Susannah Tredwell's blog

Alternatives to Lexis and Westlaw in Law Firms

A recent article by Laura Justiss ("A Survey of Electronic Research Alternatives to Lexis and Westlaw in Law Firms") looks at what alternatives exist to Lexis and Westlaw in U.S. law firms.

The abstract reads as follows:

Mrs. Justiss conducted a survey of law firm librarians in 2010 that identified electronic research database alternatives to Lexis and Westlaw and ranked them by subscription frequency. The survey included research databases for primary source alternatives; court docket and case information services; secondary sources for topical legal research and legal periodicals; financial, business and news sources; public records; and non-legal and legal-related sources, including intellectual property databases. The survey also generated information regarding suggested or mandated legal research policies in law firms for the use of alternatives to Lexis and Westlaw and examined their applicability to billable and non-billable research. Lastly, it examined the prevalence in firms of flat rate pricing agreements with Lexis, Westlaw or both.

The link to the article can be found here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1649471

Job Posting: Alberta Law Libraries - Calgary Librarian

A challenging and rewarding position has recently become available within the Alberta Law Libraries. Reporting to the Information, Research and Training Services Manager, the successful candidate will be accountable for organizing and managing effective and efficient operations of the four Law Libraries located in Calgary. This responsibility includes the delivery of timely and relevant legal reference, research and training services to the judiciary, bar, crown prosecutors, government lawyers, Alberta Justice employees and the public. This position also provides considerable opportunity for participation in strategic planning and developing and implementing procedures. Providing skilled administration of the Calgary libraries and effective human resources management, the Calgary Librarian is a key figure in the continued growth and future success of Alberta Law Libraries' client services.

2010 American Lawyer library survey

The American Lawyer 2010 library survey is now available online at http://www.law.com/jsp/tal/PubArticleTAL.jsp?id=1202462829220&pLaw_Librarian_Survey_p__More_Bang_for_Fewer_Bucks (free registration required).

The article looks at how the recession in the United States has affected law libraries, along with lots of interesting statistics (hours billed back, percentage of online costs recovered, etc.) and some telling anecdotes:

"In the old days it used to be enough to say, my contract is for $100,000 a month, but I'm getting $500,000 of value," says one library director. "[But] my boss doesn't care about value, he cares that we get that $100,000 down to $75,000. His thinking is that the vendors should be happy just to have our business these days." She paused for a moment and added what her boss didn't realize, but what everyone who has ever worked in a law firm library has long known: "It doesn't work like that."

Podcasts from 2010 CALL Conference available

If you are a member of CALL, but were not able to attend the conference in Windsor this year, you may be interested in listening to some of the podcasts from the conference.

The available podcasts are:

  • We are Stewards of the Great Lakes: Law and Policy for Changing Times - Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians
  • Avoiding Obsolescence: Understanding and Engaging the Net Generation - Susan Gibbons, University of Rochester
  • Law Libraries in a Changing World
  • Twitter and Blogging in the Courtroom
  • CALL/ACBD Annual General Meeting
  • Vendor Liaison Open Forum

To access them, go to http://www.callacbd.ca/index.php, log in using your member ID, click on "Professional Development" and then click on "Podcasts".

New B.C. Supreme Court Civil Rules

The new B.C. Supreme Court Civil Rules came into force on July 1, 2010. They can be found at http://www.bclaws.ca/EPLibraries/bclaws_new/document/ID/freeside/168_2009_00

To coincide with the coming into effect of the new Supreme Court Rules, the Supreme Court has issued a new collection of Practice Directions and Administrative Notices; these can be found at http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/supreme_court/practice_and_procedure They include an Index and Table of Concordance.

Crown Publications has announced that the updates for its Rules of Court loose-leaf are expected to be delivered in late July due to a publishing delay.

Irwin Law's Canadian Online Legal Dictionary

Irwin Law has released its Canadian Online Legal Dictionary, available for free at http://www.irwinlaw.com/cold. The dictionary is currently comprised of terms "defined in glossaries of Canadian law books published by Irwin Law" but will be kept up-to-date by Irwin Law editors. It also has a collaborative element so that "users will be able to submit terms of their own choosing for addition to the dictionary."

(Thanks to SLAW and Shaunna Mireau for the tip.)

"The Future of Books Related to the Law?"

Eugene Volokh has written an article in the Michigan Law Review entitled "The Future of Books Related to the Law?" In the article, he talks about the likely impact of e-readers (such as the Kindle) on legal publishing.

Although the focus of the article is on how law e-books are likely to evolve to meet the demands of law students and faculty, there are a lot of interesting points for anyone interested in the future of law books. Pluses of e-readers include no maximum limit on the length of a book  and the ability to put in hypertext links; minuses include such issues as how does a library legally "lend" an e-book if the licencing agreement prevents copying?

"Cornerstones of Law Libraries for an Era of Digital-Plus"

John G. Palfrey Jr., Vice Dean, Library and Information Resources, Harvard Law School, has written a paper entitled "Cornerstones of Law Libraries for an Era of Digital-Plus". The abstract reads:

Law librarians would be well served by sharing a vision for the future of legal information, one that is informed by the methods of multiple disciplines and that will promote democratic ideals. This shared vision could guide us as we continue to lay the cornerstones for law libraries in a “digital-plus” era.

In the paper Palfrey emphasizes that it is important for law libraries collaborate to make the most of this "digital-plus era". Libraries need to understand how users learn, and adjust their systems accordingly. Although the focus of the paper is on academic law libraries, there are still some interesting points for those of us working in other types of law library.

The paper can be downloaded from SSRN.

Recent Alberta judgment involving online charges

Shaunna Mireau's latest column in SLAW talks about the comments made by Mr. Justice Macleod in Aram Systems Ltd. v. NovAtel Inc., 2010 ABQB 152 regarding recovering the costs of legal research. Although the disbursement was ultimately disallowed, the judge's summary of the current situation facing law firms is spot on:

"Indeed, it might be argued that a lawyer who chooses to forgo computerized legal research is negligent in doing so. This is particularly so given that many law firms and indeed governments are now cancelling hard copy subscriptions to legal resources in favour of the electronic versions. The practice of law has evolved to the point where computerized legal research is no longer a matter of choice."

Many thanks to Shaunna for pointing out this case.

The Art of Communicating Change

If you were not able to attend Peter de Jager's webinar last week on "The Art of Communicating Change", you have another chance to see it.

The webinar is available at http://www.darkumbra.com/UoT001.wmv. The file is a Windows Media Video file and you can view it with a variety of utilities, including the Windows Media Center application.

Peter de Jager is a well-known speaker on the subject of change management. You can find more information on Peter on his website at http://www.technobility.com.

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