Category Archives: Education & Professional Development
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.
Columbus offers a number of unique experiences year round and particularly during the holiday season. Consider staying through the weekend to enjoy a dessert, coffee, 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 Kelly.firstname.lastname@example.org or Mattson.email@example.com.
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.
Well, I hope to publish more frequently now that my major semester project is effectively over.
Wikipedia decided to dance with the devil when certain editors were given complementary accounts to Elsevier’s ScienceDirect. Ars Technica is reporting that the company is donating 45 accounts to top editors at the online encyclopedia. This doesn’t sit well with some open source advocates like Michael Eisen. He’s shocked that people who use the encyclopedia will click on links that will only lead to an abstract and an option to buy. Of course, that’s not quite true for us in academics, at least for us employed at an institution with a subscription.
The debate pits those who believe in open access only against those who believe that links to pay walled articles share useful information in understanding a topic. Count me in the latter group, not because I can get to the “download PDF” link, but because there is a world of useful information that exists beyond open source. Libraries and not just those from universities are a big help in getting this kind of information into the hands of researchers or the general public. Hey, we bought the subscription so none of you had to.
In another report concerning information freedom, it looks as if the Department of Homeland Security has taken a dim view to the Kilton Public Library in Lebanon, New Hampshire becoming a node on the Tor network. DHS sent a stern email to the Lebanon Police Department who then contacted the Library. The net effect (no pub intended) was to temporarily halt the project until the Library could gather community input. Pro Publica has the story.
In other news, the Library of Congress is acquiring a large archive of material documenting the career of comedian Jerry Lewis. Lewis is donating some of the material while other parts of the collection will be purchased. The archive will document some 70 years of Lewis’ career and include rare recordings that do not exist anywhere else. The Fort Wayne New-Sentinel has the story. Speaking of Fort Wayne, the city will host the 2015 meeting of the Ohio Regional Association of Law Libraries (ORALL) on October 21-23. Details are available from AALL and the organization’s web site. Early registration discounts end on September 15. The registration form is here. The Program looks pretty good in my opinion.
First of all, there is this from Washington University in St. Louis:
Conducting Empirical Legal Scholarship Workshop 2015
The 14th annual workshop on Conducting Empirical Legal Scholarship, co-taught by Lee Epstein and Andrew D. Martin, will run from June 15-June 17 at Washington University in St. Louis. The workshop is for law school faculty, lawyers, political science faculty, and graduate students interested in learning about empirical research and how to evaluate empirical work. It provides the formal training necessary to design, conduct, and assess empirical studies, and to use statistical software (Stata) to analyze and manage data.
As a side note, I won’t be posting this Thursday or Friday as I will be attending the MichALL Spring Conference titled “Technology in Law Libraries: Where We’re At and Where We’re Going.” The event will be held on Friday, April 17, 2015, in the Wayne State Univ. School of Law’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights lecture hall. The program flier is here:
Electronic registration is at http://goo.gl/tT89ar. The conference fee is a very reasonable $20.
As a writer for the Blog I get a tremendous amount of press releases and other publicity information in my inbox. Sometimes the subjects are interesting enough to lead to a post. Other times the subject is interesting but not viable to publish. I obviously act as the filter here. Since it’s Friday, usually the day I can wander subjectively, I thought I would share some of these items with readers.
For example, Senator Barbara Boxer tells us that she testified before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee on the 10th of March on the LINE Act. She introduced the legislation with Senator Ben Nelson. It would require states to minimize waiting time at polls for voters by developing contingency plans when lines are long. It targets states where long lines frustrated voters. Her video testimony is here, and more details about legislation are here. I should mention that I am an avid reader of political stories though I tend to keep my opinions mostly to myself when it comes to the Blog. I reserve my snarky comments to the comment sections for these stories.
I get offers to review books or articles that go somewhat afield of the law but are interesting nonetheless. Here are several titles I could have received as review copies:
- World War I For Kids by R. Kent Rasmussan (Chicago Review Press, 2014). The release notes that this is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of WWI. The book description: With vibrant illustration and original images, hands-on activities, and clear explanations on everything from how the war began to how United States’ entry into the war helped end it, World War I for Kids pinpoints the war’s impact on later historical events and encourages critical thinking. Instead of offering a laundry list of battles, names, and dates, Rasmussen notes that “it is more important to know what events were truly significant, why they happened as they did, and how they were connected with one another.” I love watching stuff about World War I on what used to be the History Channel. I watched one of the Channel’s documentaries on the Battle of Jutland on DVD recently. Great stuff. It’s a pity they don’t do more of it.
- As I write this piece, Oxford University Press sent this to my inbox: Oxford University Press recently published Dealing with Losers: The Political Economy of Policy Transitions, by Michael J. Trebilcock. This book explores the political economy of transition cost mitigation strategies in a wide variety of policy contexts including public pensions, U.S. home mortgage interest deductions, immigration, trade liberalization, agricultural supply management, and climate change, providing tested examples and realistic strategies for genuine policy reform.
- Routledge sends this: There is a threat to preserving the historical record of the Northern Ireland Troubles which may be as hazardous as any fire or flood. In a new article published in the journal Archives and Records James Allison King warns that the fallout from a recent intervention by the British Government risks silencing people’s accounts that would otherwise have been put on record. In his paper, “‘Say nothing’: silenced records and the Boston College subpoenas”, King examines the ‘Belfast Project’ at Boston College, a ground-breaking oral history endeavour in which interviews gave valuable and previously unheard accounts of the Irish conflict. Those contributing were promised that the recordings wouldn’t be released until after their death. However, investigations by the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Historic Enquiries Team into the 1972 murder of Jean McConville intervened. This resulted in the relevant interviews being subpoenaed by the US Federal Government at the request of the UK. An ongoing court battle has succeeded in limiting the number of oral histories to be released for now. Read the article online here. Readers know that I’ve covered the troubles at Boston College’s archive on this issue.
- West Academic Publishing sent this: Graduation time is just around the corner! Coming next month is an indispensable volume of wisdom and advice for law students of all ages written by Paula A. Franzese, a nationally-acclaimed educator and unprecedented ten-time recipient of the Professor of the Year Award. A Short & Happy Guide to Being a Law Student (West Academic Publishing March 2014) is a daily companion for school, work and life, Franzese shares essential wisdom on how to be one’s best and features five guideposts for success as well as priceless advice on how to succeed in class, on exams, on job interviews, at work and in relationships. March 3, 2014 | West Academic Publishing | ISBN-978-0-314-29107-3 | Paperback | 293 pages | $17.00.
There is a press release that announces that George Washington University created a highly informative infographic detailing a paralegal career titled, “Changing the Legal Landscape: The Evolution of the Paralegal” The over-saturation of the legal landscape is leaving eager law school graduates struggling to find suitable positions. With the decreasing employment rate for lawyers, one facet of this field is on the rise—paralegals. Due to their flexibility in working in a variety of areas of law and affordable starting salary compared to lawyers, paralegal careers are rising exponentially. Many attorneys thrive in the roles of managers, planners, and strategists, while paralegals tend to be very detail oriented and succeed as technicians and fact experts.
Readers may not know that I have lectured in commercial CLE programs aimed at paralegals. The ABA and others have discussed the idea that law schools should consider creating programs that educate students in aspects of the law without leading to a J.D. I believe law schools should be naturals at educating paralegals rather than leaving it to a separate program.
Finally, our friends at the American Library Association make this announcement:
On Friday, March 14, 2014, the American Library Association (ALA) will award President Barack Obama’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies the 2014 James Madison Award during the 16th Annual Freedom of Information Day at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The Presidential Review Group will receive the award for calling for dozens of urgent and practical reforms to the National Security Agency’s unlawful surveillance programs.
“The Review Group’s recommendations are aligned with the American Library Association’s commitment to maintaining public access to government information,” said Barbara Stripling, president of the American Library Association. “Thanks to the steadfast commitment of this group, impractical reforms to the government’s unconstitutional surveillance practices may soon be on the horizon.”
The full press release is here.
Thanks for reading. And to all the press officers out there, keep sending the stuff. I may do more of these posts every now and then. – Mark
Browsing On A Saturday: Print Isn’t Going Away, Surveillance, Academic Publishing, and Education Debt
If anyone thinks that the paper industry is dying a slow death because of electronic information replacing printed information, well, this article in the Los Angeles Times should dispel that notion. One statistic cited is the $27.8 billion in 2012 sales by International Paper. That was an increase of $1.8 billion over the previous 12 months. Paper is still essential for everyday conveniences.
I suppose that we get horrified when the NSA tracks us, but it’s cool when Apple does it, right? See this story in ABC News.
Old school publishing and open access tussle in this story of the conflict between Elsevier and Academia.edu over posting academic papers. Thanks to DMCA takedown notices, guess who is winning for now? The story is in CNET.
The Chronicle of Higher Education is telling us that the average debt at graduation for undergrads is $29,400. If that’s the average, then Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be law students. That’s where tens of thousands of more get piled on. Someone should sell bumper stickers that read “law school is for trust funders.” Some 18.5% of Ph.D graduates have $30,001 or more of debt according to another story in the Chronicle. It was 16% in 2002.
One law school is actually responding to the debt crisis by (gasp!) lowering its tuition. The University of Iowa is lowering its tuition by 16.4% for both in- and out-of-state students. That’s a drop of $4,300 and nearly $8,000 less per year respectively for these students. The drop kicks in starting with the fall 2004 semester. How can they do it? Volume, volume, volume. The school can make up the financial difference with just about 20 or so additional students. Read about it in the Huffington Post.
Joe wrote about the Arizona State University announcement for its new law school home in downtown Phoenix. There is a picture of the planned Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at the KTAR web site. It looks pretty impressive. I wonder how it’s going to be financed.
Making the Discovery Decision: Today’s American Libraries Live video broadcast on web-scale discovery services
It’s free and it will be streamed live today starting at 2:00 pm Eastern. Panel members include Gwen Evans, Executive Director of OhioLINK, Courtney Greene, Head, Discovery & Research Services, Indiana University and Edward Smith, Executive Director, Abilene Library Consortium. Pre-registration for this 60-minute discussion is not required. Details here. — Joe
At Noon, Central Time, today, Rich Leiter and the gang will be hosting the PLL-SIS Executive Board at Law Librarian Conversations to discuss the new normal in law firm libraries. Topics include a proposed name change for PLL-SIS. Jean O’Grady, chair of the PLL Board, provides more information about the topics to be discussed including for example the success of the annual PLL Summit, on Dewey B Strategic. Sounds like a very interesting program. — Joe
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.
- 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.
During this year’s Open Access Week, Oct. 21-27, CALI is hosting a free 30 minute webinar about open access. The webinar will take place on Tuesday, October 22 at 12 Noon Eastern with an encore performance on Friday, October 25 at 3 pm Eastern. Registration details at this CALI Spotlight Blog post. — Joe
Connie Crosby asks an interesting question on the SLAW blog: Where Are the MOOCs for Law Librarians? She’s really channeling Katie Thomas in posing the question. Thomas identifies programs for librarians, though these are aimed broadly at information science. There really aren’t any that mix law and librarianship as related concepts. I can think of a couple of reasons why there aren’t any specific MOOC offerings for law librarians.
One is that there is a lot of background technical work that goes into making a MOOC work successfully. Universities that offer MOOC’s will partner with entities such as Coursera rather than building the necessary infrastructure from scratch. Another is that LIS programs tend not to offer more than one or two courses that focus directly on law librarianship. I would think that any MOOCs they present would reflect that limited specialization within their courses.
That leaves the professional organizations as a possible sponsor of MOOCs aimed at law librarians. There is certainly no lack of educational opportunities at the AALL annual meeting. The regional chapters put on educational programs at least once per year. Could they possibly present these as a MOOC? I don’t know. I think the professional organizations are the most likely organizers of content aimed at law librarians.
AALL offers webinars from time to time. The next one is The Law of E-books scheduled for October 24th. The description notes “This program is sponsored by AALL/Bloomberg Continuing Education Grants Program.” Maybe it’s time to explore partnerships with vendors to underwrite a law librarian MOOC. I’ll say from the outset that I’m not addressing the politics of vendor partnerships. There is a model and a precedent, however, for the idea that a vendor can help underwrite a CLE program. Why not in the form of a MOOC? I would hope that AALL and the regional chapters consider the idea. Maybe then we’ll see an answer to Connie and Katie’s question. Hat tip to Judy Gaskell for the link to SLAW.