Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The ABA Journal Is Seeking Nominations For the 2015 Blawg 100: Nominate Your Favorite Legal Blogs!

The ABA Journal is seeking nominations for the 2015 "Blawg 100" which recognizes the best legal blogs. If you would like to nominate Dewey B Strategic or any other favorite law related blogs, fill out the form at this link. "Friend-of-the-blawg" briefs are due no later than 11:59  pm CST on August 16th.

About Blawg 100 Amici From the ABA Editor:

There is no specific criteria that a blogger can meet to be guaranteed a spot on the Blawg 100. And we think our list would suffer if there were. A blog’s whole can be greater than the sum of its parts, and a blog that never fails to post that daily update, has a beautiful design and an unwavering topical focus can very often have less of an impact than another blog that is less consistent on all fronts.

That said, please keep these criteria in mind when submitting Blawg 100 amici:
• We’re primarily interested in blogs in which the author is recognizable as someone working in a legal field or studying law in the vast majority of his or her posts.
• The blog should offer insights into the practice of law and be of interest to legal professionals or law students.
• The majority of the blog’s content should be unique to the blog and not cross-posted or cut and pasted from other publications.
• We are not interested in blogs that more or less exist to promote the author’s products and services.

LexisNexis Locks Up Another Legal News Gem With The Acquisition of the MLex Regulatory Newsletter

Today LexisNexis announced  its agreement to acquire MLex, a provider of international legal analysis and commentary on regulatory risk. MLex which started in Europe has become a an important resource for antitrust lawyers in the US.
The press release describes MLex as "an innovative media organization that has a track record of uncovering regulatory risk before it breaks in other news outlets. MLex focuses on providing insight, analysis, and commentary into key developments in regulatory risk. They employ an investigative approach combined with in-depth, forensic coverage of cases via an unrivaled team of experienced and expert reporters, qualified lawyers and industry experts in more than a dozen bureaus around the world, including Brussels, Washington DC, Sao Paolo, Hong Kong and San Francisco."

Lexis The Aggregator.  Lexis has a "thing" for news. With the launch of Nexis in 1980 they offered the first "full text" database of national newspapers.  In the past few years Lexis has shown a special interest in acquiring high quality legal news products which had developed a loyal readership. They acquired Knowledge Mosaic, a US regulatory news source and the suite of  Law360 newsletters. Law360 now publishes almost 50 topical and jurisdictional newsletters which cover a wide range of legal topics and the legal market. In addition, Lexis has an exclusive license for the American Lawyer Media archive of legal newspapers, as well as the current and archival news from the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Last October Lexis acquired the Moreover news aggregation platform which Lexis relaunched as the Newsdesk platform in April of this year.  Lexis keeps strengthening it's hold on the  legal markets' insatiable hunger for  competitive intelligence resources to feed both business development and client advisory.

MLex will remain a stand alone product which will be strengthened by it's new access to the core LexisNexis legal and editorial content.

The legal market just needs to wonder what other legal news sources Lexis might have in it's acquisition pipeline. Will the next  specialty legal newsletter you read soon be a Lexis product?

Here is a link to  the Press Release.


Friday, July 17, 2015

ProView Professional: Thomson Reuters Promises eBooks Which "Break the Book Paradigm"

It is no secret that I am not fond of ebook technology. Back in 2011 I described my concerns in a post eBooks: Why are Publishers Pouring Digital Content into 19th Century Wineskins? My personal reading includes novels, biographies  and histories in eBook format, but law books are different. I read monographs that are intended for sequential reading. Law books are evolving works which
require an iterative series of interactions by the researcher and continuous updating by the publisher. Many key  legal resources are massive multi-volume treatises with interconnecting parts which were broken into units called "volumes" due to the practical constraints of print publishing. A "volume" has no meaning in a digital world.  "Therein lies the rub." So it was rather brave of Thomson Reuters to ask me to look at their new ProView platform. But they began the conversation by alluding to my "Wineskins" post and assured me that they had addressed several of my major concerns. According to Scott Nelson, Head of Print and Advanced Media at Thomson Reuters, the new strategy is focused on "breaking the book paradigm" in order to make eBooks more powerful resources for lawyers. There are currently over 1,000 titles available in ProView Professional. All US legal titles will be added.

According to Thomson Reuters, ProView is "alive and well"  and they have been investing in creating the fundamental building blocks for a new eBook strategy. The.ProView Professional Reader was built to work on all standard computer and tablet platforms and to work when lawyers are offline. In addition, this will be TR's global eBook platform, which will be used in all legal and professional publishing units in all countries around the globe.

Until now, eBook solutions have been focused on providing access to individual lawyers. The initial release of ProView didn't address the logistic al challenges which law firm librarians face in managing eBook access to hundreds and maybe thousands of lawyers. Last week Thomson Reuters announced two new library solutions. They also introduced new features and some of them are quite significant. Some of them may even get me to change my mind about eBooks for lawyers.

The New ProView Professional Platform
ProView Professional Features:
  • Powerful and fast search capability.
  • Titles can be sorted by jurisdiction.
  • Navigate the table of contents
  • Print, email or create PDF documents from Proview
  • Multiple editions of the same title can be selected or searched.
ProView IP Access for Large Libraries - Breaking the Volume Paradigm

ProView Internet Protocol access offers enterprise wide access to all lawyers in an organization. This approach addresses my fundamental concern about early eBook platforms.

Search across all volumes and all titles!!!! Until now eBook platforms have only allowed searching of individual volumes. This feature alone would cause me to take a serious look at an eBook solution.

Personalization - Individual users will be able to use all of the personalization features including highlighting, adding notes and bookmarking. These notes will transfer to future editions.

Offline Access - Lawyers will be able to download volumes in advance when they know they will need to work offline.

Automatic Updating - Content will automatically be updated for lawyers accessing books using a browser. Lawyers who have downloaded a book will be prompted to download the update.

 Easier to find books- The platform presents the library as a stack of cards available for an individual account.The default display is alphabetical order. Titles can be sorted by jurisdiction.

Dynamic Search Results - One of the features I especially like is the keyword searching. The platform shows the progress of a  searche  and dynamically displays and re-ranks results moving the most relevant titles to the top of the results list. See screenshot below

Keyword searching across multipe titles
Add Notes and Highlights
ProView LMS ( Library Management Systems)

I totally agree that there is value in listing all of the eBooks a firm subscribes to in the firms catalog. However I would do the same thing with the IP authenticated books and allow lawyers to link from the catalog into the titles from the catalog.

Thomson Reuters indicated that there are still libraries that want to manage eBooks in the old "analog" fashion... lending one volume at a time, having circulation periods, placing holds. I am personally baffled by this. I believe that lawyers have a strong preference for "one click" solutions. Nonetheless I applaud the fact the Thomson Reuters is working with a major library management system provider.

ThomsonReuters also announced that they will be integrating ProView with the EOS library management system from Sirsi Dynex. According to the press release "The integrated library solution provides a unified search that enables users to see ProView eBook and physical titles together in the same catalog. Users also can see real-time availability. Library managers can quickly and easily sync thousands of titles across their library, and automatically download the latest ProView title information."

eLibraries vs eBooks
The success or failure of the eBook solution may in fact hinge on pricing more than technology. Thomson Reuters Proview Professional appears  to have overcome many of the technical obstacles of the first ProView platform.  Law firm budgets remain tight. Lawyers have not embraced eBooks as quickly as they embraced online databases. Many firms have implemented eTreatise libraries or "non-billable treatise zones" within their Westlaw contracts. Will the new personalization and mobility features in ProView Professional be sufficiently compelling to change lawyer behavior and to justify the additional cost to add an eBook version of the same content? Is Thomson Reuters bulking up the eBook platform because law firms have become focused on cutting their real estate costs ... and their physical libraries. I previously suggested that eBooks may be the "eight track tape of the 21st Century" but the ProView Professional Platform has come a long way. With the ProView LMS and IP solutions, Thomson Reuters has made it a lot easier for large law firms to manage eBook collections... but the every Library Director still needs to wonder..."If they buy the platform, will the lawyers  "buy into" an eBook solution?"

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

2015 Fastcase 50 Award Winners Announced: Trailblazers Include Law Librarians, Access to Justice Pioneers, Legal Education Innovators, Legal Research Entrepreneurs and Bloggers

This morning Fastcase released their 5th list of entrepreneurs, innovators and trailblazers:

Katheen Martin - who is currently the Circuit Court Librarian, Montgomery County Maryland and
President of the Maryland Law Library Association. Kate is beloved by the private law librarian community because  when she was a Library Director at Morgan Lewis and PLL Chair in 2010 she came up with the idea of creating the PLL Summit.
Kate Martin
The Summit was designed to encourage a creative response to the "the great legal market meltdown" which began in 2007. The PLL Summit has become an important annual event and at which private Law Librarians gather to learn about the most innovative approaches to delivering information and knowledge services in the evolving law firm environment. This year's Summit which is July 18th is held conjunction with the AALL Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. It will focus on "The Innovation Imperative." Since moving to the Montgomery County Circuit Court, Kate has continued to innovate by focusing on the role law librarians can play in Access to Justice. Last year she organized the first Access to Justice Summit Conference for Law Librarians. She continues to offer "Everday Law" workshops to help ordinary citizens who can't afford lawyers to understand the legal issues impacting their lives such as online privacy or housing issues.

Another Access to Justice Pioneer is Sheldon Krantz, a retired DLA Piper partner who came up with the idea of the DC Affordable Law Firm.Starting this fall, he will serve as the Executive Director to the newly created D.C. Affordable Law Firm, a joint endeavor between the Georgetown University Law Center, Arent Fox, and DLA Piper, to address the needs of the under served in the DC area. He literally wrote the book on how to reinvent law: "The Legal Profession: What is Wrong and How to Fix It."

David Mao - Deputy Director of the Library of Congress and formerly Law Librarian of Congress. Also formerly a private firm librarian at Covington & Burling. Could a real Librarian, and a Law Librarian at that be appointed as the  first holder of an M.L.S degree to be appointed as "Librarian of Congress?"  Just in time  to have a real library professional ---  as the greatest library on earth designs it digital future It's about time!

Great Blogger:
3 Geeks blogger Ryan McClead, Legal Technology Innovation Architect, Norton Rose Fulbright.

Legal Education Innovators:

Dean Andrew Perlman Dean, Suffolk Law School; Director, Institute on Law Practice Technology and Innovation; Director, Legal Technology and Innovation Concentration.

 Oliver Goodenough,Director, Center for Legal Innovation and Professor of Law, Vermont Law School; Faculty fellow, The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University

Research Product Innovators:
Gavid McGrane, CEO and Founder of Pacer Pro: Joe Mornin, Founder of Bestlaw ,
Pablo Arredondo Vice President of Legal Research, Casetext

Congratulations to all. And thanks to Fastcase for creating a platform which highlights excellence and innovation in the legal profession.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Thomson Reuters Practice Innovations: Legal Information Professionals and the Transformation of Law Firms: Intelligent Organizations, KM Metrics, Emerging Skill Sets, Training Attorneys, Digital Libraries and Law Firm Recruiting

The July Issue of Practice Innovations is out and just in time for the American Association of Law Libraries Conference, the issue is focused on legal information and knowledge professionals. Since law firms are knowledge intensive organizations, legal information professionals can play a critical role creating new workflows, driving productivity and innovation across law firm functions. Here are links to the articles in the July issue:

Building Workflows for the Intelligent Organization By Jean O’Grady, Director of Research Services, DLA Piper, Washington, DC

Developing the Right Skill Set for Legal Information Professionals of the Future: The State of Library School Education,  By Holly Riccio, Director of Library Innovation and Library Manager, O’Melveny & Myers, LLP, San Francisco, CA

Research Strategies: Training Attorneys to be Cost Effective Using Free or Fixed Rate Resources By Elaine M. Egan Head of Research & Information Services – Americas, Shearman & Sterling LLP, New York, NY; Linda-Jean Schneider, Electronic Resources Manager,Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Philadelphia, PA 

From Books to Bytes: The Transformation of Legal Research in Law Firms, By Jean O’Grady, Director of Research Services, DLA Piper,Washington, DC 

Law Firm Recruiting: Support the Recruiting Process By Ronda Fisch, Director of Research & Library Systems, Reed Smith LLP, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Measure Better to Manage Better By V. Mary Abraham, Above and Beyond KM, New York, NY

Friday, July 10, 2015

Fastcase 7: New Features, Faster Research, New Displays and Interactivity-- 10 Things I really like about Fastcase 7

Fastcase 7 Launch Screen

Today Ed Walters, CEO of Fastcase provided me with a preview of Fastcase 7. The overall design of Fastcase 7 is geared toward exposing all of the Fastcase tools for discovery, analysis,  display and delivery. As illustrated in the screenshots below. Fastcase 7  packs a lot of design variety into a single screen. One of my early posts on  Fastcase “classic”  described it as a platform that allows lawyers to “think outside the list.” Fastcase 7 is a platform which invites lawyers into deep interaction with the content. Each screen has an amazing variety of visually distinct displays which invite a researcher to explore their search results in different ways.  

According to Walters this is the first major redesign since 2003.  Ed Walter feels confident that Fastcase 7 will successfully compete toe to toe with Westlaw Next, Lexis Advance and Bloomberg Law. I would be interested in seeing a comparative test executed by and independent third party. 

The New Launch Page uses colorful block displays and exposes your recent searches, print queue and alerts. One box is devoted to "help." Searches can be executed in the search box at the top of the launch screen. 
Fastcase 7 Results screen

1. Exposing the Wow Feature. For the first time, the original “wow” feature – the interactive timeline” automatically displays. I completely agree with this move. The” interactive timeline” is so unique, no one looks for something they don’t know exist. 

2  The New Wow Feature – The Semantic Cloud. I can’t think of any other legal research platform that displays a word cloud. According to Walters, it is a sematic cloud, which displays concepts even if the exact term is not used in the case, the case can be retrieved in the list retrieved by clicking on the concept. 

3. Forecite – Fastcase’s algorithm identifies relevant cases which are not retrieved by your search terms. Forecite results will now display automatically in the side column. 

4. Beyond Borders. Fastcase can now search across multiple jurisdictions and multiple material types, (cases, AG opinions, HeinOnline law reviews). Jurisdictions can be selected from “picklists” or deselected on the fly. 

5. Authority Check. Cite checking results will display on screen without opening a new window. Results will automatically display  relevant interactive timeline and the” Bad Law Bot” results. Bad Law Bot which highlights cases with a negative history  – Has an new icon.  

6. Bottomless Pages. Never page forward again! I am an incredibly impatient person. I despise waiting for the next page of search results to load and display. In Fastcase 7 the entire results list displays automatically, you never have to page forward and wait for results to load. 

7. Aesthetic improvements. Like Steve jobs, Ed Walters is a self proclaimed type-font nerd. Fastcase 7 uses the Kepler font which  he believes is the optimal font for  reading text on a computer. Ed showed me a side by side comparison of the page on Fastcase classic and Fastcase 7 …. And I agree Kepler offers a dramatic improvement. 

8.Search History – Now Includes date of search and jurisdictions searched. 

9.Send Feedback Button. Users can easily send feedback from their search page. This is a feature which I am seeing on an increasing number of research platforms. It makes complete sense to “crowd source”  ideas for development or quickly identify performance problems using real time user feedback rather than waiting for a costly “ focus group.” 

10. Printing and delivery of results. One of the most common complains I hear about research platforms from research experts is they don’t offer researchers the ability to  have a variety of options for printing an delivery. Fastcase offers great flexibility and will allow searchers to deliver results in a zip file either as individual documents or as a single pdf  containing multiple documents.  

Fastcase 7 Case Display
When Can You Try It? Fastcase 7 will be in beta for the next year. Over the next few months current subscribers will be invited to get a special password which unlocks Fastcase 7 when they login to the classic Fastcase platform. 

See It At AALL.  Fastcase will also be providing demos to attendees of the American Association of Law Libraries Conference in Philadelphia July 18th 20th. They will no doubt get lots of feedback from that audience of super-searchers!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Wolters Kluwer (Finally) Launches "Cheetah" Research Platform: Usability, Workflow and Context Drive New Design

Cheetah may hold the record for traveling the longest runway from product preview to rollout. I first wrote about Cheetah in a post "Can Wolters Kluwer Get Its Groove Back?", back in December of 2013. At that time  the product had been in development for years and I believed that release was imminent. In July 2014 the Wolters Kluwer booth at AALL was one of the most buzz-worthy exhibits and almost everyone in the exhibit hall was sporting Cheetah design sunglasses. Even though Cheetah generated a lot of interest, Wolters Kluwer executives were not ready to launch.They continued to drive enhancements in design and functionality. Greg Samios, who was appointed CEO of Wolters Kluwer Law & Business In August 2014 offered this comment on the design strategy. “Our goal was to create the kind of simple, elegant, seamless experience that is comparable to our customers’ favorite consumer websites. We specifically designed Cheetah in close collaboration with our customers to create a product that supports and streamlines their legal research workflow." 

The Cheetah Dashboard

The Recap Cheetah was developed to replace the much maligned IntelliConnect platform. Wolters Kluwer brought in high powered tech talent from “The Gartner Group”  and deconstructed and deduped all of their documents and assigned a permanent URL to each document. For the first time Wolters Kluwer could offer a new kind of search capability decoupled from their traditional hierarchical statutory code driven research. Mobility was also a key design consideration. Cheetah is optimized for on-screen reading, blurring line between desktop & e-reader.

The Stealth Launch. In recent months, WK has  undertaken a “soft launch” by making Cheetah available to existing customers. The initial launch of Cheetah includes corporate and securities content. They hope to launch a tax product by the end of 2015.

What's New In Cheetah?  I recently had the opportunity to see the latest version of Cheetah. The platform  is more polished and has some nice features what were not available in earlier iterations. 
  • Aesthetically the colors and design are more appealing
  • Implemented a new dashboard design to improve access to critical, high-value  content — things like Smart Charts 
  • Restructured content to improve discovery of content items  such as Rules, Regulations and Treatises
  • Increased the breadth of the available content by adding new practice areas and expanding the content available on existing practice areas
  • They have added functionality to allow users to easily search across things like selected jurisdictions or specific content items (e.g., search across Folk and Balotti)
  • Improved the search experience  by allowing users to easily append and remove search terms to their queries
  • Improved tracker, newsletter, and daily sign-up/management to make it easier for users to access these features.
Workflow Informs Design. In designing the Securties Platform. WK observed and interviewed securities practitioners. As the results of this feedback they identified 3 separate Corporate and Securities subspecialties which require access to different types of securities materials based on their workflows. Those topical clusters include: Governanace & Complaince, Litigation & Enforcement and Transactional. This approach signals and important alignment with law firms' strategic focus on maximizing efficiency.
 Context is King. Some of the features I especially like, are those that provide associates with a passive tutorial experience, and which provide important contextual guidance.

  • Blue book citation format displays adjacent to the text
  • Entities and roles searching so you can focus on the law that applies to certain entities e.g. board member of a benefit corporation
  • Contextual orientation. Since Cheetah searches across all types of legal content, it labels the material type: statute, regulation, caselaw. I think this type of “tutorial orientation is especially important for younger lawyers. One of the benefit of learning research in books is that your brain experiences the different ways that content is organized. On a computer all of the content is normalized and it is less obvious that regulations and statutes arise from different legal processes and have different weight.
  • Users can easily search across the firm's entire subscription or just within a selected Practice Area.
  • The Table of Contents presentation  reflects the structure of document, Users have access to the Table of Contents from anywhere in the document, which eases navigation to any section or chapter.
  • The Search Scope panel allows users to filter by Document Type, Jurisdiction, Court, Governing Acts or Entities/Roles.
  • They have added a customer feedback feature! Since all digital products are “works in progress” it makes sense

Cheetah clearly labels document types.

Can Cheetah Outrun the Competition? The 2015 ALM Legal Intelligence Law Librarian Survey reported that cost recovery for online research systems such as Lexis and Westlaw has reached an all time low. Cost recovery dropped more than 10% from 2014 to 2015. This trend might represent an opportunity for Cheetah to chase as firms explore ways of migrating lawyers to a lower cost, high quality, no-billback systems.