Author Archives: nicola

‘Mediating’ your way through Christmas…

In the interest of ‘research’ for this blog post I thought I better look back and browse through some Christmas TV Specials.

For this I turned to a very useful tool called ‘Box of Broadcasts’ affectionately known as ‘BoB’.  The official description of this service is as follows:

Box of Broadcasts is an on demand TV and radio service for education. It allows staff and students at subscribing institutions to search an archive of over 2 million broadcasts, record programmes from over 65 free-to-air channels, and create their own playlists, clips and clip compilations. Content includes BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four, ITV, Channel 4, Film4, 10 foreign language channels, BBC Shakespeare Archive content dating back to the 1950s, and more.

Access BoB via SOLO from here. (You need to register the first time you use it.)

So, on here, I can access my programmes and pull out any relevant clips for my reader.  In the link below I’ve chosen Ben’s practical, but unsuitable, Christmas present choice from the sitcom ‘My Family’ to illustrate the point of choosing wisely this Christmas!

My Family Christmas Special

‘Clip from My Family Christmas Special: Have a Unhappy Christmas’, My Family Christmas Special, Have a Unhappy Christmas, 21:00 17/12/2012, BBC1 London, 60 mins. 00:04:38-00:06:01. (Accessed 08 Dec 2018)

On  a more serious note we are accessing it under our ERA Licence (Educational Recording Licence) and we can therefore only use the content for non-commercial educational purposes.

It could be a very useful way of incorporating videos into your lecture slides without risking breaching copyright laws.  It is simple to use and comes with embed codes and how to cite your video.  So if I typed ‘Brexit’ into the search box it would bring back inevitably hundreds of ‘hits’ sorted initially by relevance, though I can change this to date if I wish:


It will also show you forthcoming relevant programmes using your keywords.

(If you are on ‘BoB’ and are looking for more TV Specials of a slightly dysfunctional family Christmas, then I heartily recommend ‘Cuckoo’ for a little light relief!)

Perhaps some of these couples may have to go down the ‘family mediation’ route once Christmas is over – although arguably unlikely, in no small part due to the fictional nature of these characters…

However if they did (and stay with me on this) then they may wish to consider the mediation resources they can access.  A simple SOLO subject search yields the following useful results;

I could alternatively browse the shelves at KN 173

On my voyage of discovery through SOLO, using the subject searching facility and applying  the ‘one good record’ rule, I stumble across the following book:

Walker, S. (2018). Mediation advocacy : Representing clients in mediation (Second ed.). London.

Recently published, in fact at the time of writing it hasn’t quite made it to open shelves, (although readers should always note they are still able to consult it, we would just need to retrieve it for you), this book has a very useful section on Family Mediation.  Inevitably one procrastinates a little and turns to Chapter 5 to play the ‘What sort of Negotiator are you’ game – fearful that one might be a ‘turtle or a shark’ it is probably wise to move swiftly on…

If you would like to see what other new books are arriving in the Law Library then please check out our New Books Bulletin

Returning to the subject of ‘family mediation’  I might wish to consult the Family Law LibGuide written by our helpful Librarians.  Indeed, this has a separate tab with useful links solely on ‘mediation’.  These LibGuides also provide very useful links to external, freely accessible resources, for example the website of the ‘Family Mediation Council’.  So it might cut your ‘googling’ time a little to see where the LibGuide directs you in the first instance.  TopTip: LibGuides are a great way of quickly assessing what are the relevant resources for your practice area or your jurisdiction.  Find the list here.

Having whetted my appetite for mediation, I may now want to acquire some more practical advice and could perhaps turn to the database ‘Practical Law’, formerly  known as PLC.  It helpfully provides a very clearly written Practice Note entitled ‘Family Mediation: overview’  describing it as :

“An introduction to family law mediation, including the roles of participants, the stages in the process and its benefits as an alternative dispute resolution process.”

This practice note highlights the need to attend, or at the very least give serious consideration to attending, a  ‘MIAM’, a ‘Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting’.  Cue another Practice Note dedicated to these meetings and a link to the relevant standard form.  There’s a checklist to help you find a family mediator that links you to various family mediation organisations.  Also by following the ‘legal updates’  I can see that the Civil Justice Council working group on ADR has published its final report.  It’s worth checking these legal updates and legislation/case trackers in your practice area to ensure you are aware of the latest developments.

A similar theme in my chosen Christmas TV special is the need for ‘on fleek’ negotiation skills for dealing with teenagers – and I apologise if I have now  downgraded the phrase ‘on fleek’ by using it in a Law Librarian’s blog!  My eye is immediately drawn to a slightly incongruous looking book in our reserve collection:

Malhotra, D., & Bazerman, M. (2008). Negotiation genius : How to overcome obstacles and achieve brilliant results at the bargaining table and beyond. New York.

From this I pick up several handy hints from the chapter on ‘Negotiating from a position of weakness’. (If you are spending Christmas with teenagers do not delude yourself into thinking that you are negotiating from any other starting point!)  So,

Tip 1: Don’t reveal that you are weak

Tip 2: Upset the balance of power by perhaps building a coalition with other weak parties – in this context younger siblings?!

Tip 3: Attack the source of the power – surely this is a direct reference to the WiFi password?

Armed with this somewhat dubious advice, hopefully you are now fully prepared for Christmas.  Please do check out our opening hours and do remember we are always here to help you find the resources you need.

Merry Xmas!


Murder in the Library!

‘Cluedo’, (or ‘Clue’ as it is known North America), is an all-time classic favourite board game in the murder mystery genre.  Originally manufactured in 1949 by Waddington’s, it is now owned by the American giant Hasbro.  It has had many reissues and updating of characters, most recently with the tragic death of Mrs White – now replaced by Dr Orchid. More on this momentous development here:

The aim however remains the same: Who killed Dr Black (our host), where and with what weapon?  This should appeal to law students, as you are trying to piece together bits of evidence to solve the case.  The setting is a Tudor mansion split into various rooms, with potential murder weapons left scattered around.

Those Librarians amongst us immediately know that the murder couldn’t have been committed in the ‘Library’ with a ‘candlestick’ – this would break the Bodleian Library declaration/oath, which we hope you recall goes as follows:

I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, or to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document, or other object belonging to it or in its custody; not to bring into the Library or kindle therein any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library; and I promise to obey all rules of the Library.

No sane murderer would risk the wrath of a Librarian by ‘kindling a flame’ in the Library.


We are however less sure whether murder in the Library using a wrench is so strictly forbidden – presumably as long as no book is harmed in the process, it wouldn’t strictly speaking breach the declaration.

For those of you interested in such things, the declaration is still in existence today and still forms part of the Bodleian Libraries admissions process, those younger readers amongst you may not have had to read the declaration out aloud, but certainly will have signed a form agreeing to abide by it.  Earlier this year our Admissions Office announced that

they have now translated the declaration into more than 100 languages, so everybody can now read it in their mother tongue.

As you move around the Cluedo game board making ‘suggestions’ and learning new information you make notes on your detective notepad. Serious players not only follow what they’ve been directly told, but also keep track of every suggestion made and which player answered it, as well as bluffing and double bluffing whilst making their own suggestions, in the hope of misleading their fellow detectives. Somewhat tenuously all these false links and dead ends bring me on to talk about the frustration of ‘link rot’ in reading lists, that is links that go to an error message when you click on the hyperlink.  What is the solution?

Well as you’ve asked:

On the First day of Christmas, you would ask us to link your postgraduate reading list, we will use permanent links wherever possible and are mindful of copyright rules when we are deep linking.

On the Second day of Christmas you would consider having an online video tutorial written for your reading list – please look at the ones already done here. These are specific to your reading list and enable your students to be self-sufficient and find their own reading material, without worrying about link rot.

On the Third day of Christmas (and if you wanted to give your students even larger clues), we can scan articles and chapters that aren’t available electronically. These we would put on the WebLearn site LawBod 4 Students in a subject specific folder.  See the WebLearn site here.  Request something to be scanned here.

And On the Fourth day of Christmas and now stretching ‘tenousity’ (no, it isn’t in the dictionary) to the maximum – if you do want to keep potentially ‘dead links’ alive then perhaps consider using perma cc.  This enables you to create a permanent record of a website you use.  So, above when I pointed to the ground-breaking and some would say terrible  ‘news’ that Mrs White was to be replaced, I used a perma cc link, as  I wanted you to see the newspaper story exactly as I have viewed it today. By creating a perma address for it, I can ensure that it doesn’t disappear when the paper updates.  You can create 10 personal links a month for free using perma cc.  To be able to create unlimited links you need to be registered with your organisation, in our case the University of Oxford.  We are the registrars for the University so please send me an email if you would like a ‘perma cc’ account:

So the game ends when a player makes a correct ‘accusation’ of who, where and how. Again you may have to play this tactically, so perhaps make your accusation earlier than you would like if you ‘suspect’ someone else may get in there before you.

Who knew board games could be so tense?!

Merry Christmas!


Picture credits:

Cluedo – Image by Steven Isaacson, reproduced under licence CC BY-SA 2.0. Website:

Wrench  – Image by Adrian Gaines, reproduced under licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Website:

Candlestick – Image by Christoph Kaiser, reproduced under licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Website:


New Practical Law (PLC) interface has arrived

Many of you will have received an email direct from Thomson Reuters outlining the improvements that went live on the database ‘Practical Law (PLC)’ over the weekend.

The aim of this blog post is to draw your attention to what we think the main improvements will be for you, the user.  

(If you are unfamiliar with PLC, please read this blog post from November 2016 first)

First impressions

It does a look a little ‘cleaner’ when you first open up the database. The subject content is a little more accessible, whereas it was a little too ‘busy’ to find things quickly previously.



This has been improved as now PLC will make auto-suggestions as you type.


You can check which search connectors you can use by clicking on the ‘i’.


Now within practices area you will notice a selection of resources entitled ‘editors picks’. This curated and maintained list is what PLC believes to be the most relevant resources in that topic.


When you receive your results list you can choose how much detail you see.  Not mind boggling admittedly, but quite handy nevertheless. So perhaps you just want a quick list or maybe you require a snippet of information about each ‘hit’ to ensure you select the correct resource without having to open up each one individually.

You can narrow down your results further by using the filters available on the left hand side, saving you time as you’ll reach your desired resource quicker.

A table of contents is provided next to the practice note. As practice notes can be considerably long, this aids reading and enables you to jump straight to the pertinent section.

Downloading/ Printing

This is quicker and easier now and you are given a greater range of options with regard to formatting, font size etc. Just use the icons on the right of the screen.

Saving, History, Highlighting & Annotating


There are some new features regarding saving information to folders and annotating documents on screen.  However to make use of these you need to have an individual ‘OnePass account’. When we trialled the database we found these a little problematic and hence have simplified access by asking the database to use our IP addresses, so automatically signing on for Oxford University members.  A side effect of this however, is that it doesn’t enable personalisation.  If you do think you would particularly benefit by having a separate OnePass account then please email me on:

Concluding thoughts

I think if you are a lawyer and this database is your staple, then I’m sure these ‘tweaks’ will be extremely welcome. For the researcher that dips in and out of the database somewhat infrequently, then although definitely improvements on what we had before, I don’t think any will be hugely significant, especially as the content is exactly the same!