Monday, May 19, 2014

The Law Office of the Future Design Lab Debuts at the Association of Legal Administrators

Redesign Law is debuting at the Association of Legal Administrators Annual Conference which begins today in Toronto. One of the most "buzz worthy" events is likely to be the Law Office Design Lab which was created by the Gensler global design firm. Attendees will have the opportunity to step into the law firm of 2035 with an interactive guided tour of a 5,000 square foot prototype which includes a variety of workspace "vignettes." Technology and prototype furnishings were contributed by Microsoft,  Thomson Reuters, Herman Miller, Steelcase, Knoll, Interface, Creative wood, POI, Interface,Bernhardt Design and Hitplay.

According to Steve Martin Principal at Gensler's DC Office, The Law Office Design Lab "has been an enormous undertaking with significant personal contributions of time and energy by Gensler professionals from many of our offices, leading and participating on committees and weekly conference calls coordinating so many details.  It has also been rewarding seeing our next gen leaders rising to the occasion and blossoming in their roles on this! Very exciting!"

The Key Concepts of ReDesign Law Are:

1. Less is more. Smaller offices, more interiors offices
2. Build more variety and choice into people's work environment.Gensler's workplace study indicated that there is a 12% increase in productivity when people have workspace choices.
3. Future Proof your environment. Create space which can expand, contract and be reconfigured as needed.
4. Ubiquitous technology enhances collaboration and mobility
5. Connect the Dots. Face to face interactions still build social capital
6.One size doesn't fit all. Find the workplace strategy that works for your firms.

Gensler has a 2 minute video introducing the Redesign Law Concepts here.

 Many of the new design concepts disrupt the historically hierarchical design paradigm which infused law firm space planning in the past. If the opportunities for improved collaboration and productivity are not sufficiently compelling reasons to embrace change, the potential savings in real estate costs are likely to grab the attention of law firm leaders. According to Gensler's Martin, a 25,000  square foot office in Washington DC would realize a savings of $25,000 per lawyer per year by going to "one size office" plan for both partners and associates.

"The future is  here: The risk is not embracing it." ReDesign law!

Friday, May 16, 2014

ABA and ALI Seeking Private Firm Librarian Feedback on Digital Resource Development

In recent weeks the publications divisions of both the American Bar Association and the American Law Institute have sent out surveys seeking private firm librarian input on their electronic resource development  plans. I encourage private firm librarians and knowledge specialists to participate and provide feedback. Both publishers  clearly recognize  who the experts are!

The American Bar Association Survey can be found at this link.


The American Law Institute  Publications Department sent out a survey  with this message:

The Subject Line of the Email is  "American Law Institute Publications Department"

The American Law Institute invites you to participate in a survey about your firm's current and future use of Restatements and Principles, in both print and online format.

Our goal is to deliver our publications in the most efficient and effective way, ensuring our customers’ satisfaction and strengthening our relationship going forward.

Regardless of whether you choose to participate in this survey, you are welcome to contact us should you need access to project drafts, meeting proceedings or any other ALI materials. Please contact Pat Daly at for more information about access to ALI materials.
ALI send links which were unique to each email address. If you did not receive a survey please contact Pat Daly at the above email address.  The Survey will close June 30, 2014.
Participation Pays Off

I encourage my colleagues to participate in these surveys. This is an opportunity to provide valuable insights on  lawyer research workflows as well as technology and platform preferences. All too often we have seen products which were seemingly developed by technologists who were enamored with technology but oblivious to real practitioner needs. We forfeit the right to complain when we pass up on opportunities to participate in product planning and development.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Black's Law Dictionary 10th Edition: Making Everything Old New Again. Why Legal Dictionaries Still Matter

Today Thomson Reuters is announcing the release of the 10th edition of Black’s Law Dictionary edited by Bryan A. Garner. New editions of standard reference works don’t often warrant a press release or a  blog post,  but Black’s 10th merits both. If you have a Black’s Law Dictionary  predating 1996 when Garner took over as editor, its ripe for the recycling bin. Time to invest in a new edition. The new Black’s  includes 50,000 definitions, 4,000 Latin legal maxims,  7,500 new terms and 16,000 new definitions.

Why Dictionaries Still Matter. If you are wondering if dictionaries still matter, consider Garner's explanation of why they do. I am paraphrasing here. The legal profession is essentially a profession of writers.Lawyers are writers who need to be persuasive. Words are their primary tools of  persuasion – so they better understand how to choose the right word.

Andy Martens, global head of Product and Editorial for Thomson Reuters also made this compelling statement in the Thomson Reuters press release: “The law is understood and enforced according to the words that define it, making Black’s Law Dictionary as important to the practice of law as is our common understanding of its language.”

The Lexicographer Garner who is regarded as the world's leading, legal lexicographer warrants a blog post of his own. Its hard not to be intrigued by someone who has been the subject of a front page New York Times story -- on a controversy involving legal footnotes no less, co-written books with a Supreme Court Justice (Scalia) and rewritten the rules of golf in plain English.  But that's a story for another day.  In addition to being the editor of Black's, he is a professor at Southern Methodist University Law School, and runs a company called LawProse which teaches legal writing to lawyers and judges.

 The History of Black's From Surviving to Thriving 

Thirty  years ago  law libraries were  likely to have 3 leading American law dictionaries, Bouvier's, Ballentine's and Black's. John Bouvier wrote the first American dictionary in 1839 as a response to the difficulties he encountered in his admission to the bar. Henry Campbell Black, a lawyer from Ossining, New York authored A Dictionary of Law in 1891 when Bouvier's was in it's 14th edition. Ballantine's  was published by Lawyers Cooperative Publishing but hasn't been updated since 1969. Black’s is the only dictionary which has not only survived but is thriving in the 21st Century. 

There were several  decades in the mid 20th century when the quality and editorial standards of Black’s slipped.  Since 1996 Garner has essentially rewritten the whole dictionary while refining and redefining it’s mission and scope. He has overseen the weeding out on non-legal terms. Just because a judicial opinion included a definition of  something like "Boston cream pie" – that doesn’t make the phrase a legal term. He added pronunciation guides, removed West key numbers, expanded and refined definitions, added sources, first use dates and quotations.

One of the most ambitious aspects of Garner's vision is the addition of historical notes and examples of usage. In an interview Garner noted that  Google Books was an invaluable source for pinpointing  original usage. According to Garner he tries to provide the Locus Seminus (seminal remark) as the basis for understanding the term. He has also expanded bibliographic coverage,  citing  twice as many sources as the 9th Edition. The earliest usage dates in English-language contexts for nearly all terms are also included. In an interview Garner credited Yale Law Library’s Fred Shapiro with providing these dates. Black’s is the only legal dictionary with this feature. Quotations are included to be both illustrative and substantive..

 What’s New?
·      Mommy track ,affluenza defense, bioweapon, cryptanalysis, gazump, hacker, legaldygook, intrapreneur,  one-bite rule, psephology, unperson, and zero-tolerance law, are all included for the first time in the 10th edition.

·         Quotes have been added from 1,000 treatises.

·         Enhances and validates over 1,000 Latin maxims

·         New Latinisms include “lex sportiva internationalisthe law of international sports.

·        On the Hipster front, David Lat of Above the Law is credited with inventing  new  terms “benchslap,” “ judicial diva” and “litagatrix.” Garner gave Lat credit for reviving   "litagatrix"  if not originating the word which was first used in 1771 
     (presumably in a context not involving black leather and hardware.)

It Takes A Village (of Word Nerds)
While Garner  has  provided the vision for the evolution of Blacks he supported by a devoted army of attorneys, researchers and librarians around the country and around the world who contribute expertise to the enterprise. The press release quotes Garner as stating that  “Every term has been reviewed for accuracy by attorneys across the country.” “Latin maxims have also been thoroughly reviewed and edited, with 900 new maxims added.”

Prescriptive vs Descriptive
One of the first things I learned in graduate school about the evaluation of dictionaries is to determine if they are descriptive or prescriptive. Garner places Black's squarely in the descriptive camp. He doesn’t tell lawyers how to use words. (He has another book that does that). He describes the way each word and phrase has been used. He also strives to be balanced,  objective and neutral as possible no matter what the subject. In a wired world of extreme opinions and partisanship this is a refreshingly novel, "agenda-less" approach.

Primary vs Secondary
Dictionaries are normally regarded as secondary sources. One of Garner’s missions has been to  transform  Black's from a secondary source to a primary source. In Garner's view Black's has  become  “a primary lexicographic resource.” I would have to agree - the magnitude of the Garner's (and his merry band of "word nerds") original editorial efforts have transformed Black's from an uncritical compilation of definitions to a work of scholarship.
My Favorite Legal Word?
Yes I curled up with this hefty, handful and read chunks of Black's. I came away with a favorite phrase: “Master in Lunacy."  "A degree awarded to someone who enters law school in 2014" perhaps? Let your imagination run wild and pick up a copy of Black’s 10th to find the answer.



Yates, Sarah, Blacks Law Dictionary: The Making of an American Standard, 103 Law Library Journal 2 (2011-2)

Preface to the Tenth Edition Black’s Law Dictionary

Lawyer2lawyer Podcast interview 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

ALM Legal Intelligence Report on The State of Digital & Content Marketing:Embrace Linked-In and Corporate Journalism

ALM Legal Intelligence released  a new report 2014 State of Digital & Content Marketing.
The digital era pushed  every law firm into fierce publishing mode. Every law firm publishes alerts, newsletters, tweets, blogs, articles and special reports. This ALM report examines the challenge of being heard above the roaring ocean of content. It has never been more important for law firms to establish a strategy for creating disseminating and measuring content.

When an earlier study was published in 2010 in house counsel were  welcoming new content. By 2014 law firms seem to have overshot the mark and clients are in a state of law firm news fatigue.

How do law firms make their content stand out? The report recommends that law firm “embrace principles of corporate journalism” which combines market intelligence and subject matter expertise with voice and polish of professional journalism. The survey studies both the content producers: law firm CMOs and content consumers:  in-house counsel.   
  • Produce content aliened with the firm’s strategy
  • Enhance consistency quality reach and self life of existing content
  • Ensure that content reaches intended audience 
Key findings on GCs 
  • Lawyers should be on Linked in. In house counsel are using Linked into connect and participate with groups led by outside counsel. Linked-ins new open publishing platform will allow lawyers to product content to help gain attention.
  • Blogs Still Matter Although blog readership is plateauing they can still be influential. Make sure your blogs are relevant timely and compelling.
  • Readers trust curators such as JD Supra
  • Mobile is eating print’s lunch. In house counsel’s reading of print media dropped significantly. Las firms need to have mobile optimized websites and apps.
  • GCs are “lurkers: on social media. They may not participate but they are these. 71% of GC are in “listen only”  mode on social media.
Key CMO Findings 
  • 84% of CMOs expect to produce more content
  • Only 29% of law firms have a dedicated content manager overseeing content strategy
  • Firms tend to hire marketers instead of content specialists
  • Only 25% of respondents have a documented content strategy
  • Top goals are demonstrate thought leadership, build the brand and increase exposure of individual attorney 
  • The biggest obstacle  to improving content is lack of engagement from attorneys,
Firms must develop digital content strategies in order to create compelling and distinguished content that GCs will not only read but feel compelled to share with others.