Monthly Archives: April 2010

I Need a Definition for Obscene…

As Justice Potter Stewart said in the 1964 case of Jacobellis v. Ohio:  “…I know it when I see it…”. Of course he was referring to obscenity in a movie, but I suppose that many would find these prices “obscene”.

Paul Lomio recently received a brochure for the California Official Reports from LexisNexis. The brochure included pricing:

  • California Official Reports: Supreme Court Bound Volumes…$ 22.30
  • California Official Reports: Appellate Court Bound Volumes…$ 22.30

I verified this pricing on the LexisNexis bookstore. He compares this pricing to his last invoice for a volume of West’s California Reporter 3d:

  • West’s California Reporter…$ 195.50

I went to the West online store and found some interesting pricing. You can buy an entire set of Cal.3d for $2,415 for 110 volumes or $21.45 each. However, the per volume prices are as follows:

  • Volumes 1 to 37….$111.000
  • Volumes 38 to 110…$260.00

I have no idea what happened between volumes 37 and 38 that would cause the pricing to more than DOUBLE.

I suppose Paul should take some comfort in the fact that he is getting a 25% “discount”! Yeah…?


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Twitter and the Top 20

I’ve read several posts recently about Twitter and law firms. Although this topic has been around for the last couple of years, it seems like the importance of Twitter is part of the conversation again. One post in particular caught my eye, because it made so much sense. In her post,  Amy Campbell outlines five quick and easy reasons why law firms should have a Twitter presence.

The list:

  1. Protect your brand.
  2. People are listening.
  3. Search engines eat it up.
  4. The best way to learn it is to do it.
  5. Build your Twitter infrastructure and network now, for when you need it later.

I think that these five reasons are easy to understand, and make Twitter a ‘no-brainer’ for any business. So how many of the largest law firms are really using Twitter…or is it something that is still too cutting edge? I did a quick survey the 2009 top 20 AMLAW firms, just to see where we are:

It appears to me that only six of the 20  are using Twitter in any meaningful way, and four more have just dipped a toe in the stream. Four of the firms I could not find on Twitter at all, and six others appear to have reserved their handles, but aren’t using them. For example @whiteandcaseLLP is a valid account, but it is locked. Is this the real White &Case, or has a Twitter squatter (or sqwitter) reserved the handle  in violation of Twitter policy? As Amy points out on her post,  at a minimum these firms should be protecting their brands on Twitter.

Of those who are taking full advantage of Twitter, only one firm, McDermott Will, mentions their Twitter presence on their web site: one short sentence on their ‘Contact Us’ page. Considering the fact that Reed Smith has almost 1,000 tweets, I am especially surprised that they do not mention Twitter on their site. Why are these firms not promoting their Twitter updates in a more prominent way?

What’s going on beyond the top 20? Here is a Twitter list that Amy put together of firms that tweet. Also, JDSupra created a  list of legal professionals on Twitter in 2008. The size of the original list, 145, has grown exponentially over that last two years. The latest update was in August of 2009, and the list stood at 750.

I would love to hear from any of the top 20 firms mentioned in my list, especially if I got something wrong about their Twitter presence. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to jump into Twitter and give it a try!


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Google Search Tips

My home page is a custom iGoogle interface, in fact I just changed my theme yesterday to something more “spring-like”. However, like any other electronic research tool  it makes sense that I should learn how to use it properly. I came across this great article on the New York Times with 10 simple tips that I will definitely start using immediately:

1. Use the “site:” operator to limit searches to a particular site. I use this one all the time, and it’s particularly handy because many site’s built-in search tools don’t return the results you’re looking for (and some sites don’t even have a search feature). If I’m looking for WWD posts about GTD, for example, I could try this search: GTD

2. Use Google as a spelling aid. As Rob Hacker — the WWD reader I profiled last week — pointed out, entering a word into Google is a quick way to see if you have the right spelling. If it’s incorrect, Google will suggest the correct spelling instead. Additionally, if you want to get a definition of a word, you can use the “define:” operator to return definitions from various dictionaries (for example, define: parasympathetic).

3. Use Google as a calculator. Google has a built-in calculator — try entering a calculation like 110 * (654/8 + 3). Yes, your computer also has a calculator, but if you spend most of your day inside a browser, typing your calculation into the browser’s search box is quicker than firing up your calculator app.

4. Find out what time it is anywhere in the world. This one’s really handy if you want to make sure that you’re not phoning someone in the middle of the night. Just search for “time” and then the name of the city. For example, try: time San Francisco

5. Get quick currency conversions. Google can also do currency conversion, for example: 100 pounds in dollars. It only has the more mainstream currencies, though — if you’re trying to see how many Peruvian nuevos soles your dollars might buy, you’ll be out of luck. If you would like to convert minor currencies, be sure to be specific about the country. So, if you want to find out how many nuevos soles your dollars might buy, you could try: 100 dollars in Peruvian nuevos soles.

6. Use the OR operator. This can be useful if you’re looking at researching a topic but you’re not sure which keywords will return the information you need. It can be particularly handy in conjunction with the “site:” operator. For example, you could try this search: GTD OR “getting things done”

7. Exclude specific terms with the – operator. You can narrow your searches using this operator. For example, if you’re looking for information about American Idol but don’t want anything about Simon Cowell, you could try: “american idol” -cowell

8. Search for specific document types. Google can search the web for specific types of files using the “filetype:” operator. If you’re looking for PowerPoint files about GTD, for example, you could try: GTD filetype:ppt

9. Search within numerical ranges using the .. operator. Say, for example, you want to look for information about Olympic events that took place in the 1950’s, you could use this search: Olympics 1950..1960

10. Area code lookup. Need to know where a phone number is located? Google will let you know where it is, and show you a map of the area, too. For example: 415

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Drop Everything and Read Day

Today is National Drop Everything and Read Day, and I intend to celebrate (after work, of course!). I’m currently working on the Wizard of Oz series…yes, there are 14 different books.

I hope you have a chance to read for pure pleasure today!

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“Second Life” for Old Books

Why not make a book into a book bag? What a great idea for those Reporters and Statutes that everyone has lying around.

Check out these great styles from BookBags, a company founded by a law librarian.

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Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

A new study on the evolution of the practice of law was released at the recent ABA Techshow. The study was conducted by Ari Kaplan, who interviewed 30 individuals to gain perspective from across the legal industry.

Some highlights from his interviews:

“The days of clients accepting the traditional model of billable hours and costs over which they have nocontrol is over.” —Jay Shepherd, Shepherd Law Group

“Lawyers need to stop thinking about what they do as separate from what their clients do.” —Patrick Lamb,Valorem Law Group

“The model and structure that law firms have been working on for 20-30 years was always a bad business model; however, it survived until now because there was so much commerce going on.”—Lynn Mestel, Mestel & Co.

An overview of his findings:

  • 13 of the 15 active practitioners interviewed use alternative billing, including fixed fee arrangements. Over 75% had heard of instances where a corporate client will not pay for first year work done on their cases.
  • 92% feel that client expectations have changed.
  • 62% agreed that the accelerated growth in law firms and the rise in legal fees led in whole or in part to the current state of the market.
  • 70% agreed that while the economy has always had an impact on the practice of law, the current shift is different.
  • 74% believe the shift will be permanent.

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On This Day in History…

Lexis introduced computerized legal research. As reported in Wired:

The original Lexis product was limited to full-text searching of all cases in Ohio and New York. It took the company seven years to finally complete its manual indexing of all federal and state cases in the United States. That same year, Lexis added Nexis, a searchable database of news articles.

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