June 28, 2011
Strategies or "Top Ten Tips" for Legal Research Cost Efficiency: Big Law's O'Grady or WestlawNext's Flocchini
In Cost Effective Research Training Part Deux: The past, the present and the solutions, Jean O'Grady writes
If cost recovery for online research is to survive at all, it will be as the result of a radical shift to simplicity and transparency. It appears that vendors are getting the message. Bloomberg Law entered the online market with a simplified approach to cost recovery including a limited number of price points and offering content and features which trigger no costs at all. Westlaw Next has dramatically fewer price points than the older Westlaw.com platform. Fastcase and Loislaw have been positioned as lower cost sources of primary law which firms treat as overhead and make no attempt at cost recovery.
All indicators suggest that since clients will continue to resist online research charges, firms will hedge against increased overhead by using one or several of the following strategies; cancelling either Lexis or Westlaw and selecting one major provider; exploring lower cost alternatives such as Bloomberg or Fastcase, or expanding or developing a specialized team of lawyer/librarians and research attorneys who conduct research and deliver the results to the associates and partners.
Lydia Flocchini, Director, WestlawNext, offers her advice on how in-house and outside counsel can easily control legal research costs, drive significant productivity, improve internal efficiencies, and connect legal research to value-based billing. See Top Ten Tips for Leveraging Cutting-Edge Legal Research Technology to Control Legal Costs and Drive Client Value published in the Legal Resources section of the Association of Corporate Counsel website.
Obviously, Flocchini does not really address the strategies O'Grady offers. [JH]
Opening: Access Services Librarian, Mercer Univ. School of Law, Macon, Georgia
The Furman Smith Law Library at Mercer University School of Law seeks applications for Access Services Librarian.
Responsibilities: The Access Services Librarian teaches a one-credit, first-year legal research course in collaboration with a team of librarians. The successful candidate will provide leadership in and primary administrative oversight of Access Services (circulation, reserves, interlibrary loan and document delivery), which is staffed by two full time staff members and a number of student assistants. Additionally, this librarian participates in a rotating reference schedule including evenings and weekends and participates in the faculty liaison program. Librarians serve on law library, law school and university committees and are encouraged to participate in professional organizations and activities.
Required qualifications: MLS (ALA) and JD (ABA); excellent legal research skills; aptitude and experience conducting research in a variety of print and electronic resources; effective interpersonal, oral and written communication skills; strong organizational abilities; strong service orientation and the ability to establish and maintain good working relationships with coworkers, faculty, students, and the bar; ability to work both independently and as a member of a motivated team of professional librarians. Preferred: Law library experience, supervisory experience, demonstrated teaching experience, knowledge of OCLC and Innovative Interfaces (Millennium).
Salary: Commensurate with experience and qualifications. Mercer offers an excellent benefits package including 22 days of vacation plus University holidays, and support for professional development.
The Furman Smith Law Library serves approximately 440 law students and 30 law faculty. The Law School is part of a dynamic university with degree programs in medicine, pharmacy, engineering, business, education and theology. The University has more than 8000 students on its Macon, Atlanta, and Savannah campuses. Mercer Law School is located in a beautiful historic district in downtown Macon, which is a city of 150,000 known for its antebellum mansions, cottages, churches, and interesting museums. With its moderate climate and moderate cost of living, as well as its proximity to Atlanta, Macon is a desirable place to live. For more information about Mercer University Law School and the Macon community, visit us at www.law.mercer.edu.
Interested candidates should complete the brief online application at www.mercerjobs.com (P12-009), and attach (1) a letter of application, (2) a current resume, and (3) the names and contact information for at least three professional references. The position is available immediately. Applications will be reviewed as they are received, and review will continue until the position is filled. Selection of the final candidate is contingent upon successful completion of a credit and criminal background check.
Mercer University is an AA/EOE/ADA employer. Men and women, and members of all racial and ethnic groups, are encouraged to apply.
June 27, 2011
Supreme Court End Of Term - First Amendment, Jurisdiction, And A Smidge More
The Supreme Court ended its term this morning by releasing some of the most anticipated rulings of the year. Let’s start with Brown v. Entertainment Merchant’s Assn. (08-1448). That case concerned a law passed by California that restricted the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. The District Court said the Act violated the First Amendment and the Ninth Circuit agreed. Every District Court and Court of Appeals to have faced this issue from other states reached a similar conclusion. The Supreme Court agreed that the law violated the First Amendment.
The Court, with Justice Scalia writing for the majority, states that video games qualify for First Amendment protection. There are a number of exceptions to speech that do not enjoy First Amendment protection, such as obscenity, incitement, and fighting words. Following its precedent in last term’s Stevens case (videos depicting animal cruelty cannot be banned) and others, the Court concludes that the legislature cannot create new categories of speech considered too harmful to tolerate. Children have First Amendment rights and only in narrow and well-defined circumstances can government bar public dissemination of protected materials to them (the library filter case notwithstanding, I add, though Justice Scalia did not).
The opinion further deals with studies linking the viewing of violent behavior to aggressiveness. The Court notes that the effect on children is the same compared to other media, including violent cartoons such as those featuring Bugs Bunny and the Roadrunner-Coyote encounters. Justice Scalia counters the argument of Justice Alito that the message in some of the games is not merely the violence, but to whom the violence may be directed toward, such as women and ethnic groups. As offensive as the message may be says Justice Scalia, that is not a reason to ban or restrict it. The goal of protecting children is laudable, but this law is not the way to do it.
Justice Scalia wrote the opinion for the Court which was joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor , and Kagan. Justice Alito filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, joined by Chief Justice Roberts. Justices Thomas and Breyer each wrote dissenting opinions.
Justice Thomas’ dissent is particularly interesting as he starts from the premise that an original understanding of First Amendment includes a (then) contemporaneous understanding that minors may not access speech without going through the parents. He cites texts from the time of the founding and before, such as the writings of Cotton Mather (“Children should not be left to themselves . . . to do as they please; . . . not being fit to govern themselves”; C. Mather, A Family Well-Ordered 38 (1699) and writings about the times of the founding. Justice Thomas endorses the view of the Puritan tradition where fathers rule families with absolute authority, and where parents absolutely controlled what materials children would read. He also notes the practice where the father could assign the services of the minor son and be entitled to the wages of that son. From that perspective, laws limiting the speech that a child could receive do not infringe the founders’ understanding of the First Amendment. Justice Scalia points out that Justice Thomas cites no cases for his views. I can say that a reading of the dissent gives Justice Scalia the look and feel of a rational progressive, something that would probably scare him. I have to ask, has Justice Thomas seen what’s on the Internet these days? Oh wait.
Justice Breyer’s dissent is notable as the last part consists of an extensive bibliography of writings that suggest a link to aggression and violent video games. Good work on whoever prepared the list for him.
The next case, Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown (10-76), concerns the type of contact an out of state and country defendant must have with the forum that would sustain jurisdiction to pursue claims against it. North Carolina residents whose sons dies in a bus accident outside of Paris, France, filed suit for wrongful death. The allegation was tire failure and the defendants included Goodyear USA, an Ohio corporation, and three subsidiaries organized and operating in Luxembourg, Turkey, and France. The tires in question are not manufactured for the U.S. market, nor do any of the subsidiaries have any business activities, assets, or transactions in North Carolina. Occasionally, some of the tires from the foreign manufacturers are distributed in North Carolina by Goodyear USA affiliates. The North Carolina courts allowed general jurisdiction on a stream-of-commerce basis.
A unanimous court reversed, stating that there was not the kind of systematic general business contacts that allowed North Carolina to exercise jurisdiction. The cases the North Carolina courts relied upon were those where injuries happened with the state. Supreme Court precedent denies jurisdiction in situations such as the one that developed in this case. See Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S. A. v. Hall, 466 U. S. 408 (1984).
A similar issue was raised in J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. V. Nicastro (09-1343). In that case, Nicastro injured his hand while using equipment manufactured in England by J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. He filed suit in New Jersey where the accident occurred. The New Jersey courts upheld jurisdiction because a U.S. distributor agreed to sell J. McIntyre equipment in the United States, several company officials attended trade shows here, though none in New Jersey, and at least one machine ended up in New Jersey. The Court mustered enough justices to reverse the decision to exercise jurisdiction but not enough for an opinion. Justice Kennedy wrote an opinion joined only by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia and Thomas.
Justice Kennedy wrote for the plurality that J. McIntyre did not engage in enough New Jersey activities that revealed intent to invoke the benefit or protection of that state’s laws. A stream-of-commerce doctrine cannot displace that rule. Justice Kennedy cited precedent that was equally fractured as the basis of his opinion. Justice Breyer, joined by Justice Alito, agreed that New Jersey could not assume jurisdiction based on precedent. A single, isolated sale does not qualify in addition to the other factors used as justification. Justice Breyer does not believe this is a case to make a broad pronouncement on jurisdictional rules. Justices Ginsburg dissented, joined by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan.
The next case, Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club Pac v. Bennet (10-238), was another hotly anticipated case. It concerns Arizona’s limitations placed on personal funding by candidates in exchange for matching funds from the State meeting that of the opponent’s. On suit, the District Court entered an injunction against enforcing the matching funds provision. The Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that the provision was minimal and advanced Arizona’s interest in reducing political corruption.
Chief Justice Roberts, writing for himself and four other Justices, struck down the law as burdening political speech in a way that is not justified by Arizona. The Court used its precedent in Davis v. Federal Election Comm’n, 554 U. S. 724 (2008) and others as the basis. Arizona argues that the law creates more speech, not less. The Court says that is still problematic as it is only the speech of publicly financed candidates that increases. Justice Kagan dissented, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan.
The last case is a short, Per Curiam opinion dismissing a case as moot. The facts in the case of United States v. Juvenile Male (09-940) are such that the Court of Appeals had not authority to enter a judgment because it had no live judgment before it. The issue in the case was whether the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), 42 U. S. C. §16901 et seq., violated the Ex Post Facto Clause. Federal law is not at issue here as the juvenile has reached the age of 21. See you for all the fun starting up again next October. [MG]
"Our research today will help Thomson Reuters develop products that will be most useful to your profession."
So I received a semi-mass emailing from some Thomson Reuters Market Research senior analyst (think, he must be 25-years old as opposed to a 21-year old for "senior" analyst status) very late last week which read in redacted part:
Thomson Reuters values your opinion and would like to include you in an online research survey regarding the products and services they offer. Your feedback is extremely valuable and will help us better meet the needs of professionals like you.
The link below will take you to a survey hosted by TRC, an independent market research company. The information you provide will be kept strictly confidential and will be reported only in aggregate form. The survey should take about 15 minutes to complete. If necessary, you can start the survey, leave the site, and finish at a later time by again clicking on the link in this email.
Why redacted? Because the link is omitted. You know, the whole confidentiality thing about another TR survey I would characterize generally as being the Company's trying to figure out how to catch up to the pack since it is supposed to be a market leader. At least that's my take based on what few of the survey questions I saw.
I had received an alert with the survey link a few days earlier from a colleague. Either his opinion is more valuable, TR is staggering mass email solicitations, or TR's survey software can't accept a whole lot of responses at any given moment in Internet time.
Anyway, the time I spent on the survey didn't take "about 15 minutes." More like 60 second when I got the following response:
Unfortunately, we have filled our quota of interviews with people matching your profile.
Matching "my profile," really? Or was the response to the last question I answered not what TR wanted to hear? So it goes for "Thomson Reuters develop[ing} products that will be most useful to your profession." [JH]
So Much for 2011 Being a "More Boring Year:" CALI Has a New Director of Content Development
... and I can think of no better person for the gig. John Mayer announced at this year's CALI Conference that Sarah Glassmayer has accepted the position of Director of Content Development. She will start her new job on August 15. About the appointment, Sarah writes:
This is definitely an unexpected and unplanned development in my career, but one that I couldn’t be more excited and thrilled about. It’s not every day that you’re offered a job that will give you the opportunity to change the world and, knowing some of the projects that CALI is working on and the possibilities of what it can do, well….I really think we can make a difference. Definitely in the way future lawyers are educated, but also in how regular citizens have access to justice and legal materials.
Although I am not going to be working in a library, I still will always consider myself to be a librarian. I’m just literally putting my money where my mouth is when it comes to all of my talk about how libraries and librarians should work and collaborate with technologists and other related fields. It’s definitely going to be a different environment and the new freedoms I’ll have to create and explore are a little breathtaking. The CALI crew are also just a lot of fun to be around. As I told John after I accepted the offer, I feel a little bit like I’m running away and joining the circus.
Valpo's loss is the entire profession's gain. At the tender age of 35, Sarah was the youngest speaker at Harvard's Future of Law Libraries: The Future Is Now? (Hey, I'm not telling secrets, Sarah brought that up during her presentation.) I'm thinking she will become one of the major contributors is making the future "now." Thought so before; even more so now that she will be working at CALI.
In her year-in-review post about 2010, Sarah wrote "[t]he goal for 2011 is to have a more boring year." In response, I wrote "I doubt she will achieve that goal. In fact, who would want that for Sarah! Continue to stretch and stay true to yourself is a far better goal for 2011." We aging and decrepit law librarians know a thing or two about New Year's resolutions.
Congratulations Sarah! [JH]
June 26, 2011
Round-Up of Law Practitioner Blogs
Riverside County Bankruptcy Lawyer Blog
Discusses bankruptcy news, cases, and opinions in California. Published by The Law Office of Christopher Hewitt.
Chicago Birth Injury Lawyer Blog
Reviews birth injury law news, cases, and reports in Illinois. Published by Levin & Perconti, Attorneys at Law.
Tennessee Divorce Attorney Blog
Analyzes divorce law cases, news and reports in Tennessee. Published by The McKellar Law Firm, PLLC.
Law Space Match Blog
Covers law firm office space opinions, reports and news in Georgia. Published by Law Space Match.
Dallas Criminal Appeals Lawyer Blog
Provides opinion on criminal appeals reports, cases and news in Texas. Published by Christian Souza.