Category Archives: News

Breaking news and opinions.

What’s in a Name? On AALL’s Potential Name Change

AALL has begun the process to potentially change its name to the Association for Legal Information. Of course, the key change is the subtraction of the word “libraries”.

Motivating this change, AALL reports “today, 51 percent of AALL members do not have ‘librarian’ in their titles, and 57 percent work in an organization that does not have ‘library’ in the name”.

The potential name change was announced in the November 12th, AALL E-Briefing. The membership will be able to vote on this initiative on January 12th, with results to be announced February 11th.

The debate about dropping the “libraries” has, of course, encouraged passionate discourse on the AALL message boards. The feedback has generally centered on the questions: Is Association for Legal Information too vague? Does it connote a professional organization for legal content creators and publishers rather than curators? Should the name be expanded to something a little more career-specific like “Association for Legal Information Professionals”?

The larger, macro issue is what will our profession be called in the future? As reported above, 51 percent of AALL members do not have “librarian” in their title, but we have yet to reach a point where our job titles have reached some kind of consensus. We are Research Analysts, Information Professionals, Information Specialists, Online Resources Librarians, Electronic Resources Librarians, etc. Those of us in this profession know that being called a librarian no longer suggests that one works in a physical library. Physical resources have given way to digital content; it’s second nature to us that the library is no longer the central repository of legal information at firms, law schools, and courthouses–yet, this idea hasn’t gained traction among Joe Q. and Jane Q. Citizen. Compounding this naming issue is that the term “librarian” needs its own rebranding effort. For some reason, the public perception of the definition of “librarian” hasn’t jumped to a person who curates digital content, rather than solely physical. The public perception is librarians are still “just” keepers of the books. At least personally, when I state that I’m a “librarian” at a law firm the common response I get is confusion; I have begun to shift towards calling myself a researcher. It’s, sadly, a less loaded term. The term “librarian” is viewed as an anachronism, a profession that google and computers have done away with. And the honest fear is if those in charge of the budget view the name of the profession in this way too: “why do we need librarians, when we don’t even have a library?”

So, the goal, really, is for AALL to find a term that encompasses what librarians should be called in the future. Is a rebrand wherein AALL now becomes the Association for Legal Information—and those of us in the profession become Legal Information Professionals—the answer? Time will tell is an old idiom, but in this case February 11th will tell. And, I do have to say I’m glad we, as a profession are getting in front of this—better for us to start the discussion on what to call ourselves, than to have someone else do it for us.

Are you ready for LAWMAGEDDON?

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Things are about to change in this industry and change big.  That’s right, Lawmageddon lands TODAY! Continue reading

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


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.

A big kudos goes out to Jenkins Law Library for taking silver in the “Online Research Provider” category. Attorneys apparently view Jenkins as an “online research provider”; this is emblematic of law librarianship’s shift-to-digital, as well as proof that Jenkins has done an excellent job of adapting to the new, digital norm. Most strikingly, this shows Jenkins has succeeded in changing public perception to view a law library not as just a physical building but as a provider of online researching. Jenkins Law Library took silver to Lexis Advance and Westlaw Next who tied for gold. Bloomberg Law finished third in this category.

Notably, Lexis Nexis took home the gold in a number of categories, including E-Discovery, Online Research Provider, Legal iPad app, Case Management, Time and Billing, and Docketing; clearly, Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania as a whole, is a strong market for Lexis Nexis.

From a macro level, the survey shows the digital transitioning the legal field is strongly experiencing by having so many categories dedicated strictly to software and interfaces. Yet, it also shows that the big publishers have really striven to corner the market on specific, digital offerings (again, see how many categories Lexis Nexis took first in, above). With that said, the results are dotted with smaller companies who specialize in one area of the legal practice (Needles to case management, for example), which at least suggests there is still room for legal tech startups.

What can we glean from the results of the Legal iPad Apps category, where Lexis’s Lexis Advanced HD took gold, WestlawNext for iPad took silver, and Black’s Law Dictionary took bronze? Black’s has great name recognition, but the app is basically an e-book. Is this a sign that iPad use has not gained much traction in the legal profession, given that survey respondents may have just selected a name they knew (over, say, a more robust iPad offering like fastcase), or is this a sign that non-Westlaw and Lexis apps have been unable to penetrate if not the market, then at least public consciousness? Or, on the other hand, is Black’s a perfect iPad app deployment in that it eliminates the need to haul a big book around, and that it costs significantly less ($54.95 for the app, $81.95 for the book) than its hardbound brethren? Again, we seem to still be on the sidelines, waiting to see how legal apps shake out in the marketplace.

AALL Business Skills Clinic


AALL has put together a great professional development opportunity for law librarians with the 2015 Business Skills Clinic. Just for full disclosure’s sake—I serve on the taskforce to put the event together. The clinic is designed to give you an opportunity to “learn core business skills” . From my experience it seems law librarians are tasked with learning core business skills while on the job—i.e., learning-by-doing. There certainly are pros to this—the skills are engaged with and partially learned in a practical setting, but, in my opinion, immediate goal-oriented learning leaves blind spots, a lack of nuance, and definitely not expertise. The huge benefit of this clinic is the depth in which core business skills will be examined, and by a faculty of experts. Moreover, attendees will learn these skills outside of the work environment and in a context that isn’t focused on accomplishing a specific, immediate task, but rather on the tools to accomplish future, myriad tasks. Come and learn the skills the greatly affect your career.

Here are the business skills that will be covered:

  • Managerial Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Marketing and Communications
  • Performance Measures
  • Negotiations
  • Strategic Planning

The deadline for registration for the clinic is Tuesday, September 22nd. The cost is $795. And, as per the banner above, the dates for the institute are Friday, October 16th, and Saturday, October 17th. The location is the Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile.

For more information, and detailed bios on the institute’s faculty, please check out this wonderfully put-together .pdf.

This Fall: iBraryGuy goes Full TILT!

TILT PNG LOGOIn the three years since we launched this second version of the iBraryGuy blog, a lot about the legal information profession has changed. From the jobs that we do, to the ways in which we do them, to the very tools that we use to make our value known, the industry has undergone some incredibly exciting developments. It has been a wonderful time to be both a law librarian and a blogger marking the pace of that evolution.  In the spirit of these advances, iBraryGuy is also about to go undergo another change of its own.  Join us on Monday, September 28 as we unveil our new and expanded blog – TILT. Continue reading

Fixing the Law School Debtors’ Prison


Steven J. Harper, in Too Many Law Students, Too Few Legal Jobs, presented some disheartening statistics concerning current law school cost and the current legal job market. Granted, the preposterous cost of law school is not new news–it has been spiraling to absurd levels for years. The tuition of private law schools has, according to University of Colorado Law Professor Paul Campos, “doubled over the past 20 years, tripled over the past 30, and quadrupled over the past 40”. But, what is shocking about Harper’s article is law schools are still raising tuition, because, essentially, there are no disincentives to do so.

The average law school obtains 69 % of their total revenues via tuition. And, to quote Harper, once a student pays their tuition, “law schools have no responsibilities for the debt their students take on”. To David Lat, in his article Law school is way too expensive. And only the federal government can fix that the federally subsidized loans are the real issue: law schools raise tuition and increase enrollment size, and the federal government responds by continuing to subsidize all the loans accrued by law students. There still isn’t a check or balance in this system—law school have the green light to pump out graduates into the marketplace with six-figure debt and likely no chance of landing a legal job in a saturated market. Harper suggests implementing methods to make law schools accountable: student loans should bear a rational relationship to law school outcomes. Lat proposes per-student or per-school caps that would at least attempt to lower the cost of law school tuition. Policy-making, on the other hand, has preferred the long game: rather than there be government intervention, the mechanism for adjustment appears to be to let the market forces sort everything out. Eventually, people won’t apply to law school because the legal market is too expensive to enter. This is occurring: the Law School Admission Council reports there has been a 4% decrease in applications for law school for Fall 2015 compared to Fall 2014.

Here are some of the eye-opening statistics Harper reported:

  • For those attending private law schools, the average student loan debt is $127,000
  • And for those attending public law schools, the average student loan debt is $88,000
  • Ten months after graduation, 60% of the graduating class of 2014 had found full-time, long-term jobs requiring them to pass the bar

With all of these macro elements at play, we still have job ads like this one, paying a robust $10 per hour to new bar admittees. Let’s see, how long would it take to pay off $88,000 in loans at $10 per hour?

New Survey States Associates Lack Advanced Research Skills


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.

My immediate, knee-jerk reaction to all of this news is: great!

The role of the law firm librarian, of course, is to cover this exact gap. We conduct multiple orientations with new associates, including when they are first introduced to the firm as summer associates and when they eventually get hired. And, during these orientations, it is our explicit goal to show how legal researching is done differently in a law firm environment. But beyond orientations, we are continually answering research questions and advising new associates on the proper directions to take with their research queries. The survey defines advanced researching as “researching more complex legal issues in cases, statutes and regulations, determining strength of validity of primary law, and legislative/administrative intent”–all topics we commonly help our new attorneys research. But, beyond researching, we have to acclimate new associates to the cost structures of conducting research at a firm, cost recovery, subscription versus transactional services, and other hard cost aspects of researching. This survey defines the importance of librarianship in the law firm setting.

The survey posits possible solutions to the problem of unprepared new associates: expand the curriculum of law schools, offer certification programs, and offer workshops, among others. Again, the role of the librarian is central to successfully transition associates from law school to their first professional roles. The survey found new associates spend a mean of 43% of their time conducting legal research, and a robust mean of 12.1 hours using paid online resources. This equates to a significant cost to firms. In fact, the survey states attorneys estimate it costs $19,000 a year to train new associates. The silver lining is: educating new associates on proper researching is big business in law firms, and an area that crucially underscores the librarian’s value to a firm.

Ex-citing News – MLex joins RELX Group

LexisNexis Announces Major Acquisition

BbKeL3yr_400x400MLex, an independent media organization providing exclusive market insight, analysis and commentary on regulatory risk, has found a new home. That’s right, it is soon to be independent no more. According to a new press release, LexisNexis has agreed to acquire this indispensible darling of the regulatory practice. Continue reading

iBraryGuy’s DiGilio recognized for Career Achievement

DiGilioJohnAt the recent Special Libraries Association 2015 Annual Conference, iBraryGuy’s own John DiGilio was feted for his service. John was the recipient of the 2015 Thomson Reuters Award for Career Achievement. Presented by the Legal Division of SLA, the award is designed to recognize a member who has provided significant service to the SLA Legal Division. The award is generously sponsored by Thomson Reuters Westlaw. Continue reading

How Legal Apps Rank: Part 2, the Success Stories

In Part 1 of How Legal Apps Rank, available here, I examined the Apple App store category rankings of the WestlawNext and Lexis Advance apps. In this post, I will examine the legal apps we should all be paying attention to: the success stories.

In searching for as many legal apps as I could find, I stumbled across many legal app pathfinders, bibliographies, and “best of” lists, but a special thanks goes out to the two lists that especially stood out: the often-updated libguide created by University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School Reference Librarian Jenny Zook and UCLA School of Law Reference Librarian Vicki Steiner’s guide. Also, I tried to be as inclusive and search for as many apps as possible–from apps produced by the big publishers, to those put together by the start-ups and the little guys.

My methodology was to, again, plug the apps into App Annie, and examine the apps’ historical, categorical rankings. Again, I have limited myself to the Apple App store/apps designed for the iPhone or iPad.

Time for the big reveal–here are the apps that surprised and stood out:


TrialPad, published, in name, by Saurian Communications, Inc., though really by Lit Software, is an award-winning trial presentation app. To simplify its features: while users are at trial or mediation TrialPad easily connects to TVs and enables attorneys to display documents, play videos, and more, all with a host of great annotation tools. TrialPad is for the iPad only, and costs $89.99. Here’s its “Grossing Ranks” chart:

First, we can see this app has hit the #1 position in the “Business” category on a number of occasions (note that the y-axis on this chart has been reduced to 1-30, showing how frequently this app ranks highly). The “Business” category in the app store is generally the domain of scanning apps, .pdf readers, invoice/timesheet creation apps, and other esoterica–TrialPad genuinely sticks out for having such a specifically defined audience. Also notable, this is the “Grossing Ranks” chart, as opposed to the “Download Ranks” chart. TrialPad, again, costs $89.99 which is higher than most apps and means less downloads are required to lead to higher grosses and therefore a higher ranking in the “Grossing Ranks” chart.

With all of this said, here is the “Download Ranks” chart:


On this chart, I have extended the y-axis values to 1-100; we can see TrialPad is not consistently in the top 30 like it is in the Grossing Ranks, but it still is a very high-performing app, and one that law librarians and information professionals need to have on the radar (as an aside, it appears this app has been on our radar as, beyond the times I saw it in app patherfinders and guides, I also recall this app being demo’ed at the 2014 AALL Annual Meeting Cool Tools Cafe by Debbie Ginsberg, Educational Technology Librarian from the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law Library).

Turns out TrialPad isn’t the only Saurian Communications, Inc./Lit Software, app to have on the radar–the other?:


TranscriptPad provides attorneys with a bevy of annotation and review tools for use with legal transcripts. TranscriptPad, too, is only for the iPad and costs $89.99. Below, I have pulled TranscriptPad’s “Grossing Ranks” chart:


Though slightly outperformed by its brethren TrialPad, TranscriptPad still exhibits stellar results. I reduced the y-axis to 1-30 in the above “Grossing Ranks” chart, which shows how often TranscriptPad is located near the top of the “Business” category. TranscriptPad even hit the #1 ranking on  July 17, 2014. TranscriptPad’s “Grossing Ranks” positions are aided by the fact this app also costs $89.99, meaning the grossing rank can be accentuated with less downloads. To that end, here is the download chart with the y-axis extended to 1-250:


All in all Lit Software must be commended for producing two of the most successful legal apps on the market, even more impressive that this coming from a start-up and not one of the big legal publishers.


Our next success story app is also another victory for the little guys, or in this case, guy. iJuror is published by the prolific Scott Falbo, who has 86 other app credits to his name. iJuror helps in the process of jury selection, enabling attorneys to quickly appoint characteristics and notes to potential jurors, as well as compile reports they can easily share with colleagues, among other features. Below is the “Grossing Ranks” chart for iJuror:


This app is ranked in the “Business” category (same as TrialPad and TranscriptPad), and is available for the iPad only. The y-axis is reduced to 1-250 in the above, which shows a consistent placement around the #100 rank. This particular app does cost $24.99, which is more than what usually dots the “Business” category in the app store, and means less downloads equal a higher bump in the “Grossing Ranks” chart. This is an older app, introduced in 2010, and still able to remain relevant, as per the above chart.

Practical Law The Journal – Litigation

Now, to deviate, the next two apps display the importance of current awareness materials. The first is the Thomson Reuters published  Practical Law The Journal – Litigation app, which offers a convenient way for subscribers to read this publication on-the-go. Below is the “Download Ranks” chart:


The above, with the y-axis filtered to 1-250, shows the app’s “Professional & Trade” category rankings; the app hit #1 on January 30, 2014. And, similarly, let’s look at another current awareness app:

ABA Journal magazine

ABA Journal Magazine is the mobile extension of the American Bar Journal’s magazine, ABA Journal. The app is simple, designed to enable on-the-go attorneys the ability to read the contents of the print magazine (subscription required). Below is the all-time “Download Ranks” chart for the iPhone delivery of this app; the y-axis set to 1-50, and this is the “Professional & Trade” category:

ABAJournal_DownloadsABA Journal Magazine has broached the top ten in “Professional & Trade” a few times, even hitting #1 early in its deployment, on Feb. 13th, 2014.

Both Practical Law The Journal – Litigation and ABA Journal Magazine exemplify that iPads (in particular) do an excellent job of displaying the content of serials. Not only are they visually appealing in app form, more than just the current issue is accessible, and navigation is not restricted to leafing through pages. The lesson: current awareness materials translate to tablets really well.

In summation, those are the legal app success stories–thanks for reading!