July 16, 2011
Progress of the World’s Women: UN Report on Achieving Women’s Equality is a Fundamental Human Right and a Social and Economic Imperative
From the foreword of UN Women's Progress of the World’s Women 2011–2012: In Pursuit of Justice by Michelle Bachelet, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women:
As the first major UN Women report, this edition of Progress of the World’s Women reminds us of the remarkable advances that have been made over the past century in the quest for gender equality and women’s empowerment. Even within one generation we have witnessed a transformation in women’s legal rights, which means that today, 125 countries have outlawed domestic violence, 115 guarantee equal property rights and women’s voice in decision-making is stronger than ever before. Today, 28 countries have reached or surpassed the 30 percent mark for women’s representation in parliament, putting women in the driving seat to forge further change.
Progress of the World’s Women 2011–2012: In Pursuit of Justice shows that where laws and justice systems work well, they can provide an essential mechanism for women to realize their human rights. However, it also underscores the fact that, despite widespread guarantees of equality, the reality for many millions of women is that justice remains out of reach.
The report highlights the practical barriers that women – particularly the poorest and most excluded – face in negotiating justice systems and the innovative approaches that governments and civil society are pioneering to overcome them. It explores the ways in which women are reconciling guarantees of their rights with the realities of living within plural legal systems. And it highlights the severe challenges that women face in accessing justice in the aftermath of conflict, as well as the enormous opportunities for change that can emerge in these most difficult times.
This edition of Progress of the World’s Women builds on the work of colleagues across the United Nations system in highlighting women’s part in strengthening the rule of law and outlines a vision for the future in which women and men, worldwide, can work side-by-side to make gender equality and women’s empowerment a reality.
UN Women is the United Nation's entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women. For more, visit the UN Women website.
Hat tip to beSpacific. [JH]
July 15, 2011
Haiku Trend Emerging in Law Blogs
... such as this one from Supreme Court Haiku of the Day: The Law of the Land in Seventeen Syllables for the SCOTUS decision in J. McIntyre Machinery v. Nicastro:
Hand hurt by machine
Maker did not target state
But Supreme Court Haiku of the Day isn't the only blog. See ABAJ's Supreme Court Decisions Boiled Down to 17 Syllables for examples from and links to other law blogs.
I'm thinking this should be taught in 1L LRW courses. [JH]
Friday Fun: New Oklahoma Law Allows Doctors to Perform Fake Abortions
Doctors in Oklahoma will now be able to act like they've just given a woman an abortion and send her on her way. Of course, the Onion News Network is highlighting by way of humor a very serious and concerted state legislative attempts across this country to erode a woman's right to choose.
At least a New Mexico state court ordered Greg Fultz to take down his billboard allegedly stating or implying that his ex-girlfriend had an abortion. In this instance, harassment and invasion of privacy trumped any so-called free speech right to express his views on abortion this way. Not relevant to the legal issues but there is some out-of-court evidence that his ex-girlfriend may have had a miscarriage. At least there was no miscarriage justice for this woman's right to privacy in this instance. Detail on ABAJ: Judge Grants Protective Order, Tells NM Man to Take Down Billboard Saying Girlfriend Had an Abortion and Free Speech, Privacy Rights Clash in Dispute over Billboard Claiming Woman Had an Abortion.
In dueling "news" programming, the Colbert Reports had something to say about all this as in how CJ John Roberts has a brilliant legal strategy to get around following precedent: not following precedent. [JH]
A Three Tiered World of Employed Law School Grads: Understanding The National Jurist's Ranking of Best Law Schools for Standard of Living
The September issue of The National Jurist will publish its ranking of 135 law schools by a standard of living metric that uses median starting salaries, average debt payments, estimated federal and state taxes and cost of living adjustments for the regions where graduates were employed. 63 schools were excluded from the ranking because the percent of graduates with a known salary was below 40%; seven schools were omitted due to lack of data. The top 50 law schools can be viewed at Best law schools for standard of living. (Hat tip to TaxProf Blog). From Best law schools for standard of living:
The National Jurist first did the standard of living study in 1999 and reported that graduates who entered private practice at six law schools at that time had a lower standard of living than they did as students. Since then, salaries have increased dramatically, improving the standard of living at almost every law school in the nation. Debt repayment options also improved in 2009 with a new federal law.
However, there are big differences between schools. For example, graduates at the University of Texas take home a net of $101,308 after debt and taxes, and modifying for cost of living adjustments. More than half of the schools in the study netted less than half of that amount, with six lower than $25,000.
Crunching the Numbers for Employed Law School Grads Practicing Law. In Why some grads are worse off, even while most are better off, Jack Crittenden, Editor in Chief of The National Jurist, writes
[O]ne has to take a close look at the data to understand what really happened to the legal profession over the past ten years.
Large law firms increased the number of hires, and they significantly increased their salaries – from $70,000 in 1998 to $160,000. That means that there is a segment of the population — 22.3 percent — that is far better off than 10 years ago. But there is a segment — the 18.7 percent who landed jobs with firms of two to 10 attorneys and those unemployed — that would be worse off — except for the fact that loan repayment plans are much more flexible. The other 50 percent of graduates saw modest improvements in standard of living.
That has created a world of tiers. For the top tier, the 22.3 percent who get jobs at firms with 101 or more attorneys or land prestigious clerkships, law school is a very good financial decision. Even if their debt is high, their salary makes up for it. For the next tier, the 9.3 percent who get jobs at law firms with 11 to 100 attorneys, the 13.5 percent who go into business and the students who land other clerkships, law school is most likely a wise decision, so long as they watch their debt. For the third tier, the 18.7 percent who work for a small law firm, the 5.7 percent who enter public interest, and the 11.4 percent who work in government, law school is a poor choice, unless they planned for the lower salary.
July 14, 2011
Senator Asks ABA Questions About Scholarships and Debt
Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) has sent the American Bar Association President Stephen N. Zack a stinging letter asking 31 pointed questions about its accreditation process. He specifically asks the ABA if it keeps statistics on the the number of merit scholarships that are revoked after the first year of law school, and how this figures into the ABA's accreditation process. Oh, and what exactly is the background of the ABA committee members who make the decisions on law schools, and are they balanced between academics and professionals. Here is the complete list of questions:
1. Does the American Bar Association compile data on the number of schools which offer scholarships to more students than can statistically retain those scholarships?
2. If so, how many schools, and how many total scholarships are affected?
3. Does the American Bar Association take these “bait and switch” allegations into account in the accreditation process?
4. If so, how?
5. If not, why not?
6. Does the American Bar Association maintain data on the dollar amount of merit based scholarships offered each year?
7. If not, does the American Bar Association plan to begin maintaining this information?
8. Does the American Bar Association maintain data on the dollar amount of merit based scholarships that are revoked after the offeree‟s first year of law school?
9. If not, does the American Bar Association plan to begin maintaining this information?
10. Does the American Bar Association publish data on the amount of first-year merit based scholarships in comparison to the amount of non-first-year merit based scholarships?
11. Does the American Bar Association plan to begin maintaining this information?
12. Has the American Bar Association raised concerns with law schools about the practice of awarding more first-year merit based scholarships than they plan to renew?
13. If so, how has the American Bar Association raised this concern?
14. Does the American Bar Association have any education programs that aid students in assessing whether or not they are borrowing more than they can reasonably expect to repay?
15. Does the American Bar Association have a program to ensure borrowers do not-default on their federally-backed student loans?
16. How many law schools has the American Bar Association provisionally accredited during the last 20 years?
17. Does the American Bar Association maintain this information in a publicly accessible database?
18. How many law schools has the American Bar Association fully accredited during the last 20 years?
19. Has the American Bar Association ever revoked provisional or full accreditation during the last 20 years?
20. If so, how many law schools lost their provisional or full accreditation?
21. From 1990 to the present, has the American Bar Association ever placed a law school on probation?
22. If so, which law schools were placed on probation?
23. Did any of these law schools regain full accreditation?
24. If so, within what time period?
25. When examining candidates for membership on the accreditation committee, what efforts does the American Bar Association make to ensure that membership is balanced between legal practitioners and academics?
26. Does the American Bar Association track the professional background of its committee membership?
27. If so, how does the professional background of committee membership break down in percentage format on committees related to the accreditation of law schools?
28. If not, why doesn‟t the American Bar Association track the professional background of committee membership?
29. Does the American Bar Association track the professional background of the officers that approve or revoke provisional or full law school accreditation?
30. If so, how does the professional background of officers that approve or revoke provisional or full law school accreditation break down in percentage format?
31. If not, why doesn't the American Bar Association track the professional background of officers that approve or revoke provisional or full law school accreditation?
I've removed the footnotes from the letter. There are 17 of them. Grassley characterizes the ABA 's authority over law schools as "was barely granted renewed recognition by the U.S. Department of Education‟s accreditation experts." This is a reference to the 17 Department of Education regulations where the ABA was found to be out of compliance as well as the frustration of the Department's own committee with the ABA. See Victoria Szymczak's post, An Intervention: ABA Violates 17 Department of Education Accreditation Regulations.
An article in the ABA Journal has a lawyerly response to the request from Zack: "We all share the same goal: that the American people have access to justice through representation by good lawyers who have had all the information they need to carefully plan and pursue their legal careers." Hulett "Bucky" Askew, the ABA Consultant on Legal Education, responded more specifically, state 9 of the 17 violations were due to changes in the regulations. Doesn't anyone track those things at the ABA? Maybe hire a lawyer? Hey, there's a new law job. The other violations he said will take more time, but will be corrected in the one year deadline.
Grassley asked for a response by July 25, 2011. I hope he makes the ABA's answers public and that they aren't paternalistic babble. [MG]
End Note: See also Who Ultimately is Master of the Domain? ABA Responds to Senator Boxer's Request for Information About What the ABA Is Doing to Improve Its Oversight of Reported Law School Placement Data. [JH]
On "not inconsequential economic advantages"
We believe that public bodies have a duty to make law public and accessible free-of-charge, and that these objectives are further advanced if our courts, legislatures and government agencies commit to the production of official versions of primary legal materials in stable and open digital formats in freely-accessible digital repositories. We believe that these same principles are best served when legal publications are prepared using neutral citation standards as the primary standard for citation of legal materials.
In the second decade of the 21st century, there is a growing preference among users of legal information – whether students, faculty, lawyers, librarians or the public – to access legal information in digital formats. Print copies of legal materials are often not as current as their digital counterparts and lack the flexibility and functionality demanded by 21st-century practitioners, students, researchers and scholars. If legal primary materials, scholarship and information are freely and publicly available in stable and official digital formats, legal researchers and many libraries will have the option not to acquire or maintain them in print, along with the not inconsequential economic advantages.
OK, that's not me "talking;" the above is a direct quote (with emphasis added) from the Council of Canadian Academic Law Library Directors' Calgary Statement on Free Access to Legal Information. The Calgary Statement was approved at the Council's annual meeting on May 14, 2011 in acknowledgement and as an endorsement of "our American colleagues’ groundbreaking move" expressed in The Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship. However, The Calgary Statement goes one giant step beyond The Durham Statement by integrating this effort into a much broader context:
We issue this statement not only as an indication of our solidarity and shared commitment to the ideal of open access in legal scholarship but also to promote and further support the Canadian ideal of free public access to legal information as embodied in the Montreal Declaration on Free Access to Law.
Do note that neutral citation format is not just a toss-in. One of the actions, the Council commits to is
[W]e encourage all Canadian law schools, as well as our courts, legislatures, governments and law publishers, to implement already-approved national standards for neutral citation of judicial and tribunal decisions in all their publications and to expedite the approval of a national standard for the neutral citation of legislative and regulatory publications.
Also note that while the Durham Statement was proposed by a well-meaning but small ad hoc group of academic law library directors as a collective expression of their professional opinion, not as AALL's, this is not the case with the Council's statement.
Let's end with The Calgary Statement's most comprehensive principle:
We believe that a move toward digital formats as the preferred and official format for legal materials and scholarship will enhance free public access to legal information and knowledge not only inside the legal academy and in practice, but to scholars in other disciplines and to international audiences, many of whom do not now have access either to law libraries or to commercial databases. These principles are best served when legal information is freely available to the broadest possible audience.
Well stated. Here's the link to The Calgary Statement on Free Access to Legal Information. If you have not read it already, at the very least I suggest you consider reading it on the trip to Philly 2011: Cream Cheese, Cheesesteak or Karaoke, perhaps even taking it to the Exhibit Hall to ask what vendor folk think about it.
By the way, the Council adopted this Statement during the course of the 2011 annual meeting of CALL/ACBD. I'm thinking the Council didn't have to meet off-site; not sure if the Council had to get CALL/ACBD's official okie dokie for the Statement first. Might be time to remind folks of a related off-site, AALL officialdom not okie dokie-ed meeting that is being held during Philly 2011: Cheese, Cheesesteak or Karaoke: Will There Be a Better Time for Promoting Adoption of Universal Citation in the US?
Hat tip to Library Boy. [JH]
July 13, 2011
"Data is to Information as Information is to Knowledge:" On Categorial Mistakes and Implementing Modern KM
"Last week someone tweeted a link to an article called “Who owns knowledge?” Fascinating title, right up my alley, couldn’t wait to read it. So I clicked away to the page hoping to find the answer to this esoteric question. Of course, the article was actually about copyright on legal documents, and it’s a great article, raising a very interesting question in this time of Super Lateral Musical Chairs. However, I was so disappointed to get to the end without a single mention of knowledge ownership. The author made a categorical mistake that is quite common, even amongst KMers. Knowledge and Information are not equivalent."
So wrote Ryan McClead in a June 28th 3 Geeks blog post titled Confusing Information and Knowledge. 30-plus years ago we debated this matter in library school during the "Information Age." The issue still remains alive today. The article, Who owns knowledge?, fails to make the distinction. McClead's post revisits this "categorical mistake" and ends with the following statement:
Knowledge Management is, I think, about helping your company take advantage of these new technologies to tell stories better and maybe a little bit about managing information.
KN in the Public Sector. Damn good point. I would add that KM is no longer important just in law firms and corporations. At least in the public sector, it is time for those law librarians who haven't done so, to engage their public sector agencies and courts. My hunch is many in the federal agency and courts sector already have, perhaps also true at the state-wide level. But it is time for county agency and court systems to move beyond in-house, one-off, reinvent-the-wheel KN systems (where they even exist).
I think it is up to local public sector law librarians to make this push -- even if it doesn't stay within their job responsibilities -- so that their user populations don't remain behind the curve. Certainly there will be resistance to change but KN is not a bleeding edge productivity solution. [JH]
Computer Privacy In The News
Two stories related to computer privacy caught my attention. One is that law enforcement agencies are increasing the amount of warrants sent to Facebook to gather data on individuals. That law enforcement agents are interested in Facebook user details is no surprise. Stories of private investigators, employers, and others gathering character evidence are not shocking. The Reuters report adds a number of new wrinkles. One is that the requests are for a user's "Neoprint" and 'Photoprint," details the report says are not available to the user. Does Facebook compile its own dossiers on individuals it doesn't share?
The second wrinkle is that the section in law enforcement manuals on how to request information from Facebook "appear" to be prepared by Facebook. Something that seems to be the law enforcement manual appears on the cryptome.org web site. The document is dated from 2008 and has a copyright notice with Facebook as the copyright holder. It does describe in some detail what it will hand over on valid request. The company declined to confirm to Reuters that it prepared any documents as, I'm assuming, it might be bad for business. Reuters says it determined 11 warrants were granted in 2011. That's not a lot in comparison to the number of Facebook users. Still, asking for search warrants for hidden Facebook content may become a comfortable practice for law enforcement over time. User beware, as they say.
The second story involves a Colorado defendant charged with fraudulant real estate transactions in federal court. The government is asking a judge to compel Ramona Fricosu to give up her password to an encrytped laptop drive or alternatively type it in while no one is looking. Either way, the government wants the unencrypted content of the laptop. There is the problem of the Fifth Amendment prohibition against self-incrimimation.
The government was successful in the Boucher case several years ago. Boucher crossed the border from Canada and his laptop was examined by U.S. border agents. Boucher typed in his password at that time and the agents viewed what amounted to child pornography. Later forensic investigation showed that technicians could not get back into the drive without a password. Boucher was ultimately compelled to give it up because the agents had already seen the content and knew where it was. The judge in the case justified it because "providing access to the unencrypted Z drive 'adds little or nothing to the sum total of the Government's information' about the existence and location of files that may contain incriminating information. Fisher, 425 U.S. at 411."
Fricosu's case is a little different. The government isn't sure what's on the hard drive. There may be evidence relating to the alleged real estate fraud, or there may be personal information, or possibly evidence of other, unknown crimes. Who knows, maybe she downloaded Metallica files without paying for them, making Lars the drummer cry. In any event, the government wants to know what's on the drive. Both sides note the distinction made in the Supreme Court case Doe v. United States, 487 U.S. 201 (1988) where the Court said a witness may be forced to surrender a key to a strongbox containing incriminating documents but not the combination to a wall safe. The government, as a practical matter, could break open both with the proper court authority.
Encrypted digital data is a bit different. The government is not willing to admit it can break PGP encyrption, at least in these cases. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed an amicus brief in the case suggesting this case is more like the combination than the key. I tend to agree. It's not as if there is some security fob that can open the laptop content to scrutiny. The outcome of the case should offer a better understanding of what privacy safeguards a person can employ for his or her own digital information without the government being able to access it. There is a hearing on the issue scheduled later on this month.
An interview with the attorney representing Fricosu is on CNET. [MG]
The World of Actionable Actions, Part III: Who Protects Individual Buyers of Commercial Legal Resources When Their Legitimate but Ill-informed Expectations Aren't Fulfilled by Their Acquisitions?
The means to achieve our major legal publishing vendors wet dream of selling directly to consumers, instead of being mediated by expects (ah, that would be us), has arrived. It's call eCommerce and eCommerce sites like West-Mart illustrate that our vendors are adapting the Amazon model for targeting the individual consumer. Hell, West-Mart has even implemented a "Top 10 Best-Selling New Titles banner," "Deal of the Day" discounts with "free shipping" (LOL), "Customers With Similar Interests Also Looked At" prompts and consumer review commenting for some titles. Of course, the latter could backfire if law librarians start posting critical evaluations of offerings. Hum, not a bad idea. Would they be deemed inappropriate?
Then, again, if vendors like the one who sells "trusted legal resources from Thomson Reuters" also implement something along the lines of Amazon's "Top 1,000 Reviewers" program we might have a bit of problem. See Laura Hazard Owen's What Shoppers Don’t Realize About Amazon’s Reviews on PaidContent (There is "new evidence suggesting that Amazon’s customer reviewers—particularly the top 1,000 reviewers—do not always make independent decisions about which books and other products they write about." Citing Trevor Pinch (Cornell University Department of Science and Technology Studies) and Filip Kesler's How Aunt Ammy Gets Her Free Lunch: A Study of the Top-Thousand Customer Reviewers at Amazon.com.) Note well, many of the reviewed products and services are provided for free to those top-ranked Amazon reviewers. Naw, our vendors won't do that, right? But I wouldn't be surprised if a vendor like TR Legal steals a marketing "free lunch" now being offered by Amazon. In exchange for providing “guest reviews” for Amazon imprint titles, Amazon says it will promote the review author’s books. On the New York Observer, see Emily Witt's Amazon Publishing to Authors: ‘Review’ Our Books and We Will Promote You. Of course, I doubt TR Legal will promote a review author's book if it is a Lexis imprint.
Clearly, a new era in pitching directly to individual buyers of legal publications in print and online has arrived -- has "finally arrived" from the perspective of our major vendors. They can now sell directly to them without too many worries that the buyers may not realize many of their purchases are unfit for their legal research purposes, at least until authors sue West. (BTW, perhaps you can find Pennsylvania Criminal Procedure -- Law, Commentary and Forms on West-Mart because I didn't.) Individual buyers may still have sticker shock but, as in the case of TR Legal, there is always the "Assured Pricing Plan." What next, Land of 10,000 Invoices Visa cards?
Hey, I not "picking on" TR Legal but in this case the Company is desperately seeking to be the "market[ing] leader" in this new eCommerce era and clearly is spending more time and effort on marketing and sales to individual buyers than on improving editoral quality. Of course, those costs get rolled into their pricing models.
TR Legal is a step ahead of the rest of the pack for the moment. Could it be because no other company has been it as hard hit as TR Legal in the Shed West era? Could it be because that despite after the fact apologies, the Company's marketing gurus and sales reps really don't want end users to know their librarians name. Could it be because the great untapped market until now is the individual consumer who historically tossed snail mail new product announcements and sales catalogs into the garbage bin with all the other snail mail spam but now visit the amazonian West-Mart.
"[E]ach party must take care not to say or do anything tending to impose upon [i.e. take advantage of] the other," wrote Chief Justice Marshall in the landmark caveat emptor decision in Laidlaw v. Organ, 15 U.S. (2 Wheat.) 178 (1817). In a nutshell, this requires that the means of intelligence ahead of a sales transaction must be equally accessible to both buyer and seller. In Laidlaw, the issue was tobacco. Today it can be applied to our vendors' smokin' hot need to stop the decline in guaranteed revenue streams. How? By selling to the individual consumer who does not necessarily have the expertise ("intelligence reports") we have. Hell, TR Legal is even advertising Wright & Miller on Fark! Fark, really? What next, 2:00 AM infomercials featuring Johnny and Jenny Westlaw?
|Screen capture taken on July 1, 2011|
Do law librarians as buyers of legal publishing products have a professional obligation to warn individual consumers when some products and services are "less than useful" in terms of editorial content; when print format switcheroos are not accurately advertised on the eCommerce site, even months after a format change has been executed and shipped (from this screen capture to this screen capture to currently this for Smolla's Federal Civil Rights Acts 3d, for example), when some pricing simply isn't worth paying for content received, particularly for updates, and when the fine print of "assured pricing plans" is structured along the lines of adjustable rate mortgages?
I think there is a need for consumer advocacy by law librarians here but I doubt AALLwill do anything about it. Hell, that's probably too out-of-the-box for an association that already fails miserably to effectively advocate for its own institutional buyer membership. [JH]
Earlier posts in this LLB series:
- The World of Actionable Actions: Institutional Buyers, Individual Consumers and the Legal Publishing Industry
- The World of Actionable Actions, Part II: Addressing Vendor Inefficiencies Because Format and Quality Matters
Opening: Digital Services Librarian, Valparaiso Law
Valparaiso University Law School invites applications for the newly-created position of Digital Services Librarian.
Job Description. The Digital Services Librarian will coordinate the evaluation, acquisition, implementation, training and management of Law Library electronic resources and serve as the Law Library’s liaison with the law school’s Electronic Media Manager regarding design, development, and updates of the library’s web site. The Digital Services Librarian will also be a member of the reference team providing proactive reference and research support to the law school faculty, students, members of the practicing bar and other patrons of the library, and will participate in the first year and advanced legal research instructional program.
Required qualifications: JD from ABA-accredited law school and MLS, MLIS, MIS, or equivalent degree from an ALA-accredited program. Law library experience preferred.
Salary and Rank. Salary and rank will be commensurate with qualifications. The Digital Services Librarian will report to the Associate Dean for Law Library Services and, as a member of the law library faculty, will be eligible for tenure under university guidelines for library faculty.
How to Apply. Position is available August 1, 2011. Starting date is negotiable. Complete job description and information regarding how to apply may be found here.
For more information about Valparaiso Law and the Law Library visit here.
July 12, 2011
Google Gets Into The eBook Reader Game
Google has announced a eBook reader that integrates with Google books and the Google Bookstore. It is the iriver Story HD. The HD part refers to its screen resolution of 1024 by 768. The Kindle, in comparison, is 800 by 600. This may be a factor if having "older eyes" and/or needing a very sharp display is a consideration in choosing a reader. The potential book population for the reader includes the three million free books Google scammed scanned from major library research collections and the hundreds of thousands of titles for sale at the Google Bookstore.
Google free product has been available on other readers such as the Sony Reader or the Nook. A full list of compatible devices is here. The difference is that each title had to be downloaded to a computer hard drive and transferred to the other reader via a wire connection to the computer. The integration to the Google Bookstore means direct (and convenient) transfer via WiFi. The usual amenities apply such as cloud storage, remembering the last page read no matter the device, and others. Battery life is supposed to last 6 weeks or 14,000 pages on a single charge.
The down side of the device, at least from the perspective of some reviewers, is the set of physical keys appearing just below the main display. The keys are for search within a title and presumably to make notes. The trend for pad/reader devices is touch screen. I'll ask the question anyway: does a physical keyboard compared to touch screen really matter?
I don't know if this is a down side or not, but the iriver Story HD goes on sale July 17 at, of all places, Target. It will cost $139. I wonder if this device was planned in anticipation of a favorable Settlement agreement. Will this content distribution device figure in the next round of negotiations given the rejection of the Settlement? Sales could increase with a consumer device dedicated to the Store. An even more interesting question is whether the Reader will evolve into something that accesses other Google content, such as a Chrome Book in the form of a tablet.
The reader should at least annoy Amazon the way the Android operating system annoyed Apple. Speaking of which, I though Apple had a monopoly on the letter "i" before any word. iriver is a manufacturer of other consumer electronics devices. The company web site is here for more information. [MG]
Talk About Being Available 24/7! Loaning iPads to Clients
The Arizonia Republic is reporting that two personal injury attorneys, Marc Lamber and James Goodnow of Fennemore Craig, have given iPad to 20 of the major clients they are currently representing so they can contact either attorney if they have a question, want more information about their case or what to inform their lawyers of recent developments by providing additional information. Talk about being available 24/7 to solve a complaint attorneys ofter hear -- I can't reach you! Presumably, the communications are covered by attorney-client priviledge although one has to wonder if all of it is. Quoting from iPads bring new levels of connection to lawyers, clients; tablet use add quality to presentations:
There also are some legal concerns, [Lawyer and IT expect Tom Mighell noted.] Lawyers who give tablet PC to clients would have to find ways to make sure that the information on it remains confidential. The lawyers on the opposing side may look for ways to argue in court that they have a right to view some of the information on the device.
According to the Arizona Republic article, clients return the iPads, which are characterized and rightly so by the firm as "hotlines," when their cases are closed.
Hat tip to ABAJ's Litigators Provide iPads to 20 Clients, to Help Them Stay Connected to Cases. [JH]
Freeing Digitally Conceived Text, Part 2: Moving Beyond Print, Commercial Online Sources and Government-Hosted eSilos
The Illinois Supreme Court announced Tuesday [May 31, 2011] a new way of officially citing its cases and those of the Illinois Appellate Court. This new method will eliminate the need to contractually publish and purchase the official opinions in bound volumes. It will save Illinois taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. ... The new method of citation goes into effect July 1, 2011. The current contract for printing the advance sheets and bound volumes of Illinois court opinions expires July 31, 2011 and will not be renewed. ... Reliance on printed reports for access to the courts’ opinions has diminished with the rise of electronic databases, such as those found on the Court’s own internet website at www.state.il.us/court, Westlaw and Lexis-Nexis.
Quoting from the Illinois Supreme Court's May 31, 2011 press release, Illinois Supreme Court Announces New Public Domain Citation System, Ending Era of Printed Volumes. See also Mark Giangrande's Illinois Reports 1831 - 2011 RIP.
From Conception to Birth of Text. "We hold these truths to be self-evident" that all source documents for primary legal resources are conceived digitally now. The text typically starts off in a word processing file. The text may be poorly formed. It may be produced using a word processing application that is no longer in widespread use. (See, for example, the GPO's illustration of an appendix to the Economic Report of the President quoted in Freeing Digitally Conceived Text, Part 1: The Federal Government as Documentation Authenticator, FDsys as a Trusted Repository, and the GPO as a Bulk Distributor of XML Files). The digitally conceived text then may go through a meat-grinding electronic workflow manufacturing process that oftentimes producing an ill-formed, metadata-not-enhanced PDF file when it does not merely produce text in a print format. The point is simple -- this original digital text does not typically leave the womb in a freely accessible authenticated,metadata-enhanced electronic format. The current life-cycle of legal text is still bound by a late 20th century manufacturing and commercial marketing model that is out of step with well-established 21st Century information and documentation technology.
Take for example the below image of a snip of footnotes from EFF's Know Your Rights! (June 2011) webpage (click to enlarge). The only hyperlinked cites are to US Code sections and federal rules accessible on Cornell's very reliable LII's site (red). None of the cited case law is hyperlinked. Some of the opinions are published in print (blue as in depressed), others are unpublished opinions that are cited to a very expensive online legal search vendor (green as in cash). Now, EFF may have been able to find all the cited court opinions in an open access database such as Google but until open law becomes a reality in a comprehensive, systematic manner with authenticated metadata-rich files, file reliability is questionable and the long-term viability of such projects may produce link-rot.
Isn't it time to free digitally conceived text of primary legal resources from print and commercial online sources by way of at least one publicly funded centralized database with basic research tools serving also as a bulk distributor of XML files. It's time to advance to a new era, to move beyond the separate silos like Thomas, eCFR, court and/or state-specific website access points to create a single open access route based on the collaborative efforts of federal and state governments. All the essential infrastructure from system engineering to documentation tools and practices to uniform format neutral citation standards are readily available. All that's need is standardization and an access point. Could FDsys provide both by becoming something more that a federal portal?
Hell, even standardized electronic data can be made readily available by WEXIS. If commercial publishers of official legal text can be required to price, for example, print official reporters substantially less than their own commerical reporters in some states (but not that's not exactly the case for the government-granted virtual monolopy for federal court opinions), just how hard do you think it would be to put a gun to those vendors heads by requiring them to upload court, agency and legistative materials is a standardized e-format to at least one publicly funded centralized database if they want to continue making money off these public records in their own print and online publications?
The only ingredient missing is the will for a concerned, coordinated, joint (not silo-like) lobbying campaign mounted by the ABA, AALL, public interest and consumer advocacy groups and even some legal publishers that goes well beyond the occasional press release and appearance before legislative committees. The momentum started by LAW.GOV's workshops needs to be ignited by more serious, dare I say, rebellious action. There are many ways of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with commercial vendors as an expression of protest.
Oops, I almost used the "boycott" word. Well, there's certainly a reason to protest, like the one stated by the Illinois Supreme Court to justify ending its era of print in the above quote -- save taxpaper money. WEXIS will survive on the basis of whatever value it adds to primary legal sources and its secondary sources in online and print formats. I would add that electronic back files from WEXIS should also be required, stripped of copyright-protected editoral content so that complete legal record is publicly accessible. This would eliminate the need for double and triple-key entry of work sent off to India and China, reducing the entry barrier cost of private enterprises and introduce some real competition in the marketplace. [JH]
For the first in this (very) occasional series of LLB posts, see The Federal Government as Documentation Authenticator, FDsys as a Trusted Repository, and the GPO as a Bulk Distributor of XML.
Law Prof Miffed at CJ Roberts' Characterization of Legal Scholarship as Being Irrelevant
Quoting from the Concurring Opinions post, Sherrilyn Ifill on What the Chief Justice Should Read on Summer Vacation:
[M]ore often than not, published law review articles offer muscular critiques on contemporary legal doctrine, alternative approaches to solving complex legal questions, and reflect a deep concern with the practical effect of legal decisionmaking on how law develops in the courtroom.
Now, perhaps Maryland law prof Sherrilyn Ifill can explain why courts aren't sufficient persuaded by such deeply concerned academic muscularity to cite law review articles in court opinions.
You can view CJ Roberts presentation at the Annual Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Conference on C-Span. [JH]
Opening Legal Reference Librarian, Holland & Hart LLP
Holland & Hart LLP, a premier law firm that has gained a reputation of providing its clientele with the highest quality legal services, is seeking an exceptional person to provide legal and business research services to the firm's attorneys.
Job Responsibilities. Responsibilities include providing reference desk coverage, building, designing and developing portal tools and content including wikis and blogs, marketing and promoting library services, engaging in professional development activities, collaborating on and supporting CI functions within the firm, training attorneys and staff, and other related tasks as assigned by the Library Director.
Qualifications. Qualified candidates will have a Master of Library and Information Science degree. 2-4 years experience preferred. Juris Doctorate is a plus. Proficiency in LexisNexis, Westlaw, Internet research tools and other online databases is essential.
Candidate should have a strong knowledge of legal and business reference sources and legal research techniques, and possess strong oral and written communication skills. Must be self-directed and able to work in a fast-paced, time-sensitive environment.
Salary and Benefits. The law firm offers excellent salaries, outstanding benefits and a pleasant work environment.
How to Apply. If you qualify and are interested in joining a dynamic friendly organization, send your resume to Holly Pinto c/o Holland & Hart LLP P.O. Box 8749, Denver, CO 80202-8749, fax 303-713-6218 or email hpinto(at)hollandhart.com No phone calls. Apply by July 29th. EOE
July 11, 2011
WSJ: Law Schools Increasing Skills Training
Could it be that the new competition among law schools would be teaching lawyering skills? The Wall Street Journal is describing efforts by a number of different schools in that direction. New York Law School, for example, is hiring 15 faculty members from the ranks of practising attorneys to teach negotiation, counseling and fact investigation. Law schools typically offer legal clinics, moot court, and classes in dispute resolution as the academic equivalent for the real world. These classes do give students a taste of law practice, but in a very limited, controlled environment. There tend to be few classes in law practice management.
Imagine teaching students what it is like to actually work in different types of law office. It would be nice if there were elements in a class that explained the workflow of a corporate law department, or what it means to be a solo practitioner. That last one is fraught with all kinds of possibilities. There is how to set up a practice, how to handle a difficult client, understanding how the courts conduct business, and generally all the things a lawyer actually does in the real world. It's one thing to know the legal requirements of a will, and legal drafting classes aside, how to customize one for a client.
Some of the driving points for teaching extended lawyering skills are the complaints by firms that new associates don't know how to be lawyers, and that clients aren't willing to pay for them to get up to speed. That, and a graduate may be a more attractive hire if he or she walks in the door with more of those skills in hand. It would be a positive development if we added more lawyer school to law school. Too bad it comes as a defensive measure. [MG]
Nightmare for Public Library After Its Twitter Account Was Hacked
An Indian company reportedly hacked into the Hennepin County Library's Twitter account and changed the library system's URL, email, password and its content on July 6th. Senior Librarian Meg Knodl spent her day off trying to contact Twitter, regain control of the Library's account and delete the hacker's posted messages. After the nightmare ended she posted the following to the Library's Facebook page: "Thank you again for the support and assistance. We'd like to thank Gary Price @infodocket and Danny Sullivan of @sengineland for helping us. They helped us reach Twitter!"
Hat tip to LISNews. [JH]
Will There Be a Better Time for Promoting Adoption of Universal Citation in the US?
While I will stand by my general premise that there is a professional divide between the documentation and law librarian communites that needs to be bridged, there are times when both are on the same page. Both oftentimes see the future clearly but can be too far ahead of the curve that practitioners and other stakeholders will not understand the importance of adopting their recommendations until much later and then sometimes only if the matter is resurrected.
Case in point, a format neutral, public domain citation standard. The Universal Citation Guide has been around for a very long time now. Published by the AALL Citation Formats Committee in 1999 with a second editon published in 2004, this Guide's citation recommendations have been endorsed by AALL, the ABA and formally adopted in several states. However, the timing of this effort was an instance where the pack was not yet ready to follow the leaders in terms of widespread adoption. Consequently, many law libraries probably have a copy of Universal Citation Guide, 2d (Hein, 2004) collecting dust on their reference shelves right now.
Universal Citation is Ripe for Implementation. A lot has happened in the 15-plus years since events prompting the conception and execution of this project by AALL. West lost its attempt to copyright pagination. That ironically probably put a damper on the univeral citation movement. But electronic distribution of primary legal resouces by federal and state web distinations is substantially more prevalent now. The issue is ripening. That means it is time to revisit the matter.
Universal Citation Meeting on July 25th. The aim of UniversalCitation.Org is "to provide the organizational infrastructure needed to facilitate the adoption and use of a uniform set of media and vendor neutral citations that can be used for all American court decisions." UniversalCitation.org will be conducting a meeting at Rutgers University School of Law, Camden on July 25, 2011 to discuss plans for implementation. Yes, this meeting is taking place during AALL 2011's annual meeting but it is off-site and the organization makes clear that its efforts and meeting are not in any way sponsored or affiliated with our professional association. Seems odd since this effort originated inside AALL. Ah well, a fair number of law librarians and vendors (like LexisNexis and Fastcase but not TR Legal) and other stakeholders (like CALI, including its new Director of Content Development, and Justia) are planning to attend.
Ahead of the meeting, Peter Martin, Jane M.G. Foster Professor of Law, Emeritus, Cornell Law School, posted his personal proposals on this issue. Quoting from A Proposed Course of Action for universalcitation.org or Some Alternative Non-Commercial Entity (June 17, 2011):
It is 2011 not the mid-nineties. The environment has changed since the ABA and AALL first came out for public domain citation in ways that: 1) increase the importance of widespread (let us say “universal”) adoption of public domain, medium neutral citation, 2) call for more than exhortation and persuasion directed at jurisdictions that have not yet taken the plunge, and 3) make uniformity of approach across US jurisdictions an unlikely, even an undesirable near term goal.
Background. The history of the universal citations movement in the US is well documented. For starters, see AALL Citation Formats Committee's The Universal Legal Citation Project: A Draft User Guide to the AALL Universal Case Citation, 89 Law Libr. J. 7 (1997) if you can find it on AALL's website since the LLJ archives doesn't go back that far. Peter Martin's historical review, Neutral Citation, Court Web Sites, and Access to Authoritative Case Law , 99 Law Lib. J. 329 (2007) is available. Ian Gallagher's Cite Unseen: How Neutral Citation And America's Law Schools Can Cure Our Strange Devotion To Bibliographical Orthodoxy And The Constriction Of Open And Equal Access To The Law (2007) also is highly recommended. Quoting from Gallagher:
West was vociferous in its opposition to neutral citation format, perhaps because it correctly identified citation as one of the most important impediments to the development of an alternative to West-based legal information. West had two members on the AALL Task Force on Neutral Citation Formats who combined on a dissent to the Task Force’s recommendations that neutral citation formats should be adopted. In addition to their disparagement of neutral citation as the “nowhere” citation format, the West-employed task force members raised numerous objections to the adoption of neutral citation formats, among them their contentions that:
“uniformity need not be achieved through government intervention;”
neutral citation “promotes lack of uniformity;”
neutral citation is “impractical when applied to regional reporters;”
the AALL task force failed to consider a “needs assessment from the bench and bar perspective;”
neutral citation would require “radical and costly changes in judicial administration in many states;”
neutral citation is “unworkable for locating cases in looseleaf topical reporting services, legal newspapers, and many other compilations;”
neutral citation “does not eliminate the need for parallel citations;”
and “paragraph numbering raises numerous questions that still require answers.”
Unfortunately some of our younger law library community members may not be as aware as we aging and decrepit Boomer law librarians are of the long and winding road leading to the upcoming meeting.
Now quoting from Martin's recent personal proposed course of action:
I propose that universalcitation.org or some other non-commercial entity embrace and seek funding together with in-kind assistance from interested commercial parties that will enable pursuit of the following aims and actions:
Encourage US courts to adopt public domain citation through diverse means (e.g., highlighting best practices and options illustrated by jurisdictions that have implemented public domain citation, offering consulting services to jurisdictions contemplating public domain citation, putting in place a system of public domain citation that courts can simply adopt).
Affirm rather than criticize, modify, or adjust jurisdictionally adopted public domain citation schemes no matter how far they deviate from the AALL model (in other words, accept that institutional factors including embedded practice, which in some jurisdictions has been in place for over a decade, make “uniformity” less important than “universality”).
Apply a basic system of public domain citation to citable appellate decisions in jurisdictions that have not yet implemented one of their own.
To the extent possible engage or assist in the retrospective application of public domain citation in some or all US jurisdictions.
Create and maintain an online citation server that will:
Employ public domain citation in enabling users to access individual decisions on any of the major free and fee case law databases, and among commercial services privileging those that have cooperated in building and maintaining this public domain system.
Allow authors of electronically filed briefs and online commentary to link to cited case authority without limiting the reader to a specific database.
Well, Martin's educational and advocacy proposals may do the trick, particularly his "uniformity” [is] less important than “universality" proposition for promoting public domain citation. However, I tend to get worried about the long-term viability and stable financing for an online citation server unless grant money can be obtained to dovetail this effort into Cornell's LII, assuming Cornell is interested and willing to take on the task. We don't need another eLaw silo when we have something like the Cornell LII in place.
Commercial Vendors Can Lead the Way to Adoption of Universal Citation. Being the "capitalist pig" I am, I believe there is another way to take a quicker first step for executing normative universal citation practices enacted before an open access server can be in place. I'm thinking that the first realistic executable step in the right direction is if a major vendor were to implement universal citations in its databases. Since the current list of attendees for the July 25th meeting in Camden does not list a TR Legal representative -- not even one going for "competitive intelligence" purposes -- I doubt that company's executives will do anything more then maintain its collective delusion that nothing is going to change, at least until the Shed West era of its print reporters makes the folks in the land of 10,000 wonder why the hell they continue manufactoring them. (Do note, once upon a time John West promoted reform of citation practices.)
Who then? I would suggest that Lexis is the most likely vendor that has nothing to lose by implementing universal citation practices in its databases and has the programming talent at hand to do so. [JH]
New Academic Law Library Directorship Appointments: Vicki Szymczak (Hawaii) and Teresa Stanton (Florida International)
Vicki Szmczak, Library Director at Brooklyn Law (and long-time LLB contributing editor) has accepted a faculty appointment at the Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii, and will serve as the Law School's library director. Vicki will be making the 5,000 mile trek to Hawaii to start her new gig on September 26, 2011. Congratulations Vicki. Gonna have a guest bedroom? I can be there on September 27th. (An announcement for the library directorship at Brooklyn Law is posted below.)
Also, congratulations to Teresa Stanton. She has accepted an appointment as Associate Dean for Information Resources at Florida International University Law School. For the last two years she has served as Director of Collections at Berkeley Law, previously as Berkeley Law's Foreign and International Law Librarian. During her 20-plus year career of moving up the ranks in law librarianship, she has also worked at UNC Law Library, U of Miami Law Library and the Dade County (FL) Law Library. She will be making the 2,500 mile trek back to Miami to after leaving Berkeley Law at the end of July.
Have Expertise, Law Librarians Will Travel. By my rough estimate, we are talking about a total of approximately 7,500 miles traveled. [JH]
Opening: Library Director, Brooklyn Law School
Employer Information: Founded in 1901, Brooklyn Law School is an independent law school, with approximately 1,400 students in its full-time and part-time divisions combined, dedicated to providing its students with the knowledge, skills, and ethical awareness needed for a successful career in the law, and to contributing to the advancement of law, legal institutions and society at large. Its faculty produces an impressive body of work, including scholarly articles, casebooks, and treatises. The Law School and its distinguished faculty are highly regarded throughout the United States and abroad.
Job Description: Brooklyn Law School seeks applications for the position of Library Director. The Director, who will be a tenure-track or tenured faculty member, reports directly to the Dean of the Law School.
The Director is responsible for the planning and overall administration of the library. This includes interdisciplinary collection development in digital and print formats, supervision of the library staff, management of the library’s physical space, budget development and control, coordination of legal research instruction with the teaching law librarians and the Legal Writing Director, and collaboration with external partnerships. These partnerships include a joint LLM/MLIS degree program with the Pratt Institute Graduate School of Library and Information Science that the new Director will help to launch.
The Library Director should be comfortable with the selection, implementation and maintenance of library technologies, including the school’s ERM (Serials Solution), open source ILS (Koha, see http://catalog.brooklaw.bywatersolutions.com), operation of multiple PC/Mac computer labs, and use of Illiad for digital document delivery services. The Director will oversee copyright compliance for the School.
Requirements: Applicants must hold both a JD from an ABA-accredited law school and an MLS or equivalent degree from an ALA-accredited library or information science program. The successful candidate will be an individual who (i) is committed to working collaboratively and innovatively in advancing the Law School’s mission of providing excellent legal education; (ii) possesses excellent administrative, organizational, and technological skills and; (iii) is dedicated to developing the intellectual resources needed to advance the Law School’s stature as a scholarly institution.
How to Apply. Applications should include a statement of interest, curriculum vitae, and a list of confidential references. Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. Please send applications to:
Professor Aaron Twerski
Chair, Library Director Search Committee
Brooklyn Law School
250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Brooklyn Law School is an Equal Opportunity Employer.