Legal Analytics, A Legal Writing Conference, and Bats Turn Into Turkeys

Yes, it’s been a while.  Between the ever present health issues and building and teaching a set of lesson plans on legal research to our first year students, it’s been tough to get back to the blog.  Well, the teaching part is essentially over until the first week of classes in January.  Let me catch up with a few things, a couple of business and one essentially fun.

The first business item is the announcement I received recently noting that Lexis has purchased Lex Machina:

Today LexisNexis announced that it has acquired Silicon Valley-based Lex Machina, creators of the award-winning Legal Analytics platform that helps law firms and companies excel in the business and practice of law.

A look into the near future. The integration of Lex Machina Legal Analytics with the deep collection of LexisNexis content and technology will unleash the creation of new, innovative solutions to help predict the results of legal strategies for all areas of the law.

With its acquisition, Lex Machina becomes part of the ongoing LexisNexis commitment to offer modern, next-generation solutions that help legal professionals work more efficiently, make better-informed decisions and drive success for their clients, practice and business.

The acquisition is described as a “prominent and fresh example of how a major player in legal technology and publishing is investing in analytics capabilities.”  I can understand that.  As we grew up with Lexis and Westlaw we were taught (or taught) the utility of field searching.  The available information in a document allowed us to search particular judges or attorneys to do our own analysis of their involvement with topics and issues.  We have the ability today to make more detailed analyses.

Expert witness reports are where Lexis and Westlaw mostly provide background information and the track record of particular witnesses.  Both companies offer comprehensive details because there is quite a market for experts in litigation.  Lex Machina is identified with analytics associated with copyright and a few other forms of intellectual property.  I can imagine Lexis and Westlaw expanding analytics for other litigation prone subjects such as medical malpractice and products liability.  I can see this as a new area of competition between the major research databases.

The second business item is a one day conference at Ohio State University:

OSU reference librarian Ingrid Mattson is co-chairing a great one-day conference for the Legal Writing Institute.  I’m sharing the announcement just in case you’d like to attend.  There are several presentations by ORALL members.

Join us in Columbus, Ohio, on December 11 for our one-day workshop, “Collaboration In and Out of the Legal Writing Classroom.” Topics include collaborating with legal writing colleagues for successful scholarship; students working together in the classroom; librarians and legal writing faculty joining forces for more effective research instruction; and connecting with casebook and clinical faculty, the community outside the law school, and university offices to provide meaningful, resource-conscious instruction.

Our workshop website, which includes program details and hotel information, can be found here. Workshop registration can be found here.

Columbus offers a number of unique experiences year round and particularly during the holiday season. Consider staying through the weekend to enjoy a dessertcoffee, or beer tour of a city with a dynamic food scene. Those who are more literary-minded will enjoy a Dickens of a Christmas and a Dickens Dinner at the historical Ohio Village. If you have an interest in politics, history, or architecture, touring the Ohio Statehouse is fun and free. A short walk from the workshop site you can explore the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. Finally, for anyone visiting with children or who fondly remembers Jack Hannah and the Columbus Zoo on David Letterman, check out the zoo’s extraordinary holiday light tradition, Wildlights. For more information on the exciting goings-on in Columbus, visit Experience Columbus.

Columbus truly is the heart of it all. We are driving distance from places like Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Lexington, Chicago, Charleston; and a non-stop flight away from pretty much everywhere else.
We hope to see you in December! For more information about the conference, please feel free to contact us at or

The conference cost is a very reasonable $45 aside from any lodgings.  I’m not expecting to sample the charms of Columbus while I’m there.  I was interested in going to a Blue Jackets game but it turned out the team is on the road in Winnipeg on December 10th.  The Islanders come in to Nationwide Arena on the 12th but unfortunately I can’t stay over.

And now the fun part.  As part of the Halloween picture extravaganza, I shared costumes and decorations from a number of libraries.  One of those picture sets from Wayne State included periodicals turned into bat decorations.  Well, it seems the bats have turned into turkeys for the coming holiday.  See the pictures below.

Thanksgiving 2 Thanksgiving 3 Thanksgiving 1

Well, I hope to publish more frequently now that my major semester project is effectively over.


University of California System Goes Open-Access on Faculty Scholarship

The University of California System issued a directive near the end of October that require faculty to place their scholarly works in open access sources:

Each Faculty member grants to the University of California a nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide license to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to each of his or her scholarly articles, in any medium, and to authorize others to do the same, for the purpose of making their articles widely and freely available in an open access repository. Any other systematic uses of the licensed articles by the University of California must be approved by the Academic Senate. This policy does not transfer copyright ownership, which remains with Faculty authors under existing University of California policy.

* * *

To assist the University in disseminating and archiving the articles, Faculty commit to helping the University obtain copies of the articles. Specifically, each Faculty member who does not permanently waive the license above will provide an electronic copy of his or her final version of the article to the University of California by the date of its publication, for inclusion in an open access repository. When appropriate, a Faculty member may instead notify the University of California if the article will be freely available in another repository or as an open-access publication. Faculty members who have permanently waived the license may nonetheless deposit a copy with the University of California or elsewhere for archival purposes.

Notwithstanding the above, this policy does not in any way prescribe or limit the venue of publication. This policy neither requires nor prohibits the payment of fees or publication costs by authors.

That last line is interesting.  There are two articles at the Chronicle of Higher Education worth reading that relate to the issue of fees.  One is What Open-Access Publishing Actually Costs by Ellen Wexler, and the other is What a Mass Exodus at a Linguistics Journal Means for Scholarly Publishing, also by Wexler.  Both are pretty good examinations of issues surrounding the hidden costs of open-access publishing.  The first article (later in date) points out that placement of scholarly articles even for open access can require a publication fee.  Comments there point out that someone is paying for the time to peer review (usually the university or college employing the reviewer through salary), or providing the server space, or other elements that go between the publication and its editorial and distribution network.

The other article tells of the mass resignation of the editorial staff for the journal Linqua, published by Elsevier.  The staff had asked that the journal become open-access and given to them to pursue that goal.  Elsevier unsurprisingly said no.  The company has said that it continue publishing the title under a new team.  The article states that authors currently must pay some $1,800 per article to make it free to readers among other costs.

This isn’t necessarily the model for law reviews.  They are edited by students and usually not peer-reviewed.  The trend is to make content available for free via the law journal’s web site.  Even still, the University or Law School has underlying costs to make this happen by paying for the underlying technical equipment and/or subsidizing the loss of subscriptions.  The takeaway from Wexler’s articles is that free really isn’t really free.  Costs shift to someone else.  Whether that model is sustainable remains to be seen.


Supreme Court Action: Qualified Immunity When Deadly Force is Used By Officers During A Car Chase

The Supreme Court issued one opinion today.  The case, Mullenix v. Luna (14-1143), decided whether a Texas state trooper (Mullenix) was entitled to qualified immunity when he fired shots at a suspect’s car during a high speed chase, killing the suspect.  The Court’s restatement of the facts show that Israel Leija, Jr. resisted an attempt to arrest him and fled in his car.  Another officer, Sergeant Randy Baker, pursued Leija in a chase reaching speeds between 85 and 110 miles per hour.  Other officers joined the pursuit.  Leija called local police dispatchers twice and informed them that he was armed and would shoot officers if the chase was not called off.  This information was relayed to the pursuing officers along with information that Leija may be intoxicated.

Some officers set up road spikes at a location Leija was expected to pass.  Mullenix intended to set up spikes as well but decided he might disable the car by shooting at it.  He radioed his decision to his supervisor, Sergeant Byrd, who said to stand by and see if the spikes worked first.  Mullenix was joined by  Officer Shipman and they discussed Mullenix’ plan to shoot at the car.  Leija approached and Mullenix fired six shots.  Leija’s car hit the spikes and rolled over two and a half times.  Four of six shots Mullenix fired hit Leija in the upper body and killed him.  There was no evidence that any of the bullets hit any portion of the car that could have disabled it.

Leija’s family sued Mullenix on civil rights violations, specifically that Leija’s Fourth Amendment rights had been violated.  Mullenix filed a motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity.  The district court denied the motion and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the denial.  The Fifth Circuit withdrew its first opinion but substantially upheld the denial in a second opinion.

The Supreme Court reversed.  It stated the standard for applying qualified immunity is whether the conduct “does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.”  The Court explained that lower courts should not apply the standard in a general sense and that the application is fact dependent.  The Court noted there were only two prior cases where it ruled on excessive/deadly force involving car chases.  In those two:

The Court has thus never found the use of deadly force in connection with a dangerous car chase to violate the Fourth Amendment, let alone to be a basis for denying qualified immunity.

Further, lower court cases decided subsequently have not established that the use of force in situations similar to the present case is inappropriate.  The mere fact that other courts have found the level of force appropriate in more extreme cases does not render the use inappropriate here.

The Court issued the case as a per curiam opinion.  Justice Scalia concurred in the judgment.  Justice Sotomayor dissented.



Friday Fun: More And More Halloween Pictures

The latest come from Adeen Postar at the University of Baltimore.  She writes:

My staff does a terrific job decorating at Halloween!  We add to the fun decorating every year.

IMG_0782 IMG_0783 IMG_0785 IMG_0787


Friday Fun: More Halloween Pictures

As I wrote the previous post, even more pictures showed up.  Here they are.

Caren Luckie from the firm Jackson Walker in Houston submitted these:

Each year the attorneys and paralegals host an appreciation lunch for the staff at Halloween – complete with awesome decorations, games, and a costume contest.  I don’t have all of the pictures from my phone downloaded yet, but here is our Chief Knowledge Services Officer (and candidate for AALL President), Greg Lambert, my assistant, and our newest associate.

associate Sarah Maize


The next one was sent in by Carolyn J. Keery from the Law Offices of Hinckley Allen in Providence RI.  The source was Facebook.



Friday Fun: Halloween Pictures

The first batch comes from Miriam Murphy, Interim Director of the Ruth Lilly Law Library at IUPUI in Indianapolis.  Miriam writes:

My wonderful staff turned the library into a “Frozen” wonderland. We participiated in a law school wide trick or treat give away to the children of our students, staff and faculty.  We won best office décor, but lost out on the group costume to the Dean’s office where they were “A Christmas Story” with the Vice Dean as Ralphie in the pink bunny suit in the back right of the larger group photo.

image006 image007 image008

The next batch comes from Beth Applebaum at the Arthur Neef Law Library at Wayne State University in Detroit.  All I can say is one of them is a unique use for a print periodical.  You can’t do that online unless you hang a monitor from the ceiling.

Halloween _1 Halloween _2 Halloween _4

I’m writing this as I’m sweating it out in my Jake the Dog Costume. Yes, those are Shepards volumes on a cart behind me.  They are scheduled to go to that big Law Library recycling bin in the sky.  That is below with a few others from the Rinn Law Library at DePaul.  Keep sending them in and I will post them through next week.

P1020819 P1020820 P1020821 P1020822



It’s Halloween

We’re celebrating Halloween at our library.  I’m sure others are as well.  Feel free to share pictures of Halloween at your library.  I’ll post the best of them all through next week on the Blog.  Send pictures or a link to their location to me at  I’ll be in costume tomorrow at DePaul as Jake the Dog from Adventure Time.  Yes, I’ll post that picture.


Friday Fun On A Thursday Night: National Cat Day

Today is National Cat Day.  I share a house with five of them, not counting the strays I feed in my back yard.  As such I want to present a picture of Olivia.  She runs the house.  If I understand correctly, she is also Queen of the Universe.  Or is that Empress.  I’m never sure about these things.  I have not met a cat who can match her use of the royal meow, or as she spells it, “meoux.”  Happy National Cat Day.




The Wayback Machine Is Getting It’s Own Search Engine

Gizmodo reports that the Wayback Machine, the part of the Internet Archive that preserves web sites, is getting its own search engine.  That’s good news in that the only way one can use the archive now is by typing in a URL.  There are 439 Billion pages in the Archive.  The web from my perspective is still a chaotic place despite its sophistication.  Stuff comes and goes, and it’s not just Facebook posts.  This development should be a vast improvement for researchers.


“Free The Law:” Ravel and Harvard Law Team Up To Do Just That

There is so much to catch up on.  The recent news is that Ravel Law is teaming up with Harvard to scan significant portions of the primary law collection with the ultimate goal of placing the bulk online for use by the public.  The story in the New York Times mentions the fact that the librarians are cutting the books apart so the pages could go through high speed scanners.  The implication here is that there is no turning back for the project. Here is another story from the Harvard Law School News.

The interesting part for me aside from having as much primary law on the web is that this is the first major scanning project announced since the Google Book decision from October 16th.  Most primary law is in the public domain so there shouldn’t be any question about the legality of scanning.  Nonetheless, that decision should comfort the project managers.  I wonder if the decision will be giving impetus to any other large scale digitizing projects.


Librarian of Congress Announces Current DMCA Exemptions

The DMCA Exemptions for 2015 were announced by David S. Mao, the Acting Librarian of Congress, and effective as of October 28.  This is a series of exemptions allowed every three years upon review.  There is now a limited exemption for jailbreaking software in cars, 3D printers, phones, tablets, other portable devices, games, and allowance for the use of excerpted DVD clips for educational use.  Some of the items on the list, such as limited use of DVD excerpts had been approved in last reviews.  The process requires a renewal to prevent the exemption from expiring.

I often found the refusal to exempt making archival copies of DVDs a bit hypocritical as there are quite a few software packages that can accomplish this for sale on large commercial retail sites.  And then there are stories such as a review of the Five Best DVD Ripping Tools from Lifehacker.  Let me state up front that I am not encouraging anyone to violate copyright law.  I’m merely pointing to examples that show how little the prohibition against copying/ripping seems to be enforced.  Maybe this software is bought mostly by academics for classroom use.

Some of the commentary on this year’s announcements are in Wired, boingboing, the EFF, and the Center for Democracy and Technology.


Solutions businesses drive Thomson Reuters Legal’s growth

Last Friday, Thomson Reuters released its third quarter financial results. For TR Legal

  • Revenues increased 1%. Excluding US print, revenues grew 3%.
  • Solutions businesses (46% of the segment’s revenues) grew 4%, slightly lower than the first half of the year due to timing factors. Revenue growth was driven by Elite, Serengeti, Pangea3 legal managed services, and the Investigations and Public Records business. Solutions businesses represent all of Legal’s revenues excluding US print and US online legal information.
  • US online legal information (40% of the segment’s revenues) grew 2%, reflecting growth for the third consecutive quarter.
  • US print (14% of the segment’s revenues) declined 8%, as expected.
  • EBITDA was unchanged and the margin increased 90 basis points to 38.8% compared to 37.9% in the prior-year period. Excluding the benefit of currency, the margin increased 30 basis points.
  • Operating profit increased 4% and the margin increased 200 basis points to 31.7% compared to 29.7% in the prior-year period. Excluding the benefit of currency, the margin increased 130 basis points due to lower depreciation and amortization expense.


As one can see from the above, US Print and US Online Legal only represents 54% of the revenue generated by TR Legal during Q3. Solutions is the revenue growth driver and likely will surpass 50% of TR Legal’s total revenue in a couple of years as US Print continues its death spiral.


Do note TR Legal’s profit margin for the nine months ended Sept. 30th. At 29.3%, it is substantially higher than all of TR’s other divisions: Financial & Risk (17%), Tax & Accounting (21%), and Intellectual Property & Science (20.4%).

— Joe

Up-to-date list of online sources to US court opinions available

Rick McKinney, Assistant Law Librarian, Federal Reserve Board Law Library, posted the following announcement on various AALL lists:

The Federal Law Librarians Special Interest Section of the Law Librarians Society of Washington, D.C., Inc. is pleased to announce the availability on its website of a new online resource entitled Quick Links and Sources to U.S. Court Opinions. The new website presents quick links to all major sources for U.S. Court opinions including sites for recent years, sites for recent and historical years, and subscription sites. It also presents direct links to court opinion sites of specific U.S. courts such as the U.S. courts of appeals as well links to opinion sites to those courts before the 1990’s.  Each specific’s court’s abbreviation and city location can also be found and there is an example of how new slip opinions can be cited. The new website is also linked on LLSDC’s Legislative Source Book.

Bookmark it. — Joe

Libguides Are Appearing in Google Scholar Results

I’m in the middle of creating lesson plans for three introductory legal research classes to be taught to first year students by librarians next month.  That’s one reason why there has been a lack of posts in the last couple of weeks, among others.  The task is, how can I put it, time consuming.  That’s another story.

I thought I’d take a moment this afternoon and wander through Google Scholar to see what literature it contains on the process of legal research.  I did the obvious and searched the phrase “legal research.”  At about two or three pages into the search I noticed an entry for Land Use, Planning, and Zoning Legal Research Guide: Home by Vicky Gannon at Pace University.  The citation came up because the title contains the words “legal research.”  I have to admit that I had not expected a libguide to be one of the results in Google Scholar as I had not seen any prior to today.  I use Scholar a lot.  I mean, a lot.

I decided that I would try and search the word “libguide” all by itself and sure enough there were citations linking to any number of guides mixed in with the scholarly articles about the use of libguides.  Many of them were listed as [citation] which linked to an entry in either Bepress or a university commons page that in turn linked to the actual guide.  I found this all quite interesting.  Scholar apparently can be another vehicle for researchers to get to the intellectual output of a law library staff.  My suggestion is for all of you out there to give it a try.  Create some sample searches and see what happens.  I know I will.  This may be another strategy I can use in teaching or advising at the reference desk.


It’s Only A Friday Fun If You Like The Result: Google Wins Again at Second Circuit Over The Book Scanning Project

The Second Circuit handed Google another victory in its battle with the Authors Guild, et al., by upholding the District Court’s determination that its book scanning project is fair use.  Here is the Court’s own summary of the decision from the end of the opinion:

In sum, we conclude that: (1) Google’s unauthorized digitizing of copyright-protected works, creation of a search functionality, and display of snippets from those works are non-infringing fair uses. The purpose of the copying is highly transformative, the public display of text is limited, and the revelations do not provide a significant market substitute for the protected aspects of the originals. Google’s commercial nature and profit motivation do not justify denial of fair use. (2) Google’s provision of digitized copies to the libraries that supplied the books, on the understanding that the libraries will use the copies in a manner consistent with the copyright law, also does not constitute infringement. Nor, on this record, is Google a contributory infringer.

The Court relied on its decision in the HathiTrust case for declaring that Google’s scans were transformative.  The Court here noted that the libraries did not offer snippet view in local search in comparison to Google.  That wasn’t a problem, however, as Google’s snippets were no substitute for a copy of the book.  At best a research could determine whether the book would be useful in a research project.  That would not be a lost sale necessarily if the researcher rejected using the book in a personal project.

I’m still digesting the opinion and may have more to say about this later.  I’ll refer readers to c copy of the opinion on Google Drive as supplied by the Chronicle of Higher Education.  I’ll also point to a copy linked in a statement of disappointment in the ruling by the Authors Guild.  Note, however, that the Guild links ultimately to copy placed on Google Drive as well (oh the irony).  I would also draw your attention to the fact that the link from the Chronicle allows the reader to download the document.  The version from the Guild does not offer that option.  I’m guessing the Guild is hard-wired in that regard.


Friday Fun on a Monday: Law Librarians Visit the Stanley Cup

There was no Friday Fun last week because I was out having fun.  Specifically, my friend Virginia Thomas,  Director of the Arthur Neef Law Library at Wayne State University in…uh, DETROIT, and I went to the United Center here in CHICAGO to view the Stanley Cup.  This was a fan event celebrating the third Cup win in six seasons by the Blackhawks.  Fun was definitely had by all.  Maybe next year Red Wings.  Maybe next year.

_CAD2387 (3) Cropped 1


Here’s a Novel Way to Cut the Cost of Law School

Oakland University and Wayne State University have partnered so that the last year of undergraduate work and the first year of law school are essentially the same year.  According to the Detroit Free Press (the “Freep”), the first 30 hours of law classes at Wayne would count as the credits to complete a bachelor’s degree at Oakland University.  That’s a saving of $13,350 in tuition for both degrees.  In my value system, that money could by 26,000 cans of cat food, or a small car.

More information is available from Wayne State University and Oakland University:

For more information about the partnership, current and prospective OU students can contact David Lau at 248-370-3229 or For more information about Wayne Law, contact Wayne Law Admissions at 313-577-3937


What’s Going On At the Library of Congress?

Librarian of Congress James Billington abruptly retired on September 30th instead of January as previously announced.  Then the Christian Science Monitor follows up with this unflattering article on the LOC’s lack of technology chops.  Interesting.


Most Valuable Brand List Released

Interbrand released its annual survey of the top 100 of the most valuable brands.  Apple and Google hold the number 1 and 2 spots respectively.  Barnes & Noble is nowhere to be found, but Amazon comes in at number 10.  Lego broke into the list for the first time at number 82 (Ninja Go!!!!).  Facebook is listed as a top rise are number 23.  I guess having 1 billion users helps with brand awareness.  My old friend Jack Daniels makes the list at number 84.  Thomson Reuters comes in at number 63, though that represents a drop of 12% in brand value.  There must be some people out there still pining for Westlaw Classic I imagine.


OCLC Prints The Last Catalog Card

It’s the end of an era certainly.  OCLC has produced its last printed catalog card.  We may take online catalogs for granted these days, but someone, somewhere has been using printed cards.  An article in the Columbus Dispatch noted that the last set of printed cards went to Concordia College in Bronxville, NY.  The peak total for cards within a year was 135 million in 1984.  That’s the year personal computers by Apple and IBM started hitting the mainstream.  At the end, some 1.9 billion cards had been produced.  There is a forest somewhere that is sighing a breath of relief.  What to do with the table and drawers that formerly held the carefully organized cards?  We use ours to hold snacks for the library staff.



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