ALA’s Virtual Town Hall on eBooks will explore emerging subjects in the eBook lending arena, including digital preservation, reader accessibility, self-publisher engagement, and libraries as publishers. It will take place from 11 a.m. to noon Central time on Wednesday, October 23, 2013.

Panelists include:

  • Barbara Stripling, ALA president;
  • Maureen Sullivan, ALA immediate past president;
  • Keith Michael Fiels, ALA executive director;
  • Sari Feldman, executive director of the Cuyahoga County Public Library and DCWG cochair;
  • Robert Wolven, associate university librarian of Columbia University and DCWG cochair;
  • Alan S. Inouye, director of ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy.

Register here.

Joe

Starting at slide 11, Bess Reynolds, Technical Services Manager, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, addresses pain points, budgetary concerns and the failure of vendors to develop library management tools, issues all law libraries, large and small in the private and public sectors, face in acquiring and maintaining today’s digital resources. From her Oct. 4, 2013 presentation at LLNE’s Fall Meeting, “Acquiring and Maintaining Resources for the New Collection” [complete stack below], pain points include:

  • Substituting digital formats for print without proper notice;
  • Digital versions of print serials that circulated to many may come with a prohibitively high single user price tag; and
  • Creating proprietary platforms for eBooks thwarting single silo for discovery

With respect to vendors failing to develop library management tools, Bess notes that busy lawyers don’t have time to register themselves on web sites, manage their passwords and learn new platforms. Internal IT department restrictions designed to protect an institution’s network results in attorneys and librarians not able to install applications or vendor plug-ins. And, of course, any new vendor software scheme requires extensive in-house testing.

It is “important for publishers to hear directly from their customers” because official AALL vendor relations dogma maintains that “we don’t all have the same needs and perspectives.” I believe Bess Reynolds’ presentation underscores that working law librarians are grappling with the same issues regardless of their institutional setting when it comes to acquiring and maintaining resources for the new normal in collection development. — Joe

Congressional lawmakers—more than two-fifths of whom are lawyers by education—often can’t resist from referring to their law school days when in need of a pithy anecdote for speechifying.

In remarks on the House and Senate floors, members of Congress this year brought up law school in a variety of ways, from arguing that an issue is too difficult to understand—not even a lawyer can figure it out!—to saying that a concept is so easy to grasp that even a first-year law student would not be vexed. Need to make fun of yourself? Mention how you didn’t get into Harvard Law School. Trying to fill time during a filibuster? Tell a story about law school. — Todd Ruger

Ruger proceeds to list seven of the best law school mentions in his National Law Journal article (free registration required). — Joe

And law profs don’t like student editors. Wow! And law reviews impact law prof careers negatively. Hum… . Why?

Those are the takeaways from a recent Loyola Law Review article, What Do U.S. Law Professors, Student Editors, Attorneys, and Judges Think about U.S. Law Reviews and the Need for Reform? by Richard A. Wise, Joseph C. Miller, Douglas P. Peters, Heather K. Terrell, Brett Holfeld, & Joe R. Neal [GSTF Digital Library, DOI: 10.5176/2251-2853_2.2.127]. Here’s the abstract

We surveyed 1325 law professors, 338 student editors, 215 attorneys, and 156 judges about their beliefs about U.S. law reviews and the need for reforms. Law reviews play a critical role in the law and legal education in the U.S. They are also one of the best means for social scientists to convey research about the law to legal professionals. Law professors were generally the most critical of law reviews and student editors were usually the least critical. Respondents identified several problems with law reviews. They believed that law review articles are too long. Most respondents also believed that U.S. law reviews have a negative effect on law professors’ careers and that they are not meeting the needs of attorneys and judges. The vast majority of respondents indicated that reforms are needed and that U.S. law reviews should implement blind, peer reviews. We also discuss the significance of our findings for the U.S. legal system and for social scientists who study the law.

About that negative career impact thing, Karen Sloan writes

The law professors surveyed had a more negative take on law review article selection than did the student editors, while the judges and practitioners were largely neutral on the issue. The law professors responded that law reviews frequently select articles based on the author’s credentials instead of the quality of the submitted article, and that law reviews don’t give adequate consideration to articles before making a decision on whether to accept them.

Quoting from Law Review Articles Need A Makeover, Study Finds (NLJ, Oct. 10, 2013; behind paywall).

In other words, “my submission is better than that other law prof’s submission.” Would peer review change that?  — Joe

Well, that’s not exactly news but Dean Allard also talks about Brooklyn Law’s two-year program in this interview with Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia.

From the Bloomberg Law description:

Law schools need to find ways to cut the expense of merit scholarships, which they “use to buy students . . . with high LSATs” to improve the schools’ US News rankings, Brooklyn Law School Dean and Patton Boggs Partner Nicholas Allard tells Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia. The money would be better spent on scholarships for students with financial need, he says.

Joe

On Tom Glocer’s blog, former TRI CEO Tom Glocer returned to the day, some 30 years ago, when he and fellow Yale LS classmate, Ron Wright, launched a computer game at YLS that was designed to be a teaching aid for pre-trial discovery. The program apparently was well received at Yale. It even made the New York Times. Glocer republished the article in his 30th Anniversary Post – Can Computers Teach the Law? post. [Glitchy direct link warning; hence the above link to the blog’s front page.] From Computer Gives Yale Law Students a Taste of Court Process (NYT, Dec. 25, 1983):

Professor Fiss, one of Yale’s three professors teaching civil procedure this semester, is replacing what was a written exercise with a computer game created by Mr. Glocer and Mr. Wright. Process of Discovery.

OK, so the NYT article was Christmas Day newspaper fodder. Still, it’s too bad Glocer didn’t bring that sort of innovation to the table at Thomson Reuters. Then again, WEXIS is the cemetery for innovative thinkers. Perhaps he tried.

Dear Tom,

Don’t know about your non-compete clause but … why not start up an Etsy eCommerce site for one-off  e-“legal solutions” like altSEs, apps, etc., handmade by legal technologists? My hunch is many of those creative folks wouldn’t mind giving you a 4% sales commission for the exposure they might get from a legal Etsy site.

Your pal, Joe

Help Us Improve The Bluebook !

The editors of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation are about to embark on the exciting task of making revisions for the forthcoming Twentieth Edition, and we need your help.  We rely on user input to guide our revisions to The Bluebook. This survey is an opportunity for you to share your ideas with us as we update The Bluebook so that we can target our revisions to best serve your needs.

Please take a few minutes to fill out our survey at  www.legalbluebook.com/survey.  Surveys must be received by November 8, 2013, in order to be considered for the Twentieth Edition. Comments and suggestions are also welcome through e-mail to editor@legalbluebook.com.

Bonus Prize:

As an added incentive for the completion of our survey, we will select five participants at random to receive a Kindle Paperwhite e-reader. An additional twenty participants will be randomly selected to receive a free copy of the Twentieth Edition as well as a two-year subscription to The Bluebook Online (www.legalbluebook.com). Winners will be notified by December 8, 2013.

Source: law-lib announcement (republished with permission). — Joe

Hat tip to Jean O’Grady for calling attention to yesterday’s re-launch of the product now known as “Business Law Center on WestlawNext.” After giving a brief history of Thomson Reuters’ many bungled attempts since acquiring Global Securities Information (GSI) in 2005, Jean provides an overview of Business Law Center and comments on this development.

This relaunch is surely about regaining lost “good will” and reinforcing credibility in the corporate practice space. But I suspect that the Business Center is a beachhead from which a greater initiative will be launched. It is becoming increasingly clear that as content has become commoditized, the large legal publishers will maintain their growth and advantage by providing more integrated content, enhancing context and folding content into tools for process improvement.

In this case, the battleground is for control of the transactional desktop. See Thomson Reuters Re-Launches Westlaw Business (Again): The Business Law Center and the Next Great Battle for the Corporate Lawyer’s Desktop on Dewey B Strategic. Highly recommended.

If interested, see also TR’s press release, Thomson Reuters Introduces Business Law Center on WestlawNext: Next generation of business law research supported by Experts On-Call dedicated research assistance, and its companion podcast discussing Experts On-Call.

Joe

“Now I’m ready to close my eyes. Now I’m ready to close my mind. … Now I wanna be your dog.

Come on!” — The Stooges

After yadda-yadda-ing about AALL’s prodigious generation of a lot of words that have no real world consequences, the e-Board’s hired help writes

Throughout the year I met with legal publishers in person or by phone to discuss our policies and resource guides and to reiterate the importance of compliance with the fair business practices principles.

And yet no news that even one vendor has committed in whole or in part to Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers, 3d ed. Securing commitments was a stated goal, remember? None so far posted. Commitments in whole or in part and outright rejections in the written word authored by AALL’s “vendor partners” is one of those proof-of-concept things.

I continued to expand the list of publishers with whom I am in regular communication, providing them with news about our activities as well as feedback about a wide range of issues of concern to our membership.

Does the list really need to be more extensive than TR Legal Solutions, LexisNexis, BLaw-BNA and Wolters Kluwer. Granted it might be difficult to engage WK in regular communications but … just keeping a feedback loop open with AALL’s so-called major “vendor partners” about a narrow range of issues is hard enough. CRIV Unleashed can handle the rest.

But what really struck me as odd in this year-end review was the following statement from the September 2013 Vendor Liasion Update:

I believe we are in a long period of transition for law libraries and legal publishing as we all struggle to meet the changing demands of legal information users. Law librarians and legal publishers must keep the lines of communication open to ensure affordable and effective delivery of information services. I pledge my support for continuing this dialogue and look forward to working with both groups in the process.

Wait a minute — “working with both groups”! Who the hell pays for this program?! So much for consumer advocacy, the vendor liaison program way. — Joe

From the WSJ’s Jess Bravin interview with Justice Kennedy:

Of the 9,000 [petitions] we mark about 500 for discussion. From the 500 we discuss, we should take about 100, 120. Lately we’ve been taking only 80. There’s not a lot of emotional or intellectual capital expended arguing over whether we should take the case.  If it’s a really important case and we feel badly that it wasn’t taken, there will be another one [sooner or later] on the same issue.

For more, see Justice Kennedy On Choosing Cases, ‘Empathy,’ And Diversity (WSJ Law Blog). Hat tip to Cynthia Fountaine’s Civil Procedure & Federal Courts Blog post.

And with a hat tip to Eugene Volokh’s post, note this exchange about checking out what blogging law profs have to say after cert has been granted. From Jess Bravin’s Justice Kennedy On Law School, Blogging, And Popular Culture (WSJ Law Blog):

Q: Chief Justice John Roberts, among others, has criticized law reviews for publishing articles on obscure subjects that offer little assistance to the bar and bench. I understand you agree — but have found a substitute.

A: Professors are back in the act with the blogs. Orin Kerr, one of my former clerks, with criminal procedure [and] the internet area, Mike Dorf, Jack Goldsmith. So the professors within 72 hours have a comment on the court opinion, which is helpful, and they are beginning to comment on when the certs are granted. And I like that.

Q: So you’re reading blog posts after cert grants?

A: I have my clerks do it, especially with the ones when we’ve granted cert, to see how they think about what the issues are.

Joe

Judge Posner made Thomson Reuters’ “Nobel-class” Citation Laureates list this year. From the press release:

The annual Thomson Reuters Citation Laureates study is based on analysis of proprietary data from the research and citation database, Web of Science™, which identifies the most influential researchers in the categories of chemistry, physics, physiology or medicine, and economics. Based on a thorough review of citations to each person’s research, the company names these high-impact researchers as Thomson Reuters Citation Laureates and predicts they will be Nobel Prize winners, either this year or in the future.

(Emphasis added.)

Due note that TR’s annual ritual spits out enough names to get it “right” often enough eventually. See TR’s ScienceWatch list of successful predictions.

The Noble Prize in Economics will be announced on Oct. 14, 2013. I’m hoping Posner gets the nod. Then the only way his former faculty colleague at the University of Chicago Law School can one-up Posner is if Scalia is canonized by the Catholic Church. Wait ‘n see.

Hat tip to Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports. — Joe

Launched in 1992, the line-mode browser “was the first web browser with a cross-platform codebase so it could be installed on many different kinds of computers. It was a relatively simple piece of software with a very basic interface, but in the early days of the web, it was instrumental in demonstrating the power of this new medium.” You can revisit the very first universally accessible web browser by clicking on the “Launch Line Mode Brower” button here.

Hat tip to Nat Torkington’s Four short links: 7 October 2013 (O’Reilly Radar) for this gem.  — Joe

Raymond Blijd, Project Manager, Online Innovation, Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory, admits that designing a legal research interface for the small screen remains a challenge but he predicts the era of desktop-based legal research is coming to a close. His prediction is based on desktop usage studies and consumer purchasing trends for IT equipment. Once document creation moves to the small screen, so will legal research according to Blijd in his Intelligent Solutions Blog post The Death of Legal Research on Desktop.

Joe

From the blurb for Alan Dershowitz’s Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law (Crown, Oct, 2013):

In Taking the Stand, Dershowitz reveals the evolution of his own thinking on such fundamental issues as censorship and the First Amendment, Civil Rights, Abortion, homocide and the increasing role that science plays in a legal defense. Alan Dershowitz, the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard University, and the author of such acclaimed bestsellers as Chutzpah, The Best Defense, and Reversal of Fortune, for the first time recounts his legal biography, describing his struggles academically at Yeshiva High School growning up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, his successes at Yale, clerking for Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, his appointment to full professor at the Harvard at age 28, the youngest in the school’s history. Dershowitz went on to work on many of the most celebrated cases in the land, from appealing (successfully) Claus Von Bulow’s conviction for the murder of his wife Happy, to the O.J. Simpson trial, to defending Mike Tyson, Leona Helmsley, Patty Hearst, and countless others.  He is currently part of the legal team advising Julian Assange.

Joe