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.
Since DLA Piper and Jones Day, we haven’t seen any announcements about BLaw signing up entire BigLaw firm staffs in the news. Perhaps I missed them. However, I’m sure there are plenty of BigLaw firms licensing BLaw under limited seat agreements. No doubt BLaw is putting the squeeze on WEXIS. So is Fastcase.
The New York State Bar Association, the largest voluntary state bar association in the country, is now offering Fastcase to its 76,000 members. Quoting from the Sept. 25, 2013 press release:
This is the new normal, when New York firms are absorbing their legal research costs as overhead, and firms of all sizes are looking to add a nonbillable ‘house account’ for legal research,” said Fastcase President Phil Rosenthal. “This partnership makes the NYSBA and Fastcase a better value than ever for New York firms, because they can reduce the costs of legal research and they can do so with the world’s smartest legal research tools.”
The Fastcase-NYSBA agreement pushes Fastcase’s user population over the 600,000 mark. Unlike Casemaker, Fastcase’s adoption rate extends well beyond the state bar association market.
A seven-month investigation by KrebsOnSecurity revealed that more than 1,300 customers of SSNDOB, an ID theft service, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars looking up SSNs, birthdates, and driver license records and unauthorized credit and background reports obtained by hacking into LexisNexis, D&B and other major data brokers. The finding is based on a copy of the SSNDOB database that became available after the ID theft service was itself hacked.
According to the SSNDOB’s online dashboard, the hackers had access to LN’s internal networks as far back as April 10, 2013 and D&B’s at least as far back as March 27, 2013. For details, see KrebsOnSecurity’s Data Broker Giants Hacked by ID Theft Service. See also Dan Goodin’s How LexisNexis and others may have unwittingly aided identity thieves (Ars Technica).
It’s nice to be back after what I will call a “vacation” from the blog. As a way of getting back in the swing of things, let’s see what developments have taken place in the down time. These are the kinds of things I covered at our former blog.
The Apple e-book trial ended in early summer with a finding of liability for attempting to fix e-book prices. Apple continues to deny the finding by Judge Denise Cote and plans to appeal. The Court issued an injunction specifying remedies on September 6th. These include forbidding Apple from entering into publisher contracts containing MFN clauses for five years; retailers having the right to discount e-books for two years; staggered windows for negotiations with the settling publishers, in settlement order; and requiring an external compliance monitor who would make sure Apple complies with the terms of the Court’s order. The one remedy denied to the Justice Department was its request to allow in-app purchases on iDevices without having vendors pay the standard 30% commission to Apple. The Justice Department would further expand that requirement to other media besides books. The Judge declined the request stating essentially that she did not want to regulate Apple’s overall business model. More details, including a copy of the Court’s order, are at paidContent.
The ABA Taskforce on the Future of Legal Education issued its latest draft report on September 20th. The key conclusions include the fact that a student with lower LSAT scores and GPA will not get a greater return on investment as they are less likely eligible for student aid. The better students will get aid regardless of need. “These practices are in need of serious re-engineering.” I can hear a dean somewhere asking “but what about the rankings?”
The twin components of accreditation and innovation are addressed by noting how current accreditation standards are worthy of the profession up to now. The problem is that they standardize much of legal education in a way that stifles innovation. Regulation should allow for flexibility and experimentation in constructing a law program that prepares a student to deliver legal services. “The Task Force thus recommends that a number of the Standards be repealed or dramatically liberalized.” Here’s another conclusion that will not be popular with the faculty: “The balance between doctrinal instruction and focused preparation for the delivery of legal services needs to shift still further toward developing the competencies required by people who will deliver services to clients.” Legal Writing programs just became a little more important.
The Report additionally calls for expanding the number of people who can deliver common legal services through training and certification that is short of the full J.D. program. The cost of legal services to the general public is skyrocketing because of the cost of training lawyers. Something along these lines would make legal services more affordable. The ABA Journal has additional details.
Regular readers of our old site know that I covered Supreme Court cases for the last several years. I intend to continue that practice as the new term begins next Monday. I’ll continue to add significant cases from the lower courts. You may remember a case out of Virginia last year where a federal judge found that a Facebook “like” was not protected speech. The Fourth Circuit recently decided otherwise. I’ll also be covering significant technology developments. The public update to Windows 8/8.1 is just a few short weeks away, and there’s the Surface 2 as well. Yahoo has a new logo, and Google is still in trouble with the European Union and member states. There will be commentary on educational technology as always. There will also be book reviews of new Oxford University Press items and other publishers. Everyone take note that I am a slow reader when it comes to long form. Law school (reading too many doctrinal cases lo those many years ago) lowered my desire to pick up a book, and if that desire ever re-awakened, well the pace of the Internet turned it into consumption of zombie short form. Lots of it.
And I just may review the occasional media item. I just picked up Simon Schama’s History of Britain (BBC Special Edition DVD set). I highly recommend it. If you’re interested in Scooby-Doo, well I’ve got something to say. Beyond that, welcome to the new Law Librarian blog. Thank you for reading.
OASIS members are discussing the feasibility of designing an open standard data model and markup model for legal citations that can be used in electronic texts.The importance of addressing this issue should be obvious to legal information professionals. See Draft Proposal for a New OASIS Technical Committee (Legalcite) which is accompanied by a backgrounder.
Quoting from an email by Chet Ensign, Director of Standards Development and TC Administration, OASIS Open:
A standard model for tagging citations could simplify software development and become the foundation for new innovations in legal authoring, linking, annotating, searching, and citation analysis, all without requiring that the display text on the page be changed in any way.
If this is of interest to you, your organization, or any of your colleagues, we would be pleased to hear from you. Feedback — supportive, skeptical or critical — is key to launching an effort with the right scope to deliver an open standard that the legal field can use. If you are interested in learning more about how you can participate in the effort, we would like to hear from you as well.
See Chet’s web profile to contact him directly. Thanks for the heads-up.
In Link Rot within SCOTUS Opinions and Law Reviews [SSRN], Jonathan Zittrain and Kendra Albert found that 49% of URLs in surveyed SCOTUS opinions no long send the reader to the cited web source. Raizel Liebler and June Liebert’s recently published article, Something Rotten in the State of Legal Citation: The Life Span of a United States Supreme Court Citation Containing an Internet Link (1996-2010), 15 YALE J.L. & TECH. 273 (2013), reports a SCOTUS link rot rate of 29%. Obviously there’s a problem. But it is not with the difference in survey findings. Clearly SCOTUS must get its act together by linking to a self-hosted openly accessible archive of the web content that was cited and currently only stored in the Court’s files. How about naming the archive “Last Visited On”?
Zittrain and Albert’s article is recommended but I found Liebler and Lieber’s much more informative. Here’s the abstract for Something Rotten in the State of Legal Citation: The Life Span of a United States Supreme Court Citation Containing an Internet Link (1996-2010):
Citations are the cornerstone upon which judicial opinions and law review articles stand. Within this context, citations provide for both authorial verification of the original source material at the moment they are used and the needed information for later readers to find the cited source. The ability to check citations and verify that citations to the original sources are accurate is integral to ensuring accurate characterizations of sources and determining where a researcher received information. However, accurate citations do not always mean that a future researcher will be able to find the exact same information as the original researcher. Citations to disappearing websites cause serious problems for future legal researchers. Our present mode of citing websites in judicial cases, including within U.S. Supreme Court cases, allows such citations to disappear, becoming inaccessible to future scholars. Without significant change, the information in citations within judicial opinions will be known solely from those citations. Citations to the U.S. Supreme Court are especially important of the Court’s position at the top of federal court hierarchy, determining the law of the land, and even influencing the law in international jurisdictions. Unfortunately and disturbingly, the Supreme Court appears to have a vast problem with link rot, the condition of internet links no longer working. We found that number of websites that are no longer working cited to by Supreme Court opinions is alarmingly high, almost one-third (29%). Our research in Supreme Court cases also found that the rate of disappearance is not affected by the type of online document (pdf, html, etc) or the sources of links (government or non-government) in terms of what links are now dead. We cannot predict what links will rot, even within Supreme Court cases.
Hat tip to Adam Liptak’s In Supreme Court Opinions, Web Links to Nowhere (NYT, Sept. 23, 2013).
Welcome to Law Librarians (thinking out loud in the Blogosphere) or LLB for short. If that sounds familiar it’s because Mark Giangrande and I have moved our blogging activities from old LLB to here. We will be writing on the same topics we did since old LLB was launched in 2005. Nothing has changed except the URL.
To all our friends who emailed us after noticing that we hadn’t been publishing, the answer to your question — “is everything OK?” — is yes. Thanks for your concern. We’re alive and kicking. Hope you stop by to read our posts here. LLB’s syndication widgets are located in the right sidebar.