March 15, 2011
The Ides of March for Law School Pecking Order Has Arrived
From top ranked Yale to 143rd ranked Campbell, Loyola-New Orleans and Univ. of New Hampshire, the "2012 edition" of US News Law School Rankings ("ranked in 2011") report is now available. Might be worth spending a couple of bucks to acquire web access to expanded data including LSAT scores, financial aid information, graduate salary and employment statistics a/k/a "U.S. News Law School Compass" because that will include this year's new supplement, Law Firm Rankings of 131 law schools. [JH]
March 09, 2011
Top 25 Law Schools Ranked by Law Firm Recruiters
U.S. News asked 750 hiring partners and recruiters at law firms who made the 2010 Best Law Firms to rank the best law schools. Note that the response rate was 14 percent. From the US News story, Law Firm Recruiters Rank Best Law Schools:
U.S. News asked hiring partners to rank the schools based on a 5-point scale, with 5 being outstanding, 4 strong, 3 good, 2 adequate, and 1 marginal. Unlike the main U.S. News rankings of law schools, which take into account many factors, including selectivity, faculty resources, and success in placing graduates in jobs, the rankings by recruiting professionals are strictly reputational in nature based upon their assessment of each school's academic quality.
Here's the Top 10:
1. Harvard University 4.9
2. Stanford University 4.8
2. Yale University 4.8
4. Columbia University 4.7
4. University of Michigan–Ann Arbor 4.7
6. New York University 4.6
6. University of Virginia 4.6
8. Cornell University 4.5
8. Duke University 4.5
8. Northwestern University 4.5
8. University of California–Berkeley 4.5
8. University of Chicago 4.5
The rest of the top 25 ranked schools here. The complete list of the top 100 schools ranked by law firm recruiters will be available on March 15th when US News releases its annual law school rankings report. [JH]
March 07, 2011
Lexis versus Westlaw: Goldman Sachs Wants to Know Your Professional Opinion
It’s been over two years since Stanford Law Library ran a survey on Lexis versus Westlaw and Goldman Sachs thought it would be informative to see how the results would fare two years on. (Especially given the launch of several new products by Lexis and West). Goldman Sachs is taking a survey in the same spirit as Stanford did earlier.
To gain a good sample, the investment firm encourages all librarians to take the survey so GS can gauge preferences. So do I because Goldman Sachs has much more "clout" than institutional law library buyers and their professional association. Remember, "investor relations" is what matters most to the CEOs of our major legal vendors (and their parent companies).
The survey should only take a few minutes to complete. You will find the survey at: http://gs.angel.net/gir/survey/?_id=x8b847730
When the results are compiled, Goldman Sachs promises to share its findings. If you have any questions, please contact Rakesh Patel, at Goldman Sachs International, rakesh.patel(at)gs.com. [JH]
February 27, 2011
Do you like your ILS?
Earlier this month, Marshall Breeding released Perception 2010: an International Survey of Library Automation which garnered over 2100 responses.
The questions asked were centered around how satisfied libraries were with their ILS and how they rated the customer service provided by that company.
The ILS used by most of the respondants was Millennium (388) followed by Symphony /Unicorn (288) and Horizon (179). None of these systems ranked toward the top of user satisfaction or customer service. The three top ILS systems in all but one category were:
Of these three, both Opals and Koha are open source systems (ByWater is a support team for Koha migration and hosting).
It gives one pause.
Breeding does point out that more complex libraries with more complex automated systems will typically have mid-range rankings. According to his commentary on the survey, it is because they will often have outstanding issues that will cause the system to fall short of the highest praise. I suppose this is true, but I don't think it is a good explanation of why an open source system can score higher than an expensive, commercial product. In fact, I think it should be the other way around. Nevertheless, the survey showed very little interest for dissatisfied customers to switch to an open source solution. This may in be in part due to needs for complex systems at larger libraries which many feel cannot be serviced by an open source solution (though, I am not sure why).
Interestingly, with respect to Millennium, "[t]he statistic that stands out the most for Millennium reflects the number of libraries indicating interest in migrating to a new ILS. This percentage has increased steadily since 2007 from 6.69% to 8.28% to 11.71% to 18.73% in 2010. The comments generally had a negative tone, many of which acknowledged the strengths of the system while complaining about the cost or lack of openness."
The ILS is probably the most critical technology component of a library. And, it can be one of the more expensive components of a library. And yet, there seems to be a real reluctance to critically evaluate the sacred ILS. These vendors, unlike the Wexis's of the world, seem to get a free pass when we talk about service, cost and transparency. It makes no sense to me.
Some of the comments I see on problems related to adopting an open source ILS are really not problems at all, but fears. Fears have been phrased as "what if the development goes stale" and "what hidden costs am I not seeing." You can really say the same thing about commercial providers. Just because you are paying them, doesn't mean you won't get a crappy product. The only true concern I have heard in this discussion is a worry over scalability. Adopting open source means you have to plan ahead. You have to predict the future. These are not new skills for librarians.
Library budgets are shrinking, the way we handle information is changing, what we do with the ILS is evolving. We need to evolve too. (VS)
December 07, 2010
Legal Tech Vendor Satisfaction: 2010 Winners of LTN Awards Announced -- Scorecard: LexisNexis 4, Thomson Reuters 2
Based on the LTN Technology Satisfaction Survey, this year's LTN Vendor Award results were compiled from a nationwide sample of more than 500 participating senior individuals involved in recommending or purchasing legal technology products at law firms. Gold, silver and bronze categories were derived from overall satisfaction scores by product. I think you can figure out the ranking of gold, silver and bronze. Think Olympics for customer satisfaction with legal tech products and services.
Among familar names, meaning the Big Two, LexisNexis' CaseMap and LAW Prediscovery products received recognition in the silver category and the Company's LexisNexis database service and Time Matters scored in the bronze category. Thomson Reuters' West km4.0 was recognized in the silver category and the Company's Westlaw database service scored in the bronze category.
No products from either vendor received the highest ranking gold category and do note where both vendors online legal search services placed. Remember this is a customer satisfaction survey. But of the 16 winning products receiving LTN recognition in all three categories, LexisNexis received more awards than any other vendor.
Details on methodology and the complete list of LTN's 2010 Vendor awards here.
End Note on LN's CaseMap. Speaking of one of LexisNexis' silver award winning products, CaseMap, the ABA published The Lawyer's Guide to LexisNexis CaseMap on Nov. 23, 2010. A couple of quotes from the work's introduction:
Lawyers who use CaseMap, and who learn the ins and outs of the product, swear by it. It is to many users a religion. Lawyers who have not used it wonder what the product can do, while lawyers who use it wonder how they lived without it. With CaseMap, you can analyze the entire case, one aspect of the case, or various issues with your case, simply with one click of a mouse. Reports appear with such ease that users tend to take them for granted, but they are veritable fountains of information.
CaseMap has been on the market for many years and has built a loyal following. The product is easy to use, although it does require some training, and continues to improve. The product links with a wide range of other tools, such as LexisNexis TimeMap, LexisNexis TextMap, LiveNote, Sanction, CT Summation, LexisNexis Concordance, and many others. These integrations allow CaseMap to be far more versatile than merely a case-analysis tool. They allow CaseMap to be the central dashboard around which litigation revolves.
I've seen recent ABA titles on how to use Microsoft products, Google, etc., but I, for one, don't recall any recent ABA how-to publications on Thomson Reuters products. Of course, my short term memory is shot so ... . But if it is unusually accurate this time, will we see the ABA's publishing activities pitching Thomson Reuters wares now that Thomson Reuters and the ABA has reached an agreement where TR is the primary publisher of the ABA’s book publications by provide printing and binding services for ABA titles?
I'm thinking the ABA will retain its editorial independence and this agreement is just beneficial to TR Legal's printing facility's under-utilization of print production capacity in this Shed West Era. At the same time, I'm wondering whether someone at WK's CCH printing facility located in Chicago (as is the ABA's headquarters) is pounding his or her head on his or her desk right now. Then again, CCH may have lost the bid for the printing and binding contract. [JH]
AmLaw's Law Firm Leaders Survey Finds Recession-Prompted Internal Changes Are Here to Stay and May Be the Reason for BigLaw Optimism
"The American Lawyer's 2010 survey of leaders of Am Law 200 firms, which suggests that many of the changes implemented during the recession - smaller associate classes, postponed start dates for new hires, reductions in the equity pool and scaled-back profit expectations - are here to stay, at least for a while," writes The American Lawyer's Claire Zillman in Law Firm Leaders Survey 2010: The New Normal. Zillman reports that 60% of the respondents "said the downturn has produced a fundamental shift in the legal marketplace, and a smaller proportion, 32 percent, said the downturn had caused their firm to adjust its business model."
The article offers the following findings from the Law Firm Leaders survey:
- 87% of respondents said their law firms' 2011's incoming class will be the same size or smaller than their (usually already reduced) 2010 class.
- 46% percent reported their law firms deferred first-year starting dates in 2010, but only 17 percent said they anticipate doing so in 2011.
- Almost 70% said that they plan to ask partners to leave in 2011, and 31 percent said that their firm plans to deequitize partners.
- 55 percent said that their firm had used contract lawyers, up from 44% a year ago.
- 91% said that their firm used a flat fee for entire matters in 2010, compared to 82 percent in 2009.
- Nearly 93% report that their firm used a flat fee for some or all stages of matters last year, up from 78%.
- Ninety percent said that their firm used incentive or success fees in 2010, up from 75 percent in 2009.
- 73 percent of respondents said that their firm did contingency work during 2010, the same percentage as in 2009.
- 85% report that more clients are requesting discounts, down slightly from last year's 92%.
- 90% say they are preparing to increase their billing rates by 5 percent or less, up from 77% a year ago. Another 7% said that they plan to boost rates more than 5 percent; 4% of respondents planned to make that same increase last year.
- Nearly 47% said that clients have refused to pay for work done by first- or second-year associates.
Profits Predictions for 2011
- About 41% report their firm's 2011 profits per partner to rise by 5 percent or less while 38% predict profits per partner growth of more than 5 percent.
Zillman concludes her summary of the survey's findings with this telling stat and comment:
Overall, about 70 percent of respondents said that they were somewhat optimistic about 2011, and 10 percent said that they were very optimistic. Ironically, the recession—and the tough measures it spurred—is part of the reason.
NLJ's 2010 Law Firm Billing Survey. On Dec. 6th, the National Law Journal announced the release of its 2010 Law Firm Billing Survey. Survey findings are available behind the pay wall but the blurb reported that "the average firmwide billing rate — a combination of associate and partner rates — increased by 2.7% in 2010, according to our annual survey of hourly billing rates. It's the second straight year of growth rates less than 3%, which is a far cry from the standard 6% to 8% increases from 2004 until 2008 and just slightly higher than the rate of inflation." [JH]
October 29, 2010
Students Prefer pTextbooks over eTextbooks
Hat tip to Villanova Law prof Louis J. Sirico on Legal Skills Prof Blog for calling attention to a recent consumer study conducted by the National Association of College Stores which found that 76% of surveyed students prefer pTextbooks over eTextbooks. About 13% of the students reported that they purchased an eBook in the past three months, most because it was required by their professors. But "some students uncomfortable with the technology and fear that they might lose something." (Quoting Elizabeth Riddle, the Association's Consumer-Research Manager) in Students Remain Reluctant to Try E-Textbooks, Survey Finds (The Chronicle of Higher Education, Oct. 26, 2010).
The findings are contrary to my own admittedly anecdotal evidence where even 4-5-6 years ago law students I knew want e-texts instead of or in addition to pBooks assigned for law school classes. But they are wanted eBooks in text-editable formats, not just to highlight and annotate but also to copy and paste text into the course outlines they were preparing.
The National Association of College Stores survey found that only 8 percent of students owned an eReader such as a Kindle or Sony Reader and also reported that the most popular device listed for electronic reading was the iPhone. The Association expects eTextbook sales to grow as profs and students become more comfortable with the format. According to Elizabeth Riddle, "[w]e definitely are expecting an increase—of probably 10 to 15 percent by 2012." [JH]
October 19, 2010
Who Is the Most Scandalous Graduate of the No. 1 Ranked Law School?
See David Lat's Who Is Yale Law School’s Most Disgraceful Graduate? A gallery of seven rogues and a poll on Above the Law. [JH]
September 21, 2010
Where Do We Stand in Use, Acquisition Interest and Market Penetration of Law eBooks? Results of LLB Poll
With the introduction of eReaders and triple-digit annual sales increases in eBooks, it is fair to say that the eBook is now mainstream for consumers. Also becoming, if not already is, mainstream in public libraries. See, for example, 60,000 new library cards handed out last year as readers plug in to e-books. But hardly the case in law libraries. Either we are "behind the curve" in providing law eBooks to our user populations (workforce, students, members of the public) or our major legal publishers are.
Based on LLB's very unscientific poll for law eBooks (defined as including hornbooks and casebooks for instruction, primary source materials such as topical statutory, regulatory and court rule compilations, and secondary legal sources including but not limited to legal practitioner materials such as practice handbooks and treatises, etc) 69% of the participants replied that law eBook use among their institutions population was almost nonexistent or nonexistent with another 25% responding that use was not prevalent.
56% of responses agree or strongly agree with the statement that "legal eBooks are going to be an important facet of law library collection development." 29% either disagree or strongly disagree and 11% had no opinion on the matter. However, 83% of the responses rate the current selection, quality and pricing of law eBooks as very poor (54%) or poor (29%).
Who is "behind the curve," law libraries or legal publishers? Two-thirds of the participants responded that one of the most significant deterrents to the rapid growth of law eBooks for their user population was the availability of titles from reputable vendors. This was the highest response rate for this select multiple options question. The second highest selection was proprietary formats instead of open source formats. Followed closely by (1) licensing instead of owning the law eBook outright and (2) the inability to integrated eBook content into work product directly. Publishers take note.
While 20% of the participants reported that their libraries have plans to start acquiring law eBooks for lending soon, 78% do not have plans to do so at this time. So while law eBooks may become an important facet of law library collection development, one question remains, when?
What's stopping our professional legal services vendors? Perhaps it's a concern that law eBooks will cut into print and online search services, misguided in my opinion. More likely it is because they have to design their own eBook distribution channels for DRM-ed products. As one law book publisher wrote:
[G]iven the legal publishing business, it was highly unlikely that publishers were going to put books on Kindle, iBooks, or the upcoming Blio reader or make DRM-free versions available for Stanza or Ibis. Giving up that kind of revenue split [with ebook distributors like Apple and Amazon] and loss of account information just doesn’t sit well with an industry accustomed to selling directly to the consumer (unlike trade). -- Jason Wilson
Quoting from LLB's A Blogosphere Handshake: Tom Meet Jason Wilson, Jason Meet Tom Glocer. (Ray Kurzweil's Blio eReader is set to launch September 28 by the way. More than a million free books plus a substantial number of titles from the catalogs of leading publishers like Elsevier, Hachette, HarperCollins, Random House, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Wiley and others are expected to be available from Blio's bookstore soon.)
Let's add, crafting licensing agreements for the individual law eBook buyer that include opt-out only (if that) on-going updating with its associated charges not unlike the current contract model for institutional subscribers of print and online legal search services. Imagine that revenue stream! I'm sufficiently cynical to think that many law libraries will be paying those individual law eBook licenses for members of their institution's workforce but may not be lending them until our major publishers have soaked every last penny out of the individual consumer market.
Oh well, we can still "read all about it." See No Shelf Required: E-Books in Libraries (ALA Editions, 2010) in print with eBook edition forthcoming. See also Chief Officers of State Library Agencies final report, COSLA: eBook Feasibility Study for Public Libraries (June 30, 2010).
Complete Poll Results. The results of this utterly unscientific poll, including matters not discussed above, are displayed below. Thanks to everyone who took the time. Responses ranged from 52 to 72. Fairly low but it's about what I expected (although using clunky pollware instead of the one usually used -- thanks TypePad! -- may have also contributed to this response rate).
Why did I expect a low response rate? Because until our major vendors join the eBook market in a big way, we law librarians are not active participants at the institutional level. [JH]
|Law eBooks and the Institutional Buyer|
|LLB Poll Post|
August 31, 2010
Legal eBooks and the Institutional Buyer: An LLB Poll on Use, Acquisition Interest and Market Penetration
Since the advent of full-text search in the late 1970s-early 1980s, law libraries have tended to be at the forefront of technological innovation in the provision of resources to its users. When one reads what general public libraries are doing with respect to eBooks, one has to wonder if law libraries are "behind the curve" in providing legal eBooks. By legal eBook, I am not referring to the fantasy island that is the "there's a legal app for that" mentality. Nor am I referring to research apps for providing access to reliable legal database search services, such as iPad apps for WestlawNext, Fasecase, etc. I'm referring to the legal eBook comparable to what is sold by popular, trade and textbook publishers regardless of distribution channels used.
Where Do We Stand in Use, Acquistion Interest and Market Penetration?Legal eBooks for purposes of this utterly unscientific LLB poll may include hornbooks and casebooks for instruction, primary source materials such as topical statutory, regulatory and court rule compilations, and secondary legal sources including but not limited to legal practitioner materials such as practice handbooks and treatises, etc. The below questions may not answer all facets of legal eBooks but the answers may be a measure of where we are and where we may be heading. As some of our major vendors start executing unannounced until shippped print format switcheroos like the one mentioned in yesterday's LLB post, law librarians can easily see where these print format changes are probably heading.
If you have a moment, please take our poll and thanks in advance for participating. Sorry about the ads. Our blogware provider's "improved" composing interface has made a mess of the free pollware we used in the past. If this pollware works and if the Blog Widow allows, future polls will be ad free. [JH]
NB: After voting, hit the back button to return to this post to take the next question.[JH]
August 31, 2010 in Academic Law Libraries, Collection Development, Electronic Resource, Government & Public Law Libraries, Law Firm News and Views, Law School News & Views, Polls, Products & Services, Publishing Industry | Permalink | Comments (0)
August 18, 2010
Results of Law Librarian Blog SIS Fees Poll
We asked law librarians to weigh in on two questions with regard to Special Interest Section (SIS) fees.
1. Who should have the authority to increase SIS fees?
We had three answers to choose from and a total of 352 people weighed in on this question.
20% of the people answering said that the AALL Executive Board should continue to have the authority to increase SIS fees without the approval of members.
21% percent of the people answering said that a simple voting majority of AALL members as a whole should decide whether SIS fees should increase.
59% percent of the people answering said that whether to increase SIS fees should be left up to a vote of the individual SIS membership (by a simple voting majority).
2. To whom should your SIS fees go?
We had three answers to choose from and a total of 333 people weighed in on this question.
22% percent said that the status quo should remain with 50% going to AALL and 50% going to the SIS.
44% percent said that the amount going to the SIS should be increased to 80% and only 20% should go to AALL.
34% percent said the entire amount of the SIS fees should go to the SIS.
A few caveats first. I recognize that this is not a scientific poll and that we only had between 333 to 352 people answering each question. (Poll results displayed below) However, this is one of the largest responses the Law Librarian Blog has ever had to a poll so its clear that this issue resonates with its readers. Two, to those that would say this poll is without meaning I point to the AALL poll which, in part, led to the creation of the vendor liasion position. That poll had approximately 465 people responding.
As to the breakdown of the people responding. 31% percent said they were members of the Academic SIS. 16% percent said they were members of the State, County and Court SIS. And 51% percent said they were a member of the private law librarians SIS. When you look at the SIS membership figures the percentage of State, County and Court members responding is proportionate to their membership as compared to the other two SIS. However, as between the Academics and Private Law librarians the response rate is disproportionate. Approximately 9% more Academics should have responded and 9% less Private Law librarians should have responded.
So what does this tell us?
First, as to the breakdown I think it makes it crystal clear that this is a very important issue to private law librarians. Perhaps because some feel a disconnect between themselves and AALL and that their issues are not being addressed, Perhaps because PLL felt the need to do a pre-conference Summit in order to provide the type of programming needed by its members and had to charge $195 for librarians to attend. That is not to say that this issue wasn't important to state, county and court librarians (a proportionate number answered). Nor to say this issue isn't important to Academics (perhaps here it was the timing of the poll being in the summer when many are on vacation).
The poll indicates that a clear majority believe each SIS should determine whether its own fees should be increased by a simple voting majority of its members. There are issues with each SIS determining its own increases, I do recognize that and I invite readers to weigh in. But based on the poll results I do think its clear that SIS fees should not be raised by the AALL Executive Board without some form of member approval.
As to where the SIS fees should go? Only twenty two percent think the status quo is okay. So I think a clear indication that something needs to change. Thirty four percent say it should all go the SIS and forty four percent say it should go 80% to the SIS and 20% to AALL. I happen to think 80-20% is a reasonable compromise. It gives AALL something towards its administrative expenses in collecting the fees and other things it does on behalf of the SIS but still gives the SIS more dollars to be used for programming, grants, scholarships etc.
So where do we go from here?
I think a bylaw amendment proposal is in order. For those that feel change is necessary this gives you the opportunity to vote to effectuate that change. For those that feel no change is needed this also gives you the opportunity to vote against change.
I plan on drafting a petition for bylaw amendments.to be voted on by distributed ballot. In order for that to happen at least 5% of the Association members will need to sign the petition. If you would like to participate in the effort please contact me via email at email@example.com. The proposed bylaw amendments will be published on the Law Librarian Blog and readers will have an opportunity to comment before the petition is distributed.
August 12, 2010
AALL Vendor Liaison: The Hazelton Report
As you may know I am opposed to the vendor liaison position. But I try to be receptive to different ideas and so when AALL published Penny Hazelton's report I read it with great interest. [Access on AALL website here.] The first thing that struck me when reading the report and the accompanying materials was that AALL did not ask Ms. Hazelton to determine what specific actions would she recommend AALL taking regarding vendor relations. Instead they asked Ms. Hazelton to make recommendations regarding "the potential usefulness to the Association of having a "point person" for vendor issues...." (Appendix A to the Hazelton Report: AALL Consultant: Project Description). That says to me that the AALL Executive Board (or at least some of them on it) had already determined that this was what they wanted.
Now this may surprise some of you but I found the Hazelton Report to be very thoughtfully written. And I think Ms. Hazelton had a good understanding of some of the issues that would arise in the future with regard to the creation of this position. And the result of that understanding lead her to make certain recommendations. The problem is that the AALL Executive Board did not follow those recommendations. And I think, at least in part, that is what lead to the fiasco of the Vendor Relations position. Had AALL followed those recommendations and communicated with its members I don't know that I would have resigned from the CRIV Committee or been as opposed to the vendor relations position. I, for one, might have been more willing to give it some time and see what developed. Unfortunately, that was not the case. This is not to say that I am now in favor of the vendor relations position. Given what occurred over the last year I don't see that AALL is going to change anything.
Okay, so what recommendations did Ms. Hazelton make? Well, of course she recommended that AALL create a Library-Vendor Relations Advocate who would look at the relationships between libraries and vendors as they relate to information policy issues. (See Conclusion to Hazelton Report). Her rationale was that nearly 40% of the membership does not feel that AALL effectively represents their views to vendors and that there is "the perception that AALL is reticent to question vendors or represent law librarians concerns because of fear of loosing vendor sponsorship of AALL activities." and that "AALL's relationship with its own members related to vendor issues is not strong." (See Hazelton Report Rationale Section). Actually it was more like 37% percent of the 465 AALL members that answered the AALL Information Policy Survey. What I would have liked to know was what were the answers to the two questions in the survey that asked the responders to explain why or why not AALL was effective in representing and communicating member issues in the information policy realm and what specific actions the responders would recommend AALL take regarding vendor relations. Those answers have not been provided to the membership. I suspect CRIV got favorable reviews but without seeing the answers cannot say for sure.
So what were the recommendations that AALL didn't listen to? (Below taken from Hazelton Report: Structure of Vendor Relations Representative Position, Relationships within AALL and Position Announcement Sections)
1. Appoint an Advisory Committee to keep the new position fully informed of issues. In the first year the Advisory Committee should include the Executive Director, AALL President, Vice President, Past President, CRIV Chair, Board Liaison to CRIV, and Chairs of ALL-SIS, SCC-SIS and PLL-SIS. As far as I have been able to determine there was no such Advisory Committee. The then chair of PLL was not on any such committee and the chair of CRIV (at the time I was on it) never mentioned being on any such Committee. In fact, in the Report of the Vendor Liaison submitted to the AALL Executive Board on June 15, 2010 it is stated that Executive Director and AALL President " ...serve as a team with the Vendor Liaison to continue establishing the practices and procedures for this evolving position."
2. The position should be in close communication with CRIV, Executive Director, Executive Board and AALL President. The only thing I can say here is that the position was in no way in close communication with CRIV. While there evidently were some phone calls between the Vendor Liaison and the CRIV Chair those communications were not shared with the CRIV Committee. The first call involving the CRIV Committee as a whole and the Vendor Liaison didn't take place until April 2010, about 11 months after the Vendor Liaison was appointed.
3. Ms. Hazelton stated "I don't recommend that this new position be a gate-keeper."(emphasis added). She went on to say "In other words, AALL has already created entities that have vendor relations responsibilities. These activities need to continue." Later she further says "I don't see a significant change in the duties of CRIV if this position is created" and specifically mentions the web page, vendor visits and educational programming as continuing to be done by CRIV." I can't emphasize enough that AALL totally ignored this and I had a front row seat as a member of CRIV, I won't speak for anyone else on the CRIV Committee. Everything I suggested doing (including writing an article to tell the members some details on WestlawNext) was met with a response of that is the vendor liaison's purview. Site visits by CRIV? Not possible since AALL took away the budget for those. While Ms. Hazelton mentions the CRIV web page, the former CRIV Chair suggested a CRIV blog. Now thats become a blog to be edited by the Vendor Liaison. If this is not a gate-keeper position then I don't know what is.
4. Ms. Hazelton recommended that in the first year the new representative would create a plan of accomplishments which would include learning about current vendor relations issues and entities and visits to all the five major legal vendors. In fact, she envisioned annual visits. While it appears she talked with four of the five legal vendors, most of it appeared to have been specific issue oriented and most of it by phone. I, for one, think if AALL wants to have a go to policy person on vendor relations then the person should visit each and every vendor and learn more about their operations and meet their executives. And if you look at the job description it doesn't state there will be travel to visit the vendors. It mentions travel to the Annual meeting, chapter and other meetings. I think if AALL was planning on the Vendor Liaison making site visits it would have said so.
5. Finally, in her conclusion Ms. Hazelton said "I strongly urge the Board to find additional ways to communicate to the membership about the perception of conflict of interest created by taking sponsorship funding while treating vendors with kid gloves." While she said the survey didn't reflect this as a majority view she felt the minority view was strongly held. She went on to say "...I fear that failure to take this head on will continue to undermine the best efforts of the Association on many fronts." Looks like they ignored that recommendation as well.
While there is more information I would have liked and I think it was clear that AALL Executive Board wanted to create this position, I applaud Ms. Hazelton's considerable efforts and thoughtful recommendations. Now if we could just get AALL to listen to the advice of the consultant they hired!
August 09, 2010
Last Call for LLB Poll: Tell Us Your Opinion on AALL Special Interest Section Fees
Here's the link to participate in LLB's AALL SIS fees poll. Thanks in advance. Caren Biberman
July 26, 2010
LLB Poll: Tell Us Your Opinion on AALL Special Interest Section (SIS) Fees
I stated my opinion on what should be done with SIS Fees. Some have suggested it would make a good topic for an LLB poll about the procedure for increasing SIS fees and who should get the SIS fees. So here it is. Thanks in advance for participating. Caren Biberman
June 04, 2010
There is no reliable method to measure the "scholarly" quality of law faculty: Results of Brian Leiter's Poll.
So what is the best way to evaluate the "scholarly" quality of a law faculty? Chicago law prof Brian Leiter launched a poll to find out by asking participants to rank order, from best to worst, the different ways of assessing the scholarly quality of a law faculty, broadly defined. 257 survey takers responded to the call and the results are in.
- There is no reliable method (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
- Impact/citation studies loses to There is no reliable method by 125–115
- Reputational surveys loses to There is no reliable method by 130–110, loses to Impact/citation studies by 118–107
- SSRN Downloads loses to There is no reliable method by 163–65, loses to Reputational surveys by 173–51
About the results, Leiter writes:
I'm a bit puzzled by the victory of "there is no reliable method," though at least some readers told me they chose it as a proxy for "none of the above." That would make more sense, since I assume all those who voted for "no reliable method" are in habit of adjudging some faculties better than others, so they must actually believe there is some rational basis for those judgments. Alternatively, perhaps some readers took "reliable" to mean wholly accurate or infallible, and then, of course, one would have to agree.
Those desperately seeking some sort of "scholarly" recognition by the asinine metric of mouse clicks (SSRN download counts) ought to know better by now. [JH]
May 27, 2010
TR Legal's Unsolicited Shipments are "Viewed Favorably by Most Subscribers" If "Most" is Defined as 3.7 Percent: Findings of LLB Poll
In the land of 10,000 invoices, unsolicited shipments "are viewed favorably by most subscribers" according to Anne Ellis, TR Legal Senior Director of Librarian (Marketing) Relations. That's absolutely true if "most" is numerically defined as 3.7% which is the finding from last week's LLB poll on the issue. What sort of "new math" is this? It's TR Legal Marketing math, not law librarian math, which would define "most" (almost all really) as the 93.2% who do not view these shipments favorably.
I doubt TR Legal czars are so cocooned from the law library community plus their own sales force and customer service reps that they find this "OMG, how could we let this happen" shocking. The Company simply prefers to ignore our association's AALL Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers and has its corporate policy spokesperson make statements like this one, giving TR Legal's Librarian Relations program ever-increasing credibility issues for working with the law library community. Let's call it "most" credible as defined by TR Legal math because Ellis did look into the empty shipping boxes matter a couple of months ago (bad glue).
Columbia House Legal Book Club. Does TR Legal's new opt-out by postcard system bring the Company into compliance with Section 3.1 of the Guide which states "Publishers should obtain the customer's consent prior to making a shipment or initiating a transaction, unless such shipment is part of a standing order or subscription to which the customer has previously consented." I, for one, don't think so. 80% of survey respondents strongly agree and another 16.4% agree with the statement that "Instead of opt-out by returning a postcard, product literature for a new title without having to take action to not receive the new title is what TR Legal should do." That's 96.4% who simply want new product literature without any strings attached, without involuntarily becoming members of the "Columbia House Legal Book Club" (see comment to survey post). It's fair to say if law librarians want to buy a new TR Legal title, they (1) know how to order it and (2) want to choose when they will order it. (Personally, I would continue by saying that I also want my account rep to get a sales commission when I order a new title.)
Who Decides What's Important to Law Library Collections? Apparently, TR Legal thinks its new titles are so important to our collections, they transcend fair business practices and customer preferences on how to conduct business. "To be clear," writes Ellis, "companion products contain content that supplements our customers’ subscriptions and are deemed important to the collection." To be clear Anne, law librarians, not TR Legal, will decide what is important to our collections, print and online. No collection development policy I have ever read gives your company any input in this matter. TR Legal's "Columbia House Legal Book Club" approach to unsolicited shipments is simply unacceptable. It's time to respond to CRIV's cease and desist request with an unequivocal "yes."
Changing "No" to "Yes." Remember the Ellis statement on why TR Legal refused to participate in AALL's Price Index for Legal Publications last August? It came up in the context of TR Legal being banned from sponsoring our annual meeting in 2008 and 2009. TR Legal changed that policy within a couple of months and hopefully Ellis had something to do with getting it changed. Perhaps we'll see a big "No Longer the Columbia House Legal Book Club" banner in the Exhibit Hall in July. If not, CRIV should consider recommending banning the Company from sponsoring annual meetings again. My hunch is unsolicited shipments aren't the only complaints law librarians have. Unsolicited "pay trial" delivery of WLN to the desktops of researchers comes immediately to mind.
Thanks again Rob Myers, CRIV vice-chair and incoming chair of the Committee, for trying. Thanks LLB readers for participating in this utterly unscientific LLB poll. Results displayed below. [JH]
May 19, 2010
LLB Poll: The Ellis Statement on Unsolicited Shipments from TR Legal
Rob Myers, Associate Director for Collection Management, Acquisitions and Planning, Case Western, CRIV vice-chair and incoming chair of the Committee took a jab at TR Legal's continuing practice of sending unsolicited shipments without consent and received a ham-fisted blow to the solar plexus by TR Legal's offical spokesperson for corporate policy, Anne Ellis, Senior Director of Librarian (Marketing) Relations.
Quoting from Myers' extremely polite communication to Ellis:
As you know, Principle 3: Fair Dealing of the AALL Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers discourages this practice. Specifically, section 3.1 of the Guide states "Publishers should obtain the customer's consent prior to making a shipment or initiating a transaction, unless such shipment is part of a standing order or subscription to which the customer has previously consented." As neither the KeyRules or Transfer Pricing Strategies are part of a pre-existing standing order or subscription, CRIV would ask that West/TR cease the practice. It is burdensome to both law librarians, West, and the Postal Service to boomerang unwanted material in this fashion. I have the utmost respect and appreciation for West's products and customer service. Please understand that the practice of shipping unsolicited material only serves to hurt the goodwill West has built over the decades with the law library community. Anything that you can do to have this practice ceased is greatly appreciated.
I would like to thank Rob Myers for allowing me to speak to an issue raised by customers who have voiced concerns about receiving a publication without their prior consent. To be clear, companion products contain content that supplements our customers’ subscriptions and are deemed important to the collection. These are viewed favorably by most subscribers; very few of these products are returned to us.
Prior to sending a companion product, we notify subscribers by letter asking that they let us know if they don’t want the particular title. And we’re always trying to improve how we work with customers. The letter now includes a stamped and addressed return postcard where customers can indicate with a checkmark if they do not want to receive the publication, and simply drop the card in the mail.
We understand that our customers’ time is valuable, and our goal is to provide only the products our customers want and need. If you received a companion product recently without first getting proper notification, please accept our sincere apology.
Thanks for nothing Anne. Thanks for trying Rob!
So we thought it was worth a reality check for the folks in the land of 10,000 invoices by way of the below utterly unscientific LLB poll. Please take a moment to participate.
Note Well. My hunch is TR Legal's own account reps would disagree with statement #1 because they do not receive commissions on sales of unsolicited shipments of new titles and would agree with statement #2 for ordering new titles the way every other publisher on the planet does so they can be credited with the sale. My second hunch is customer service reps would breath a collective sigh of relief if TR Legal's current practice was eliminated. I, for one, want my rep to earn a commission when I buy, rare that it is, a new title from TR Legal. With contracting sales territories and increasing sales targets, I don't want him "disappeared" by losing his job and customer service reps can spend their time more productively by not having to address WTF questions for not mailing in a "stamped and addressed return postcard." [JH]
April 20, 2010
Is it time to eliminate the self-reported employment data from the US News Law School Rankings?See Chicago law prof Brian Leiter's Move over Ripley! Bob Morse's "Believe It or Not?" ("Perhaps an enterprising journalist will investigate [the unaudited employment data], since U.S. News obviously doesn't care.") [JH]
April 15, 2010
2011 US News Law School Rankings Officially Published
Meanwhile Northwestern Dean David Van Zandt, one of the most well-known proponents of law school rankings, offered the following about the US News rankings in an Above the Law post, Rankings Are Valuable (And Here to Stay); So Let’s Focus on Making Them Better:
We need to keep in mind that our applicants are sophisticated and have the ability to give the rankings the appropriate weight in their decisions. For many prospective students, the rankings offer a starting point to begin the extensive process of researching undergraduate or graduate/professional programs. But serious applicants are not going to rely solely on rankings as a basis for their decision. They likely will use the rankings information in tandem with information gained through campus visits and individual research.
But, is the US News ranking methodology too simple? (WSJ Law Blog post on Dan Solove questioning the peer assessment ranking method at How to Fill Out the US News Law School Rankings Form.See also Solove's follow-up post, Robert Morse’s Response on the US News Law School Rankings.)
Dean Van Zandt, by the way, was ranked one of the three most influential legal educators of the decade by the National Law Journal recently. [JH]
What Would You Like to See Added to HeinOnline?
Hein invites your opinions about the level of priority you would assign for seeing the following resources included in HeinOnline
- State Attorney General Reports & Opinions
- Congressional Serial Set
- Census Historical File
- Social Security and Health Care Reform
- British Statutes
- Native American
- Case Law
- Intellectual Property
- International Trade
The Company also invites any additional feedback about adding new collections or adding new material to collections already available. Click here to take the brief survey. [JH]