February 18, 2013
Playing Catch-Up: A Monday Morning 2-fer for This Presidents' Day Working Holiday
One of the benefits of being a public sector law librarian is getting some federal holidays off private sector law librarians don't. Typically, Presidents' Day is one of those federal holidays. I know I didn't get the day off. Courts might be closed but working of a day like today was one folks used to catch-up on outstanding assignments.
I may go to work at my little county law library today to catch up on some research requests because I had one of those days late last week where all I did was in-take assignments I couldn't otherwise dump on my very well qualifed staff. That rarely happens but when it does as in these instances, it will require this aging and decrepit law librarian to use print in concert with accessable from home online resources. Talk about old school!
So for my private sector colleagues who don't have to "rethink their ROFLMAOYSST value" today because they are at work even if today is a recognized holiday by their employer, here's a little 2-fer pick-me-up. [JH]
"It's green and often found .... ."
Nope, not onions found in the marshland of Chicago.
February 15, 2013
On Widening, More Likely Than Bridging, Any Existing In-House Content-Distribution Divide
Linking librarians to IT adds a necessary quality to the negotiation of contracts for online research services. An emphasis on the content delivered via the contract demands librarian input. They will have worked with the practice groups and can build on these relationships to understand which resources are necessary to maintain a high quality practice. The librarian’s task will be to consolidate this information across the firm and make it possible for the IT Department to negotiate a contract from a content point of view. Here, too, there will be a return on investment. A low cost contract without value adds expense.
Too often the library director becomes embroiled as an adversary in the negotiation process. This compromises the librarian’s relationship with the vendor and jeopardizes the negotiating process. Knowledge about content and lawyer demand is not the same as knowledge about pricing. And while the IT Department may need help with both the pricing terms and the negotiation process, that help will not come from the library. The vendor relationship demanded in the negotiation process is different from the relationship expected when the contract is in place and services are being delivered. Nothing should jeopardize the service delivery, which should be spelled out by the terms of the contract.
Understanding this, it is a gift to librarians to limit their involvement in contract negotiations. They can pass on an understanding of what the firm demands and force the vendor to consider the stake they have in the next contract with the firm. The vendors need to be accountable for the real relationship of pricing and content to contract terms. With that in mind, IT can demand a contract that has no surprises ahead. -- Nina Cunningham, Leveraging the Assets of the Law Library, (LJN's Legal Tech Newsletter, Feb. 2013, republished here).
Really? Or to quote Greg Lambert, "Um, thanks?" (Emphasis not added.)
Lambert adds "My own thoughts on vendor negotiations, and what I'm hoping where Cunningham is intending to go with this argument, is that there is some value in negotiating with the vendors in a unified way." There certainly is some value. But not, in my opinion, by way of the over-generalized role characterizations in Cunningham's far too simplified recipe.
For much more about this and other topics addressed in Cunningham's article, see Lambert's Are IT and Library "Logical Partners" in Leveraging Library Assets? Highly recommended. Cunningham's Leveraging the Assets of the Law Library, of course, is also highly recommended. [JH]
January 17, 2013
What Are the Top Ten Traits of Great Library Leaders? (Where will you find today's law librarian leaders?)
Late last year in a 21st Century Library blog post, Steve Matthews wrote:
As we approach the end of 2012, I thought I’d get back to my theme for the year – Library Leadership. In order to be a great leader, a person must possess and demonstrate certain characteristics, or traits of leadership. Here are 10 [link to post] that should be at the top of anyone’s list who is striving to become a great library leader.
Ranked as the number one trait according to Matthews is:
1. Great Leaders Have High Character
Think about a situation in which you knew you could do something and no one would EVER know about it if you didn’t tell. Good or bad, doesn’t matter, your actions would never be found out. There would be no evidence of your actions linked to you. There would be no repercussions to you or anyone you knew. That’s not to say that your actions would have no impact on anyone, actions always have impact on someone or something, just no one you know who could trace your actions back to you. What would you do? The answer to this question is what constitutes a person’s character.
“The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.” Thomas Macaulay
Matthews closes his post with the following statement:
Library leaders should be striving to be “great” leaders. It’s what the profession needs to flourish in the ambiguous future and regain the library’s relevance in the community. It is what’s needed for survival.
Who exhibits real library leadership qualities? I believe the lesson to be learned here is that library leadership is not defined by elected library association national office holders. Leadership is not an "official status." Nor is it something one can learn from the pablum of educational and professional development programs about "your value" cranked out by AALL. As the saying goes, if you have to tell people you're valuable, you're probably not. Do note well, there was (hopefully no longer) a time when that saying had to be qualified with "as long as you are a male law librarian" because of a rampant sexist perpective.
Leadership is or needs to be defined by the content of one's professional character and the actions taken by individual law librarians who assume that risk. This is particularly clear in uncertain times like the structural transformation underway today. Eventually the cumulative impact of those actions does wake up AALL officialdom as they try to catch up to the pack to "assume" a leadership role that has been defined by the concerted activities of the rank-and-file who are leading law librarians towards a direction needed for survival. [JH]
August 15, 2012
The Future of the PLL Summit
Here is the one thing I can tell you: Nothing has been decided yet and nothing has been finalized. I have read a lot lately about how AALL is taking over the PLL Summit and that it is a "hostile" takeover. Yet everything I have read has been short on details as to just what this "hostile" takeover involves. I can tell you that PLL leadership and AALL leadership are in discussion. The discussion is continuing and nothing has been finally decided. I believe that we should let the PLL leaders we elected continue to talk with AALL to see if this can be resolved in a mutually beneficial way.
Seattle will be the perfect venue to try something new as few East Coast librarians would be willing to come just for a day long summit.
I also want to address Joe Hodnicki's statement that "Contributions to the Summit were not under the direct control of AALL" made in his blog post on Tuesday, August 14th. It is my understanding that all contributions to the Summit went through AALL. PLL is a Special Interest Section existing within AALL and as such has no ability to have vendors make direct contributions to it.
So until such time as I hear concrete plans for the summit or for the lack thereof I will wait before making any judgments.
July 20, 2012
Programming AALL's Next Annual Meeting: Top-Down or Bottom-Up?
From 2013 Annual Meeting Program Committee survey.
The 2013 Annual Meeting Program Committee is already thinking about programming in Seattle. We have identified the following content areas, and each includes particular issues and challenges that you may be facing in your job. As you look at these issues on the following pages, let us know which ones pertain to your situation. The feedback you provide here will help us develop programs that meet your educational needs.
Raising the profile of the library/librarian
I think AMPC should rethink its thinking.The best way to provide relevant programming for as diverse a group as practicing law librarians as we are is to establish track scheduling at annual meetings wherein which sessions will be offered is removed from AMPC's control and given to special interest sections to decide. Addressing topics such as the ones listed above require a far amount of specificity to be relevant for different types of law libraries.
Think programs selected for private libraries, academic libraries, and public and government libraries by their SISs based on their members (and others, if they want) submissions (with deadlines set by each SIS) to fill substantial slots of time each regular conference day. Perhaps, for example, PLL's annual summit could be held during the annual meeting instead of before it so that some of the sessions can be attended by all interested law librarians who can only go to the annual meeting. Functional groups like tech servs and computing can also be given time slots.
Must definitely there should be an official Executive Board track so that the Board's Summer meeting is conducted during AALL's annual meeting, not before the annual meeting, so all interested rank-and-file members can attend, in addition, to the epic tragic comedy known as the Business Meeting and Members Open Forum, as well as the "educational" sessions AALL conducts to inform members what AALL thinks about issues.
AMPC should be left to fill in a remaining limited number of time slots for others (smaller SISs and Caucus groups) and AALL ceremonial events. etc.
Having offered my 2-cents opinion, by republishing (without premission but what the heck) Steven Lastres' post (on AALLNET's Members Open Forum and Private Law Libraries SIS) I am not suggesting he agrees with me. However, he calls attention to changes in the making for programming Seattle 2013. I do think we both agree that (1) there are some serious issues about the 2013 Seattle programming procedural changes and (2) annual meeting programming needs to be relevant for specific types of law libraries.
Help Protect SIS Rights To Keep Providing Our Members With Relevant Programming
Dear Valued PLL Members,
There are significant changes being implemented for the 2013 AALL Annual Meeting in Seattle. While many are positive, there are some that may significantly impact the ability of Special Interest Sections (SISs) to offer programming that is relevant to its members. I am copying the "Members Open Forum" because I think the membership and other SISs should be aware of the potential impact to all of our members.
For example, SISs will no longer have any minimum guaranteed programming accepted and all SISs will be limited to sponsoring only one independent education program. SISs can no longer rank their submissions in order of importance/relevance to their members. The Annual Meeting Program Committee (AMPC) will be making all the decisions about your programming.
Why should you care? Because PLL members deserve to attend a conference that provides them with relevant content they need to succeed in their work environment. While we always welcome the opportunity to cross polinate with our academic and court colleagues, law firms are a unique environment and are under economic siege. In fact, we have seen the loss of over 50 PLL members over this past year. A trend that continues since 2008.
Over the last several years, PLL members have grown accustomed to having over 10 progams at conference approved by the AMPC, in addition to 4 to 6 independent programs PLL pays to present to provide PLL members with more programming choices. These 14 to 16 education programs are also independent of the PLL Summit (now in its third year with expected attendance to exceed 300 attendees), which hosts over 10 additional programs as a preconference.
The PLL Education committee works hard to help our member submit programming relevant to "law firm librarians". As you well know, our working environments are unique and have special challenges.
The 2013 Annual Meeting Program Committee is conducting a survey to identify topics and issues of importance to AALL members.
I urge you to tell them what education programming you need to not only survive but to thrive as a law librarian who works in a law firm setting.
Took the survey and would not have know it existed but for Steve's membership alert. There are comment boxes in the survey but not one that asks "are you in favor of the plan we will be executing for you?" [JH]
July 20, 2012 in Academic Law Libraries, Education & Professional Development, Firm & Corporate Law Libraries, Government & Public Law Libraries, Library Associations, Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)
July 12, 2012
A Prelude to PLL's Summit III: On the future of law firm librarianship
It seems appropriate to characterize Jean O'Grady's recent interview as an unofficial prelude to this year's PLL Summit because the summit's theme is "The Path to 2020: A Vision for Change." If registration for a pre-conference event is a measure of interest in the Summit's agenda, then something like 200-plus law librarians are planning to attend. Apparently, some are traveling to Boston only for this event. [JH]
June 14, 2012
Call for Participation in New Generation of Legal Research Databases Survey: Findings will be reported at AALL Boston 2012
One of the best programs I attended at last year's AALL annual meeting was a well-organized and equally well-prepared panel presentation on WestlawNext. Interest was high. Despite being scheduled for the late afternoon of the last day of Philly 2011 (meaning, of course, the traditional time most attendees are heading home), the program was attended by many law librarians, particularly law firm representatives. No doubt, this year's follow-up program will be just as informative. Emily Marcum, Jean Davis, Jean O'Grady, Susan Nevelow Mart and Vicki Szymczak's The New Generation of Legal Research Databases: 2012 Boston Sequel will take place on Sunday, July 22.
From the description:
This forum will enable librarians familiar with Bloomberg Law, LexisNexis Advance, and WestlawNext to compare the developments of these research tools and consider the effect these changes have had in libraries. The discussion will contrast the latest interfaces of these services to their classic versions, as well as to each other. What worked? What failed? Have these “improvements” changed the workflow at your institution or company? Did these changes impact user preference? And, how can vendors improve future product generations? Practical matters – such as implementation, user education, accuracy of results, document sharing, billing practices, and user satisfaction – will dominate the discussion.
The organizers have launched the following surveys to gather information about Bloomberg Law, LexisNexis Advance, and WestlawNext. The findings will be presented at the Boston Sequel. Many of the questions focus on each library type's different institutional circumstances. They request that the director of each library appoint one person to respond to the applicable survey. The deadline is June 30th.
June 14, 2012 in Academic Law Libraries, Electronic Resource, Firm & Corporate Law Libraries, Government & Public Law Libraries, Legal Research, Library Associations, Meetings, Publishing Industry | Permalink | Comments (0)
April 27, 2012
Findings from Law Library Benchmarks Survey
From Research and Markets' press release for its Law Library Benchmarks, 2012-13 Ed.:
The study looks closely at the budgets, spending, technology acquisition, web use and other practices by law libraries in the USA and Canada. Data is broken out by size and type of law library and for law libraries in the USA and Canada.
Just some of the study's many findings are that:
- 50% of libraries in the United States and 30.43% of those in Canada feel that the space allocated to their library will decrease in three years time.
- Libraries in the sample spent a mean of $3,462 on online databases per lawyer employed in 2011 and a maximum of $20,835. Libraries in the United States spent a mean of $3,883, while those in Canada spent about $2,647.
- University libraries spent a mean of $1,141,321 on salaries, more than twice the mean $487,504 spent by government and courthouse libraries and more than four times the $243,054 spent by law firm libraries.
- In 2011, 41.33% of libraries in the sample increased their overall library budget.
- Law firm librarians in the sample spend a mean of 9.03 staff hours per week in finding new clients for the firm.
- Materials budgets are expected to decline in real terms in 2012.
- Libraries in the sample spent a mean of $5,892 on salaries per lawyer in their organization.
- Print resources still accounted for 53.65% of the materials budget for the libraries in the sample though only 42.5% for law firm libraries.
- 3.8% of the libraries sampled used the cloud service DropBox for cloud computing services.
- Libraries with less than 100 lawyers in their organization spent a mean of $32,027 on scholarly journals.
- Print subscriptions to magazines and newspapers cost libraries in the sample a mean of $68,998 in 2011.
February 17, 2012
Advantage Bloomberg? Part 4: BLaw will be competitive with WEXIS as a primary provider in a solutions-driven market before the end of this decade
Does anyone really believe Bloomberg isn't hell bent on acquiring primary provider status in this decade? My hunch is that the Company has a couple of years before WEXIS integration of Solutions (including Search as a Solution) appears in the market by way of the Dashboard model and about five years after that for the Dashboard to be widely accepted as an expected user experience, at least in the private sector. Let's peg the user acceptance milestone as arriving around 2020.
By that time there will probably be only three major professional legal services vendors -- BLaw, Lexis L & P and TR Legal. I serious doubt Wolters Kluwer's US Legal has a snowball's chance in hell of surviving the flames of this three-way competition. It will be sold by then, if not sooner. But to whom?
- Unlike BNA, will WK just not give a damn about the commondization of its content by selling to TR Legal if TR Legal makes the highest bid?
- Will Lexis L & P fill in its Tax & Accounting gap by buying WK's high quality editorial content to be more competitive with BLaw online and to enhance its competitiveness by filling in some speciality area gaps by way of CCH tax and accounting and WK's "Aspen" law and business practitioner treatise catalogs to bring to market high analytical, practitioner-focused specialist content in enhanced eBooks vis a vis TR Legal's enhanced eBooks (now that TR Legal has realized those smaller treatises it acquired many years ago but neglected actually have some value)?
- BLaw doesn't really need WK US Law & Business but if the Company wants to dominate the market by reducing the competitiveness of TR Legal and Lexis L & P for speciality practice area content, then you bet BLaw may be a very interested buyer of WK US Legal for its online sources, p- and e-titles, continuing eduation programs and, more generally, its user population and human capital (meaning in-house editors and only meaning in-house editors).
Actually, I'm hoping Fastcase will buy WK US Legal if (when) it comes up the auction. Let's start that unsubstantiated rumor [wink]. Four-way competition is better than three-way competition over the long haul.
From a shorter term perspective, BLaw is not a player in the nascent enhanced Law eBook market yet. That will change. No doubt BLaw will be enhancing BNA treatises, portfolios, etc., into eBooks with link-thru to BLaw online. BLaw may very well be the first enhanced Law eBook publisher to provide multi-media content from its growing content inventory -- not just video from Bloomberg financial and law news but also from its topical webinar inventory which can be dovetailed into eBook formats for existing and new titles. The Bloomberg BNA brand has been aggressively rolling out more timely topical webinars featuring experts in the field. This sort of content certainly can be incorporated into eBooks in addition to BLaw online.
BLaw will be competitive as a primary provider in a solutions-driven market. WEXIS better take notice in now terms of all of its eContent-related offerings - databased and eBooks. Responding to the Google generation, for example, by way of "next-gen" federated Search coupled with filtering is not going to be good enough. The targeted user population is also the YouTube generation. Here, WEXIS is behind the curve. BLaw is not. [JH]
February 16, 2012
Advantage Bloomberg? Part 3: BLaw will not become a viable primary provider until it offers “solutions”
“Who lost DLA Piper's US business?? (I'd find it very hard to believe that a firm, even of DLA Piper's size, would want to carry Westlaw, Lexis AND Bloomberg on their annual budgets.)”
According to comments to Greg's post, the consensus is that Lexis probably lost or will be getting much less of DLA Piper's business. While O'Grady gave WLN a less than stellar endorsement during an AALL panel at Philly 2011 -- "it is what it is" if my faulty memory isn't play tricks on me -- I very seriously doubt DLA Piper dumped its “preferred” customer status with TR Legal.
What about any WEXIS solution "upsells" DLA Piper may have? Take that into consideration when thinking about another question Greg poses.
"If DLA Piper did dump one of the other vendors, what resources does DLA Piper lose in the change? ..."
I would add two related questions assuming DLA Piper and any other BigLaw firm did/has/will dump one of its major vendors when adopting BLaw:
- Did BigLaw also dump vendor “solutions” in addition to dumping a vendor search service?; and
- What forthcoming WEXIS resources and services has BigLaw lost at this time by doing so?
BLaw is not yet a serious contender to be the primary or even sole provider for BigLaw. Except for a small set of BNA solutions (e.g. BNA Auditor and Global Auditor, web-based environment, health and safety compliance auditing tools) BLaw frankly is not really a player in the integrated professional legal services "solutions" market that is dominated by WEXIS. For this reason, it is premature to talk about BLaw really being competitive with WEXIS. It's just not about Search and the databased resources provided anymore.
User Experience: Search+Solution (or Search as one among many solutions being offered). Today, online legal search really needs to be viewed as one among many offered Solutions. Some WEXIS solutions integrate Search from within their applications, some do not. However, all WEXIS solutions are upsell opportunities because WEXIS has boots on the ground to sell them.
There is no doubt in my mind that our major professional legal services vendors will “dashboard” all of their sold solutions (including search) at the institutional level by way of user account management for an integrated user interface. When that happens, it will be the most transformative change in the legal profession since the acceptance of very expensive online legal search. My hunch is the Dashboard user experience will garner wide acceptance in the private sector -- large, small, even solo law plus corporate law departments -- within 10 years. After that, the government and academic legal markets will follow.
But for now, the options remain (1) WEXIS in the generalist market for professional grade "search plus solutions" and (2) BLaw BNA and Wolters Kluwer in the specialist market for higher editorial quality analytical content with "search sans solutions".
BLaw BNA is becoming a high quality secondary source content rich environment. BLaw already licenses, for example, PLI business and law treatises for its online service. The Company will eventually integrate BNA secondary sources into BLaw online. Do note, the recent launch of BNA's Bankruptcy Law Resource Center is, I believe, unprecedented in BNA's resource centers content mix since it includes licensed secondary treatises to compensate for BNA not having any bankrupty treatises of note. This indicates to me that BLaw is quite willing to reach into the Company's deep pockets to provide high quality secondary sources published by industry specific and legal practice area specific professional associations to fill out its online secondary source literature offerings.
Deep Pockets Means BLaw Solutions Are Coming. I seriously doubt Bloomberg will rest on just Search, which of course also includes primary and secondary legal content. It's just a matter of time before BLaw offers Solutions that are created in-house or licensed or both to compete in the market with WEXIS.
More about BLaw competing in the current WEXIS market for primary provider status in tomorrow's post. [JH]
February 15, 2012
Advantage Bloomberg? Part 2: Yes, once BNA resources are fully integrated into or current BNA costs are offset for BLaw to compete with Wolters Kluwer
The integration of BNA's resources into BLaw will take about a year. In this context, note what Jean O'Grady says (heading in bold as published) in her Dewey B Strategic post about subscribing to BLaw at DLA Piper:
Yes BNA Is Included at No Additional Cost
Bloomberg appears to be staying true to the business model and is including acquisitions both big and small in Bloomberg Law at no additional cost. When they bought Business Week, it was fully integrated Now Bloomberg is telling subscribers that as soon as all of the BNA material including all newsletters, e.g. the pricey "Daily Report for Executives" and all BNA research platforms such as the Intellectual Property Library are converted, all BNA content -- including content not previously subscribed to will be available at no additional cost to the Bloomberg Law subscribers.
That’s a damn "good thing." Even at BLaw's single seat flat rate of $450 per month that cost starts to sound reasonable once all of BNA is loaded into BLaw -- better still for a multiuser license -- for several reasons.
First BLaw will be offering a fairly complete set of practice area offerings by way of BNA's premium editorial quality resources. Eventually, this will include, for example,
- Labor & Employment Law Resource Center
- Intellectual Property Law Resource Center
- Telecommunications Law Resource Center
- Internet Law Resource Center
- Health Law Resource Center
- Benefits Practice Resource Center
- Bankruptcy Law Resource Center
Outside of BNA's Law and Business publishing division, let’s not forget BNA’s Tax & Accounting, Environment, Health & Safety, and Human Resources publishing divisions. I think content from at least the first two, if not all three, will eventually be offered by way of BLaw online.
Second, the cost for a single seat or multiuser license for BLaw will be at least partially offset because institutional buyers will no longer have to subscribe to standalone BNA Resource Centers and other BNA services and may further be offset by cancelling at least some Wolters Kluwer IntelliConnect services.
Hopefully, institutional buyers will still be able to license some BNA Resource Centers as standalones if they do not need or want all of BLaw but clearly BLaw is not worried about cannibalizing BNA revenue for increasing its adoption rate, which so far has been less than spectacular. Hell, BLaw needed BNA content to justify its not inexpensive but getting worth the price of BLaw's single or multiuser flat rate licenses. Now it's time to give BNA's sale force the green light to sell BLaw.
Two questions to consider about the recent BLaw-DLA Piper announcement. First, did DLA Piper kill or keep some Wolters Kluwer IntelliConnect resources? Of course, I'm assuming DLA Piper has some WK resources but it is hard to imagine the firm's tax specialists practicing law without IntelliConnect's "Standard Federal Tax Reporter," opps, I mean online (or at least print) tax materials.
I also find it hard to imagine DLA Piper’s tax attorneys not having BNA's Daily Tax Report delivered to the desktop and just as hard to imagine that any DLA Piper labor and employment attorney is practicing without BNA Labor & Employment Law Resource Center for research and BNA's Daily Labor Report delivered to the desktop for current awareness purposes.
Hence the second question. Is DLA Piper still paying for BNA resources not yet available on BLaw if the firm has online licenses from them? Hell if I know. Perhaps DLA Piper only subscribes to BNA publications in print.
However, in the world of BigLaw deep pockets, taking DLA Piper out of the equation, I would insist on a waiver of all licensing fees for BNA Resource Centers and eNewsletters I currently have that are not yet online via BLaw in exchange for signing up for BLaw. In the world of smaller pockets, BLaw’s flat rate fees for some seats, not necessarily all of an institutional buyer’s user population, becomes reasonable at this time if a BNA licensing cost offset is part of the deal.
It is also hard for me to imagine that any BigLaw firm isn't subscribing to or interested in subscribing to BGov for some seats. BNA's reporters are some of the most, if not the most, trusted and experienced press corps on Capital Hill. Their content will enhance BGov when integrated (if that has not already been done). So toss that into the mix, too.
Wolters Kluwer should be worried. But is BLaw ready now to be the primary or sole provider for BigLaw institutional buyers? That’s the topic of tomorrow’s post. [JH]
November 03, 2011
Over 175 AALL Members Support the Consumer Advocacy Caucus Petition
57 AALL members signed the petition of which 19 are law firm librarians, 30 are academic law librarians, 6 are county and government law librarians, and 2 are other law librarians.
70% of 198 PLL-SIS members approved the petition in a survey conducted between September 29th and October 7th which means that about 120-140 private sector law librarians, give or take some or all of the 19 law firm librarians who may be counted as signatories, support the petition.
PLL-SIS Endorsement. Based on the PLL-SIS survey results, the PLL-SIS Board unanimously endorsed the petition stating in part:
[Caucus petitioners] regard their Association as their best ally during a time of unprecedented challenges to the long-term sustainability of law libraries. For decades law libraries have straggled with anti-competitive and unfair business practices in the legal information industry. The cumulative impact of anti-consumer practices has been devastating to law libraries, both individually and collectively. The ongoing economic crisis has only accelerated the fallout, with layoffs and substantial reductions in law library collections and services. Under these circumstances, Caucus organizers find that AALL has untapped promise to champion consumer advocacy for the benefit of law library users.
Quoting from Attachment 1 to the Petition.
The Consumer Advocacy Caucus Petition is now in the hands of AALL's Executive Board. The motion for Executive Board action during the upcoming meeting states:
That the Executive Board approve the creation of the Caucus on Consumer Advocacy, with the following statement of purpose: "The AALL Caucus on Consumer Advocacy will recommend to AALL that it petition appropriate government bodies for specific remedies to anti-competitive and unfair business practices by legal information sellers."
The LISVendor wiki page Legal Information Industry: Anticompetitive and Unfair Business Practices offers some background information and links. [JH]
November 01, 2011
Law Library Information Budget Estimates Decline by 21.7% According to 2011 AALL Findings
The 2011 edition of The AALL Biennal Salary Survey and Organizational Characteristics is now available. While the salary survey findings may not be very useful in the private and government sectors, the findings of organizational characteristics with respect to information budgets has some information value. Because of the differences in AALL survey response rates over the years one cannot say how much more than $1 billion on print and online resources is spent by institutional buyers each year. So firm conclusions cannot be reached about total information spend. However, some insights about trends can be drawn from information budgets provided by AALL institutional buyers as long as one is mindful of this limitation.
Based on reporting AALL law libraries, total 2011 information budgets declined from $1,389.118,580 in 2009 to $1,086,993,2226 in 2001. That's a 21.7% decline since the last reporting period two years ago. Based on available data -- meaning based on prior biennal reports I have readily available, namely the 2009 and 2005 editions in additon to the current 2111 editon -- this year's reported decline is more than three times higher than any earlier reported decline on a percent basis. Between 1999 and 2011, the previous largest decline reported was 6.5% in 2007 compared to 2005 reported total information budgets. See graphs below.
The major sector contributor to the 2011 decline was private law libraries although academic and government library sectors also reported declines. The difference in total information budgets reported between 2009 and 2011 was -$302,125.544. The private sector contributed -$212,017,438 or some 70% to the total decline. This, of course, is no surprise since institutional buyers in the private sector drives this market. Even using the less than comprehensive stats based on AALL reporting law libraries, private sector law libraries represents about 70% of all institutional buyers' spending.
Viewed from this perspective and taking the limitations of the survey response rate into account, it is still noteworthy that the average 2011 information budget for the major market player, private law libraries, declined by 13.3% compared to 2009. The average 2011 total information budget declined by 20% for government libraries and by 4.1% for academic libraries. But for academic law libraries receiving online legal search at what has to be viewed as a discounted wholesale price, one can assume in my opinion that the average academic library's total information budget would have declined more substantially in 2011.
All institutional market sectors reached record highs in terms of their electronic information budgets as a percent of total spend. Even at its discounted rates, electronic information budgets in law schools have increased to 27% of total spend, up from 23% in 2009. In the Government sector the increase was to 21% from 17%. In the private sector, spending for electronic resources rose from 64% in 2009 to 69% in 2011. No doubt, online legal search price inflation played a factor. No doubt print cancellations in the Shed West Era played a role too.
Providing information budgets every two years by AALL, even taking into consideration its limitations, is a "good thing" in a sort of least amount of effort to use the findings sort of way. AALL acting upon the findings in any sort of public forum for all to read leaves much to be desired. [JH]
|Click to enlarge.|
November 1, 2011 in Academic Law Libraries, Collection Development, Firm & Corporate Law Libraries, Government & Public Law Libraries, Library Associations, Polls, Publishing Industry | Permalink | Comments (0)
August 31, 2011
Thank you AALL for Listening and Being Flexible
I want to publicly thank AALL. I received an email today from Kate Hagan letting me know that while AALL was adhering to the September 15th deadline they were also going to provide members affected by the earthquake and hurricane the opportunity to request an additional five days to complete their proposals.
If you were adversely affected by the August earthquake or hurricane on the East Coast and will be unable to meet the September 15 submission deadline, contact firstname.lastname@example.org prior to the deadline.
Thank you AALL and particularly, Kate Hagan, for recognizing the hardships we East Coasters have and are encountering over the last week, and for allowing us the ability to request additional time to complete our program submissions and make this a great Boston conference. This law librarian much appreciates that you listened and were flexible.
August 30, 2011
So what that there was a Hurricane and Earthquake--Adherence is More Important
I will start this post by admitting that after the events of the last week I have zero patience. We, on the East Coast, have dealt with two very unusual events for us, an earthquake and then a hurricane. I can only speak for myself but those two events have caused me to lose at least four days between work and personal time. Days when I might have otherwise accomplished things. Like perhaps in my spare time writing the two program proposals I personally have committed to for the next AALL Conference.
With the deadline looming (September 15th) and work about to ramp up with first year associate training planning and other projects and some personal commitments I thought, let me suggest to AALL that they give us a little more time to complete these proposals. I didn't think an extra 5 days would be such an unreasonable request. That would have given me (and of course everyone else) an additional weekend to finalize everything.
I took it upon myself to write Kate Hagan (AALL Executive Director) and Darcy Kirk (AALL President) an email requesting that AALL extend the deadline to September 20th to give us that additional weekend and suggesting that "I think it would be viewed as AALL being very compassionate and flexible if you were to do this." I pointed out that while academic librarians are encouraged to submit proposals for programs by their employers, private law librarians are not. In fact for private law librarians anything done for the profession is generally outside their job and as a friend said to me tonight a "labor of love."
Now I will say that I received a very swift and nice phone call from Kate Hagan asking if there was anything she could do short of extending the deadline. And she did make her case that the Committee meets in October and has usually 300 proposals to review. So that would put more of a burden on them. According to the Important Dates to Remember on the AALL Annual Meeting Site that meeting is in late October. And I am certainly not trying to minimize the work done by the AMPC, I do recognize its a huge job. But I truly believe, given the circumstances, extending the deadline would be the right thing to do. I made my case to Kate during our phone call and she said she would discuss with others and get back to me.
I received an email this evening telling me my request had been considered but that AALL would not change the deadline. Why? What I was told was that they had been advertising the date since early June and they want to adhere to the date.
So I leave it to my colleagues to decide if adherence is more important then flexibility. Not in my book. And yes, I am sure this blog post will make me persona non grata. And I am sure some will suggest I could be writing a proposal instead of this blog post. But as I said I have little patience left.
August 08, 2011
Law Firm Libraries Approaching a "Network-style Meltdown" in Conducting Business with Vendors
"Vendors, your vendor business model is broken" for institutional buyers in the only market segment that matters to our major, very expensive and very tradition-bound vendors in terms of huge guaranteed revenue streams (law firms and corporate accounts). Once taken for granted that revenue stream is no longer a sure thing. The "New Normal" calls for a business model that addresses the 21st Century -- no premiums for new search engines and user interfaces since that's just the cost of staying competitive; no print subscription tie-ins for having access to online versions or for acquiring access at an additional expense, no contracting for online based on 20th Century pricing schemes. The only major vendors I see addressing these concerns in terms of a 21st business model at the moment are online-only Bloomberg Law and Fastcase.
One of the most talked about presentations at Philly 2011 was Gregory Castanias' (Jones Day) pre-meeting speech at PLL's Change as Action, Change as Opportunity Summit. Castanias comments about the audience reaction he received during his speech:
I confess that I was surprised at the reaction of the audience to my speech. While it was clearly my intent to deliver a certain message, I did not expect that the assembled attendees would interrupt parts of it with applause, and, in at least one instance, loud table-pounding. It’s apparent that the frustrations I’ve experienced from a partner-administrator level have been felt by librarians for years, and that my speech gave partner-level voice to many of those frustrations.
I am happy to have provided so many talented professionals a moment of catharsis. But I hope that I was able to do more than that. I hope that the library professionals who heard this speech better understand that we, the partners who own our respective law firms, are (or at least should be) really aligned with them. I hope that the library professionals are able to take this information, steel their backbones, and have the strength to tell their vendors exactly what they need, and to insist on being treated like a client, and not a cash pipeline. While I’m not quite advocating a Peter Finch-style “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it any more!” approach, the vendors I was addressing would be well suited to sit up and take notice that law firms’ librarians are a lot closer to a Network-style meltdown than even I thought before I gave my speech.
A transcript of Castanias' presentation along with the above quoted comments has been published by On Firmer Ground. Do note that his perspective is based on serving as Jones Day's Library Partner since 2004. Highly recommended for law librarians who were unable to afford the additional expense of attending PLL's Summit this year. It is clearly applicable to institutional buyers outside the law firm sector.
In terms of publicizing vendor complaints, Greg Lambert appears to think that more attention is given to them when expressed by partners instead of by law librarians. See his Pa Pa Pa Partner Power graph on 3 Geeks. I guess the question is attention from whom, vendors? Changes in business model? Too soon to say but I'm not all that hopeful, at least not yet.
Professionally speaking, if it takes BigLaw "partner power" to get vendors' attention, then so be it. It just means, we better reach out to associated stakeholders like state and national bar associations and law firm administration organizations by participating more actively in their organizations and at their meetings. By that I mean, individual law librarians taking the initiative to do so instead of relying on AALL's pro forma liasioning.[JH]
July 20, 2011
Consumer Advocacy to Start on July 25: Library Consumer Advocacy Caucus to Meet during AALL Philly 2011
The Library Consumer Advocacy Caucus will meet during AALL's annual meeting to start the process of engaging in real advocacy. From Caucus Chair Michael Ginsburg's recent Library Consumer Advocacy Caucus blog post's open invitation to participate:
Please join us for our 12-1 p.m. meeting on July 25th at the Philadelphia office of Drinker Biddle (One Logan Square, Ste. 2000, at the corner of 18th & Cherry Streets). We will discuss the status of our registration with AALL, decide our form of organization, and consider our initial priorities.
A recent On Firmer Ground blog post, A Call To Support Consumer Advocacy For Law Libraries, reports:
Earlier this year, AALL hosted a Vendor Colloquium that left consumer advocacy almost entirely unaddressed. ... A Colloquium Working Group developed an Action Plan to implement AALL’s “Shared Principles For Law Librarians and Legal Information Vendors.” The Working Group invited AALL members to comment on the Action Plan. In response, twenty Caucus members have signed the ... comment to encourage more vigorous consumer advocacy by AALL.
Do note that since the above July 13th On Firmer Ground post, I have heard that the number of signatories has increased from 20 Caucus members to 32 and the library institutional demographics are:
- Academic Sector (public and private): 56%
- Private Sector: 31%
- Public Sector: 6%
- Other: 6%
Quoting from the Caucus response to the Vendor Colloquium Working Group as published in On Firmer Ground:
Dear Vendor Colloquium Working Group:
Thank you for inviting AALL members to comment on your Action Plan. The undersigned are among AALL members who want AALL to revitalize its commitment to consumer advocacy. Some of us bring to our recommendation many years of experience as AALL members and law librarians.
We appreciate your dedication to improving librarian-vendor relations, and we support goals designed to aid communication. However, the Action Plan has a serious shortcoming: it falls far short of AALL’s promise as a consumer advocate. The “partnership” ideal endorsed in the Action Plan appears to apply to all legal information vendors, whether or not they have extensive histories of anti-consumer practices. In fact, you do not define “partnership” or “consumer advocacy,” and appear to limit consumer advocacy to discussion during an Annual Meeting program. At any rate, we support the idea of engaging smaller legal publishers, under Goal II-C, and any other legal-content vendors who follow consumer and antitrust law in their business practices.
Even before the ongoing economic crisis, law libraries could not afford the cumulative costs of anticompetitive and unfair business practices by some vendors of legal and law-related information. In 2006, an attorney for the Information Access Alliance testified on skyrocketing subscription prices and unreasonable contractual constraints from single-firm, anticompetive conduct. Although his testimony concerns harm to research libraries from “bundling” of scholarly journals, the same type of conduct has harmed law libraries when they renew their subscription contracts. As described in a recent Library Journal interview, evidence also abounds of unfair business practices. A few of the many examples include:
- opaque, confusing, and deceptive pricing models for online subscriptions and for “bundled” portfolios of print or print-and-online subscriptions;
- non-disclosure demands in contracts;
- inclusion of more or fewer titles than requested in bundled subscription contracts, with inadequate or no options for correction;
- serious, widespread failures in editing, indexing, updating, and revising of publications
The business misconduct has reached a scale of devastating impact on law libraries. It has imperiled not just the quality and integrity of their services, but also, in many cases, their long-term sustainability.
Law libraries and allied consumers of information services should work together to remedy anti-consumer practices within the industry. They can do so without violating antitrust law. They may act in coalition to petition appropriate governmental bodies for remedies vital to their collective interests, and to the public interest.
We would rally behind AALL if it did everything possible to advance this vision of consumer advocacy. We would welcome collaboration with AALL’s leaders. So we recommend, as a first step, that AALL’s Executive Board embrace our proposal of a more robust consumer advocacy than AALL has pursued. At your request, we would be happy to elaborate on the proposal. We also ask that a future Colloquium focus on the means and goals of consumer advocacy, with digital or phone-conferencing access to all members, and a full, open record of proceedings.
Go to On Firmer Ground's A Call To Support Consumer Advocacy For Law Libraries for links to supporting references and take the blog's RSS feed while you are there. Remember this blog is a collaborative effort of SLA's Legal Division, AALL's Private Law Libraries Special Interest Section, CALL/ACBD and BIALL. I'm thinking both AALL and some of our more very expensive vendors are anxiously monitoring the blog's posts because the blog's primary audience spending is what moves the market. However, academic and public sector law librarians should also take the blog's RSS feed IMHO.
It's about time to engage in vigorous consumer advocacy. Many members of the Caucus hope their professional association would whole heartedly support their efforts. If not, AALL will once again find itself trying to catch up to the pack to justify its "leadership" role.
Of course the July 25th Caucus meeting is not sanctioned by AALL and will be conducted off-site, but not too far off-site. Interested? Even if the meeting is standing room only, you can bring your brown bag lunch. No doubt like-minded law librarians will rotate from sitting to standing for all. [JH]
July 07, 2011
Welcome to the Blogosphere: On Firmer Ground: Promoting the Value of Law Firm Librarians
The On Firmer Ground blog has been launched as a collaborative effort of SLA's Legal Division, AALL's Private Law Libraries Special Interest Section, CALL/ACBD and BIALL. From the blog's about page:
Welcome to On Firmer Ground, a site by and for law firm librarians. We are not your typical blog. OFG is an ongoing discussion about the challenges law firm librarians face and strategies for surmounting them. We are not here to merely talk about the state of our industry. We are here to discuss proactive solutions and innovative ideas that will not only sustain this noble profession, but help it thrive in a changing world
The mission of On Firmer Ground is to promote the value that law firm librarians bring to the business and practice of law by providing an online forum for law librarians to share how they are providing innovative practice support, leveraging technology to provide process efficiencies that allow lawyers and support staff to work smarter and contributing to the bottom line by being effective business managers of the firm’s information resources and know-how.
Congratulations to the folks who came up with this great idea of creating a single blog for SLA, AALL, CALL/ABD and BIALL to contribute insights and information. While the site is by law firm librarians, I think it will offer many posts of interest to all law librarians.
Blog submissions are welcome and should be sent to a member of the OFG editorial team:
- John J. DiGilio, National Manager of Research Services, Reed Smith LLP, Chair, Legal Division of SLA
- Steven Lastres, Director of Library & Knowledge Management, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, Chair-Elect, PLL-SIS of AALL
- Susannah Tredwell, Library Manager, Lawson Lundell LLP, Co-Chair, Private Law Libraries Special Interest Group of CALL/ACBD
- James Mullan, KM Systems Manager, Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP, President Elect, BIALL
Hat tip to 3 Geeks. The post republishes PLL/SIS Chair-Elect Steve Lastres' announcement to PLL/SIS members. Quoting for the announcement:
This initiative directly fosters several of the goals in the new PLL Strategic Directions Plan 2011-2013 to have the voice and value of the law firm librarians heard and communicated throughout the greater legal community. On Firmer Ground is an important step in that direction.
On 3 Geeks, Emily Rushing adds This initiative ... "sounds like a great complement to the SLA Future Ready conversation about the relevance of special libraries and librarians." [JH]
June 29, 2011
Brief and Directly to the Point: Advice to Law Students and New Grads on Achieving a Successful Transition to "Real World" Legal Research
While less than two pages long (single-spaced), BYU law librarian Shawn G. Nevers' Observations for Summer Research Success [SSRN] should be handed out to every summer clerk and new first year associate by law librarians who is now working with them. Nevers' Legal Research column for Student Lawyers (Vol. 39, No. 8, pp. 22-23, April 2011) hits the proverbial nail on its head, starting with the following two tips:
Tools. An important part of preparing yourself for research on the job is to understand the research tools available to you. Your employer simply can’t provide you with the wealth of legal resources offered by your law school library. Because of that, your research tools this summer will be limited in some way. Many law students get a bit squeamish when that becomes a reality.
Asking the right questions before you start your job can help you avoid some of that research-related indigestion. Does your employer use LexisNexis? Westlaw? WestlawNext? Something else? What content is covered in their Westlaw/Lexis subscription? Does your employer pay a flat fee for Westlaw/Lexis or will your research be charged by the search or by the minute? How are clients billed for research? What print sources are available? Knowing the answers to these and similar questions can help you prepare for the research tools you’ll be using this summer.
Research interview. Although you’re not really researching yet, a critical part of the research process occurs when you meet with a lawyer to receive a research project. I like to think of these meetings as a research interview of sorts. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and clarify the research task. There’s nothing worse than spending a lot of time researching the wrong issue. Getting things ironed out initially can spare you an additional trip to the lawyer’s office just for clarification.
Depending on the situation, you may also want to ask the lawyer to recommend a good place to start your research. She may be able to refer you right away to a treatise or another lawyer in the office that could save you valuable time.
Hat tip to Deborah Hackerson's Legal Skills Prof Blog post. Her post also offers sound advice for law students heading out to perform legal research in the "real world:"
I would add a plug for checking your law school library website and any research guides that may help point you to free resources you can incorporate into your research strategy. Research guides prepared by your law librarians can also help you refresh your memory on how to research a particular topic.
Hackerson notes that "[s]ometimes I’ll even ask a 2L to come back and talk to my next group of 1Ls about his/her summer clerkship experience and how it relates to legal research." Great idea! [JH]
June 08, 2011
Don't Sit on the Fence: Why you should come to the PLL Summit?
Time is running short. So if you are on the fence about attending, jump off and sign up. The day is packed with great programming but I am sure you have seen all the emails publicizing the programming. So, I am going to just mention a few reasons why you should attend:
1. Its Saturday, July 23rd. That's right, it is on a Saturday. You don't have to be at work on Saturday. This is a very good way to spend your Saturday time. You didn't really want to get a sunburn at the beach did you?
2. You get an invitation to the BNA Reception at the Union Club on Friday night. On Saturday you get breakfast, lunch and snacks and while you are eating lunch you get to be entertained by the Three Geeks. You get an invitation to the Westlaw Business (now known as Accelus GRC) reception on Saturday night and I have it on very good authority that this is going to be one heck of a party! Oh, and of course you get to attend a day long series of programs. All for $145. Now that's a deal.
3. This is a great opportunity to network with your peers. We don't really have many opportunities like this. Yes, local chapters do programming but the number of librarians at those programs are usually limited due to space constraints and the librarians are all from the same geographic area. And at AALL proper while there are opportunities to chat we (except for the PLL luncheon) are not usually all in the same place at the same time. And the break-out sessions give you the opportunity to discuss what's happening at your firm or company and hear what is going on at other firms and companies.
There is still time to sign up. Registration is required by June 17th. Don't get left out of participating in this action packed event. Go to http://aall11.sched.org/event/780ffd7742908ef6847af6fc1ed61c0a and click on the link to register. You won't be sorry!