Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Impact in High Places: Law Librarians Influence US Supreme Court Policy on Link Rot and Legal Issues

For the second time in 2015, The United States Supreme Court is relying on the advice of law librarians. (Ok they probably rely on the advice of the terrific team of the  Supreme Court Librarians all the time -- but in this post  I am referring to advice coming from librarians working for other institutions). Today a New York Times story Supreme Court Plans to Highlight  Revisions in Their Opinions  notes changes in opinion revision and internet citation policies. Until now it has been a common practice for for the US Supreme Court to issue corrected slip opinions without public notice of the changes. The Court will now acknowledge the changes on their website.

The Court is now taking steps to address link rot. "Link rot" refers to the removal of or changes to cited materials which render the citations unusable or unreliable. The Supreme Court  policy  cited a study  “Something Rotten in the State of Legal Citation.” by two librarians from the John Marshall School of Law, Raizel Liebler  and June Liebert. The study noted:  “It is disturbing that even at the Supreme Court, where creating and citing precedent is of the utmost importance, citations often fail to point the researcher to the authority on which the court based its decision.”  According to the study 29% of the internet citations in US Supreme Court opinions written between 1996 and 2011 were broken.  Liebert  who was previously the CIO at John Marshall School of Law, is now the Firmwide Director of Library and Research Services at  Amlaw 100 firm, SidleyAustin.

The US Supreme Court has now created a new page "Internet Sources Cited in Opinions." The Court will provide a list of all internet sources cited during the term. The link will include  an image of the page as it existed at the time it was cited.

Librarian Cited in ACA Opinion King v Burwell

Back in June, Chief Justice John Roberts authored the majority opinion in King v Burwell which cited a scholarly article, “A Legislative History of the Affordable Care Act: How Legislative Procedure Shapes Legislative History,” written by  John Canaan, Research and Instructional Services Librarian , at Drexel University School of Law.   The Robert's opinion cited Canaan’s observation that the drafting of the ACA strayed from “the traditional legislative process” because Congress wrote key portions of the Affordable Care Act behind closed doors.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

IBM Watson - Not the Robot Apocalypse! -- AALL Spectrum Relaunches with A Technology Focused Debut Issue

Back in July, I hosted a program on IBM Watson at the American Association of Law Libraries Conference in Philadelphia.

Kyla Moran of IBM Watson Team at AALL

I wrote an article about the program: " Hand in Hand with IBM Watson: How Will Augmented Intelligence will Transform the Way We Work?"  which has been published as the cover story in the September/October issue of AALL Spectrum.

"Ever since IBM Watson beat Jeopardy champion Ken  Jennings on  the television game show, the legal press ha been a wash with articles speculating on how soon Watson will replace both librarians and lawyerrs. I had the privilege of moderating a  ”hot topic” program at the 2015 AALL Annual Meeting & Conference that explores the potential  impact of IBM Watson on the legal profession. Our speaker,  Kyla Moran, senior consultant on the Watson Industry Leadership team at IBM gave a presentation titled: “Doctor, Lawyer. Contestant, Chef: How New Cognitive Technology will Drive the  Transformation of Society as we Know it.” Read the full article  here.

Special kudos to  Spectrum Editorial Director, Catherine Lemmer and Marketing and Communications Manager, Ashley St. John, the Spectrum Editorial Board*  and AALL leadership on the spectacular redesign on the magazine. The "Technology Issue" also Includes:

Disclosure:* I am on the Spectrum Editorial Board but I claim no credit - the redesign was in the works before I joined the Board.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fastcase and Loislaw: Reading the Tea Leaves-- Realignments in the Legal Research Market Ahead?

Shake Out in Low Cost Legal Research

Earlier this week, Loislaw subscribers began receiving letters  from Wolters Kluwer advising them that their caselaw research system has been sold to Fastcase. Loislaw will sunset on November 30, 2015. Loislaw subscribers will be transitioned to the Fastcase platform at a price which is equal to or lower than their current cost. In addition, Loislaw subscribers will continue to have access to over 140 Aspen treatises covering a wide range of practice areas including corporate law, intellectual property, family law, real estate, technology.

Both Loislaw subscribers and Loislaw competitors were surprised by the announcement. I am wondering if this signals some larger trends in the market.

Wolters Kluwer Refocusing on the Complex Regulatory Market

Deb Sauer , Executive Director Strategic Communications Legal & Regulatory Solutions U.S. at  Wolters Kluwer offered this comment on the sale of Loislaw.    In the continued evolution of Law & Business, we feel the time is right to further focus our investments in areas  providing the highly valued  expert interpretations, insight, guidance, and software solutions that will enable customers to enhance their decision quality, drive their workflows, and inform confident outcomes.”

 I never quite got the Wolters Kluwer acquisition of Loislaw. Loislaw was never really integrated into their core digital product lines. Wolters Kluwer has always offered sophisticated, high quality content for complex regulatory practices such as tax, securities and antitrust. However they have struggled to find the optimal digital platform. Over the years they have moved their  practice libraries from  looseleaf print, to cd-rom, to online databases,  and then to the much maligned Intelliconnect platform. In 2012 they  turned a corner with the release of the RBSource platform which included digital version of the Securities Act Handbook enhanced with workflow tools. Then in 2013 they began offering web enabled topical newsletters and earlier this year they launched the long awaited Cheetah platform to replace Intelliconnect. Cheetah  which offers many new features is also  flexible, intuitive and device agnostic.  In other words, Wolters Kluwer has a level  of security in their new digital platform. Maybe Loislaw was a backup platform kept in reserve  as an alternate technology platform if Cheetah failed to satisfy the market. Since there is no risk of the regulatory environment becoming less complex, Wolters Kluwer's decision to  focus on products which leverage their core strenghs and back away from the commoditized caselaw market makes sense.

Is Fastcase Shaping Up to Be the Real Alternative to Lexis and Westlaw?

Most  “low cost” research systems offer basic primary law research. All include federal caselaw and  others offer some coverage of state caselaw and statutes.. Fastcase has distinguished itself from the "lower cost" pack by launching with a powerful search engine,  unique visualization features and interactive timelines. They have not only continued to add  new research features such as the “bad law bot,” but they are bulking up their platform through both strategic alliances and acquisitions. In 2014 Fastcase began offering access to HeinOnline law review articles. Then they purchased the Toplaw drafting software Reed Elsevier. This week they  purchased Loislaw. They don’t need the caselaw from Loislaw, so were the Aspen treatises the real selling point? Fastcase states that their license for the Aspen treatises will apply only to legacy Loislaw subscribers. No one has ruled out the possibility of a future expansion of the Aspen titles to all Fastcase subscribers. The addition of both HeinOnline and 140 major legal treatises from Aspen  takes Fastcase out of the lower tier market and puts it in the unique market position. I believe they stand alone in offering caselaw enhanced with innovative technology, mobile apps, a growing library of analytical materials and drafting tools at a fixed low price point. 

 Ed Walters CEO of Fastcase  describes Fastcase  as being “in it for the long haul. There is less and less of a reason to pay a premium for caselaw research everyday. We offer some of the best research tools supporting some of the best research content.” 

Breaking Away—The Future Belongs to the Innovators 

Fastcase has 800,000 subscribers and has not raised their prices since their launch.  Yet they continue to built out a product which is growing more and like   Lexis and Westlaw and looking  less like its competitors in the "low cost" market. Lexis and Westlaw exploded their content and their pricing relentlessly in the decades before the 2007 crash. Annual prices escalated at a time when online research costs were easily passed on to clients. Although cost recovery for online research has plummeted, neither Westlaw nor Lexis has retreated from annual price escalations. Bloomberg Law  entered the market at time when law firms were hungry for a lower cost alternative, but they entered the market at a price point close to Lexis and Westlaw. BloombergBNA definitely offers quality and innovation, but I believe they overshot the mark on pricing, I believe that pricing has been the major factor slowing the adoption of BloombergBNA by law firms. Is Fastcase slowy growing  into  a unique market tier  that BloombergBNA  could have occupied?

Fastcase Is Not Completely Alone

Another interesting start-up which has moved beyond caselaw is Ravel Law. Daniel Lewis, President of Ravel provided his take on the research market. ” Lawyers are increasingly on a level playing field when it comes to access to case law. Tools can no longer be primarily defined by what content they provide. Now we’re entering an era of asymmetric analytics, in which lawyers who leverage new tools to sift through vast amounts of information will have a distinct competitive advantage.  Ravel is not focused on selling access to case law,  we’re focused on providing Judge Analytics and our other interfaces and analytics that help lawyers quickly find new, unique value from case law.”


Letter to Loislaw Subscribers:

Dear Loislaw Customer

We are reaching out to inform you that Wolters Kluwer Law & Business will sunset its Loislaw product effective November 30, 2015.  Wolters Kluwer Law & Business has valued greatly the opportunity to serve you, and supporting your continued success is important to us.  To help ensure your primary research needs can continue to be met, we are collaborating with Fastcase so they can offer comparable subscription plans on the Fastcase platform, including Loislaw treatise libraries, at the same or lower prices as your current Loislaw subscription.

Information about your subscription

Wolters Kluwer will maintain Loislaw through November 30, 2015, at which time Fastcase will own and operate the Loislaw brand. Please continue to contact Wolters Kluwer with any questions or support needs through this period. During this time, Wolters Kluwer will send further communication regarding the end of your existing Loislaw contract.  If you have any questions, please call 877-471-5632 or email ASPEN-Loislaw-SupportServices@wolterskluwer.com.


During this transition, Fastcase will offer special Loislaw subscriptions, offering nationwide legal research, as well as the Loislaw treatise libraries under special license with Wolters Kluwer, all on the Fastcase legal research service.  Fastcase has created grandfathered pricing plans that allow you to continue your current Loislaw library subscriptions, including Loislaw treatise libraries, at the same subscription prices.  “Loislaw on Fastcase” combines the comprehensive Loislaw treatise libraries you know and love, with great Fastcase features like the Interactive Timeline data visualization tool, industry-leading mobile apps, Bad Law Bot, and integrations with HeinOnline and Clio.


Other Wolters Kluwer subscriptions

Your other Wolters Kluwer product subscriptions will not be affected. You can continue to count on Wolters Kluwer to provide you with products and solutions that leverage the expert interpretations, insight and guidance that you value and for which we are known and respected.


Loislaw and Fastcase have worked collaboratively to provide a solution that affords the opportunity to meet your needs, and we are working to support a smooth transition for customers who wish take advantage of the Loislaw treatise libraries on the Fastcase platform. You will receive more information from Wolters Kluwer and Fastcase in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, to find out more about how to make the transition to Loislaw libraries on Fastcase, please visit http://secure-web.cisco.com/1rpAyKbV788zJBgYdQsJpneDGEQG62QmSgG2vp2SknxpC8ZxhKgToZdMO1iXo2sjMHR0UvK-VsNvYcDD8UzGvZSpkx9hQKHRrIUKVwsV2kbra8hN5YV1FHVkobIVsSsbsRWhU6BnTB1jYmmWfbJ1ucygsL4E1PqMP_HwnDCcQu9GmR2eixl3kvHf9_ulAWZ5B1pntSqU7y4Ik_90vWlxBOlQUb8gpVzYEWEKa2xvo0co/http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fastcase.com%2Floislaw.

 We believe this collaboration is the right one for our customers, with Fastcase continuing to invest in and enhance its platform to support those research needs formerly fulfilled through Loislaw. 



Greg Samios                                                                                                            Ed Walters

President and CEO                                                                                                 CEO, Fastcase

Wolters Kluwer Law & Business           

Friday, September 18, 2015

New York Law Institute Announces Lexis Matthew Bender and ABA eBook Library Offering Hundreds of Titles for Members

Earlier this year I reported on  the New York Law Institute's dramatic transformation into a national membership library offering an unprecedented eBook collection including over 85,000 titles. This month they have added two important new legal collections from Lexis Matthew Bender and the American Bar Association to their eBook offerings.

The Matthew Bender and ABA collections include almost 400 legal titles. The Matthew Bender collection excludes 4 of Bender’s classics: Moore’s Federal Practice, Nimmer on Copyright, Chisum on Patents, Collier on Bankruptcy, but includes over 70 important practice treatises. This new electronic resource, powered by the Lexis/Overdrive digital platform, is currently free for all NYLI members, allowing them to download eBooks to their devices anytime, anywhere. These eBooks may be downloaded to members computers and a variety of devices and used immediately.

Executive Director Ralph Monaco, sees these new offerings as providing law firm Library Directors with  opportunities for cost sharing. For materials which are not “core” to the firm’s practice, “just in time” access to  ebook treatises.

What’s in it for Lexis? Why would Lexis offer eBooks through a membership library? I can imagine several benefits for them.  First of all, it will help drive up Lexis use. When lawyers at member firms borrow a treatise volume, those treatises are enhanced with “live” links to cases and statutes on Lexis. If borrowers click on those links  they will be prompted to put in their personal Lexis password. In other words – loaning the Bender books could drive up Lexis use at member firms. Seondly, this may also be a strategy for driving eBook adoption and ultimately growing eBook sales. Lawyers were early adopters of online research in a pre-Internet world. They have not embraced eBooks with the same enthusiasm. This is a way of introducing eBooks to law firms without requiring them to invest in a new technology or purchase an eBook collection. This offers firms an "incremental adoption" alternative which will give lawyers and librarians a chance to “test drive” the technology. Ultimately firms may opt to purchase eBook collections when they become more familiar with the benefits of the format and functionality. The access to eBook titles will have restrictions that a subscriber would not face. Lexis will have limits on access to eBooks. Books can be borrowed for 7 days and each borrower will be limited to borrowing a maximum of 5 volumes at a time.

Ralph Monaco, the NYLI Executive Director offered this comment on the new Lexis/ABA offereings. “This is a transformative time at the New York Law Insitute as we’ve begun to see our electronic books usage surpaossing that of our print collection. We continue to reallocate our budge in that direction. This New acquisition has been in the works for nearly two years now as we’ve been following the growth of the Lexis Digital Library closely and we have been working with them to reach this final implementation.”
 NYLI is offering 60 days free  trial memberships.

Disclosure. I am a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Law Institute

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Could Your Firm's Associates Pass a General Counsel's Research Audit? Now You Can Find Out!

Casey Flaherty, formerly, the GC of Kia Motors, made headlines in 2013  by developing a basic technology audit which he administered to outside law firms. Taking a page from Casey’s technology audit and AALL’s Principles and Standards for Legal Research Competencies, The Private Law Libraries and Information Professionals SIS of AALL has published a series of research audits which were created by attendees of the 2014 PLL Summit.

Summit attendees were invited to collaborate on drafting a practice-focused research audits. These audits were created by seasoned  professionals at top US law firms who work on the "front lines"  and know about legal research in practice. Each team determined the most important skills, resources and techniques  and  then drafted questions to test the competencies for each topic.
 The research audits will provide a new tool to help law firms, associates and other organizations determine whether lawyers are working efficiently and effectively. The research audit support an associate who needs to thrive in a world of AFAs, project management and legal process outsourcing.
Here is a list of the research audits which have been released so far:     

  • Company Research Audit  

  • Legislative History Audit                 
  • Litigation Audit
  • M&A Audit
  • Securities Audit
  • Tax Audit
  • __________________________

    A new crop of Fall Associates have arrived so the audits are released just in time to be part of their research orientation.

    Congratulations and thanks to all who contributed to the creation of the research audits.


    Wednesday, August 26, 2015

    PLLIP Summit Keynote: Aric Press "Bullish" on Big Law

    Aric Press gives PLLIP Summit Keynote (c. O'Grady)
    The 2015 Private Law Librarians and Information Professionals Summit  was held on July 18th in conjunction with the annual AALL meeting in Philadelphia. This year’s Summit  kicked off  with a keynote from Aric Press. Press is the former Editor-in-Chief of American Lawyer and currently a law firm consultant with Bernero & Press. His keynote was entitled “Clients, Culture and the Future.” After several years of grim forecasts for the legal profession, Press was rather “bullish” on the legal profession. He believes that clients are not entirely comfortable with the range of new legal service providers and don't understand AFAs. Big Law firms have a chance to "win" the future if they adopt "winning" strategies.

    Embracing Disruption

    Although many aspects of the legal profession have been evolving in the past 20 years,  law firms have not been "disrupted." Press acknowledged that the role of law librarians has been more dramatically transformed by technology than even the work of lawyers. He suggested that if a 19th Century lawyer were to walk in to one of our firms, the work and the tools of the 21st century information professional would be completely unrecognizable. Press saluted many information professionals for embracing both technology and change in an environment of extremely constricted budgets. Lawyers are still drafting documents but law librarians are performing completely new functions. 
    He believes that the future is bright for the business and practice of law. Even though the era of surging growth is over,  the legal more it is worth $255 billion. Press outlined a series of questions and issues which information professionals and other legal administrators need to understand in order to help their firms successfully navigate the next decade.

    Four  questions  that drive the legal marketplace: 

    1. Do we know what our clients need?

    2. Do we have the right mix of talent and services to meet those needs?

    3. Do our clients know what we do?

    4. Do we know why our clients hire us and why they don’t?

    These are not only important questions for law firms but also for  information professionals and other law firm administrators. Press believes that firms which can answer “yes” to  those four questions could win the coming decade.

    Four secular changes:

    1.Legal spending by corporate America fell with the great recession and hasn't returned

    2.The AmLaw 200 firms increased share of domestic spending 247% in 2010 and have held it

    3. The Nature of partnership has changed

    4. The big firm market has segmented. By size ( headcount and gross revenue), by reach and by financial success.

    Some demographic factoids:

    ·         Since 2008 the 6 verein firms employ over 9,000 lawyer

    ·         The biggest Amlaw 200 firm is 7 times larger than the smallest

    ·         The biggest Amlaw 200 firm has 25 times the revenue of the smallest

    ·         10 firms account for 2/3s of the non-US lawyer headcount.

    ·         Since the great recession 85 firms grew, 85 firms shrank and 1 firm remained flat.

    ·         Equity partner are a smaller share of law firm headcount in 2013 than in 2004.

    Challenges facing law firms include: 

    ·         The legal market is growing more complex.

    ·         Clients have not increased spending in inflation adjusted dollars

    ·         Clients have more choices and are more discerning.

    ·         The partner talent pool is anxious aging and not necessarily loyal. 

    The 3 sources of competitive advantage

    ·         Best in class  services and products

    ·         Offering the most efficient and/or  highest value work

    ·         A motivated, agile workforce that focuses relentlessly on the clients.

    The trends and issues outlined by Press apply to both the broad legal market but also to the internal market within legal organizations. The list of challenges facing law firms and sources of competitive advantage are good starting points for the development of a strategic plan for law firms, practice groups and administrative departments.

    Aric Press can be reached at:aric@berneropress.com

    Wednesday, August 12, 2015

    AALL Wants Your Votes and Ideas for the 2016 Annual Conference: Deadline is Monday August 17th

    Last call for ideas for the 2016 American Association of Law Libraries Conference. AALL Members have until Monday August  17th to participate.

    A Simpler Crowdsourced Process
    If you have ever submitted an idea in the past -- it was a fairly complicated process requiring you the identify all aspects of the program including speakers in advance. The new "crowdsourced" platform called  Ideascale,  allows any AALL member to contribute ideas "anonymously" or with attribution. All that is required is a working title for the program and a few sentences describing what should be covered.

    Or Just  Vote On Other People's Ideas. If you have no ideas  to contribute you can still vote on other ideas which have been submitted. I suggest you start with the most recently submitted ideas. Also look at ideas that are sorted by "campaigns" or topics.

    The  Campaigns or Topics include:
    • Business of law
    • Research
    • Leadership, Administration and Career Training
    • Education and training
    • Marketing, Communications and Advocacy
    • Data & Content Management
    The time is now, the process has never been easier. Register  here to participate now.