If 2017 was a good year for law firms, 2018 was better. On the heels of a year considered to be the strongest for the Am Law 100 since the Great Recession, the nation’s top law firms took their performance a step further. On aggregate, revenue grew at a muscular 8 percent clip over the last year, hitting a record $98.7 billion. That’s well past the 5.5 percent growth rate from 2017, the previous high-water mark in the post-recession new normal. See this review article and here’s the link to the 2019 Am Law 100 (Available exclusively through Legal Compass).
From the introduction to the 2019 World Press Index:
The RSF Index, which evaluates the state of journalism in 180 countries and territories every year shows that an intense climate of fear has been triggered — one that is prejudicial to a safe reporting environment. The hostility towards journalists expressed by political leaders in many countries has incited increasingly serious and frequent acts of violence that have fuelled an unprecedented level of fear and danger for journalists.
Norway is ranked first in the 2019 Index for the third year running while Finland (up two places) has taken second place from the Netherlands (down one at 4th), where two reporters who cover organized crime have had to live under permanent police protection. An increase in cyber-harassment caused Sweden (third) to lose one place. In Africa, the rankings of Ethiopia (up 40 at 110th) and Gambia (up 30 at 92nd) have significantly improved from last year’s Index.
From the introduction:
Two years ago, Republicans and Democrats had similar views of the fairness of the tax system. Today, 64% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say the present tax system is very or moderately fair; just half as many Democrats and Democratic leaners (32%) view the tax system as fair. The share of Republicans who say the tax system is fair has increased 21 percentage points since 2017. Over this period, the share of Democrats viewing the tax system as fair has declined nine points.
Overall views of tax law little changed; fewer Republicans ‘strongly approve’ The survey by Pew Research Center, conducted March 20-25 among 1,503 adults, finds that more than a year after the new tax law was enacted, public approval remains relatively unchanged (36% approve of the tax law, while 49% disapprove). However, fewer Republicans strongly approve of the law than did so in January 2018.
A new 25-nation Pew Research Center survey finds that Trump’s international image remains poor, while ratings for the United States are much lower than during Barack Obama’s presidency. You can use this tool to explore how individual countries view the U.S. and its president, and how these views have changed over time.
US News & World Report has announced that it is creating a new ranking, separate from the overall Best Law Schools, that measures faculty productivity and impact. The intent is to analyze each law school’s scholarly impact based on a number of accepted indicators that measure its faculty’s productivity and impact using citations, publications and other bibliometric measures. U.S. News is collaborating with William S. Hein & Co. Inc. to complete this analysis.
For reactions to this change by law professors, see the links in this post.
In its sixth presidential ranking since 1982, 157 scholars surveyed by the Siena College Research Institute ranked Trump the third worst president of all time after Andrew Johnson (who was impeached) and James Buchanan (whose presidency was followed by the Civil War).
Respondents ranked each of 44 presidents on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent) on each of twenty presidential attributes, abilities and accomplishments. Overall rankings were computed by assigning equal weight to each of those twenty categories. Trump ranked last for integrity, intelligence and overall ability. Details here.
Excerpted from the press release:
The Association of Research Libraries has published the ARL Annual Salary Survey 2017–2018 (paywalled), which analyzes salary data for professional staff working in the 123 ARL member libraries during FY 2017–2018. The 2017–2018 data show that Canadian ARL librarians’ salaries kept pace with inflation, but US ARL librarians’ salaries did not. The median salary for professionals in US ARL university libraries in 2017–2018 was $73,357, an increase of 1.1% over the 2016–2017 median salary of $72,560. The US CPI rose 1.7% during the same period. The Canadian CPI rose 1.2%, and median salaries in Canadian university libraries increased from $97,380 (Canadian dollars) to $99,912 (Canadian dollars), a rise of 2.6%.
In the history of law library-vendor relations, Thomson Reuters traditionally has been viewed as “the evil vendor” for its long history of nasty B2B relations with law libraries due to the company’s past aggressive duopolistic business practices. No longer in my opinion. One clear impression I got from reading Feit Consulting’s 2019 Legal Information Vendor Market Survey Summary for Survey Respondents is that LexisNexis is the new evil vendor.
It takes a lot to replace Thomson Reuters for this “honor.” Despite TR trying to gouge law libraries by attempting to charge as much as a 20% premium for Westlaw Edge and pricing Practical Law too high according to survey respondents, dissatisfaction with the functionality of LexisNexis’ search platform, pricing trends, and new tying tactics is so widespread and passionate among survey respondents that LexisNexis is clearly entrenched as our new evil vendor.
I’m not sure how LexisNexis ended up here. Perhaps because of –
- the decline in cost recovery practices for search services along with the reduction in the number of firms that provide both Westlaw and Lexis since 2008;
- the 2011 not ready for prime time release of Lexis Advance;
- the nearly annual corporate-wide reorganizations, and executive, managerial and account rep staff replacements (voluntary or not);
- the perception that the company is now offering a search product inferior to Westlaw Edge (While most Feit survey respondents do not license Westlaw Edge yet a majority of Westlaw respondents say they will within the next 3 years.); and
- the company’s new tying tactic leverages the popularity of its legal news products in an attempt to prop up Lexis Advance’s install base and revenue stream (And which appears to be backfiring according to the verbatim comments found in the Feit survey.).
My bottom line: LexisNexis needs a turnaround specialist in its C suite.
States are addressing cybersecurity through various initiatives, such as providing more funding for improved security measures, requiring government agencies or businesses to implement specific types of security practices, increasing penalties for computer crimes, addressing threats to critical infrastructure and more. NCSL compiles a 50-state survey of legislation each year. Here is the 2018 survey.
According to the 2018 survey’s introduction at least 35 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico introduced/considered more than 265 bills or resolutions related to cybersecurity. Some of the key areas of legislative activity include:
- Improving government security practices.
- Providing funding for cybersecurity programs and initiatives.
- Restricting public disclosure of sensitive government cybersecurity information.
- Promoting workforce, training, economic development.
At least 22 states have enacted 52 bills so far in 2018
On Dewey B Strategic, Jean O’Grady wants to know what you thought about 2018 legal publishing and tech trends for her new “Hits and Misses” survey. It only takes about 5 minutes to complete and it closes on Jan. 31st. Recommended.
Michael Feit offers some tantalizing preliminary results from Feit Consulting’s 2019 Legal Information Vendor Market Survey. The survey found that 54% of Am Law 200 firms use either Lexis or Westlaw but not both. Firms that have gone sole search provider are more satisfied with the remaining vendor.
In another post, Feit reveals how satisfied firms are with their vendors generally. 70% of firms are moderately/extremely satisfied with Westlaw. Wolters Kluwer scores a 55% moderately/extremely satisfied response, Lexis 32% and Bloomberg 20%. In view of the satisfaction ratings, the preliminary results for firms considering cancellation at the next contract renewal is not surprising. 46% of firms are considering canceling Bloomberg, 33% of firms with Lexis, 14% of firms with Westlaw and 13% of firms with Wolters Kluwer are considering cancellation of those vendor contracts.
As 2019 commences, it looks like Westlaw and Wolters Kluwer are market leaders in their respective search markets — general for Westlaw, and specialist market for Wolters Kluwer. I wonder how much Lexis and Bloomberg’s recent product tying changes have contributed to their dismal performance in Feit Consulting’s 2019 Legal Information Vendor Market Survey.
From Public Attitudes Toward Computer Algorithms (Nov. 16, 2018): “Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults finds that the public is frequently skeptical of these tools when used in various real-life situations. … This skepticism spans several dimensions. At a broad level, 58% of Americans feel that computer programs will always reflect some level of human bias – although 40% think these programs can be designed in a way that is bias-free. And in various contexts, the public worries that these tools might violate privacy, fail to capture the nuance of complex situations, or simply put the people they are evaluating in an unfair situation. Public perceptions of algorithmic decision-making are also often highly contextual. The survey shows that otherwise similar technologies can be viewed with support or suspicion depending on the circumstances or on the tasks they are assigned to do.”
A Tulane University study that found Republicans and Democrats weren’t persuaded to abandon false beliefs about election fraud after reading correct information from fact-checking organizations. What did work? Surprisingly, both sides were most persuaded when the factual information was believed to be from conservative news source Breitbart.
H/T Gary Price’s InfoDocket post.
ATL’s SCOTUS Power Index 2018 rates Supreme Court justices based on the career success of their former clerks with extra weight given for leadership positions in private practice, government and academia. Interesting take on employment outcomes based on SCOTUS training.
According to a Knight Foundation-Gallup survey, Americans believe that 62% of the news they consume on TV, in newspapers, and on the radio is biased. Bias and inaccuracy differed based on the respondents’ political persuasions, particularly with regard to Fox News, Breitbart News, CNN, and MSNBC. For complete survey results, see this Business Insider article. — Joe
According to this Above the Law post, attorneys searching Casetext’s CARA completed their research 24.5 times faster compared to Lexis Advance. Annualized time savings using CARA adds up to between 132 and 210 hours a year. The survey also found that attorneys rated CARA’s results 20.8 percent more relevant than Lexis Advance. Interesting but I would prefer to see a similar study comparing Casetext’s CLARA and Westlaw Edge. — Joe
A new Pew Research Center survey examines whether members of the public can recognize news as factual – something that’s capable of being proved or disproved by objective evidence – or as an opinion that reflects the beliefs and values of whoever expressed it. Survey results include the politically aware, digitally savvy and those more trusting of the news media fare better; Republicans and Democrats both influenced by political appeal of statements.
H/T Gary Price’s InfoDocket post. — Joe
On Above the Law, Casetext CEO Jake Heller reports on research conducted by the company which uncovered that judges have a surprisingly consistent opinion of the work they see from litigators: they believe attorneys miss important cases often, and when they do, it has real consequences in the course of a litigation. Details here. — Joe
According to a recent Pew survey on American democratic values, 55% of Americans now say the Supreme Court should base its rulings on what the Constitution “means in current times,” while 41% say rulings should be based on what it “meant as originally written.” In her FactTank post, Kristen Bialik reports
Nearly eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (78%) now say rulings should be based on the Constitution’s meaning in current times, higher than at any previous point on record and up 9 percentage points from 2016 (69%). Just three-in-ten Republicans and Republican leaners now say the same, an 11-point increase from 2016 but little changed from GOP views in the years prior.
About three-quarters of conservative Republicans (77%) continue to say the Supreme Court should base its rulings on the Constitution’s original meaning rather than its meaning in current times (21%). But moderate and liberal Republicans are more divided: 50% favor an interpretation based on the Constitution’s original meaning, compared with 46% who say the court should base its rulings on a current interpretation.
Ideological differences are less pronounced among Democrats. Liberal Democrats (88%) overwhelmingly say the Supreme Court should base its rulings on the Constitution’s meaning in current times, as do a majority (70%) of conservative and moderate Democrats.
For more, go here. — Joe