The story so far… Paul Hastings and Paul Magrath of ICLR are in San Francisco for the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools. We’re at Booth No 406 in the Exhibition Hall, sweltering under the chandeliers of what is otherwise known as the Grand Ballroom. Hundreds of law school deans, professors and librarians circulate and network here among the stands, enjoying the coffee and pastries on offer between sessions and seminars held in various other “ballrooms” in the vast Union Square Hilton hotel complex. Although there are some librarians, the majority of the delegates are not our usual target audience. As deans and professors, they may be end users, and they may be the ones telling students to use English case law for comparative or international legal courses, but they are not the ones curating and managing legal information resources. But they still need to know where to find it. Following our disaggregation of content [...]
Businesses at every stage – from ideation to launch to scale – can benefit from the resources at the public library and the expertise of librarians. Libraries give companies access to data, market research, testing and opportunities to scale. Librarians also have an extensive knowledge base to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Libraries are mobile and forward-thinking
We are looking for a student to assist with a variety of tasks requiring knowledge of online legal research and social media Who? We anticipate students in law school or masters of library studies focusing on legal information will have the background we’re looking for, but others will be considered. Fluency in both French and…
[Ed. Note: Please welcome back guest blogger, Marcia Burris, Research & Information Services Consultant for HBR. - GL] A lot of attention has been given lately to the trend of law firms cancelling subscriptions to expensive online resources. This is often referred to as going “Sole Provider” since it has long been assumed (for a few decades, at least) that “good” law firms subscribe to both of the Big Two legal research providers, Lexis and Westlaw. In recent years however, many firms have decided they no longer need both. In an effort to measure the trend, law library surveys, including the one administered by HBR Consulting, routinely ask about whether firms are planning to (or already have) cut Westlaw or Lexis. However, while the term Sole Provider is easy to say and generally understood in the law library community as cancelling one or the other of these two services, it really isn’t the best way to describe current practices in the world of legal information, and in fact can cause harm to the conversation. So here’s why Sole Provider isn’t really a thing, and why I’m not going to say it any more. First of all, it isn’t true. Certainly not in Big or Medium Law, and probably not even in the vast majority of Small Law. No firm uses only one source for all its legal research needs. Cancelling one of the historical duopoly providers doesn’t mean attorneys will be limited to just one single source for all their legal research questions (although some attorneys may by choice return to the same well over and over again.) Law firms will continue to offer a variety of information resources – and formats – to meet their attorneys’ practice needs. Using the term “Sole Provider” needlessly reinforces the expectation of legal research Duopoly by implying that firms are choosing one and cancelling one, and fails to adequately describe the variety of different choices firms are making today. In doing so, it devalues the contributions of numerous providers beyond the traditional duopoly, whose innovations are creating new ways to think about and use legal information. This can cause real harm, as holding to the outdated duopoly concept hamstrings the decision process, limiting creative thinking about what resources firms should be offering to their attorneys and distracting from important discussions about new opportunities to evolve and modernize research services. In addition to reinforcing the idea of duopoly, the Sole Provider concept is often associated with cost reduction efforts, and this creates a value judgment which critics can leverage against firms (and librarians), no matter which way they go with the decision. Firms which keep both traditional major providers can be criticized for overspending, while firms which cancel a major service are criticized for prioritizing cost reduction over efficiency and service. (This reminds me of the working mom vs stay-at-home mom controversy – truly a debate with no winners.) Just as the duopoly concept narrows thinking about options beyond the Big Two, the question of Cut vs Keep limits the discussion to an either/or which fails to address the nuanced resource needs of individual firms, which ultimately drive their purchasing decisions. By referring to only a single facet of resource selection, the term devalues the important work law librarians do in carefully curating information collections to best meet their firms’ needs, and distracts from the question we should really be asking: What is the best mix of resources to meet our firm’s needs now and into the future? It’s time to reframe the discussion. Instead of referring to “Sole Provider” decisions, let’s start talking about *Legal Research Optimization*. The discussion should include subpoints related to content (primary & secondary), efficiency of use and administration, attorney support, resource interrelatedness and content integration, cost, practice-specific needs, business needs, evolving technology, and client demands. Rather than allowing the status quo to set the tone of our discussions, let’s ask what should we include as we build the law library of the future for our firms. Firm needs and information resources continue to evolve, and libraries today have the opportunity to do more than ever before to support attorney practice needs. With the baggage of the sole provider conversation left behind, we can move forward and continue working to align information resources with firm needs, with freedom to explore the best fit for the future.
The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) has issued its “Statement on Government Provision of Public Legal Information in the Digital Age.” This Statement was prepared by members of the IFLA Law Libraries Section and endorsed by th
[Ed. Note: I asked Katie Brown, Law Library Director of the University of Charlotte School of Law, and fellow geek, to write a review of last week's NCCSLM meeting in Boston. Please welcome guest blogger Katie Brown.
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