Bryan Garner, the American Fowler

By Heather Simmons

Law students may know Bryan Garner as the editor of Black’s Law Dictionary, a job he’s held since 1995, but he has been a word guy and good grammar guru for much longer than that. He is also a leading proponent of the Plain English Law movement. His company, Law Prose, offers training for lawyers and judges. It is founded on the following philosophy:

  • Our job is to help legal writers earn and maintain credibility.
  • The best legal style is simple and direct.
  • Any writer can learn a straightforward and effective style—but it takes hard work.
  • To improve, a legal writer must reject old, meaningless conventions—many of which may be deeply ingrained.
  • What distinguishes effective from ineffective legal writers is empathy for the reader.

I met Bryan Garner at a legal writing seminar many years ago. A true orator, he speaks as well as he writes. One of his interests is grammatical rule busting. Here’s an example: many K-12 teachers maintain that a rule of English grammar states that you can’t start a sentence with a conjunction. I remember one of my teachers had an interesting variation, “If you grow up to be a published author, you may start a sentence with a conjunction, but you can’t do it in my class.” And (see what I did there?) Mr. Garner has spent his whole life searching for a written rule stating that this is a thing, but he has never found one. Many beginning legal writers think that to write a like a lawyer they need to fill their documents with “wherefores” and “hereinafters,” but as Bryan Garner will tell you, legal writing is about clarity of thought. And the simpler your legal writing is the better.


Various Bryan Garner titles on display in our Law Library Foyer in celebration of Dictionary Day.
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From the Collection: Resource Spotlight on Hispanic Legal Titles & Three Earliest Diverse Graduates of UGA Law in Archives Exhibit

Earlier in September in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15) a display of books from the collection along with representative flags went up in the Law Library reading room. You can find the titles to browse on the left as you pass the reference desk, located above the DVD and media shelving. With Hispanic Heritage Month still underway, and National Archives Month gearing up we have expanded this display to feature photographs and information about the School of Law’s earliest diverse graduates.

Did you know our law school’s first three identified graduates of diverse backgrounds were all of Hispanic / Latinx heritage? Its true! Beginning in 1896 with Horace B. Van de Velde, our first Argentinian-Mexican alum. Horacio S. Beleval was the second of Hispanic Heritage to graduate in 1901. Not only was Beleval the first Puerto Rican to graduate from UGA School of Law, he was also the first Puerto Rican to graduate from the University at all! Beleval was closely followed by Migueal de Guerra, our school’s second Puerto Rican Graduate.

All three graduates are included in the law school’s Rotunda Exhibit, located on the third floor of Hirsch Hall in the Founders Gallery alongside other notable graduates who paved the way towards a more inclusive and diverse student body at UGA Law (including our first Asian American and African American grads). We encourage you to visit both the displays in the Law Library and the exhibit featuring items from our archives and special collections in the Rotunda. You can pick up free bookmarks in both locations featuring our earliest diverse alums, including Beleval’s portrait! Use the bookmark to visit our digital exhibit in the institutional repository to learn more about all of the graduates, view their class digitized photographs, and explore UGA’s historic Pandora yearbooks.

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Law Dawg of the Month: Bear!

By Anne Burnett

October’s Law Dawg is Bear, whose person is 2L Nishka Malik. Bear just turned 2 on September 21! He loves being chased by other pups, playing fetch, and napping on his mom’s laptop.

All members of the Law School Community (students, faculty and staff) are invited to submit a photo for possible selection as the Law Dawg. Please note that honorary Law Dawgs (i.e. those of the feline, equine, porcine, avian, reptilian, etc. persuasion) are eligible as well. Please send your Law Dawg photo(s) to aburnett@uga.edu

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Law Dawg of the Month Update: Mama & Baby Kitty Still Available

By Anne Burnett

Earlier this month, we blogged about three cuddly cats who were recently rescued and fostered by our own Rachel Evans and Brad Grove. We are thrilled to report that one of our amazing law students is adopting one of the new kittens! Mama Kitty and her second kitten are still looking for a loving home. Let any of us at the Law Library know if you are interested in meeting Mama and Baby.

This cutie is still available!
Mama Kitty before giving birth

All members of the Law School Community (students, faculty and staff) are invited to submit a photo for possible selection as the Law Dawg.  Please note that honorary Law Dawgs (i.e. those of the feline, equine, porcine, avian, reptilian, etc. persuasion) are eligible as well.

Please send your Law Dawg photo(s) to aburnett@uga.edu.

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Law Library Pursues Funding Opportunities To Make Historic Legal Materials Freely Available: Awarded Two Digitization Grants With Two More In the Works

Jimmy Carter and Senator Edward M. Kennedy walking through the Law Library,
Law Day 1974

This summer the Law Library was awarded two grants to aid in the digitization of historic resources. Both grant opportunities will increase the discoverability and accessibility of these historic resources. Digitization will soon begin for both projects with resources expected to be made freely available to the public through in our institutional repository Digital Commons in 2022.

DLG Subgrant of Services to Digitize School of Law Lecture Series Photographs

The Law Library was awarded a grant from the Digital Library of Georgia (DLG) to digitize just under 400 historic photographs of Georgia politicians and lawyers from the School of Law’s three longstanding lecture series (Sibley, Edith House, Law Day) and commencements spanning 50 years. Key figures who appear in the photos being digitized include Jimmy Carter, Roy Barnes, Ted Turner, Robert Kennedy, Chester Davenport, Max Cleland, Carl Sanders, Sam Nunn, Robert Benham, Elizabeth Dole, Zell Miller, and many more. This award was the work of a team of librarians and staff in collaboration with the Communications and Public Relations Office at the law school. Photographs were delivered to DLG’s office to begin digitization earlier this week. In addition to archival scanning of the items, the grant of services also provides for metadata creation. Items will be made available post-digitization in both our law school’s institutional repository Digital Commons, as well as discoverable and available via the Digital Library of Georgia’s collections.

LIPA Project Grant to Digitize 9 Historic Georgia Treatises

Snapshot of two of the items that will receive digitization thanks to LIPA

We also received a grant from the Legal Information and Preservation Alliance (LIPA) to digitize nine historical Georgia treatises. All nine items were published in or prior to 1917, with the oldest item printed in 1819. Of the more than 4,000 pages this digitization will include, we are the only library holding a copy of one volume titled The Georgia form book, or, A collection of legal forms under Georgia law from 1882. This selection of items is being packaged this week to send to a digitization lab that will scan and OCR the old bound volumes before returning them to our collection. This will enable additional accessibility and discoverability of the books, making searching the text possible once they are made available in our institutional repository Digital Commons in 2022.

Efforts to Digitize the Official Code of Georgia Annotated

We continue to pursue more grant opportunities with each cycle in efforts to increase the accessibility and discoverability of our Georgia law resources. A very large proposal is out, our second attempt, seeking funding to digitize the entire Official Code of Georgia Annotated following the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Georgia v. Public.Resource.org (PRO) early in 2020. The decision changed the public accessibility of the OCGA by declaring the annotations, part of the Georgia General Assembly’s regular work, as falling within the definition of government works. As a result of this decision, the entire OCGA, including both the statutory text and its annotations, are in the public domain. Our library is uniquely positioned to digitize all volumes of the 1981 code, including pocket parts and supplements, housing the most complete collection of these items in the state. We look forward to our application’s final review and hearing back from the National Endowment for the Humanities Collections and Reference Resources which is estimated to be announced next spring 2022.

Photo of excerpts from our OCGA collection

A New Proposal Underway to Digitize State Municipal Codes

A second effort in the works seeks to digitize our collection of Georgia’s city and county municipal codes. This particular proposal is currently under draft review at the National Archives. We are eagerly awaiting their feedback before finalizing our Access to Historical Records: Archival Projects application due the first week of October. The project is titled Georgia Historic Municipal Codes: Documenting American Legal History of Local Affairs (1850’s to 1990’s). Although they receive less attention than statutes, legal opinions and administrative regulations, city and county ordinances and local rules have had a profound effect on individuals since the founding of our country to the present. These rules implemented by local governments greatly impact the daily lives of residents on a variety of topics including housing, elections, criminal offenses, public health, taxes and others. Our collection spans nearly every county in the state of Georgia. Access to these materials will help to illustrate how our local laws regarding slavery, segregation, quarantine, treatment of prisoners, elections, and other local rules have evolved over a 130 year period. With such a vast assortment of volumes in a variety of binding styles across over a dozen decades (notably including perspectives from a spectrum of communities, demographics, and geographic regions within our state) this project encompasses approximately 100,000 pages – likely requiring multiple rounds of funding to complete digitization of the entire collection.

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Law Dawg of the Month: Adoptable, Adorable Kittens!

By Anne Burnett

September’s Law Dawgs are IT Help Desk Manager Brad Grove‘s foster kitties. Brad agreed to foster their mama kitty who was rescued by Rachel Evans (Metadata Services and Special Collections Librarian). Several other law librarians and staff contributed their own resources to make rescuing possible, including donating funds for initial vet visits and vaccinations for Mama Kitty, as well as cat-sitting for Brad. Mama Kitty presented Brad with these bundles of joy just a few days later. Mama and babies are all available for adoption – let Brad know if you’re interested.

All members of the Law School Community (students, faculty and staff) are invited to submit a photo for possible selection as the Law Dawg.  Please note that honorary Law Dawgs (i.e. those of the feline, equine, porcine, avian, reptilian, etc. persuasion) are eligible as well.

Please send your Law Dawg photo(s) to aburnett@uga.edu.

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Labor Day Weekend Special Hours

We’d love to see you in the Law Library this long weekend, but don’t forget our Circulation Desk hours are a little different. Members of the Law School community have 24/7 access to the Law Library with their UGA OneCards. Enjoy the weekend, and Go Dawgs!

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Getting to Know T. Rashaun Ellis: Access Services Associate

By Marie Mize

You already may know Rashaun well from interactions at our Circulation Desk. She just joined us in Spring 2021 and has quickly become a beloved member of our Law Library team. Keep reading to learn more about Rashaun!

What are your favorite hobbies?

I enjoy lots of different TV and movies, and comic book movies in particular.  I also read Marvel comics here and there, but I don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of it or anything.  My favorite series is Cable & Deadpool, so it was really fun to see them both in live action form.  I love going hiking and wine tasting with my sister, and we love going out to eat, too.  My latest solo hobby has been watching horror movies, schlocky and serious ones alike.  My favorite horror film that I’ve seen recently is Mandy by Panos Cosmatos. 

What is your favorite thing about Athens?

I adore music culture and the thriving and spirited enclaves of creative, talented, artistic and unique people and events. 

What do you like best about working for libraries?

I enjoy working at academic libraries because I get to be part of helping people actualize into their best selves, and I’m surrounded by materials that pique my interest and keeping me searching for knowledge.  I love reading and learning about new things, and I feel truly privileged to have so much information at my fingertips.  It inspires me towards my own education and career goals.

Before working at UGA, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

It was so much more than a job: I did my internship on an income-sharing commune.  I worked a lot in their tofu-making facility and in the very large garden that fed the 96-ish people that lived there.  I fell in love with the concept of intentional community and went on to live on an urban commune in the DC metro area, and then I lived on a land trust in Virginia before moving down here.  I hope to live in community again some time.  I’ve mimicked communes plenty with various group houses both here and back in DC and my home state of Mississippi, but buying into a land trust is the dream.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

It’s cliché, but don’t worry about what others think or how they live their lives.  It’s really easy to judge your own life against others but I keep in mind that everyone’s path is different.  Don’t be ashamed of your struggle. 

What was the last book you read? Digital or Print?

Crash by J.G. Ballard, in print from the UGA main library.  Definitely a product of its time, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  I checked out The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman about a month ago but I haven’t even cracked the spine yet because I’m so fixated on movies right now, and they take up most of my screen time.  Hopefully I’ll get bored with them soon and turn my attention back to books.

Coffee or Tea?

Both have their place, but I drink coffee the most and only before noon.

Describe your perfect Sunday afternoon:

I’m at work on Sundays at the law library’s evening supervisor, so let’s do Saturday instead.  My perfect Saturday involves waking up early and drinking chicory on the porch for about an hour before I get meditative with some housework.  I love to put laundry in the dryer and then take a nap in the living room where I can fall asleep to the white noise.  After that I’ll wake up and start cooking while listening to a podcast.  This will often feature many breaks to sip wine, fuss over my potted plants and herbs, or chat with my neighbors from the porch.

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Art from the Archives: A Closer Look at UGA’s 1st Puerto Rican Graduate, Horacio S. Beleval A.B. 1901

UGA Law Class 1901

It has been over a year since I found myself in a law school classroom closet wrapping and un-wrapping historic lithographs to photograph or scan of our earliest graduating students. Not all of the items had been cataloged, and fewer still had been made available in our institutional repository where they could be discovered and used to fulfill reference requests. Fast forward to the final week of July 2021 when our reference desk received a request for an enlarged version of one individual included in the composite 1901 law class lithograph. That individual was Horacio S. Beleval. Born in 1880 in Puerto Rico, Beleval was not only the first Puerto Rican law student to graduate from the University of Georgia, but also the first Puerto Rican graduate ever as well as the second Latino UGA graduate. Beleval’s portrait does not appear in the Pandora 1901 yearbook, and the groups he was a member of were not among those that took group photographs either.

Horacio S. Beleval
A.B. 1901, UGA School of Law

However, his small portrait is pictured in the lower right corner of the composite law class of 1901 lithograph that is framed and stored in our library’s archives and special collections. Thanks to University of Georgia Libraries digitized Pandora volumes in Athenaeum, you can browse and learn more about Beleval from the Pandora volume XIV 1901 PDF. Beleval’s name first appears in the listing of the law class on page 49 (the 4th student listed). While in law school Beleval had a very active social life and many hobbies. He was a member of the Glee Club (page 139), a Trillist in the Sweet Singers of the Law Class (page 136), and was known for his “white vest in mid-winter” around campus (page 204 in “Things to be noticed”). He even appears as a character in “Majority Rule; or, the story of the 1901 ‘Mute’ Parliament”, a comedy in two acts with the script printed from pages 207 to 211.

Beleval was 21 years old when he graduated law school, and was married that same year. Thanks to the research of John Álvarez Turner, Assistant Director of Multicultural Services and Programs here at the University of Georgia as well as a doctoral candidate, we at the law library have explored even more about Beleval, one of our earliest diverse alums. Turner shared that, according to the 1910 Census in Puerto Rico, Beleval was practicing Law in Puerto Rico’s second largest city of Ponce until he unfortunately passed away in 1916.

For more information on our earliest diverse graduates and to see examples of their class photographs we encourage you to visit the law school’s Hirsch Hall Rotunda where our exhibit highlighting their legacy continues to unfold. If you cannot visit us in person, you can still explore the virtual exhibit by visiting Digital Commons. And keep your eyes peeled for Turner’s forthcoming celebration of this graduate as he continues to work on a project highlighting Beleval as a part of Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month!

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Law Dawg of the Month: Phineas!

By Anne Burnett

August’s Law Dawg is Phineas. He moved here from Long Island to go to law school with 2L Nasreena Ali. Phineas is a 3 y.o. rescue from Nepal. He is considered a Pye Dog, which is a typical “mutt” from South-Asian countries. His favorite activities include eating, sleeping and barking during cold calls (which Nasreena doesn’t mind that much).

All members of the Law School Community (students, faculty and staff) are invited to submit a photo for possible selection as the Law Dawg. Please note that honorary #lawdawgs (i.e. those of the feline, equine, porcine, avian, reptilian, etc. persuasion) are eligible as well.

Please send your Law Dawg photo(s) to aburnett@uga.edu.

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