Legal Intelligencer Releases “Best of” Survey; Jenkins Law Library Takes Second for “Online Research Provider”

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The Legal Intelligencer’s annual “Best of” survey was released today; as usual, the latest edition shines a light on what legal resources attorneys in the Keystone State are using. The survey’s respondents are readers of The Legal Intelligencer, the Philadelphia-based daily law journal that has been operating for more than 150 years. Continue reading “Legal Intelligencer Releases “Best of” Survey; Jenkins Law Library Takes Second for “Online Research Provider””

New Survey States Associates Lack Advanced Research Skills

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Back from an admittedly ongoing baby detail, I was greeted by a press release in my inbox decrying the state of new attorney readiness. LexisNexis’s Legal & Professional conducted a survey entitled Hiring Partners Reveal New Attorney Readiness for Real World Practice, which found 95 percent of “hiring partners and associates believe law school graduates lack practical skills related to legal research, litigation and transactional practice”. Beyond practical skills, the survey respondents stated young associates especially lacked advanced research skills. Continue reading “New Survey States Associates Lack Advanced Research Skills”

Perla Makes a Point on PACER

filestackFew things have raised such hue and cry in our industry this year as the announcement that PACER was going to be without certain courts’ materials.  The concern expressed by law librarians and legal researchers clogged newsfeeds for weeks and made its way – all the way – into the halls of politics.  Yet while many saw an immediate challenge to the way we work, others saw an opportunity to turn an old model on its head.  Bloomberg BNA president, David Perla, in a recent article for Law Technology News, was among those not only seeing the glass as half-full but also thinking of newer, better ways to make it overflow. Continue reading “Perla Makes a Point on PACER”

Ravel Law: Visualizing Legal Research

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Ravel Law incorporates the age-old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” into legal research. Visualization is fundamentally incorporated into Ravel Law’s software design. When users conduct a search on a legal topic, or a prior case, Ravel delivers an interactive graphic displaying cases associated with this topic or prior case; the cases that are the most heavily cited have larger icons, thus signifying quickly to researchers which cases are fundamentally important to whatever topic or prior case they’re researching.

Ravel_Map1 Continue reading “Ravel Law: Visualizing Legal Research”

Small Firms & the Cloud

Lexis’s new research shows small firms trending towards increasingly adopting cloud technology. Lexis surveyed firms of 1-20 attorneys, finding 39.4% of respondents are using cloud services for legal-related work today, with 72.4% of respondents believing law firms will be more likely to consider a could service in 2014. Lexis put together a handy infographic detailing the highlights of the survey here, and the whole survey is available here. Continue reading “Small Firms & the Cloud”

Same Content, Different Apps: Martindale-Hubbell, Lawyers.com

Lexis has created two apps that do the exact same thing: the Martindale-Hubbell and Lawyers.com apps allow user access to the same, giant directory of attorneys. Lexis, though, clearly has different audiences in mind for the two apps, having tailored Martindale-Hubbell to attorneys and Lawyers.com for the public.

The Martindale-Hubbell app is intended to be used by attorneys. More legal language is employed in the template searches that drive the app: users can search for “area of practice” or “law school” for example. The copy from the app description in the iTunes store indicates attorneys are the prime audience for this app as well. The copy, accessible here, reads: “Need to refer a case to an attorney outside your jurisdiction?” and “Ever wished you could look-up opposing counsel’s background and expertise on the fly?”.

Lawyers.com, on the other hand, is directed towards members of the public who need an attorney. The app delivers the contact information of the lawyer closest to the user’s current location, gives contact information for the searched-for attorneys, and even displays directions on how to reach their office. And iTunes store copy, accessible here, states: “Need to find a lawyer fast?” “Looking for ratings and reviews on lawyers in your area?”, and even goes on to state the content underlying the app is coming from the Martindale-Hubbell lawyer directory.

It’s a little reductive, but generally true, to say that apps typically are user interfaces thrown on top of databases. More often than not, apps are just a mode for users to access, interface with, and sometimes contribute content to some underlying, large database. Observing Lexis’s creation of two different interfaces intended for two different audiences to settle on top of the same content gives us an interesting insight into the actions and perspectives of one of the really big fish of the legal research world. Re-organizing the same information is something that continually occurs in the world of apps, though usually it’s different app producers creating different interfaces, not the same producer creating multiple apps that do the same thing. But, Lexis’s actions are clever–the public and attorneys are different enough audiences, with different enough research goals, who will emphasize different enough search criteria, that deploying different interfaces for them seems to be an effective solution.

Lastly, though downloading and using the apps is free, I’m sure you’ll have to pay for whatever attorney you find.

The OverDrive Model: How Lexis Approaches eBooks

OverDrive appears to have established the format of how to distribute eBooks in a public library environment. To oversimplify their business model, OverDrive is essentially the digital middle man between publishers and libraries. Think of them as the library iTunes of the eBook world; libraries who use OverDrive can offer their patrons access to an enormous library of eBook titles. OverDrive takes care of all the content management and collection development issues, and grants portal access to libraries who contract with them. On the other side of the fence, publishers upload their content directly into OverDrive, which enables a library to purchase the publisher’s titles.

LexisNexis Digital Library is a pairing between Lexis’s treatises and OverDrive’s electronic library management system. Essentially, LexisNexis supplies the content, and OverDrive manages the method of distribution. The patron, then, has access to a number of Lexis-published eBook titles that can be accessed via popular eReaders (Kindle, iOS, Sony Reader, Nook), various operating systems (Windows PC, Mac), and differing mobile device operating systems (Android, iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Phone). The library, notably, purchases licenses for the eBooks. One license means only one copy of the eBook is accessible; once a patron has checked out that one copy, no other patron can access the eBook until it is returned. A library can purchase multiple eBook licenses, if they believe a particular title will be popular enough to have concurrent users. After a due date has elapsed, the eBook is automatically returned, and becomes available to the next patron.

Again, to emphasize, the LexisNexis Digital Library treats eBooks like physical books, availability of titles is limited by licenses: “In addition to simultaneous access to many titles for multiple users, users may also check out multiple copies of the same eBook depending on how many copies the library purchases” (from LexisNexis’s April 12, 2012 press release). OverDrive’s license-limiting model has been successful in public libraries, an environment of multiple publishers and huge patron bases, but does this arrangement successfully work in law libraries? Does firm size/patron-base affect the success of implementing LexisNexis Digital Library? How do patrons respond to eBook availability?

We’re still in the era of observing how the big vendors are wrestling with distributing eBooks. LexisNexis’s pairing with OverDrive offers a particularly unique approach to this issue.