Ta-Ta Taxes the Tax Magazine

We just got the invoice for the renewal of CCH’s Taxes the Tax Magazine.  A 10% price increase.  There’s no way I’m renewing a journal with a double-digit price increase unless some professor here tells me that he or she needs it and absolutely, positively can’t exist without it.  This inflationary spiral must stop.

Going Green with GreenSlips – how law publishers can save trees and save money

So I took this week’s Sports Illustrated to the gym this morning to read with my cardio workout, and found that I identified closely with the story about high school guard Roberto Nelson who received “more than 2,000 recruiting letters from 56 colleges.”  According to the story, “You’ve Got (Too Much) Mail,” by George Dohrmann, SI determined that Roberto only opened 18% of his letters and packages.  The SI analysis determined that “college basketball recruiting pitches eat up the equivalent of 1,526 trees a year.”

I related to this story not because I was heavily recruited for my point guard prowess, but because I, too, get a ton of mail which goes straight from my inbox to my recycling box and only a tiny percentage gets opened first.  I’m talking about publishers’ catalogs.  What a huge waste of paper and postage. 

We librarians have great tools for finding and buying new books.  My absolute favorite is William S. Hein & Co.’s Electronic GreenSlips and I would encourage all book publishers to get their new and forthcoming titles listed there.   There are many other good tools but I’m finding a new kid on the block is very helpful too:  The Law_Book twitter feed - we’ve been picking a lot from there lately.

As the SI story notes:

Noting the environmental cost compared to the number of letters Nelson opened, Gleason asked the obvious question: “If recruits don’t open the letters, why keep sending them? Why waste all that money and paper?”

Some schools might soon ask themselves the same thing. In May, Michigan and Ohio State jointly announced that they would cease printing media guides. Bygones from the pre-Internet age . . .

I ask the same thing about publishers’ catalogs, especially the thick ones listing every title in print, most of which we already own.  In my opinion these bygones should be bygone.   What with all the money they will save, I’m sure law book publishers can offer us better prices on their books — that will get more of my business.

On Not Joining the West 600 Club

Today’s mail brought four new West supplements, each costing more than $ 600.00.

The first, just 3/4 of an inch thick, is Biotechnology and the Law, Update 7.  Its cost is $ 601.43.  Before I pay this invoice, I want to know:  Who wrote this supplement?  Was it the same team of people who wrote the supplement to Pennsylvania Criminal Procedure?  No, check that:  There’s no way I’m paying for this supplement.  No way; no how.

The next item is a 2 1/2 inch supplement to McCarthy on Trademarks and Unfair Competition, 4th.  Its price is $ 608.52.  Talk about “unfair.”

Next up is a 4 1/2 inch supplement to West Federal Forms, priced at $ 605.27.

Last, but hardly least at $ 967.42, is 8 inches of material — pocket parts and supplements to West’s Uniformed Laws Annotated.

The timing of the arrival of this material — with its grand total of $ 2,782.64 — really couldn’t be worse.   In times like these, how can publishers do this to us?

$ 156.63 per footnote

In order to effect certain budget cuts, we are looking at all journal renewals.  One particular law journal just went up 20%, to an annual subscription of $ 696.00.  It routes to no one.  It’s been cited only eight times in law review footnotes in the last two years.  No way we’re keeping this one.  Double-digit price increases are an outrage, and will be given the closest scrutiny here.

Happy Days No More

In the not too distance past, say back when Happy Days was a popular TV show, the annual song and dance between publisher, library director and dean went something like this:

Legal publishers would post annual price increases with an average of 11% – 15%.

The library director would then tell his or her dean, “Gosh, Look at this:  Law books are going up by 11% – 15%.”

The dean would then take out his or her checkbook and tell the director, “Outrageous.  Here’s your library’s annual 15% budget increase.”

Those days are over.  So over.  So, so over.

Today when I tell the dean that a certain publication is going up by a double-digit price increase, his reply is quick and unequivocal:  “That’s easy,” he says, “cancel it.”

Many of us — myself included — still have not received next year’s library budget.  But there is no doubt in my mind that a sea change in library collections will be forced by changing budgets and starting next year (by next year, I mean next “fiscal year,” which for us begins on September 1, 2009 – so next year is right around the summer corner).  I anticipate a reduction of at least 15%.  Further, my book funds — i.e., funds used for monographs — are entirely endowment based; I shudder to think what will happen there.

Let’s take a few examples of how the law library landscape might change.

We subscribe to both United States Code Annotated (USCA) and United States Code Service(USCS).  Last year here’s what we paid for each:

We paid $1,645 for USCS (a Lexis product); and we paid a total of $5,376 to West for their USCA in 2008, including all bound volumes and pocket parts.

Each set is a complete annotated version of the United States Code.  The quality on both is extremely good.  There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that any student, professor or practitioner can perform adequate legal research with just one or the other — no one needs both.  So faced with that fact and the budget reality, which one will the dean say “that’s easy” — the one that costs $ 1,645 or the one that costs $ 5,376?

Depending upon how my budget situation shakes out, we may even face the rather drastic step of cancelling some online databases.  There are three gigantic legal online commercial databases, each with its own benefits and features, but each also a complete online law library.  Here’s what they are costing us:

Bloomberg Law:  Free

LexisNexis:  $ 68.00 per FTE, with minimum of $ 15,000 and maximum of $ 50,850

Westlaw:  $ 73.27 per FTE, with minimum of $ 15,878 and maximum of $ 64,206

Looking back over the past few years helps show pricing patterns, which could aid in the decision making:


2008:  $ 34,980 (6% increase over previous year)
2007:  $ 33,000 (5%)
2006:  $ 31,497 (5%)

I should note that this year LexisNexis “gets it” and are holding next year’s price to the same amount as last year’s.  We’ll be adding them to our Good Guys list (see also this item).


2008:  $ 39,951 (7% increase over previous year)
2007:  $ 37,338 (7%)
2006:  $ 34,773 (14%)

Some things will have to go.  Over the rest of the summer I and my colleagues will be making some tough decisions.  Redundancy is nice, but may not be affordable.

What Price, Captain?

Yesterday I saw, and thoroughly enjoyed, the new Star Trek movie.  It’s fun, and funny with some terrific lines.   But one of my favorite all-time movie lines comes from the 1987 film Spaceballs:

          Prepare ship for ludicrous speed!

It was spoken by Colonel Sandurz, following this dialog:

Colonel Sandurz: Prepare ship for light speed.
Dark Helmet: No, no, no, light speed is too slow.
Colonel Sandurz: Light speed, too slow?
Dark Helmet: Yes, we’re gonna have to go right to ludicrous speed.

An earlier post here,“Lawsuit alleges Chadbourne overcharged for computerized legal research,”cited Westlaw’s per-minute charge of $ 13.86 for its ALLSATES database.  I was citing from a 2006 Westlaw price list.  I have since found a more recent (April 2009) price list and, not surprisingly, the cost of this access is now higher.  Today the per-minute charge for using this database is $17.48.

Listed below are some of the prices for Westlaw database access as listed in the Pricing Guide for Private Price Plans (April 2009) brochure:

Per Minute Charges
All Federal and State Cases     $20.98
All Federal Cases       $17.48
All U.S. Supreme Court Cases    $8.95
U.S. Courts of Appeals Cases    $17.48
U.S. District Courts Cases      $17.48
All State Cases         $17.48
Individual State Cases  $8.95
United States Code Annotated    $10.50
Individual State Statutes Annotated     $10.50
Code of Federal Regulations     $8.95
Texts and Periodicals   $23.87
American Law Reports    $20.98
American Jurisprudence 2d       $17.48
Federal Practice and Procedure  $13.75
Journals and Law Reviews        $17.48
All News        $17.48

Remember that that’s per minute.  Multiple some of those numbers by 60 to see what an hour fishing online would cost.

The other billing method listed in the brochure by “Transactional Charges.”  A “transaction,” as I understand it, is a “search” – i.e., once in a database, entering a query and then pressing the “Search” button — ka-ching.  Here are some of these costs:

Transactional Charges
(no connect time or communications charges)

All Federal and State Cases     $194.00
All Federal Cases       $120.00
U.S. Supreme Court Cases        $61.00
U.S. Courts of Appeals Cases    $73.00
U.S. District Courts Cases      $73.00
All State Cases         $120.00
Individual State Cases  $61.00
State and Federal Cases         $120.00
United States Code Annotated   $73.00
Individual State Statutes Annotated    $73.00
Code of Federal Regulations     $66.00
Texts and Periodicals   $244.00
American Law Reports     $120.00
American Jurisprudence 2d       $90.00
Federal Practice and Procedure         $104.00
Journals and Law Reviews        $120.00
All News        $120

The price list also identifies “Per Minute Billing Classifications” which includes Specialty databases ($ 12.45/minute), Premium databases ($ 13.75 per minute), Allfile databases ($ 17.48 per minute), Super Allfile databases ($ 20.98 per minutes), Select databases ($ 23.87 per minute), Super Premium databases ($ 26.17 per minute), Super Select databases ($ 30.97 per minutes), Super-Duper Select databases (if you have to ask you can’t afford it), and Super-Duper Blow-my-Mind databases (priceless).  Okay, I made those last two up.

Westlaw has a terrific feature called ResultsPlus, which suggests additional resources based upon the research queries — often to valuable resources not considered by the researcher.  It’s impressive, and it has its own set of costs:  ResultsPlus Standard ($ 11.42 per minute), ResultsPlus Premium ($ 17.68 per minute), ResultsPlus Allfiles ($ 22.57 per minute), ResultsPlus Super Allfiles ($ 27.75 per minute), ResultsPlus Select ($ 30.98 per minute) and ResultsPlus Super Premium ($ 34.02 per minute).

All of the above charges are to find and view documents.  Printing and/or downloading has its own sets of associated fees.  Under “Line Pricing,” identified in the brochure as the default, “[c]harges to print and download documents range from $0.045 to $0.65 per line.”  Under “Per-Document Pricing (Flat Rate Per Document),” [c]harges to print and download documents range from $5.00 to $50.00 per document.

The brochure also lists separate fees for viewing some images, fees for clipping services, fees for KeyCite Alert, Docket Alert, Transactional Citation Research Charges, Per Minute Citation Research Charges, and Charges for Previewing Documents in the Link Viewer.

I do not mean to focus only on Westlaw.  LexisNexis pricing is similar — I just don’t have a pricing list handy for LexisNexis.  And these are great resources — one reason why I’ll never retire is that I could not give up my personal LexisNexis and Westlaw accounts.  And we law schools do not pay the above prices — we pay a flat rate, for unlimited academic use.  My only beef with West (and other legal publishers) is their annual price increases that far outpace our budget increases (For United States Code and Congressional News, for example, published by West, we’re being billed $ 568.44, a 24% increase over the $ 459 that we paid last year).

Time is money, and both LexisNexis and Westlaw are attorney time time-savers.  Saving an hour of an associate’s time could save the client somewhere around $ 300.00 or more.  But still:  When we share this pricing information with our students, their eyes do grow very wide.

But most law firms, I’m told, have negotiated flat-rate contracts for much of their LexisNexis and/or Westlaw access.

And in my opinion, one cannot perform fully adequate legal research today without access to LexisNexis or Westlaw (or possibly Bloomberg Law).  That’s today anyway.  Tomorrow remains to be seen.

Complaint in CALR billing case posted

In regards to our earlier post, “Lawsuit alleges Chadbourne overcharged for computerized legal research,” we have posted a copy of the complaint:

J. Virgil Waggoner, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated


Chadbourne & Parke, LLP, and Doe Defendants 1-100

And the prices go up, up, up

While our budgets go down, down, down.

The only option?  Cancellations left and right.


In the April issue of Library Journal there is a periodicals price survey. It’s an interesting read. Here’s the full article:

The pertinent numbers for law:


Average Cost Per Title 2005   $223
Average Cost Per Title 2006   $246
% of Change   10
Average Cost Per Title 2007   $273
% of Change    11
Average Cost Per Title 2008   $292
% of Change    7
Average Cost Per Title 2009   $322
% of Change    10

So, in a 5-year period, journal prices have risen an average of $99 per tile, or 44%.  Ouch.

Really, Routledge, Really?


$1,295.00?  Really?  Dollars US?

Feminist Legal Studies
Edited by Joanne Conaghan

Series: Critical Concepts in Law 

List Price: $1,295.00 
Add to Cart

ISBN: 978-0-415-44746-1
Binding: Hardback
Published by: Routledge
Publication Date: 01/08/2009
Pages: 1864

Law Journals and Open Access: A Call to Action

Here’s a little article I just wrote for Speaking of Computers, ”an e-newsletter for the Stanford academic community.”  This has been covered here before, but I think it’s a message worth repeating, especially as we brace for budget cuts and some hard decisions.  And besides, now I have a really nice photo to share!

 Law Journals and Open Access: A Call to Action

In November, I had the pleasure of attending a meeting of the so-called Gang of 10 law library directors (directors from some of the nation’s top law schools) held at Duke Law School in Durham, North Carolina. One of the activities of this meeting was the drafting and signing of the “Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship,” which calls for all law schools to stop publishing their law journals in print format and to rely instead upon electronic publication, coupled with a commitment to keep the electronic versions available in stable, open, digital formats.

Why Open Access?
Each of the nation’s 200+ law schools produce at least one student-edited law journal, containing scholarship and important policy pieces from law professors, judges, distinguished practitioners, and students. The bulk of legal scholarship is published in such law journals. Here at Stanford Law School we produce nine such journals. Right now the only way to access all of this significant content electronically is through expensive databases such as HeinOnline, LexisNexis and Westlaw.

It would be a better legal information world if researchers could reliably turn to the host law school for any law journal from that school and find all of its articles, available for free in open and stable electronic formats.

Open Access Leaders
It was especially fitting that this inspirational document was drafted and signed by us while at Duke. Duke is a leader in the open online repository movement, with the Duke Law Faculty Scholarship Repository created in 2005, and all Duke law journals made accessible online since 1997. The Duke Law Faculty Scholarship Repository is a full-text electronic archive of scholarly works written by the Duke Law faculty, as well as other scholarship produced at the law school. A scholarship repository and open access law journals go hand-in-hand.

The chief architect of the Durham Statement was John Palfrey, the new library director at Harvard Law School, who is also a leader and visionary in the open access movement. In May 2008, the Harvard Law School faculty unanimously voted to make each faculty member’s scholarly articles available online for free.

What’s Next?
The Durham Statement is our exercise in aspiration, with the hopes of getting more – eventually all – law schools on the open access bandwagon.

There are issues yet to be resolved. For one thing, especially during these difficult economic times, financial analysis is needed. Law schools receive royalties from the online databases that provide law journal access – some schools far more than others – so the cost-savings to the schools from ceasing print and to the schools’ libraries from no longer having to buy, bind and shelve issues needs to be carefully weighed against any potential loss of revenue income. And there are additionally important archival and standards issues to be debated and decided.

The Durham Statement seeks to move the analysis, debate, and discussion forward.

For More Information
Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship

The Duke Law Faculty Scholarship Repository

Harvard Law School open access motion












The authors of the Durham Statement. Top row, left to right: Dick Danner (Duke),
Radu Popa (NYU), John Palfrey (Harvard), Claire Germain (Cornell),
Paul George (University of Pennsylvania), Jim McMasters (Northwestern),
Blair Kauffman (Yale). Bottow row: Paul Lomio (Stanford),
Judith Wright (University of Chicago), Terry Martin (University of Texas).