Business as (Un)Usual: Library Business Continuity Amid COVID-19

By Ellyssa Valenti Kroski, Director of Information Technology/Marketing The New York Law Institute

We’re a private membership law library which serves law firms and law firm librarians by providing research assistance, document delivery, and access to remote databases. When Hurricane Sandy hit New York City in October, 2012, we were largely unprepared for what would follow.  The inability to physically access our building cut off access to our library’s email which was hosted in-house on our network, as was our application which provided remote access to all of our electronic resources for our members.  We also had a traditional POTS phone system in place, so answering patron phone calls was out of the question as well.  We really had to scramble in order to get temporary passwords issued so that patrons could still access our resources and post alternate phone numbers for contacting us on our website.  We did it, but it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t fluid.  We decided right then to start transforming our business model to one that was more conducive to business continuity in the face of crises, one that was independent of location.  Eight years later we were much better prepared for this emergency.

Here are some of the systems we changed and had in place which made transitioning to a remote work situation less of an ordeal as well as some tips for preparing your own library. Continue reading

Welcome to the 2019-2020 Dewey B Strategic Hits and Misses Survey

Reposted with permission from Jean O’Grady at Dewey B Strategic.   Jean is a member of the Private Law Librarians & Information Professionals Special Interest Section. 

Please take the 2019-2020 Dewey B Strategic Survey here. Review the 2019 highlights below and tell your colleagues about the best and the worst of 2019 in legal publishing and legal tech.

The Highlights 2019 was a relatively quiet launch year in legal technology and publishing.  The year opened with speculation about the impact of layoffs at Thomson Reuters. Mid-year Wolters Kluwer suffered a significant malware  attack on May 7 but was fully back online within a week.

LexisNexis announced the full integration of one of its oldest acquisitions. Courtlink which was acquired in 2001 was finally integrated into their flagship product Lexis Advance.  The market responded with mixed reviews.

Bloomberg re-branded itself as Bloomberg Information Group (BIG.) Sadly this signified the retirement of BNA ( Bureau of National Affairs) as a brand. Bloomberg had acquired BNA in 2011 add a significant library of secondary sources including newsletters and books. The full integration of BNA into the Bloomberg platform allowed the company to revert to the simplified pricing model they had pioneered during their launch into the online legal information market.

Fastcase continued an aggressive spree of acquisitions and alliances covering public records (TransUnion), bankruptcy forms, Expert witness information (Juris and Courtroom Insight)  and  legal news (Law Street Media) clearly positioning product to move into the large firm market.

The Year of the Brief Analyser. Casetext CARA which launched the first brief analysis tool in 2016  now has a competitor in the Westlaw Edge “Quick Cite tool.”  At the 2019 American Association of Law Libraries AALL Annual Conference both Bloomberg and LexisNexis previewed their brief citiator tools which are expected to launch in 2020.

Please respond to the survey here. The Survey will close on “leap day” February 29th.

LexisNexis ALM Study Measures Growth and Resistance of Analytics in the Practice and Business of Law

Reposted with permission from Jean O’Grady at Dewey B Strategic

Legal Analytics is changing the practice and business of law. LexisNexis has released its third annual survey. Bringing Analytics into Focus suggests that firms have reached a tipping point in embracing analytics in the business and practice of law with 90% of users reporting that analytics makes them more efficient and more effective. Here is a link to the full press release.

Survey Demographics 77% of the firms listed are listed in the Am Law 200. 70% of the respondents to this survey were attorneys representing over 25 different practice areas.

Librarians Deserve Credit. Since 75% of the responded cite an increase of analytics use at their firms, lawyer awareness of analytics is very high.  In most firms, Library and KM directors have brought in the analytics products and driven the awareness the report suggests that their efforts are paying off. Training and driving up use remains a challenge. LexisNexis’ integration of Lex Machina and Ravel (now Context) content into Lexis Advance is also driving awareness and lowering the “login” bar since lawyers don’t need a special password to see analytics in their research results.

“As the leader in legal analytics, we couldn’t be happier to see more law firms, attorneys and other legal professionals adopting these tools and finding new ways for the technology to add value to their business and profession,” said Sean Fitzpatrick, LexisNexis CEO, North American Research Solutions. “The legal industry’s most groundbreaking, innovative and impactful analytics solutions reside on our flagship Lexis Advance platform, enabling attorneys to do their work more efficiently, provide better client counsel and make more informed business decisions in today’s hyper-competitive environment.”

Use Cases No surprise all of the uses support the competitive needs lawyers as practitioners and rainmakers:

How Law Firms Us Legal Analytics

I have been an early promoter of the value of analytics and insights. I recall the early days of online usage — it took large law firms almost a decade to fully accept online research as delivering workflow efficiencies. Online research was viewed as “optional” for a long time. The current competitive marketplace has accelerated the embrace of analytics because they can position the firm for competitive advantage at even save a firm from humiliating meetings with clients who are armed with an analytics report on the firms litigation history.

How law firms use analytics

Lack of training is still an obstacle.  One of the most revealing charts illustrated the obstackes to adoption. Training was at the top of the list.

Obstacles to Adopting Analytics

Partners are the Most Resistant?

This finding really shocked me. In law firms that have not adopted analytics partners do not expect to be adopting analytics in the next two years!

Don’t plan to implement analytics

As a die hard fan of analytics in law, I am pleased with the progress in driving awareness and adoption. Legal analytics vendors need to continue to enhance transparency into any limitations in data or in the coding of the data to assure that lawyers know what they are looking at.

As the data sets grow the challenges will expand as well. No one can be complacent in the analytics market either buyers or sellers.

Download the full report here.

Talking Tech: The Evolving Market for Company Information

Reposted with permission from AALL Spectrum, Volume 24, Number 3 (January/February 2020), pgs. 31-33

By G. Patrick Flanagan, Research Analyst at BakerHostetler LLP

How information vendors and new technologies are impacting the way law librarians research and gather company information.

Legal information professionals frequently need to research information about  companies. We research adversaries and potential clients. We research industries and companies for academic projects. We investigate the vendors we hire. Technology innovations change the way companies record and publish information about their businesses. In turn, information vendors adapt to changing technology and provide innovative ways to make more information available. This column highlights some of those methods and points out potential future developments. Today, legal researchers are often most familiar with judicial and governmental sources that usually have official and structured publications. Information systems frequently marketed to financial and business professionals, however, often employ a more journalistic approach to corporate research and fact gathering. Understanding the use and benefits of these other approaches and tools is helpful given the ebbs and flows in the market for company information. Continue reading

Promoting Data Competency in Law Firms

Reposted with permission from AALL Spectrum, Volume 24, Number 2 (November/December 2019), pgs. 20-22.

By Josh Becker

Josh Becker is the head of legal analytics at LexisNexis and chairman of Lex  Machina. A long-time recognized though leader on leveraging technology to improve the practice of law, he is responsible for defining Lexis’ legal analytics strategy and vision. Becker previously served as Lex Machina’s CEO for seven years, leading strategy and operations. During his tenure, Lex Machina was acquired by LexisNexis. He was also part of the founding team of Dice.com (NYSE:DHX) and ran corporate development at Agile Software (sold to Oracle). He was a venture capitalist at Redpoint Ventures and then a founding general partner of New Cycle Capital.  Becker co-founded and remains chair of The Full Circle Fund, a coalition of technology and business leaders that collectively funds and supports leading social entrepreneurs. In 2015, he received The Jefferson Award for public service for his work with Full Circle Fund

When we consider just how central data and technology are to the legal profession, it becomes increasingly imperative to distinguish between data literacy and data
competency. Data literate legal professionals understand that data analysis can help them make smarter decisions, are comfortable interacting with data, and occasionally use data-based insights to create a strategic advantage in a legal or business context. Law librarians and knowledge managers, for example, need data literacy given the nature of the work they do, and there is an increasing expectation that lawyers be data literate as well.

Data Literacy Is No Longer Enough
While most of us understand that data literacy is valuable and necessary, as legal work becomes increasingly data-driven, data competency will be the standard by which all legal professionals—not just information professionals—are measured. Legal  professionals who are data competent have resolved to move beyond basic awareness and have placed data analytics at the center of their everyday activities. Data
competence implies a high level of comfort with newer technologies and real expertise in applying them to real-world problems.

Data competent professionals make frequent use of a variety of advanced tools for finding, analyzing, and manipulating data in order to be able to make the best possible tactical and strategic decisions in particular use cases. They can immediately match appropriate tools to specific legal or business problems, and they can use those tools confidently and efficiently because they use them regularly, every day.

Many librarians have already attained data competence and are actively investigating new capabilities and new tools as an integral part of their jobs. The legal profession
urgently needs their help, both in getting lawyers to grasp the importance of data competence and in providing hands-on training so lawyers can integrate data-based tools into their existing workflows.

Lawyers are trained to understand the intricacies of the law, but few have had any training in legal technology. When they are trying to size up opposing counsel, attempting to understand the litigation history of opposing parties, setting motion
strategy before a particular judge, or trying to anticipate how long it will take to litigate a particular case, they are accustomed to relying on their own experience, anecdotal information from colleagues, and, sometimes, nothing more than a hunch. That needs to change.

Law Librarians Can Lead the Charge in Data Competency
How can law librarians take the lead in promoting data competency among lawyers?

First, they can take responsibility for due diligence when it comes to adopting technology tools. Forward-thinking law librarians are already driving adoption of data analytics in
both the practice of law and business of law. To be effective in this role, they need to stay up to date on technology developments and marketplace trends. Data analytics in the legal industry is still in its infancy. Lawyers and legal executives need lots of help  distinguishing between a bewildering array of products. Law librarians are perfectly positioned to compare and evaluate these resources. They can use their research expertise to develop sample search queries that will illuminate the strengths and weaknesses of specific solutions. They can also help the profession develop more objective criteria for evaluating factors such as ease of use.

A recent presentation at the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Annual Meeting described an example of the kind of leadership that law librarians can provide to a profession that is seriously in need of guidance. In the example discussed, a group of experienced information professionals from a variety of backgrounds and job roles collaborated on a project to provide law librarian colleagues with a deeper  understanding of litigation analytics. They investigated the ways in which products
are not comparable, established test parameters and developed sample questions, engaged in hands-on testing, published their results (with appropriate caveats), and provided honest feedback for vendors serious about improving their offerings. These are
activities that very few lawyers have the time or interest in pursuing.

In any effort to evaluate legal analytics tools, it will be crucial to address the challenges presented by one of the primary sources of data for legal analytics solutions: Public Access to Court Electronic Records, or PACER, which is a massive dataset of federal litigation data that is growing by around two million cases per year. However, PACER has serious data gaps, its classification of cases and filtering rely heavily on its Nature of Suit
(NOS) codes, and its raw data requires extensive normalization to provide reliable results to analytics solutions users.

Data-Based Tools are Not Interchangeable
To make intelligent buying decisions and perform effective research, it’s essential that consumers of analytics tools understand the tradeoffs that vendors make in addressing these issues, such as those presented by PACER, when they develop their solutions. What are their processes for tagging and coding, and to what extent are those measures tailored to idiosyncrasies of individual practice areas and specific kinds of cases? Can a solution distinguish between ANDA (Abbreviated New Drug Application) and non-ANDA cases in searches of patent litigation, or file sharing and non-file sharing cases in
copyright litigation? To what degree are individual vendors willing to invest in legal subject-matter experts, not only to help design their solutions but also to provide continual input that will “teach” machines to make better decisions and optimize algorithms? These are the kinds of questions that law librarians and other information
professionals in the industry need to be prepared to ask. And then, after they’ve received their answers, share what they’ve learned with colleagues at their organizations.

Provide Training and Engage with Vendors
Law librarians can also take more responsibility for educating employees in their own organizations. Collaborating and sharing findings with other legal information professionals is an excellent first step, but the next step involves communicating those findings to the audience that needs them the most: lawyers and firm leadership. This
may mean offering regular training sessions to which colleagues can bring their real-world legal and business challenges and learn the best way to address those challenges using tools that are already at their disposal. It may also mean organizing events for
busy lawyers. While many experienced lawyers are reluctant to take the time to attend tech-focused “boot camps” or an occasional “Tech Tuesday” presentation, holding events is a good way to grab their attention for a defined period of time and get them to listen
and engage. Law librarians can also develop training programs for summer interns, who are more likely to be open to data-driven approaches to the practice of law and who, after all, represent the future of the profession.

Law librarians can also consider engaging more regularly with vendors. Law librarians can help vendors develop more user-friendly interfaces, urge them to be more transparent about their data-handling practices, demand they provide honest assessments of the content and functionality tradeoffs they make in developing solutions, and advocate for product features that focus more narrowly and effectively on everyday use cases. They can also insist that leadership in their own organizations gives them a seat at the table alongside lawyers when vendors seek help testing their products. Legal culture is a persistent barrier to data competency. Law librarians must recognize that they have an important opportunity, as well as a responsibility, to help change that culture.

Risks and Opportunities Ahead
Data competent legal information professionals needn’t have advanced degrees in statistics or data science, nor must they have a detailed understanding of artificial intelligence, analytics, machine learning, natural language processing, and other data-parsing technologies. However, when specific questions arise during litigation, investigations, negotiations, client pitches, business development activities, or hiring talent, the use of advanced tools to answer such questions should be second nature.

As a group, lawyers still lack sufficient awareness of and hands-on experience with a bewildering assortment of technology tools that can help them answer such questions much more quickly and accurately. As tools get better and are more widely used, there is a serious risk that legal teams who are better-informed and more technologically savvy adversaries in a dispute will have the distinct advantage of having access to a broader base of factual information and deeper insights. While that presents a serious
problem for some firms and their clients, it also presents an opportunity for law librarians to provide value and, ultimately, to enable better representation for those clients.

EXTRA
Listen to the Legal Talk Network episode “AALL 2019: Legal Analytics—Products and
Best Practices,” recorded at the 2019 AALL Annual Meeting at bit.ly/ND19LegalAnalytics.