November 30, 2010
Voting Has Begun in the ABA Journal's 4th Annual Blawg 100
You can view the ABAJ's selection and vote for your favorite blogs from among the top 100 in each of 12 categories here. Voting ends at the close of business Dec. 30. Winners of the popular vote will be announced in January. [JH]
The Sun Never Sets on the Thomson Reuters Empire: On Restructuring for the 21st Century's New Normal
Thomson Reuters adjusts to 'new normal', a recent Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune story, paints a far less rosy picture than the local Citypages did in its April 29, 2009 story, Westlaw rises to legal publishing fame by selling free information:
[When Thomson acquired West, people] "doubted that Thomson would be able to squeeze more profit out of West, which was already posting 25 percent returns. But since its takeover, Thomson has consistently managed to attain 30 percent or higher profit margins. Legal information seems to be the sponge that won't dry.
But as Outsell's legal publishing industry analyst David Curle said back in January of this year, “The party is over for our industry.” Curle was referring to the US law firm market sector.
According to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune story, more than 425 employees were laid off from the Thomson Reuters legal and editorial services group between Jan. 1, 2009, and this past Oct. 31. "The recent headcount reductions ended a decade-long employment surge from 4,000 in 1998, when Thomson acquired West Publishing, to a peak of about 7,400 in early 2009. Part of the hiring resulted from information technology jobs added to support the legal division, as well as Thomson Reuters' globe-spanning tax/accounting, health care and financial information businesses."
In the article, John Shaughnessy, TR VP of Communications, explains:
We have moved some content-production work to our global service centers in India and the Philippines. It's primarily keyboarding, data entry and some software testing. We're not just serving lawyers in the U.S., but in different parts of the world. We're trying to follow the sun in updating legal databases. We have Westlaw service in China and Japan. And we just acquired a legal publisher in India.
The New Normal Dictates Moving into Growth Markets for Global Legal Publishing. I believe Shaughnessy's reference is to the Company's July 2009 acquisition of the Indian legal database vendor IndLaw Communications. (Correct me if I'm wrong, John. I don't mean to be putting words in your mouth.) About the acquisition, the aptly named PaidContent.org reported:
With the recent global meltdown, financial information services companies have been suffering from loss of clients globally. The acquisition of Indlaw by Thomson Reuters is an example of how large information companies are looking at fast growing markets like India for expanding their footprint.
Other more recent legal publishing acquisitions not mentioned in the article include TR's August 2010 acquisition of Canada Law Book, a division of the Cartwright Group Limited [Press Release], and, much more significant, the May 2010 acquisition of Revista dos Tribunais, one of Brazil's major legal publishing houses that employs nearly 300 staff members throughout the country and has 43 branches. About the Brazilian acquisition, TR explained in its Press Release:
The acquisition of Revista dos Tribunais presents a strategic opportunity for Thomson Reuters to lead the move to advanced information, software and online services for the Brazilian legal information industry – one that remains dominated by print resources until now.
Strategic opportunity indeed. Brazil is the largest national economy in Latin America, the world's eighth largest economy at market exchange rates and the ninth largest in purchasing power parity according to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Brazil's economy is considered one of the world's fastest growing major economies and has been predicted to become one of the five largest in the world in the decades to come. The Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de Domicílios estimated the country's population in 2008 at approximately 190 million. According to the UN, Brazil's projected population for the year 2015 is almost 202 million. All of which leads up to this quote from TR's press release: "The legal profession in Brazil is significant and growing – the country has among the highest number of lawyers per capita after the U.S., with a growing base of medium and large law firms."
Restructuring for the New Normal by Expanding Beyond Legal Publishing. The Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune story mentions TR's widely publicized recent acquisition of Indian legal processing outsourcing firm Pangea3 but failed to mention two other very significant recent non-publishing related acquisitions.
Regulation is a major driving force shaping financial services globally, and every indication is that this trend will only increase. Complinet, which is based in London and has more than 200 employees, brings a leading market position, powerhouse brand, strong management team, and assets across the entire global regulatory compliance workflow to Thomson Reuters.
“Across the globe, our customers are increasingly focused on information and software solutions that address their needs in governance, risk and compliance. The acquisition of Complinet, when coupled with the deep resources of our existing legal and financial services businesses, will take Thomson Reuters to a leadership position in this fast-growing market,” said Thomas H. Glocer, chief executive officer, Thomson Reuters.
In October 2010, TR acquired Serengeti Law. With over 300,000 corporate customers and 21,000+ law firms in 180 countries (including 100% of the Am Law 200 and the Global 100 law firms), Serengeti hosts the largest legal e-billing network in the world. For now, one might say, all 50 Serengeti employees will join Thomson Reuters, and will remain based in the Seattle and Chicago metropolitan areas. From the Press Release:
[Thomson Reuters] has acquired Serengeti Law, the most widely used and highest-rated matter management system for corporate legal departments. The business will be aligned with the Corporate, Government & Academic business unit within Thomson Reuters Legal, under the direction of Mike Suchsland, president. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“Corporate legal departments around the world are rapidly adopting software and services that solve legal workflow needs more simply and more efficiently,” said Suchsland. “The acquisition of Serengeti Law provides us with the bedrock for building a leading suite of offerings for the corporate general counsel. Serengeti brings to Thomson Reuters a broad and rapidly growing client base, as well as the profession’s most widely used legal project management workflow tools for corporate legal departments.
The Sun Never Sets on Thomson Reuters in the 21st Century. Having acquired about all the US legal publishing houses it can without having to defend itself from antitrust charges in a duolopy, Thomson Reuters continues to acquire major foreign legal publishers in fast growing markets across the globe while moving forward with its global strategy of being a leading provider of information and workflow processing for professionals in the legal, compliance and financial services markets. The synergy here is that the Company can integrate its growing global content inventory into some of those services while expanding by way of strategic acquisitions its international client base. It's clearly a very smart move. Like ... ah Enron but without the dirty-dealing implication, anytime you find yourself in a setting with TR executives, they are likely to be some of the "smartest people in the room."
"West" is just a local brand name. We law librarians simply must stop thinking of TR Legal as a US legal publisher, accept the reality that it is global legal professional services vendor, and monitor and assess the consequences as impacts on our institutions. US legal publishing is just one of many components in Thomson Reuters' global business strategy. While larger US law firm CIOs and BigLaw firm librarians are exposed to some of TR Legal's workflow services, the rest of us in the law library community only see the tip of the iceberg. As the Company continues to restructure for the New Normal of the 21st Century, "West, a Thomson Reuters business" will likely become increasingly less significant in the Company's global objectives.
This is just the beginning. Like we saw with the integration of US legal publishing houses, TR still has to assimilate and repackage its acquisitions. I personally think workflow processing will be the dominate model for globalized offerings appropriately structured for individual national markets for its market base -- the private sector -- when it comes to online legal search. We will know whether I'm right if the already deciminated librarian relations program ends up being replaced by a full-scale assault on private sector legal administrators.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune story reports "Thomson Reuters says it has sacrificed short-term profit margins to invest in the global legal-services business." Well, despite TR Legal's operating profit decline of 9 percent in the first nine months of 2010, it remains the corporate cash cow. For the first nine months of 2010, TR Legal's $803 million profit represented 42% of the Company's 9-month consolated underlying operating profit of $1.891 billion. Here's one consequence US law libraries and our professional assocation should focus on -- US legal institutional buyers are helping finance TR's global restructuring and expansion of product and services in a not inconsequential way and not necessarily for our benefit. See 3 Geeks' Thomson Reuters Competes With Its Customers? This is corporate mercantilist theory put into action. Like the empire building nation-state version of the 16th-18th centuries, mercantilism leads to inflation and alienation in the colonies. We are a colony in the Thomson Reuters empire.
Oh, BTW, Anyone Want to Buy BAR/BRI? It "no longer fits [Thomson Reuters'] long-term strategic vision, which is to provide intelligent information and workflow solutions to professionals." Quoting from this LLB post. [JH]
Fastcase Joins the Big Boys of the Legal eContent Industry
EContent has released its annual list of 100 companies that matter most in the digital content industry. Of course, Bloomberg, BNA, Reed Elsevier, Thomson Reuters and Wolters Kluwer made the list. So did Fastcase, a first I think. Lawriter (Casemaker) didn't. [JH]
November 29, 2010
On Sharing, Stealing, and Protecting Your Cookies
It's Girl Scout Cookie season and everyone has their favorite flavor. It's nice to share cookies, right? Enter Firesheep, a Firefox add-on that allows anyone to steal your unencrypted cookies and hijack (or sidejack) your online session when using an unsecured wireless network (e.g., public WiFi connections at Starbucks or Panera). Firesheep works with selected social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. This means that a Firesheep user who is sitting within range of an unsecured network can hijack the Facebook session of an unsuspecting user and post to Facebook on that user's behalf. There is some protection by using another Firefox extension HTTPS Everywhere. However, HTTPS Everywhere is only effective if the websites you visit support HTTPS. Quoting Firesheep developer Eric Butler: "Websites have a responsibility to protect the people who depend on their services. They've been ignoring this responsibility for too long, and it's time for everyone to demand a more secure web. My hope is that Firesheep will help the users win." [BA]
Supreme Court Takes One, Leaves One
Though there are no opinions from the Supreme Court today, there have been some notable acceptances and rejections of cases to the docket. The first of these is Tiffany & Co v. eBay Inc, No. 10-300. Tiffany brought an action for trademark violation against eBay because counterfeit Tiffany items were available on eBay. Tiffany acknowledged that it was the individual sellers who were listing the fraudulent items but argued that eBay had notice of the fraudulent items and should have investigated. The trial court (576 F.Supp.2d 463 (2008)) said no, that it was up to Tiffany to protect its trademark. It also noted that eBay promptly removed the infringing listings when specific frauds were brought to eBay's attention.
The main issue on appeal at the Second Circuit was whether generalized notice of fake articles caused eBay to beliabile for contributory infringement. After discussing the relevant case law, the Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that something more than general knowledge was necessary (600 F.3d 93 (2010)), and affirmed the opinion of the District Court. The Supreme Court today declined to take up the case.
Though trademark and copyright law are derived from separate statutory regimes, this sounds pretty similar to the case Viacom brought against Google for copyright infringement through its YouTube subsidiary. In fact, the District Court cited the Second Circuit's Tiffany opinion for the proposition that generalized knowledge without more does not create liability. The Court in Viacom noted that the DMCA applied the same principles through its safe harbor provisions. The Court granted summary judgment to Google. Viacom at the time said that the District Court got it all wrong and angrily vowed to appeal. A denial of certiorari is not precedential, though here it means the Second Circuit's interpretation of generalized knowledge and infringement stands for the time being. Those handicapping the coming appeal, take note.
A second case that the Supreme Court did accept is Microsoft's appeal in the i4i litigation where Microsoft was found to infringe on a patent covering XML technology held by the Toronto company. Microsoft lost on appeal (598 F.3d 831 (2010)) and had to remove the offending technology from Word and Office. The appeal concerns the standard for invalidating a patent through court action. The standard courts use is clear and convincing evidence. Microsoft argues that the evidence it presented wasn't considered by the Patent Office when it granted the patent, thus a different standard should apply. A decision in this case could have far reaching effects in a lot of industries that rely on method patents. [MG]
Scholarly Communications: A New Career Path for Law Librarians Interested in Information Policy
A big hat tip to Anne Klinefelter, Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Law Library, UNC Law, for calling attention to what might become a new career path for law librarians interested in scholarly communications and copyright issues in an academic library setting. It might be too early to say that a trend is developing but here are two job descriptions for open positions:
Coordinator of Scholarly Communication and Copyright Services, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill University Library. Available Jan. 1, 2011. Review of applications will begin on Nov. 30, 2010.
Scholarly Communications Librarian, University of Florida Libraries. Available Jan. 15, 2011. Review of applications will begin on Dec. 1, 2010
Academic Freedom Challenged in Law School Clinics
A colleague brought my attention to a Nov/Dec Academe: Magazine of the AAUP article, "Kneecapping Academic Freedom," that provides an eye-opening glimpse of challenges to academic freedom in law school clinics. Clinical legal education is the law student's opportunity to get hands-on training with supervision outside of the traditional classroom. Challenges to such programs often arise when clinics represent interests counter to corporate or legislative interests. A brief timeline of challenges since 1968 is summarized here. [BA]
LexisNexis CEO Andy Prozes to Retire at End of 2010; Mike Walsh appointed CEO of Gobal Legal Business Unit
Andy Prozes, who will turn 65 next January, has served as CEO of LexisNexis since 2000. On November 23, 2010, Reed Elsevier announced he will retire effective December 31, 2010. In the press release, the Company also announced that instead of replacing Andy, Reed Elsevier will operate its risk solutions and legal businesses as two separate units with Jim Peck as CEO of risk solutions and Mike Walsh as CEO of the global legal business.
From the press release about Mike Walsh's career:
Mike Walsh has led the LexisNexis US legal markets business since 2008. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he worked as an attorney at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, was seconded internationally to support corporate legal counsel for General Electric, and co-founded Infirmation.com which he merged with FindLaw and sold to Thomson in 2001. Mr. Walsh joined LexisNexis in 2003, and has held senior roles in global strategy, business development and law firm markets.
In September, I had the opportunity to meet with both Andy and Mike in Dayton. As CEO of LexisNexis for the past decade, Andy has, in my opinion, navigated the Company through some difficult times and leaves the company well positioned to meet the challenges all major legal vendors are facing now. Congratulations on a job well done and best wishes, Andy.
Mike's appointment as CEO of Reed's global legal business unit was a no-brainer. Mike is on top of his game and unlike some vendor executives, you won't hear scripted gobbledygook corporate policy statements from him. When you talk with Mike, he says what he means and means what he says. He is unlike some industry executives who use a lot of words to say nothing. (I think you can figure out which vendor I'm referring to.)
Having served as CEO of LexisNexis US Legal, had Mike Walsh not received this promotion, I would be writing a "WTF was Reed thinking" comment. Instead, I'm happy to write congratulations on a well-deserved promotion and good luck, Mike. [JH]
What Makes a JD So Damn Special for Adjunct Appointments at Law Schools?
On Hardball, Craig Calcaterra wrote last week:
Last week I rather snobbishly lamented the fact that our dear Commissioner of Baseball is not, like many of his predecessors, particularly intellectually accomplished or trained. He was not, prior to taking office, a judge or senator or general or and Ivy League president. But he has improved his resume a bit since I wrote that. He’s now a law professor.
Actually Bud Selig, 76, was appointed to the adjunct faculty at Marquette University Law School as distinguished lecturer in sports law and policy. From the Marquette Law press release:
The appointment formalizes a teaching position Selig has held at Marquette Law School since 2009, lecturing for several classes of the Professional Sports Law course each spring. The course is part of the nationally prominent Sports Law program at Marquette Law School, which is also home to the National Sports Law Institute. Both are led by Marquette Law School Professor Matt Mitten. Selig has been a member of the NSLI Board of Advisors since its inception in 1989.
Selig’s has served 18 years as Major League Baseball Commissioner (both interim and permanent) and plans to retire from the post in 2012 when his contract expires. While some appear upset with the Marquette Law appointment because Selig is not a lawyer (see Adjunct Law Prof Blog's post, Adjunct Law Professor Bud Selig!!-Shame on Marquette Law School) I personally think, "why not, if his contribution enriches the law school curriculum." While this is clearly a unique case, one that may be characterized as a "celebrity appointment," Selig has been in the baseball business since 1970 and there is no doubt in my mind that the breath and depth of his experience trumps most sports law attorneys. Plus any student at Marquette Law interested in practicing sports law is much more likely to get a useful referral from Selig than just about anyone else on the Marquette Law faculty.
Nothing makes a JD so damn special that anyone who can improve the law school curriculum as a adjunct should be excluded from appointment simply because he or she does not have a JD. For example, one doesn't need a JD to offer courses in advanced legal research, law practice management or law office technology. In fact, attorneys may be considered such rank amateurs in providing instruction in law practice management or law office technology by way of "this how we do it at "X, Y, & Z, LLP," that students will end the semester knowing next to nothing unless they are luckily enough to be hired by "X, Y, & Z, LLP" .
Law firm librarians who do not have a JD should not be "banned" from teaching advanced legal research courses since they regularly use legal resources academic law librarians are barely familiar with and they, not their academic colleagues, work day in and day out in an environment where costs really matter in the real world. This would be a far better solution that the invited guess lecture.
Law firm administrators, many who do not have a JD but do have an MBA, can offer instruction on law practice management that would prepare students for the business of law. CIO's of law firms, again many without JD, can introduce the wide-range of office technologies and prepare students with instruction in applications from billing to workflow productivity solutions that students are not exposed to in law school and the typical legal skills prof has at best a brief hands-on introduction.
Whatever enriches the law school curriculum to produce law students prepared to practice their chosen profession should trump credentials. But in the legal academy, credentials -- the golden ticket that is the JD -- tends to be more important than substance. Ego trumps a professional education in the legal academy. [JH]
November 28, 2010
US Government, Including ICE (?), is Seizing Domain Names Because of Filed Complaints
Thom Holwerda (OS News) is reporting that the US goverment has "started seizing the domain names of various websites through ICANN - not because owners of these sites were convicted of anything, but merely because complaints have been filed against them" at US Government Censors 70 Websites. Holwerda's post links to this blog post that reports that ICE has just seized the domain of a BitTorrent meta-search engine.
ICE, really? Some reports indicate this is a fake. Note the comments to this post. [JH]
Round-Up of Practitioner Blogs
Boston Criminal Defense Attorney Blog
Examines criminal law cases, reports and news in Massachusetts. Published by The Law Offices of Jeffrey R. Chapdelaine, PC.
Reno Personal Injury Lawyer Blog
Reports on injury law cases, news and opinions in Nevada. Published by Routsis Gilbert.
Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Attorney Blog
Reviews car accident news, cases and reports in Fort Lauderdale. Published by Freeman & Mallard, LLC.
Washington DC Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog
Analyzes criminal law cases, reports and opinions in Washington DC. Published by the Law Office of Daniel A. Gross, PLLC.
Massachusetts Injury Lawyer Blog
Covers injury law opinions, reports and news in Massachusetts. Published by the KJC Law Firm, LLC.
New Jersey DWI Attorney Blog
Provides opinion on DWI defense cases, reports and news in New Jersey. Published by Evan M. Levow.