Top ten largest US law firms

According the Law360’s 400, here is the US headcount ranking:

  1. Jones Day
  2. Greenberg Traurig
  3. Morgan Lewis
  4. Sidley Austin
  5. Latham & Watkins
  6. Kirkland & Ellis
  7. Skadden
  8. DLA Piper
  9. Reed Smith
  10. K&L Gates

H/T to Joe Patrice’s ATL post, What’s The Biggest Law Firm In The Country? — Joe

Cognitive computing at ROSS (now) and Thomson Reuters Legal (forthcoming)

“When you pair the computer with the human, you get something way better than either the human or the computer. If you look at it from that formula, humans will always be on the winning side.” — Andrew Arruda, CEO and co-founder of ROSS.

Ed Sohn, Senior Director at Thomson Reuters Legal Managed Services (formerly Pangea3), reviews recent developments in cognitive computing at Thomson Reuters and ROSS in alt.legal: Can Computers Beat Humans At Law? (Above the Law, March 23, 2016). One snip from the very interesting blog post is displayed above. — Joe

Open access law review articles attract more attention earlier and endure longer than their non-OA counterparts

What is the scholarly impact of providing open access to law reviews? In The Open Access Advantage for American Law Reviews, Edison 2015-03A (2015) [SSRN], James Donovan (Kentucky), Carol Watson (Georgia) and Caroline Osborne (Washington & Lee) provide the answer.

In answer to law faculty questions about how participation in an open access repository will affect the works’ impact, the present research offers a definitive reply. When looking at citation by other law reviews to all the author’s work, the averaged increase in citations in flagship journals is 53%. In general, half of these cites will be dispensed in the first six years after the article’s publication. OA articles will attract more attention earlier in the lifecycle of the publication, and endure longer on the intellectual stage.

For authors, the message is clear: The open access advantage is real, sizable, and consistent. The minimal effort to upload an article onto an OA platform such as SSRN or a school’s repository pays rich dividends in the currency of subsequent citations in law reviews and court decisions.

Here’s the abstract to this very informative article:

Open access legal scholarship generates a prolific discussion, but few empirical details have been available to describe the scholarly impact of providing unrestricted access to law review articles. The present project fills this gap with specific findings on what authors and institutions can expect.

Articles available in open access formats enjoy an advantage in citation by subsequent law review works of 53%. For every two citations an article would otherwise receive, it can expect a third when made freely available on the Internet. This benefit is not uniformly spread through the law school tiers. Higher tier journals experience a lower OA advantage (11.4%) due to the attention such prestigious works routinely receive regardless of the format. When focusing on the availability of new scholarship, as compared to creating retrospective collections, the aggregated advantage rises to 60.2%. While the first tier advantage rises to 16.8%, the mid-tiers skyrocket to 89.7%. The fourth tier OA advantage comes in at 81.2%.

Citations of legal articles by courts is similarly impacted by OA availability. While the 15-year aggregate advantage is a mere 9.5%, new scholarship is 41.4% more likely to be cited by a court decision if it is available in open access format.

Recommended. — Joe

Reader analytics firm informs ebook publishers of reading behavior by specific titles

In Moneyball for Book Publishers: A Detailed Look at How We Read, New York Times, March 14, 2016, Alexandra Alter and Karl Russell report that Jellybooks, a reader analytics company, is providing statistical analysis of ebook reading behavior to seven unidentified trade publishers.

Here is how it works: the company gives free e-books to a group of readers, often before publication. Rather than asking readers to write a review, it tells them to click on a link embedded in the e-book that will upload all the information that the device has recorded. The information shows Jellybooks when people read and for how long, how far they get in a book and how quickly they read, among other details. It resembles how Amazon and Apple, by looking at data stored in e-reading devices and apps, can see how often books are opened and how far into a book readers get.

Alter and Russell also report that “[f]or the most part, the publishers who are working with Jellybooks are not using the data to radically reshape books to make them more enticing, though they might do that eventually. But some are using the findings to shape their marketing plans.”

reader analytics graphic

Click to enlarge above image to view an example of Jellybooks’ reader analytics. — Joe

DMCA takedown notices targeting academic online repositories

In Takedown and Today’s Academic Digital Library [SSRN], a report to be presented at The Future of the Library in the Digital Age Conference on March 25, 2016 at Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law, Brianna L. Schofield and Jennifer M. Urban suggest that managers of academic digital repositories will likely see an increase in formal DMCA takedown notices as their digital offerings grow.

The authors found that academic libraries have not yet developed shared norms and best practices for handling DMCA takedown requests. “As libraries continue to digitize collections and grow open access repositories, their long experience with less-formal requests and their relatively well-developed norms for handling those requests can serve as a foundation for handling the potential growth in DMCA notices,” write Schofield and Urban (both UC Berkeley). “In addition, the growth itself might be curtailed if stakeholders take steps to limit the need to use the DMCA notice and takedown process.” Towards that end, the authors make the following recommendations:

  • Academic libraries should continue to educate authors about author-friendly publishing practices, and authors should retain more control of their own works.
  • Publishers, authors, and academic libraries should take steps to make the terms of publication agreements transparent.
  • Academic libraries should continue to support—and authors should embrace—open access policies.
  • Academic libraries should consider developing shared norms and best practices for DMCA notice handling similar to those they have developed for non-DMCA requests.
  • Academic institutions should ensure that librarians receive any DMCA notices targeting library materials that are sent to DMCA agents in other departments, and that library-developed best practices are followed in handling these notices.
  • Publishers should develop and publicly communicate reasonable notice-sending policies.
  • Publishers should ensure that REOs [rights enforcement organizations], if used, comply with publisher notice-sending policies.
  • Academic libraries should consider creating educational materials about the counter notice process and tools that make it easy for authors whose works are challenged to send counter notices if their content is inappropriately targeted for take down.

— Joe

Official 2017 US News law school rankings now available

And the leaked data was correct. Here’s the link to the official digital version of the 2017 rankings. — Joe

Bipartisan support for The Equal Access to Congressional Research Service Reports Act of 2016

New federal legislation, if passed and signed into law, would provide open access to CRS reports. The Equal Access to Congressional Research Service Reports Act of 2016 (S 2639 and HR 4702) directs the GPO to establish and maintain a public website containing CRS Reports, and an index, that are searchable, sortable, and downloadable (including downloadable in bulk), for which no fee may be charged. Coverage includes CRS Authorization of Appropriations Products, Appropriations Products, and any other written CRS product containing CRS research or CRS analysis available for general congressional access on the CRS Congressional Intranet. Coverage excludes any custom product or service prepared in direct response to a request for custom analysis or research and not available for general congressional access on the CRS Congressional Intranet.

H/T Barbie Keiser, A New Focus on Transparency for the Congressional Research Service (Information Today). — Joe

Lexis Advance Show Me How video series

Lexis has 50 short 1-3 minute how-to video tips for key Lexis Advance® features on its Show Me How YouTube channel. The videos cover everything from document and navigation tools to segments to terms and connectors use in Lexis Advance. The YouTube channel page text notes that some of the video demonstrate how-to tips for the latest enhancements to Lexis Advance. Recommended. — Joe

The Top 100 from the leaked 2017 U.S. News law school rankings

See Staci Zaretsky’s post on Above the Law for the leaked Top 100 law schools. — Joe

RELX reports 7% increase in Lexis Legal & Professional’s profits

RELX, parent company of Lexis Legal & Professional, reported its annual earnings yesterday. Lexis L & P’s revenues for 2015 were £1,443m, compared to £1,396m in 2014, yielding a modest 1% increase in revenue. Operating profit for 2015 was £274m up 7% from £260m in 2014 and yielding an operating profit margin of 18.9%, up 40 basis points from 2014.

Using today’s pound sterling to US dollars conversion rate, the combined revenue of TR Legal and Lexis L & P for 2015 was $5.45 billion, with TR Legal capturing 62% of the market, leaving 38% to Lexis. Of course, we do not have Bloomberg Law’s financials because it is a privately held company so market share cannot be more accurately determined. — Joe

US News law school rankings leaked again

ATL’s Staci Zaretsky is reporting that a portion of the 2017 US News law school rankings were released accidentally. From her report:
1. Yale (no change)
2. Harvard (no change)
2. Stanford (no change)
4. Columbia (no change)
4. Chicago (no change)
6. NYU (no change)
7. Penn (no change)
8. Michigan (+3; ranked #11 last year)
8. UC Berkeley (no change)
8. UVA (no change)
11. Duke (-3; tied at #8 last year with UC Berkeley and UVA)
12. Northwestern (no change)
13. Cornell (no change)
14. Georgetown (no change)

— Joe

GPO releases National Plan for Access to US Government Information

Recently the GPO released the National Plan for Access to U.S. Government Information: A Framework for a User-Centric Service Approach to Permanent Public Access, explaining “[t]his is the framework for moving forward in the digital age, meeting our challenges, and achieving our vision of providing Government information when and where it is needed.” Quoting from the FDLP’s National Plan project site:

The National Plan sets the groundwork and provides long-term strategies for the success and growth of:

•The Federal Depository Library Program (statutory program)
The FDLP will continue its evolution to be agile, scalable, flexible, user-centric, and outcomes-based. Extensive partnerships with Federal depository libraries and other Federal agencies and organizations will be key to long-term growth and success. Providing depositories with a rich education program, new services, and flexibilities that will allow for serving diverse communities in the most comprehensive way possible are top goals of the FDLP.

•The Cataloging and Indexing Program (statutory program)
The C&I Program will continue to enhance its cataloging and metadata creation through the National Bibliographic Records Inventory and its lifecycle management of Government information processes. Acquiring, harvesting, cataloging, discovery tools, and preserving will all play roles in the achievement of a comprehensive Catalog of U.S. Government Publications, both historical and moving forward. Again, partnerships with Federal depository libraries and other Federal agencies and organizations will be key to long-term growth and success.

•The Federal Information Preservation Network (GPO strategic initiative)
The creation of FIPNet affords the public with guaranteed, long-term access to resources, materials, and expertise from libraries, Government entities, coalitions, and organizations. This program will ensure permanent public access to historic, at-risk publications and resources of significant value to the public. Depository libraries will benefit from the added resources and the sustainability of those resources for their patrons. Based on formal partnerships with GPO, FIPNet partners will provide an added guarantee that our rich history will be accessible for future generations to come. GPO is currently in the process of developing types of FIPNet partnerships, standards, guidelines, and best practices.

Hat tip to Gary Price’s LJ InfoDocket post. — 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

We’re worth it, really we are!

In an earlier post I asked “since AALL is not changing its name, why does our association need to rebrand?” Perhaps I should have asked “since AALL’s The Economic Value of Law Libraries report failed to quantify in economic terms the ROI of law libraries, why does our association need to rebrand?” The latter question is more to the point than the former because the 2015 report is one of the drivers behind the rebranding initiative. Since the naming debacle, it’s best to view AALL’s rebranding project from that vantage point. You read that report, right? See Jean O’Grady’s review, AALL Releases “The Economic Value of Law Libraries” Report– Long on Rubrics– Short on ROI. She writes:

The bottom line is that AALL and HBR have produced a report that says ‘we couldn’t figure out how to measure your value – we hope you have better luck on your own.’ […] Of course we will all continue to try to hone our own metrics but we expected a report that reached well beyond what we are able to do as individuals. We expected AALL and HBR to do some heavy lifting and instead they have passed the problem back to the members.

With the value problem back in members’ laps, rebranding AALL is moving forward because it is “member driven” according to the February 23rd virtual town hall meeting conducted by AALL’s three presidents, past, present and future. Members, apparently, have asked our association to help us communicate our worth to our employers even though we don’t know how to calculate our economic value in these dollars and cents times. We are not going to preserve our budgets simply by saying “we’re worth it, really we are”. Yet that’s the sort of marketing pablum we are going to get from the rebranding project.

Perhaps we need to redo our homework. By that I mean, redo the ROI report. Why? Because it is doable! Because we are way behind the curve on this one. Our law librarian colleagues down under quantified Australian special libraries’ ROI in 2014. They found that “special libraries have been found to return $5.43 for every $1 invested — and that’s a conservative estimate of their real contribution.” Quoting from Putting a Value on ‘Priceless’ at 3. I’m reluctant to say just use the Aussies’ average benefit cost ratio because their survey covered all sorts of special libraries, not just law libraries.

We’re left with this: for $185,000 AALL will get “messaging” (read marketing pablum), a branding manual, a website refresh, a new logo and a tag line. I’m thinking the tag line should be “We’re worth it, really we are!” – Joe

End Note: Putting a Value on ‘Priceless’ (2014) (h/t to Jean O’Grady) and the Financial Times-SLA report, The Evolving Value of Information Management (2013) are far more informative reads than AALL’s The Economic Value of Law Libraries (2015).

Docket-based research needed to find “submerged precedent”

“[S]ubmerged precedent pushes docketology in an uncharted direction by identifying a mass of reasoned opinions—putative precedent and not mere evidence of decision-making—that exist only on dockets,” writes Elizabeth McCuskey (Toledo) in Submerged Precedent, 16 Nevada Law Journal ___ 2016 (forthcoming)[SSRN]. Professor McCuskey adds “[s]ubmerged precedent thus raises the specter that docket-based research may be necessary in some areas to ascertain an accurate picture of the law itself, not just trial courts’ administration of it.” Here the abstract for this very interesting article:

This article scrutinizes the intensely individual, yet powerfully public nature of precedent, inquiring which decisions are made available for posterity in the body of precedent and which remain solely with their authors and the instant parties. At its broadest level, this article investigates the intricate relationships among precedent, access, and technology in the federal district courts, examining how technology can operationalize precedent doctrine.

Theory and empiricism inform these inquiries. Drawing from a sample of district court decisions on Grable federal question jurisdiction, the study presented here identifies and explores the phenomenon of “submerged precedent” – reasoned opinions hidden on court dockets, and not included in the Westlaw or Lexis databases. The study detailed here found that submergence may obscure as much as 30% of reasoned law on Grable federal questions from the view of conventional research.

This article investigates the structural and institutional forces behind submergence, as well as its doctrinal implications. By effectively insulating some reasoned opinions from future use by judges and practitioners, the phenomenon of submerged precedent threatens to skew substantive law and erode the precedential system’s animating principles of fairness, efficiency, and legitimacy. Most urgently, the existence of submerged precedent suggests that Congress’s mandate for public access to federal precedents in the E-Government Act of 2002 lies unfulfilled in important respects. The application of precedent theory informed by empirical observation suggests a more thoughtful approach to technology and public access to precedent.

— Joe

Some suggestions for improving transparency and accountability in the Executive Board’s conduct of association business

The recent renaming debacle got me thinking about ways and means to raise rank-and-file member participation for the purpose of improving our association’s transparency and accountability in the conduct of association business by the Executive Board. Some easily doable reforms for increasing association transparency by encouraging direct member involvement could be:

  • Allowing rank-and-file members to participate in Executive Board meetings by asking questions and offering comments;
  • Scheduling the summer Executive Board meeting during the annual conference, not days before it, so rank-and-file members can attend in person;
  • Broadcasting all board meetings with a feedback loop so that members in the audience can ask questions and offer comments and a moderator can contribute selected questions and comments to the Board’s discussion; and
  • Conducting pre-election virtual town hall meetings for nominated candidates standing for election to the Board so that members can solicit answers to questions they have submitted.

Some structural reforms requiring bylaw changes to provide for enhanced association accountability by increasing member participation could be:

  • Restructuring the Executive Board to automatically include the elected chairs of the academic, government and private law libraries SISs as voting members;
  • Replacing the Nominations Committee with a Nominations Caucus open to all interested AALL members; and
  • Including “none of the above” in the ballot for the election of VP-President Elect, Secretary, Treasurer and at-large board members.

Increasing the opportunities for rank-and-file member involvement through a more bottom-up approach to conducting association business as outlined in the above suggestions may motivate more AALL members to become active contributors to our association’s affairs. AALL’s official business would become more relevant, more transparent, and more accountable, if members were more directly engaged in the selection of candidates to national office and in the Executive Board’s conduct of association business. —  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).

Since AALL is not changing its name why does our association need to rebrand?

Odd isn’t it that there were no dissenting votes on renaming AALL at the Executive Board level. Considering how the vote turned out, one would think there might be some representation of rank-and-file interests on the Executive Board (read some opposition to the proposal). My hunch is that some officers were not initially in favor of the name change but were persuaded by something – the merits of the case, peer pressure, etc. – to vote for the renaming. So the question remains — Whose interests does the Board represent?

AALL remains “top-down,” not “bottom-up” in the handling of association affairs. Sometimes that can’t be helped. Sometimes it can. In the case of the renaming proposition, I think the Board heard loud and clear that members wanted more direct participation before the Board takes any action whatsoever. Will that lesson be institutionalized in the Board-Membership relationship?

What about the rebranding initiative (with its $185,000 price tag)? It sounds like rebranding is moving forward but is rebranding needed now that AALL is not changing its name? I, for one, think rebranding was only necessary if AALL’s name changed; it doesn’t seem necessary after the renaming debacle.

To the best of my knowledge, the rank and file will not vote on whether or not rebranding should proceed. But there is an opportunity for members to express their opinion about rebranding, including the desirability of moving forward. AALL has scheduled a virtual town hall for Tuesday, February 23, from 2:00-3:00 p.m. (CST) “to provide time for further discussion and to answer any questions you may have.” First question: Since our association is not changing its name, why does AALL need to rebrand? — Joe

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

LexPredict on SCOTUS cases that will be affected by Justice Scalia’s death

“LexPredict has developed an algorithm, {MARSHALL}+, that the company says can accurately predict Supreme Court cases. Using their algorithm, they’ve come up with predictions on which cases will be affected [by Justice Scalia’s death]” writes Bob Ambrogi. According to LexPredict, there are 14 cases whose decisions are likely to be impacted. “These changes will result in either reverse to affirm or vice versa switches, or by changing the opinions from precedential to non-precedential.” Details here. — Joe

End Note: On a related note, SCOTUSblog’s Amy Howe examines whether there is a standard practice of not nominating and confirming Supreme Court Justices during a presidential election year. Read more about it. See also Lyle Denniston’s Is a recess appointment to the Court an option?, also on SCOTUSblog.