10 Tips to Make the Most of Free Practice Tools on the NCLC Digital Library
Subscribers to NCLC’s Consumer Law Practice Series should be familiar with the robust tools and features of the new and improved NCLC Digital Library. Perhaps less known to subscribers and non-subscribers alike is that the NCLC Digital Library now provides free to the public well over 5,000 practice items. In addition, verified consumer law community members receive even more—over 2,300 additional, free items from past NCLC/NACA conferences.
The Digital Library provides easy access to our free content via powerful searches with numerous filters and navigation tools. These files can be viewed and downloaded. Free@NCLC provides summaries and links to the essential free tools that practitioners need to know about, even if they are not yet subscribed to NCLC’s Consumer Law Practice Series.
This article provides ten tips to best utilize these free resources—including how to access the files, how to rapidly pinpoint the tool you need, and how to take advantage of special NCLC Digital Library features to make the most of the materials.
Tip #1: Authenticate to Maximize Free Material
If you do not already have an account on the Digital Library, create a free account to maximize your use of all our free material. Authentication simply requires providing an email address and creating a username and password. It has several benefits: it maximizes the scope of free material open to you, allows access to several features to help you best use the practice aids, and subscribes you to receive important analysis of the latest consumer law developments, upcoming NCLC conferences, and other new NCLC developments directly to your inbox.
Your login allows you to make best use of our free chapters and appendix materials:
- Bookmark helpful pages;
- Annotate key passages to review later;
- Email subsections to yourself or to others;
- Rapidly visit subsections you have recently viewed.
Most important, a free login allows legal aid practitioners, NACA members, and recent NCLC conference attendees to access and utilize NCLC’s Conferences Archive and Resources Center, which contains over 2,000 free files from past NCLC conferences, including session videos and speaker written submissions. See # 3, infra.
Tip #2: Why Choose NCLC's Repository of Federal Statutes, Regulations, and Interpretations
There are significant advantages to using the NCLC Digital Library to research federal statutes, regulations, and official staff interpretations. The NCLC Digital Library is the only site where these consumer law statutes and rules are aggregated, organized by topic, and available for free.
NCLC’s unique Book Reader technology and navigation tools offer a customizable and intuitive user experience. Search by keyword across all the Digital Library federal material simultaneously. You have several options to narrow your results—you can select “Appendices” and the relevant NCLC title; you can sort results by “section” instead of “relevance” to see results ordered by appendix number and by the order of provisions in the federal material.
Customize your content. The ability to customize your content is a key benefit for users creating a free account. Bookmark, annotate, and even email specific statutory, rule, or interpretation provisions. Navigate rapidly with the Recently Viewed menu.
The NCLC Digital Library also makes publicly available the full text of over 2,500 U.S. Supreme Court and Circuit Court of Appeals cases of special relevance to consumer law. These can be searched using a keyword, or start a broader search and narrow it by using various filters like “Court Decisions,” a specific circuit, and an NCLC title—for example search among recent Seventh Circuit FDCPA cases. In addition, hundreds of decisions not found anywhere else are found at NCLC’s special site for unreported decisions.
Tip #3: Over 2,000 NCLC Conference Session Videos and Speaker Written Submissions Are Free and Fully Searchable
Videos and written materials from NCLC/NACA’s Consumer Rights Litigation, Class Action Symposium, Mortgage, Fair Debt Collection, and Spring Training conferences are available on the NCLC Digital Library. These conference materials are from practice presentations by leading consumer law practitioners from around the country and are only available to the consumer law community: legal aid practitioners, active NACA members, and those who attended a recent NCLC conference.
Signing up for your free account identifies your status as a verified community member and grants immediate access to the over 2,000 videos and written submissions. Search by track, conference and/or key words to pinpoint immediately what you want from this invaluable wealth of free practice tools.
Tip #4: Search Among Over 200 Free Expert Articles Analyzing Practice Implications of Consumer Law Changes
NCLC attorneys and other consumer law experts publish detailed articles setting out important consumer law changes, their practice implications, and advice on how to respond to the changes. For example, recent articles explain all the changes regarding student loans, and how the remedies and requirements of the FDCPA compare with the strict new FCC limits on prerecorded debt collection calls effective July 20, 2023. Another NCLC Digital Library article explains how to protect federal claims by using state courts. These are all free to the public, and NCLC Digital Library users with an account receive these articles and other important consumer law updates direct to their inbox.
Search the over 200 articles—filtering by “Article” and then narrow the search by subject, year, author, and/or keyword
Tip #5: Read Chapter One of 21 NCLC Titles for Free
The full text of the first chapter of each of NCLC’s 21 titles is free to the public—591 digital pages. These chapters provide a great overview of what is in the full treatise and contain lots of helpful practice aids, such as a motor vehicle litigation checklist, Regulation F treatment of electronic communications, a consumer credit litigation checklist, and analyzing a mortgage servicing case.
Use the Digital Library’s keyword Search function to find what you need. Narrow your search to Chapter One of a specific title by selecting “Chapter,” “Available to the Public,” along with the desired treatise.
Tip #6: Disaster Assistance Tools Offered for Free
The Digital Library has a special Disaster Relief Resources page that highlights free materials for helping clients after a natural disaster. Of note is free access to NCLC’s Mortgage Servicing and Loan Modifications Chapter 12, which contains three major sections:
- Representing Clients in Natural Disaster Areas;
- Mortgage Relief for Natural Disaster Hardships;
- Relief for Borrowers with COVID-19 Hardships.
Free access is also provided to NCLC’s Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices § 4.3.11 on limits on price gouging in emergency situations.
A free article, Twelve Tips for Homeowners After Natural Disasters, summarizes tips for homeowners working to recover from a natural disaster, providing links to more information including free sections of an NCLC treatise.
Tip #7: Free Materials to Aid Families in Financial Distress
NCLC’s Surviving Debt (333 pages; $20) is a hard-hitting guide for counselors and consumers on tactics for dealing with financial distress. Some key resources from Surviving Debt are available for free. The online Surviving Debt resources page contains four sample letters to debt collectors for stopping collection contacts, finding out more information about a debt, disputing debts, and explaining why a consumer is judgment-proof. The free page also contains filled-in as well as blank monthly charts for a family’s income and expenses—use of these charts is a key step in getting out of financial distress. Additionally, the resources page includes over 50 helpful web links for families in financial distress.
The digital version of Surviving Debt Chapter 1 is also free to the public—setting out six essential rules for surviving debt. For a limited time, NCLC’s Surviving Debt Chapter 19 on property tax rights is also free to the public. The whole book is free as a digital bonus to those subscribing to the complete set of NCLC treatises.
Tip #8: Free Practice Tools on Property Tax Foreclosures
- A free article on a recent Supreme Court case on property tax foreclosures and another free article on property tax foreclosures of heirs’ property.
- For a limited time, NCLC’s Surviving Debt Chapter 19 on property tax rights is free to the public.
- A free video session on property tax foreclosures and older Americans, and eight free reports and articles on property tax issues.
- For legal aid practitioners, NACA members, and recent NCLC conference attendees who have created a free account, free access to videos of two sessions and nine speaker written submissions at NCLC conferences on property tax foreclosures.
Tip #9: Free Practice Tools for Zombie Second Mortgages
The NCLC Digital Library has a special page on zombie second mortgages, that is packed with free material, including a free article on fighting zombie second mortgages. Of special note, legal aid practitioners, NACA members, and recent NCLC conference attendees who have created an account have free access to conference session videos, sample pleadings, sample requests for information, other letters to mortgage servicers, and other written submissions at NCLC conferences on zombie second mortgage foreclosures.
Tip #10: Free Practice Tools for Tangled Titles
The NCLC Digital Library has a special page on tangled titles—involving property owners without a deed in their name due to the recent death of the prior owner or failure of families to properly record deeds on property handed down for generations. The page includes links to two free articles, an August 2023 report, a video session, and key weblinks, all on tangled titles and free to the public.
Of note for legal aid practitioners, NACA members, and recent NCLC conference attendees who have created an account, included are links to two free videos of conference sessions and nineteen conference speaker written submissions on tangled titles.