September 24, 2012
He Said, He Said and Then Another He Said: Posner v. Scalia's Mediated Point-Counterpoint in Good Old Saturday Night Live News(maker?) Fashion
Adding to Mark's More on Justice Scalia post which followed up my Is Originalism Hitting Its Sell-By Date? post, here's the latest "all the news that's fit to print" as created by the Reuters news branch of the publisher of Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts.
On September 17 Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler "interviewed" Justice Scalia (and Bryan Garner) on their book, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts (2012). [Video below; transcript here]. During the interview, Scalia accused Posner of lying in Posner's eviscerating review of the book in The New Republic, The Incoherence of Antonin Scalia. At issue is whether Scalia deviated from his textual originalism to strike down the District of Columbia handgun ban by doing "legislative history" as Adler characterized Posner's remarks about Heller.
"To say that I used legislative history is simply, to put it bluntly, a lie." -- Antonin Scalia
Quoting the post-interview follow-up article by Thomson Reuters' Terry Baynes in Fanning furor, Justice Scalia says appeals court judge lied (Thomson Reuters News & Insights, Sept. 17, 2012).
Lied, really? At worse it would be a matter of misinterpretation. It this case, however, it is a matter of Adler misrepresenting what Posner said. I'm not saying Reuters' Editor-in-Chief lied about what Posner said in The Incoherence of Antonin Scalia. I prefer to think he simply does not know how to apply "textual originalism" to Posner's text.
Alternatively, Adler could have been slow pitching a lead-in for Scalia to hit one out of the ball park. My hunch is that he at least knew that Scalia (and Garner's) Reading Law is a a repudiation of using "legislative history" in judicial decision-making. Did Reuters' Editor-in-Chief read all 600-plus pages of text before the interview? Don't know but he wouldn't have had to pay for a copy out of his own pocket because it was published by Thomson Reuters.
In response to the headline grabbing pump-it-up to infinity and beyond Reuters mudslinging:
"There is no question that Scalia in Heller was looking for the original meaning of the Second Amendment-that is his method of constitutional and statutory interpretation, the method defended in Reading the Law." -- Richard Posner
Quoting from Text of Judge Posner's respose to Justice Scalia (Thomson Reuters News & Insights, Sept. 20, 2012).
And then one publication day later came Scalia's response to Posner's response in what Thomson Reuters News & Insights' Terry Bayner charactized as "fir[ing] another salvo in his unusual public feud with Judge Richard Posner over the meaning of 'legislative history.'" (Emphasis in the orginial but "added" because Bayner's entire introduction to Scalia's statement is published in italics which to be fair appears to be the house style for lead-ins to published statements but one can you smell the excitement in Reuters' newsroom for creating the news instead of just reporting it.)
"I stand by my statement." -- Antonin Scalia
Quoting from Scalia v. Posner: Round 4 (Thomson Reuters News & Insights, Sept. 21, 2012).
Keep the buzz alive? Perhaps these two brainiacs eventually will move on to a related judicial decision-making topic. Scalia could go on the offensive by addressing the doctrine of stare decisis as "applied" (read sometimes if not oftentimes ignored) by Posner. Perhaps some grunt at Thomson Reuters News & Insights -- "featuring content from Westlaw" -- can compile the history and treatment of Posner's Seventh Circuit opinions by Scalia for a News & Insights feature to keep the buzz alive. If so, the first thing I would do is slap the scraped text into Lexis for Microsoft Office to fact-check the KeyCites by way of Shepard's.
The below video interview of Scalia (and Garner) by Adler is not characterized as a interview. Adler's role is identified as serving as a moderator. Just Thomson Reuters BS. However, a moderating referee would be required if the feuding principals (sorry Garner) were interviewed together. Since LexisNexis hasn't gotten into the legal news broadcasting business yet, IMHO the only neutral forum is Bloomberg Law. It could be as interesting and entertaining as this still timely classic 1978 SNL Point-Counterpoint skit on the topic of abortion.
For what most likely will be the last traditional legal treatise published by Thomson Reuters, buzz just can't get any better than this. Perhaps TR can talk Justice Thomas into writing a legal treatise on silence. Garner is probably available to "co-author" it. [JH]
September 10, 2012
In the latest Scalia-Posner dustup, this one being over Posner's review of Reading Law, Santa Clara Law prof Kyle Graham has ScaliaLeak-ed ... well, check it out for yourself on Concurring Opinions. I'm thinking TR Legal's marketing gurus are going Lady Gaga over all this publicity. See also On Scalia's (and Garner's) Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts.
Hat tip to Elie Mystal's Sept. 7, 2012 edition of ATL's Non-Sequiturs.
For more on Posner v. Scalia (Law & Economics v. Textual Originalism???), see David Lat's ATL post, The Benchslap Dispatches: Posner v. Scalia — Is It Personal? Hello Bloomberg, what's the chance of getting both former U of Chicago Law profs to agree to a video interview together? [JH]
August 11, 2011
As Satisfied and Well Paid Tenured Profs Lounge, Adjuncts Carry the Teaching Load
The reason that academic politics are so bitter, as the quip goes, is that the stakes are so low. True enough, but at times the stakes can be very high. They can include, for instance, guaranteed lifetime employment, an asset that few workers in the modern economy dare even dream of. After a probationary period of several years, during which essential research and writing is to be done—the infamous period of publish or perish—a professor either wins lifetime job security or becomes, as one victim described it, academic roadkill.
But there is the underclass of toiling adjunct profs who prop up this academic employment infrastructure for both tenued and potential roadkill profs. Gannon's WSJ Bookshelf article is actually a review of Naomi Schaefer Riley's new book, The Faculty Lounges: and Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get the College Education You Paid For (Ivan R Dee, June 16, 2011)[Amazon] and the issue it addresses -- "the question of academic tenure—what it was intended to be, what abuses it now invites and whether it is a good idea at all." About the book, Gannon writes
It is not a pretty picture, present or future. Although Ms. Riley never quite manages to make up her mind whether she wants to be a polemicist, an advocate or a reporter—she is a bit of all three—"The Faculty Lounges" ends up being a provocative and even profound book, one that recommends itself to anyone who cares about higher education, especially anyone who is about to make a personal investment in it by signing a tuition check.
See also Does Vocationalism Justify Academic Freedom and Tenure? for Stanley Fish's NYT think piece about Riley's The Faculty Lounges.
Hat tip to Mitchell Rubinstein's Adjunct Law Prof Blog post, More On Abuse of Adjuncts ("The review summarizes what we have been highlighting for some time. Adjuncts are grossly underpaid to the point of being abused at many universities.")
Adjuncts in the Legal Academy. In the context of the legal academy which is still struggling with granting some sort of job security recognition for legal skills profs, I doubt many law schools can afford to do what HLS has historically done, namely hire tenure-track profs to carry the the bulk of teaching load while also hiring big name law profs, who do teach, but are primarily hired to publish and be players on the national stage. Harvard makes no distinction between those two unoffical "classes" of law profs institutionally (well, I don't know which class gets the larger offices) but it does mean that HLS doesn't have to rely on adjunct law profs to the degree many other law schools do.
Unfortunately most non-HLS-schools don't have deep pockets to offer a stable workforce so they rely on adjuncts to teach substantive doctrinal law courses, not just practice-oriented courses, to fill in the facutly expertise gap. This can be in areas of law that students may eventually find themselves practicing in but are no longer all that interesting for scholarly proposes. Labor and employment law comes immediately to mind (Mitchell Rubinstein's speciality, by the way). But there are also other doctrinal courses, too.
As law schools scrambled to hire tenure and tenure-track profs for the latest hot areas like IP and intellectual fodder for scholarly analysis in such evolving areas of law this past decade, they have also discovered that their independent contractors who are tenured, even tenure-track, law profs really didn't want to teach UCC, bankruptcy, products liability, estates and gift tax, corporation law, evidence, etc. While law schools are not adverse to increasing law faculty hiring because (1) it reducing the teach load of regular faculty and (2) increases the all important student:faculty ratio for US News rankings, they can't find or afford to hire regular faculty to teach these 'boring-to-faculty" courses. My personal experience is that some profs interested in scholarly analysis such as critical legal theory, etc., accept such teaching loads while on tenure-track but have neither the expertise or interest in teaching these course. An intellectually unengaged law prof isn't likely to produce "teachable moments" for law school students.
Many law schools have had to turn to the unstable workforce that is adjuncts to fill out the course offerings. Of course, some adjunct-taught courses, are needed to pass the bar exam. But you never know which adjunct is going to stay for the long haul over multiple academic years. It might start out as an intellectual stimulating adventure for adjuncts but once they realize the amount of work involved and the ROI in terms of time spent, it is not an uncommon occurance to hear them say, "sorry, got to much billable work to do so I can't teach this year."
Over the years, I read more than just a few student evaluations of adjunct-taught courses. While some do complain that adjuncts spent too much time recounting "war stories," most student evaluations praised adjunct prof courses higher than the tenured and tenure-track faculty for being "more relevant."
Time for the ABA to Regulate the Value-Added Contributions Made by Adjunct Law Profs. Under existing ABA Accredition Standards, the ABA does monitor the use of adjunct law profs. Can't remember if it is a ratio of courses or credit hours but I'm thinking the ABA must dig deeper. In view of my very unscientific review of adjunct prof courses being evaluated as being "more relevant," even in doctrinal courses, I'm not suggesting that the ABA should mandate a reduction in the use of adjuncts but perhaps the ABA should require long-term employment contracts so that there is some measure of stability that students can rely on. Perhaps the ABA also should require compensation that is pro rata based for tenure and tenure-track faculties. Offering CLE credit hours earnings and a small stipend (when the latter is even offers) does not reflect the value added by law school adjuncts to the law school educational experience.
It's Good to be a Tenured Law Prof. Tenured law profs earn a decent living. Considering the oversupply of law school grads in the current labor market, I'm reminded of the once routine whining heard in faculty lounges by tenured law profs about how they earned substantially less than their students who get hired by BigLaw as first year associates, I'm thinking tenured law profs now are, or damn well should be, delighted to be earning more that temps working in document review factories -- that's the new earnings comparison. Tenured law profs also are pretty damn statisfied with their jobs according to TaxProf Blog's American Bar Foundation: Tenured Law Faculty Salaries, Job Satisfaction. The post refers to the ABA Foundation's recently published survey results. See After Tenure: Post-Tenure Law Professors in the U.S. (2011) [JH]
June 16, 2011
WestlawNext: Pros and Cons and General Comments from Law Librarians
Published with permission from the AALL listserv (lightly edited):
Summary of Librarians’ Comments Given Regarding WestlawNext
Most comments were pretty black-and-white however [there were a] couple conflicting or contradicting comments. Most comments came from law firm librarians, but there were also comments from two law school librarians and one court librarian.
Comparable Lexis product – Lexis Advance for Associates – is coming out in the fall. This will probably make it necessary for Westlaw to come down on their pricing with the new competition.
We're not going to switch until Westlaw.com is retired. We don't want to pay more to access the same data via a new interface.
The WestSearch algorithm (their plain language search system) seems to work better when black letter law is sought or when searches are very simple; it seems to work less well for factually driven searches (not surprising, considering how they have put the system together) and more complicated searches. It is good to know that searching by terms and connectors is still possible (and necessary).
It would cost the [state judicial branch significantly] more than regular Westlaw so we are NOT going with WestlawNext.
I don't like it, but it's the wave of the future, and it's the way to go, since people no longer want to be bothered with learning "how" to do research.
WLN is being touted (with appropriate price increase) as a huge leap forward that will make Classic obsolete. To me, it looks like WL is just trying to make itself more palatable to new law grads who think Google is the alpha and omega of all knowledge - and if actual in-depth research suffers, so be it.
- Good for inexperienced searchers (Google-like).
- Good for case law research
- The foldering features and doc sharing tools are great.
- Will draw users that otherwise have an aversion to online research.
- Good for researching things you don’t know anything about.
- Much, much easier to search for law reviews/secondary sources.
- Some very nice new resource pages.
- The legislative history is much easier to use.
- Users vastly prefer WestlawNext Keycite and have commented that it’s easier to find cases using WestlawNext.
- The options for using it on a Kindle/tablet are superior.
- The appearance customization options are good for people with vision impairments.
- I like that West has decided to clean up their interface.
- Bad for seasoned researchers because it is too “dumbed-down” makes it harder to get results and results are less precise.
- Way too expensive.
- Seasoned researchers find it confusing.
- Have come across some very odd results with the West relevancy ranking. The most critical documents are often way down the list. Associates should not rely on it blindly.
- Don’t the ability to rank order chronologically by court.
- Don’t like not having the control that you have with traditional Westlaw.
- Without the good search terms and some basic understanding of the issue it can be difficult to use.
- Administrative law is even harder to find.
- Statutes are difficult to research.
- WestlawNext and Westlaw sales people don’t seem to communicate with each other.
- They’re doing weird things with solo pricing on it (incentive to switch w/o telling solos about better priced WestlawPro product).
- There is no star pagination in secondary sources.
- One retrieves way too much garbage in a jumbled fashion with WestlawNext.
- When we research an issue, it isn't unusual for an attorney to scan 40 or 50 cases at a time to get the total picture - the WLN pricing structure penalizes this kind of exhaustive research by charging for each result viewed, while the WL Classic model supports it.
- WLN seems optimized for the easy, quick answer, which isn't usually the kind of legal work we handle.
- Dislike. It is very expensive and our ability to bill back suffered as an overall percentage of recovery because with two systems, usage stayed the same but the bill got bigger.
OK, It is Admittedly an Informal Survey of Professional Law Librarian Opinions But... . In addition to the above less than stellar general comments, looks like the "Cons" out number the "Pros" and do so by highlighting serious search-related flaws. I'm thinking TR Legal's marketing mavens better start coaching the Exhibit Hall Dilbert booth dwellers at Philly 2011: Cream Cheese, Cheesesteak or Karaoke on what to say after "Hey, WestlawNext was named 2011 Product of the Year by AALL!" Lots and lots of coaching on the official script because it appears that Johnny and Jenny Westlaw have been "retired."
Being named Product of the Year by AALL doesn't mean a damn thing other than AALL failed to do its due diligence this year. Personally, I have to wonder how many of the Award Committee members actually used WLN daily before making the decision to recognize a legal search service that is still not ready for "prime time." AALL did nothing more than provide fodder for the TR Legal PR team. From the press release:
“The WestlawNext team is honored to be accorded this recognition from the customers who best understand our service and its value." -- Mike Dahn, chief marketing and product development officer, Westlaw U.S., and former law librarian.
May 17, 2011
State Court Filings Online: A Reality Check of Commerical Retrieval Services and Court-Hosted Websites
"At the end of the day, we found too many gaps in coverage for anything to be considered “consistently” available online," writes Rachael Samberg in her Legal Research Plus blog post. This assessment was based on exploring the online availability of state superior court filings, both through commercial retrieval services such as Lexis’ CourtLink or Westlaw’s CourtExpress, and superior courts’ own websites. For details see Samberg's The Existential Exercise of Finding State Court Materials Online.
For a company where massive scale matters, perhaps it is "Google-time." [JH]
March 10, 2011
Will Someone Give This Book to Justice Scalia?
What the heck, it only took me the better part of four months to read Madison and Jefferson (Random House, 2010) by Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg, who are the Charles P. Manship Professor of History and professor of history, respectively, at LSU. Well, it is 800-plus pages and is full of footnotes. Plus I have little functional short-term memory and I am easily driven to distraction because I am an aging and decrepit law librarian.
Personally I have found the constitutional interpretation school known as "originalism" and championed by Justice Scalia to be intellectually bankrupt but since I'm not a constitutional scholar, don't sit on SCOTUS, and am not a brainiac like Scalia is, my opinion about schools of constitutional interpretation really don't matter, now does it. Hell, 30-plus years ago all I did was sort out Scalia's mail from the rest of the US Mail delivery on Saturdays when we both worked at the University of Chicago Law School while he was looking over my shoulder, waiting impatiently.
Still, someone should dump Burstein and Isenberg's Madison and Jefferson into his lap (assuming no one has already done so). Could it change his mind about "originalism?" Don't know but it would be interesting to hear what he has to say. As a certified brainiac, someone like Scalia typically is sufficiently intellectually honest to revisit assumptions and long-held opinions.
Based on my reading, I highly recommend Madison and Jefferson to everyone interested in the changing opinions about the US Constitution by our founding fathers over the course of their political careers. Fascinating; subscribers to originalism might want to rethink their assumptions.
Here's the blurb:
In Madison and Jefferson, esteemed historians Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg join forces to reveal the crucial partnership of two extraordinary founders, creating a superb dual biography that is a thrilling and unprecedented account of early America.
The third and fourth presidents have long been considered proper and noble gentlemen, with Thomas Jefferson’s genius overshadowing James Madison’s judgment and common sense. But in this revelatory book, both leaders are seen as men of their times, ruthless and hardboiled operatives in a gritty world of primal politics where they struggled for supremacy for more than fifty years.
In most histories, the elder figure, Jefferson, looms larger. Yet Madison is privileged in this book’s title because, as Burstein and Isenberg reveal, he was the senior partner at key moments in the formation of the two-party system. It was Madison who did the most to initiate George Washington’s presidency while Jefferson was in France in the role of diplomat. So often described as shy, the Madison of this account is quite assertive. Yet he regularly escapes bad press, while Jefferson’s daring pen earns him a nearly constant barrage of partisan attacks.
In Madison and Jefferson we see the two as privileged young men in a land marked by tribal identities rather than a united national personality. They were raised to always ask first: “How will this play in Virginia?” Burstein and Isenberg powerfully capture Madison’s secret canny role—he acted in effect as a campaign manager—in Jefferson’s career. In riveting detail, the authors chart the courses of two very different presidencies: Jefferson’s driven by force of personality, Madison’s sustained by a militancy that history has been reluctant to ascribe to him.
The aggressive expansionism of the presidents has long been underplayed, but it’s noteworthy that even after the Louisiana Purchase more than doubled U.S. territory, the pair contrived to purchase Cuba and, for years, looked for ways to conquer Canada. In these and other issues, what they said in private and wrote anonymously was often more influential than what they signed their names to.
Supported by a wealth of original sources—newspapers, letters, diaries, pamphlets—Madison and Jefferson is a stunning new look at a remarkable duo who arguably did more than all the others in their generation to set the course of American political development. It untangles a rich legacy, explaining how history made Jefferson into a national icon, leaving Madison a relative unknown. It tells nasty truths about the conduct of politics when America was young and reintroduces us to colorful personalities, once famous and now obscure, who influenced and were influenced by the two revolutionary actors around whom this story turns. As an intense narrative of high-stakes competition, Madison and Jefferson exposes the beating heart of a rowdy republic in its first fifty years, while giving more than a few clues as to why we are a politically divided nation today.
October 19, 2010
The Bluebook (be)comes Standard on WLN.
Almost six months ago, one of our Westlaw reps provided me with a quick demonstration on Westlawnext (WLN). I had lukewarm feelings about it at the time, but the more I use it, the more I seem to like it. West still has a number of kinks to work out. And one of them was something I asked about when I was first introduced to WLN, that fine Spring day; it was what West intends to do about the dates for statutes and regulations? I No normal personl likes the Bluebook. It confuses people - and it seems to confuse West as well.
Westlaw next offers a "Copy with Reference" feature, allowing users to cut text and paste it in a document with the citation attached. Users are given a choice of ten citation formats from which to choose: (1) ALWD; (2) California; (3) New York; (4) Florida; (5) Texas; (6) Illinois; (7) Kentucky; (8) Michigan; (9) Westlaw; and (10) Standard. Two weeks ago "Standard" was "Bluebook." I know this because two weeks ago I taught two classes on Westlawnext and the citation format option was not "Standard" but "Bluebook.". Yesterday, I gave a presentation on WLN to our evening 2Ls. The option changed from "Bluebook" to "Standard." And caught me off guard for a second (but I survived). "Standard," which was "Bluebook," seemed to follow the 18th edition of the Bluebook. (We adopted the 19th at LMU as soon as it was released in June. LMU law librarians had access to WLN in May.)
What’s nice about the feature is that it provides parallel, pinpoint citations to every case and even provides subsequent history if the case had direct, subsequent history. Thus, if a case was reversed or affirmed by a higher court, the citation would indicate that as required under Rule 10.7. It even abbreviates words in accordance with Table 6 (of the 18th edition). For example, I copied and pasted the following:
Even when viewed independently, these two prongs of Microsoft's campaign threatened to "forestall the corrective forces of competition" and thereby perpetuate Microsoft's monopoly power in the relevant market
United States v. Microsoft Corp., 87 F. Supp. 2d 30, 42 (D.D.C. 2000) aff'd in part, rev'd in part, 253 F.3d 34 (D.C. Cir. 2001)
WLN properly abbreviated "Corporation," gave a pinpoint citation, and provided the subsequent history of the case. What it failed to do, however, is provide a parenthetical citation to Eastman Kodak Co. v. Image Technical Services, Inc., 504 U.S. 451 (1992) in conformance with Rule 10.6.2 as Microsoft did quote language from Eastman Kodak. Okay, I will accept the fact that it isn’t perfect. We all have flaws (some less than others).
What bothers me most though is the "Copy with Reference" feature as it applies to statutes. For statutory citations, it fails to provide a pincite, and moreover, completely ignores the date requirements of either Rule 12 or Rule 18 altogether. When citing to a statutory code provision in print, Rule 12.3.2 states (in pertinent part), "provide parenthetically the year that appears on the spine of the volume, the year that appears on the title page, or the latest copyright year – in that order of preference. However, Rule 18.3.2 provides that when citing to a statutory code provision contained in an electronic database, "give parenthetically the name of the database and the information regarding the currency of the database as provided by database itself." Thus, a citation to the federal statute providing punishment for manslaughter should look this:
18 U.S.C.A. § 1112(b) (West, Westlawnext through PL 111-255 (excluding P.L. 111-203 and 111-240)).
However, WLN’s Copy with Reference feature cites the statute as such:
18 U.S.C.A. § 1112 (West)
Notice what is missing? There is no pinpoint citation to the sub-section. WLN ignores the date altogether. And it fails to properly identify the electronic database. It actually provides the citation to the print version, save the date. (Now, I happen to think that Rule 18.3.2 is the dumbest rule in all of the Bluebook. The Bluebook editors really need to amend it, but that is a whole other issue.) So WLN’s citation to the statute (or any statute) it is not in proper Bluebook format. And Westlaw probably realized that and, as a result, what used to be the option to "Copy with Reference in Bluebook" form is now "Copy with Reference in Standard" form; but that doesn’t work for me. They shouldn’t be able to cover their failings by changing the name of the option. They meant "Standard" to be "Bluebook" and they should just call it what it is – after they fix their mistakes! How hard could it be to provide the correct information as required in Rule 18.3.2? And the fact that they found a way to provide pinpoint citations in cases makes me believe that it shouldn’t be quite so difficult to provide the same for statutes. In the end, Bluebook comes standard on WLN, even if it’s not really Bluebook. I do commend them for making strides when it comes to citing cases, articles and treatises. Now fix it. [DCW]
April 26, 2010
Harrington on WestlawNext: Thumbs Up But Only for Researching Primary Law; Thumbs Down for KeyCite, Headnotes, Secondary Source Searching and Making WLN Available to Law School Students in Its Current State
Ryan Harrington's review of WestlawNext was recently published on AALL Spectrum Blog. Harrington, a reference librarian at Yale's Lillian Goldman Law Library, finds "the product to be a vast improvement over the previous model, but still flawed."
In sum, the platform is better and the experience is certainly better, but I would only favor this system for specific tasks that rely on primary law. While the design and interface are sleek, I think too little attention was paid to KeyCite, Headnotes, and Secondary Sources.
In the context of WLN legal research instruction to students, Harrison writes
I hope some of the major problems are corrected long before students receive passwords, and I am very concerned about the likelihood that legal instructors will need to work with this system before it is ready.
Harrington's review, while limited to a mixture of real-time reference questions, hypotheticals from his legal research class, and research for his own publication during his six-week trial period along with two demos, is highly recommended. [JH]
February 10, 2010
From Yawning to Shuddering Over LexisNexis for Microsoft Office
In case you missed it because of all the Cobalt buzz, LexisNexis for Microsoft Office was also featured at Legal Tech New York. I wrote a yawn-worthy post and rejected an offer to preview it in-house -- just not my cup of tea. Greg Lambert took the offer and recently published his review on 3 Geeks and a Law Blog. According to Greg, "Lexis’ idea is to build their research database information into MS Office so that lawyers are spending less time toggling between their document tools (MS Office) and their research tools (LexisNexis)." As reported earlier, LexisNexis for Microsoft Office is expected to launch this Spring. I'm still yawning. Another productivity app just doesn't get me excited anymore.
Handing Off Product Development to Microsoft. No official word on pricing but Greg speculates that LexisNexis for Microsoft Office may simply be an "add-in" with an installation charge. The product works with Office 2007 and will work with Office 2010 but not Office 2003. Anyone besides me concerned about tying a very expensive search service into an application that may not work with Office 20XX without some downtime or tying into an MS service that may not be sufficiently cloud computing secure for legal practitioners? Greg calls attention to and do note it well:
Lexis turned to the Microsoft development team to create a seamless method of connecting the MS Office Suite (Outlook, Work and even SharePoint) to Lexis. In case you missed the subtlety of that comment, Lexis is not programming the resource, Microsoft is.
I'm sure when MS re-engineers the post-2010 version of Office and/or SharePoint, the first item on its To-Do List will be "make sure it works with LexisNexis." Yawning now being replaced with shuddering.
Marketing LexisNexis for Microsoft Office. According to Greg, LexisNexis for Microsoft Office is being pitched as "‘Phase I’ of Lexis’ two phase project to rebuild their legal research product ‘from the ground up.’ The second phase will be the ‘New Lexis’ online research product that will be launched probably early in 2011." According to me, what else would you expect the Company to say in response to WestlawNext's coming out party in New York.
ETA for "New Lexis" 2011? So LexisNexis hands off development of this optional "add-in" to Microsoft, meaning I'll just "say no." More significantly, it now sounds like "New Lexis" won't be out for another year, meaning head-to-head competition in very expensive legal search from WEXIS will start in 2011. Just as well. TR Legal beat LexisNexis to the punch so (1) I can imagine LexisNexis would hold off launching "New Lexis" even if it wasn't experiencing some speculated development issues to get the full benefit of publicity next year and (2) this writer's small brained head would be spinning like a top if it had to grapple with two major roll-outs almost simultaneously. The folks in the Buckeye State will, of course, be spending much time comparing "New Lexis" features with the folks in the land of 10,000 invoices' WestlawNext this year. So will all legal information professionals eventually.
Do check out Greg's review of LexisNexis for Microsoft Office for much more detailed information. [JH]
January 26, 2010
Information Needs of Lawyers
Joelle Rogan's Information Needs of Lawyers: A case study evaluating the information needs of lawyers in a major City law firm (VDM Verlag, 2009) is the product of a dissertation written in 2003 for Rogan's MIS. In a comment to the linked Amazon UK page, she writes:
The aims of the project are to discover the information needs and information-seeking behaviour of lawyers in this firm and whether the library is providing a completely satisfying service for the lawyers and if there are any improvements to be made. The case study was carried out by means of in-depth interviews with several lawyers of different levels of experience and status, professional support lawyers and law librarians. This evidence was supplemented by the author's observation as a member of the library team.
The London law firm Rogan surveyed had 79 partners, 150 other lawyers, more than 250 support staff and over 40 areas of expertise. Rogan was a library assistant at the time. According to Archana Venkatraman's review Rogan preferred in-depth interviews because they were "qualitative and produced rich data for analysis, unlike questionnaires, which people probably wouldn’t take as much time over or care as much about." In Venkatraman's opinion, Information Needs of Lawyers is "lucid, and full of explanations, references and detail."
In her review of Information Needs of Lawyers, Taciana Williams, Associate Director of the Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law Library, finds Rogan's methodological weakness may prevent the book from appealing to librarians in her AALL Spectrum blog post. "However, because it clearly delineates lawyers’ information needs, it may be useful to law firm librarians, law firm library support staff and library school students."
My one question is how much time-capsule quality does this brief 80-page work present because it was written over six years ago and only published last September. A then-and-now comparison of the original findings, perhaps by way of both questionnaire and follow-up interviews, would have been very interesting. [JH]
December 02, 2009
Advice for Law Profs (and Legal Research Instructors) on Legal EducationTeaching Law by Design: Engaging Students from the Syllabus to the Final Exam (Carolina Academic Press, June 1, 2009) should be mandatory reading for new law professors, regardless of their subject matter and whether they teach casebook or skills courses according to Robin A. Boyle, Professor of Legal Writing and Director of Academic Support at St. John’s University School of Law in her review published in the Fall 2009 issue of The Law Teacher at 19. Designed to synthesize the latest research on teaching and learning for new and experienced law teachers, Teaching Law by Design is written by Michael Hunter Schwartz, Professor of law and Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Development at Washburn University School of Law, Sophie Sparrow, a professor at Franklin Pierce Law Center, and Gerald Hess, Professor of Law and founder and Director of the Institute for Law School Teaching at Gonzaga University School of Law. [JH]
November 22, 2009
Top 5 Must-Read Social Media BooksSee Steve Cunningham's recommendations on Mashable. [JH]
October 06, 2009
Relaunced Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board Website Gets Mixed Reviews
The reworked Recovery.gov was launched on Sept. 28 with a new layout, new mapping features and more prominent displays of key spending data. The reviews are mixed. See OMB Watch's Craig Jennings post entitled Meet the New Recovery.gov ...(mostly) the same as the old Recovery.gov. (Although its mapping tools and download features are a welcome improvement, Recovery.gov’s federal agency spending data has flaws. It lacks reconciliation with data on other aggregate sites such as USASpending.gov; doesn't have details on noncompetitive contract spending; has gaps in data, and lacks searchability for the data in the downloadable data section), Retooled Recovery.gov site praised, panned from Federal Computer News and Recovery.gov Relaunch Maps Stimulus Spending, CBS News. [JH]
August 10, 2009
Light Reading Just Before the Start of the New Academic Year?
Commenting on Robert Schnakenberg's Secret Lives of the Supreme Court: What Your Teachers Never Told You About America's Legendary Justices (Quirk Books, 2009), Ruthann Robson (CUNY School of Law) writes in a Constitutional Law Prof Blog post "[the book] is a bit too scattered for engrossing beach/cabin/summer reading, but suitable for forays while waiting for a ferry or an airplane - - - and anticipating the start of the academic year." She adds "the historical material does put some of our present notions into perspective. A Justice who probably suffered from Alzheimers? A Justice who flubbed the administration of the Presidential oath? A Justice who was rumored to be gay? A Justice believed to be the "most devout Catholic" ever to sit on the Court? According to this book, the answers are not (only?) members of the Rehnquist or Roberts Courts." Sounds like the book is also suitable for Saturday afternoons at the reference desk during the academic year. [JH]
July 08, 2009
Casemaker vs. Fastcase for Caselaw Research
Bob Ambrogi offers a head-to-head review of Casemaker and Fastcase in Law Technology News. He concludes that in terms of coverage of federal and state libraries and the relative strengths of their search tools, "neither stands out as significantly superior to the other. But in their intuitiveness and ease of use, Fastcase has the clear edge." [JH]
June 29, 2009
Best Law Firm Articles and Alerts Aggregrator on the Web
On 3 Geeks and a Law Blog, Greg Lambert reviews myCorporateReources.com, a site that aggregates client alerts published by AmLaw 100 firms, calling the site "hands-down the best law firm articles and alerts aggregator" he has seen. Check out his review and the site for yourself. I think you will agree with Lambert's assessment. Lambert hopes to follow up his post with an interview of the site developers. [JH]
June 23, 2009
Recent Website Reviews on InSITE
Law librarians at Cornell search the Internet for potentially useful websites, select the most valuable ones, and provide commentary twice a month via the Cornell Law Library's current awareness service, InSITE. If you aren't already subscribing to InSITE's RSS feed for current issues or receiving this information by email subscription, you are missing out on excellent reviews of web resources you may find helpful.
The current issue, dated June 15, 2009, reviews the following websites:
The June 1, 2009 issue of InSITE covered:
There's a searchable database of past reviews and you can browse current and archived issues from InSITE's home page. [JH]
June 12, 2009
Product Development Thomson West-Style
|Update on Rudovsky v. West Publishing Corp.|
|The Legal Intelligencer's Shannon P. Duffy is reporting that a federal judge has refused to dismiss a defamation suit brought by two law professors who claim that West Publishing harmed their reputations when it falsely identified them as the authors of a poorly researched treatise update. For background, see LLB's earlier post, Cold Comfort for West in "Sham" Treatise Pocket Part Ruling.|
According to the product description, The Complete CAN-SPAM Act Practice Guide: Including Regulations, Case Law and Related Statutes (Thomson West, 2008) "provides an in-depth analysis and explanation of the CAN-SPAM Act, implementing regulations, and case law, presented in a clear, well-organized manner. Helpful for both experts and novices, the text will enlighten this complicated area of law. The author's extensive subject knowledge comes from having won the largest damages award ever granted under the CAN-SPAM Act..."
According to Lance Burke's (Reference/Access Services Librarian, Elon School of Law) book review on AALL Spectrum Blog, "if none of your patrons are interested in this field, it is unlikely this book will be the catalyst that sparks their interest." Burke observes that only 91 of the 422 page text contains analysis by the author, Ian C. Ballon. "The longest chapter of the book, and unfortunately, the most tedious" writes Burke, Scope of the Act’s Coverage "discusses what types of businesses and messages are covered under the act. While this information would be invaluable to someone who was interested in learning if a particular type of business is covered by the act, it does not make for interesting reading."
Sounds like Thomson West took what would have been an OK practitioner article publishable in an ABA journal, added 331 pages of filler -- the CAN-SPAM Act and regs, state anti-span laws and court documents from one of Ballon’s CAN-SPAM cases -- and slapped on a $79.00 price tag. In other words, nothing new in product development. For a little more on product development Thomson West-style, see the above sidebar. [JH]
May 26, 2009
ABA TECHSHOW's 60 Sites in 60 Minutes
This year's presentation was conducted by Jim Calloway, Lincoln Mead, Laura Calloway and Barron Henley. List with links here. [JH]
May 14, 2009
Privacy and Confidentiality Issues: A Guide for Libraries and Their Lawyers
Julie Graves Krishnaswami, Faculty Services Librarian and a Legal Research Professor at CUNY-Law, finds the format of ALA's recently published Privacy and Confidentiality Issues: A Guide for Libraries and Their Lawyers (Feb. 28, 2009) to be ideal for quick reference because this 98-page work is organized in a Q & A format. In her book review, she observes, "as an academic law librarian and legal research teacher, I enjoyed reading this text. It served as an excellent review of First Amendment principles as they apply to libraries. It also gave me greater insight into the daily functions of public libraries." Check out the complete reviewon AALL Spectrum Blog.
Aren't these book reviews a great feature on AALL Spectrum Blog? More reviews here. [JH]