It’s that time of year: time for top 10 lists for 2017.

What is your favorite top 10 list for 2017? Top movies? Top books? Top cars?

Well, here’s one more: our top ten 3 Geeks blog posts for 2017 in true Letterman style.

Top 10 3 Geeks blog posts for 2017 - Lihsa at 3 Geeks and a Law Blog

No. 10
Legal News Publishers: Stop Using the Term “Non-Lawyer”

No. 9
The Best Law Firm Marketing Bullshit — Tier 1

No. 8
“Do You Miss Me Yet?” – Reestablishing the Corporate Librarians

No. 7
My Remarks and Highlights from the AALL 2017 Conference

No. 6
One more time: law firm libraries are not about space

No. 5
Law Firm BS – Tier 3

No. 4
Who leads the law library? How about law librarians?

No. 3
Why sole provider isn’t really a thing and I’m not going to say it anymore

No. 2
Why now? The rise of alternative legal service providers

No. 1
On Law Firm Marketing Bullshit

And  that’s it, folks–happy holidays!

via Maya Hsu

My former colleague, Richard Hsu, is at it again. You may remember Richard, and his talented daughter, Maya, from my posts about his One Page Blog, and HsuTube blogs, and the really interesting videos he and Maya produced. I talked with Richard this week and caught up on what he’s up to these days. His new site, Hsu Untied, is Richard’s dive into the audio medium where he records podcasts of lawyers and special guests about their hobbies outside of their daily legal grind. Although Maya is now almost 16 and no longer interested in helping her Dad make topics like “Assignment in a Change Control” actually interesting, she did produce the artwork for the logo on the new site.

Hsu Untied gives Richard a chance to sit down and talk with interesting people about their interesting hobbies. In some cases, the hobbies are now their full-time jobs. When I was talking to Richard, I could really hear the enthusiasm in his voice of how much he enjoyed this new endeavor. For those of us that blog, or podcast, or other types of social media productions, we don’t do it for the fame, or the money, or the business it drives to our ‘real jobs,’ we do it because it is a lot of fun.

For Richard, he told me that he has always wanted “to be an interviewer like Charlie Rose or a Terry Gross” and this allows him to do so, as he calls it, “on a micro scale.” Currently he has around 36 podcasts up and running on his site, but has almost twice that many recorded and ready for production. Because he’s interviewing based on outside interests, there’s no rush for the recordings to go out, so he compiling and releasing them over time.

When he started out, Richard thought he’d be lucky to interview a handful of people. As of this week, however, he is approaching his 100th interview, and it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down. In fact, while talking with him, I immediately thought of a good friend of mine that he should interview, and I have since connected them for a future interview. Richard also mentioned that he gets a few attorneys to contact him directly for interviews, but that his librarian in his office keeps him informed of potential interviewees. Once again, what would lawyers do without a good librarian to keep them up to speed??

So far, Richard has covered a wide range of hobbies including skydiving, mountain climbing, oil painting, magic, astronomy, opera singing, winemaking, boxing, chess and ballet and others. In addition, he has interviewed some Special Guests who left the legal profession to become things like a best-selling author, Editor of the NYTimes Crossword Puzzles, the drummer for Train, and a Professional Poker Player. That’s a pretty good list of very interesting people, and there are so many more lined up in the future.

I asked Richard how long he thought he would keep doing these interviews, and he said that he plans to keep doing it as long as he’s having fun. Well… let’s hope he continues to have fun for a long time.

Paper
Image [cc] pearlsareanuisance

I got a note from Peter Martin, the Jane M.G. Foster Professor of Law, Emeritus, and former dean, Cornell Law School, letting me know that he was starting a blog as a result of the work he was doing with the annual revision of Introduction to Basic Legal Citation. Peter, along with Tom Bruce, founded Cornell’s Legal Information Institute (LII) way back in 1992, and has been a staunch advocate of access to legal information, as well as promoting the consistency, accuracy, and non-vendor bias of legal citation.

Peter Martin’s new blog, Citing Legally, begins with a post on how States have claimed copyright on their codified and published works, and walks the reader through an example of how the State of Mississippi has used copyright claims to allow a private legal publisher to control the “official” statutes while attempting to shut out another publisher using “unofficial” compilations.

According to the Scope and Purpose of Citing Legally, the blog will cover the interesting issues that Peter Martin has uncovered while working on the annual revision. In his own words:

The aim will be to draw attention to important differences in practice among jurisdictions and distinctive approaches – from the commendable to the lamentable, the new and novel to the archaic. Like the reference from which it springs the focus here will be on how judges and lawyers cite legal authority rather than law journal norms.

I’m looking forward to reading more from Peter Martin on the issues he finds on legal citation and all the nuances and peculiarities that come along with the topic. Go check out Citing Legally and follow along with me.

 

Some of us have noticed a vacuum in the space where the prolific Law Librarian Blog once stood. Anyone that has been in the law librarian profession, and hasn’t lived under a rock, is familiar with the posts that come mulitple times a day from Joe Hodnicki and Mark Giangrande (well, mostly Hodnicki). The blog went dark after the September 3rd post of The (Un)Availability of Tribal Law. I thought this was a pretty strange ending for the blog that is known for not holding back the punches when it comes to legal publishing vendors, or AALL Board Members (myself included.) Never fear, it just seems to be an offshoot from the Law Professor Blogs Network change in ownership when Joe Hodnicki sold his share of the LPB to Paul L. Caron.

Starting October 1st, Hodnicki and Giangrande move over to the blog “Law Librarians” with the subtitle “Thinking Out Loud in the Blogosphere.”

I’m sure the post entitled “Test” is simply just a test… if fact, I’m pretty sure that we’ll see some of the same ole’ Joe firing off posts on a daily basis starting tomorrow.

Welcome back Joe!!

Ruby the Painting Elephant
Image [cc] leesean

I wasn’t sure if dusting off the old Elephant Post idea would work, but I’d have to say that we had a lot of people step up and answer the call. Nina Platt threw out the challenge to Law Librarian Bloggers, and like the true delegator I am, I asked all of you to step up and answer that challenge. There are still many outstanding questions, but this was a good start.

I will have to say one personal note about the challenge, from the standpoint of a blogger. I blog, and many of those that I know that blog, do so simply as an outlet for our own personal ideas and experiences. We sometimes stumble upon a suggestion that helps others, but we tend to ask more questions than we answer. All of our situations are unique, and we all have the ability to step up and solve most of our own problems.

Blogs like this one create a quasi-community. However, most of the conversation in this community is one-sided. It helps with getting the idea out there, but it takes someone on the local level to actually do something. In order to make that happen, I suggest that we all go beyond the writings found on a blog and find someone that you can bounce your own ideas off of. That might be a peer within your firm, a peer or friend outside your firm, or even a consultant if the issues are really tough. The key is to find someone to have that conversation and will act as your sounding board.

It was fun bringing back the Elephant Post idea for an ad hoc issue like this. Hopefully, we’ll have additional reasons to do it again in the near future. Now, enough of my waxing nostalgic, here are the answers that you provided:

Brian L. Baker
Better Treatment and Help for Those Laid Off in 2009

Having been on the outside, for almost 4 years, after being laid off in 2009, I wish the profession would have done a couple of things.
  1. Better prepared librarians who were laid off, with survival skills. I was adrift, and I know many others went through the same thing.
  2. Be more open, when hiring, to older applicants who used to make a lot of money. We just want a chance to prove ourselves. We would reward that chance with loyalty, because, no matter what the salary cut would be, it is better than unemployment, minimum wage, or spending retirement money to survive.
Maybe I’m to sensitive. Who knows? 🙂

Anonymous

How will libraries need to be staffed in the future?

Be responsive to internal pressures on expenses by outsourcing all non-core services. Ensure that each member of the library team spends the majority of their time directly supporting the business of the firm. 
Al Podboy
How we can support changes in the legal industry

By using our voice. Speak up, share ideas, be fearless. Tell them (employers, bosses, vendors, educators etc.) what you need and what you think. Honesty and the best policy. Being a ʺyesʺ person does not grow anyone or anything.
Anonymous
Digital Transition

Our libraries will not be a physical place very soon and yet many of us have never figured out how to replace the visual field that would allow a user to see what is actually available on a given topic. Instead we live in vendor silos and endless link lists. We need better visual graphic skills. If we don’t figure this out, our users certainly won’t.

Rebecca C.
What skills will librarians need to have that they don’t have now?

I have two years post MLIS experience in special libraries, but no experience in law libraries, nor do I possess a J.D. Would someone like me have a shot at a future working in a law library, or is the existing barrier too difficult to breach?

Tony Chan

How we can support changes in the legal industry?
I would rephrase the question as “What can we do in our individual roles to support firm initiatives that are catered to changes in the legal industry?”
As information (I) & technology (T) professionals, we must collaborate with our firm’s COOs, CFOs, CIOs and other relevant business units to ascertain how IT affect practice efficiency and firm economics in response to market changes.
The firm as a whole must identify and ready to tackle those changes and a cultural consensus among the firm’s stakeholders is critical for its success.
So my suggestion is to:
  1. Start/restart conversations with the firm’s leadership with the goal of identifying knowledge gaps that would help bridge the firm’s business solutions.
  2. Educate yourself on technology issues by staying current on new tools/services.
  3. Keep your finger on the pulse of various practices by dropping in on meetings and organizing CLEs.
At the end of the day the dotted I and the crossed T mean little when there’s no real impact on improving current practices to meet the clients’ wants and needs.

Shirley Crow
What staffing, research, resources, services, processes, etc. will we need to have in place?
Clients are declining to pay for first and second year lawyers (the people who generally do legal research). There is an oversupply of lawyers in the marketplace, and many of them are available to put their skills to work in ways other than the traditional. I don’t think it is feasible for law firms to do without research resources. Putting those pieces together, I see the librarian of the future being a revenue-producing resource, who conducts legal research efficiently and cost-effectively, the way clients want their law firms to do their work. It is possible that law firm library managers need to prepare themselves to manage a cadre of JDs who are qualified to research efficiently as well as interpret the law. In my opinion, wise is the law firm library manager who starts *now* to promote her staff’s ability to conduct efficient, cost-effective, and *valuable* research.
Lucy Curci-Gonzalez
What staffing, research, resources, services, processes, etc. will we need to have in place?
And how to get C levels to understand the receptionist can’t do this at all!
Casanova
What staffing, research, resources, services, processes, etc. will we need to have in place?
I think what depresses me most is how little actual control we have over any of these changes. Publishers are going around us to the end user with their e-books; they dictate the licencing; in my experience, my budget gets cut, but the demand for texts / services doesn’t diminish. I guess the skill we’d best learn is juggling. In the end, you can run the perfect library, have your clientele bowing in gratitude before you, and it all goes to heck when some 5yr associate decides he/she wants your job, because you’ve made it look easy, and its an easy way to guarantee his/her longevity. Maybe the best skill we can learn is schmooze and schmooze HARD!!!
Steve Lastres
Rebooting Legal Research in a Digital Age [See PDF article]
Law Librarians need to partner with publishers and others in the
legal profession. We cannot stand alone as an isolated profession. ILTA is a
good example where IT, KM, Librarians, Records, Conflicts and lawyers all come
together. Below, is a white paper I just published based on research
underwritten by Lexis but independently conducted by a research firm. In order
to understand how we can be valuable to the practice and business of law, we
must be intimately aware of the pain points. Lack of research skills is one of
the pain points. This white papers seeks to address these pain points and
provide an opportunity for law librarians to fix the problem. Our clients will
no longer pay for training our young lawyers.

Business Research and Competitive Intelligence Skills
Anonymous
I am surprised no one mentioned the tremendous opportunities librarians have to leverage their skills toward the development of business research and competitive intelligence. Of course, this career move is interesting to those who have both an analytical bent and training that prepares them for this work.
I would like to hear more from law firm librarians who have made this transition to business research/intelligence. I know of only a few firms that have utilized their library staff well in this way. I also know some librarians who have transitioned completely from the library to research/intelligence units. However, most librarians don’t seem vert interested in playing this kind of role. Why not?

How Will Library Eduction Need to Change?
Chris Graesser

Many experienced librarians who are back in the job market are seeing jobs requirements they never had to learn on the job and for which training is rarely offered by association programs.
Proposition #1:

Change the basic library degree to a four year undergraduate BS, with graduate degrees in library management, law, medicine and others I can’t think of.

The economics don’t support requiring a librarian to get an undergrad degree in something else, then a Masters (and in many cases a JD, Masters in Biology, or other discipline) just to land a job that might start at 35K.

Besides, I think there is a lot more to learn to be an effective librarian these days, enough to fill four years. Multidisciplinary stuff like accounting, IT, communications and marketing, effective writing and presentation. Stuff that will make a librarian valuable right out of the gate.

Proposition #2:

Library schools should offer continuing education courses to librarians in the field. Much of what I see in library school curricula and in job requirements these days don’t match what many librarians have been able to learn on the job or in association programming.

Proposition #3:

Close the gap between library schools and the profession. In my experience, the twain never meet once a librarian has graduated. The schools rarely make an effort to interact with practicing librarians, at least not in the law library world. Maybe it’s different for public and academic libraries.

 

Olifant
Image [cc] ScreenPunk

[Note: The Answers are now posted]

In case you’re wondering, it was November 28, 2011. That was the last time we rolled out the Elephant Post here on 3 Geeks. However, there was a message in my email in-box this morning that made me think that it might be time to travel into the Elephant Graveyard and resurrect the platform one more time and cover something important as a Parade of Elephants. Therefore, we trot out the Elephant Post one more time.

PinHawk “Librarian News Digest” Editor, Nina Platt, threw out the following challenge to law librarian bloggers today:

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this but many of best and most prolific law library bloggers have been publishing posts that are almost exclusively about the future of law or legal publishing news rather than writing about the issues we, as law librarians, need to deal with to assure a place for us in the future. After thinking about this, I decided to make a plea to all law library bloggers to take a step back and think about what topics are most important for us to be writing about. [emphasis added]

Nina lists a number of topics that she thinks are important to the law librarian profession, but are not covered extensively enough by the bloggers within the profession. I think there are some legitimate reasons why some bloggers do not go deep into some of these subjects, but let’s see what we can do as a group and share some thoughts on some pretty important issues.

Here are the topics she lists:

  • How we can support changes in the legal industry?
  • What technology will help get us through these changes?
  • What staffing, research resources, services, processes, etc. will we need to have in place?
  • How we will need to deal with licensing, copyright, budgets, marketing, management, and other issues that face administrators within law firms?
  • What skills will librarians need to have that they don’t have now?
  • How will library education need to change?
  • How will libraries need to be staffed in the future?
  • [insert your own question to answer] 

So we will take Nina’s challenge and see if we can crowd source some of the possible answers, in the old Elephant Post style. For those of you that may not remember how it works, we offer you a few ways to post your responses. First of all, you can simply pick one of the questions and email me directly (xlambert at gmail dot com) with your response. If you’d rather just jump in and answer one of these directly, then you can edit the embedded form below, or go to the Google Docs site directly and fill out the form. I’ll pull these together throughout the week and post the results at the end of the week. If we get really good responses, we may post those up separately as a stand alone answer.

You now have a platform. The Elephant Post only works if you’re willing to share your thoughts with others. We even give you the chance to share them anonymously. Stop stalling, and start writing!! [click here to see the ongoing responses]

Richard and Maya Hsu of The One Page Blog

“Today, with the help of my thirteen year old daughter…”

This is how my former colleague, Richard Hsu, now a partner at Shearman & Sterling starts his “HsuTube” videos on complex transactional legal concepts. We’ve covered Richard before when he and I both worked at the same law firm. We’ve since moved on to new firms, but keep in contact a lot via Twitter. He has a way of presenting information through video that is quite interesting, informative, and unique. Of course, as great as Richard is, his 13 year old daughter, Maya, is really the star of these videos.

Richard recently pointed me to some of the remastered videos that he and Maya recorded. He rented a studio for the videos that came with a lighted backdrop and a translucent board so that Maya could sit down and draw. Even so, he said that it took 8 hours to complete all the drawings and that Maya is probably retiring after this session. Let’s hope not because the finished videos are amazing.

I wondered what he does to get Maya to help him. After all, I’m still trying to get my 13 year old daughter to sing punk rock songs with me… (maybe I can have her draw for me instead!) Richard commented to me that:

The main reason I did these videos was not necessarily to do something that looks corporate or professional, but because it gave me a chance to do something creative with my daughter.

After looking at them, I knew I should share them with our readers for a couple of reasons. First, it is just good information and explains a complex topic in a way that even a law school grad like me can understand (it never really sunk in during law school.) Second, I’m a big fan of people that find creative ways of displaying information. Richard and Maya do that in spades. So, was it all Richard’s idea and concepts on how to display it? Turns out that Maya actually brings a lot to the [drawing] table according to Richard:

A lot of the drawing ideas were her suggestions and it was fun to bounce ideas off her and come up with the final pictures

So, go take a look at the videos below. It might make you want to become a transactional attorney… or, it may inspire you to find unique and creative ways to present your own expertise on a subject. Being able to visualize along with teaching is a great way to make teaching a difficult subject a little easier. Great job Maya… oh, and you did a good job, too, Richard!

IP Assets in an M&A Transaction: http://hsutube.com/ip-assets-m-a/

Assignment in a Change of Control: http://hsutube.com/assign-coc/ (inspired by Mike Kennedy)

Collaborative Development Financing: http://hsutube.com/collab-dev-fin/ (inspired by Mark Kessel)

IP Ownership in a Joint Development: http://hsutube.com/ip-ownership/

Reseller vs. License: http://hsutube.com/reseller-vs-license/

What is the Licensed Property? http://hsutube.com/licensed-prop/

Kevin O’Keefe, wrote about the dueling Lexis and Thomson Reuters blogger summits on Tuesday in his post, Who’s Influencing Who. He seems to be concerned that the big L and TR are trying to curry favorable blog content by lavishing a few bloggers with fancy perks.  I happened to stumble across his post as I was lounging on my pillow top King Size bed and perusing my Twitter feed on Tuesday afternoon in the St. Paul Hotel, in St. Paul, Minnesota.  I even mentioned it to my dinner companions later that evening at the St. Paul Grill, where I enjoyed a wonderfully buttery cream of mushroom soup, bourbon glazed Pork Chops, and asparagus with hollandaise, washed down with a very drinkable (and free flowing) Cabernet Sauvignon, all of which was kindly paid for by my very good friends at Thomson Reuters.  In return for this spectacular treatment, Thomson asked exactly two things of me: 1) venture to the Twin Cities in January! and 2) listen to five hours or so of the marketing pitches, development road maps, and executive presentations that they will be presenting at Legal Tech New York in a couple of weeks. The one thing no one ever overtly asked me to do was to write about the event or the product announcements.  Now, I’m not stupid, and they’re certainly not either.  If you invite bloggers to a summit, you’re looking to create buzz.  If you ply them with good food and wine, you’re hoping it’s really good buzz.  I’m sure the Lexis event was much the same.

Some of my colleagues who were in Eagan are, in fact, journalists as well as bloggers.  I’ll let them speak for themselves, but speaking only for me, I am not a journalist.  I do not have pretensions to be a journalist.  My lifelong friendship and goodwill can be openly bought for the price of a couple of rounds of drinks and a few hours of good conversation.  And I will gladly say nice things on this blog and elsewhere about anyone who wishes to purchase my friendship in such a manner. (BTW, Toby and Greg: really great guys.) That said, drinks, presents, perks, and “flights to Eagan, Minnesota in January” on their own, don’t buy much from me, it’s much more about the good conversations.  Please feel free to take that into account as you read anything I write.   Including the following.

Back to Thomson…

I came away from the excursion to Eagan having learned a couple of things.

1) Thomson has a lot of really smart, very interesting, and incredibly nice people working for them. 

2) Thomson now sees itself as primarily a software and solutions company, rather than an information and news provider.  Interesting.

3) Thomson is moving a number of their new and existing products to the cloud.  (I’m pretty sure Mike Suchsland, President of the Legal group at Thomson, paused momentarily after he said this as if  expecting a gasp of shocked surprise from the bloggers around the table. And he seemed just a little disappointed at the “yeah, we figured” response he got.)

4) Thomson has a “new class of products, tools, and technologies that [they] think will define the next generation of technology for the evolving legal marketplace”  Um… maybe.  We (the bloggers) didn’t get to play with any software. We saw a couple of demos and some screen shots.  Two new products, Concourse (for corporate, government, and large firms) and Firm Central (for small firms) are matter centric collaboration and communication hubs that nicely incorporate existing and future TR products into a single, simple, intuitive user interface, that can be customized to meet your firm’s needs.  My take is that these are pretty early products.  They could definitely grow into generation defining products, but I don’t think they’re there yet.  And I think Thomson would probably agree.  Concourse looks very much like a consumer, rather than enterprise, product. (Which is good thing.) It has larger fonts and plenty of white space. It’s designed to work on a tablet as well as a desktop.  I can imagine it would require very little user training and moderately savvy users who are familiar with consumer products like Dropbox and GoogleDocs will probably pick it up very quickly.

My big takeaway from the event is that in their new role as a software and solutions provider, Thomson is focused heavily on design, seamless integration between products, and overall ease of use. They are very much trying to bring the consumer experience to the enterprise, so I think they are moving in the right direction.

As I didn’t get a chance to use any of the software, I can’t say for sure whether the new TR products are any good or not, but I can say that the people working on them are pretty good conversationalists and they bought me a few drinks. So they’re OK in my book.  Does that impugn my integrity?
 

P.S.
Some of the more journalistic attendees at the Thomson Reuters event took copious notes and I’m sure some of them will post extensive “reviews” of the products we saw.  Rather than duplicate their efforts, I will take the easy (lazy blogger) way out and link to other posts below as I find them.

Monica Bay: Thomson Reuters to Debut Concourse at LegalTech New York

Jean O’Grady: Thomson Reuters Legal Announces New Strategic Direction: Content no Longer King, Shift to Client Centric Platforms

Bob Ambrogi: Thomson Reuters Unveils New Tools for Litigators, Corporate Counsel and Small Firms

Lisa Solomon: Thomson Reuters’ Firm Central doesn’t measure up to its small law practice management competition

Image [cc] swirlability

As I was perusing my RSS feed reader last night on my phone, I saw a ghost. My fellow Houston blogger, Jason Wilson, decided that he would not retire his blog focusing on publishing, law, technology, and the art of placing the ‘F’ word in post titles. He claims he was hassled by family and friends to restart the blog — although, my guess is that his wife and kids got tired of him ranting about legal publishing to them and told him to go back to using blogging as his theapy and not his family— but, that’s just a guess.

Jason has decided to rethink ‘rethinc.k’ and just go with the O-less JasnWilsn.com site. He’s even updated the look and feel of the blog with a tagline of “So little to say and so much time.” Jason may have little to say, but I’ve always found it to very interesting. I, for one, am glad he’s back.

This wasn’t the only blog to make a claim of “I’m finished!!” this year, only to be resurrected a few weeks later. Scott Greenfield’s ‘Simple Justice’ blog also went dark back on February 13th. In a sad twist of fate, that also happened to be the same day that my father passed away (though, I’m pretty sure the two events were unrelated.) By March 5th, the blogging bug was back and Simple Justice was back at full-speed. There wasn’t much fanfare about it. Greenfield simply got back to doing something that he is very good at and no one really found it odd that he brought Simple Justice back to life.

Toby Brown and I talk about this all the time, blogging, when it is done right (like Wilson and Greenfield do it), isn’t necessarily about pleasing the reader, building your brand, or selling a concept that you hope others will buy. It’s really about the writer. It’s very personal. It’s therapeutic. It’s about writing on a topic that may only be of sole interest to the writer. If the reader finds it interesting, then great, but it’s not about you. Sorry if that comes as a shock to you that bloggers tend to be pretty self-centered people.

I’m glad that Wilson and Greenfield decided to continue their craft. Here’s to seeing more great things in 2013.

I was recently discussing with someone what exactly makes a blog a blog.

Is it the interactivity, the commenting, the archiving? Perhaps the cloud tags, the permalinks or the reverse-chronological order?

In my mind, all of these elements are not only optional but also secondary to the most critical aspect of a blog: RSS.

Most of you know what RSS means: real simple syndication. This is code that is embedded into a web page and not apparent on the page but is picked up by search engines and RSS readers when a page has been updated with new content.

I think that folks mistakenly believe that blogging is a style of writing, a design template or a body of work.

I see a blog is a technological invention that ensures that search engines have the most current and most popular information. In fact, it is well known that search engines give preferential treatment to blog content over regular web pages.

Ergo, all remaining elements of a blog are just window dressing.

Ergo? Did I just really say that?