May 10, 2011
O'Grady's Three Mythbusting Axioms on Cost Effective Legal Research Training
Jeffrey Brandt, editor of PinHawk Law Technology Daily Digest calls attention to a post published in my newest favorite law librarian blog, DLA Piper's Jean O'Grady's Dewey B Stragegic. O'Grady calls it like she sees it in each and every post she publishes. Take the damn RSS feed -- take it even if you are an academic law librarian because academic law libraries don't move the marketplace -- the private sector does. Take it if you are a public sector law librarian because we have much more in common with the private sector than the academic law library sector even if we don't have BigLaw's purchasing power.
Quoting Brandt's PinHawk Law Technology Daily Digest e-newsletter summary, which also covered other recent interesting developments:
Jean O'Grady has a great post at Dewey B Strategic. So good I will just quote her three axioms. "1) Cost effective research training is a hopeless exercise." "2) Cost effective legal research training is counter-productive." "3) Subscribing to the myth of cost effective research training keeps the focus off the true culprits and keeps us from demanding real solutions." Read more here and demand a solution: The Myth and the Madness of Cost Effective Lexis and Westlaw Research Training.
I couldn't resist adding Rees Morrison's quick post on the subject of worthless reports. He comes at it from the corporate law department perspective, but law firms have them too. In one of my old firms they were called 'Monday reports.' They justified their own high end printer in the accounting department. Hundreds of trees were killed to produce them. Hours of staff time to burst, staple and deliver them to the lawyers. And the majority went straight into the trash can. Read more here: Have you stopped sending reports that people have stopped reading?
We all have too many passwords, PINs and more to manage. Some people cope by using the same password everywhere. Others prefer the Post-It Note approach. Still others use password vault software (my approach), or use a cloud service. But what do you do if your cloud service gets compromised? According to The New York Times, LassPass, a cloud service for managing passwords thinks they got hacked. Read more here: Bits: Password Service Warns of Possible Hacking Attack
Thanks PinHawk. I did read more because I am way behind in reading my RSS feeds.
I agree with O'Grady's teaching cost-effective online search analysis with one caveat and completely agree with O'Grady's criticism of WEXIS pricing. Two snips:
Since most law firms have a unique menu of “included” content, unique pricing plans and unique billing policies for the identical content – academic librarians are faced with the impossible challenge of training students for a universe in which there is likely 100% inconsistency in the pricing and billing policies across the firms where they will be summer associates.
When Lexis and Westlaw deliver simplified and rational billing systems we could actually develop cost effective legal research methods and classes that could prepare associates to perform cost effective research while remaining focused on the real goal: delivering the best result to their client.
It is, as O'Grady writes "an impossible challege to instruct law schools on pricing and billing where there is 100% inconsistency." It is not, however, an impossible challenge to wean law students from suckling on the WEXIS nipple provided to them in the legal academy.
Teaching Cost Efficient WEXIS Training in the Legal Academy by Illustrations. While WEXIS reps could provide boilerplate licensing agreements to law students to study, does anyone expect that to happen?
Instead, grab a couple of well-redacted, even out-of-date, different private sector licensing agreements if you can obtain them for a class assignment in 1L LRW and ALR courses about the costs of "real world" online WEXIS research. The assignment:
- Perform an online search, where a research assignment requiring the use of primary and secondary sources is assigned;
- Instruct students to take step-by-steps notes of their research trail; and
- Then require the students to apply the cost structures under the terms of the provided Ks in writing.
Hopefully one can obtain WEXIS Ks that are structured to include pricing for access to out-of-plan databases. If academic law libraians can't obtain private sector WEXIS Ks because, well you know why, public sector WEXIS licences are available by federal FOIA and state open records act requests.
While I suggest that O'Grady's first axiom may need to be qualifed by the above so as to state "'Cost effective research training is a hopeless exercise but teaching students to analyze WEXIS Ks in law schools may be a teachable moment in very expensive online legal search." I completely agree with O'Grady's other two axioms:
Cost effective legal research training is counter-productive.
Subscribing to the myth of cost effective research training keeps the focus off the true culprits and keeps us from demanding real solutions.
Two CYAs. I don't republish an entire article or e-newsletter alert summary (etc.), since that may violate copyright in a commerical blog network like the Law Professor Blogs Network. So I hope my you-know-what is covered by mentioning that I've watched PinHawk since its launch several years ago, thinking it was a crap-shoot if it survived because selling ads was required. It has succeeded in garnering ads and expanding its daily e-mail alert topical offerings business model. Love the wacky Einstein-inspired law prof banner ads from Lexis!
Note to FTC, yes I receive free email alerts because LLB is and has been featured in relevant e-newsletters since the launch of Pinhawk. I find Pinhawk email alerts to be very useful. Am I grandfathered in because this was agreed upon long before the FTC blogger requirement? If not, a second CYA. [JH]
Great post, Joe. Very useful to us all!
From "an academic".
Posted by: Barbara | May 11, 2011 3:34:12 AM