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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

Change – It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint.

In my previous article I discussed the different ways in which Change can affect us – and whether it is welcomed or it is being endured has a great deal to do with that. We know Change is inevitable and constant, so our best strategy is to prepare ourselves, in body and mind, to run the marathon that it presents.

Whether you’re running with Change or away from it, it’s going to be a long haul. An SLA article from 2002, “Coping with Change in the Workplace,”[1] sets out a few basic strategies to make the constant transitioning a little . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Some Things in Legal Publishing World ARE Free…

I started off this column planning to write about free resources available from OUP. But then I started to think about the other on-line publishers, who also provide some limited content to non subscribers, and thought that this is something to be identified and shared in more detail. In a world where there is a rush to the monetization of knowledge, where we have a divide between the digital haves and have-nots , it is good to see that some of this knowledge is freely shared. For those with access to subscription resources, in law firms and universities, it’s sometimes . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Price of Open and Free

On May 1st, a Texas law student uploaded the specs for 3D printing of a single-shot pistol to the web – specs that were downloaded over 100,000 times before the U.S. State Department asked that he remove them from his site. That same day, May 9th, U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order “Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information.”

The juxtaposition highlights how open data efforts are generally considered contributions to freedom of information and the advance of human liberty, but occasionally thought of as dangerous incursions into . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Virtual Conference Going: A Mixed Blessing

One of the conferences I go to for a quick and painless technology update is Computers in Libraries (CIL) held in Washington, DC in the spring. I first came to it in 2000 when a friend of mine loaned me her press pass for the last day of the conference. At one of those sessions I was pleasantly surprised to learn about virtual reference service at Northwestern University Library, only a few miles from where I was working at the time in Chicago. I was hooked and have been to almost every CIL since then. 

After I retired, however, I . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Keep the Change

Though my column focuses on legal information, in the United States legal education is intimately bound up with the trends in legal information. LEXIS and WESTLAW maintain a stranglehold on the marketplace by heavy investment in law school training. By putting boots on the ground in the form of dedicated training representatives, student advisors and, of course, free access 24/7 to the relevant systems, the big commercial data bases win hearts and minds. New law students are highly energized and very impressionable. What they find upon arrival in law school is, as far as they see it, the way things . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Zero Is an Answer

A computer trainer I know well tells me that there was much discussion in his company as to whether they should charge for searches that returned no results. After great debate it was concluded that zero hits was a legitimate search result, and, as such, the company should charge for it. I think anyone who carries out research would agree with this: knowing that something has not been considered or talked about is important. The difficulty with this is knowing if zero genuinely is the answer, rather than the result of not using a relevant resource or search term. It’s . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Steal This Book!

This month marks the 42nd anniversary of the publication of Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book. For Slaw readers younger than I, Abbie Hoffman was a political and social activist, a leader of the 1960s counterculture and youth revolution movements. With Jerry Rubin and others, he was a founding member of the Yippies (Youth International Party) and one of the defendants in the Chicago Seven conspiracy trial for incitement to riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. (Hubert Humphrey and Edmund Muskie were the Democratic nominees for that year’s presidential race; Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew won the election.) 

Steal . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Progress v Change

“People like progress, but they hate change.” There are a couple of misconceptions in that statement: Progress is the tangible result of change, you never find one without the other. But more importantly, people regularly confuse dislike with fear. While both are instinctive reflex reactions, overcoming each involves very different strategies. As managers of change, we have to understand that what on the surface appears as “hate” is in reality a fear of the unknown; fear of the future and uncertainty about our ability to secure a place in it.

Those who know me well know I thrive on change. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

That Wifi May Be Free, but Don’t Pay for It With Poor Security…

“Would you pick up a half bottle of beer left on the pavement and drink it?”

This question was put by Rob Cotton, CEO of NCC Group , to a BBC Radio4 presenter when he was discussing the risks of using free wifi hotspots in cafes, etc. Perhaps the image was a bit extreme, but it caught my attention, as intended. He was drawing a picture of the not so pristine world of unsecured free wifi hotspots, and the lure of joining the Cloud wherever you find yourself. The premise is that you should think about what you search, or . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Smaller Law Library

Over the last few years the physical footprint of law firm libraries has been decreasing. Reasons for this include the ever-increasing price of real estate and the availability (both real and perceived) of legal materials online. Some library users rarely or never set foot in the library; this may be because they work in a different office, they work from home, or simply that they prefer to be able to access library services electronically.

In some cases, the decrease in square footage has been library-driven; if the library manager sees that the library does not need all the space it . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Privacy in the Cloud, or Why Won’t Social Media Let Me Be Anonymous?!

I maintain several personalities on social media. I am a different person on Facebook than I am on Twitter than I am on Google+ than I am on LinkedIn, and I like to keep it that way. And even within particular media, I maintain multiple personas with different names and different passwords. I do this to keep my work life separate from my personal life, to be more efficient, to freely explore new technologies, and to reflect different interests. I also do this to explore the potential freedom to be anonymous on the Internet – to not be confined by . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information