Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tell your students to keep in mind the cost of commercial legal research

Because you don't want them to run into this problem with their first employer; a partner having a conniption because some associate did an inefficient search that requires the firm to write off a large Wexis bill.  Our good buddy Joe Hodnicki at the Law Librarian Blog explains that because of this, one BigLaw firm sent a memo to all associates telling them to they must use "best practices" when conducting electronic legal research:

A BigLaw memo sent out to all associates mandating any associate that "utilizes or intends to utilize Westlaw" to attend a training session to learn the firm's "Best Practices" at Inefficient Westlaw Searches Causes One National Firm to Hold Mandatory Training for Associates. Unfortunately the firm's "Best Practices" are not identified but most law librarians have a very good idea.

No doubt we're going to see a lot more of this given the belt-tightening many firms are having to do these days and the intense pressure for new associates to earn their keep sooner rather than later.   As Joe reminds us:

You Don't Want to be Called into the Billing Partner's Office Because of This Online Legal Search Session. Cost-efficient legal search instruction needs to start in law school. See Patrick Meyer's Law Firm Legal Research Requirements for New Attorneys, 101 Law Library Journal 297 (2009) [reported on LLB here]. Meyer's article reports on the findings of his 2007 survey of law firm librarians which identifies the most important law firm research tasks and the proper format or formats in which those tasks should be performed so that advanced legal research courses could be designed to prepare new law firm attorneys. Unfortunately it is almost utterly impossible for legal research instructors in the legal academy to demonstrate the actual cost of WEXIS searches to students but they certainly can provide detailed instruction about potential costs in the real world. 

Some local law firm librarians can provide redacted copies of pricing schedules for lectures on WEXIS licensing practices and may even be willing, eager in fact, to present a guest lecture on WEXIS costs and client push-back on billing WEXIS search charges. More than a few law firm librarian guest lecturers probably have horrors stories to tell they can illustrate in Powerpoint presentations. No doubt some guest lecturers can start their presentation off by saying "you don't want to be called into the billing partner's office because of the cost of this online legal search session."

Read more from the Law Librarian Blog here.

I am the scholarship dude.


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