August 18, 2011
"Trusted Legal Resources:" A Recognized Brand Will Not Retain Its Strength by Continued Dilution of Editorial Quality
At MIT last year, my favorite global publishing CEO, Tom Glocer, explained to MIT students that a "strong brand" is a signal for quality content (video below). Hardly a new idea. I don't know any law librarians who don't check the publishing house as a filter for reliable content quality be it in the context of legal research or collection development. The question not asked by the MIT students to Tom Glocer -- remember MIT doesn't have a law school -- was does TR meet that strong brand metric? Kudos to Tom for not pitching TR Legal as belonging in that class.
"Trust:" The New WEXIS Marketing Buzz Word. Both TR Legal and Lexis are pitching themselves as the legal publishers you can trust now. Just check out their eCommerce sites. Trust, however, is not the same as expertise.
These days, the first think I look for when it comes to West-branded titles is the infamous "By Publisher's Staff" attribution. I am not a buyer if West's Publisher's Staff is involved in any way, shape or form in a West title, even if the title page lists a named author with "and Publisher's Staff." I'm just not going there when there are alternatives, even if the alternatives are more expensive, rare as that oftentimes is.
For comparable topical coverage offered by West, I'm a buyer if a title is written by CCH staff, I'm a buyer if a BNA title is written by practitioners (and sometimes taken over by ABA Sections) and I'm even a buyer of a Matthew Bender title, although I do more closely examine MB editorial content before acquiring it.
Teaching Brand Iiteracy. Today's law school students? Well, that's a different matter, one that LWR and ALR instructors have to try to address. I'm not just referring to "information literacy" in the content of depending on website info found by way of Google searches. I'm also referring to monitoring and evaluating trends in editorial quality of recognized publishing house brands. IMHO, at least part of class, if not an entire class in LWR and ALW should explain who and how titles are created and maintained by BNA, CCH (WK), Lexis (MB) and TR Legal (West). Might want to include a section of the class on "advertising literacy," too, to educate future consumers of legal products and services. [JH]
Quality in legal products continues to diminish as the big publishers move large portions of their editorial operations overseas. U.S. legal products are now being "edited" by persons without any background or training in the U.S. legal system or terminology and in many cases editorial personnel do not even speak English as their first language. I know this for a fact because I used to work for ThomsonReuters (formerly West) as an editor and lost my job to overseas outsourcing.
All purchasers of legal products should be VERY CAREFUL about relying on almost anything put out by the big legal publishers these days.
Posted by: Eowyn1967 | Aug 20, 2011 6:27:50 AM
I am so fed up with those thieving pirates at West.
The Federal Supplement is $202 per volume and we've received 49 volumes this year alone!
The North Eastern Reporter is coming in at $335 per volume.
In the past 18 months, Ribstein and Keatinge on LLCs went from a looseleaf to a multi-volume softbound annual edition and then to a multi-volume semi-annual softbound edition (naturally those bastards charged us every step of the way).
I cannot stand the trend of taking a longstanding looseleaf and switching to a softbound annual edition. I know West has been doing it for a long time but it just seems like they are doing it to almost every title.
Posted by: anymouse | Aug 18, 2011 4:32:00 PM