Monthly Archives: June 2009

Vendor News & New Resources

Reed Elsevier

Thomson West

Other

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Friday Fun: Even Han Solo Spends A Lot on Legal Research

Check out this Courtoon…hopefully Boba Fett was sympathetic.

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A Softer Side: The End?

Work/life balance. It used to be a topic that filled this blog, but I’ve barely written about in the past few months. Of course we all know the reason why, however, the question now becomes: what will happen to the debate. Jordan Furlong has written a great post on his blog, Law21, concerning the legacy of work/life balance and his concerns over the current status.

One paragraph that really caught my eye:

There are two institutional flaws in our system that hurt our newest colleagues. First, there’s the unspoken symbiosis between law schools and law firms — the former charge students huge amounts of money and provide little practical lawyer training, allowing the latter to hire low-skilled and heavily indebted graduates to fill virtually the only positions lucrative enough to pay off their loans. And secondly, billable-hour targets for associates at more than a few firms simply can’t be achieved without damage to one’s health or ethics, or both. These problems are neither natural nor inevitable — they result from our neglect of the system, and they annually damage our profession’s standards and morale. (my emphasis)

As Mr. Furlong so succinctly states, the problems of work/life balance are institutionalized and are damaging to the profession as a whole, not a few. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the profession as a whole to continue to work to make positive changes.

Maybe we have seen the death of the work/life balance debate…maybe it will continue when the economy recovers, who can really say.

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Friday Fun: World’s Most Beautiful Libraries

These libraries take my breath away. Enjoy browsing these stunning pictures.

Hat tip to iBraryGuy (also known as John Digilio)

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Get Out Your Paddle and Start Rowing

Paul Lomio and the librarians at Stanford have an excellent blog, and a recent post titled, Happy Days No More, caught my eye. The post concerns the library’s unenviable task of dealing with the “sea change in library collections…forced by changing budgets.” In ordinary times vendor price increase can have a big effect, but in these times, the effect can be disastrous.

In this post, Paul details a few of his upcoming difficult decisions. Such as the choice between USCA and USCS, he states:

We subscribe to both United States Code Annotated (USCA) and United States Code Service(USCS).  Last year here’s what we paid for each:

We paid $1,645 for USCS (a Lexis product); and we paid a total of $5,376 to West for their USCA in 2008, including all bound volumes and pocket parts. (my emphasis)

Each set is a complete annotated version of the United States Code.  The quality on both is extremely good.  There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that any student, professor or practitioner can perform adequate legal research with just one or the other — no one needs both.  So faced with that fact and the budget reality, which one will the dean say “that’s easy” — the one that costs $ 1,645 or the one that costs $ 5,376?

Beyond print, Paul also wonders about the big (formerly untouchable) online databases, which contrary to popular belief, do come with a price tag:

Depending upon how my budget situation shakes out, we may even face the rather drastic step of cancelling some online databases.  There are three gigantic legal online commercial databases, each with its own benefits and features, but each also a complete online law library.  Here’s what they are costing us:

Bloomberg Law:  Free

LexisNexis:  $ 68.00 per FTE, with minimum of $ 15,000 and maximum of $ 50,850

Westlaw:  $ 73.27 per FTE, with minimum of $ 15,878 and maximum of $ 64,206

Looking back over the past few years helps show pricing patterns, which could aid in the decision making:

LexisNexis:

2008:  $ 34,980 (6% increase over previous year)
2007:  $ 33,000 (5%)
2006:  $ 31,497 (5%)

Westlaw:

2008:  $ 39,951 (7% increase over previous year)
2007:  $ 37,338 (7%)
2006:  $ 34,773 (14%)

So, we really are all in the same boat, and we will come out the other side of this crisis. However, I believe that the way organizations view legal research resources and library budgets will never be the same. I don’t know that the vendors have gotten this message yet, but they will.

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Friday Fun: Pop Quiz!

Ever wondered if librarianship is the right profession for you? Wonder no more, sharpen your pencil and take this quiz for the definitive answer.

I have definitely:

  • Asked someone to ‘Shhhhh!
  • Kept a collection of McDonalds toys on my computer at work (Teenie Beanie Babies are so cute!)
  • Mended a book with sellotape, and
  • Worn my hair in a bun

I think I chose the right profession!

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Yoga and the Practice of Law

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a post about the work/life balance at law firms (except about the removal of said perks), but a firm in Memphis is bucking the trend. Burch Porter & Johnson offer on-site yoga every Wednesday during the lunch hour. Other exercise classes are offered on Mondays and Fridays. The cost for attending: a mere $4 for yoga and $3 for the other classes. What a great way to support your employees!

For the full article, click here.

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