October 29, 2011
Industry Sector Analysis of Big Data Harvesting
"‘Big data’ refers to sets of data whose size surpasses that of what data storage tools can typically handle. As the amount of digital data grows exponentially each year, big data has the potential to become the next frontier for innovation, competition and profit," writes Andy Wibbels in Infographic: The Potential of Big Data as a lead-in to his Exploding Data: The Potential of Big Data infographic. Hat tip to Klint Kinley's ReadWriteCloud post. (The Big Data infographic tries to put Big Data into perspective by "look[ing] at how much data is harvested by different industries, and how much that data may be worth. For example, did you know that the average securities and investment firm with fewer than 1,000 employees will have 3.8 petabytes of data stored?") [JH]
October 28, 2011
A Word About Better World Books
There are times when a library has to weed a collection because of space or other constraints. The question arises as to what to do with the discarded items, which at times can be significant in numbers. I’m not talking about older items that were updated with new editions, but those perfectly good items that for one set of circumstances or another wind up in the trash. As it turns out, there is an alternative for the surplus but useful item.
The organization describes itself this way:
Better World Books is a self-sustaining, for-profit social venture whose mission is to capitalize on the value of the book to fund literacy initiatives locally, nationally and around the world. We partner with nearly 1400 libraries and over 1800 college campuses across the U.S. and Canada, collecting unwanted textbooks and library discards in support of non-profit literacy programs.
More information is in the FAQ. I think it is great that there is an organization out there that can promote real literacy programs and keep perfectly good items from winding up in landfills. The potential saved book does not include every discarded item. There is a page that describes what is acceptable for reuse and what is not.
To date, over 65 million books have been reused or recycled through BWB, and over $10 million dollars have been raised for literacy programs and libraries. Consider donating or selling your viable discards to Better World Books. Visit their page for more information. Hat tip to BWB. [MG]
Fighting for Open Access in Academic Legal Publishing
During this year's Open Access Week, CALI Director of Content Development Sarah Glassmeyer published the first post-launch announcement feature on the new CALI Spotlight blog. In Why We Fight, Sarah writes:
I feel like OA doesn’t get as much traction in law as it does with other academic disciplines, which is crazy because if there was ever a discipline more ripe for OA than law, I haven’t seen it. First, there’s the primary data set for it which is…the law. You know the law – produced by the government, paid for by tax dollars, theoretically no copyright issues involved, the very cornerstone of our society? Yeah, that law. Unfortunately, while great strides are being made in the government actually publishing the law in an open way, the great majority of U.S. law that can be meaningfully accessed is behind a paywall and controlled by large corporations.
What Can We Do? In the context of academic legal publishing, Sarah asks "So what can we do?"
If you’re a law professor/academic/librarian, only publish your works in OA journals and don’t volunteer for editorial boards of journals that aren’t OA. At the very least, make sure you retain copyright for all of your works so that you can self-publish on the web and your work remains available. Encourage your schools’ promotion and tenure committees to be more accepting of OA publications. Stop puffing up your egos with meaningless stats like SSRN download counts and support institutional repositories that have a decent search mechanism. Put OA publications in your libraries’ catalogs and make them more findable. Educate administrations, law journal boards and teaching faculty about these issues so they can make the right decision when the time comes.
Sounds very do-able to me. Sarah adds:
Same thing goes for government officials but for them to make decisions about primary legal materials instead of academic scholarship.
Say "Hi" to CALI Spotlight. Announcing the launch of CALI Spotlight earlier this month, CALI Executive Director John Mayer explained its purpose:
Over the coming months, CALI staff (including myself) will be using the CALI Spotlight blog to describe their thoughts on ideas that go into the design, development, strategy and implementation of projects relating to our research in technology, law, education, and access to justice. The articles will be short, but we hope the shared insights will be useful to you.
Friday Fun: A Blast from the Past: the forgotten web browsers of the early 1990s
On Ars Technica, Matthew Lasar presents a brief but interesting historical snaphot of early 1990s web browsers -- CERN browsers, Erwise, ViolaWWW, Midas, Samba, Mosaic, Lynx and Cello -- complete with screen captures and some background information about them. Lasar writes "What's striking about these early applications is that they had already worked out many of the features we associate with later browsers." Details here. [JH]
Intellectual Freedom across the Globe: ALA Webinar Series Set for November
Registration is now open for “Intellectual Freedom across the Globe,” a series of webinars on international issues related to free speech, censorship and access to information in libraries and beyond. The webinars will be held during November 2011 and feature speakers from several countries. The series is co-sponsored by ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom and the IFLA Committee for Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression.
Some basic information about the three-part series:
Wednesday, Nov. 9: “Comics, Graphic Novels, Manga, and Libraries”
Time: 9:00 a.m. Central Standard Time [1500 GMT]
Speakers: Charles Brownstein, Executive Director, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, New York, NY, USA; Yasuyo Inouye, Professor, Dokkyo University, Japan; and Angela Maycock, Assistant Director, ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, Chicago, IL, USA.
Tuesday, Nov. 15: “Religion, Free Expression, and Libraries”
Time: 10:00 a.m. Central Standard Time [1600 GMT]
Speakers: Paul Sturges O.B.E., Professor Emeritus, Loughborough University and Professor Extraordinary, University of Pretoria, United Kingdom; Almuth Gastinger, Senior Research Librarian, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway; and Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Deputy Director, ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, Chicago, IL, USA.
Tuesday, Nov. 22: “Access to Health Information and Education in the Developing World”
Time: 10:00 a.m. Central Standard Time [1600 GMT]
Speakers: Alejandra Martinez del Prado, Reference Librarian, School of Medicine Library of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico; and Barbara Jones, Director, ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, Chicago, IL, USA.
Webinar details including how to register here. [JH]
Opening: Reference/Electronic Services Librarian, Stetson Univ. College of Law
Stetson University College of Law seeks applications for a Reference/Electronic Services Librarian. With its main campus in Gulfport, which is adjacent to St. Petersburg, Florida, the College of Law was established in 1900 and is Florida's oldest law school. The College has centers for excellence in advocacy, elder law, higher education law and policy, and international law. Potential applicants are encouraged to visit the College of Law's website to learn more.
The Reference/Electronic Services Librarian position reports to the Law Library Associate Director and is responsible for assisting in reference services for library users including faculty, staff and students and assisting in the acquisition and management of law library online resources, web page maintenance and implementation of evolving technology appropriate to the mission and service of the law library.
Qualifications include: JD from an ABA accredited school and/or MLS or equivalent degree from an ALA accredited library school. Effective communication skills and a willingness to work cooperatively as a member of the law library staff are necessary.
An application, cover letter, resume, three references and salary requirements should be sent to Human Resources at Stetson University College of Law, 1401 61st Street South, Gulfport, FL 33707 or email (preferred) to hr(at)law.stetson.edu.
Stetson University, an Equal Opportunity Employer, affirms the values and goals of diversity and strongly encourages the applications of all candidates, including women and candidates from historically under-represented groups.
October 27, 2011
Searching for Bork's Missing Memo to Barry Goldwater on the Civil Rights Act of 1964
It has long been reported that Robert Bork wrote a "75 page" analysis for Presidential Candidate Barry Goldwater arguing that the bill that would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964, including Title VII, was unconstitutional. Ruthann Robson, Professor of Law & University Distinguished Professor, CUNY School of Law is looking for a copy:
Does the “75 page” memo still exist - - - perhaps a Xerox of a carbon copy - - - in someone’s files? Did it ever?
See her Constitutional Law Prof Blog post for locations where a copy was not found as well as some background information about the Bork memo.
So, if you have a copy or have read a copy of that "75 page" memo, I’d love to hear from you. -- Ruthann Robson
October 26, 2011
Say "Hi" to Velvet Chainsaw's Dave Lutz
In a comment to Time to Take a Velvet Chainsaw to AALL's Less Than Comprehensive But Official Review of Annual Meeting Programming, Vicki Szymczak wrote the following about hiring Velvet Chainsaw Consulting to assess AALL's annual programming:
This might work. AALL never listens to its members who provide free and expert advice on any number of things. They only feel they should listen to advice that they pay for. So, if VCC is legit, it may payoff for us!
Yup. Had I known AALL would pay someone to listen to member input by way of surveys etc. someday, I might have not deemed them an utter waste of time over the years. I doubt I am alone. My bad.
So meet Velvet Chainsaw's Dave Lutz. In a recent comment to the above-cited post, he wrote in pertinent part:
My name is Dave Lutz and I headed this consulting project for Velvet Chainsaw. In addition to speaking one-on-one with quite a few people, AALL did share an incredible amount of member input. The research and discovery process included reviews of survey comments and ratings from past meetings, session, exhibitor and membership surveys. Your point about having the input of past attendees (or from those that never attended) is good, but I do believe we captured that intelligence. While our recommendations have been delivered to AALL, I would welcome an email or call from anyone willing to share their opinion. Here's my contact details - email@example.com phone (330) 474-1047 The AALL leadership cares a ton about the value you receive for your time and financial investment in the Annual Meeting. I can't stress enough how important it is to complete surveys and session evaluations. The more you can share about the speakers or sessions that rocked vs. the ones that bombed, the better. Individual member input on the education and networking value is the #1 most critical input for any organization that desires continuous improvement.
Hum. I may have missed an offical AALL announcement that provided Dave's contact information because, well, I'm an aging and decrepit law librarian who was been hacking up a lung due to a lingering bout of bronchitis before-- as in long before because apparently one of our elected officers was not regularly checking her AALL email account -- and after the above cited Oct. 17, 2011 LLB post. Do we need a by-laws amendment that requires the E-Club to check their AALL email accounts at least more than once every week or two if member input really is "the #1 most critical input for any organization that desires continuous improvement"? But I digress... .
While Velvet Chainsaw has already submitted its recommendations for consideration at the Executive Board's upcoming meeting, Dave Lutz offers to hear you opinion. Thanks, appreciated. But I sort of think it is a bit too late unless Velvet Chainsaw has recommended to the Board that you conduct a follow-up investigation and the Board accepts that recommendation. Loop back up to Vicki's comment about how this may payoff.
Dave, did you know that AALL officialdom has an unwritten policy of not responding to blog posts directly? Hopefully Velvet Chainsaw won't lose any future AALL business by having done so in this instance... . But thanks for the contact information. [JH]
Opening: Law Librarian & Director, Hamilton County Law Library, Cincinnati
The Hamilton County Law Library (Cincinnati, Ohio) is seeking applicants for the position of Law Librarian & Director. In service to Hamilton County’s legal community since 1837, the Law Library is governed by the Hamilton County Law Library Resources Board and provides legal information resources and services to the courts, elected and appointed officials, attorneys, other legal professionals, and the public. The Law Librarian of the Hamilton County Law Library plays a premier role in our region's legal community.
The library staff of six reports to the Law Librarian & Director. The collection of 40,000 volumes and a major electronic collection are housed in an architectural gem atop the county courthouse in the center of the city. Strong support for the library comes from bar leaders, law firms, county agencies, and over 1,500 active subscribers among the legal community. The Hamilton County Law Library Resources Board seeks
a highly motivated, experienced, and enthusiastic librarian to lead the Law Library strategically in meeting its users’ legal information needs and to manage all aspects of the Law Library’s operations. The Law Librarian & Director also plays a role in our interaction with the Ohio Consortium of County Law Library Resources Boards and interacts with local law school and law firm libraries. This is a full-time position (35 hours per week, weekday, daytime hours).
Responsibilities (brief summary): The Law Librarian & Director is responsible for the operational and strategic management of the Law Library. The position has responsibility for personnel management, license agreement negotiations, budgeting, and purchasing, collection development and management, user services, promotion of the Law Library’s services, and overall implementation of the Law Library’s mission. The Law Librarian & Director is expected to be professionally engaged and to make contributions to the field. The position is supervised by the Hamilton County Law Library Resources Board.
Required: MLS or MLIS from an ALA-accredited program, five years of relevant and progressively responsible managerial experience in a library, knowledge of legal research and related services, knowledge of library science and the delivery of print-based and electronic information services, knowledge of personnel management, demonstrated awareness of new trends, standards, and emerging technologies relevant to law libraries, strong service and team orientation, excellent written and oral communication skills as well as organizational and analytical skills, and demonstrated experience with standard library and office computer systems and applications.
Preferred: JD from an ABA-accredited program, experience in a governmental law library, working knowledge of and interest in information technology and trends including website content management and social media, demonstrated ability to work with a wide variety of
patrons, and experience in collection review and development.
Salary and Benefits: Salary range: $60,000 minimum-$70,000 maximum, commensurate with education, skills, and experience. The benefits offered by Hamilton County are available here.
To Apply: Please submit a current resume, letter of application, and contact information for at least three professional references to:
Hamilton County Human Resources Department
138 E. Court Street, Room 707
Cincinnati, OH 45202
FAX: (513) 946-4720
To apply online: go here.
Deadline: The deadline for applications is November 18, 2011. We seek to have the new Director begin on February 1, 2012.
Note: Applications for Hamilton County positions are considered public records under Ohio’s Public Records Act. As a public record, applications maintained by the County are made available to any person requesting to view them.
October 25, 2011
Law School Applicants Now Have The Social Test Along With The LSAT
It comes as no surprise that a growing number of law school admission offices are starting to use the “public” web as a way of investigating potential law students. A Kaplan survey is showing that 41% of admissions officers have Googled a candidate and 37% check out their presence on social media such as Facebook. Comparatively, the stats are less for other educational opportunities. Undergraduate background checks are 20% for Google and 24% for social media, and for business school the numbers are 27% and 22% respectively.
This may be, as some have pointed out, due to the heightened ethical obligations of lawyers to their clients and the courts. No doubt this is true. I think it’s a bit more than that. Lawyers are not merely a regulated business, but one regulated by the courts. Students have to undergo character and fitness tests to even take the bar. It’s not as if there are detailed published standards for a passing the character and fitness hurdle. That gives the examining committees a lot of leeway in making people sweat. I have heard anecdotally that senior law students pay off accumulated parking and traffic tickets so they can report no outstanding fines. Good citizens, all, at least close to the bar exam.
I would think that law schools have a conservative interest in making sure those they process to the bar exam will pass scrutiny. The problem is that people are fond describing their activities to the world without thinking that the world includes prospective employers or regulators. Here’s an example from the Washington Post in an article by Melissa Bell:
A friend hunts deer in Germany. His Facebook profile shows him hoisting a rifle in the air. Another friend wrote on Twitter last month, “On plane. Just took Ambien. Twitter is my dreams. You are all glue. Happy birthday cellphone!”
Innocent pursuits perhaps: The Ambien was prescribed; the rifle is licensed. Even so, my friends would likely fail a social media background check.
Bell raised that example while describing how social media is used for prospective employment. The problem isn’t necessarily red flags a background check might raise as much as there is little opportunity to account for them. 32% of the Kaplan survey respondents said they found something that negatively affected an application. I think it would be rare for a law school admissions officer to call up a potential student and ask if the prescription and the gun were legal. Even so, that call might be jarring to the applicant. There might be additional posts as mundane as “Got my Ambien prescription filled” which might offer context. That’s a bit vacuous, even for some social posts, but who am I to tell people what information they reveal about themselves. Beyond that, will the admissions officer even see it?
The problem isn’t limited to what an individual might post about him or herself. With photo tagging now searchable, third parties can identify people in casual social situations that may not flatter them to their employers. Like to drink? No problem, as alcohol is not only legal but advertised for sale. Like to drink a lot? Hey, there are pictures of this guy drinking excessively at parties every week. Do we want to hire / let him into law school? It’s a value judgment, so draw your own conclusion.
I think Jean-Paul Sartre said it best: You are--your life, and nothing else. Social media is just that big picture window that lets unconnected others evaluate it because it is simply that easy. [MG]
Too Big To Fail: Is Thomson Reuters' balance sheet so weak to be verging on bankruptcy?
In 12 Companies that Could Go Bankrupt Very Soon (Street Authority, Oct. 13, 2011) David Sterman lists TRI as one of 12 at-risk stocks that "could tumble in a hurry." Sterman writes:
I went in search of companies that may have just such a problem (less cash than near-term loan obligations) and added Canadian media firm Thomson Reuters (NYSE: TRI) to the mix (its weak balance sheet is just above that threshold).
If you own any of the 12 "at risk" stocks we've identified above, then consider selling them now, because all of them could tumble in a hurry.
Not "guaranteed" to fail. Frankly, I think that Sterman is over-reaching by saying that TRI could be heading toward bankruptcy and should be sold now; I would cover my risk with puts if I owned any TRI stock (which I do not) if I believed Thomson Reuters was "at risk." Do note that Sterman cautions his readers:
[T]here's a difference between a company that's "at risk" of failing and a company that's "guaranteed" to fail. The stocks I profile in this article are "at risk" of failing -- they're not "guaranteed" to fail.
Thomson Reuter's credit rating would be deeply downgraded before institutional holders of TRI stock start worrying about the possibility of Thomson Reuters heading towards bankruptcy. Much more likely, credit would be extended by financial institutions. That does not mean, however, that TRI is a "sleep-well" stock to hold. Some market speculators may be selling TRI short right now, literally.
Sterman offers some "sleep-will" picks by linking to his 10 best "forever stocks" to hold. I guess he could not find two more public companies with balance sheets almost strong enough to reach the "forever" threshold. In the financial community, an article like Sterman's is called "making noise".
TRI's corporate reorganization that started this summer with Markets and is on-going is indicative that today's TRI is not "too big to fail" if the reorganization does not produce results (and apparently, perhaps even unrealistically, sooner rather than later). Do remember that Reed also executed a corporate reorganization recently. Lexis was essentially split into two standalone units, Legal and Risk, upon the retirement of the CEO of LexisNexis. TR Markets was moved under the umbrella of TR Professional. While appearing to be substantially different forms of corporate reorgs, the results will be the same. The performance of all the operating units of TR Professional will be evaluated individually just like Reed's Lexis Legal and Risk will be.
In the context of mega-mergers, corporate reorgs happen all the time. However, if TRI's reorganization does fail, it won't be because of Thomson's consolidation in the US legal market and expansion into foreign legal markets by way of acquisitions. Sorry about that, consumers of legal resources. It will be because of Reuters.
One can easily imagine that the changing of the guard in TRI executive suites would escalate to the very highest level. One might say Reed has already done so. TRI could also put Markets on the auction block at some time because Markets is substantially less recession proof than, say for example, TR Legal despite some strong evidence indicating TR Legal has been poorly managed during this economy. I seriously doubt anyone is saying Lexis Legal is being poorly managed. In fact, there is plenty of evidence that Lexis Legal is taking the long view in responding to transformative economic changes underway.
Less than sacred cash cows in legal products and services. About Sterman's article, Greg Lambert writes:
As for those of us who are customers of TRI, it might be time to look at how stable a product they really are, and start looking at what potential alternatives are available to the TRI stable of products.
It is always sound advice to look at the stability of TR Legal's products and services. One can and should expect TRI to pare back some of its legal products and services at some point in time if the Company doesn't start reducing its annual price inflation to retain what is left of its user population. Been receiving any ceasing publication notices from TR Legal for state practice titles no longer profitable to continue publishing new editions? One has to wonder when or wheither TR Legal will start eliminating more general titles and services that are obsolete. Even Henry Ford replaced the Model T to retain his market base.
Under the very, very worst case (read unlikely) scenario, TRI would still operate during bankruptcy proceedings. Now, wouldn't that be an interesting opportunity for public inspection of how TRI conducts business. Think Rudovsky ratcheted up to "infinity and beyond." However, despite its recent dramatic and some might say predictable profit margin decline, TR Legal remains TRI's cash cow. It is just that TR Legal is no longer selling any "sacred" products and services anymore in either the online or print market.
A Harvard B-School case study in the making. The Shed West Era is indicative of one thing. The dominant player in a duopoly can shoot itself in its corporate foot. The pricing gurus in Eagan have left TR Legal with one leg to stand on by introducing some price competition in the generalist legal publishing market sector right now. Lamely maintaining TR Legal's traditional annual pricing inflation in high margin print during this current economy has revealed that there really are no sacred cows left after the commoditization of legal resources. By cutting its print price increases in half, Lexis Legal responded to the current economic climate to preserve more of its subscription base.
Could it be that Reed just employs better economists than TRI? Compare the kool-aid inspired economic forecasts in TRI's quarterly and annual financial reports over the last couple of years with Reed's. Could it be that Lexis Legal still employs some senior executives who know what publishing is while TR Legal does not? It might be time for TR Legal to hire some experienced publishing people to take back control from the financial and marketing "gurus." I'm thinking its time for Dick Spinelli to run TR Legal!
One has to wonder if TR Legal has finally realized that it cannot take its customers for granted. At the moment, I'm not hopeful. (Loop back up to Dick Spinelli; his email can be found here, Tom Glocer or Jim Smith.) And then there is that pricing premium TR Legal wants for WestlawNext... . TRI's Nov. 1st conference call and webcast for its 3Q financials should be interesting. [JH]
October 24, 2011
United States Courts Opinions on FDSYS
Last week I had the privilege of attending the Depository Library Council Meeting and Federal Depository Library Conference in Crystal City, Virginia. I was very excited to hear a presentation from the GPO about the new U.S. Court Opinion Pilot project on FDSYS, because let's face it...the courts haven't been doing a real swell job in making their cases electronically available. The GPO/FDsys efforts can only be an improvment.
All the bells and whistles can be found on the pilot announcement, but the important things to note are:
- Currently the coverage is only for three courts and only back to 2004. More courts will be joining the pilot soon.
- The full text of the cases are searchable.
- All cases are in authenticated PDFs.
- They are only publishing items marked as an "opinion."
It's not a perfect system by any means. I would like to see the raw text of the opinions made available via the FDsys Bulk Data distribution. I was asked by a non-conference attendee if the cases were in PDF/UA format so that individuals with accessibility issues (such as the need to use a screen reader) could use them and I honestly can't tell. But I agree that they should be as accessible as possible.
Lest you think I'm just randomly complaining on a blog with no action, au contraire! The GPO is seeking comments from the general public about the pilot project. So I encourage you to poke around the collection and think about what you'd like to see changed and tell the GPO about it. This is a great opportunity for librarians to share their expertise and stop the train from going off the tracks before we end up with another PACER. [SG]
Short Takes On The News: Law Schools and The Supreme Court
Robert V. Ward Jr., Dean of the University Of Massachusetts Dartmouth School Of Law, resigned at the end of last week citing health reasons. There are some questions hovering over the resignation due to an audit of University credit card accounts that showed a bill of $2,235 for personal travel expenses. Ward reimbursed that amount to the University after it had been discovered. Ward said in his statement that the credit card flap had nothing to do with his resignation. His statement, the statement of the University accepting his resignation, and commentary are in the Boston Herald.
Justice Scalia spoke at the Chicago-Kent College of Law last week. He expressed his fondness for deep dish pizza, though he said it should be called tomato pie rather than pizza. He also predicted that the Kelo decision will be overturned. That case upheld a local government’s taking of private property for redevelopment to further economic development. The case was controversial as the Kelo property that was the center of the suit was not blighted or in any way distressed. The irony is that the project that caused the taking could not get financing, causing the city of New London, Connecticut, to turn the area into a dump. Yeah, that’s bringing in the dollars. Justice Scalia lumped the Kelo case in the same category with the Dred Scott case and Roe v. Wade. He calls them mistakes of political judgment on the part of the Court. More is in the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Thomas M. Cooley Law School filed a motion in federal court to dismiss the claims that it posted misleading jobs data. I wrote last week in the post The ABA Reacts that the ABA was not part of any suits and suggested that the organization might become a target. Well, the motion raises exactly that point, saying the school was complying with ABA and NALP standards on statistics. Blame them:
One thing is clear in Plaintiffs’ Complaint: Although Cooley appears in the caption, Plaintiffs really take aim at the ABA and NALP. Indeed, Plaintiffs have an entire section of the Complaint titled, “Role of the ABA,” and several paragraphs of the Complaint are aimed primarily or entirely at the ABA and NALP—not Cooley. (See Compl. ¶¶ 67-71.) Plaintiffs acknowledge that their underlying claims are not Cooley-specific—Plaintiffs note that “nearly every school” calculates and reports its employment and salary data the same way Cooley does (the way the ABA and NALP direct all ABA-accredited law schools to report the data). (Compl. ¶ 10.) And Plaintiffs allege in the first paragraph of their Complaint that “[t]his action seeks to remedy a systemic” issue relating to reporting that is “ubiquitous in the legal education industry.” (Compl. ¶ 1; emphasis added.) Plaintiffs, in other words, take aim at the rules themselves, not Cooley’s compliance with them.
That ought to endear the school with its regulators. The ABA Journal has the story, with links to the motion.
And while we are on the subject of the Supreme Court, today marks Justice Thomas’ 20th anniversary of his first day on the Court. It would be remiss of me not to include a reference to the confirmation hearings that brought us the Anita Hill testimony. ABC News dwells on it in some details in marking the anniversary. So does the Daily Show in this 2007 clip, titled “Here Comes The Grudge.” Warning, the comedy is a bit gross in reviewing Ms. Hill’s allegations from back in 1991, but it wouldn’t be the Daily Show otherwise. Perhaps this clip from Stephen Colbert might be a bit more palatable to Justice Thomas’ fans. Maybe not. Happy anniversary Mr. Justice Thomas. [MG]
Are We/They Worth It? Collective Bargaining for Public Employees
In the October 14th Chronicle of Higher Education article "Faculty Unions Ponder New Strategies in Changed Political Climate," author Schmidt reports on the largely successful campaigns in both Ohio and Wisconsin to defeat the right of faculty unions to engage in collective bargaining.
I was particularly dumbfounded by this quote from Connie Werkamp, the press secretary for Building a Better Ohio, a campaign organization formed to ensure Ohio legislation (SB 5) which defeated collective bargaining rights for public employees in Marc h 2011 was not repealed by referendum next month:
"The issue here is that these are public employees who are paid by the taxpayer to educate our kids at our universities. They are making good salaries and they get good benefits - often better benefits than those in the private sector."
(According to Schmidt, tenured faculty earn over $70,000 annually while the median household income in Ohio is about $46,000.)
Maybe I am reading too much into this quote, but the alternative to Werkamp's description would be that Ohio should pay their faculty less than what they would be worth in the private sector.
So I am a little biased because I am a unionized public employee, and I don't have "kids" of the two legged kind, but if I did, I would want their fine, dedicated educators to be well compensed for their work - if for no other reason than to secure their continued presence at that university. And, although this is total conjecture, my guess is that most of the tenured and untenured faculty members spent many years earning doctorates, masters, and performing field work, empirical analysis, and living a rather meager lifestyle. I just don't see many of us living la vida loca.
To be fair, the debate about collective bargaining for educators is just part of a larger movement to trim budgets and stem spending. Executive branches from California to Massachusetts are cutting staff, salaries, and benefits in an effort to stay solvent during the economic crisis. Public employees, like private, do have to shoulder their fair share of the burden; however, insinuating that educators are not worth their money is insulting.
There is always the ONE who gets away with "it," but most of us are dediated and hardworking and hardly feel overpayed. I am assuming that most of us "public employees" like to believe that we do make a difference in the lives of our students and appreciate being compensated for that hard work. In fact, a study published in 70(4) Harvard Education Review 437 (Winter 2000) compared standardized test scores to union representation found a statistically significant and positive relationship between student test performance and teacher union representation. (Do Teacher Unions Hinder Educationalal Performance.)
Summary of the situation: In Ohio, the legislation which undid the collective bargaining rights of faculty is going to be put to a public vote on November 8th. In Wisconsin, the legislation had a more colorful path. After being passed into law, a state court set it aside and declared it unconsitutional. Then, the state Supreme Court reversed the lower court and reinstated the legislation. In addition to the situations in Ohio and Wisconsin, there are five states that prohibited all collective bargaining for their public employees: Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. It is hard to believe that the 50 years of labor law history I studied at law school is being turned on its head.(VS)
Some Thoughts on Thomson's Acquisition of West Being Honored as Worst Legal Publishing Merger
Reporting on the findings of Dewey B Strategic's self-admitted unscientific poll on best and worst legal publishing industry mergers, Jean O'Grady writes:
According to the Legal Information Buyers Guide and Reference Manual, between 1995 (the year before the Thomson acquisition) and 2008 West's print prices increased 232%. During that same period Lexis/Matthew Bender print prices increased a mere 70%.
The unprecedented and inexplicable print price increases were the overwhelming factor cited in defining the Thomson-West merger as the "worst legal publishing merger."
Is anyone really surprised by TR Legal's history of price inflation being cited for earning the honor of being the worst legal publishing merger? Along the way to achieving this high honor I think TR Legal had some help. That would be AALL but not just AALL. The inertia of collection development decisions at the institutual level also contributed greatly. It took not wasting a perfectly good recession to finally disavow out of economic necessity the traditional keep what was acquired decades ago for "the sake of the collection" attitude in the academic and public sectors. Damn those private sector law libraries for starting to shed West print and move to electronic-only back in the 1990s! Their "bad;" joking of course.
Insert your own thoughts about the anti-competitive consequences of a duopoly that displays monopolistic tendencies because declining demand does not result in declining pricing for high margin products. The very visible hand of this market meant Thomson was able to increase West's pre-acquisition 25% profit margins all the way up to 32-33%. Well, TR Legal's profit margin has headed south to pre-acquisition West territory. Everyone except TR Legal's pricing gurus have said "whoa" now.
Triving, Surviving and Fading Away. O'Grady asks would West have "thrived" in the 21st century without being acquired by Thomson? Her answer is "I suspect not."
[West executives] understood that the economics of their industry was changing, they would need capital infusion to improve their infrastructure to remain competitive. Had West not been purchased by Thomson we might have seen the company targeted by a Godon Gekko and sold off in parts. Innovation is expensive.
Indeed it is. One has to wonder what would have happened to West without Thomson picking up the tab for IT. Not having sufficient capital to invest in IT is the reason why CCH is now part of Wolters Kluwer. It is also why BNA is now part of Bloomberg. This is probably why Thomson's acquisition of West came in a second in the voting for "best merger", albeit a distance second to Lexis' acquisition of Shepard's but still a couple of percentage points higher than Matthew Bender's acquisition by Lexis.
I guess a distant second in best legal publishing industry mergers voting while earning top honors in worst merger says something about the karmic relationship between Thomson Reuters and those members of the community of professional legal information consumers who took O'Grady's survey. It's going to take some mightily complex synastric calculations to see what the future holds. If TR Legal doesn't have a corporate astrologer on staff, I'm thinking the WestSearch staff should be up to the task. Twelve signs, twelve houses and ten planets using a mystical matrix for a metadata-rich algorithmic comparison of the relative positions of the planets and the houses between TR Legal's executives and what's left of TR Legal's client base shouldn't be that hard. Got zodiac?
For much more, including O'Grady's comments on West Publishing as a "fading landmark," see The Worst Legal Publishing Merger - Can the Virtuous Circle be Un-broken? [JH]
October 23, 2011
Round-Up of Law Practitioner Blogs
Internet Lawyer Blog
Examines internet law news, cases and related matters in California. Published by the Law Offices of Salar Atrizadeh
The Federal Criminal Appeals Blog
Examines federal criminal law cases, news, and opinions nationwide. Published by The Kaiser Law Firm PLLC
Florida Real Estate Lawyer Blog
Discusses relate law cases, news, and opinions in Florida. Published by Siegfried, Rivera, Lerner, De La Torre & Sobel, P.A.
Nashville Injury Attorneys Blog
Examines injury cases, news, and opinions in Tennessee. Published by The Law Office of Larry R. Williams, PLLC