Monthly Archives: March 2010

Keep Your New Customers Close and Your Best Customers with Empty Pockets

I have never understood why corporations punish their most loyal/best customers. I was reminded of my confusion on this issue by this post on Patrick Lamb’s blog. While Patrick is talking about credit cards and how law firms charge their ‘best’ customers, the exact same statements can be applied to customers of legal publishers, online and print.

Unfortunately, this statement from the post sums it up:

Give your new customers better rates and keep milking your loyal customers for all you can get.

This has been the legal publishing model for quite some time, and resetting the dial on pricing is very difficult (as so many of you already know). Why don’t these companies cultivate and reward their best customers? I’ve got some ideas, how about lower increases or no increases after x-number of years or a no-cost add on of new content or free print (I could go on and on here).

Why are firms essentially punished for being long-term customers? This is really simple math, firms cannot sustain yearly increases on a base price  for 10 to 15 to 20 years. Flash forward to current day and their pricing is completely out-of -whack with current models.

However, there is ZERO incentive for the ‘robber barons’ of legal publishing  to make any changes and they know it…they just keep on chugging. This reminds me of the Little Engine that Could, except in this example there is no top to the mountain of money.

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Learn from the Best

As I’ve said many times, the buzzword right now (for law firms and librarians) is ‘value’; we are all trying to provide value to our clients. Since we are all in the same boat, I figure why not learn from the best…Google. For a some insight, check out  this post on WiredGC. Here are the pertinent quotes:

  • It’s not good enough to apply normal management disciplines – we think that scarcity breeds clarity. If, for example, we have enough resources invested in something, we halve it and eliminate overheads.
  • When we build something we strive for ubiquity in usage and adoption. That helps us understand how customers react and then we build a revenue model.
  • We measure people every 90 days. We get 360-degree feedback on people every 180 days and that feedback is published to the whole company. People want reality. Ninety per cent of the rewards end up going to 10pc of the people.
  • Customers today have more choices and are more aware of our competitors’ offerings. Unless we can serve them 24/7, 365 days a year, competitors will eat our lunch. […] At the end of the day it’s the customer who owns the cash. That’s why we construct our organisation to deliver value. The underlying framework is to make it easier for people to do business, solve problems and move on.

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I Love a Good List!

I came across this post on the Criminal Law Library blog and found it to be very interesting. The author, David Badertscher, Principal Law Librarian of the New York State Supreme Court Criminal Term, First Judicial District, has created a list of characteristics that are essential to the long-term survival of libraries and librarians.

He states three objectives for the list:

Hopefully it will stimulate both thought and further action. With that in mind the list of characteristics can be used as a point of departure for further development. A second equally important objective is to convey to the reader reviewing the list a sense of the vital, irreplaceable role libraries and librarians can play in meeting the information requirements of an increasingly dynamic and competitive environment. Thirdly, I would hope to convey my basic optimism regarding the future of libraries and library systems, provided that measures such as those discussed above are implemented and maintained consistently over time.

The list is very comprehensive, and is a great starting point for librarians in evaluating themselves and their organization:


Ability, right, or permission to approach, enter, speak with, or use; obtainable; approachability.

Accessibility of library directors, managers, department heads, and others as appropriate to decision makers and to meetings and other forums where policies and procedures related to libraries and library systems are being discussed and deliberated.

Accessibility of library collections in all formats, including digital, to library users.

Other, as appropriate


Skill, aptitude, and motivation in the identification and detailed examination of components of systems, procedures, documents, organizations, or other entities and to infer meaning and communicate conclusions based on such examination..



Evaluations (including evaluations of library collections)

Compilations (including bibliographies, development and continuing maintenance of library catalogues, indices)

Financial evaluation and analysis (includes financial planning – budgets)

Analysis related to strategic planning

Systems Analysis related to library applications and services

Other, as appropriate.


The ability to transcend traditional ideas, techniques, rules, approaches


Develop new, improved approaches to resolving challenges

Exploration of new and emerging developments as to their possible application to library applications and services.

Other, as appropriate


Desire, and drive, to learn and understand


Urge and motivation to become more aware of ways to adapt libraries and librarianship to competitive, dynamic environments

Other, as appropriate


Ability to vicariously experience experiences, feelings, thoughts, attitudes of others




Caring about and relating to other people

Other, as appropriate


Willing to adapt and adjust

Accepts and is reasonably comfortable with change

Willing to yield when appropriate

An important attribute in a rapidly changing library environment

Other, as appropriate.


Ability to make things happen

Provide direction

Take initiative and assume risk

Strategic planning

Ability to ensure that quality of organization and service are maintained at a high level

Ability to persuade and articulate at a high level

Take lead in encouraging coordination, collaboration, and sharing as considered appropriate

Take lead in introducing new technologies as appropriate

Ability to say “no” when situation warrants

Other, as appropriate


Ability to stay the course and be steadfast in working toward objectives of the library, especially in difficult, challenging situations

Other, as appropriate


Includes all areas related to maintaining the integrirty of library records, including bibliographic records as well as financial and business records associated with the library

Cataloging, indexing, issues related to authentication of digital records and materials over time Preservation of materials and records over time

Maintain consistent and steady relationships with parent and other organizations as needed Maintain stable physical environment in library or library system

Other, as appropriate


Ability to deal skillfully with new or difficult situations

Ability to adapt quickly

Skillful in finding ways of doing more with less as situation warrants

Other, as appropriate

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You Gotta Love a Catchy Title or Westlaw is a Gateway Drug

I found this blog post through one of my Google alerts, and the title just reeled me right in. I enjoyed reading about Mr. Perlin’s introduction to “excluded” charges via his $1,800 foray into South Carolina primary law. No doubt many would find this a relatively inexpensive lesson as we’ve seen much worse. That said, it is never fun to realize that you’ve cost a client or the firm thousands of dollars, especially if the content wasn’t even unique or special.

Mr. Perlin was recently reminded of this mistake because he got a notice that he would soon be trained on WestlawNext, and being the admitted addict that he is, he is “eager to test drive WestlawNext and to explore all the new, shiny bells and whistles that are sure to keep [him] hooked.”

I wanted to take this opportunity to caution Mr. Perlin to fully explore the pricing before he samples the goods. Unfortunately, Westlaw did not update its pricing structure to fully match its shiny new product, and we are stuck with the same old transactional and hourly pricing that is sure to lead to more costly mistakes. I have a feeling that we will wax nostalgic for those costing only $1,800…

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