Tag Archives: Legal Research

One Search Does Not Equal Research

This is an old axiom, but seems to ring true now more than ever. It came to mind while reading Greg’s post today about finding that elusive needle in a haystack. I completely agree with his statement:

Not every fact pattern can be answered by a previous court decision. In fact, it is usually the attorney that takes a blending of statutes, case decisions, and the ability to interpret the intention of the law within the community’s setting that wins the day. Fact-based, “one case in one jurisdiction,” is valuable, but the research process is far greater than that idea. Admitting failure by not finding that “one case in one jurisdiction” is selling yourself and the legal research process short. (my emphasis)

The entire point of legal research and the practice of law is the analysis/interpretation of what is found during the process, not the process of research. If we removed the analysis/interpretation step, then the practice of law becomes obsolete.

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Bloomberg Law 2.0

Bloomberg Law introduced a new and updated version of their platform last week. The new web site gives more information than the old site, but a new user would still need to contact sales for a demonstration. However, much more information is available in Jean O’Grady’s new blog post complete with screenshots.

I’m still trying to figure out what the Bloomberg Law strategy is, and where they see themselves in the future, but in the meantime, it seems that the product has much to offer.

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SLA Program: Cost Recovery vs. Cost Prevention

I moderated a fantastic panel at the annual SLA conference last week, and wanted to share the tips that were developed during the discussion. These tips are not difficult or costly; however, the impact on the bottom-line of the firm can be huge.

To focus more on cost prevention instead of cost recovery is to shift from a reactive environment to one that is proactive. This is something that can be undertaken by every librarian, no matter their influence or clout within the firm. Additionally, if the impact of these changes is being measured, the potential to raise the profile of the library is tremendous.

Our 5 easy tips:

  1. Get to know Accounting. If the librarian does not have full access to any and all of the data that impacts the library, how can informed decisions be made? The librarian cannot take ‘no’ for an answer when it comes to developing this relationship, and accessing this data.
  2. Manage and control the conversation around the firm’s contracts with large vendors. Another benefit to a relationship with Accounting, is finding out how much the firm spends with some of the large vendors. Imagine the bulk discounting that might be possible if the librarian could leverage the entire spend, and not just that of the library. Talk about a direct savings to the bottom-line!
  3. Education/Training. Controlling the training and education of your users is a great way to prevent unnecessary costs. Vendor representatives only train on their own products, and promote new content and services. This probably isn’t the most cost effective use of all the research resources purchased by your firm. It is imperative that training sessions be vetted by the library or conducted by a librarian, if possible.
  4. Using knowledge management (KM) to leverage internal and external resources. This doesn’t mean you have to implement some complicated KM software, it just means that you need to look for efficiencies in everything that you do. For example, the library could create an internal wiki to share answers to regularly asked questions, contacts, and/or frequently accessed internal content. This is KM, and once a small step is taken, more will follow.
  5. Creating innovative and simplified contracts. Vendors have been using the same contracts since they started offering their online services. Has anything else in your library stayed the same over all these years? How about exploring contract structures that reflect how you use the product, instead of accepting the same old, one-size-fits-all contract. Work closely with your vendor before you are even presented with a contract to let them know that the status quo isn’t going to work for you anymore.


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Protected: Price Increases…Again…

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Plethora of Platforms

It seems that hardly a day goes by without a vendor announcement of a new platform. I thought I might use this post to round up the most recent announcements and some reviews:

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An Interesting Prediction

I love LinkedIn! If you aren’t a member, head on over and sign up today. Not only can you keep up with colleagues and make new connections, the discussion groups are a great added benefit of membership. I belong to several, including a Legal Blogging group.

A recent post/discussion peaked my interest. The title,  2011 – The year that law firm websites become “publishing platforms”, first caught my eye, for obvious reasons. This notion of the web making everyone a “publisher” has been around for quite sometime, and it appears to have just hit law firm websites. Mr. Algeri’s prediction is this:

  • Old thinking: Law firm websites = online brochure
  • New thinking: Law firm websites = publishing platform for attorney-generated content

I think that this is fascinating, and I marvel at the potential increase in content that would be available . Just imagine…a free search on Google Scholar for cases and then linking to law firm web site with an opinion paper on that very case. I realize that this isn’t the same as ALR or AmJur, however, this shift has the potential to make a big impact.

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More Google Search Tips

From guest blogger:
Joelle Coachman
Research Librarian @ McKenna Long & Aldridge

Ask any librarian or search professional why they like Google, and I’ll wager they will tell you- “It’s the Boolean, Baby!”. When you are attempting to search through the millions of pages Google indexes, Boolean and other advanced search operators are indispensable tools of the trade. Here’s a round-up of helpful guides and resources on Google search.

The Digital Inspiration blog spotlights proximity searching in the post An Undocumented Search Operator. They also have a handy 1-page cheat sheet.

The Google Guide is an online interactive tutorial and reference for “experienced users, novices, and everyone in between”. In addition to a 2-page cheat sheet for Google search, they also have a cheat sheet on the advanced calculator functions in Google search.

See also our previous post Google Search Tips.

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Amazing New Resource from Stanford

From the Legal Research Plus blog:

We are pleased to announce the launch of our new Supreme Court of California website, SCOCAL.

SCOCAL is a joint project between the Robert Crown Law Library at Stanford Law School, and Justia, Inc.

The site provides free access to the full text California Supreme Court opinions from 1934 to the present, along with detailed annotations of selected cases written and edited by students in our Advanced Legal Research class here at Stanford. For selected cases related California Supreme Court briefs, other documents and news items are also available, all free of charge. Users may subscribe to separate RSS feeds of new opinions, annotations, Court news and follow the site on Twitter.

Special thanks to FastCase for providing a large number of the California Supreme Court opinions available on the site.


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Bloomberg Law a “Threat”?

A new article on FT.com bears the title: Bloomberg Law’s discounts pose threat. That’s some language from a press release if I’ve ever heard it. Unfortunately, at this point, I don’t think that Bloomberg Law poses any kind of threat.

In the article former Lexis executive Lou Andreozzi states that  he expects “many law firms and corporate lawyers to prefer its flat monthly fee of $450 per attorney to the more expensive and unpredictable sums they pay depending on how often they use rival systems.” I can’t believe that any firm would pay $450 per attorney per month to use Bloomberg Law. With no proprietary secondary sources and a brand-new homegrown new citation service, this cost seems extremely high. In fact, it sounds a lot like lower cost options  Fastcase or Casemaker or even free service Google Scholar.

Although he says that there will be some discounting available, it won’t be much different from their regular pricing. Discounting? That sounds a lot like Lexis and Westlaw pricing: retail with some kind of discount.

He next states that Lexis and Westlaw are “duplicative services” and he expects Bloomberg Law to replace only one of them at a firm. But why would you need to replace a service that is duplicative? Why would you not just go with either Lexis or Westlaw? What reason would I have to add Bloomberg Law, especially at $450 per attorney?

While I applaud the flat-rate pricing of Bloomberg Law their initial price is so high it isn’t realistic for most firms. If the price is negotiable or “discounts” are available, then we are back to the Lexis and Westlaw model. Instead of discounts, why not just lower the per attorney rate by half or more…then it might be a threat.

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Lexis Gets a New Look

Lexis may look a bit different this morning. No…you didn’t forget to have your coffee, Lexis has significantly changed its UI. Although this seems to be a response to WestlawNext, it doesn’t appear that the search functionality has changed. Lexis remains a product where a database must be selected first, then searching can occur. The only change to content is the addition of Lexis Web results. Not sure how the mix of free and paid resources will affect billing.

For more information, click here.

PDF handout, click here.

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