August 21, 2010
Culture Clash: No Flip-flops, Slasher-Movie Character T-shirts or Pajamas Allowed While Court is in Session
USA Today reports that an increasing numbers of courts are adopting dress codes at Judges crack down on inappropriate clothes in court. The articles provides several interesting illustrations of bad fashion statements for court appearances. From the story:
Gayle V. Fischer, a professor at Salem State University, has written extensively on the history of clothing and society. In her view, court dress codes are the product of a casual society and ignorance of court culture.
A pajama-clad woman who was turned away from court in Delaware "probably wears that outfit to the grocery store," Fischer says. "Dressing up, that's something that you're taught, and if you don't live or participate in any of the arenas where you need to dress up, you probably just don't think about it."
I am amazed by what some folks think is appropriate attire for court appearances. While this sounds very Catholic school-ish, I think citizens ought to recognize that appearing in a court is their most immediate and personal involvement in the law of the land. Certainly going to court is more direct and real, as in "being there," than voting for elected representatives once every couple of years. So as long as judges don't require wearing powdered wigs, I think that if a dress code needs to be enforced, it is a good thing. [JH]
August 20, 2010
RIP WWW: If apps are on the rise, is the Web on the decline?
In The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet, Who’s to Blame: Us, Chris Anderson writes that "as much as we love the open, unfettered Web, we’re abandoning it for simpler, sleeker services that just work." In Who's to Blame: Them, Michael Wolff states "Chaos isn’t a business model. A new breed of media moguls is bringing order — and profits — to the digital world."
Tim O'Reilly and John Battelle debate the issue.
Michael Calore compares native apps to web apps.
And in How the Web Wins, Evan Hansen explains why the Web is not dead:
Today’s apps do some things better than the web, which is why they are so popular. They offer developers greater design control and access to some hardware features that browsers can’t touch. Users get big performance enhancements and better responsiveness.
But there are big tradeoffs involved, too, and the web is far too powerful to be replaced by an alternative that gives away so much of what developers and readers have come to love and expect.
Notably, the web makes it very easy to share, link, embed, cut and paste, bookmark, search – in short, everything that makes content useful in the web-enhanced world.
Reading, it turns out, is not a passive, solitary enterprise; it is deeply tied to social activities. Thanks to the web, readers are no longer just consumers – they are participants and creators in their own right, and they are empowered.
This puts the web front and center in the future of media, not off to the side.
The web at its core is not a system for publishing articles and rendering them in a browser. Rather it is a system for making connections — between documents, devices and ultimately people.
(Emphasis added.) [JH]
Friday Fun: Open-Sourcing the Constitution
We talk a lot about open-sourcing the law of the land on LLB but not quite in the way Jon Steward and John Hodgman did as a solution to our so-called "constitutional crisis." Hat tip to Constitutional Law Prof Blog. [JH]
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|You're Welcome - Constitutional Crisis|
A Word of Advice for Prospective Law School Students and 1Ls on Acceptance or Transfer Decisions: Ask the Admissions Dean "how much are you paying me to 'gain on-the-ground experience, and strengthen [my] lawyering skills' when I graduate?"
There was a time when law school students were more worried about the terms of an employment offer than they were about whether any employment offer would be forthcoming. But those days are over. The economic downturn has produced a glut in the labor supply and today's grads will be competing for job opportunities with laid-off attorneys with real work experience. In In defense of young lawyers (NLJ), Duke Law School Dean David Levi writes
The downturn in the legal economy has been hard on many new and young lawyers. They have faced lengthy deferrals and withdrawals of job offers, layoffs, shrinking job prospects and lower salaries. While unwelcome, these new burdens are at least understandable; they reflect the laws of supply and demand at a time when there is simply less legal work to go around. What is not understandable is the surprising amount of criticism heaped upon younger lawyers, offered as if to justify placing a disproportionate share of the economic downturn on their shoulders
The criticism comes from law firm managers, in-house counsel and former lawyers who now comment on the legal profession. They most likely represent a minority view, but they are vocal. They say that clients are no longer willing to pay for the work of young associates because their work is "worthless." We might expect clients to make any argument that could lead to a lower bill, particularly during an economic downturn. But it is wrong and surprising for experienced lawyers inside and outside of firms to acquiesce in, even reinforce, this line of argument.
As the title of his NLJ article states, Dean Levi makes a pitch for the value of young lawyers. "Like any good CEO should, Duke Law School dean David Levi has written an editorial defending his product," writes ATL's Kashmir Hill. Hill observes that Duke is willing to prove its point by way of the school's Bridge to Practice program. Launched in 2008, Duke pays law school grads a stipend for eight- to 12-week fellowships in nonprofit and advocacy organizations, district attorneys offices, law firms, and courts to "gain on-the-ground experience, and strengthen their lawyering skills." See Duke Law News, 100% employment: Meeting a lofty goal. The program had nine participants in 2008 and 15 in 2009. The number likely doubled this year reports ATL's Hill in his June 10, 2010 ATL post entitled The Secret to ‘100% Employed at Graduation’: Duke’s Bridge to Practice. With an average class enrollment of about 210 students that means a whopping 14% of the Class of 2010 participated in Duke's program.
No way this can hurt Duke maintain its amazingly high as in 100% employment rates at graduation and nine months after, right? Just the "facts" from Duke Law's website here. Like a good CEO, Dean Levi knows how to sell his product, law school grads, and at a discount to employers no less, while also enhancing the school's prospects for scoring high marks in US News Law School rankings (currently 11, 10-year average also 11, according to LLB's The Long, Hard, Nearly Impossible Climb to Reach Elite Status: Top 30 Law Schools, 2002-2011.)
It's common knowledge that unaudited employment rates for law school grads reported to US News are gamed because law school administrators are not held accountable by any ethical standards. In this instance, perhaps a big asterisk needs to displayed in next year's US News Law School Rankings under the Placement Success metric for Duke. Duke, however, is not alone. See, for example, ATL's SMU Will Pay You To Hire Their Graduates.
Law schools that are doing this actually get a 2-fer because underneath the mask of US News metrics, what drives rankings improvements is substantially increasing the school's expenditures-per-student. Increase that by any means other than scholarship awards is the quickest, most cost-efficient way to improve a law school rankings. See What Is It Going to Cost Stanford Law to Become the No. 1 Law School in the Country? Another way to increase expenditures-per-student.is to hire more full-time faculty to reach the promised land of less than a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio. This is half the 20:1 ratio under ABA Accreditation Standards. Of course, that reported ratio isn't audited either to take into account law profs on sabbatical for the reported year.
Now, I for one, like the idea that law schools are financing the employment prospects of their students and that lower student to faculty ratios are beneficial to the educational experience assuming the profs counted each year aren't on sabatical and certainly prospective law school students want to know what their employment prospects may be if they attend a given law school. However, these metrics used by US News are so seriously flawed that it reveals what most folks, except, perhaps prospective students and employers, know, namely the fundamental reason US News produces its series of annual rankings is because it sells magazine issues. As Brian Leiter recently stated, "If there's money to be made in ranking Rabbis......then why isn't Newsweek also ranking law schools? Seriously, I'd tell them how to do it."
My unsolicited advice to prospective law school students before deciding on a school to attend and 1Ls before deciding to stay put after the first year is to ask the Admissions Dean "how much are you paying me to 'gain on-the-ground experience, and strengthen [my] lawyering skills' when I graduate?" [JH]
Reminder: Today's Law Librarian Conversations To Address Net Neutrality and the Death of the World Wide Web
Special guests for today's broadcast, which starts at 2:00 PM CDT, will be Professor Marvin Ammori, a telecommunications scholar and expert on net neutrality, and Professor Richard Dooling, author of "Rapture for the Geeks," "White Man's Grave," "Brainstorm," and New York Times contributor
Other topics of discussion today include:
- The Elephant posts on process versus product, on the 3Geeks blog
- New developments on the Ning Law Library network
- End of advance sheets
- West's Casebook rentals
- Microsoft Office/Lexis
Reserve your space at: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/508078138
Follow the conversation in the chat room during the live broadcast at http://lawlibcon.classcaster.com/chat.
Subscribe to LawLibCon on iTunes here: http://u.cali.org/2jwf
Should be an interesting program. [JH]
August 19, 2010
Librarians Have an Image Problem
There is a debate going on at The Daily Dish, Andrew Sullivan's blog over at The Atlantic. One of the Sullivan's readers wrote this yesterday:
All this at a time when they are struggling to even be relevant and find something to do with their time in this Google age. Library budgets are cut, staff let go, materials and collections trimmed, but the overpaid librarian stays - to do what? Make lists, answer the occasional reference question, and attend meetings.
So, should tenure be abolished? For librarians, you betcha!
Obviously from someone who knows nothing about what a librarian, let alone a law librarian, does all day. I'd write more about it but I have to get to lunch, and then a meeting (about the fall student orientation training, I might add). Now, where did I put my list? See the entire reader comment quote here. [MG]
WestlawNext Advanced Search Glitch (?) — Implied Boolean OR in "All of these terms" Phrase Searches
As law school librarians gear up for the new academic year after the recent roll-out of WestlawNext to the legal academy, some matters are being raised that weren't readily apparent during the brief trials TR Legal had offered earlier. Here's one republished from law-lib with the permission of the author, Lee Ryan, Senior Reference Librarian, Univ. of San Francisco School of Law, Dorraine Zief Law Library. [JH]
I've come upon what seems to be a glitch in the WestlawNext advanced search template. It has to do with using more than one phrase in the "All of these terms" textbox. I've already passed this to West, but thought that others might be interested.
Here's what happened:
Seeking law articles that contained BOTH of phrases "omar khadr" and "optional protocol," I browsed to "Law Reviews and Journals," and clicked the "advanced search" link.
I then entered the following string in the "All of these terms" text box:
"omar khadr" "optional protocol"
My results: 2746 documents. Most of the results I looked at seemed to have "optional protocol," but not "omar khadr." It seemed as though WestlawNext took my space to mean "OR." (And indeed, when I entered "omar khadr" "optional protocol" in the "Any of these terms" textbox, I got the exact same result: 2746 documents.)
Thinking that I was getting very odd results for an "All of these terms search," and suspecting my terms were being "or-ed," I switched to "classic" Westlaw, selected Journals & Law Reviews (JLR), and ran this Terms & Connectors search:
"omar khadr" OR "optional protocol"
My results: 3031 documents. (As a cross-check, in JLR I ran the Terms & Connectors search "omar khadr" AND "optional protocol" and got 23 documents.)
Back in WestlawNext's advanced search, I tried to use the "Term frequency" function to ensure that my results would contain both phrases. Asking that each phrase appear once generated this string, again in the "All of these terms" textbox:
ATLEAST1("omar khadr") ATLEAST1("optional protocol")
But yet again, I got 2746 documents.
Finally, on the suggestion of our excellent Westlaw academic representative, I replaced the space between terms with the "AND" connector, and entered this in the "All of these terms" textbox:
"omar khadr" AND "optional protocol"
Only then did I get the 23 articles that I had been expecting to retrieve.
I ran into this glitch only when entering phrases into the "All of these terms" textbox.
Searches worked as expected with single word terms. So, in the search:
the space was taken to be an "and"
And searches worked as expected when I entered a single phrase (such as "omar khadr") in the "All of these terms" textbox.
In sum, this strikes me as a non-trivial flaw in the WestlawNext advanced search engine.
The very words "All of these terms" clearly imply a Boolean AND, and there is nothing to suggest that using phrases in quotation marks will not work.
Further, advanced search templates of the major commercial search engines (Google, Yahoo!, etc.) all have an "all these words" function in which the Boolean AND is implied -- even when multiple phrases, each in quotation marks, are entered, -- which then sets up WestlawNext users to expect the very same functionality from "All of these search terms" on WestlawNext.
Reading spaces between phrases in quotations marks in "All of these terms" searches will give researchers results that are exactly the opposite of what they have been lead to expect, both by Westlaw, and by their experiences in other search engines.
-- Lee Ryan, Senior Reference Librarian, Univ. of San Francisco School of Law, Dorraine Zief Law Library
If p-Books are Heading Down the Path of Oblivion for Legal Titles, Royalty Contracts for Tomorrow's Authors with Yet-To-Be-Determined Legal Vendors May Be the First Step in This Process
In my little county law library, one of my colleagues just bought a Nook and is delighted with it due in no small part to the availability of free and low-cost e-book titles and the gizmo's cost. Meanwhile I am waiting for the day when someone suggests we buy Kindles and/or iPads for e-reading. No, we will not.
Or asks us to license e-books for circulation. Well first WEXIS has to wrap its head around that idea and I doubt that will happen before they have squeezed every nickle out of individual practitioners once they first figure out how their distribution channels will work without "sharing" with Amazon or Apple.
Or when county personnel and/or judges request we purchase e-books for them. Professionally, I'm OK with that once there are some quality law e-books (meaning I'm not keen on some of the law "apps" out there because god know what editorial quality control exists) as long as the arrangement is that we reimburse them for their purchases if our Board approves that because the distribution channels are tethered to individuals' personal accounts with the main retailers like Amazon and Apple. In other words, the marketplace for e-books among the dominate players isn't yet very enabling for institutional buyers of law e-books.
All this is just a lead-in to Mike Shatzkin's recent post, The printed book’s path to oblivion. Now, I don't know who Shatzkin is beyond his About Page and being the founder and CEO of The Idea Logical Company, "a book publishing futurist company, specializing in consulting for a wide breadth of aspects of the publishing industry." But if AALL doesn't get Johnny Westlaw (dressed as Ben Franklin) and Jenny Westlaw (in costume as Betsy Ross) to present the keynote address at Philly 2011: Transparency and Accountability in the 21st Century, he would get my vote for keynote speaker.
Being an aging and decripit Baby Boomer law librarian I don't read his blog that frequently but it should be read. Shatzkin may be a tech evangelist but, if he is, his posts exhibit a fully functional rational mind, unlike, oh well, let's just say it, some others who tend be be a tad too enthusiastic about the brave new world in their predictions. See, for example, Nicholas Negroponte: The Physical Book Is Dead In 5 Years (Shatzkin's comment on that is " A deeper dive into what Negroponte actually said clarifies that he doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be any paper books anymore after 2015, but that the ebook would become the “dominant” form by then. I think even that might be going too far.") In the above cited post, Shatzkin writes
It seems reasonable to me (although not to every forward-thinking observer of the march of digital events) that by five years from now half of immersive reading — straight text novels and non-fiction — could have moved from paper to devices.
But for those who question the idea that the switch from paper to screens will ultimately be just about total, let me offer a way to think about it.
The critical thing to remember is that, indeed, the book was more-or-less perfected hundreds of years ago. There have been improvements in printing, binding, typography, and paper quality that are not trivial, but that also represent no quantum leap in user benefit. Indeed, defenders of the paper book and advocates suggesting it has a permanent role, point to that fact as support for their belief.
I think it argues the opposite.
The ebook, unlike the paper book, advances every month, if not every day. Screens and the reading platforms they run just keep improving: they get cheaper, lighter, more flexible, more capabilities-rich and there are ever more choices of them. Battery life gets longer. They develop the ability to take your notes, keyed in or handwritten. They develop the ability to share your notes or organize your notes automatically. They’ve had built-in dictionaries for a long time (a feature of the very first Kindle nearly three years ago) and now they often offer the ability to get to Wikipedia or a Google search in a click as well.
About e-reader features that are important to me before I jump on this gizmo bandwagon because I'm not infected with early adapter syndrome, Shatzkin adds
If facing pages or pages that are flexible and “turn” are your requirement, the beginnings of that have already appeared. Facing pages is a feature of the iPad’s iBooks app and just about every reader now offers a choice of “effects” for page turns. The challenge of delivering highly designed pages with pictures and captions and call-outs and on-page footnotes is being tackled, notably by Blio but they’re not alone. One of the reasons I restrict my predictions about ebook penetration in 2015 to narrative books is that it is harder to see yet how fast the development of that presentation capability and the corollary ability to make and reflow those pages for different screen sizes will be. But it will come.
In addition to the above UI facets that keeps me from spending $$$ on an e-reader for the largely non-existent market of reliable legal e-texts, is the inability to integrate content into work product. Although we are now producing an entire generation of attorneys with a "copy-and-paste-without-thought" mentality thanks to the digital but not e-book text, being able to re-use e-text from e-books in drafting remains an important and time-saving work production function in the professional use of legal e-book texts. Eventually, the functionality will become available although I am sufficiently cynical to think that it won't happen until our major legal vendors have made as much money from individual practitioners as commercially possible before they venture into "growing" the market by doing so.
Near the end of Shatzkin's post, he writes
It is very hard for me to grasp why anybody would prefer a printed book 30 or 40 years from now. I’m sure by then screen technology will be able to simulate any aspect of the printed book that could possibly be of interest (except, perhaps, for the smell of the paper, ink, and glue, but, then maybe a companion air-wick would do the trick. I wonder if you can use the same aromas for all titles, or whether some customization will be required.)
The printed book will not “die” in our lifetimes: there are too many of them already around for that. And I don’t even think the ebook will be “the dominant commercial form” (Negroponte’s position) in as short a time as five years. But it almost surely will in ten and I’d say that in no more than twenty the person choosing to read a printed book will not be unheard of or unknown, but will definitely qualify as “eccentric.”
Acquiring Authors in the Forthcoming Legal e-Book Market. There is no doubt in my mind that his forecast is dead on for the mass market. By then, legal publishers too -- in 10-20 years a practitioner using p-books will be as eccentric as Captain Kirk's attorney [video clip]. However, the names of the vendors who provide legal e-books is yet to be determined. There is absolutely no reason to assume it will be WEXIS.The competition will not start with their sales catalogs of e-book offerings. It will start with vendors acquiring authors to write based on publishing contracts that will restructure royalties, that will "vaporize" familiar names which have been turned into brands by WEXIS.
There's a popular myth that persuading the authors to agree to putting online Mertens Law of Federal Income Taxation netted "winning the lottery" results, apparently because it was one of the first. I have no idea if that is true (note that the title is now produced by the 'Publisher's Editorial Staff," meaning West). But the future holds the distinct prospect that e-publishing secondary legal titles will be revolutionized. In my "Scooter Store" years, should I visit a law library and ask about Wright & Miller or Appleman's, or god knows whatever other title in our current print-to-electronic bibliography that once was a "given" mainstay, I expect to hear "what's that?"
I know one author-practitioner, for example, who was so fed up with dealing with Lexis for what I consider to be the best treatise on the topic that he went the self-publication route for the second edition of his work in print. No doubt he lost sales by not having Lexis' marketing support but with e-book publication comes marketing by search engine results, an online click-to-purchase web presence and substantially lower distribution costs. Click "buy" meaning license, access in 60 seconds, sold.
In the not too distant future, authors not locked into WEXIS contracts will be looking beyond them to other vendors who offer them the best return on their investment for legal e-book publication. [JH]
Mapping the Publication Routes for Law Student Articles
How to get your article published for a law prof audience borders on a cottage industry but I've never seen one for law school students until Submission of Law Student Articles for Publication [SSRN]. Written by Nancy Levit, Lawrence D. MacLachlan and Allen Rostron (all University of Missouri at Kansas City - School of Law), the essay explains the hows and wherefores of academic publication by law students who are not “on” Law Review but may have written a great paper for one of their classes or seminars.
The authors map the publishing route for article submissions to a student's own and other schools' law reviews and includes a useful chart of the policies of 194 law reviews with respect to whether they will publish comments submitted by non-law review members who are students at their home school or notes, comments or articles submitted by law students from other schools. The essay also offers advice on submissions to specialty journals that focus on specific subject areas, bar journals and student writing competitions as routes to publication. If all else fails, the authors note that another course of action to take is simply to hold the article for submission until the student author has graduated.
Submission of Law Student Articles for Publication is a very useful resource for law librarians and faculty who advise or review student writing, and to students looking to get a leg up in scholarly publication. [JH]
August 18, 2010
Google Uber Alles
Brad McCarty published an interesting piece at The Next Web Google yesterday. He looked at the Google-Verizon net neutrality proposal and suggested that Google may be doing a bit of slight of hand with some of the language in the proposal. McCarty focuses on this:
Regulatory Authority The FCC would have exclusive authority to oversee broadband Internet access services, but would not have any authority over Internet software applications, content, or services. Regulatory authorities would not be permitted to regulate broadband Internet access service.
His main point revolves around the words "but would not have any authority over Internet software applications." This, he says, is Google's way of protecting its search product from government regulation interference. The point is legitimately raised because of the number of governments that are looking into Google's business practices from either a privacy or trade regulation perspective.
As McCarty notes, Google maps are favored over Mapquest, and Google Places is favored over Yelp in search result placement. Given the report today that Google owns 65% of the search market, is this fair? Net neutrality in general suggests that a neutral web does not discriminate against content access. Nominally, that would be true. No entity should stop anyone from going to Mapquest, but does that require Google to treat searches for mapping services equally?
It's not exactly ancient history that the Justice Department accused Microsoft of manipulating its share of the browser and search market in the 1990s. What did that accomplish? Microsoft had to open up Windows and Internet Explorer to search via other providers beyond MSN, Live Search, Windows Live Search, Bing, or whatever the branding happens to be. Still Microsoft is allowed to make that process not easy for consumers. Want Google as a default search provider? Download the code that makes that happen. It would be easier if it were just there. At the very least, the Judge, the Justice Department, and all the other relevant parties settled on an open system that still nominally favored Microsoft search.
The European Union took a slightly different approach in the last decade, mandating a browser ballot during Windows setup. That evened out some of the browser market share in Europe. Why, even Opera went from less than a percent to the low 2s. At the same time, it helped Google's search market share as these alternatives to IE tended to use Google as the default search. It's not so easy to simply fine tune an interconnected market.
Google is a dominant company. There is no doubt. It competes on a number of product fronts. It's search product is the money maker. YouTube, it's video product, is the most dominant source of video on the web. It doesn't do well in social networking, what with Buzz being an also-ran in that category. Calling Buzz an also-ran disrespects also-rans. But if McCarty is right, the language, if enacted in one form or another, means Google would be allowed to keep its dominant position in search and expand its other offerings by tieing them to that dominant position. McCarty says that Google has been able to to create a walled garden promoting its own services in this way. Is that something like tying a browser to an operating system to maintain the dominant way of getting to the Internet? Hmmmm.
Google is under attack on several fronts for its business activities. Antitrust questions abound from the Google Book Settlement. Whether or not a judge approves it in present form or requires more modification, there will be appeals and more appeals. Google is under investigation for capturing unsecured Wifi information in several countries. Google's defense to that one is we just picked a big bunch of whoopsie daisies. The U.K. bought that excuse, but other countries may be a bit more difficult. Google's intention to buy ITA software, the company which provides major information about airline fares has many in the industry nervous. Most of the major travel sites advertised on television use ITA for a lot of their consumer sales. Even Bing uses it. Imagine that.
So, is Google really a "don't be evil" company or is it a Microsoft (the old Microsoft, the current one is really turning into a one or two trick pony) with a smiley face. The conundrum is that Google is so gosh darn good at what it mostly does. But what, really, are the limits of market power? Is this proposal really an attempt to limit regulatory interference in its business practices. I'll remind all that the first part of the quoted statement refers to the FCC, but the latter says "Regulatory authorities." That could be the FCC, the FTC, the DOJ. Sure, it's a long way off before Congress steps in and legislates. But this requires more scrutiny before turning into law. [MG]
Results of Law Librarian Blog SIS Fees Poll
We asked law librarians to weigh in on two questions with regard to Special Interest Section (SIS) fees.
1. Who should have the authority to increase SIS fees?
We had three answers to choose from and a total of 352 people weighed in on this question.
20% of the people answering said that the AALL Executive Board should continue to have the authority to increase SIS fees without the approval of members.
21% percent of the people answering said that a simple voting majority of AALL members as a whole should decide whether SIS fees should increase.
59% percent of the people answering said that whether to increase SIS fees should be left up to a vote of the individual SIS membership (by a simple voting majority).
2. To whom should your SIS fees go?
We had three answers to choose from and a total of 333 people weighed in on this question.
22% percent said that the status quo should remain with 50% going to AALL and 50% going to the SIS.
44% percent said that the amount going to the SIS should be increased to 80% and only 20% should go to AALL.
34% percent said the entire amount of the SIS fees should go to the SIS.
A few caveats first. I recognize that this is not a scientific poll and that we only had between 333 to 352 people answering each question. (Poll results displayed below) However, this is one of the largest responses the Law Librarian Blog has ever had to a poll so its clear that this issue resonates with its readers. Two, to those that would say this poll is without meaning I point to the AALL poll which, in part, led to the creation of the vendor liasion position. That poll had approximately 465 people responding.
As to the breakdown of the people responding. 31% percent said they were members of the Academic SIS. 16% percent said they were members of the State, County and Court SIS. And 51% percent said they were a member of the private law librarians SIS. When you look at the SIS membership figures the percentage of State, County and Court members responding is proportionate to their membership as compared to the other two SIS. However, as between the Academics and Private Law librarians the response rate is disproportionate. Approximately 9% more Academics should have responded and 9% less Private Law librarians should have responded.
So what does this tell us?
First, as to the breakdown I think it makes it crystal clear that this is a very important issue to private law librarians. Perhaps because some feel a disconnect between themselves and AALL and that their issues are not being addressed, Perhaps because PLL felt the need to do a pre-conference Summit in order to provide the type of programming needed by its members and had to charge $195 for librarians to attend. That is not to say that this issue wasn't important to state, county and court librarians (a proportionate number answered). Nor to say this issue isn't important to Academics (perhaps here it was the timing of the poll being in the summer when many are on vacation).
The poll indicates that a clear majority believe each SIS should determine whether its own fees should be increased by a simple voting majority of its members. There are issues with each SIS determining its own increases, I do recognize that and I invite readers to weigh in. But based on the poll results I do think its clear that SIS fees should not be raised by the AALL Executive Board without some form of member approval.
As to where the SIS fees should go? Only twenty two percent think the status quo is okay. So I think a clear indication that something needs to change. Thirty four percent say it should all go the SIS and forty four percent say it should go 80% to the SIS and 20% to AALL. I happen to think 80-20% is a reasonable compromise. It gives AALL something towards its administrative expenses in collecting the fees and other things it does on behalf of the SIS but still gives the SIS more dollars to be used for programming, grants, scholarships etc.
So where do we go from here?
I think a bylaw amendment proposal is in order. For those that feel change is necessary this gives you the opportunity to vote to effectuate that change. For those that feel no change is needed this also gives you the opportunity to vote against change.
I plan on drafting a petition for bylaw amendments.to be voted on by distributed ballot. In order for that to happen at least 5% of the Association members will need to sign the petition. If you would like to participate in the effort please contact me via email at email@example.com. The proposed bylaw amendments will be published on the Law Librarian Blog and readers will have an opportunity to comment before the petition is distributed.
Is Your Browser Ready for HTML5? A Follow-Up to Google's Galactic Inbox Game Promotion of Chrome on the 15th Anniversary of Internet Explorer
Googlers are encouraged to spend 20% of their work time to pursue an idea or concept and that's what Paul Truong, Creative Technologist, did when he created his Galactic Inbox game. See his Official Google Blog post. Gmail account holders spotted the game when it appeared on their Gmail login page (image, right).
As noted in Mark Giangrande's recent LLB post, to play the game you need a browser with HTML5 canvas support (whatever that is). So if you click on the game link and your browser doesn't support HTML5, you will get an oops message that ends with "have you tried Google Chrome?"
Well, yes I have and it didn't take very long before I uninstalled it. Safari, Mozilla and Opera support some HTML5's features. Perhaps these browser users can play the game but I've also given up on Mozilla and Opera and don't own or use Apple computers.
Let's face it, IE remains the dominant browser. I always end up uninstalling all others after giving them a test drive. I just can't wrap my head around making the switch and running more than one browser regularly is too much for my small brain to handle. Well, I do run both 32- and 64-bit versions of IE8 but that's different because all my Favorites and RSS feed subscriptions are tied together and updated with additions and deletions regardless of which version I am using.
Thanks to corporate use and ties to Windows, Internet Explorer has remained dominant in the browser space ever since it won the first browser wars with Netscape a decade ago.
However, by allowing the browser to stagnate after the release of Windows XP in 2001, Microsoft created an opening that paved the way for the rise of Firefox and, more recently, Google's Chrome.
As a result Internet Explorer celebrates its 15th birthday Monday as market leader and like an upstart trying to compete against powerful rivals.
See also Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 Test Drive. [JH]
August 17, 2010
Another New Law School In The Offing?This time, it's in Louisiana, and it's sponsored by Louisiana College in Pineville. There is some confusion about whether the school will be located in Pineville or Shreveport. Alexandria is another possible location. As of now, all of Louisiana's law schools are either in Baton Rouge or New Orleans. Pineville and Alexandria are in the center of the state, and Shreveport is in the northeast corner, close to Texas and Arkansas. Two articles, one in the Town Talk, and the Alexandria Town Talk indicate some of the politics of establishing a new law school, the planning of which has been going on since 2007. The Shreveport site seems to be the most likely. The former, empty, federal building there is noted in one of the stories as the location, pending renovation. [MG]
Guide for Law School WestlawNext and Lexis Users
Akron Law's Lynn Lenart, Assistant Law Librarian for Reference Services, and Richard Cohen, Associate Professor & Legal Writing Program Director, have created this user guide for WestlawNext and Lexis. Hat tip to Legal Writing Prof Blog. The user guide will have to be updated with screen-shots for the new interface of Classic Lexis once it rolls out. See Coming Soon, The Interface of Classic Lexis Gets a Tweak. Easy to do.
Beyond the legal academy, Lenart and Cohen's guide could be a useful work-in-progress in the private and public sectors. Sections on the structure of WEXIS licensing, individual institutions' specific plan offerings, search costs, and available online (and print) alternatives including Fastcase, Casemaker, BNA and CCH resources will have to be added to present a more comprehensive user guide to online legal search. [JH]
The Mindset Divide: Distinguishing Between Traditional and Non-Traditional Legal Information (Professional Services) Vendors
Yesterday, I invited legal information vendors to comment on what LAW.GOV means to them. Someone in a private email -- not a vendor -- took exception to my characterizing TR Legal, Lexis, WK and BNA as "traditional," pointing to WestlawNext as a reason why TR Legal ought not to be so characterized. Let's add IntelliConnect and the yet to be seen Lexis Advance to the mix and I still stand by my characterization.
Our major legal vendors view themselves more as professional services vendors than legal publishers now. Many law librarians fail to fully appreciate this if not employed in their core market, namely private law firms and corporate institutional buyers, and because they do not work with many of the products and services they offer. We tend to focus on providing access to their online legal information resources because these legal professional service vendors have yet to figure out a way to introduce some of their non-database search products to law school students so they can be prepared with hands-on experience in law practice technology skills.
Lexis for MS Office is an interesting way to introduce KN and workflow processes to court systems, state and local public agencies, and smaller firms who don't have the financial muscle BigLaw does to do this in-house. TR Legal's West Case Notebook is another interesting service. Both could be easily offered free of charge for integration into the legal skills curriculum from the first year onwards just as their database services are. Aspen's StudyDesk is an interesting application if its parent company would ever realize that the product's potential extends well beyond law students during their attendance in law school. This is where the future growth of professional legal services lies.
TR Legal, Lexis, WK and BNA are not, however so innovative in their current provision of professional services to the legal community to not be characterized as "traditional." OK it is a subjective call, but institutionally it is difficult for them to incorporate the entrepreneurial spirit required.
Why Characterize Our Major Vendors as "Traditional?" It's the mindset. Building government-as-a-platform is well underway and LAW.GOV is one facet of this much larger Gov. 2.0 movement which is encompassing federal, state and local governments. See for example the Code for America project which is connecting city governments with web 2.0 talent to develop open source systems. See also the following video clips from this year's Gov 2.0 Expo:
Gov. 2.0 is a mindset that our traditional legal vendors have yet to really integrate into their corporate cultures, business models and commercial ventures for conducting business in our 21st Century public information resources and services environment. If sponsorship is any indicator, not one is a sponsor of the Gov 2.0 Summit which will take place on September 7-8, 2010 in Washington, DC.
The Relevance Contest. As a mindset, LAW.GOV will challenge our traditional legal publishers to innovate in response to their own users' call for products and services non-traditional legal publishers are beginning to bring to the marketplace and will escalate into a market presence that cannot be ignored even by industry giants once federal, state and local governments become better electronic distributors of authenticated, well-formatted primary legal resources. Our major vendors are already facing the realities of this 21st Century legal information product and services environment in Canada in a contest that can be characterized as a battle for relevance. In that marketplace, Slaw's Gary Rodrigues writes "How each of them responds to this challenge will determine their ultimate role as providers of legal information." This also will be the case in the US market.
Transitioning to a 21st Century Mindset. No doubt some major vendors are marshaling their points to make the argument that e-production and e-distribution of primary legal materials should be left to the private sector. Even some law librarians wonder whether the editorial quality of court opinions, for example, will decline if it is not.
I, for one, am not persuaded by the private sector argument generally but LLB's open invitation welcomes a vendor to make the case here in sufficient specificity to convince me. Nor am I worried about the editorial quality of court opinions declining, for example, because I don't envision LAW.GOV resulting in e-production silos at every court house in this country. Just as some of our major vendors produce official or quasi-official print versions of primary legal sources now, many courts will contract out this work to them in the future but with the stipulation that the e-texts must be LAW.GOV specs compliant and must be available for bulk distribution from open access servers. [JH]
August 16, 2010
Short Takes On The News
- Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the UC Irvine Law School and noted constitutional law scholar, opined in the Los Angeles Times yesterday that conservative principles may prevent an appeal of the recent federal court decision overturning Proposition 8 in California. He sites several decisions by the Supreme Court that denied intervenors the option of appealing an adverse decisions. California state officials have the option of appealing and have indicated that they will not. The article from the LA Times is here. It would be an anticlimactic conclusion to the case if Chemerinsky is right.
- Gmail from Google is more than a free email system that trades massive amounts of convenience in web mail for the opportunity to market to its users (not as if Hotmail and other never did that, huh?). It's now a game. Find details and a link to the game on the GMail blog. Be warned, playing requires an HTML5 compatible browser. Click on the link otherwise asks the question, "have you tried Google Chrome?"
- The Supreme Court acted today in denying a motion for relief from a fine issued by a federal judge. Orly Taitz had filed suit in federal court on behalf of Captain Connie Rhodes, who was protesting deployment to Afghanistan on the groups that President Obama was not authorized to be commander in chief by virtue of (allegedly) not being a valid U.S. citizen. The trial judge denied the relief. Taitz filed a motion for rehearing and labeled the first ruling an "act of treason." The judge slapped Taitz with a $20,000 fine for filing a frivolous lawsuit aimed at advancing a political agenda. First Clarence Thomas, and now Samuel Alito denied review of the fine.
Funny how when Obama criticized the Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC during the State of the Union address, the members of the Court present expressed some offense at the notion. Then two of the Court's more conservative members reject the appeal of the fine. Whoops, they must be in on the whole thing (note: a light form of sarcasm expressed here, not a belief in the actual statement). More is in CNN.
- Remember when Congress got mad at ACORN and cut off it's funding? That move was inspired, oddly enough, by edited videos from Andrew Breitbart. He's the same guy that did a number on Shirley Sherrod at the Department of Agriculture, also with edited videos. A trend, perhaps. Anyway, a federal judge ruled that Congress acted to punish the organization and ordered the funds restored. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision, saying that Congress had the authority to treat ACORN the same way it treated any other federal contractor accused of mishandling funds. The Huffington Post (no bias in it's report...nah) has the story with links to the opinion. [MG]
An Open Invitation to Legal Publishers to Answer the Question "What Does LAW.GOV Mean to You?"
Last week, LLB published a selection of LAW.GOV videos featuring a wide range of participants including representatives from the legal publishing industry to illustrate the breadth and depth of interest and involvement in the LAW.GOV initiative. About LAW.GOV, representatives of a couple of legal information vendors have been quoted in the press including, for example, Michele Vivona, LexisNexis Group senior vice president for global Web strategy:
We do not see the initiative as a threat because at LexisNexis we deliver comprehensive analysis and innovative technologies that add value far beyond simply providing content — all helping to legal professionals efficiently and confidently make decisions and manage their legal issues.
Similar statements from other members of what now must be called the "traditional legal publishing community" are hard to find. Do they even exist? Isn't it time to hear what they have to say and hopefully in substantially more detail than the Vivona quote used by a NLJ reporter to write a story?
As institutional buyers, law librarians tend to think in terms of TR Legal, Lexis, WK and BNA. It most definitely would be interesting to know what our major legal information vendors think about LAW.GOV now that it's ten core principles have been released. This is an open invitation for them do so.
There are several new legal vendors who are delivering electronic products and services to a marketplace that includes but also goes beyond the user population of our traditional legal vendors. This is also an open invitation to these new players to explain what LAW.GOV means to them.
Responding to LLB's Open Invitation. Do I really expect our legal vendors, traditional or otherwise, to respond to this open invitation. Well, no, not really. But I think LLB readers would be interesting in hearing from them now that LAW.GOV's ten core principles have been published. So it's worth a shot.
All any legal vendor has to do is email me a statement with the text in the body of the email or attached in a Word document, or a link to one hosted on a corporate server, and it will be published in full, FIFO, for all to read. If it's an unofficial statement, just say so in the text. No doubt many LLB readers would be interested in hearing those perspectives on LAW.GOV, too. [JH]
Coming Soon, The Interface of Classic Lexis Gets a Tweak
In case you missed the demo in Denver or the recent mass emailing, Classic Lexis is about to get an interface tweak. Nothing too radical to throw regular Lexis users into a state of confusion -- just a cleaner look, some navigation improvements, and placing some commonly used tools and practice area/jurisdiction-specific resources in a right sidebar. And to repeat the answers to the two most frequently asked questions at the Lexis booth: (1) No, this is not Lexis Advance; and (2) No, there is no increase in cost for this.
For details including some screen-shots, go here. PDF here. The biggest single improvement I saw in the demo was the elimination of the always annoying login default display that took you to your last search's database selection.
In Denver it was explained that the interface would first be made available to law librarians for their comments before implementation to the entire Lexis user population. Don't know if that is still the case or was already performed on a selective basis. According to the FAQ:
We will launch to all U.S. customers starting Q4 2010. The launch dates will vary by market segment and will be communicated to you soon. Watch for more details, including the exact timing for your firm or organization in the coming weeks.
August 15, 2010
Round-Up of Practitoner Blogs
Sacramento Bankruptcy Attorneys Blog
Provides insight on bankruptcy law news, opinions and legislation in California. Published by the Roy Law Offices.
New Jersey Disability Lawyer Blog
Examines disability law legislation, opinions and cases in New Jersey. Published by Bonny G. Rafel, LLC.
Charlotte Injury Lawyer Blog
Reports on injury law opinions, news and legislation in North Carolina. Published by Hull & Chandler.
California Bankruptcy Lawyers Blog
Reviews bankruptcy law news, cases and opinions in California. Published by Premier Legal.