7/26/10

"Exploded Data" Blew My Mind...

Somewhere between reading Jason Wilson's post on "Exploded Data, the Legal Web and What We're Missing" and Toby's post on "KM 3.0 = Analysis", my brain started to smolder from all the 'future of data' discussion. Jason takes an example of a 33 word sentence and how 66 individual pieces of "exploded data" (which looks a lot like XML structured data) were extrapolated, and the 'explosion of data' could probably have easily continued on for at least another 66 categories. Toby had talked about the predictions that the amount of information stored in the world today surpassed the zettabyte threshold and is continuing to grow as we get "better-faster-cheaper search and retrieval systems." Wilson ends his post with these two sentences:
The question is whether we will step up to organize this sea of data, or wait until a program can do it for us. If the latter, what does it say about the future of legal research and the practice of law?
I don't think that the problem is a "man vs. machine" issue, but rather a how can man make machine better, and vice-versa. Regardless of the amount of crowdsourcing you throw at legal information, there is just no possible way for humans, alone, to explode the information. Add to this the fact that there is no way for a computer algorithm (at least at this point in history) to do this either. Right now, it has to be a combination of efforts of humans working to ask the right questions, set the right conditions, and bring in the right experiences in order to help the computer algorithms or data structure establish methods of creating "smart information." The overall process is for the human editors (curators) to get the information more quickly from "dumb" to "smart" through the use of technology, then work on tweaking the technology from time to time in order to keep make the smart information even smarter. Just as with many industries, the core functions of legal editing will become more and more commoditized, and the work will focus on establishing the next piece of smart information rather than focusing on uncovering the hidden data of existing information. Toby told me today at lunch that currently "humans ask the better questions when it comes to how to handle information." He went on to say, however, that there will probably come a day when machines may actually start being better at asking the questions. What does that have to say about the future of information?

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7/23/10

Programming at AALL - How About A `Constructive` Discussion?


[Guest Blogger Mark Gediman]

There has been a lot of discussion lately regarding AALL committees, services and programs.  What seems to missing from some of this discussion is a desire to see constructive change.  In my mind, it isn't enough to identify a problem, you need to also show a desire to fix the problem.  The tone of this debate may be as important as the actual debate.

Anyone with kids knows that it isn't enough to point a finger at someone and say it's the other person's fault.  I know with my kids,  the one who says "no" to a suggestion without making one of their own automatically loses the debate.  In order for any discussion to succeed, it needs to be structured as a dialog, not a diatribe. Not doing so forces the singled out parties to be defensive and not willing to listen to what the other person has to say.  This does not allow for a constructive debate.  As someone who has contributed to the discussion, I can say from experience that you get further presenting your issue as a discussion.

AALL is an organization that is made up of different groups, and more importantly, individuals.  It can only evolve through the involvement of the individuals collaborating together for change.  I am proud to be a member of such a diverse organization that is made up of people that are genuinely committed to the growth of the profession.  They may stumble along the way, but it is our job as members to help them as they go along.  This is what makes the organization valuable to both the profession and its individual members.  So much for my two cents.


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Now This Is Just Cool... BlindType - Text Without Even Looking!

I know that with the exception of Flipboard for the iPad, that BlindType has been getting a lot of talk around the mobile webisphere (can I trademark "webisphere"??) But if you haven't seen this "soon to be released" product yet, you need to take a look. It will change the way you text (especially those of you that text and drive... you know who you are!!)

By the way... I got my Flipboard to connect to Twitter and Facebook yesterday (and it is awesome!!) So I can't wait until BlindType is actually out for the iPad, iPhone and Android devices.


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Interview with Manupatra's CEO Deepak Kapoor - Providing Legal Research For India's Courts

While walking up and down the aisles of the vendor hall at the AALL annual conference, I saw a booth for an Indian company called Manupatra. I have to be honest, when I first saw the booth I thought that it was an outsourcing company and I avoided it on my first couple of sweeps through the hall. However, once I took a deep breath and walked up and started talking with Manupatra's CEO, Deepak Kapoor, it turned out that I was flat wrong in my assumption and Manupatra is actually the Indian legal system's equivalent to Westlaw or Lexis. After a short discussion about Manupatra, a few Indian sweets, and a little discussion of my Bollywood movie obsession, I walked away with a good impression of what Deepak Kapoor was doing in making it easier to track the decisions the courts in India were producing.

After a follow-up email, I sent Kapoor a few questions I had about the product, the Indian legal system, and how Manupatra's presence at AALL was viewed by other law librarians in attendance. I've place the transcript below. There is also great interview of Kapoor with a little history of Manupatra at the Bar & Bench that will give you some background on Manupatra's mission.



Lambert:    Thanks for the follow up on the exhibit at AALL. It was very nice meeting you and your colleague (and I enjoyed the Indian sweets as well.) I found the Bar & Bench article from May 20th of this year and found the story behind your creating Manupatra very fascinating. Why would a non-Indian lawyer or law firm use a product like Manupatra?

Kapoor:    India has been evincing lot of focus and interest from Companies across the globe in last few years for the opportunities the country offers. China and India are the two sought for investment destinations today . This interest is on the upswing. As a result there is a building and growing need for legislative , regulatory and [procedural Indian content .
Manupatra provides a one point solution to this need by bringing forth Legal, Taxation, Corporate and Business Policy information all in one place. Archives coupled with updates across all subjects of law covering primary documents ( Case laws, regulations, notifications, statutes etc ) and proprietary analytical content, www.manupatra.com is the largest and most comprehensive online resource for Indian material.
Thus a non Indian lawyer/ law firm assisting any Company/ firm to set up business in India or evaluating feasibility/ viability for their clients to have business interests in India would require access to Manupatra database.
Also, number of students are now going oversees for their Masters. They look for Indian materials since they do their projects on Indian issues.

Lambert:    How does Manupatra compare (price and content) to other products like LexisNexis or Westlaw?

Kapoor:    Both Lexis and Westlaw as of today do not host any Indian content, thus no comparisons are available.

Lambert:    Do you see Indian courts adopting an official citation system for its decisions? If so, are you currently lobbying the courts to adopt such a system?

Kapoor:    As per statute the court is to cite the citation of the official publication “India Law Reports specific to each court”. But this publication is either not published in most courts or has very skeletal coverage or is delayed by couple of months. Hence the private journals end up being cited. Each court pushes a particular journal which has maximum and fastest reporting. Since Manupatra is fastest to report , we see this working in our favour over years.

Lambert:    Can you give me a brief overview of how lawyers in India currently conduct legal research (are they still book researchers, or are they like American lawyers and conduct most research online?)

Kapoor:    India is still in the nascent stages as far as legal research is concerned. The users in metros and big cities have moved to online legal research The smaller courts use CD ROM based products or book research and the rest of the market is still driven by book research. Apart from geographical distinction, the age profile also distinguishes users. The senior guys would go for book research more out of habit and thus they trust the same. They personally are not tech savvy and thus books still rule the roost in their libraries/ chambers. India is fast moving towards electronic legal research, if not online research and with Computerization increasing and price of bandwidth going down the stag seems to be set for Online legal research.

Lambert:    I see you have about 45,000 current subscribers to your product. With the expansion of the number of lawyers in India increasing in great numbers, where do you see these numbers in a year? two years? five years?

Kapoor:    45000 are users and not subscribers. In India we still do not have a non sharing policy. So in a firm which has 15 users may still have a single subscription.

Lambert:    Please add anything else about Manupatra that you think would be of interest for those of us in North American.

Kapoor:    Manupatra not only started a Company but also has pioneered an industry. Through dedicated in-house effort and sustained support from clients, Manupatra has come to be recognized as the pioneer in online legal research in India.

Lambert:    I also have a question about your thoughts on the AALL conference. I imagine that many of the attendees at the conference had the same thoughts that I did when I first saw your booth... that you were a legal outsourcing company. Perhaps that is an assumption that we should not have made, but we law librarians here in the U.S. are a little paranoid that some of our jobs will no longer be around in a few years, and that they will be outsourced to a call center in India. Did you find that other attendees were thinking the same thing (or was it just me??)

Kapoor:    In India legal research is understood in a different way than it is in USA. Thus our tag line turned out to be confusing not only for you. There were some others also who came and clarified. Thanks for pointing this out since we will take care when we are exhibiting in different markets.




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7/22/10

LightShot - Simple and Free Screen Capture Resource

I've been using SnagIt for a number of years to do screen capturing and editing of screenshots and enjoy it throughly. However, I know from experience that not everyone has access to this paid software, but they still have the need to do screenshots and editing. For those of you that fit in this category, you need to go check out LightShot. LightShot is a very light weight (meaning that it won't burn up a lot of memory or disk space on your computer), free (although you can donate money to them if you find it to be a valuable resources), Windows browser (FireFox, Chrome or IE), or Desktop application (Windows). (whew... was that too many parens?)

I downloaded this yesterday and have had a great time testing it. I've found it to be very powerful as both a screen capturing tool, and an image editor. I've been using the Chrome plug-in, and have had absolutely no problems using it. The Desktop Application is very cool in that you press the "Print Screen" and it gives you the ability to select the portion of the screen you actually want to grab. The online editor tool is very nice and has a lot of the same editing tools that you see in high end image editing software. I did have to refrain from "right-clicking" while editing because it is editing through the browser using an Adobe Flash interface, so it does take a little getting used to, but not much.

Here's a four-minute video. Check it out, then get over to LightShot and test it out for yourself.
[BTW, if you know what song it is they are playing in this video, please let me know... I like it!]

LightShot Desktop Screenshot


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7/21/10

Should Libraries Go Back to "Closed" Collections?

As I was purusing the news yesterday, a comment from the SayAnythingBlog caught my attention. Apparently, University of North Dakota's Law School asked for a $10 Million to expand their courtroom setting, and the request was rejected. The rejection of the courtroom wasn't the comment that caught my eye, however, it was the alternative that was suggested on where to put the courtroom:
"The Law School has an enormous amount of space. They’ve got every electronic teaching aid known to man. If they want to they can clear out the law library since Lawyers don’t use law books anymore, it’s all electronic." (emphasis added)
Between this comment, and the one I heard from R. David Lankes' keynote speech at AALL, it makes me wonder if the physical space that the library takes is actually hurting the concepts of libraries more than it is helping?
Take a look at the picture that Lankes showed of a library 70 years ago, and the same library today. There is a stark difference of a place that people go to gather, study and learn, to a place that houses books. Libraries look more like a showpiece for bound books than it does as a place to come to learn. So, should we be surprised when someone says to clear out the library since no one uses it any more? Now, the mentioning of moving collections back behind closed doors and having people come ask for those hidden items may be too appalling an idea to actually put into action. The idea sprung from the fact that closed collections could be housed in a far smaller footprint and allow libraries to be viewed more as a place for people than a place for books. [By the way, I ran the idea past my wife (who happens to now be an elementary librarian after many years of being a corporate librarian), and she thought the idea was horrible. But, horrible and/or crazy ideas have never stopped me from investigating them (or writing about them here!!)] If we turn the focus of a library away from the collection of physical items and toward more of an idea of where the community you serve comes to learn, then you may very well see a place that people go to gather and learn. As long as the identities of libraries are viewed as simply a space that houses books, then we will constantly lose that space, and eventually the true identity of a library as a place to gather and learn.

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Connect Your iPad to Your Desktop With TeamViewer HD

Although I'm loving my iPad, there are just certain things that I'd much rather do in a Windows-based environment. For example, editing this blog using the iPad is very difficult to do and I just don't have the flexibility that I have when I'm on my PC. Well, never fear, TeamViewer HD helps connect your iPad to your personal PC's desktop. For someone that has grown up in a Window environment, it makes the iPad even more productive, and gives me the ability to not worry about "do I need to find another app that helps me do what I could easily do from my home PC?"

Now TeamViewer HD is not for iPad alone... it works very much like the Real VNC program I used to use to connect to remote desktops. So the concept isn't new, just the ability to do it from the iPad is. As with all remote desktop sharing software, you are literally connecting to the desktop as though you were sitting in front of that PC. So, remember, anyone that happens to actually be in front of that PC (or Mac, or Linux) can see everything you are doing.

The touchscreen capability of the iPad is limited to the moving around of the remote mouse, so you don't get a touchscreen effect on your remote PC (and it can be a little disorienting at first because your finger movements can feel opposite that of how you normally operate the iPad. For example, when you move the mouse down (by dragging your finger), the screen will go up when you reach the bottom. There are a number of options that work with the touchscreen that make the product work well, such as the tapping of two fingers to emulate a right-click. It takes a little getting used to, but you should quickly catch on.

TeamViewer HD is free for personal use, and can range between $719 - $2,690 depending upon your licensing of the product for business purposes. I've found it very, very useful in the few days that I've played around with it. Here are a few screenshots of what the product looks like.

The Login Page

Splash Screen w/Basic Instructions

Navigating Through the Start Menu

Small Screen View w/Keyboard

Landscape View (of me catching my kids watching Justin Bieber Videos!)

A Reminder Screen That I Should Only Use This For Personal Use


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7/20/10

Academics - Privates - Summers

I've never been afraid to tell you things that I should have know, but didn't. Here's just one more example of something that I should have been doing, but wasn't. While at the AALL conference in Denver, I walked into the exhibit hall one morning, made that automatic left-hand turn to the BNA coffee and donut section (thank you, thank you, BNA!!), and sat down with a couple of academic law librarians that I'd never met before. Turns out that one of them was from Wake Forest and (after I had a couple sips of coffee) that triggered a memory. I had a Summer Associate from that school currently at my firm. Aha!! This was at least a conversation starter, so I mentioned it to the librarian and she immediately knew the name of the Summer Associate I was talking about.

I had never thought about this opportunity before, but I think I'm going to start doing something a little differently when preparing for these law library conferences. I'm going to start contacting the law librarians at the schools that my firm's Summer Associates are attending to see who will be attending the conference that year. Perhaps we could meet up and discuss what we could both do to help the student succeed when he or she is ready to come back as an Associate next year. Simple things like identifying journals that we commonly route to the practice group could help keep the law student up to date on issues that others within their potential practice group are reading. Not only could it help the student, but it may also help the librarians by exposing each of them to materials they may not have currently in their own collections.

We law firm librarians tend to complain that law schools don't prepare students for the realities of law firm life. Maybe here is an opportunity to give pointed suggestions to the law school's librarians on how to assist specific students to be better prepared for the transition. At the very least, it gives us one more opportunity to network with others in our field.


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7/19/10

2010 AALL Conference is Over... Time to Submit for 2011!!

I'm just getting back from by extended conference / vacation in Denver, where I enjoyed the AALL conference, and especially enjoyed the Private Law Libraries Summit (pre-conference). I know there was a lot of fuss about the amount and types of programming that was scheduled for private law librarians at the conference (including guest posts on this blog), but I have to say that I wasn't really all that disappointed. I'll also go out on a limb and say that I thought that the PLL-Summit was one of the best day and a half seminars that I've ever attended on the topic of law firm libraries. Of course, since I presented, I may be a little biased.

I hope that there is a pre-conference again next year. If there is, I'm going to encourage a number of folks that I know that usually don't go to AALL conference to at least attend the pre-conference. I found that the presenters were great, and that the audience was much more engaged in the topic than you get in a normal session. The fact that the room was entirely private law librarians also helped focus the talks and even have lively arguments when we disagreed.  After all, we were all there to think... not think alike.

Here's an email that Jennifer Berman (PLL-SIS Education Chair) sent out to the list last week explaining the steps you need to take in order to submit a program for the general sessions of the 2011 AALL Conference in Philadelphia. I also have a couple of suggestions:

My Suggestions:

  1. Don't submit a 3-part program. Do one topic, in one session, and do it well.
  2. Don't submit a program where you want to learn a topic... See if an expert on that topic will do it, and help them submit the program. 
  3. Encourage new people to contribute. We all see a lot of the same faces presenting each year. Be a 'mentor' and get some new blood in front of an audience.
Berman Message:
Congratulations to us all. Our programs at AALL – Denver, CO were well attended, discussed, and received good reviews. In short, SUCCESS!! Thank you to all of the coordinators, moderators, and presenters. It was evident that a good deal of hard work went into the endeavor.
Now, we can’t sit on our laurels. Preparation for the 104th AALL Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, PA is well under way and proposals for presentations must be submitted by September 15, 2010.
There is no real theme to the 2011 conference. Programs are to parallel the competencies required for librarianship. If you have an idea for a presentation, please don’t hesitate. Put together a proposal and send it in, but please make sure to indicate that you would like PLL to sponsor the program.
A few helping details. Start by reading the short proposal description on the AALL website (http//:proposals.aallnet.org). It will link you to the Programmer Planner’s Handbook, (http://www.aallnet.org/events/ProgramPlannersHandbook.pdf), which will guide you through the process. Included in the Handbook are suggestions of how to write the proposal, wording to use that will catch the eye of the members of the Annual Meeting Program Committee (AMPC) and others. One hint we received is not to use the word “competency”. It’s the conference’s theme, so the idea should be inherent in your presentation. Overplay, and it may backfire.
As members of the PLL-SIS Education Committee, we review each proposal that is sponsored by PLL. There may be suggestions we would like to make that would give your presentation heavier weight with AMPC members, so sometimes we may request a small re-write. In order to assure that your program proposal is formally submitted by the September 15th deadline , we have implemented the following time schedule for sending in your proposal:

  • Aug 30 (noon CDT) – Submission of your program proposal to the members of the PLL Education Committee (names and contacts below). Page 43 of the Planners Handbook indicates how to share the program with us. When you share the program with us please DO NOT click the submission button or your program proposal will be submitted and there will be no opportunity to revise the proposal.
  • Sept 8 – You will have received a phone by a committee member to discuss your proposal. We will discuss recommended revisions, if needed, or suggest to submit as is.
  • Sept 15 – Final date for submission to AALL.

Remember, the earlier the better. If editing is required, we want to make sure that you’ve the needed time to do it to get it in on time and have it accepted.
If you have any questions or need any help, please call any one of us at any time. We are here to help you and make it as easy as possible to get through the process.
To jump start a little bit of thinking - the following three ideas were proposed. If you would want to flesh it out and write up a proposal for it, we can assist you with the process.

  1. The future of legal research 18 months later (Law firm librarians and academic librarians talking about what's happened with respect to adoption or nonadoption of WestlawNext, Lexis for Microsoft Office, New Lexis, Mobile Apps, etc.
  2. Conversations with legal news reporters (what is happening in the legal world)
  3. Summit on Training Part 2 (continuation of "Mile High Summit in Training: Are things coming to a peak?", a very well attended session). Discussion with law firm deans, managing partners, and students about training)

Enjoy, have fun and good luck to us all!

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LexisNexis Gives Its "Baby" a Name - "Lexis Advance"

Alright, you can now stop calling the forthcoming Lexis platform "New Lexis" or "LexisNext". I learned this morning that the folks over at LexisNexis have named their new platform "Lexis Advance". Toby got an advanced peek at the product a couple of months back and seemed to be impressed. Here is a snippet of the notice I received this morning announcing the baby's, er, the product's name:
We recently announced to our employees that our new legal information platform will be named “Lexis® Advance” when it goes to market.
To be clear, Lexis Advance is not available yet. It will be rolled out in phases for different segments of the market over an extended period of time starting later this year and moving forward into next year. That’s when legal professionals will start seeing the product and name.
Meanwhile, the name “New Lexis” continues on internally at our company as the moniker for our broad investment and invention program to create the next generation of innovative solutions with and for our customers. Another example of a new solution from this overall program is Lexis® for Microsoft® Office, which as you know, was announced earlier this year.
I've already stumbled over this name a couple of times (including typing it here), because it is very similar to another LexisNexis product called "Lexis atVantage". Now, let's see if the sales and marketing team at LexisNexis have learned from their counterparts over at Thomson Reuters on setting a clear price on their new baby. They can always look back on my open letter to remind them of how well "modest premium pricing" went over at law firms. (Hint: Don't start off the conversation with "Lexis Advance comes with an advance pricing model.")

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7/17/10

New Normal Marketing: Persuasion vs Negotiation

Last year I had the pleasure of attending a presentation made by Don Schultz, professor emeritus at Northwestern. I left the presentation with a key insight about how Web 2.0 has changed the landscape of marketing. As a consequence, I follow Don’s writings. In this month’s AMA Marketing News, Don’s column provided another layer of insight.
In the presentation Don gave, he had talked about how marketing was built on a ‘push messages to the masses’ foundation (think Mad Men). And that marketing continues to hold to these methods, even though the world has changed. Push is losing it’s ability to persuade as consumers take an active role in the marketing space. Web 2.0, a.k.a. Social Media, allows the customers to take part in the conversation. Push is out – participation is in.
Don’s article took this insight to a deeper layer. Based on a conversation with a colleague from China, he came to appreciate the different marketing and advertising methodology used there. In China, marketing is not about persuasion. Instead it’s about negotiation. The purpose in marketing there is “to create situations to be considered, thought about, bargained for and haggled over.”
If this concept sounds familiar – it should. This is how Web 2.0 works. So Don’s epiphany is that in the US in addition to holding on to the ‘push’ world, we still subscribe to the persuasion model of marketing and advertising. This is problematic since our venues for marketing are quickly becoming negotiation platforms.
The moral of this story: We need to shift our entire marketing philosophy from a persuasion based approach to the Chinese model of negotiation. Persuasion messages fall dead in the negotiation space. When people find no reason to engage with your marketing messages, the messages will never make it past the door and never even make it in to the market.

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7/16/10

The Transformed Law Librarian

[We're please to have Jill Strand as a guest-blogger]


So do you want to be transformed or help direct the transformation? This was my primary thought after reading "Law Libraries Transformed" on LLRX by Eleanor Windsor and Ron Friedmann are executives with Integreon, a legal process outsourcing firm with offices around the world. The title intrigued me yet in reading the article I was surprised to realize that the innovation they were advocating was outsourcing of law firm library services. Basically,  they seem to suggest that since law libraries have become less about the physical space and collection and more about the research and online resources, outsourcing is an ideal and possibly inevitable solution. While they do note that librarians are more important than ever in filtering the information overload, I have to confess feeling my feathers ruffle a bit at their general assumption that a "library as service" model will always offer greater cost savings and efficiencies. Rather than hide inside my personal closet of law librarian anxieties, I'm going to try and consider the bigger picture. So before you hit your own panic button, take a deep breath, read the full article for yourself and join me.

Outsourcing library services isn't anything new - it first hit my radar a few years ago while working on a legal process outsourcing research project at my previous firm. Nor is it surprising, particularly in the current economy, to hear that we might be on the cusp of a trend. And when you stop to think about it, this is a pretty timely issue given the ongoing discussions in the blogosphere and within SLA and AALL about what we need to do to survive, thrive and advance to the C-level. Heck, I've been listening to and taking part in these discussions since my first information interview with an advertising firm librarian ten years ago. Call it alignment, advancement or whatever you want, but we are probably better served being pro-active about possible solutions rather than just reacting negatively to this news.

So what do we do? I'm sure many of you have some fabulous ideas which you'll hopefully comment on here. A good starting place could be to think about how we could work with this trend (if it is really a trend yet) and turn it to our advantage. Do we set out to completely disprove it as a valid solution or do we find a way to take part in or take charge of it so that we have some say or control over what library functions should or shouldn't be out-sourced? While the article does mention having skilled specialists with advanced degrees in law and business, it isn't clear whether Integreon actively recruits librarians with MLS degrees and library experience - how can we use that to position ourselves as their perfect in-house partners? For example, I'm taking the time to sit down with each attorney at my firm to learn more about their practice, key clients and research needs - the insights gained from these meetings have helped us to tailor our services and pro-actively provide current awareness and education about available resources. How could this knowledge be used to work successfully with an outsourcing firm?

While it does seem like Integreon understands the value of law librarians and what we do, I hope that they aren't too quick to see themselves as an ideal one-size-fits all replacement for most law firm libraries or legal departments. It would be a mistake to assume that the strategic knowledge and relationships we've built over the years within our firms wouldn't be critical for any successful information services solution. No matter what type of vendor we work with, there should be a way to customize contracted services to enhance what we already offer without having to throw the librarian (or library) out with the bath water.

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7/15/10

Information Convergence


[Please Welcome Guest Blogger Scott Preston]

Convergence - the approach toward a definite value, a definite point, a common view or opinion.
Over ten years ago we, in IT, talked about convergence. Back then, convergence often referred to the merging of data and telephone infrastructures, and when first introduced, this idea was taboo (this always struck me as odd, there is very little difference between the data and telephone worlds). The telecom folks didn’t feel comfortable with data and the data folks didn’t feel comfortable in the telecom world.

Here we are again, only now we are talking about who owns the data and how information flows; about how the information stewards relate to the structure of a law firm. In an interesting dialog with Greg and Toby, I suggested that the CIO is the obvious point of information convergence. Greg was convinced the point of information convergence belonged within Library Services. Toby purchased another round of beers and encouraged us to dig a little deeper. In the end, we agreed to disagree on reporting structure. We did agree that IT and LS are complimentary departments, IT being more interested in system design/maintenance and LS being more interested in information research/consumption. Without good system design, it is difficult to get the information you need and without an understanding of the information needed, it is difficult to design efficient systems.

Information convergence is going to happen whether we like it or not. It must happen, the lack of convergence creates inefficiencies.

We have these issues now. Contract negotiation – in many firms IT and Library Services negotiate contracts independently. The vendors love this, but it is inefficient and costly for the firm. Information sources – often times each group uses different data sources to obtain the same or similar information. Again, the vendors love this, but it is expensive and lacks efficiency. Without communication between departments, vendors are selected for the wrong reasons and projects often started but never finished. Lack of agreement about direction and duplicated efforts between departments has a big impact on finances as well as resources. Worst of all, we continue to send a mixed message to our clients.

The solution probably varies as much as a law firm’s culture, but at the heart of the solution must be leaders who are more interested in change and less interested in puffery.

Can we just get along?

We need to:

  • Trust the intention of others.
  • Spend more time learning about the other discipline and less time talking about why it makes no sense to have them manage information.
  • Stop giving the vendors the advantage.
  • Do what is right for the client.

I’m reaching across the aisle hoping to see a similar response from the other side.

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7/14/10

"Do Things Differently"

This morning I had the pleasure of participating in a Houston Chapter AMA sponsored roundtable presentation with Larry Heard, the President & CEO of Transwestern. He gave a brief and engaging talk on leadership and then opened the floor for questions. My $64 dollar questions was: Given the economic reset, what sort of fundamental shift are you making in your market strategy?
He had a very simple answer: Do things differently.
He went on to describer how when you are in an ‘up’ market and every one is well capitalized and confident you can only make gains at the margin. But after a significant downturn there are tremendous opportunities to gain market share and profit from bold moves. The alternative to being bold was obvious – and left unspoken.
I liked the message in part due to its economics approach. He went on to say how in this emerging upturn the stakes are even higher. The rapid changes in technology and global competition have upped the ante on this proposition. The market is rife with opportunity, but also treacherous for those who do not act.
I would add another level of urgency for law firms. With the guild broken and a competitive market (or call it a buyer’s market if you like) in place, law firms have an even bigger reason to "do things differently."
The Reality: Not many law firms are doing this (and I’m being generous).
The Future: The vast majority of law firms do not have the institutional will to engage in such an approach. A major reason is the Paradigm of Precedence they live in.
The Result: We may be removing the question mark from the title of Richard Susskind’s book – The End of Lawyers?

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How Embarrassing... Westlaw Reference Attorneys Are Blogging... And You're Not??

Over a year ago I mentioned that the Gartner Blog Network gave law firms a model to use (along with specific instructions and guidelines) to set up a firm-wide blog network for your firm. Since that time, I've talked with individual bloggers at firms and the answer has always been that their firms don't want to take the risk of allowing their lawyers to blog on a firm-wide platform. Of course, the number one reason that was mentioned time and time again was the fact that they didn't want some lawyer giving legal advice through a blog. My answer to that is, if you can't trust your lawyers to follow rules of ethical conduct on a blog, then why give them email, or a telephone, or let them ride up the elevator with non-firm people?

Well, just to embarrass you once again, it seems that another group of professionals that lawyers listen to have started a blog platform for their attorneys to contribute. Westlaw's Reference Attorneys have set up their own blog where they focus on the needs of Summer Associates and produce blog posts that point out some of the needs expressed by Summer Associates and relay that to others. The bloggers share information that comes in from Summer Associate calls in order to identify trends (such as issues on the gulf oil spill), and get someone to blog about how they've handled the issues so that others can benefit from the experience. Mike Carlson, Reference Attorney with Westlaw, talks about the reason for setting up the blog as a way to enter the space that a segment of their customer base is using. In fact, Mike mentions that they see a number of attorneys (not just Summer Associates) that are Googling on legal topics and find their blog in their Google results. Once they find the blog, they also give the West Reference Attorneys a call.

Let's think about this for a minute. West Reference Attorneys have a common blog where they discuss trends they are seeing in legal research; their customers find them through searching legal topics; their customers are then reading the blog, and some even make a follow-up call to the reference attorneys to get more information. Seems like a decent business idea to me.

I suggest going back and taking a look at my post on the way Gartner established guidelines for its bloggers and see if it couldn't be adapted to your firm or practice group. Blogs and social media are all about discussion and interaction. If you're not doing something in the social media world, you're missing out on that conversation.

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7/10/10

Poking Bears With Sticks - My Talk at AALL on Reaching the "C"-Level

I got things stared off with a bang yesterday when I discussed a couple of blog posts where I said that the status of law firm librarians has diminished over the past 15 years or so. In those posts, I laid the blame at the feet of the current leadership (AKA "baby-boomers") and the law library professional organizations. As you might image, the conversation after my talk was quite lively, and the room (which was filled with baby-boomers' of course) was very happy to point out where they thought I was wrong (a lot), and where they thought I was right (a little).

I was very happy that the conversation included ideas on what could be done through organizations like AALL or SLA, or even through external entities like the ABA, ALM, or NLJ. At the same time, I was a little disappointed with those in the audience that thought that because they were content with their individual situation, and that the status-quo of self-promotion will work fine for the profession (because it has worked for them). My discussion is focused on the profession as a whole... not individual pockets of success. For those that think that things are fine just the way they are, or that law firm librarians are merely feeling the effects of a down economy and that as the economy bounces back, so will the library profession, then I suggest that you answer the following survey:

Rank how the following law firm departments' status has changed over the past 10 years, where 1 is "fallen significantly", 3 is "the same", and 5 is "increased significantly".

Business Development ____
Information Technology ____
Knowledge Management ____
Library Services ____
Marketing ____
Recruiting ____
Secretarial Services ____

You can keep your answers to yourself, or share them with the rest of us in by leaving a comment.

The point of my talk was not to insult the current leaders, but rather to get the discussion going on what we need to do to go forward and improve the status of the profession. If it means that we need to poke a few bears along the way in order to get them engaged in the conversation, then so be it.

To borrow from the AALL keynote speaker, R. David Lankes, "the future for librarianship is bright, but not if we continue to see our value in our collections and resources -- instead of in ourselves.... The future of librarianship is in our hands and we must be ready to fight for it."

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7/9/10

KM 3.0 = Analysis

Since my presentation with Kingsley Martin at TECHSHOW 2010, I have been giving more and more thought to the evolution and future of KM. Previously we have posted on 3 Geeks about the impact of AFAs on KM, but I think there is a bigger under-current that will drive the next generation of KM. That under-current comes in the shape of massive amounts of data.
In May of this year, predictions were the world will soon pass the zettabyte threshold for the amount of data in existence (think 1 billion terrabytes). As the e-discovery world has already learned - humans are unable to deal with large quantities of data in a meaningful way. The obvious answer to this question has been technology. But so far that technology has focused on search and collaboration (Web 2.0 included). Most KM systems are focused on better-faster-cheaper search and retrieval systems. This approach will suffice to a point. Crossing the zettabyte threshold may be the metaphorical line-in-the-sand where search falls apart.
What is needed now is technology that analyzes our data/information/knowledge for us. Our reservoir of knowledge has become like the oceans. We can't understand the vastness and nature of them while standing on the shore. The resulting inability to ask the right questions limits the advance of our knowledge.
So now we need our technology to take on this new role. I recall a conversation with a data miner a few years back that illustrates this point. He was analyzing (in 3 dimensions - whatever that is) 911 call data. He was able to determine where and when police should be deployed based on this analysis. 911 call centers were not originally designed with this question in mind. The data revealed the question as a result of the analysis.
KM 3.0, as a set of analysis systems, will be the kind of tool best situated to address this challenge of oceanic volumes of knowledge. I have seen a few emerging tools heading in this direction (e.g. Lexis for MS Office), but will be keeping my eye on the horizon for more examples to appear.

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7/7/10

We Got Our Hands On Fastcase's New iPad App!! Review and Actual Screenshots!

Thanks to Ed Walters at Fastcase for letting us actually install their new iPad application while it is awaiting final authority from Steve Jobs to be released through the Apps Store. I've been playing with it for the past hour or so and have taken a lot of screenshots from the iPad, and so far, it has been pretty easy to use and takes advantage of the iPad's larger screen format. Most of all, this is another marketing coup for Fastcase (just do a Google search for Fastcase and iPad and see the number of blogs, press releases and news articles from yesterday and today announcing the launch!!)

When Fastcase released the iPhone app, I gave it a luke-warm reception because the iPhone app seemed to be more of a novelty than something that someone would actually use. The iPad app, however, is something that people would use to conduct legal research, as it has a bigger screen, and is much easier to use than the smaller iPhone format. You still can't print (not a Fastcase app issue, but rather an iPad issue), but you can save documents, and if you know what you're doing, you can email documents to yourself and print them out at your PC or Mac.

Here are some 'real' screenshots that I took (not those canned ones you've been seeing on all the other blogs!!) along with some comments I have on the usability of the app.

Splash Screen:
This appears for a few seconds while the app launches.

Start Screen (Select what you want to search)
Select the database you want to search (you cannot search both cases and statutes at the same time). You can also browse statutes (any statutes that are not in the Fastcase databank, such as Colorado, will give you an option to launch the iPad browser to go to the official state statute site.)

"Search Caselaw" Screen
Seems to be basic Boolean searching or you can look up by citation.

The Conducting Search Screen (AKA "Hey, why don't you upgrade to our full version" Screen)
If 'free' is nice, the premium version must be better, right??
The searches I conducted took anywhere from three seconds to about fifteen seconds... depending upon the databases selected and the search terms used.

Caselaw Search Result Screen
You can set the display options in the "settings" area. This shows the top results by relevance and gives you the name of the case, decision date, and the number of times this case has been cited.

Caselaw Reading Pane View
The reading pane is nice and clean. You can also 'swipe' to the next result by swiping left, and the previous page by swiping right. This was actually backward from how most other iPad apps work, but I adjusted quickly to the way it works here.

Authority Check Report Page
Although it is not quite a KeyCite or Shepards' results page, it is helpful to have the ability to see cases that have cited this case. It would be even better if Fastcase did this for statutes and other primary law material as well.

Statute Search Results Page
Here's the results page for a statute search with the short name and citation to the statute listed.

Statute Reading Pane
Reading pane for statutes is similar to the caselaw reading screen.

Increase Font Size Option
There is a slider bar that allows you to increase the size of the font. In the next version, it would be nice to allow you to adjust the font through the 'pinching' or 'expanding' the screen by using two fingers.

Save Document Option
You can save documents to read later.


Saved Document Screen
The saved document screen will display all of the documents you've saved. A nice addition to this would be to allow the user to add folders so that documents could be saved to specific research projects.


Recent Searches Page
Past few (default is 10, but you can increase in the settings page) searches are displayed and can be re-run from here.


Settings Page
Adjust the look and feel of the results, display and storage of the app.


The Upgrade to Full Fastcase Version Page
Again... if free is good, premium is better!!


Option for Getting Around the iPad's Printing Issue
Step 1: Press and hold your finger at the top of the screen (somewhere with "white space") until the blue "copy" highlight covers the entire text.
Step 2: Press Copy
Step 3: Open your email program and paste the document into the body of the email. You could also push the text to something like Evernote if you use that.
Step 4: Print the email from your PC or Mac when you get back to your office.

Until Steve Jobs seems to think it is okay for you to print directly from your iPad, this type of work around will have to do.

I've had no problems navigating or searching around the iPad version of Fastcase. It is pretty straight forward and easy to use. It doesn't take advantage of all of the bells and whistles that the iPad offers, but I'm sure that over time it will. I'm looking forward to showing this around to my peers at the AALL conference this weekend (since I know that most won't even have an iPad... and none will have the Fastcase iPad App!!)


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7/6/10

Fastcase Launching iPad Version of Free Legal Research App!

Fastcase is releasing an iPad version of their free legal research app (currently available on the iPhone), and announced the launch on Jeff Richardson's blog iPhone J.D.  Currently you can download the iPhone app to the iPad and run it in the 2x mode, but it is still an iPhone app and looks strange on the iPad's large screen format.

I've gone to the Apps store to find this updated version, but it doesn't appear to be released as I'm writing this. So, go over to iPhone J.D. and check out the information that Fastcase's Ed Walters gave to Jeff. (Or, Legal Geekery's review... really Ed?? Where's the love for 3 Geeks??)

A couple of weeks ago, I talked with some of the folks at Wolters Kluwer, who are also releasing a new version of their IntelliConnect interface (Web-based... not iPad based... yet!) and one of the comments that caught my attention was that they are also releasing an iPhone enhanced browser-version (as well as Blackberry) for IntelliConnect, but are waiting on creating the iPad app version because they don't see it as a "larger iPhone version", but rather as a unique platform that calls for a unique approach on producing applications. The "tablet" computers that are coming out are really changing the way information providers (legal or otherwise) are presenting their information. Even the WestlawNext developers are excited about the tablet interface revolution that is happening. Although it appears that the new Fastcase App isn't set to take advantage of all of the advantages you get from the iPad (larger screen, touch functionality, etc), Fastcase is doing a great job of being "first to market" for their product.

Maybe Ed Walters will let us give the new platform the "once-over" before releasing it to the public!! (hint, hint!!)

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7/2/10

Google Scholar Adds 'Search within Articles Cited' Option

Google Scholar is adding a new feature that allows researchers to conduct a search within the documents that cite to a specific case. This takes its "cited by" function up a notch by allowing you to limit the search to cases or secondary resources that have all cited the same document. I got a note from Google Scholar's Chief Engineer, Anarag Acharya this morning that laid out some of the details.
Just a quick note to mention that earlier today we added the ability to search within citing articles to Google Scholar. This has been a popular feature request :) It allows you to search the complete text of the set of articles/cases citing a document, It can also be used to limit the results to citations from specific jurisdictions (via the dropdown on search pages or the advanced search page).
A blog post describing this with examples and an illustration is at the Google Scholar Blog
It's a pretty simple addition, but one that may assist researchers in narrowing the amount of information they need to search in order to find what they are looking for.  Here's a snapshot of the new feature:





It seems that the handful of folks at Google Scholar are still listening to their users. So, if you have any further suggestions, you should contact them through their suggestions page.

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7/1/10

Hey Vendors... Take Some Notes On How To Properly Respond To Criticism And Suggestions

Over the past few days there's been a number of good posts on the programming at AALL and comments on what some members would like to try differently in the future. I know that there are many AALL members that probably feel that the AALL Executive Board and the conference programming committees have been "picked on" by the criticism and suggestions (and maybe they have), but to look at Catherine Lemann's response, you see that she and the other members have been paying attention, and compiled an excellent FAQ webpage that lays out, in great detail, the processes they took as well as other answers to questions that have been floating around the blogosphere this week.

This type of proactive, honest and detailed response is exactly what AALL leaders needed to do. Notice that this wasn't put out to stop the discussion, but rather to put facts out in order to keep the discussion going. Some of the vendors that snap back at critics with answers like "there's a lot of misinformation floating around" as a way of deflecting issues, could learn a thing or two from the actions taken by Catherine Lemann and others at AALL.

Go check out the FAQ... it has a lot of great details on the process along with some other information that members have been asking about.

Here's  Catherine's note to the members of the Private Law Libraries listserv:

There have been a lot of great online discussions taking place among AALL members about how to make the Annual Meeting even better, especially its educational content. This discussion is wonderful to read, because it underscores how active and invested our members are in the law library profession and in AALL.

It is important we challenge each other to make things even better, so we can continue to develop our skills and gain knowledge from each other. I, and the rest of the Executive Board, have been listening and reading and thought more information about how the current process works would be beneficial to the discussion. So we have worked to put together an FAQ to answer some of the questions that have come up in these conversations. I hope you will find this information helpful. We welcome the discussion and your input. Thank you for your commitment to AALL and your colleagues in the profession.

Catherine Lemann
AALL President


I also like the section of the FAQ that asks:

What are the top three things I can do to ensure that programs meet my needs?
  1. Propose a program.
  2. Work closely with your SIS's Education Committee.
  3. Always respond to AALL surveys which solicit member opinions and ideas.
AALL is successful because of the involvement, enthusiasm, and creativity of you, its members. AALL strongly encourages you to volunteer to help support the professional needs of your law librarian colleagues.



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Legal Research Cost Recovery - The Movie...

One of my friends (who also happens to be a Westlaw Rep) mentioned that she had some clients that were confused when I discussed "Cost Recovery" in the past:
They are on flat rates, and are small 3 or 4 atty firms....so they were relieved to learn that oddly enough, usage has nothing to do with their pricing and they can use the fire out of it without raising their bill. I was relieved to see that you explained that in the update - thank you!. In my world, 100% of my customers have flat fee subscriptions, and they read your column too. It provided me a wonderful opportunity to explain how their plan works, but the situation was eye opening to me. 
First of all, I'm thrilled that her clients are reading my blog (or is she just saying that to kiss-up??... oh well, either way is great!) Second, I should warn anyone that reads this blog that we have a terrible slant toward how things are done in BigLaw. Toby's not as bad at is as I am... but, it's kind of what we know.

I thought that I'd put together a short little presentation that describes the basics of cost recovery (at least in some big firms.) I created this in PowerPoint, then converted it to video using PowerShow.com. The conversion caused a few timing issues, but for a freebie... I'm not complaining! (okay... I'm now complaining. Unfortunately, PowerShow's presentation is an "auto start" "auto repeat" process that is apparently impossible to turn off, so I've embedded the presentation from authorSTREAM instead.)  If for some reason you can't see this because your IT department seems to think that "embedded video" = "porn" ... then you can download the presentation by clicking here. Again, it is a very, very basic overview of how firms recover the cost of Westlaw or LexisNexis searches, but sometimes basic is what we need.


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6/30/10

AALL Conference - How About a "Less is More" Approach?


[Guest Blogger - Tracy Thompson-Przylucki]

I've given a lot of thought to the issue of Annual Meeting programming almost since my first meeting in 1997. I can recall in my first few years of attendance hearing my more senior colleagues express dissatisfaction with the programming, the scheduling, the no-conflict limitations, etc. As I newb, I was still absorbing so much I couldn't imagine what they were lacking. But now (and for a few years) I find myself in the same boat. I want to be part of the solution but so far the exact formula for Annual Meeting nirvana eludes me. I still really enjoy the Annual Meeting and wouldn't miss it for the world, but I'd be thrilled to see some disruptive change, some risk-taking. Even if it failed.

I don't have any transformative suggestions, but I do have some observations. First, less is more. I'd like the Annual Meeting to be less of a mad dash and more of an opportunity to really connect with our colleagues, vendors, etc. A time to reflect, consider and absorb. Recently, especially since it's been shortened, the AM feels frenetic and fractured.

Second, AALL (or any organization) just can't be all things to all people. They have to maximize their resources to approach a Benthamesque balance; the greatest good for the greatest number. There will always be some of us who need/want more.

Third, taking these two points into account, I'd like to see LESS programming (throw eggs and hiss here), limited no-conflict times, and that lost day returned to the schedule (with no programming or exhibit hall on the last day). AALL could facilitate meetings (members sign up for the space they need) on the final day (SISs, committees, working groups, ad hoc groups, chapters, etc.) so that members would have the opportunity to get some of the real work done without conflicts.

I know that the number of programs will always be an issue. I just don't think we need 6 or 8 programs in one time slot. Maybe 4? And rethink the tracks?

Perhaps (thinking out loud)
  1. New Professionals (<5 years) 
  2. Mid-career Professionals (5-10 years) 
  3. Advanced Professionals (10-20 years) 
  4. Mentors (>20 years). 
Or
  1. Law Library Administration and Management 
  2. Law Library Services 
  3. Technology in Law Libraries 
  4. The Future of Law Libraries and the Profession. 
Are you thinking about all the reasons these won't work? How about thinking about how they (or others) could work?

I like the approach of crowdsourcing as some part of the selection process (perhaps not definitive) that someone suggested. This puts some of the responsibility on us as a collective. Remain unengaged at your own peril!

When I've inquired about the shortened schedule I've been told that it was largely a response to PLL members' needs for less time away from their offices. If that is truly the case (could be urban legend!) front load the meeting with PLL content as much as possible to give those folks the flex they need.

Of course, AALL is a business concern. If they take big risks and fail, they risk losing us, their members and their lifeblood. So all of these comments are offered with one eye on that reality and an all too familiar understanding of the challenges membership organizations face in meeting members' expectations, especially in this economy.

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