Tuesday, February 28, 2017

ThomsonReuters Relaunches Online Treatises: New Formats, Context and Functionality in Secondary Sources

Treatises offer interactive Table of Contents
Today Thomson Reuters is announcing the release of re-designed Westlaw Secondary Sources  experience. The marketing materials promise that researchers will "start  stronger and finish faster." Secondary source content includes more than 4,000 treatises encyclopedia and serials, including titles such as the iconic Wright  and Miller on Federal Practice and Procedure, Corpus Juris Secundum, American Jurisprudence 2d, state practice guides including Rutter  and even Black's Law Dictionary.
This is not a new product. It is an upgrade that all Westlaw subscribers will experience when they select secondary sources in Westlaw. This new display format will also appear for users who access treatises using CUIs  "custom user  interfaces."

When I first became a reference librarian - I experienced the West treatises in the "bad old days" before caselaw was fully digitized. I noted with frustration that the indices to West treatises were hierarchical - meaning that you could not search directly for the word "rescission" --you had to know that it was a type of contract remedy and you would leaf through the index hoping to stumble across the right subcategory. In other words, you had to know about the subject in order to learn about the subject. The digitization of treatises has enhanced keyword access while reducing precision.  The enhancements offered by the new secondary source filters and navigation tools improve focus and precision of results.  As many partners, professors and law librarians worry that young lawyers  are unfamiliar with the major treatises in each legal subject area - the enhancements of Westlaw secondary sources should  drive up  associates exposure to and use of major treatises. Every legal publisher including Thomson Reuters is focused on enhancements  which support the client demand for lawyer efficiency - getting lawyers to the best insights and relevant content in the fewest clicks!

 Megan Riley   a product developer at Thomson Reuters provided an advance demo for me. According to the  Thomson Reuters press release, secondary sources are the second most heavily used content type on Westlaw following case law .  Riley highlighted the fact  that the new enhancements will free researchers from the constrictions of a linear research path. The goal is to enable users to more quickly identify filter and interact with relevant resources. The impact is that the experience of searching across the entire repository of secondary sources and the search and navigation within individual resources is dramatically improved.
Favorite Publications Display
New features include:
  • Streamlined navigation, browsing with enhanced access to contextual materials.
  • Cleaner more intuitive look and feel.
  • Search across all secondary sources with filters which can be combined to enhance precision such as targeting California resources addressing zoning laws.
  • "Reading mode" enables researchers to scroll through multiple documents in a single display. This mode is for reading only-- printing is not supported in this mode.
  • Scope screens provide a quick overview of key relevant factors regarding content and updating and include links to related sources.
  • Search results display related documents  as additional options for a researcher to explore.
  • A research trail persists across the top of the page.
  • Favorite publications can be selected and displayed in a bookshelf like format at the top of the screen displaying familiar "book cover" icons.
  • Rutter publications will include pinpoint linking to  enable navigation directly to a referenced citation rather than current process of scrolling.
Rutter Materials offer Pinpoint Linking
The US secondary source re-design is the first of a global redesign plan. Redesigns of  WestlawUK and WestlawNext Canada secondary sources will follow. I queried whether this enhancement to secondary sources within Westlaw signaled and change in their ebook strategy. I was told it did not- they remain committee to their Proview ebook platform.
A Few Humble Suggestions: 
The new tables of contents feature are a big improvement, but I  have a few suggestions:
  • Add an "expand all" feature rather than having to expand topic by topic.
  • Add an "updated" as of notation  adjacent to titles when searching for a source- this will enable a searcher to quickly determine which of the list is the most current resource and bypassing the need to check individual scope notes after selecting a publication.
  •  Since users remain concerned about client charges, I think it would be a good idea to have a single print charge for viewing any document in chapter rather than triggering a series of charges from reviewing different parts of a chapter.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Practice Innovations: Passwords are Dead; Pens are Alive; Big Data & Big Foot, Virtual Reality, Security and Cloud Choices

The latest issue of Practice Innovations  was the "technology" issue. Each article probes a specific  technological pain point known to every law firm.

Here are the articles from the current issue:

Too Much Computer Security? A request for Better Customer Relations by Conrad Jacoby, efficientEDO

Too Many Passwords by Bobby Kuzma, Systems Engineer, Security Technologies

Big Law Big Data & Big Foot by Jeffery Brandt, Brandt Professional Services

The Pen is Dead Long Live the Pen by Don Philmee, Consultant

Is Virtual Reality Finally  Ready for Business Use? by Joseph Raczinski, Manager Technical Client Management, Thomson Reuters

Cloud Choices Mature: What Works for the New Legal Business Model by Keith Lipman, President Prosperoware.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Politics Aside: MLex Offering Straight News Coverage of Brexit and Trump‘s White House.

In the past year MLex has launched two “hot topic” newsletters: Brexit Market Insight and White House Watch which are positioned at the vortex of regulatory uncertainty and designed to helplawyers and corporate leaders mitigate regulatory risk. I interviewed    MLex’s founder and CEO Robert McLeod and reported on the evolution of the MLex service and its unique approach covering the global landscape of regulatory risk in an earlier post.

 The UK’s referendum to exit from the European Union and the election of Donald Trump were both surprising election outcomes that have roiled the normally somnolent world of regulatory reporting.

Brexit Market Insight
Four months before the majority of British voters approved a referendum to exit from the EU, Robert McLeod, began planning a newsletter devoted to “Brexit.” Brexit is shorthand for British Exit. In a recent interview McLeod recalled that on February 22, 2016  the Sunday Telegraph reported that Boris Johnson, the former Mayor of London, journalist, provocateur had announced his support for Brexit. For the first time McLeod considered the possibility that the Brexit referendum could succeed. McLeod telephoned his co-Founder and Managing Editor, Duncan Lumsden to begin discussing the launch of a new product focused on the ramifications of Britain’s possible departure from the European Union.   The Brexit referendum would be just the first step in a long and uncertain process extending over several years. The UK will have to formally invoke “Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty” which will give Britain and the EU two years to agree to the terms of the split. Company executives are facing a prolonged period of uncertainty.

McLeod recognized that business executives and lawyers would be desperate of insights and guidance on a host of issues:  What would Brexit mean for their customers suppliers, competitors and for individual companies as they plan for the new regulatory environment? They began recruiting writers with special expertise in identifying the regulatory implications of Brexit for their bureaus in London, Paris, Berlin and Brussels. On June 23, 2016   Britons voted in favor of leaving the EU

The Brexit product which launched in mid- 2016 is updated three or four times a day. The digital newsletter has been profiling the key Brexit players.  McLeod recognized that business leaders need to understand who will be influencing and negotiating the new regulatory framework. What are their political beliefs? What are their economic beliefs? Where did they go to school? What speeches they have given? What positions they have taken?  According to McLeod there are 900 separate regulations that could possibly be renegotiated …everything from fisheries to footwear could be impacted. To date, Brexit Market Insights has been the fastest growing publication in the MLex portfolio.


White House Watch Free Until May

The day after Donald Trump won the US Presidency, McLeod began pulling resources from around MLex  to help him launch a news service to cover the regulatory upheaval promised by Donald Trump during his campaign.  McLeod is still recruiting journalists with specialized White House experience. Following the Brexit formula, they plan to focus of regulatory issues of interest to corporate leaders including, trade, tax, labor, environment and energy.  McLeod observed that President Trump has up-ended the traditional role of lobbyists and industry associations by engaging directly with company CEOs. MLex editors plans to profile all political appointees in order to better anticipate their regulatory agenda. They had already created profiles of judges on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee list. 

White House News Without the Politics. McLeod hopes to offer pure legal analysis without a political point of view. If he can pull that off – he will deserve a Pulitzer Prize – and perhaps a new category of Prize!

MLex has eyes and ears around the globe --with news bureaus in 20 major cities.  The White House Watch will continue to respond to the global interest in following the regulatory and legislative impact of the Trump administration. McLeod personally reads the coverage of the Trump administration in 5 major international newspapers and recognized that it is a challenge to sort out the truth. He believes that MLex could lead the market in offering White House news unblemished by hyperbole and partisan rhetoric.

 The White House Watch will be free until May. The newsletter can be filtered by regulatory issue in order to easily locate topics of interest. Lawyers can feel free to distribute stories to their clients.

REMINDER: Start/Stop Poll Closes Friday February 17th. Take the survey here.

MLex: Monitoring Regulatory Convergence and Litigation Risk

In July 2015 LexisNexis acquired MLex, a newsletter service specializing in international legal analysis of regulatory risk. In recent years MLex has cracked the US market as a “must read” for antitrust lawyers. MLex editors employ an investigative approach combined with in-depth forensic examination of issues by reporters, lawyers and industry experts located in 15 bureaus around the world. In the last eight months they have launched two new products emerging from vortexes of regulatory uncertainty: Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. These two newsletters will be examined in part two of this post.

The market for specialty news.

I recently interviewed MLex founder and CEO, Robert McLeod. MLex has ridden a wave of demand for deep specialized news. McLeod discussed MLex’s rise in the context of recent dislocations in the news industry. The Pew Center has documented the decline of the traditional newspapers.

 McLeod witnessed the transformation from inside the traditional news industry where he has deep roots as a professional journalist. He started as writer with Bloomberg in 1993 when Bloomberg had only 17 reporters in Europe. McLeod focused on antitrust and merger control in Paris, covered energy and investment banking in London and was promoted to bureau chief in Belgium. McLeod traces his idea for MLex back to 2004. As Internet browsers began eroding the market share of traditional newspapers, the owners of news outlets responded by cutting the most highly compensated reporters – the ones who covered the most complex regulatory and business issues. Newspapers began seeking business and regulatory content from news agencies like Bloomberg and Reuters. There was one catch. Newspaper editors wanted  “copy” but they wanted “watered down” versions for general news readers. McLeod recognized that there was still a market for very sophisticated business coverage or as he likes to say …“smart copy.”

Since broadband has leveled the playing field. Startups like MLex had a unique opportunity to complete with big news organizations. McLeod left Bloomberg in 2005 to launch MLex.

MLex – “11 Years to Overnight Success” 

McLeod filed his first MLex story on July 7, 2005. He recalls celebrating when the first reader clicked on the story. He watched the traffic grow steadily. He found four US law firms who agreed to subscribe for the first year.   MLex was not an easy sell.  Forty five firms said they were not interested… they already had a source for all the antitrust news they needed.  McLeod was confident that he could deliver a product that provided deeper analysis and more compelling content than his competitors.

Over the past decade MLex has branched out into coverage of: financial services, anti-bribery, compliance, data privacy, globalization and convergence of regulatory risk. McLeod offered an outline which highlights the acceleration of global regulation. 

McLeod’s Outline of Regulatory Acceleration:

  • ·         It took 120 Years for antitrust regulation to spread around the world from US.
  • ·         It took 40 years for anti bribery to spread around the world from the US.
  • ·         It took only 12 years for data privacy and security regulation to go global.

McLeod expects the next big regulatory issue to go global in less than 10 years. All of these regulations expose companies to serious risks running the gamut from huge fines to jail time for executives. Many of the regulatory regimes are converging and companies which are exposed on one issue may discover risk exposure on other issues. This convergence will increase the risk of litigation. According to McLeod  “Companies which operate multiple jurisdictions have to update their compliance materials every three months.  The job of the global GC is to keep the CEO out of prison.”

Today MLex has 85 reporters in 15 bureaus located in key political and financial centers around the globe including Washington DC, New York, Sao Paulo, Beijing, Jakarta and Geneva. Subscribers represent more than 800 law firms and corporations around the globe.

New Issues in the Pipeline.
McLeod anticipates that tax and intellectual property will be next areas to experience a surge in global regulation.

McLeod also sees opportunity arising from being part of LexisNexis. LexisNexis has a deeper bench of technologists and programmers who can help them add enhancements to the product. McLeod would like to see new visualization features such as regulatory "heatmaps." They plan to offer lawyers the ability develop custom newsletters on discrete issues that will automatically update.  One use case would be shareable pages on specific issues related to a deal.

While library budgets remain tight, specialty news sources for practice groups remain one of the few areas where spending is increasing. Specialty news addresses every lawyers need to feel smarter than their client,  while also responding to every GC's demand that outside counsel follow the business issues facing their industry. Specialty newsletters like MLex are positioned in a market sweet spot where they can simultaneously reduce information anxiety and enhance opportunity.

Up Next: Part Two-- MLex Tackles Brexit and The Trump White House

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Last Call Take The Start/Stop Survey - Share Your Wisdom With Your Colleagues

The fourth annual Start/Stop survey of products and projects will be closing on Friday February 17th.
Share your wisdom with your colleagues by taking the survey HERE
You the readers have provided the insights and trends which have made the "Start Stop Survey" one of the most popular blog posts of each year. . Here are links to the  2013 , 2014 and 2015  product  and process  results.
Let the cheers and raspberries roar. Share your insights into the hope and the hype of legal information and legal technology market. Did your firm hire a "robot lawyer"? Did your team develop an in-house app? Are you driving analytics into the practice of law?

 We routinely assess new products, new processes, new roles,  new organizational options, new expectations.  Let's help each other decide what's worth doing. Let's leap boldly into the future together. Share your insights. What were your victories, false starts or  plain old bad choices. Share your hot tips,  short cuts,  projects and best practices.

Make Room For Value. The speed with which old processes and assumptions become obsolete is accelerating. We can only deliver more value by eliminating or streamlining the routine, the redundant and the unexamined. 
Invest in the Future. Since law firm budgets remain flat, the best  way find the budget for innovative new products, is to eliminate redundant products and low value products.

The Wisdom of Colleagues. In the spirit of collecting the wisdom of colleagues please let us know what processes and projects you  started or stopped in 2016 or will start or stop in 2017. Which products  will be tossed and what have you selected as the "must have" new product for 2017?
Anonymity Results will be aggregated and there will be no attribution to any individual person or organization without the express written consent of the respondent.
The Poll: Please take the brief 9 question survey here.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Legal Pros: Digital Curators,Connectors, Change Agents and Innovators Panel

Steve Martin, Jean O'Grady, Scott Baily, Greg Lambert
On February 1st, the first panel of the new Legal Pros track at Legal Week--  New Ways for Law Librarians & Knowledge Managers to Become Indispensable brought in a standing room only crowd.

Steve Martin, a Principle and head of legal design practice at Gensler provided an overview of the transformation of law firm libraries from rooms full of stacks into innovation and collaborarion hubs. A Gensler survey of library users had identified new roles for information professionals. At the top of the list was digital curator, change agent, connector and innovator. All of these issues emerged throughout the panel discussion.

From this framework -- I joined my co-panelists, Scott Bailey, Global Director Research Services, Squire Patton Boggs  and Greg Lambert, President-Elect, AALL, Chief Knowledge Services Officer, Jackson Walker in a discussion about the challenges  and opportunities facting information professionals in  21st century law firms.

I highlighted the importance of business skills including budget analysis, scenario planning and analytics for knowledge services leaders. Since lawyers are not always open to innovation-- there are times when it makes more sense to act first and get permission later--  acting when   a unique opportunity presents itself.

Scott Baily highlighted the importance of outreach and  deep engagement with practice groups to identify knowledge gaps where information professionals can create new solutions. New opportunities can arise from embedding researchers in practice groups where they can advise on the development of new workflow best practices.

Greg Lambert focused on interdepartmental collaboration opportunities. Most administrative functions have knowledge needs and information professionals can help develop workflow solutions .There are also opportunities to assume responsibility for a wide portfolio of knowledge related serviced including, conflicts, pricing, business development, competitive intelligence, intranet management, and client portal development.

We all agreed that lawyers simply can't keep up with all of the changes in knowledge products and technologies and that  the role of the information "connector" has never been more important. Information professionals will play and important role in assessing and deploying emerging Augmented Intelligence, analytics and workflow enhancement products.

It was clear from the audience questions that not every law firm and corporate legal department has invested in hiring strategic knowledge leaders - so the panel provided a great platform for educating the wider legal community on the transformative roles information professionals can play in giving lawyers an information edge.




1)    New efficiencies within the department

·        JOG - What skill do you wish you had learned before you became a Knowledge Services Leader/ Library Director?

·        SB-Many studies regarding innovation have suggested that the way to create indispensable services is to be inventive and develop something new. How has your firm effectively recognized (or not recognized) your attempts at innovation? Is failure an essential part of the process?
 ·         SB-What innovative services does your department offer that expand your value and insight and impact?

·        JOG - Have you ever gone out on a limb to introduce innovation (opting for  forgiveness rather than permission)?


2)    Unique partnerships within firm and outside

·        GL - What non-traditional opportunities are available within the firm to the leaders of Knowledge Services?

·        SB-What are the points of resistance toward establishing an effective internal awareness campaign of what you and your team can do?

·        JOG - What have been your most successful alliances/collaborations to initiate change?


3)    Effectiveness of information services

·        GL - How are you leveraging the technologies your firm already possesses in new ways that expand the role of KM or Libraries?

·          JOG - What new technologies are you watching closely with an eye future innovative opportunities?