Tag Archives: Vendor

Information Overload: Confirmation!

LexisNexis recently released the results of a very interesting survey on information overload. The impact of too much information has been much discussed, but not documented very well. This survey certainly changes that. Here are some of the stats that caught my eye:

  • Fifty-eight percent of legal professionals admit that the quality of their work suffers at times because they can’t sort through the information they need fast enough.
  • On average, slightly over half (51%) of all legal professionals surveyed feel that people starting out in the legal industry are not well prepared for the amount of information management and processes they will have to manage in their jobs.
  • Almost half (48%) of all the legal professionals surveyed report having trouble recreating how they spent their time for billing purposes at least once a week
  • On average, legal professionals report spending just over half (51%) of their work day receiving and managing information, rather than actually using information to do their jobs.

 

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Accuracy, Currency, Reliability…Oh My!

As legal research alternatives start to proliferate the landscape and the Law.gov movement continues to gain steam, the question arises regarding accuracy, currency and reliability. This issue was highlighted by Erika Wayne over at Legal Research Plus earlier this year. Although this isn’t a new issue and didn’t originate with the Internet, it is one that we all take very seriously.

No publisher, in either print or online, is perfect. We are all human, and thus what we produce has the potential to be flawed, BUT, when someone is relying on a procedural  rule (as highlighted in Erika’s post), what responsibility does the publisher (or site host) have to make sure that the content is accurate and current, and not just a direct  feed or data dump from another site? Does the answer change depending on whether or not the content is free, low-cost or expensive? Government or privately published?

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, this is a part of the (expensive) service that you get with Lexis and Westlaw. In theory, you don’t have to worry. I’m not saying that these publishers don’t occasionally produce products with errors, but they take accuracy and reliability very seriously, and they pay a lot of people to safeguard against excessive errors, make corrections and make sure that he most current content is available. Hence, many legal professionals view these products as irreplaceable.

What about a low-cost options? In Erika’s example, she found that Fastcase and Casemaker both had the current rule, but Bloomberg Law did not. Free sites? This entire post originated with Cornell’s LII and the fact that it had the wrong version, which they source from a government site. In all fairness, the Rule was accurate to the currency date at the top of the page: 2007. However, we all know that no one is going to stop and look for that. As Erika asks, should there be a disclaimer on these sites that is easier to see? What about print? In all likelihood, the newest version of any Court Rules pamphlet would have been consulted, which would contain the current version.

As I mentioned above, this isn’t a new problem, and when you think about it, has been around since John B. West published his first reporter. However, it has been exacerbated with all of the options available to legal researchers, and their subsequent lack of understanding regarding accuracy, currency and reliability. In my opinion, it just heightens the need for law librarians to continue to educate their users, as in “all things old are new again.”

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What’s Missing from this List?

It’s always interesting to see what resources are really being used by Summer Associates. Paul Lomio posted an unscientific quick poll of his Advanced Legal Research class last Friday, and the results are interesting. Here is the list of resources and the number of students who used it:

Google – 18

Westlaw – 14

LexisNexis – 11

Books – 8

Various databases licensed by Stanford University – 6

City/municipal codes – 5

PACER – 4

A librarian – 4

HeinOnline – 3

EDGAR – 2

PubMed – 2

ONLaw (California CEB database) – 1

SSRN – 1

Although the students worked for a wide variety of organizations, both private and public, it is interesting to note that Fastcase, Casemaker and Loislaw are not on the list at all. It’s hard to promote alternatives when new attorneys aren’t even aware of the options.

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WestlawNext for the iPad

The WestlawNext iPad App was released on Friday. Following in the footsteps of Fastcase, this is the second full legal research system available for the iPad, but there are a bunch of other cool law related iPad Apps available.

Seems like Apple might be back ‘in’ at law firms.

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The Last Nail in the Coffin?

There has been some discussion recently in the blogosphere regarding whether or not print is finally and completely dead. I think we’ve been talking about this since the “paperless office” made its debut in in 1975 (yes…it’s been that long).

A new threat to print, in my opinion, has just made its debut. West recently announced its new casebook rental service for law students. It works like this:

Notice that the student receives instant access to an eBook, while the print book is sent. The student then ships back the print volume at the end of the rental term, and eBook access ends.

As Jason Wilson points out in his impressive post, “I’m going to speculate that 80% continue marking up the eCasebook.” I think Jason is correct in thinking that the print copy will not be used much, and will ship back to West in a virtually (no pun intended) unused condition, which allows West to rent the volume over and over again.

Jason believes that this is a win-win for West, and I have to agree, it is a brilliant strategy. However, one of my main concerns is the complete devaluation of the print book. I am sure we will arrive a point where students will actually tell West not to send the print copy. Why not? They have their eBook, why hassle with receiving and returning the print book? In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if an option in the very near future is to select whether or not you want to receive the print copy.

As West starts to “print” fewer and fewer copies, what happens to the availability of these products? Is this the start of a whole new paradigm of book selling? I have to say I’m intrigued and a bit scared…

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Cost Recovery: Ebb and Flow

It seems to me that legal research cost recovery has a natural ebb and flow; sometimes it’s the hot topic and sometimes it isn’t.

Economy bad = Recover more costs!

Economy good = Cost recovery…Eh…

I wonder if this time is different? Has the economy driven a change that has established a permanent foothold and redrawn the landscape of cost recovery, or, like many other “changes,” will we just go back to the status quo? I have to admit that I’m not entirely sure. On the one hand, this seems to be one area where many clients, especially corporate ones, have drawn a line in the sand, and refused to pay. On the other hand, it seems like we’ve been here before, and not much changed the last time we had this discussion.

What ever happens, Lexis is one company that is betting on both sides of this coin (pun intended). Yesterday I read that LexisNexis announced a strategic partnership with eBillingHub, a product that helps simplify e-billing and increase collections (Thomson Reuters also partners with eBillingHub through its Elite product). Believe it or not, LexisNexis also sells CounselLink, a product designed to “identify greater savings through superior invoice technology.”

In other words, they sell a product to law firms to help with e-billing and recovery of costs, and they also sell a product to corporate law offices designed to remove those costs. It might be interesting to know how many law firms submit bills through a LexisNexis product, with LexisNexis charges, that get denied by another LexisNexis product.

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Underestimating Low-Cost Rivals: Does it matter now?

In an article just submitted for publication, Laura Justiss discusses her recent survey of alternatives to premium legal research providers in private law firms:

With respect to primary law research, however, it is safe to say that Lexis’s and Westlaw’s exclusive grasp in law firms has been significantly weakened by improving content from free and low cost bar-funded sources, as well as by commercial competitors such LoisLaw and the boldly advancing Bloomberg Law.

There was a time when low cost legal research providers weren’t even on the radar,  and I guess to some,  they still aren’t. However, I believe that the landscape has changed dramatically in the last couple of years, and the question now is, how do premium legal research services fit into today’s “fast and cheap” model? Two words that have definitely not been used to describe traditional legal research resources.

I was struck by a recent McKinsey article, in which author Adrian Ryans asks a fundamental question:

Should the company or business unit adjust its strategy to meet the low-cost threat or should it continue business as usual, with no change in strategy or tactics?

It seems obvious that the premium providers in the legal research market have continued business as usual. I wonder if that is a smart strategy? Mr. Ryans also states that “complacency and arrogance produce blind spots that delay response and leave incumbents vulnerable.”

The economy certainly is an additional influence in this shift, but I think it is more than that. Young lawyers and researchers have grown up in the age of computers, and are used to instant information for low or no cost. We already know that researchers go to Google first, and with the introduction of legal materials on Google Scholar, they are going there in even greater numbers. I just did a test search for “dog bite,” and got almost 2,200 results in .14 seconds. I was then able to adjust the jurisdiction, time-frame and see how many times my cases have been cited. All for free and in less than a minute. It would be hard to argue that one shouldn’t spend a few minutes on Google Scholar.

Loislaw and Fastcase have also been enhancing their services. Loislaw has added a document manager and Fastcase has introduced Forecite, as well as free applications for the iPhone and iPad.

Will any of these services, including Google, make even more of a dent in the duopoly? I think that is still an open question. As I always say, this is a fascinating time to be part of the legal industry and I look forward to observing the changes that I’m certain will continut to come.

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