Category Archives: New Publications

Critical thinking in the fake news era: Levitin’s Weaponized Lies

Except from the blurb for Daniel Levitin’s Weaponized Lies: How to Think Critically in the Post-Truth Era (Dutton, 2017):

Investigating numerical misinformation, Daniel Levitin shows how mishandled statistics and graphs can give a grossly distorted perspective and lead us to terrible decisions. Wordy arguments on the other hand can easily be persuasive as they drift away from the facts in an appealing yet misguided way. The steps we can take to better evaluate news, advertisements, and reports are clearly detailed. Ultimately, Levitin turns to what underlies our ability to determine if something is true or false: the scientific method. He grapples with the limits of what we can and cannot know. Case studies are offered to demonstrate the applications of logical thinking to quite varied settings, spanning courtroom testimony, medical decision making, magic, modern physics, and conspiracy theories.

This urgently needed book enables us to avoid the extremes of passive gullibility and cynical rejection. As Levitin attests: Truth matters. A post-truth era is an era of willful irrationality, reversing all the great advances humankind has made. Euphemisms like “fringe theories,” “extreme views,” “alt truth,” and even “fake news” can literally be dangerous. Let’s call lies what they are and catch those making them in the act.

— Joe

Are corporate legal departments ready for AI technology?

According to Thomson Reuters’ new report, Ready or Not: Artificial Intelligence and Corporate Legal Departments, “corporate counsel believe they are tech savvy but acknowledge that their comfort level and confidence with technology have limitations, specifically around artificial intelligence (AI).” From the press release:

The report notes that more than half (56%) of in-house attorneys either perceive that AI technology is not used or are not yet familiar with the use of AI technology in their legal department. And for others, there is skepticism about its reliability and cost-effectiveness. Despite the unknown, some in-house attorneys surveyed envision AI as being beneficial in increasing efficiency (17%), reducing costs (13%), minimizing risk (7%) and supporting document review (6%).

The top concern among respondents in using AI was cost (19%), as the mantra of doing more with less and budget constraints were key factors to adoption. Reliability (15%) was another concern, especially in areas of ethical considerations and confidentiality. A third concern is a constant with any new technology or process: change management (9%).

H/T to Bob Ambrogi’s LawSites post. — Joe

Two HLS profs writing books on impeachment

The Boston Globe is reporting HLS professor Laurence Tribe and his former student Joshua Matz have signed a deal to write a how-to book for impeaching the president. The book, called To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment, (Basic Books, May 22, 2018), will focus on the history of democracy’s ultimate sanction and a guide to using it right now. Here’s the blurb:

To End a Presidency addresses one of today’s most urgent questions: when and whether to impeach a president. Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz provide an authoritative guide to impeachment’s past and a bold argument about its proper role today. In an era of expansive presidential power and intense partisanship, we must rethink impeachment for the twenty-first century.

Beating Tribe to the punch, HLS professor Cass Sunstein’s Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide (Harvard UP, 2017) is scheduled to be published on October 7, 2017. Here’s the blurb:

Cass R. Sunstein provides a succinct citizens’ guide to an essential tool of self-government. He illuminates the constitutional design behind impeachment and emphasizes the people’s role in holding presidents accountable. Despite intense interest in the subject, impeachment is widely misunderstood. Sunstein identifies and corrects a number of misconceptions. For example, he shows that the Constitution, not the House of Representatives, establishes grounds for impeachment, and that the president can be impeached for abuses of power that do not violate the law. Even neglect of duty counts among the “high crimes and misdemeanors” delineated in the republic’s foundational document. Sunstein describes how impeachment helps make sense of our constitutional order, particularly the framers’ controversial decision to install an empowered executive in a nation deeply fearful of kings.

With an eye toward the past and the future, Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide considers a host of actual and imaginable arguments for a president’s removal, explaining why some cases are easy and others hard, why some arguments for impeachment have been judicious and others not. In direct and approachable terms, it dispels the fog surrounding impeachment so that Americans of all political convictions may use their ultimate civic authority wisely.

— Joe

New edition of Zotero: A Guide for Librarians, Researchers and Educators published by ACRL

Serving as a thorough introduction to Zotero — from setting up to saving, organizing, and citing items, and ending with more advanced topics — as well as a guide to teaching Zotero,  Zotero: A Guide for Librarians, Researchers and Educators, Second Edition by Jason Pucket is both a user’s guide to the tool and a handbook for understanding how different groups use it.

From the blurb:

This second edition, in full color, includes many more figures, screenshots, and illustrations, revised bibliographies, substantial changes to the chapter on online tools, and the addition of a completely new chapter on add-ons and mobile applications. “Zotero” is a comprehensive guide for researchers who just need a how-to to help them make bibliographies; instruction librarians and teachers using Zotero in conjunction with classes doing research assignments; and reference librarians and tech support staff who are helping users with Zotero questions and problems.

— Joe

Data visualization for law firm management decisions

From the blurb for Rees Morrison’s Data Graphs for Legal Management: A Competitive Advantage for Decisions: “This book will benefit managing partners of law firms, practice group heads, and heads of functions such as marketing, finance, and technology. It covers more than 65 kinds of data that law firms could collect and shows how that data might be plotted, presenting more than 75 graphs. It explores effective plotting techniques, introduces open source R, and delves into related topics on data management, programming, and strategic choices.”

H/T to Pinhawk’s Legal Administrator Daily post. — Joe

Kyle Cassidy’s ‘This Is What a Librarian Looks Like’

From the blurb for This Is What a Librarian Looks Like (Black Dog & Leventhal, 2017):

In 2014, author and photographer Kyle Cassidy published a photo essay on Slate.com called “This is What A Librarian Looks Like,” a montage of portraits and a tribute to librarians. Since then, Cassidy has made it his mission to remind us of how essential librarians and libraries are to our communities. His subjects are men and women of all ages, backgrounds, and personal style-from pink hair and leather jackets to button-downs and blazers. In short, not necessarily what one thinks a librarian looks like. The nearly 220 librarians photographed also share their personal thoughts on what it means to be a librarian. This is What A Librarian Looks Like also includes original essay by some of our most beloved writers, journalists, and commentators including Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, Nancy Pearl, Cory Doctorow, Paula Poundstone, Amanda Palmer, Peter Sagal, Jeff VanderMeer, John Scalzi, Sara Farizan, Amy Dickinson, and others. Cassidy also profiles a handful of especially influential librarians and libraries.

See also the Huffington Post story, Portraits of Librarians Celebrate America’s Bookish Unsung Heroes. — Joe

It’s about time: LexisNexis publishes first multimedia secondary work

Since the foreshadowed demise of Lexis and Westlaw classic versions back in 2010 and 2011, I’ve been expecting to see the use of multimedia by our very expensive digital legal publishers in their newer search service platforms because it could be a transformative value-add-on for the traditional text-only electronic delivery of legal information. LexisNexis’ The Wagstaffe Group Practice Guide: Federal Civil Procedure Before Trial embeds 150+ short videos within the content of the work when you subscribe to the publication on Lexis Advance. LexisNexis press release. It appears, however, that the videos may not be embedded in a standalone eBook edition of this work. The work’s blurb notes “The eBook versions of this title feature links to Lexis Advance for further legal research options. Video content and links are exclusively available with a subscription to this title on Lexis Advance.” That’s disappointing but not unexpected; both Thomson Reuters and LexisNexis require a subscription to their search service to access resources linked to in their eBooks.

H/T to Bob Ambrogi’s LawSite post. See also Jean O’Grady’s Treatises are not dead they are just being transformed. Lexis Launches First Video Treatise. Can the Gamified Treatise Be Far Behind? — Joe

New edition of law librarian’s bible now available


The 2017 edition of Legal Information Buyer’s Guide & Reference Manual is now available. Enhancements include:

  • More than 80 new treatises, reference titles, and other product reviews (Chapter 27)
  • Enhanced bibliographies of legal treatises in 66 subject areas, including 77 titles on Legal Research and Writing, with new, used, electronic, and West Monthly Assured Print Pricing on more than 2,600 titles in all (Chapter 27)
  • Enhanced bibliography of legal reference titles (Chapter 22)
  • Updated bibliographies of state legal resources and research guides (Chapter 28)
  • Completely updated bibliographic data for all covered titles
  • Completely updated cost and supplementation figures through 2017, with supplementation figures through 2016 (and 2017 for Matthew Bender).
  • Completely updated cost spreadsheet for supplemented titles (Appendix H)
  • Completely updated charts and tables reflecting 2016 annual reports and pricing data
  • Completely updated sample Westlaw and Lexis costs (Chapter 25)
  • Completely updated sample CALR costs for all vendors (Chapter 25)
  • Completely updated spreadsheet of caselaw coverage for all CALR vendors
  • Completely updated spreadsheet of published state statutory codes
  • Recent industry developments and acquisitions, including profit margins (Chapter 2)
  • Updated information on Fastcase and Law360
  • Cumulative supplementation cost data going back 24 years — all at your fingertips — to guide your acquisitions and de-acquisitions decisions
  • Special alerts of egregious price and supplementation cost increases in recent years

Highly recommended. — Joe

Glass half full: An optimistic perspective on the future of the legal profession

“The laws of supply and demand have finally caught up with the modern U.S. legal profession, yet the lawyers that preside over the decaying hierarchy – law professors, BigLaw partners, bar associations, and state and federal judges – are substantially in denial. Why? Because the old order has been too good for too long, blinding its beneficiaries to the core ideals that make a life in the law worth living. But there is good news—those now entering the legal industry will have an opportunity to return to those ideals, albeit this renaissance is borne more out of necessity rather virtue. … This is the core storyline of Ben Barton’s thoughtful and comprehensive new book, [Glass Half Full: The Decline and Rebirth of the Legal Profession (Oxford UP, 2015)]” writes William Henderson in Law and Politics Book Review.

From the book’s blurb:

It would be easy to look at these enormous challenges and see only a bleak future, but Ben Barton instead sees cause for optimism. Taking the long view, from the legal Wild West of the mid-nineteenth century to the post-lawyer bubble society of the future, he offers a close analysis of the legal market to predict how lawyerly creativity and entrepreneurialism can save the profession. In every seemingly negative development, there is an upside. The trend towards depressed wages and computerized legal work is good for middle class consumers who have not been able to afford a lawyer for years. The surfeit of law school students will correct itself as the law becomes a less attractive and lucrative profession. As Big Law shrinks, so will the pernicious influence of billable hours, which incentivize lawyers to spend as long as possible on every task, rather than seeking efficiency and economy. Lawyers will devote their time to work that is much more challenging and meaningful. None of this will happen without serious upheaval, but all of it will ultimately restore the health of the faltering profession. … A unique contribution to our understanding of the legal crisis, the unconventional wisdom of Glass Half Full gives cause for hope in what appears to be a hopeless situation.

Recommended. — Joe

The Blockchain: A Guide for Legal and Business Professionals

A new book, Jeff Seul, Josias N. Dewey and Shawn Amuial’s The Blockchain: A Guide for Legal and Business Professionals, published by Thomson Reuters last year, promises that “no prior experience with blockchain technology is necessary” to get started. Here’s the blurb from the Thomson Reuters e-commerce site:

The Blockchain: A Guide for Legal and Business Professionals provides professionals such as lawyers, accountants, consultants, and business executives, the information they need to know in order to understand more complex implementations and concepts associated with the technology and, more importantly, how it might be able to help their business. The book also provides knowledge and insight to those with a more in-depth understanding of blockchain technology by developing and emphasizing a legal and business perspective.

Chapters include:
•The Fundamentals of Blockchain Technology
•Smart Contracts
•Blockchain Protocols
•Decentralized Autonomous Organizations
•Key Management for Business and Professional Firms
•Digital Identification on the Blockchain
•Related Technologies that Complement Blockchain Technology
•General Policy Considerations for Future Regulations
•Conclusions and Thoughts about the Future

— Joe

A Lawyer’s guide to activism, resistance, and change under Trump

Stanford Law School’s Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties published a special issue, A Lawyer’s Guide to Activism, Resistance, and Change Under Trump in February. “The focus of this edition is the role that law students and lawyers can play in protecting rights, liberties, and a healthy environment under a new president whose statements as a candidate and early actions indicate a significant retrenchment from gains made in these areas over the last several decades,” writes Diane T. Chin, associate dean for public service and public interest law, in the issue’s foreword. The guide covers immigrant rights, reproductive rights, human rights and national security, and the environment. All of the articles are written by Stanford Law professors.

H/T to Bob Ambrogi’s LawSites post. — Joe

Beyond the traditional view of legal reasoning

Here’s the blurb for Beyond Legal Reasoning: A Critique of Pure Lawyering (Routledge 2017) by Jeffrey Lipshaw (Suffolk University Law School):

The concept of learning to ‘think like a lawyer’ is one of the cornerstones of legal education in the United States and beyond. In this book, Jeffrey Lipshaw provides a critique of the traditional views of ‘thinking like a lawyer’ or ‘pure lawyering’ aimed at lawyers, law professors, and students who want to understand lawyering beyond the traditional warrior metaphor. Drawing on his extensive experience at the intersection of real world law and business issues, Professor Lipshaw presents a sophisticated philosophical argument that the “pure lawyering” of traditional legal education is agnostic to either truth or moral value of outcomes. He demonstrates pure lawyering’s potential both for illusions of certainty and cynical instrumentalism, and the consequences of both when lawyers are called on as dealmakers, policymakers, and counsellors.

This book offers an avenue for getting beyond (or unlearning) merely how to think like a lawyer. It combines legal theory, philosophy of knowledge, and doctrine with an appreciation of real-life judgment calls that multi-disciplinary lawyers are called upon to make. The book will be of great interest to scholars of legal education, legal language and reasoning as well as professors who teach both doctrine and thinking and writing skills in the first year law school curriculum; and for anyone who is interested in seeking a perspective on ‘thinking like a lawyer’ beyond the litigation arena.

Recommended. — Joe

Opening the eBook for the print-disabled

Paul Harpur’s new book, Discrimination, Copyright and Equality: Opening the e-Book for the Print-Disabled (Cambridge UP, March 31, 2017) explores how restrictive copyright laws deny access to information for the print disabled, despite equality laws protecting access. From the book’s blurb:

While equality laws operate to enable access to information, these laws have limited power over the overriding impact of market forces and copyright laws that focus on restricting access to information. Technology now creates opportunities for everyone in the world, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, to be able to access the written word – yet the print disabled are denied reading equality, and have their access to information limited by laws protecting the mainstream use and consumption of information. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Marrakesh Treaty have swept in a new legal paradigm. This book contributes to disability rights scholarship, and builds on ideas of digital equality and rights to access in its analysis of domestic disability anti-discrimination, civil rights, human rights, constitutional rights, copyright and other equality measures that promote and hinder reading equality.

Recommended. — Joe

What have we learned from the Web so far?

“For a researcher in the twenty-second century, it will seem unimaginable that someone studying the twenty-first century would do anything but draw heavily on the online world to tell them about peoples’ changing lives. Currently, however, the web remains an almost untapped source for research. This book aims to make a start in this direction,” write Niels Brugger and Ralph Schroeder in the Introduction to their compilation titled  The Web as History (UCL Press, 2017). Here’s the blurb:

The World Wide Web has now been in use for more than 20 years. From early browsers to today’s principal source of information, entertainment and much else, the Web is an integral part of our daily lives, to the extent that some people believe ‘if it’s not online, it doesn’t exist.’ While this statement is not entirely true, it is becoming increasingly accurate, and reflects the Web’s role as an indispensable treasure trove. It is curious, therefore, that historians and social scientists have thus far made little use of the Web to investigate historical patterns of culture and society, despite making good use of letters, novels, newspapers, radio and television programmes, and other pre-digital artefacts.

This volume argues that now is the time to question what we have learnt from the Web so far. The 12 chapters explore this topic from a number of interdisciplinary angles – through histories of national web spaces and case studies of different government and media domains – as well as an introduction that provides an overview of this exciting new area of research.

An open access PDF version of the book is available here. Recommended. — Joe

Primer on artificial intelligence in legal services

Here’s the blurb for Joanna Goodman’s Robots in Law: How Artificial Intelligence is Transforming Legal Services:

Although 2016 was a breakthrough year for artificial intelligence (AI) in legal services in terms of market awareness and significant take-up, legal AI represents evolution rather than revolution. Since the first ‘robot lawyers’ started receiving mainstream press coverage, many law firms, other legal service providers and law colleges are being asked what they are doing about AI. Robots in Law: How Artificial Intelligence is Transforming Legal Services is designed to provide a starting point in the form of an independent primer for anyone looking to get up to speed on AI in legal services. The book is organized into four distinct sections: Part I: Legal AI – Beyond the hype Part II: Putting AI to work Part III: AI giving back – Return on investment Part IV: Looking ahead The first three present an in-depth overview, and analysis, of the current legal AI landscape; the final section includes contributions from AI experts with connections to the legal space, on the prospects for legal AI in the short-term future. Along with the emergence of New Law and the burgeoning lawtech start-up economy, AI is part of a new dynamic in legal technology and it is here to stay. The question now is whether AI will find its place as a facilitator of legal services delivery, or whether it will initiate a shift in the value chain that will transform the legal business model.

For more, see Bob Ambrogi’s This Week In Legal Tech column (ATL). — Joe

SCOTUS Style Manual available for purchase

In Supreme Court’s Style Manual is Private No More, Tony Mauro reports that the US Supreme Court Style Guide, 2013 ed. can be purchased through Amazon without Court approval because a court aficionado named Jack Metzler is making it available for sale under his own imprint. Metzler reportedly photocopied the 200+ page long manual in the Supreme Court’s law library. The style manual “could be an important resource for brief-writing advocates as well as judges and clerks of other courts seeking to match the sometimes quirky style rules of the nation’s highest court,” writes Mauro. — Joe

The Digital Future of the Oldest Information Profession

Recently, Ray Worthy Campbell (Peking University School of Transnational Law) uploaded to SSRN The Digital Future of the Oldest Information Profession, very interesting. From the essay’s introduction:

This article will look at three ways legal practice is being disrupted by the digital information revolution, and then examine how education for legal service providers might evolve to best serve society in light of those disruptions.

First, from outside legal practice have come and will come changes in how white collar work is performed that affect law practice along with other occupations. For example, the digitization of documents and the development of digitally monitored business process management both arose outside of law practice, but have combined to change how documents get reviewed and processed in major litigation and corporate deals. Digital documents are easy to ship worldwide and susceptible to machine review, and technology enables higher levels of planning and performance tracking than were possible in the era of legal pads. While not limited to law practice, such exogenous business process changes have had and will continue to have a significant impact on how traditional legal businesses operate.

Second, digital products and processes will arise or be modified specifically to solve legal problems without resort to traditional legal practice or analysis. An example of this type of innovation would be LexMachina or IBM’s legal application for its Watson product, ‘Ross’, which apply Big Data techniques to legal issues. Other examples would be rule-based document assembly systems, which assess client needs and deliver appropriate legal documents. Some of these digitized systems will replace lawyers as software-only solutions, while others will assist lawyers. Still others – and perhaps the most economically significant, if regulation allows – will enable non-lawyers to serve as the interface between client needs and digitized expert knowledge, delivering an acceptable level of problem solving without recourse to traditionally trained lawyers.

Third, and not least important, will be changes in the law itself to adapt to a digital environment – that is, the ways in which legal rules and processes will need to evolve to function effectively and justly in a digital world. Many of the new digital technologies rely on massive data sets, and the justice system does not – and perhaps should not – create data in the same way Internet sites or retail supply chains do. Just as businesses and government bureaucracies have had to adjust workflows and information capture to take advantage of digital possibilities, pressure will be brought on legal systems to restructure in order to be digital friendly. As rules become embedded in software code, perhaps even removing the option for choice, legal thinkers will have to address how such embedded directives fit into a system of rules formerly captured only in text.

— Joe

Is a uniform system of citation an open-source feature of our legal system’s infrastructure?

In The new (and much improved) ‘Bluebook’ caught in the copyright cross-hairs (The Volokh Conspiracy), David Post writes that “[w]ar is brewing over the most boring piece of intellectual property imaginable: the ‘Bluebook… .’” At issue is the alpha release of NYU Law professor Christopher Sprigman and Carl Malamud’s open-source Baby Blue’s Manual of Legal Citation (Public.Resource.Org, January 1, 2016). From Baby Blue’s Preface:

It is important to understand, when we are talking about “The Bluebook, A Uniform System of Citation,” that we are talking about two different things. There is a product, a spiral-bound booklet that sells for $38.50, which is accompanied by a rudimentary web site available to purchasers of the product.

Underlying that product, however, is something much more basic and fundamental, a uniform system of citation. Unpaid volunteers from a dozen law schools, under the stewardship of four nonprofit student-run law reviews, have labored mightily to reach a consensus standard for the citation of legal materials. This open consensus standard was developed, with no compensation to the authors, for the greater benefit of the legal system of the United States. By clearly and precisely referring to primary legal materials, we are able to communicate our legal reasoning to others, including pleading a case in the courts, advocating changes in legal policy in our legislatures or law reviews, or simply communicating the law to our fellow citizens so that we may be better informed.

We do not begrudge the Harvard Law Review Association one penny of the revenue from the sale of their spiral-bound book dressed in blue. However, we must not confuse the book with the system. There can be no proprietary claim over knowledge and facts, and there is no intellectual property right in the system and method of our legal machinery. The infrastructure of our legal system is a public utility, and belongs to all of us.

Kathryn Rubino’s Controversy At Harvard Law Over The Bluebook? (ATL) summarizes recent developments. — Joe

End Note: Download Sprigman et anon. al., Baby Blue’s Manual of Legal Citation (Public.Resource.Org, 2016).

How relevant are our current professions in the 21st century?

In The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts (Oxford UP, 2016), Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind predict that our Internet-based society will have little need for teachers, accountants, architects, lawyers, and many other professions (librarians?), who continue to work as they did in the 20th century. The book describes the people and systems that will replace them. From the book’s blurb:

The authors challenge the ‘grand bargain’ — the arrangement that grants various monopolies to today’s professionals. They argue that our current professions are antiquated, opaque and no longer affordable, and that the expertise of their best is enjoyed only by a few. In their place, they propose six new models for producing and distributing expertise in society.

Some food for thought after AALL’s name change debacle. Recommended. — Joe

Posner on the relationship between the academy and the judiciary

Yes, Judge Richard Posner has written another book, Divergent Paths: The Academy and the Judiciary (Harvard UP, Janurary 2016). Here’s the blurb:

Judges and legal scholars talk past one another, if they have any conversation at all. Academics couch their criticisms of judicial decisions in theoretical terms, which leads many judges―at the risk of intellectual stagnation―to dismiss most academic discourse as opaque and divorced from reality. In Divergent Paths, Richard Posner turns his attention to this widening gap within the legal profession, reflecting on its causes and consequences and asking what can be done to close or at least narrow it.

The shortcomings of academic legal analysis are real, but they cannot disguise the fact that the modern judiciary has several serious deficiencies that academic research and teaching could help to solve or alleviate. In U.S. federal courts, which is the focus of Posner’s analysis of the judicial path, judges confront ever more difficult cases, many involving complex and arcane scientific and technological distinctions, yet continue to be wedded to legal traditions sometimes centuries old. Posner asks how legal education can be made less theory-driven and more compatible with the present and future demands of judging and lawyering.

Law schools, he points out, have great potential to promote much-needed improvements in the judiciary, but doing so will require significant changes in curriculum, hiring policy, and methods of educating future judges. If law schools start to focus more on practical problems facing the American legal system rather than on debating its theoretical failures, the gulf separating the academy and the judiciary will narrow.

— Joe