November 6, 2010
How Many Emails Are in Your In-box?
Well, there are 3,117 in my Gmail account and I'm not even going try to count the number of emails in my employer's email account. Most but not all have been read. Some but not necessarily most have received a reply-back from me.
The question was posed by TechnoLawyer and, of course, it is for a pitch for an "email management strategy" app. In this case, one offered by ProLaw. If interested, you can register for a free webinar on Nov. 16 or can view an online demo.
I would be much more interested in a webinar that explains to the Blog Widow and others that a phone call is much more time efficient than multiple text messages, ditto voice mail. Hey, I'm not a Luddite. I like emails and listservs but I can live without text messaging. [JH]
November 5, 2010
What is Oxford Thinking?
Copyright clearance for course packs at my institution lands in my office. For a new course in the making, I am trying to help a professor select a textbook for the class. He really likes the 2009 OU Press book Trade Secrets Law and Practice by Quinto & Singer. The problem is that it costs $245 and not likely to be a popular choice. Since he only intended to use certain parts of the book and supplement the materials with shorter articles, we thought we could check our academic Copyright Clearance Center license to see what our copyright obligations are for course packs. I post the terms from the publisher below (the book is a hard copy title):
Use of this publication is limited to a maximum of the greater of (a) 20% of any single Work and (b) two chapters or articles, in any single course. Except for the rights to create coursepacks, e-coursepacks and their equivalent as expressly authorized under the Annual Copyright License for Academic Institutions, the license granted thereunder does not include any rights to use this publication in any custom publications or other such derivative works. The Annual Copyright License Agreement for Academic Institutions does not authorize the use of this publication for inter library loan.
Of course, the right of first sale embodied in 17 U.S.C. 109 is familiar to us - but perhaps it is not familiar to Oxford. I checked another 5 OUP titles in the CCC database and they all have this language attached to their Rights Terms. I checked 3 other popular law title publishers - West, Lexis and BNA - none of them include this curious language.
As far as I know, publishers cannot opt out of U.S. law, though, interestingly, a related interpretation will be a topic of discussion on Monday at the U.S. Supreme Court when the justices (minus Justice Kagan) hear oral arguments for Costco v. Omega (does the first sale doctrine apply to objects made and purchased outside of U.S. borders and then redistributed in U.S. territory). We should keep an eye on that case!
I am not sure what Oxford means by this language but it is certainly less friendly than what we learned about Springer in MG's post here E-books to Libraries without DRM. Where Springer gets the spirit of libraries and lending, Oxford clearly does not. They have plenty of authors writing on the subject of copyright - including the fabulous William Patry - but they don't seem to consult their own publications!
Perhaps Oxford is conspiring the the ABA Standards Review Committee and trying to limit rights in the name of big business. Or maybe I am paranoid. Maybe both OUP and the ABA don't get it. (VS)
eBooks to Libraries Without DRM?
Is it possible for a major publisher to offer eBooks to institutional customers without DRM or other similar restrictions? Apparently yes. Springer offers 40,000 eBook titles to libraries without any form of DRM. They don't even grouse about it, compared to some in the publishing industry. The consumer experience is a bit different, as it is the online stores demanding DRM as a way of locking the consumer into their revenue stream.
The story is in Publisher's Weekly, where George Scotti,Springer Verlag's director of channel directly states that the company sells books to libraries, the libraries own them, and they can do whatever they want:
“Libraries buy direct from us and they own the content,” he said. “Once users download content, they can give it out, share, whatever. They own it.” Scotti explained that once libraries have paid for the content, the e-books are available without charge to everyone at these institutions, so there’s no need to repost or redistribute it online. Once the e-book is downloaded from the library, no return is necessary. “Some of our competitors are afraid to do this,” Scotti said, “but we say, free the content.’”
Last I heard, Springer hasn't gone out of business because of this policy. [MG]
Friday Fun: Law Zoombie Wants To Go To Law School
Following up on LLB's The Law Zombie, Great as a Faculty Member, Less So as a Law School Applicant, today's Friday Fun features a cartoon clip featuring a practicing lawyer echoing the same concerns YLS Admission Dean did about "law zoombies" who want to go to law school. A big hat tip to Jason Wilson's rethinkc.k blog post, Don’t go to law school, for this gem. [JH]
ABA Ethics Formal Opinion on Lawyer Websites
The ABA's Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility's Formal Opinion 10-457 provides guidance on the use of lawyer websites. From the summary:
Websites have become a common means by which lawyers communicate with the public. Lawyers must not include misleading information on websites, must be mindful of the expectations created by the website, and must carefully manage inquiries invited through the website. Websites that invite inquiries may create a prospective client-lawyer relationship under Rule 1.18. Lawyers who respond to website-initiated inquiries about legal services should consider the possibility that Rule 1.18 may apply.
For a review, see Louis J. Sirico's Legal Skills Prof Blog post. [JH]
Ohio July 2010 Bar Exam Results: Ranking of In-State Law Schools with 10-Year Track Record for First Timer Pass Rates
Congratulations to all who passed the July 2010 bar in Ohio. Note well law school applicants, there is no positive correlation between US News Law School Rankings and passing the bar exam. And if you want any chance whatsoever of getting a job in this labor market, passing the bar trumps the US News Law School Rankings unless you are attending one of the elite Top 10, perhaps Top 20, ranked law schools, none of which are listed below.
Find the law school that somehow will provide an education that (1) prepares you for obtaining a license to practive law and (2) by way of a comprehensive legal skills curriculum provides you with a professional education to actually practice law while (3) leaves you with the lowest amount of debt to pay off. In most cases, that is not usually a top 50 or top 100 law school. In other words, law school brand recognition doesn't mean a damn thing if you don't pass the bar. [JH]
|Ohio July 2010 Bar Ranking: 1st Timer % Pass Rate|
|for In-State Law Schools|
|Univ. of Akron||1||94%|
|Univ. of Cincinnati||4||91%|
|Univ. of Toledo||6||87%|
|Univ. of Dayton||9||75%|
|Tie-breaker: Larger number of 1st Time Exam Takers|
Reminder: Law Librarian Conversations Features Author Richard Dooling Today
Lawyer, law professor and author Richard Dooling with be the featured guest on LawLibCon today. He has written several novels, including White Man's Grave which was a 1994 National Book Award finalist. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed Rapture for the Geeks: When AI Outsmarts IQ (Three Rivers Press, 2009). The program starts at 2:00 PM CDT. Reserve your Webinar seat now at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/728591299 [JH]
November 4, 2010
How Does Google Books Search Work
Unlike searching the web where Google uses link relevancy to get you to the top of the hit list, Google can't do that with the book scanning project. There are no links between the books to use. A recent post in The Atlantic reviews how Google "tunes" for books. According to the Nov. 1 post:
The system they've come up with has become increasingly sophisticated, as highlighted by their latest tweak, Rich Results, which begins rolling out this afternoon. The feature selectively presents you with one extra-large result when it detects that you're probably searching for an individual title and not a specific mote of information or general topic.
Rich Results is the latest in a series of smaller front-end tweaks that have been matched by backend improvements. Now, the book search algorithm takes into account more than 100 "signals," individual data categories that Google statistically integrates to rank your results. When you search for a book, Google Books doesn't just look at word frequency or how closely your query matches the title of a book. They now take into account web search frequency, recent book sales, the number of libraries that hold the title, and how often an older book has been reprinted.
So, if you search "Help" now, you get a big blow-up of Kathryn Stockett's 2009 book, not one of the dozens of other books with the same title. Or if you search "dragon tattoo," you get Stieg Larsson's blockbuster, not the 2008 children's book actually called Dragon Tattoo.
Some of the other wiz-bang features pointed out in the post include sorting by date, refining by subject, and a book specific suggest feature - this is that feature that tries to guess what you are looking for. Before this summer, it was not book specific but word specific so it was making ridiculous suggestions. Sort of like the legal spelling corrector in the III opac that never gets anything right.
This is pretty cool stuff for a free search engine. Even if you aren't a fan of the Google book scan project, you have to admire the work accomplished. For 15 million books!
Of course, one of the reasons they can add cool features like Rich Results or do this, the post goes on to say, is because the data for books is much more structured (thank you cataloging librarians). I wonder why our ILSs can't do cool things like this in a more cohesive way. Google is using the same data that we are. Could it be that our ILS vendors are just not bold enough, creative enough, or interested enough to get it all together? I'm not sure, but it is an interesting post and you should read it. (VS)
Cuil We Hardly Knew Ye
Has anyone use the search engine Cuil lately? Probably not. That's because it unceremoniously shut down on September 17th of this year. I would not have known but for the fact that someone asked me in reference to a lecture I gave a while back. The person wanted to try it out and the address, www.cuil.com, returned nothing, not even a 404 error page. Talk about going out of business.
The search engine lasted a little over two years. It was considered a possible threat to Google because of the pedigree of its founders. These were ex-Google staffer Anna Patterson and her husband Tom Costello. Time Magazine notes that Patterson developed the TeraGoogle indexing system and Costello developed search engine systems at Stanford and IBM. Can these two do a better job than Google? Whether they could or did is moot at this point. I understand that Beta was better as well, and one of Sony's more spectacular failures.
Cuil's claim to fame was ranking results based on content rather than popularity. It had a few quirks in the early days. I remember testing it then with particular words that would have identified unique web sites, none of which came up in the first results. I dismissed the site at that point, but made a habit of testing it from time to time. It improved in its coverage and accuracy. The problem, though, was that Google wasn't necessarily better, but it was good enough. It was always there and it gave me what I wanted. Now that Yahoo is out of the race, Bing is the only realer challenger to Google in the mass-market search land. Bing has made some headway for market share but nothing that has Google quaking in its boots. At least not yet. Microsoft, though, is known for spending money for the long haul even when the long haul produced no significant market impact. See the Zune media player, for example.
For that matter consider the new search engine entrant Blekko. It's just gone public and its getting a lot of positive attention in the press, just as Cuil did when it appeared. Some of the content is user rated, and it tries to eliminate spam by design and organization. It also offers information about a web site, than merely offering it as a link result. It's worth a try, but I'm not sure if it will appeal to a mainstream audience any more than did Cuil. My own quick test shows that it brings up my unique test web sites and impressively lists most of their content in subsequent results. The search result page noticeably has no ads. I'm not sure if it will displace Google in the search engine world market, though I suspect that isn't the goal. Good luck with that if it is. [MG]
Library Journal Interview with Carl Malamud on LAW.GOV
Debbie Rabina, Associate Professor at the Pratt Institute School of Information & Library Science and Depository Library Council member recently interviewed Carl Malamud for Library Journal. A snip:
Debbie Rabina: What kind of solutions do you see? Is this just a question of changing the law?
Carl Malamud: The whole Law.Gov movement is evolving—we did workshops in over 15 locations around the country at the beginning of this year, including many of the top law schools in the country, like Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, and Yale. The point of that exercise was to explore the proposition that if a material is to be considered primary legal material, it would have the force of law issued by a governmental body or somehow blessed by a governmental body as being a law of general applicability, and by that we mean Congressional hearings, as well as the laws, because you need the hearings in order to interpret the intent.
Maybe 100 years ago saying any college kid ought to be able to download the entire corpus of the canon of American law, maybe that would have been unreasonable, but in today’s Internet world, it isn’t unreasonable—it’s important that we provide that level of access. So Law.Gov is all about what it would take to institute this principle into the public policy framework at the local, state, and federal levels across all three branches, that if it’s a law, it must be available and must be available in a somewhat clueful manner. It should have metadata, document IDs, and proper format, and privacy should be protected—all the things that we associate with modern electronic data streaming.
Access to the law in particular in the United States is a $10 billion a year industry, and it’s a very inequitable system in which government lawyers and solo practitioners and a lot of different groups don’t have the same access to the legal materials that those who are more well heeled have. And it’s a huge issue for innovation—it means that a young start-up can’t really get into the business of providing a better kind of legal information or even more general information—but it’s also a problem of justice and democracy.
There are instances in which government ought to be able to produce things, and perhaps they’re not broadly available or there are restrictions on use, although I tend not to favor those arrangements. But when it comes to things that have the force of law, which is one of the prime areas where we subcontracted out the kind of official reporting of the court relationship or other relationships, then that’s a huge problem. It’s certainly contrary to Supreme Court and other public policy pronouncements, ones that go back to the founding of the republic.
Read the complete Nov. 1, 2010 LJ interview here. [JH]
Jason Wilson: The digest is dead. So why isn’t the headnote?
A great deal of ink has been spilled over the last 25 years or so on the topic of West’s Digests and Key Number System, how those systems have influenced legal research and shaped how lawyers think about the law, and whether the free-text system of computer-assisted legal research (CALR) allows for deeper, more interpretive research. It’s quite a lively debate.
But this post isn’t about any of that. So, if you are at all curious about it, I suggest you start by reading Richard Danner’s excellent article, “Legal Information & the Development of American Law: Writings on the Form and Structure of the Published Law.”
I mention the debate because some recent articles argue, more or less, that lawyers don’t use the digests anymore, so the issue of whether the Digests or Key Numbers influence legal research is moot. (Please note, these articles were written before West released WestlawNext and WestSearch, which “bakes” the Key Number classification system into search.) It’s not that those systems are unimportant, but there are, as one commentator put it, “other normalizing functions at work.” Lihosit, Research in the Wild: CALR and the Role of Informal Apprenticeship in Attorney Training, 101 Law Lib. J. 157, 169 (2009-10). Check out Joseph Custer’s article, The Universe of Thinkable Thoughts Versus the Facts of Empirical Research, 102 Law Lib. J. 251 (2010), as well.
Although I would be remiss in not pointing out the fact that in the two articles I just mentioned the authors’ sampling size was quite small (Lihosit interviewed 15 attorneys from San Diego over a two year period; Custer received 121 responses to a mailed survey sent to 526 Douglas County, Kansas attorneys), I will say that their conclusions are consistent with my own anecdotal experiences. Specifically, fewer and fewer lawyers and legal researchers are utilizing the Digests, and by extension, the Key Number system to find cases. That is not to say those resources aren’t included, in some way, in their research. For example, lawyers will click on hyperlinked headnotes to find other cases listed within the Key Number or Lexis equivalent. Lihosit, Research in the Wild, 102 Law Lib. J. at 171. But, their usage is declining rapidly. And I assume that within a couple of years, the digests will be dead.
So if fewer and fewer researchers are using digests, why continue producing headnotes?
Let me be clear about one thing: I’m am talking about headnotes, not the Key Number classifications. A headnote is a summary of an important point of law, which is usually edited for concision and context. As this video demonstrates, the headnote is designed to stand alone; that is, it is designed to exist outside of the case itself. But as we complete the migration to CALR and kill off all of the print resources we’ve used to locate relevant case law, I can’t see how one makes the case for the headnote’s continued utility in our research universe.
It seems to me that if West is paying someone to put eyeballs on an opinion, that person could be adding more useful data than simply a rephrasing of a key legal issue. And by “data,” I mean “metadata,” information that is a part of, not separate from the opinion. This means we could extend the opinion by wrapping the entire order, parts, paragraphs, sentences, or words with tags that could assist in locating the opinion (via queries, search, linking, etc.) and giving greater context for it in a way that enhances the Key Number classification, but avoids the debate of whether and to what extent the “literary warrant of the Key Number System” should be expanded. For more on the literary warrant, see Dabney, The Universe of Thinkable Thoughts: Literary Warrant and West’s Key Number System, 99 Law Lib. J. 229 (2006). Perhaps it would even be possible for extended opinions to give researchers greater contextual data (both textual and graphical) around snippets to solve some of the confirmatory bias (and other) issues raised in Katrina Fischer Kuh’s terrific article Electronically Manufactured Law, 22 Harvard J. of Law & Tech. 223 (2008).
Whatever the solution, if you write headnotes, I’m afraid your days are numbered.
-- Jason Wilson
Editor's Note: Jason Wilson is a publishing exec at Jones McClure Publishing. So while he hasn't asked for the usual disclaimer, let's add that his opinions do not necessarily represent the views of Jones McClure. You can read Wilson's contributions to the legal information professional blogosphere at rethinkc.k and Slaw. Both blogs are highly recommended and if you haven't already taken their RSS feeds, well, isn't this a good time to do so? Also, many thanks to Jason for taking the time to write this guest post.
Let's also add that regular LLB readers may have noticed a trend in some of this week's LLB posts, namely one that questions whether some print publication types like reporter advance sheets, print digests and print legal encyclopedias have outlived their utility in print and are just too damn expensive to retain on library shelves. This can include the editorial production of case headnotes in print for digests and reporters and, perhaps, for electronic opinions for online search. Earlier posts:
- How Much Longer for 19th Century Legal Print Relics: What legal reference and research tool titles are obsolete and when will they disappear from sales catalogs? (Quoting Wilson: "Print digests are gone in three years, yes. Headnotes will not be written in five."); and
- Are Case Headnotes at Risk of Extinction?
First, those of us who have been doing this legal online search thing for 30 years now, remember the days before Lexis started adding headnotes (and the days when WALT really only searched headnotes). I, for one, didn't miss the lack of headnotes in Lexis for online caselaw research and still find no need for them in Lexis, Classic Westlaw or WLN. What we could use is far better baked-in metadata that SEs utilize but WLN's SE is insufficient on this count. For 21st Century very expensive legal search, developers need to invent, not unthinkingly incorporate their inventory of past editorial work product.
I like what Fastcase offers by way of citation analysis (30-plus years ago we called this "bibliographic coupling") which states something to the effect that "results unrelated to your search keywords" may be relevant. This is clearly indicated in search output displays so a researcher does not have a "how come?" these cases are listed reaction.
In the dark ages of 1978-1980 library school, we took keywords from LC Classification schedules, added them to MARC records for faceted keyword searching that would product search results that added a subject tree for pathing up to broader and downward to narrower records regardless of the search terms a researcher used. We never got the output display to overcome the "how come?" I got these results right without a researcher viewing the entire bib record and never got the pathway right but, what the heck, it was the late 1970s.
If a vendor like TR Legal wants to utilize its 100-year-old oftentimes revised Key Number classification system, this is the sort of baked-in metadata that can produce related broader-narrower output display results that are clearly signaled for the subject tree pathway. But case headnotes? Had no problem when Lexis didn't have them; don't see them as a major contribution to improving 21st Century online search.
Second, the timing of these posts intentionally coincides with AALL's Law Student Research Competency Task Force's online discussion and the release of the Boulder Statement on Legal Research Education: Signature Pedagogy Statement. Meaning ... just something to think about. [JH]
November 3, 2010
Some Thoughts on the Bar Exam
A November report on IOMA takes an interesting perspective on the bar exam. Elizabeth Wurtzel suggests that bar exam passage is not the best predictor of success for lawyers. She uses examples of exceptionally bright and successful people who failed the bar the first time they took it and compares them to the hacks that populate the law trade. Yes, law is a noble profession, but the mechanics and economics of practicing law still make it a business. She doesn't suggest getting rid of the bar. On the other hand, changing it in a way that aligns it with the reality of practicing law might be a good thing.
I remember the days when I took the Illinois bar. I, along with thousand of other paranoid law students signed up for BAR/BRI. My commercial law instructor in law school, Professor Michael Spak, taught a number of the BAR/BRI classes. He told us up front that there would be two questions on the Illinois essay portion on commercial paper because they were easy subjects for testing. He also said that it was unlikely that any of us would have a commercial paper problem in real life law practice. If we saw one in 30 years, he said, it would be a lot. I can appreciate that. I had a reference question about UCC Article V yesterday. I think it was the first time in years I had a question about the Code other than where a copy was located.
The joke at the time was that law school was a three year prerequisite for taking bar review. One would think that law school should be preparation enough. The test itself is so arcane at times that it seems to live in a world of its own. One could easily look at the questions on the multi-state portion and ask how the possible answers had anything to do with the question. The best I could say is they all had some relation to law, but not necessarily how I learned it. Somehow I passed.
The National Lampoon famously parodied the New York bar exam where one of the questions asked the taker to pull out the miniature piano and beneath the seat and compose a sonata for piano and drums within 20 minutes. What has this to do with testing on knowledge of the law? Yes, exactly. But in one sense, the parody represented the unreality of the actual exam.
My advice to first time bar takers is take the exam seriously. It's not something anyone wants to do twice. Take a bar review course. These are designed to teach individuals on how to take the exam, what are the code words in the question and how they relate to the apparently unrelated answers in the multi-state portion. Law school on its own doesn't do that. Cherish the moment, as it's the only time that anyone will ever know the most general law in their life. Stay awake. The exam is as boring as it is grueling. And, after hitting the bars after taking the bar, feel free to forget most everything about commercial paper. Unless the result is fail. Then remember it for another six months. Repeat as necessary. [MG]
Google News Election 2010 Scoreboard
Here's the link to the Google News Election 2010 Scoreboard for Senate, House and Governor election results and news reports. The Democrats' defeat in the House means the end of Nancy Pelosi's tenure as Speaker of the US House of Representatives. She will very likely to be replaced by veteran Ohio Republican John Boehner. According to NPR, Republicans are likely to hold a solid majority of governorships joining by new majorities in as many as a dozen of state legislative chambers. "Republicans, in fact, appeared on course to win the most legislative seats they've held nationwide since World War II." See also Republican election wave hits U.S. state houses. [JH]
Are Case Headnotes at Risk of Extinction?
The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the group. Will the headnote become extinct when the last print reporter is cancelled? In The Future of Headnotes, Eric Appleby, Maritime Law Book, a publisher of 14 law reporters that cover every jurisdiction in Canada except Quebec writes "Headnotes are at risk because the full text of legal decisions without headnotes are now available free on the Internet from multiple sources. This free access has resulted in a dramatic reduction of print subscriptions to law reports." Appleby adds
I believe that some caselaw volumes in the future will include an abbreviated form of headnote, such as headings and sub-headings only. That is, editorial input will be minimal at some publishers. But some caselaw series will have complete headnotes for as long as there is a minimum number of print subscribers. That minimum will vary from publisher to publisher depending upon individual expense levels and the individual cost of capital.
Of course, print reporters have to be purchased in sufficient numbers. I, for one, wonder who will be buying print reporters five years from now even if digital opinions are not authenticated by then. In the context of discussing the eventual demise of print digests in yesterday's LLB post, How Much Longer for 19th Century Legal Print Relics, Jason Wilson, Jones McClure Publishing, predicted that headnotes will not be written in five years.
And, of course, headnotes are not dependent on the print medium. They can be part of the "value added" by providers of fee-based online legal search services. But as Appleby observed in his Slaw post, "revenue to pay editors [to write headnotes] has been declining steadily since the start of the Internet." Can licensing revenue for online services pay for the continuation of headnote production as print reporters and digests disappear from law library shelves? Unless licensing fees increase substantially I doubt it, that is unless the work is sent overseas to reduce labor costs.
Despite the hue and cry when West sent (and then stopped) headnote composition for unofficial opinions to India, I personally don't care where headnotes are drafted as long as they are accurate. Sending all the work to low-cost labor markets is fine with me. But the real issue in the 21st Century is are headnotes embedded in court opinions needed at all for online search? If sufficient metadata is baked into each electronic court opinion for search engines to utilize, I doubt it.
Appleby might disagree: "The future of headnotes is not as clear as a decision with a headnote." [JH].
On Student Learning Outcomes: Legal Writing Profs Give ABA Standards Review Committee Lesson in Drafting
On September 30, 2010, the Association of Legal Writing Directors submitted a letter to the ABA Section of Legal Education & Admissions as a comment on the May 5, 2010 draft of proposed revisions to the ABA Accreditation Standards with respect to Student Learning Outcomes.
ALWD urges the [Student Learning Outcomes] Subcommittee to recommend standards with sufficient rigor to drive meaningful change in legal education, and more specifically to address the longstanding concerns in the Carnegie Report regarding the quality and relevance of legal education.
One might say the ALWD provided the ABA Committee with an illustration in how to draft with specificity by several of its recommended revisions, including Draft Interpretation 302-1 for Standard 302: Learning Outcomes and Standard 304: Assessment of Student Learning. This after the ABA watered down earlier drafted language. Two examples displayed below.
On October 18, 2010, The Legal Writing Institute submitted a letter to the ABA Accredition Standards supporting the ALWD's September 30, 2010 recommendations, noting "we specifically endorse the language proposed by ALWD that modifies the May 5, 2010 draft on outcome measure, and the rationale provided to support those changes." And explaining:
We join with ALWD in recommending improvements to the May 5, 2010 draft that restores some of the more specific, and therefore guided and transparent, standards reflected in the October, 2009 draft.
It appears that the chief objection to the various proposals that the Standards Review Committee has considered is cost. For example, the Board of Directors of the American Law Deans Association, in its July 14, 2010 memorandum to the Consultant, claims that an outcome measures regime that requires a school to rigorously assess its effectiveness would “necessarily” require a school to “spend a tremendous amount of time and resources assessing its progress.” We believe that this statement reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of what “outcome measures” are, and how schools could go about creating them and assessing achievement of them.
November 2, 2010
How Google Searches the Books Database
There's an article on The Atlantic web site that offers a bit on insight into how Google creates a result set for searches in Google Books. The method is different from the standard Google web search where all kinds of related information is used to determine the ranking of results. Books, as the article notes, are in most situations, unrelated to each other. So there is a new method:
They now take into account web search frequency, recent book sales, the number of libraries that hold the title, and how often an older book has been reprinted.
So says Alexis Madrigal in his article, Inside the Google Book Algorithm. Other fun facts worth mentioning is the Google Book collection numbers some 15 million. Compared to most libraries, that's a huge amount. On the other hand, given how many books have been published in the history of the world, Google has a long way to go, copyright law notwithstanding. [MG]
Boulder Statement on Legal Research Education: Signature Pedagogy Statement
The Boulder Statement on Legal Research Education: Signature Pedagogy Statement (republished below; download official document here) is an outcome of the 2010 Conference on Legal Information: Scholarship and Teaching. Very interesting and, in my opinion, a valuable contribution aimed at improving legal research education in the legal academy and a very timely release that may provide some structure to AALL's Law Student Research Competency Task Force's on-going online discussion.
There will be a 2011 Conference on Legal Information in Philadelphia, immediately preceding the AALL Annual Meeting. Details will be announced in early 2011. If you are interested in writing on a topic related to legal information or legal research education for consideration at the 2011 Conference, contact Barbara Bintliff, Joseph C. Hutcheson Professor in Law and Director of Research, Univ. of Texas Tarlton Law Library, for details. [JH]
Boulder Statement on Legal Research Education: Signature Pedagogy Statement
The second Conference on Legal Information: Scholarship and Teaching brought together legal research professionals at the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder, Colorado on July 8-10, 2010. The purposes of the Conference were to continue to foster legal information scholarship and to resume work on the development of a signature pedagogy for legal research education, in accord with the 2009 Boulder Statement on Legal Research Education (available at http://www.colorado.edu/law/events/legalResearchEducation.pdf). Participants at the 2010 Conference expanded upon the theoretical foundation of a signature pedagogy for legal research education, as expressed in the 2009 Boulder Statement, and now present this Signature Pedagogy Statement to define in more concrete terms the elements of a signature pedagogy.
Like the Boulder Statement on Legal Research Education, the Signature Pedagogy Statement is modeled on the analysis found in the Carnegie Foundation’s Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law (2007), generally referred to as the “Carnegie Report.” The Signature Pedagogy Statement reflects, in particular, the application to legal research education of the characteristics identified for “Legal Education’s Signature Pedagogy” as described in the Carnegie Report (pp. 50-59). Conference attendees found the Signature Pedagogy Statement to be an important and necessary step forward in the reformation of legal research instruction to better serve student needs and the realities of legal practice.
Using the Carnegie Report’s analysis of a signature pedagogy, attendees at the Conference on Legal Information described the surface structure, deep structure, tacit structure, and shadow structure of a signature pedagogy of legal research education. The Carnegie Report defines the surface structure as the features and behaviors of a pedagogy that are readily apparent. The deep structure comprises the underlying theories or models behind the surface structure. The tacit structure refers to the values modeled by the surface structure. The shadow structure is that which is missing or the values that are not engaged through the pedagogy. The four structures together describe the pedagogy.
The Boulder Statement on Legal Research Education: Signature Pedagogy Statement expresses an ideal pedagogy for legal research educators in the U.S. but does not prescribe specific teaching methods; those are described in other literatures. The Signature Pedagogy Statement is offered in the spirit of the ongoing process of improving the preparation of law students for their legal careers. Work in future Boulder Conferences will focus on implementation strategies for the Boulder Statement on Legal Research Education and the Signature Pedagogy Statement.
The Boulder Statement on Legal Research Education:
Signature Pedagogy Statement
We teach an intellectual process for the application of methods for legal research by:
1) Using a range of teaching methodologies and a mix of realistic problem types;
2) Showing the relationship of legal structure to legal tools and evaluating the appropriate use of those tools;
3) Inculcating the practice of iterative research strategies; and
4) Providing regular assessment.
The surface structure above enables students to master analytic and metacognitive approaches to:
1) Find and evaluate sources in the context of the legal questions;
2) Determine legal context, access authority, and understand how what is found relates to the legal question; and
3) Synthesize knowledge of the legal resources and institutional structures to implement research design, and evaluate and communicate the results.
The surface structure models values, attitudes and norms of ethical professional behavior, including:
1) Professional duties, both while representing clients and researching for other purposes, which consist of but but are not limited to accountability, honesty, thoroughness, cost- and time-effectiveness, and balancing competing duties; and
2) Professional development, which incorporates but is not limited to critical self-assessment and critical strategic thinking, self-directed lifelong learning, problem solving, and the management of uncertainty and ambiguity within the research process.
The surface structure can be limited because:
1) The curriculum often does not recognize legal research as a necessary, intellectual skill;
2) Legal research instruction is not appropriately integrated within the curriculum;
3) The academy often undervalues librarians as research experts and underutilizes them as research faculty; and
4) The legal education environment is necessarily a simulation, and is limited in its ability to provide a holistic context for client contact.
Duncan Alford, University of South Carolina
Leta Ambrose, University of Denver
David Armond, Brigham Young University
Barbara Bintliff, University of Texas
Margaret Butler, Georgia State University
Paul Callister, UMKC
Matthew Cordon, Baylor University
Stephanie Davidson, University of Illinois
Kerry Fitz-Gerald, Seattle University
Kumar Jayasuriya, Georgetown University
Nancy Johnson, Georgia State University
Dennis Kim-Prieto, Rutgers
Jootaek Lee, University of Miami
Robert Linz, University of Colorado
Susan Nevelow-Mart, Hastings Law School
Shawn Nevers, Brigham Young University
Alan Pannell, University of Colorado
Carol Parker, University of New Mexico
Phebe Poydras, Florida A&M University
Amanda Runyon, University of Texas
Leslie Street, University of North Carolina
Jane Thompson, University of Colorado
Sarah Valentine, CUNY
Jennifer Wertkin, Columbia University
How Much Longer for 19th Century Legal Print Relics: What legal reference and research tool titles are obsolete and when will they disappear from sales catalogs?
Time to follow up on an issue posed in LLB's Are Reporter Advance Sheet Services Obsolete? (After a 34% Price Increase is Stanford Law Going to Cancel West's S. Ct. Advance Sheet Subscription?) That post cites to Stanford Law Paul Lomio's post, The supremely expensive Supreme Court Reporter Advance Sheets Service where Lomio ends with the following question:
Isn’t this service really quite obsolete? If you think otherwise, I would welcome comments posted as we mull over whether or not we will cancel.
This as Stanford Law was grappling with a 15% budget cutback. Does anyone with access to any sort of fee-based or free online legal search service really need advance sheets? Don't think so.
There's been some email exchanges about what other law-related print titles are obsolete. Well, we all know Shepards in print is and has been for years. Harvard Law School's collection development policy with its reliance on WEXIS online source substitution it "buys" like other academic law libraries damn cheap but which nonetheless generated the largest print cancellation in West's history is a landmark development. Jenkins Law Library's recent "free-for-postage" AALL listserv offering of state digests current with 2009 pocket parts is another example.
I have characterized print digests and comprehensive general and state legal encylopedias as examples of 19th Century publication types that have outlived their usefulness for legal research and which are just too damn expensive to maintain in print. Jason Wilson, Jones McClure Publishing, forecasts via emails that
Print digests are gone in three years, yes. Headnotes will not be written in five. My predictions, quote me on it. And the anecdotal evidence is already there.
And in response to legal encyclopedias, Wilson adds:
I can't see how these things are going to last that much longer in print (like digests).
I agree although I might stretch the forecasts for the demise of print digests and legal encyclopedias out to five years for the last remaining diehards, meaning those academic law libraries which have cancelled most print digests and legal encyclopedias but for the token ones because LRW profs insist on instructing law students on how to perform legal research oh so last century. Plus some public sector state and county law libraries who may still be saying "but, but" while cancelling other print to offset the escalating costs of digests and legal encyclopedias. But that's what WEXIS public access accounts for online search is about with or without online access for these relics from bygone times.
What do you think? [JH]
Reminder: Law Student Research Competency Task Force's Online Discussion Is Underway
Time for eveyone fed up with the quality of legal research instruction in the legal academy to chime in --- and no, I am not pointing a finger at academic law librarians because they do not control of the curriculum. Hell, are they even listened to when they have damn good ideas?
AALL's Law Student Research Competency Task Force's online discussion started yesterday and will run through Nov. 12. The results of the discussion will be used by the Task Force to prepare a report for the AALL Executive Board, which in turn may be the basis of "an anticipated partnership with the ABA to set standards for law schools in the teaching of legal research." Sign up for the forum here. [JH]
Opening: Electronic Services Librarian, Univ. of San Diego Legal Research Center
As a member of the public services team, the Electronic Services Librarian proposes and implements the Legal Research Center's (LRC) electronic information services and policies; investigates, procures and maintains electronic databases; provides outreach and training to students, staff, and faculty on these databases; insures the currency, flexibility, and appropriateness of these databases; coordinates activity and communication between the LRC, the law school, and information technology services to facilitate faculty access to and use of technology for instruction; advises reference librarians about electronic research innovations, tools, and techniques, particularly those useful in legal research and instruction; provides research and reference services to all LRC patrons; provides training and instruction in the use of legal research tools in all formats; produces bibliographies and research and informational guides for the use of LRC patrons; assists in the development, evaluation, implementation, and revision of public services research tools (including the LRC blog), policies, and procedures; gives tours of the LRC; surveys LRC collections to assist in collection development; supervises circulation staff and student assistants in the absence of other professional staff; takes on and oversees projects as assigned. Reports directly to the head of reference. Supervises circulation staff and student assistants in the absence of other professional staff.
Job Requirements (partial list):
- J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited law school
- M.L.S. degree from an ALA-accredited library school
- Law library experience
Salary: Commensurate with experience; Excellent Benefits
Benefits Package: The University of San Diego offers a very competitive benefits package that includes medical, dental, vision, tuition remission, a 12% retirement contribution, and access to the on-campus Fitness Centers. Visit the benefits section of USD's website to view what USD has to offer at Finance & Administration: Human Resources: Benefits
Application Process: If interested, go to the University of San Diego job opportunities site to see a fuller description and qualifications, then complete the online application. In addition, upload a cover letter, resume, and 3 letters of reference to your application profile for the hiring managers' review. If you have any questions or difficulties please contact Rose Trujillo, Employment Services Supervisor, Human Resources Department, at (619) 260-2725 or hr(at)sandiego.edu.