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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
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.
From guest blogger:
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.