November 19, 2011
Want to be the first law librarian astronaut?
NASA is looking for astronaut candidates to support the International Space Station (ISS) Program and future deep space exploration activities. Applications are due by Jan. 27, 2012. From the job description:
NASA, the world's leader in space and aeronautics is always seeking outstanding scientists, engineers, and other talented professionals to carry forward the great discovery process that its mission demands. Creativity. Ambition. Teamwork. A sense of daring. And a probing mind. That's what it takes to join NASA, one of the best places to work in the Federal Government.
And a JD and/or MLS are not listed as disqualifying degree fields.
Hat tip to Adjunct Law Prof Blog. [JH]
November 18, 2011
Friday Fun: A 22 Year Old Barack Obama Celebrates Black History Month
The video was made in 1991 for WTBS series called Black History Minutes. Obama was the editor of the Harvard Law Review at the time.
Pollak Stepping Down as President and CEO of ALM
When the licensing and content co-generation agreements between ALM and Lexis were announced, many folks began speculating that Lexis would acquire ALM eventually. Will the recent announcement that Bill Pollak is stepping down as ALM's President and CEO early next year fuel more speculation? Don't know but no replacement for Pollak has be announced yet. Also note that ALM's Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer, Jeffrey Whittle, once served as Senior Vice President/Global Product Development and Global Product Officer at LexisNexis.
From the Nov. 17, 2011 announcement:
“Over the past several years, we’ve made important strategic and organizational changes — as well as substantial investments in web technology and digital publishing infrastructure — in order to transform our company into a digitally focused enterprise that provides unique and highly value-added business information to its customers,” said Pollak. “With this transformation nearing completion and the organization now well-structured for the exciting next phase in ALM’s strong growth path, I felt this was a good time to step aside and make way for a new chief executive who can lead the company to even greater success.”
Hat tip to Greg Lambert's tweet. [JH]
More TR Legal Layoffs?
According to an unnamed source, Thomson Reuters Legal may announce another wave of layoffs soon, perhaps even as early as today. The layoffs may affect customer service operations.
As of yesterday evening the local press had no reports about this and as of early this morning, the Company had not issued a press release. There has been no reply back from Corporate Communications to an email I sent re "can you deny the rumor?" NB: That email was sent late yesterday as in just before 5:00 PM CT time. So it may have been too late in the day to respond.
Meanwhile it is worth noting that local press reported about this time last year that the Company was planning to lay off about 60 Eagan employees. Given that past history, this is just about the time one might expect TR Legal to announce another layoff ahead of the close of the fiscal year. It is good corporate practice to issue press releases about layoffs on Fridays, perhaps even after the US stock market closes. One might want to check Thomson Reuter's press release page. Personally, I hope this will turn out to be false. But the source is pretty good.
Let's recall that TRI CEO Tom Glocer indicated in September of this year that the merger of Markets and Professional may result in some layoffs, though any cutbacks would affect "chiefs, not Indians in front of customers." If customer service layoffs are coming, it sounds like Indians to me. See Thomson Reuters in Turmoil: Danger Alert, It's Time for "Chiefs" to Duck and Cover. More generally, see Boosting Morale During Massive Layoffs (June 2, 2009 video and transcript) wherein Tom Glocer tells the story of having to cut 5,000 people in 2001, "an experience that changed his business ethos forever. He also answers the question of how businesses get too big in the first place."
Again, no one wants to hear about folks being laid off so I really do hope there will be none. That can be confirmed. TR can submit a comment to this post which will be published or reply to my email which will result in an update to this post after my morning meetings. [JH]
Friday Fun: Lawyer Mike, the Gangsta Rapper-Attorney
Michael Shipwash, a/k/a/ Lawyer Mike, is a solo practitioner and rapper, and possible future hooding ceremony speaker at his alma mater, the Univ. of Memphis School of Law. Hat tip to ALT's Staci Zaretsky for Lawyer Mike's "Outta Session" rap. Staci writes:
... at least he tries to provide his listeners with a positive message. He reminds us that “just because [he] rap[s] along with the law, [it] don’t mean [he] ain’t good at both. Lawyer Mike does it all.” Yeah… good lookin’ out Mike, you’re really doing your clients a solid.
And for those hood enough to dare to get all up in Mike’s grill in Tennessee, we leave you with these parting words: “You mess with Lawyer Mike, you better have Cochran on speed dial.”
More at Staci's This the ‘Only Rapping Lawyer on the Planet’? God, I Hope Not post. [JH]
Quid Pro Books Now on YBP's Approved List of Law Publishers for Library Service
All 56 books published by Quid Pro Books can be easily ordered by librarians now that this small but very innovative indie legal publisher has been added to the approved list for YBP Library Services. A comprehensive list (excluding law reviews e-editions published by Quid Pro Books) can be viewed on Amazon here.
For background about Quid Pro Books, see "Law Prof as Independent Law Book Publisher: An Interview with Alan Childress, Founder of Quid Pro Books," Part 1 (Sept. 8, 2010) and Part 2 (Sept. 9, 2010). [JH]
December 12, 2011 is the Deadline for AALL/Wolters Kluwer Law & Business Grants Program Applications
The AALL Research & Publications Committee is accepting applications through Monday, December 12, 2011, for research grants from the AALL/Wolters Kluwer Law & Business Grants Program that may total up to $5,000.
The committee will award one or more grants to library professionals who wish to conduct research that supports the research/scholarly agenda of the profession of librarianship. The grants program funds small or large research projects that create, disseminate, or otherwise use legal and law-related information as its focus. Projects may range from the historical (indexes, legislative histories, bibliographies, biographies, or directories) to the theoretical (trends in cataloging, publishing, or new service models in libraries) to the practical (implementation models for collection, personnel, or infrastructure management).
The AALL Research Agenda offers suggestions for possible research projects that cover a wide segment of professional interest, including the profession of law librarianship, law library patrons, law library services, legal research and bibliography, legal information resources, and law library facilities. However, projects are not limited to those described in the agenda, and the committee will consider all applications and research projects. To review AALL’s Research Agenda, please visit http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Member-Resources/grants/research-grants/research-agenda.html.
The AALL/Wolters Kluwer Law & Business Grant Program was first established in 1996 with a generous contribution of $50,000. Wolters Kluwer Law & Business considers its contribution as an investment in research that will provide a prospective look at the role of librarians, researchers, and legal information providers and will yield results to which publishers can respond. The goal is to sponsor research that will have a practical impact on the law library profession and inspire products and changes in the marketplace.
To apply for the grants, all applicants must provide resumes and statements of their qualifications for carrying out their projects. The applications must demonstrate experience with research projects and an understanding of the dissemination and use of legal and law-related information. Priority will be given to individual AALL members or AALL members working in partnership with other information professionals. The grant application and complete guidelines are available at: http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Member-Resources/grants/research-grants/Wolters-Kluwer-Law-Business-Grant.html.
The submission deadline for applications is Monday, December 12, 2011. Grants will be announced and awarded in January 2012. Allocation of the research grants will be at the sole discretion of the AALL Research & Publications Committee.
Opening: Scholarly Communications Officer, Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill University Library
Position: Scholarly Communications Officer
Available: January 1, 2012
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill University Library seeks a knowledgeable, motivated, and collaborative leader for the position of Scholarly Communications Officer.
Reporting to the Associate University Librarian for Collections and Services, the Officer will play an important role in an organization that is committed to re-conceiving the academic research library as a key partner in new modes of scholarly communications. The individual in this role will design a program that will position the UNC Library to take full advantage of and contribute to the evolution of scholarly publishing practices within the academy, and will provide guidance, policy development, and advocacy on copyright issues, fair use, privacy rights, open access, and other information policy issues to the University and Library communities.
The Scholarly Communications Officer will be responsible for: assessing faculty and student scholarly communications needs and making recommendations to the Library for providing support; creating scholarly communications and copyright resources for librarians, faculty, staff, and students at UNC; providing in-depth guidance for faculty, staff, and students regarding copyright, fair use, author's rights and related legal and policy issues; serving as an advocate for new forms and practices of scholarly communications on campus and in the broader academic community; and conducting workshops and seminars on copyright and other legal issues important to the creation and use of scholarly material.
The individual in this position will sustain and develop the Libraries' leadership role in scholarly communications across the UNC campus, in areas including, but not limited to, open access, authors' rights, deposit responsibilities and new forms of information dissemination. The Scholarly Communications Officer will raise awareness among library staff and the entire campus community as well as external stakeholders, e.g., Board members and colleagues, about emerging trends in scholarly communications and their impact on the University's and Libraries' missions, and will help develop policies, programs, and practices addressing copyright, open access, and other legal issues in response to them. The Officer will contribute to local, regional, and national scholarly communications and copyright discussions and initiatives.
Required: Juris Doctorate (JD) and substantive academic library experience. Significant experience with copyright and scholarly communications in an academic library setting. Demonstrated knowledge of scholarly communications issues within higher education. Demonstrated knowledge of relevant legal and regulatory issues associated with intellectual property and copyright. Excellent oral and written communication skills. Excellent interpersonal skills. Demonstrated ability to work effectively with diverse constituencies, including librarians, faculty, students, and academic administrators. A record of ongoing professional development and contribution.
Preferred: Strong preference for candidates having both the JD and an ALA-accredited MLS. Experience with scholarly communications issues connected to institutional repositories and publishing. Experience collaborating with faculty and other campus stakeholders. Experience with licensing of library collections. Experience planning and facilitating workshops and classes.
The University and The Libraries: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the country's oldest state university. UNC Chapel Hill has an enrollment of approximately 29,000 students, employs more than 3,500 members of the faculty, and offers 69 doctoral degrees as well as professional degrees in dentistry, medicine, pharmacy and law. Library collections include over 6.5 million volumes. The Library is a member of the Association of Research Libraries and the Center for Research Libraries. Together with the libraries at Duke University, North Carolina Central University, and North Carolina State University, the members of the Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN) provide services and collections to their students, faculty, and staff in support of the education, research, and service missions of the universities.The University Library invests proudly in its employees, strives to create a diverse environment of respect and collaboration, and encourages vision and innovation.
The Region: The Triangle region is one of the most desirable places to live and work in North America and offers its residents a wide array of recreational, cultural, and intellectual activities. The mountains or the seashore are less than half day's drive from Chapel Hill. The University of North Carolina is an equal opportunity employer and is strongly committed to the diversity of our faculty and staff.
Salary and Benefits: This is a twelve-month academic librarian appointment; salary is commensurate with qualifications and experience. Standard state benefits of annual leave, sick leave, and State or optional retirement plan. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, librarians enjoy the benefit of academic status and are members of the faculty council.
Deadline for Application: Review of applications will begin on November 28, 2011. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled, but preference will be given to applications received by the November 28, 2011 review date.
To Apply: Please visit http://jobs.unc.edu/2501956 and complete the online application. Please include a letter of application, a resume and the name, mailing address, email address, and telephone number of three professional references. Additionally, please indicate in your cover letter where you first learned of this position.
An Equal Opportunity Employer
November 17, 2011
Penn State Law Application Fee Waivers Draw Reaction
The Daily Beast is reporting on the reaction of some prospective law students to the Penn State's Dickinson School of Law offer to waive the application fee. The reported comments are a bit harsh, suggesting there is some connection to the ongoing abuse scandal to the waiver. The school claims not, but the text of the email does have some reference:
Penn State’s new president is dedicated to restoring the trust of all people Penn State serves and to a renewed focus on Penn State’s status as one of the world’s preeminent research universities.
Penn State included the statment as the ongoing scandal is hard to ignore. Nonetheless, many law schools offer application waivers to students who have better LSAT scores. They do it to get better students, not because they are desperate. I don't think Dickinson is necessarily going to lose a lot of potential students because of what's happened there. While they may all be Penn State, the law school and the sports program have little or nothing to do with each other. As a potential law student, I'd be more worried about my job prospects and my debt load once I got out. As Bob Dylan once sang, "20 years of schoolin' and they put you on the day shift." And that was 1965! [MG]
Law Porn: From p-mailing to e-mailing
Recently, law prof Stephen Bainbridge reported that
Today, I'd guess that 67% of the mail I get at the office is law porn [promotional literature from law schools] that goes straight into the recycling bin without ever being read. ... Lately, however, I've noticed a new trend. Snail mail law porn is turning into email law spam.
Speculating that these legal academy spammers probably obtained his email address from AALS, Bainbridge questions whether law e-porn will help or hurt law school reputations for US News peer assessment scores. He closes his Law Porn Morphs into Law Spam post with the following call:
I invite readers on law faculties to send me examples of law spam. I'll post them periodically in hopes that naming and shaming the spammers will do some good.
Well, at least a few trees are being saved by those spammers unlike the p-mailings generated ahead of the upcoming AALS annual meeting. See Vicki Szymczak's (Trying) to go Green post. See also Karen Sloan's NLJ story, Professor's plea: Say no to 'law school porn' ("The National Law Journal contacted a number of law schools to ask what they spend [on mailings]; none responded.").[JH]
The New Search Model: "Everyone plugs into the search engine, only a few understand how it works"
A definition of the algorithm:
The algorithm is an effective method expressed as a finite list of well-defined instructions.
And that is the problem today's new legal search engines present for users and instructors of online legal research in the context of online legal bibliography (OK, by referring "legal bibliography" I admit I'm pretty damn old school in my perspective). The "push" is toward contextually sensitive legal search. Download the Cognizant 20-20 Insights white paper, "The Future of Legal Search: Meeting Lawyer Requirements by Delivering More Contextually-Sensitive and Relevant Results" (Sept. 2011) from the link provided in Stanford Law's Paul Lomio Legal Research Plus post. Highly recommended.
The objective is to read a legal researcher's mind by way of search engine technology that incorporates usage patterns generally or individually. Based on recent renditions like WestSearch and Bloomberg Law, we aren't there yet. But we are already facing the consequences of today's SEs that are striving to get there.
Reflecting on three decades of teaching ALR courses, Stanford Law's Bob Berring writes:
We used to catch them in ALR as second and third year law students. They had context from a year of law school and many had worked or interned in a law office or public interest office for a summer so they knew that they needed to know more. In 2011, the motivation is waning. The thrust of what Google does removes the searcher from the search process. WESTLAW/NEXT and LEXIS/Advanced mimic Google’s search scheme as much as possible. We are asking people who want to drive a car to understand how the engine works.
... Everyone plugs into the search engine, only a few understand how it works.
Not that I shall give up. My plan is to go down fighting, but I think that I know how this movie ends.
For more, see Berring's Legal Research Training’s End on Slaw.
I personally want to believe that our user population is smarter but we do have to address the issue that a generation of users may not give a damn about how today's SEs work --- at least not until their over-reliance on them based on their ignorance of the finite nature of their programming leads to inadequant client representation. No judge is going to let them off the hook when they plead "mercy" because they relied on WestlawNext, Bloomberg Law or Lexis Advance. Their professional responsibility will not be one qualified by reliance on an online legal search service's limitations. Knowing how these new SEs actually work by way of legal research instruction in law school as well as in practice settings by experienced and expert professionals -- that would be us -- is crucial for legal researchers.
My user population is typically "older." That doesn't mean they aren't (1) smart enough to grapple with the new SEs or (2) don't know better than to over-rely on advanced SE results. In fact, they have far more legal expertise and experience in performing online legal search than the typical ALR student. But if the user population doesn't how the finite set of commands drives these new SEs, how to work them or work around them to perform research, the wiser course is not to rely on them until there is no choice but to do so because the vendors' legacy systems are shutdown.
And they will be shutdown eventually. If WLN's adoption rate by Big Law is any indication -- only half of the AmLaw 100 have bought into the WLN upgrade-- legacy services will be killed off sooner rather than later. Want to bet on the over-under that WEXIS legacy services will be "history" five years after their new services have been fully implemented?
Do note for over-under betting purposes where we stand:
- In the premium online search market, IntelliConnect is essentially fully implemented already, albeit with versioning improvements in an attempt to recapture a user population that fled to BNA Online after the first release of IntelliConnect. Bloomberg Law's current search engine replaced its earlier version.
- In the generalist online search market, WLN still isn't ready for prime time, well we all know that by now, but eventually it will be the only search service TR Legal sells. Lexis Advance's market segmented rollout of Advance's multiple versions isn't completed yet.
I think it is fair to say that the only people who really know how today's very expensive legal search engines work are vendor programmers who create the unseen algorithms. See Traffickers of Very Expensive Online Legal Search: How do we use and teach today's legal search services when we don't know how the search engines work? The other hurdle is the mindset of legal researchers Berring describes in his Slaw post.
I wonder (read am concerned] if aging and decrepit law librarians like me will be viewed someday as luddite reactionaries by a future generation of legal researchers who don't care that they don't know how the search engines they are using work. It looks like the draft script authored by traffickers of very expensive online legal search want this to be how this movie's ends. My hunch is some vendors will say that legal researchers are finding what they need, so what's the big deal?
The big deal is that if the new model of search, at least as exemplified by WLN and BLaw, is being programmed to try to read a legal researcher's mind to find the "perfect" source document or small set of source documents that hits the mark. SE developers are creating a unrealistically high goal for themselves and the users of their services. The state-of-the-art in search technology simply isn't "there" yet. Trying to program for the "contextually sensitive" by embedding usage patterns globally or at the user account level is questionable at best at this time. One would hope that vendors would provide an "off switch" for that (and other elements) in their new SEs instead of a switch-back button to their legacy SEs like one has because we know legacy systems won't be around forever. [JH]
November 16, 2011
SOPA Goes To A (Carefully Managed) Hearing
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is headed to a hearing today before the full House Judiciary Committee. Well, we’ll call it a hearing because there is at least one party testifying that opposes the bill, and that is Katherine Oyama, Policy Counsel for Google. The rest are media industry heavyweights and government officials thoroughly supporting the bill.
Typically House and Senate committees place the written statements of the participants on the hearing web site. Not so for this hearing. Anyone wanting to see the statements, along with a scathing analysis of each should see the article A Look At The Testimony Given At Today's SOPA Lovefest Congressional Hearings... With A Surprise From MasterCard at Techdirt. The documents are embedded in the lengthy text. The surprise from MasterCard, by the way, is that the cost to the company to respond to the private right of action envisioned in the bill is big due to the 5 day response time to cut off offenders. Techdirt states that Visa is against the bill. No wonder they weren’t invited to testify.The fact that Google is there is more likely an attempt to pillory the company for its opposition. Committee
Chairman Lamar Smith said in the only statement up on the Committee’s web site:
In contrast, another one of the companies represented here today has sought to obstruct the Committee’s consideration of bipartisan legislation.
Perhaps this should come as no surprise given that Google just settled a federal criminal investigation into the company’s active promotion of rogue websites that pushed illegal prescription and counterfeit drugs on American consumers.
In announcing a half billion dollar forfeiture of illegal profits, the U.S. Attorney, Peter Neronha, who led the investigation stated, “Suffice it to say that this is not two or three rogue employees at the customer service level doing this… This was a corporate decision to engage in this conduct.”Over several years, Google ignored repeated warnings from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy and the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University that the company was violating federal law.
The company also disregarded requests to block advertisements from rogue pharmacies, screen such sites from searches and provide warnings about buying drugs over the Internet. The Wall Street Journal reports Mr. Neronha characterized Google’s efforts to appear to control unlawful advertisements as “window-dressing” since “it allowed Google to continue earning revenues from the allegedly illicit ad sales even as it professed to be taking action against them.”Given Google’s record, their objection to authorizing a court to order a search engine to not steer consumers to foreign rogue sites is more easily understood.
Unfortunately, the theft of America’s intellectual property costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs.
Have you decency Mr. Google? Think of the children. Think of the artists. For those wanting to think of the artists, an article in The Hill, Digital wars, Round 2: Killing the Golden Goose, offers an additional analysis suggesting one of the bill's purposes of protecting jobs of recording artists is a red herring. Really? Not our Congress.
Chairman Smith’s reports on campaign contributions shows that he is a darling of media money, with contributions from CC Media Holdings ($18,300), Comcast ($10,000), the RIAA ($7,500), Microsoft ($7,500), and others. Google gave him $7,000, which apparently is not enough to sway his opinion.
Expect a one-sided affair in this example of government at its best. For past coverage, see my post House Bill Would Place Broad IP Enforcement Powers In Hands Of Rightsholders. See also another article in Techdirt, When Even The Librarians Are Against SOPA.... Sorry ALA, no money, no influence. Don’t you know how Congress works? [MG]
Palfrey Appointed Headmaster of Phillips Academy (Updated)
John G. Palfrey Jr., Henry N. Ess III Professor of Law and Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources at Harvard Law School, has been named the 15th Head of School of Phillips Academy. According to the press release, he will begin his new appointment in July 2012. See also the HLS announcement and coverage in the Boston Globe.
Update: From a recent post to the dpla-discussion list
We wanted to let you know about a change in John Palfrey's professional life that you may read about. John is becoming the head of school at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. His agreement with Andover includes a written commitment to continuing to chair the DPLA's steering committee and supporting the work of our initiative through the Berkman Center's secretariat. DPLA will be adding a further sensibility toward K-12 issues to the project through John’s change in day-job, which will take effect next summer (July, 2012). Please feel free to contact either of us if you have any questions.
We look forward to continuing to work with all of you toward this important public-spirited goal. (And we look forward to seeing some of you in LA for the public librarians' gathering about digitization efforts, too.)
Doron Weber, Vice Chair
John Palfrey, Chair
of the DPLA Steering Committee
Granted, the DPLA is one very "big picture" initiative that has presented many diverse and critical opinions that need to be addressed. However, John has also been very actively involved in academic law library issues in the 21st century by utilizing the public perception of HLS ' standing in the legal academy. In a very short time our adopted son in our profession has been a major player on this stage. John has left very big shoes to fill at HLS and academic law librarianship generally. Some of HLS library's collection development policies borrowed heavily from previously enacted academic law library policies that did not garner the attention they deserved because they did not come for Harvard.
While I congratulate and wish John well on his new gig, I wonder about who will replace him at HLS and also wonder if his replacement will be up to the task of being an opinion leader like John has been. [JH]
Reflections on AALL's Approval of the Consumer Advocacy Caucus
It is certainly a step in the right direction that on Nov. 5, 2011, the AALL Executive Board unanimously approved the Consumer Advocacy Caucus petition for official recognition because no way was this a "sure thing." See the Consumer Advocacy Caucus blog post announcing AALL’s approval.
The Executive Board could have:
- Postponed voting on the petition until it developed a "caucus petition review" policy that is only in its preliminary stages; or
- Said something to the effect that once we know what the Vendor Liaison’s job is, we will get back to you; or
- Said once the Vendor Liaison gets back to the Board with her consumer advocacy policy recommendations, we'll see what we are going to do; or
- Said our legal counsel has or would advise against this caucus on antitrust grounds.
The Executive Board did not deflect the Caucus petition on the basis of any of the above possible rationalizations for doing so. I do not, however, believe the unanimous approval by the Executive Board is a mandate of wholesale support of the Caucus. I view it as a political move which acknowledges that our elected officials cannot ignore the 175 or so members who supported the petition and the unanimous endorsement from the PLL-SIS board as representing something like 40% of AALL's dues-paying members in the class of institutional buyers of the one market sector that really matters to legal vendors.
In an AALL law-lib listserv message, Bess Reynolds, Technical Services Manager, Library & Knowledge Management Dept., Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, wrote
Through its survey and endorsement, PLL-SIS provided the Caucus critical support for our grassroots purpose. We gratefully acknowledge the support of PLL-SIS members and petition signatories.
I also view the unanimous approval by the Executive Board as a realization by AALL officialdom, including some staff executives, and some honorarium recipients (read part-time AALL employees-(in)dependent contractors who also hold full or part-time positions elsewhere) that AALL has lost so much credibility in terms of the AALL offices and AALL positions they hold with a sufficiently large number of members that if the Executive Board did not OK the petition, our professional association's leadership would be hammering another self-inflicted nail into its self-created coffin of irrelevance. By "self-inflicted" and "self-created", I am referring to a history of decisions and policies by AALL as an institution. This history is the inheritance some of our current elected leaders are attempting to correct based on their own professional assessment and/or the hue and cry for AALL reform from rank-and-file members.
Reform does not come easy. On the issue of consumer advocacy, some may say it has come too late because institutional buyers have already dealt with the consequences of the 2008 recession. I think it is not too late. On a technical basis, the 2008 recession is over but the once positive forecasts that the economy would turn around under its new normal dynamic in 2012 are now being replaced with more cautionary projections that the economy may enter a recession even worse than 2008 in 2013. Even if that does not take place, the current new normal necessitates addressing the vendor-buyer relationship in the professional legal services industry. There are plenty of ways to do that without stating or implying any sort of "boycott." However, AALL's characterization of this vendor-institutional buyer environment as a “partnership” relationship is just plain silly. At best, "[w]e are sometimes partners, sometimes adversaries; sometimes you use us and sometimes we use you; we are often friends; it is undeniably true that we cannot live without you, nor you without us." Quoting from A Vendor Rep's Professional Opinion on the Relationship between Vendors, Law Librarians and Their Institutions. Does anyone really want our professional association to represent insitutional buyer interests by such a rhetorical gloss-over of the mixed motives that are readily evident for all to see?
I do not yet see the light at the end of our association's tunnel vision on consumer advocacy. Many matters still have to be addressed. Many hurdles to be jumped; some of them may be too high. Some obstacles may have to recognized by caucus members and supporters as accepted (if not necessarily acceptable) limitations for working within our association of institutional buyers. The Executive Board can, for example, reject every recommendation the Caucus makes to petition government bodies, issue by issue by issue. But the bottom-up initiative of the now sanctioned AALL Caucus on Consumer Advocacy can become a necessary corrective to the one-size-fits-all, top-down manhandled approach evidenced by AALL actions and policies on this issue.
Let’s remember the Executive Board could have simply said "thanks but no thanks" to the petition. It did not. However, it is far too soon to say that the Executive Board deserves to be commended for its institutional courage. All one can say at this moment in AALL's institutional history is that the sellers of commercial legal information at least are on notice that they will have to deal with the grassroots movement that is the Consumer Advocacy Caucus as the Caucus addresses matters now and in the future. I do not believe the Caucus can be co-opted by our vendors. I believe its members won't allow this to happen. That's what a bottom-up grassroots movement is all about.
In her Victory for the Consumer Caucus post, Marie Newman, Director of the Pace Law Library and Professor of Law, wrote "I know that the really hard work is still ahead of us." Indeed there is. Much hard work lies ahead for Caucus members and supporters as well as future members who may now join because the Caucus has been officially recognized. In addition to some members who thought AALL was not likely to approve the Caucus initiative, my hunch is that many AALL members, some who have given up on AALL, may now become interested in participating. Newman adds
I would have liked to have seen ALL-SIS join PLL-SIS in endorsing the petition. That did not happen. However, no law library today is immune from the pressures of the marketplace, and we need to stand together in advocating for the needs of our institutions and users. I hope that the ALL-SIS leadership will come around to this point of view.
It just might be time now for more academic law librarians to seize the moment by becoming involved. Some 30 academic law librarians stood up to be counted as signatories supporting the Caucus petition, that was the largest number of signatories by market sector.
Bess Reynolds added in her law-lib list message:
We want to make our Caucus as responsive as possible to the needs of AALL members. You can help us by joining. Even if you cannot join us, we welcome your suggestions and insights.
My take on both calls for participation is that all market sectors represented by AALL members can and should work together. We, as institutional buyer representatives trying to provide legal resources to our patrons, all have one matter in common, namely our ability-to-pay. It is time to leverage that by appropriate means to test whether our vendors “cannot live without us” or “we without them.” There are plenty of avenues to do this without resorting to a consumer boycott. The current market structure plus legal publishing industry practices and vendor advertizing can be addressed at the federal level (and one might want to note that antitrust issues are receiving more attention by federal government agencies that in the past). Licensing issues can be addressed at the state level with respect to state entity contracting to provide for fair use which currently is prohibited in many vendor licensing agreements.
What differentiates us also is the ability-to-pay. It distinguishes us by our market sectors and even within our own sectors. Our choices are essentially based on our individual institution's purchasing power in the context of meeting our user population’s needs. Very few institutional buyers are immune to the choices offered by our vendors. We all have to make keep-cancel, cancel-substitute and buy-not buy decisions based on what our institution's purchasing power is as recognized by our vendors. This has allowed our very expensive vendors to whipsaw each of us in many different ways.
The Caucus can address all of these issues from multiple points-of-view that do not reduce them to the least common denominator as AALL has done so far. It is my opinion (not the Caucus opinion) that neither a Vendor Liaison nor CRIV has the ability or mandate to take on this task, nor should either. One can view the Consumer Advocacy Caucus as an open-to-all grassroots competitive intelligence forum leading to pattern and practice as well as market structure-based recommendations intended to counteract the opportunity the vendor community has taken advantage of by AALL’s ineffective actions over the last 15 years. I imagine the Caucus may generate consensus recommendations (with minority views) both across all market sectors and specific to individual market sectors to the Executive Board today and in the future since issues will continue to arise because we living in changing times.
Questions to consider with respect to the relationship between AALL officialdom and concerted actions by rank-and-file members:
1. Does anyone really believe AALL would have taken this step but for the criticism of the AALL-vendor relationship by the many voices in the law librarian blogosphere and AALL's pre-antitrustism TOS for web-based mediums which have been calling for reform since AALL’s manhandling of this issue in the wake of 2007 NOLA as well as AALL’s repeated dilution of consumer advocacy in successive Strategic Directions statements post-2000?
2. Will the approval of the Consumer Advocacy Caucus be a stimulus for additional grassroots engagements of our professional association by AALL members, some of whom may have given up on AALL, on other issues that have not been adequately addressed under the current AALL organizational matrix?
I believe the answer to the first question is “no” and I hope that the answer to the second question will be “yes.” As an aging and decrepit Boomer-gen law librarian, it takes a lot for me to get "excited" but we most certainly are living in exciting times. The era we are now living in is probably the most interesting period in the provision of legal resources and tools since the advent of full-text online legal research in the late 1970s-early 1980s. This is not a time to sit around talking about issues-at-hand to death and issuing principles and recommendations devoid of specificity. It is time to take real action based on grassroots consensus-building, one that has an agenda to influence the commercial market place by recommending specific concerted actions to contribute to shaping the transformation underway.
More generally, it is time for AALL to realize that this is the 21st century and that the structure and administration of our professional association must reflect and accommodate this reality. It is time for AALL to reinvent itself because maintaining 20th century association norms simply won’t do. Every clause of AALL’s by-laws needs to be examined by the entire membership. By that I mean, it is time for the membership to “crowdsource” AALL’s foundation by way of a caucus open to all to participate, one which would recommend to the Executive Board by-law revisions (with minority views) that would then be subject to membership-wide voting. In my opinion, this effort would provide the ways and means for AALL to move forward into the 21st century with a stronger commitment from the membership at large by their active participation in a crowdsourced AALL that includes the ballot. If AALL wants to reinvigorate its dues-paying members to participate in AALL, web communications platforms for participatory democracy are available right now.
End Note: Kindly note that while I am a signatory to the Caucus petition, this post is just my own albeit cynical perspective on this matter. I do not speak for the Caucus – not in this post, past posts, nor forthcoming future posts on LLB about the Caucus specifically or consumer advocacy generally. As a cranky aging and decrepit law librarian who blogs, all I have left in me at 59 damn years-old is offering my professional critical analysis of official AALL actions and statements as well as vendor actions and statements on the vendor-buyer relationship by way of my 2-cents perspective. That’s all they are worth.
What the heck, I don’t recall ever participating in the Caucus group list and my only direct active involvement in Caucus matters was promoting the idea that the Caucus should seek AALL recognition at the organizational meeting conducted in Philly. Being cynically inclined I mentioned at the Philly meeting that if AALL did not sanction the Caucus, the Executive Board’s action would generate more criticism of AALL’s official attitude towards consumer advocacy and concerns expressed by a sufficiently large base of engaged rank-and-file members who are critical of the institutionalized status quo. Thankfully that did not happen on Nov. 5, 2011. [JH]
Opening: Associate Dean for Information Services, Wake Forest Univ. School of Law
The Position: Wake Forest University School of Law in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, invites applications for the position of Associate Dean for Information Services. The Associate Dean for Information Services oversees the library and information technology services that support the academic, research, and technological needs of the Wake Forest University School of Law community. The Associate Dean reports directly to the Dean of the School of Law, who is committed to building and supporting an active and responsive twenty-first century law library.
The Associate Dean for Information Services will be responsible for the strategic planning, budgeting, and goal-setting initiatives that will transform the library into an innovative information commons consistent with the teaching, technological and scholarly demands of a dynamic research institution. The Associate Dean will lead a library and information technology staff with a customer-centered approach and will work with all law school constituencies to support the teaching, scholarship, and service goals of the law school. In addition, the Associate Dean for Information Services may be involved in all aspects of law school life, including the possibility of teaching research classes, serving on committees, conducting research and/or writing scholarly publications.
Qualifications: A law degree and an M.L.S. (or equivalent) from accredited programs are required. The position requires a creative and experienced administrator with a record of accomplishment, strong interpersonal and communication skills, and the ability to conceive, articulate, and implement a vision for the future of library resources and services.A successful candidate will have managerial experience, and demonstrate the ability to provide supportive leadership for the library and information technology staff. In addition, an intellectual curiosity and familiarity with new educational technologies is essential for this position. The Associate Dean for Information Services should have knowledge of Web 2.0 and 3.0 technologies, and their application to libraries and academic environments.
Salary and Benefits: Salary for the position will be nationally competitive commensurate with ability and experience. A generous benefits package is also included. While the position is an administrative appointment, faculty will have input in the hiring process, and the position includes a term faculty appointment that is also commensurate with background and experience.
Application Process: Interested applicants should submit a cover letter, resume, and references by mail or email to: Professor Margaret Taylor, Wake Forest University School of Law, P.O. Box 7206, Winston-Salem, NC 27109-7206, email: taylormh(at)wfu.edu. The deadline for new applications is December 12, 2011.
Wake Forest seeks to recruit and retain a diverse workforce to maintain the excellence of the University, and to offer students richly varied disciplines, perspectives, and ways of knowing and learning. We are strongly dedicated to the pursuit of excellence by including and integrating individuals who represent different groups as defined by race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, age, disability, national origin, religion and veteran status.
November 15, 2011
Authors Guild Complains About Amazon's Kindle Book Lending Program
If the Authors Guild hates libraries it hates electronic libraries even more. We know about the suit against the HathiTrust, which is the outgrowth of litigation against Google for scanning books without permission, assuming permission is necessary. No court has determined that, so far. See my earlier posts, Authors Guild Sues HathiTrust Over Orphan Books and Authors File Amended Complaint Against the HathiTrust for details.
The latest expression of ire by the Guild comes from Amazon’s lending library for Kindle. It’s not a lending library in the traditional sense of a library. Amazon customers who join the Amazon Prime subscription program get to download one book from a possible 5,000 per month at no charge. The older title disappears from their Kindle once a new title replaces it. Only one free title is available to a customer at any one time.
The Guild calls this a tortured reading of Amazon’s contracts with publishers as most publishers refused direct authorization for lending. Amazon runs the program by paying the wholesale purchase price of the book to a publisher. It’s a sale with Amazon buying it and giving it to the customer albeit temporarily. No publisher has sued yet over the practice but will if the Guild has anything to say about it. As it pointedly states:
Amazon has decided that it doesn’t need the publishers’ permission, because, as Amazon apparently sees it, its contracts with these publishers merely require it to pay publishers the wholesale price of the books that Amazon Prime customers download. By reasoning this way, Amazon claims it can sell e-books at any price, even giving them away, so long as the publishers are paid.
From our understanding of Amazon’s standard contractual terms, this is nonsense – publishers did not surrender this level of control to the retailer. Amazon’s boilerplate terms specifically contemplate the sale of e-books, not giveaways, subscriptions, or lending (Amazon does have a lending program that some publishers have authorized, but it’s a program that allows customers – not Amazon – to lend their purchased e-books). Amazon can make other uses of e-books only with the publishers’ consent.
The Guild is not surprisingly big on control. It urges authors who have contracts with secondary publishers who may have authorized Amazon’s conduct to investigate whether their book is part of the program and to challenge that publisher as to why their book is included. Let’s not turn this into some form of industry practice, after all. If there is any control, it should be with the authors to decide whether the book should be left in the Amazon program.
I don’t know what the contracts actually allow Amazon to do. I’m hoping this information comes out in more detail than merely the Guild’s interpretation. Would letting the subscriber keep the book violate the terms? Is Amazon not allowed to do anything besides sell the book electronically? It must frost the Guild that the first sale doctrine exists for physical books as authors see no remuneration for the sale of used items. Any time someone feels their rights are violated they should have the opportunity to sue to validate those rights. It's America, after all, and I understand that is what we Americans do in these situations. The Guild is not without resource, so have at it. As with any suit, however, those who sue should be prepared to lose as well as win. At least we’ll all know where the precedent falls which to me is way more interesting than whether the Guild is vindicated in its interpretation of the contracts. [MG]
Are the ABA and AALS Ready for Congressional Hearings on the Legal Academy's Gaming of Stats?
Quoting from yesterday's WSJ story, Lawmakers Probe Law Schools' Data [sub. req.], ABAJ's Debra Cassens Weiss reports
Lawmakers who are gathering a “treasure trove” of data about law schools could use the information in congressional hearings, according to a published report. ... According to the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.), an unnamed congressional staffer says senators are “strongly considering” hearings. “Congressional hearings, were they to happen, wouldn't necessarily lead to legislation,” the story says. “But they would represent the most aggressive congressional move yet into the controversy over law-school transparency.”
For more, see Weiss' Will Senate Hold Hearings on Law Schools? Lawmakers’ Data Collection Could Be Backdrop.
"[P]lainly gearing up for hearings" is how U Chicago law prof, Brian Leiter characterizes the prospect for congressional hearings because of repeated information requests to the ABA from several senators. Certainly the less than informative responses issued by the ABA clearly deserves congressional hearings. Leiter adds in his Law School Reports post "[t]he ABA and AALS are presumably taking note."
The possibility of congressional hearings should make for interesting hallway conversations at AALS's upcoming annual meeting. If hearings are conducted, NLJ's Law School Review blog will make for very interesting reading. My hunch is a couple of the Law School Review bloggers may be called to testify. LLB's co-editor, Mark Giangrande, has been following the exchange between US senators and the ABA since July of this year. The best way to review Mark's posts is to use LLB"s "Law School News and Views" tag.
After almost a decade of criticizing US News for relying on unaudited placement stats, Leiter observes:
What's obviously changed the equation enough to garner Senatorial attention to the matter is (1) the general economic collapse, which has taken its toll on the legal profession as well, and so highlighted the unreality of many of the employment numbers schools have reported; and (2) the increasing debt burden of law students, which, given (1), are increasingly going to be debts that are not repaid.
Another angle of loan default rates can be viewed in Matt Wirz's What Hedge Funds Can Teach College Students (WSJ Nov. 12, 2011):
Investors like [hedge fund manager Daniel] Ades have a unique view on the future for America's job-seekers. Their investments depend on accurately predicting young people's ability to repay their loans, which means they obsess about everything from employment rates by profession to the long-term earning potential of young graduates.
In terms of picking a school, technical colleges may be less prestigious, but their low cost relative to the higher wages they deliver makes them attractive, according to Mr. Ades. ... technical colleges come out on top, Mr. Ades said. "We're in a skills based economy and what we need is more computer programmers, more [nurses]," he said. "It's less glamorous but it's what we need."
Law school, on the other hand, can end up a sucker's bet in periods of high unemployment, experts in student loan-backed bonds say.
While college students often enroll in professional programs to wait out economic soft patches, the U.S. has far more law schools than other professional schools, resulting in an excess supply of lawyers, argue investors and analysts.
Leiter adds in his Law School Reports post:
One hopes that in addition to calling relevant ABA officials to testify about oversight (or lack thereof), they will also ask Bob Morse to testify, to explain why, despite years of complaints, U.S. News never audited the data it both published in its magazine and factored into its rankings.
In addition to officials from the ABA and AALS and US News rankings guru Bob Morse, I'm thinking some law school deans and administrators (like, perhaps, Illinois Law's now former admissions dean) also should be called to testify. [JH]
A Vendor Rep's Professional Opinion on the Relationship between Vendors, Law Librarians and Their Institutions
Chuck Lowry, a sales rep for Fastcase, offers his professional opinion about the contributions law firm librarians make to their law firms writing
Vendors have an almost unique perspective on law firm librarians. We are sometimes partners, sometimes adversaries; sometimes you use us and sometimes we use you; we are often friends; it is undeniably true that we cannot live without you, nor you without us.
Lowry goes on to identify a number of contributions firm librarians make in representing their institutions in the vendor-buyer relationship including the following:
The financial relationship between vendors and law firms has in many cases become so tortured and complex that negotiations, especially large renewal negotiations, can have a real impact on firm finances, both directly in costs and indirectly in efficiency and availability of required resources. These large scale negotiations, especially renewal negotiations, involve usage levels, adjustment of time charges, transactional charges and flat fees, adjustment of the product mix within a particular service, and, more obscurely, an inkling of how the negotiation will go, how much flexibility the sales rep has and when it’s time to change tactics or even insist on dealing with the sales rep’s boss. Nor can we overlook the requirement that the library director/negotiator understand what the firm’s lawyers can and cannot do, will and will not put up with, have to have or want because the publisher called them directly. What you pay a good library director will be more than made up, over and over again, by the director’s expertise in vendor negotiations.
And after the contract is done, the library director has to serve as the usage cop, not just in terms of the quantity of usage, but in making sure that usage is executed under the terms negotiated by the parties and preserved in the contract. Who sees more information service licensing agreements than the library director? Who better than the library director knows which terms are rigid, which flexible, which terms vendors will negotiate and which they will enforce rigidly?
Of course, I believe Lowry would say the same applies to law librarians in other market sectors too. In this case, the post references firm librarians because it was published in On Firmer Ground. For much more, see his guest post Law Firms and Librarians: They Really Do Need Each Other (A Vendor’s Perspective). [JH]
November 14, 2011
Yale Law Journal Joins the Ranks of Major Law Journals Issuing eBook Editions Published by Quid Pro Books
Yale Law Journal has joined Standford Law Review and Harvard Law Review in making available issues in multiple eBook formats published by Quid Pro Books. Starting with vol. 121, no. 1, dated October 2011, YLJ is now available for Kindle [YJL link], Nook [YLJ link] and Apple iBooks and iTunes eBook editions. See Quid Pro Books announcement. [JH]
Supreme Court Action: Arbitration And A Whole Lot of Habeas
The Supreme Court issued four opinions in the last two weeks. Three of them are Per Curiam and one was authored by Justice Scalia. The first of these is Cavasos v. Smith (10-1115). It’s an unusual case involving the prosecution of a grandmother for the death of a child due to shaken baby syndrome (SDS). Smith was convicted of assault on a child resulting in death under California law. The California Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction and the California Supreme Court denied a hearing.
The magistrate hearing the habeas corpus petition found the evidence conflicting but sufficient to support a conviction. The District Court adopted the magistrate’s conclusions and denied the petition. The Ninth Circuit reversed, with an order to grant the writ, taking the view that the evidence could have gone either way. The Supreme Court reversed, stating that there was evidence for SDS, despite the fact that it did not fit a classic pattern of trauma evidence. The Ninth Circuit should not have questioned the result in the case or found it to be unreasonable under existing precedent. The Court notes with some irritation that it has reversed the Ninth Circuit twice before on this case.
The lengthy dissent by Justice Ginsberg, joined by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor, argues that the evidence of injury is close and based on medical testimony that would be better informed if given today. It’s also the type of case that the Court normally would not grant review but for its desire to slap down the Ninth Circuit one more time:
In sum, this is a notably fact-bound case in which the Court of Appeals unquestionably stated the correct rule of law. It is thus “the type of case in which we are most inclined to deny certiorari.” Kyles v. Whitley, 514 U. S. 419, 460 (1995) (SCALIA, J., dissenting). Nevertheless, the Court is bent on rebuking the Ninth Circuit for what it conceives to be defiance of our prior remands. See ante, at 8. I would not ignore Smith’s plight and choose her case as a fit opportunity to teach the Ninth Circuit a lesson.
The next case, KPMG LLP v. Cocchi (10-1521) is an arbitration case decided on November 7th. The case comes to the Court from the Florida Court of Appeals for the Fourth District, that court having upheld a decision by the trial court refusing to compel arbitration on some of the claims presented to it by plaintiffs against KPMG. The trial court did not compel arbitration as it found two of the four claims not arbitral, and the other two not directly arbitral. The rule in place is that any claims that are arbitral should be resolved through that process. The evidence and application of law are uncertain as to whether these other claims would qualify for arbitration. The Court reversed, sending the case back for hearings on the issue.
The third case is Bobby v. Dixon (10-1540), also decided on November 7th. It is a habeas corpus case concerning the rule that “must show that the state court’s ruling on the claim being presented in federal court was so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fair minded disagreement.” The claim in this case is whether a confession should have been suppressed following an initial questioning session without Miranda warnings followed by several other sessions where warnings were repeatedly given and with explicit acknowledgement by the defendant. Another is that the defendant was told that a co-defendant was going to cut a deal when that was not the case. A third is whether the confession should have been suppressed when the defendant confessed without warnings, was given warnings shortly thereafter, and confessed again. The Ohio Supreme Court rejected these claims and upheld the conviction. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, holding the confessions inadmissible. The Court examined the precedent where it had condemned the “two-step” interrogation and found the rules as developed did not apply to the facts of this case. As such, the Ohio Supreme Court was correct and the Sixth Circuit reversed.
The last case, Greene v. Fisher (10-637), was decided on November 8th. Greene was convicted on charges of murder, robbery, and conspiracy. The prosecution admitted redacted versions of confessions by Greene’s non-testifying codefendants. The rule in place at the time was that the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment was not offended when the confessions were redacted to remove references to the defendant by name. Between the time first appellate appeal (which affirmed the conviction) and that to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court announced Gray v. Maryland, 523 U. S. 185, 195 (1998), which held that redactions that informed the jury that a name had been redacted fell within the proscription of the Confrontation Clause rules. The Pennsylvania later dismissed the appeal.
Greene filed a habeas corpus petition based on the change in the law and the Third Circuit declined to grant the petition, holding that the law in place at the time of his petition governed. Justice Scalia, writing for the Court, held that the law in place at the time is the law considered when a state court renders its decision. A the last state adjudication on the issue took place some three months before the appeal process, the new rule was not clearly established federal law at the time, affirming the Third Circuit. [MG]