A message on the American Law Libraries – Private Law Libraries SIS Listserv has alerted me to: (i) A new blog by Law Librarian Jean O’Grady called Dewey B Strategic which has the subtitle of “Risk, value, strategy, libraries, knowledge and the legal profession,” and (ii) a recent intriguing post on this new blog called The Myth and the Madness of Cost Effective Lexis and Westlaw Research Training that raises the challenge (if not impossibility) of trying to teach “cost-effective searching” on Westlaw or Lexis to students or associates given the complexity of how these products are priced. Some examples of the points being made from the post:
Handing an associate a Lexis or Westlaw password and asking them to be “cost effective,” is like handing someone a credit card and sending them into a store in which none of the merchandise is priced and then berating them when the bill comes in exceeding your budget. No consumer affairs department would allow a retailer to perpetrate this kind of thing on the public. How is it that almost every law firm in the US has put up with this for the past 3 decades?
The obsession with being “cost effective” distracts the associate from focusing on the real goal — finding the right answer. Here comes the brain theory. Effective legal research requires deep focus and concentration yet… “the myth of cost effective research” requires an associate to engage half of their attention on a collateral and competing analysis of factors which have nothing to do with the substance of the law. (Am I in hourly or transactional mode? Is this content included or excluded? Should I print or read online? Should I execute a new search or will that cost too much? Have I selected the cheapest file? Is it cheaper to print by the line or print a page or print a document or should I email the results to myself?)