Just in time for Valentine’s Day came this news from Above the Law. Here is a copy of their firm-wide memo:
LOCKE LORD BISSELL & LIDDELL FIRM-WIDE MEMORANDUM
In today’s economic climate we recognize that our clients are becoming increasingly sensitive to legal research costs passed on to them as disbursements. In an effort to enable you to reduce the frequency and dollar amount of these charges, the Information Services Department has entered into a firm-wide contract with Loislaw, a legal research service owned by Wolters Kluwer/CCH. Loislaw allows searching Primary Law (cases, statutes & regulations) on the National and State level. A detailed list of the contents of the database is included at the end of this e-mail.
The Houston office has been using this service for several years for both non-billable and billable research whenever possible. It is not viewed as a substitute for Lexis or Westlaw, but as a tool to be used to familiarize yourself with precedent related to new cases or issues or simply to find cases, statutes or regulations. You can then continue your research on Lexis or Westlaw allowing you to complete your research in substantially less time and a lower cost to your client and/or the Firm. The Firm pays Loislaw a reasonable fixed fee for the year and receives unlimited service. You will have the ability to add a client/matter number when you want to bill the client, but will not be forced to do so for non-billable research
The following Guidelines for Legal Research are effective immediately.
* All non-billable legal research involving case law, statutes or regulations at both the state and federal level should first be performed using Loislaw.
* Loislaw should also be used for billable research where appropriate, resulting in a much lower cost to the client.
* If additional research is required on Lexis or Westlaw that research must be billed to a client/matter.
This says two things to me: (1) LoisLaw has come a long way from where it started, and is being seen as an option by large law firms, and (2) law firms are finally starting to look at ways to control legal research costs and match research habits with cost-effective tools.
How do attorneys conduct research these days in a cost-effective and, just as importantly, efficient manner? As Amy Wright points out on the Zeifbrief, she encourages students to first use a free or low-cost option, and then switch to Lexis or Westlaw. Most researchers loathe using a cost-based research service for their initial searches, so they turn to Google. Is this what we want them to do? Probably not, but what has been the alternative?
It will be interesting to see how the researchers at Locke Lord respond to LoisLaw. I think that there are probably other large law firms with the same policies, we just don’t know about it. What is the impact of Locke Lord’s decision? It is too early to tell, but stay tuned.