A Proposed Course of Action for UniversalCitation.org …

Cornell Law School’s Peter W. Martin, Jane M.G. Foster Professor of Law, Emeritus, who has contributed in the past on vendor-neutral citation (see, e.g., 99 Law Lib. J. 329 (2007)), recently wrote:

A Proposed Course of Action for UniversalCitation.org or Some Alternative Non-Commercial Entity

See: UniversalCitation.org

Among other things, Prof. Martin emphasizes right off the bat that:

It is 2011 not the mid-nineties. The environment has changed since the ABA and AALL first came out for public domain citation…

Cross-posted on Law Library Blog.

The State of eBooks and eReaders — May 2011 Report

A joint Poudre River Public, Front Range Community College, and Colorado State University libraries committee has released:

eBooks and eReaders in Public and Academic Libraries

(May 2011)

The purpose of the study was to gain a better understanding of this rapidly-developing topic as well as to make recommendations aimed at serving the customers of each library.

Hat tip to ResourceShelf.com.

Cross posted on Law Library Blog.

Open Access Law Journals – “One Journal at a Time”

Judy Janes and Marissa Andrea just published a good article on open access law journals.  Their article, “One Journal at a Time,” includes a few paragraphs providing “a brief history of open access.”  In addition, they comment upon how “the success of RSS feeds, SSRN alerts and SMARTCILP/CLJC email updates has further accelerated the transition to Open Access journals.”

In their “Learn More” section of the article they link to a video presentation where Dick “Danner discusses Open Access and the Durham Statement and also his paper entitled “The Durham Statement on Open Access One Year Later: Preservation and Access to Legal Scholarship” available at SSRN.”

Other resources linked in the Janes and Andrea article include:

Directory of Open Access Journals

Science Commons Open Access Law Project

and

New York Law School list of law reviews with online content

This movement will benefit us all, as Janes and Andrea state it:

. . . As more journals become available on the Internet through an initiative called Open Access, published legal scholarship — once only available in print form from law libraries, or online through proprietary databases ­— will reach a wider audience. This is a movement not only benefiting practicing attorneys, but historians, scholars and members of the public with legal research interests, who will be able to access legal scholarship by simply googling a topic.

Illinois Supreme Court Announces New Public Domain Citation System

The Supreme Court of Illinois has announced a new public domain citation system — see the online Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) story:

Illinois Supreme Court ends era of printed volumes with new public domain citation system

The new method eliminates the need to contract with publishers to have official opinions produced in bound volumes (which must then be purchased), reportedly saving Illinois taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

As stated in the ISBA story:

The public domain citation system was first recommended by the American Association of Law Libraries in 1994 and was endorsed by the American Bar Association in 1995. Since then, about a dozen states have adopted it.

Cross-posted in Law Library Blog.

How widespread is WestlawNext?

A student asked me this question.  Since I live and work in the beautiful bubble known as Stanford University,and have no idea how things work in the Real World, I turned to outside help to answer the student’s question.

I first asked our Westlaw representative, who provided this interesting and useful piece of information:

Based on a recent article about Thomson Reuters revenue, “The WestlawNext legal database has been sold to more than 18,500 customers since its launch in February 2010, representing 34 percent of Westlaw’s revenue base.”

http://us.mobile.reuters.com/article/businessNews/idUSTRE73R2OI20110428

 

But I knew that our students would want to know more specific information, so I sent out a quick request on the Northern California Association of Law Libraries (NOCALL) listserv.  I received 21 replies — 6 from Biglaw law firms, 8 from small/midsize firms, 2 from county law libraries, 4 from the courts (U.S. District, United States Court of Appeals and California Appellate), and 1 from a state agency.  Of the 6 Biglaw law firms, 4 have WestlawNext (although one, at present, is only making it available to firm librarians — see comments below) and 2 do not.

Of the 8 small/midsize firms, 5 have WestlawNext and 3 do not.

None of the public sector law libraries have WestlawNext.  The state agency reports that it might be added this summer.  I did find it a little ironic that the court libraries do not have WestlawNext — didn’t West get started by wooing the judiciary and treating judges extra special nice?

The comments I received were also very useful and I read many of them to my students, since they contain some great research tips and insights.

Here are a few of the comments:

I know that when firm librarians first saw the marketing materials, we were worried that the quality of search results would go down due to the one-box searching, but if anything the opposite has happened.  The result ranking is much better than it was previously, and you can see a lot more information before clicking into a document, which is great.

Our firm has a flat rate contract, so even though there is a cost for the original search ($50), the amount billed back to the client is significantly lower.  They shouldn’t be scared to use the resource due to the cost (at our firm anyway).  It’s in line with Lexis and the old version of Westlaw.  But of course, books are still cheaper.
Of course, they should still use good search practices so we’re not charging the client needlessly – searching broadly and then narrowing the focus, thinking before clicking into documents, checking before getting material from outside our pricing plan.  You can refer back to materials saved to a folder for a year, for free.  I’m saving a ton of material to folders.
The “price triggers” that incur costs: initial search, opening a document, clicking on the keycite materials. 
Our firm’s flat-rate contract doesn’t cover the PDF images of reporters – that’s the only place where you’re not warned before getting material outside of our contract.
We did a firm survey last year, and honestly, most of our attorneys start their research process on Google because it’s free.  Once they have useful information (like a case name or a statute or a law review article), they’ll go online and find all the related documents and secondary sources.  WestlawNext does a really good job of that, and the new format for KeyCite makes it easy to trace between material types. 
 
One more caveat: Keycite and Shepards both may say a case is good law when underlying statutes or cases have been invalidated (not always, but sometimes).  They don’t always catch it when a case has been invalidated by new legislation, as well.  Knowing how far to trust citator services is important.

 ————————-
 
Only librarians have been given permission to use WLN.  We will be offering mandatory class(es) on the product before attorneys are given passwords to access it.  We are aware that the law school students have been exposed to WLN & will likely expect to use it upon entering into the firm environment, so our window to get up-to-speed is fast approaching.Caveats:  Not everything has been loaded into WLN, so it could be frustrating to attorneys when prompted to transition in the middle of their research  to go to Westlaw. We’re also not sure if the costs will increase since clicking on any results keeps adding up the total.  I know we librarians have had conference call discussions about some of the quirky searching & results . . . .  Do I like it?  I had a trial ID & have not used it much since our contract went into effect in January.  I’m still “on the fence” about it, but realize it is the wave of the future in this Googlish society.
 
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The federal courts do not have WestlawNext at this time, and my understanding is that while the Administrative Office in D.C. has discussed it with Thomson-Reuters, there is no plan to purchase it for the federal judiciary in the near future.
 
———————–
 
We are using it.  The attorneys really like it.  One thing I’ve learned about it is that you should never choose the hourly setting on WestlawNext.  Always use it in transactional mode since the nature of it promotes lots of browsing time.  Most law firms are turning off the hourly feature and forcing transactional mode, but if not it can wreak havoc with your flat-rate contract client allocation.
 
————————
 
My advice for students:  Know how much the search costs are before you do it.  And always call the research attorneys — they know their tool better than any of us ever will.
 
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We aren’t using it in the [state] Judicial Branch.  It’s way too expensive and we can’t afford it!  And if Westlaw itself becomes too expensive for us we may be forced to use just one service.  Since Lexis has the official reporting contract, we must have access to them.
 
————————
 
We do not have WestlawNext.  We did a trial of it and it has potential, but we are not willing to pay extra for it.
 
———————-
I see other problems besides cost for WestlawNext in law firms.  To oversimplify: Google on new steroids represents WestlawNext’s research model. That model shows remarkable detachment from application to real-life research problems in law firms.  The stock examples used in WestlawNext’s demos fit TR’s marketing well enough, but I could not translate them into everyday, online research done in law firms. I also see evidence of algorithmic anomalies – possibly widespread – that have only begun to be explored.
 
———————–
We have been using WLN for the past year.  We hopped on the band wagon pretty early due to a demo seen here by our litigation partners.  The litigation attorneys like it a lot.  Power users of regular Westlaw have a big learning curve so do not like it quite as much.  It is great, however, for researching an area you may be unfamiliar with since it will give you the most relevant cases up front.  Our attys like this feature.  The attys also like the cost..they can figure out how much their research will cost them before going in since a search runs about $65
and then you can open as many docs as you want until you hit your research budget ($15/doc. or so).  It relieves some the pressure they feel when going in.  I think it is here to stay.  Even [after] I have cancelled Lexis access here, cut my print budget and staffing, the WLN contract was added without blinking an eye. . . .
 
———————–
 
We require everyone to be trained first on regular Westlaw. We will then train them on WestlawNext.  There a cost pitfalls with both.  Searching is cheaper and broader with WestlawNext, but if you want to look at lots of documents, you will run up the costs. Initial searching Westlaw is probably narrower (have to select a database), but then the documents don’t cost additional to view.
 
———————–
 
I would recommend that students avoid WestlawNext like the plague until they have a solid grasp on doing research on their own.  You do not want to be dependant on an algorithm created by a corporation to be able to do an essential part of your job.
 
I think Next can be a valuable tool and time-saver for attorneys who understand what the algorithm is doing and what the resources are it is returning in the results, but I worry if students start learning how to research using Next, they will not be able to do any research when they leave school unless they are using, and paying a steep price for, Next.
 
———————–
 
The two main reasons [we don't have it] is that Westlaw would require us to have a separate contract for WestlawNext (we see this as paying for Westlaw twice), and WestlawNext does not have all of Westlaw’s content. . . .
 
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Though honestly we haven’t embraced it completely and probably won’t until West tells us they are pulling the plug on classic.  I think it is a good product.  I like the $60.00 search and the left-hand screen that guides you to your hits.  The biggest issue is the pricing per document.  Those clicks just add up.  I am planning on asking our summer assoc. class if they are using Classic or NEXT, then based on the response, the rep. will concentrate on one or the other for the orientation. It will be interesting to see where the product stands with this first summer class who have potentially been using it at school.
 
———————–
 
We at the California Appellate Courts are not.  We have Westlaw and Lexis . . . [and] should be rolling out LMO [Lexis for Microsoft Office] soon, but that is as fancy as we are getting.
 
 
 
 
 

Legal Research Methods in a Modern World: A Coursebook

Together with my Stanford Law School colleague George D. Wilson and our friend and Danish legal scholar Henrik Spang-Hanssen, we have just published the third edition of our legal research book, a revision of Legal Research Methods in the U.S. and Europe, 2nd Edition.  But with the inclusion of short but good (in my opinion) chapters on legal research in China and Russia and some other materials, we have changed the title to Legal Research Methods in a Modern World: A Coursebook.

The book, now weighing in at 453 pages (and bargain priced at $ 55.00), is rich with illustrations and peppered with legal research tips.  My contribution is mainly Chapter 5, about legal research methods in the United States, and it is based upon and follows the advanced legal research class that I co-teach here at Stanford.  New to this edition, in addition to other updates, is the inclusion of research exercises that we have found most useful from the class.  I did not include the answers — because I hope to continue to use these exercises — but I would be very happy to share the answers and my thoughts on approaches with other instructors of legal research.

The legal world is certainly getting smaller, and it is our shared belief that this would be handy book for any attorney to have as he or she deals with lawyers from other countries and their legal cultures.

The book should be available from Amazon.com; but if not, or if you want to order copies in mass quantities, the U.S. distributor is International Specialized Book Services.  For other countries, the distributor is Marston Book Services.

We also have a corresponding website here.

“Abandoning Law Reports for Official Digital Case Law”

“Abandoning Law Reports for Official Digital Case Law” 

Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-01
PETER W. MARTIN, Cornell Law School
In 2009, Arkansas ended publication of the Arkansas Reports. Since 1837 this series of volumes, joined in the late twentieth century by the Arkansas Appellate Reports covering the state’s intermediate court of appeals, had served as the official record of Arkansas’s case law. For all decisions handed down after February 12, 2009, not books but a database of electronic documents “created, authenticated, secured, and maintained by the Reporter of Decisions” constitute the “official report” of all Arkansas appellate decisions.
 
The article examines what distinguishes this Arkansas reform from the widespread cessation of public law report publication that occurred during the twentieth century and this new official database from the opinion archives now hosted at the judicial websites of most U.S. appellate courts. It proceeds to explore the distinctive alignment of factors that both led and enabled the Arkansas judiciary to take a step that courts in other jurisdictions, state and federal, have so far resisted. Speculation about which other states have the capability and incentive to follow Arkansas’s lead follows. That, in turn, requires a comparison of the full set of measures the Arkansas Supreme Court and its reporter of decisions have implemented with similar, less comprehensive, initiatives that have taken place elsewhere. Finally, the article considers important issues that have confronted those responsible for building Arkansas’s new system of case law dissemination and the degree to which principal components of this one state’s reform can provide a useful template for other jurisdictions.

Rudovsky v. West Publishing Goes to Trial

The Legal Intelligencer reports:

…a federal court jury began hearing testimony Monday in a defamation suit brought by two law professors against West Publishing.

Professors David Rudovsky of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Leonard Sosnov of Widener School of Law claim that West harmed their reputations when it falsely identified them as the authors of a poorly researched treatise update.

According to the complaint, the professors “were unable to reach agreement on the financial terms” for creating either a new edition of their treatise or an updated pocket part.  And, “in December 2008, without providing any notice to the Plaintiffs,” West published a pocket part to the treatise with the professors listed as authors (and “in smaller print, also identified ‘The Publisher’s Staff’ as an author”).

Now at trial, “Rudovsky testified Monday that he was “shocked” when he learned that West went forward in December 2008 and published a pocket part that still carried his and Sosnov’s names as authors — even though they had done no work and received no pay.”

According to an ABA Journal article, West’s lawyer argued that, “the two profs weren’t damaged by the publication of the initial 2008 pocket part, because they can’t prove either that their reputation was harmed or that they suffered financially.   However, the profs’ attorney, . . .  argued that damage to their professional reputation is assumed and doesn’t need to be proven, because this is a defamation per se situation, and Senior U.S. District Judge John Fullam agreed.”

U.S. District Judge John P. Fullam issued a two-page order that provides more detail on the Judge’s take on the law of defamation per se.  It also states:

“It is for the jury to determine whether the intended audience of the pocket part would conclude that plaintiffs authored an inaccurate and out-of-date supplement to the treatise.  If they so conclude, then I hold this would tend to damage the plaintiffs as legal authors and authorities on Pennsylvania criminal law and constitute defamation per se.”

The trial continues.  Get your popcorn ready, this should be interesting.

Earlier posts on the case available here:

http://legalresearchplus.com/2009/06/10/update-to-rudovsky-v-west-publishing-corp/

here,

http://legalresearchplus.com/2009/04/16/so-who-does-write-those-expensive-supplements-and-updates-to-big-name-treatises/

and here:

http://legalresearchplus.com/2009/04/25/rudovsky-v-west-publishing-corp-judge-writes-readers-were-not-informed-that-some-cases-cited-in-earlier-volumes-had-since-been-reversed-or-modified/

New Legal Bug Tracker Tool: Call for Debugging Help

Our friend — and technologist, author, public domain advocate, currently known for his foundation public.resource.org and as a leader in the Law.gov effort to bring online all primary legal source materials (cases, constitutions, ordinances, regulations, rules, statutes) for open public access — Carl Malamud is calling for help to debug the new Law.gov open source NILM (National Inventory of Legal Materials) Legal Bug Tracker tool:

Help us debug the Legal Bug Tracker

Curious footnote: Legal Research at French Law Firms

Prof. Pierre-Yves Gautier’s book chapter ” The Influence of Scholarly Writing Upon the Courts in Europe” includes this curious endnote:

“It is the author’s understanding that in some of the major law firms in France partners prohibit junior solicitors from doing research mostly on the internet or databases. Research must always start on paper.”

See Pierre -Yves Gautier. The Influence of Scholarly Writing Upon the Courts in Europe in Mary Hiscock and William van Canegem (eds.). The Internationalisation of Law: Legislating ,  Decision-Making, Practice and Education. Edward Elgar, 2010. page 210.

Perhaps some  of our readers in France or those with experience in Parisian firms could confirm this. If true, I wonder if cost or research methodology is the primary motivation for restricting online resources?