AALL Spectrum Blog

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This blog provides a space for conversations about articles and ideas found in AALL Spectrum, the monthly magazine of the American Association of Law Libraries. The previous blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.
7/25/2013 2:56:02 PM

REVIEW: It’s All About the Money: Rethinking the Way We Teach Cost Effective Legal Research

Presenters: Kathleen Darvil, Coordinator, Brooklyn Law School Library; Sara Kasai Gras, Mediator, Brooklyn Law School Library;  Caren Biberman, Speaker, Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP; Mark A. Gediman, Speaker,  Best Best & Kriger LLP; Connie Smith, Speaker, Morgan Lewis & Bockius; Cheryl Lynn Niemeier, Speaker, Bose, McKinney & Evans LLP.

Four words: Mo Money, Mo Problems. Though the Notorious B.I.G. didn’t appear as a hologram to share these sage words of advice to attendees, I couldn’t help but feel this should be this program’s anthem as I listened to Ms. Gras moderate the discourse by Ms. Biberman, Mr. Gediman, Ms. Smith and Ms. Niemeier. The takeaway from this presentation was research must be conducted efficiently in a law firm environment. This means knowing the costs of conducting your research versus the speed and comprehension needed. The major concern of all the presenters was that newer associates may learn cost effective research techniques in law school but they do not have the proper grasp of the recovery of research costs. In 2011, Lexis conducted a cost recovery survey that showed only 37% of those polled incorporate cost-recovery in their research classes.

Each presenter shared their law firm library’s role in cost recovery as well as teaching cost effective and cost recovery consciousness researchers. This was more of a show-and-tell type presentation then what I had originally expected. Sometimes it was unclear if the presenters discussed their practices with each other before sharing them with us. Though useful to learn of others’ methodology and the level of success each firm may have experienced with teaching their own associates, as an academic law librarian, I felt the directives on how to teach such topics weren’t as strong. Rather we learned of general descriptions or methodology each law librarian may use to train their associates. Some had Westlaw and Lexis reps practically on-call to give trainings, often with incentives for associates to attend. Others shared tips to their attorneys to help them improve their research or required meetings with new hires. However, it was interesting to learn of the individual pricing plans and law firm practices.

This program gave me many concrete examples to utilize for my own class instruction purposes as each librarian presented very different cost recovery models. Ms. Biberman’s firm charges clients only for Westlaw and Lexis, which includes the exact cost as well as vendor discounts. On the other hand, Mr. Gediman’s firm has its own undisclosed formula to create a flat per search fee which results in predictable costs. Ms. Smith’s firm has an hourly rate based on the firm’s usage history while Ms. Niemeier’s firm was not at all concerned with cost recovery but focuses on utilizing an attorney’s time efficiently.

Another take-away from this program was the shared concern of the librarians over the current Google age and how law firms can reach out to students before they begin practicing. By Google age, I mean students have this “just Google it” mentality that translates into their research practices as new attorneys. According to the presenters, law schools should emphasize the research process, offer a multitude of courses, and stress precision for researching to help curb this Google mindset. As to students and law firm interactions, the presenters encouraged law schools to collaborate with firms by inviting a panel of local law firm librarians to your school or inviting law firm librarians to your classroom. Basically, the sooner our students begin to understand the value of the research dollar and how that translates to both their employer and their client, the better it will be for everyone involved and law firm librarians are willing to help us make that happen! 

Posted By Kathryn Crandall at 7/25/2013 2:56:02 PM  0 Comments
7/25/2013 9:28:46 AM

Program Review: Copyright and Digital Images: If it’s on the Web I Can Use It, Right?

As an academic librarian, I often incorporate digital images in my presentations and handouts for students. I have wondered about the legal ramifications of using images from the web, so I was excited to attend the program “Copyright and Digital Images: If it’s on the Web I Can Use It, Right?”

The presenters provided practical information, and the program was thorough. Coordinator Alicia Brillon quickly dispelled the notion that copyright law does not apply to most images on the web.

Russ Tarleton’s presentation was a comprehensive overview of copyright law as it applies to digital images. He also gave practical tips on how to assess risks when using digital images, and ways to minimize those risks.

Hayley Talbert also discussed how librarians can minimize risk when using digital images. Her presentation included an example of librarians using Flickr, and gave helpful hints about what to do when a photographer or owner of an image contacts you about using their image. Her presentation was especially helpful as Ms. Talbert demonstrated how to search for images using Flickr with various degrees of copyright protection.

Phyllis Marion shared an interesting anecdote about her experience as the agent designated to receive infringement complaints at an academic law library. Ms. Marion’s presentation offered a cautionary tale, and a roadmap for what to do when presented with a takedown notice. Her presentation illustrated some of the pitfalls in using images for common work-related activities such as invitations to office parties.

Sarah Glassmeyer offered advice on how not to be a cautionary tale. She discussed using images in presentations for a non-profit. Her talk was informative, and one of the best tips she offered was to simply ask the holder of a copyrighted image if you may use it.

Finally, Emily Lawson discussed the topic of copyrighted images and website design. She gave great tips such as using your own images, recognizing that not all government images are free from copyright, and the importance of proper attribution.

The presenters kept the audience engaged with live polling questions. Audience members texted in their votes in response to Powerpoint polling questions, and the results of the first forty participants were displayed throughout the presentation.

The session was mainly concerned with risk management as it applied to using digital images for library marketing materials, internal invitations, or online classes offered via a membership subscription. I would have appreciated a brief rundown of the fair use exception for copyrighted images used for an educational purpose. However, the session was thought-provoking and informative. I highly recommend this program as it contains practical advice about using digital images that would be helpful for any law librarian.

Posted By Stephanie Hayes at 7/25/2013 9:28:46 AM  0 Comments
7/24/2013 11:52:56 PM

Program Review: Exhibitor Showcase: Power Searching - Bloomberg Law Docket and Transactional Tools

Bloomberg Law brought their docket and transactional tools to the forefront at the Exhibitor Showcase. In their words, they want to aid in "producing practice ready graduates." As the ABA drafts new competencies, the curriculum in law schools (especially legal research courses) must change to meet those new goals. Preparing transactional law attorneys as well as litigators with legal research and practice-aiding tools will likely be part of this.

Valerie Carullo (Bloomberg Law Librarian Relationship Manager and former Reference Librarian at New York Law School) highlighted the ways in which certain Bloomberg Law tools may be utilized by both litigators and transactional attorneys. Dockets and alerts can be tailored to anticipate client business. Filed complaints can be turned into drafting tools. One of the strengths of Bloomberg Dockets is the ease of searching by keyword through the full text of complaints. Using advanced search techniques in their Dockets database can be a means of locating key information for vetting expert witnesses.

Bloomberg is also building out their transactional tools that are largely organized by practice area. Valerie reviewed the Checklist & Timelines and Quick Reference Guides - excellent resources for both new and experienced attorneys. The DealMaker Documents & DealMaker Clauses enable the attorney to run side-by-side red-line comparisons of clauses they have found in Bloomberg's databases. Similar side-by-side comparisons are even available to compare U.S. patent documents.

While other vendors are acquiring products that provide these types of transactional/drafting tools, Bloomberg seems to be building them into the Bloomberg Law platform from an early point, while quickly adding interaction with the other areas of the platform (case law, dockets, company profiling). If they can keep moving forward with his constant integration and interaction in mind, they'll be ahead of their competitors. Their competitors seem to be constantly struggling to get all their individual pieces, including the newly acquired ones, to play nice with each other. The new platforms seem to be where this integration will be taking place, but it's been slow going.

It will be interesting to see where Bloomberg is able to take this integration and interaction in future developments. If nothing else, maybe their advances will push their brethren in the right direction of innovation, and speed up the pace a bit too.

Posted By Diana Koppang at 7/24/2013 11:52:56 PM  0 Comments