumed lost. The records were tracked down and digitized by Zvi S. Rosen, currently a Professorial Lecturer in Law and Visiting Scholar at The George Washington University Law School. Rosen received his LLM in Intellectual Property in 2006 from the Law School and later served as the 2015-2016 Abraham L. Kaminstein Scholar in Residence at the U.S. Copyright Office.

According to Rosen, “until mid-1870, copyright registration duties were handled by the local U.S. District Court of the author or proprietor, while the work itself was deposited with the Department of State (until 1846), Library of Congress (1846-1859, 1865-1870), Smithsonian Institution (concurrently 1846-1859), and Patent Office (1859-1865, 1865-1870 concurrently). In 1870, all copyright responsibilities were centralized in the Library of Congress.”

Rosen notes that “for New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, whose District Courts together handled 85% of copyright activity before 1870, the Library of Congress has a complete or essentially complete set of the records. However, for many jurisdictions with a comparatively small volume of copyright activity, records may only exist for the years immediately before 1870, if at all.”  The fact that so many Federal Court records had apparently gone missing perplexed him, and he set about to discover what had happened.

Rosen says that his “ultimate hope is that the Rare Book Room of the Library of Congress will digitize their holdings of pre-1870 copyright records . . . and, when combined with this project, will represent an essentially complete record of copyright (and thus literary, musical, etc.) activity in America  in its earliest days.”

The Pre-1870 Copyright Records collection is available at: