The Law Library Journal has published “A (Mostly) Legislative History of the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016,” an article by John Cannan, a research and instructional services librarian in the Legal Research Center and an adjunct professor of law.
Legislative histories are common in the annals of legal research, but the fact that Cannan completed his analysis in tandem with the law’s 2016 passage is unusual.
“I wanted to make it instantly available to those want the information,” Cannan said, noting that policymakers and lawyers typically must wait months or years before legal practitioners or scholars get around to writing legislative analyses.
Cannan’s article was posted on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) days after Congress had passed but before President Obama signed the Defend Trade Secrets Act into law in May 2016. Its formal publication is in the Law Library Journal.
The article traces the evolution of the law, listing source materials used to craft the legislation and effectively time-stamping when they came into existence. In so doing, it shed light on the means used by lawmakers to express their intent.
The first major piece of legislation designed to protect trade secrets in years, Cannan said, it has the potential to affect a significant part of the economy.
But in part, Cannan said he wrote the article to demonstrate the value of law librarians.
“People need this information,” he said. “Most lawyers don’t like to do this stuff.”
Cannan’s 2013 American Association of Law Libraries article, “A Legislative History of the Affordable Care Act: How Legislative Procedure Shapes Legislative History,” was cited by Wall Street Journal in 2013 and by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 2015 ruling that upheld Obamacare.
In addition to serving as research and instructional services librarian, Cannan teaches Intellectual Property Law Research.