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Archive for the ‘Legal Publishing’ Columns

Legal and Professional Publishing: Has It Become Desperately Dull?

I’m pretty certain that most people, partly under delusion, at some time express the view that things aren’t as good as they were in the past. It’s usually wrong, of course. However, looking at the world of legal and professionally publishing, I wonder if I’m correct in thinking that it used to be enormously pleasurable, rewarding and creative but now appears, with some exceptions, to be desperately dull?

Its dullness is reflected in its lack of innovation, its shift away from new product development and its failure to excite and engage with its customers and with its . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Why English Revisited

In September 2013 I wrote a column titled Why English? The column canvassed the popularity and future of the use of English worldwide.

One reason for the popularity of English is that the USA is a world leader in higher education and in research and development. Tens of thousands of foreign students attend Canadian and US universities. Some foreign students intending to apply to a North American university attend high schools in North America. These students obtain a high school graduation certificate and at the same time they learn English.

For example, I live in Fredericton, New Brunswick where we . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Legal Publishing and Market Research – Getting It Right

Robert MacKay, the philosopher publisher from New Fetter Lane, recently posted yet another thoughtful piece on a matter of interest to legal publishers and their customers under the title The Customer is Sometimes Right (April 29, 2014).

This time, Robert addresses the subject of the dynamic that exists, or rather should exist, between the publisher and the customer in the development and re-development of major legal information products. Specifically he comments on “the methodologies used to define and understand user needs by way of direct customer contact”.

As Robert says, the next product or service that will astound us will . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Motivation

In 1978 China abandoned a planned economy that the government thought could facilitate productive forces and would guarantee fairness. Li Yining, a professor of economics at Peking University stated that China was wrong on both counts. See How China’s Leaders Think (2010), by Robert L. Kuhn, page 98.

Professor Li states “After several decades under the planned economy, the facts tell us that enterprises and people are not motivated – and without motivation, productive forces cannot develop. Under the planned economy, there is no competition, no equal opportunities, and no freedom to relocate. ….. After the Cultural Revolution, China’s economy . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Dream a Little Dream …

I’ve been dreaming again about the future of legal publishing. How might we arrange legal information if we were not constrained by the structure and format that we’ve all grown up with? We know what the core pieces are:

Primary law: remember all those bound volumes of statutes? Remember all the print law reports? Many law libraries still carry these, but they have now mostly been replaced by a variety of online resources. Of course, in this country, CanLII is the best example.

Secondary law: we are lucky to have a huge body of secondary law in Canada, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

CDs and DVDs Going the Way of Loose-Leaf Services

It would be my view that, even at its very best, the world of legal and professional publishing has been and is one that embraces evolution but not more. We see evidence of this in the recent sale back to its previous owners of American Lawyer Media. What goes round comes around would appear to be the preference and it seems that the major international law publishers were not interested in absorbing ALM. Perhaps this reflects their current view of the market. Still, there can be little doubt that the electronic revolution and the state of the economy . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Open Data Husbandry

In Canada, the legal community started reaping the benefits of open data not only before it became trendy, but even before governments started becoming familiar with the concept. Indeed, in mid-nineties, when our governments were still jealously protecting their information assets, the free access to law activities begun in Canada. Every crack in the otherwise watertight system of protection was exploited and opportunities were grabbed as they showed up. The Supreme Court is open to freely distribute its ruling: let’ start with that then. Justice Canada is ready to publish the laws for free: let’s go for it. At a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Show Me the Money … Reprise

I thoroughly enjoyed all the discussion around my last column. It seems to me that these conversations are really around our long-time favourite legal publishing topic: where will change come from and what will it look like?

Colin Lachance’s response gave me plenty to think about. What’s the business model of the future for Canadian legal publishers? (This is another way of saying “show me the money”.) And what will new legal information sources look like?

There’s obviously an appetite in many parts of the country for more relevant and cost-effective secondary sources. Our CLEBC publishing program is something . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Retirement? Not for Everyone

What is the purpose of retirement? Some say it is to stop doing what you have to do and then start doing what you want to do.

But what if you are now doing what you want to do? Those lucky people say that retirement has no attraction for them because they are already doing what they want to do. Some say they love their job.

Apparently more and more people are continuing to work rather than retire. The American Association of Retired Persons reports that in the 65 to 69 age group, that 32% were still working in 2013 . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Customer Is Sometimes Right

As part of the consultancy work I do, I have the great pleasure and privilege to work with most important, high-profile clients, sometimes to conduct product review processes on their behalf. On a couple of recent projects, an understanding of the status quo was required, combined with an appreciation of the ways in which the products are used and will, most likely, be so in the future. These were to be analysed and measured against industry trends and perceptions and converted into strategic plans for their evolution. The projects were conducted well, I believe and clear directions, pointing out . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Trouble at T’ Mill — or Case of Permanent Stasis?

This week we received via one of our sources, Reed’s financial wind up figures for 2013 and also in that document their comparison with the group’s 2012 figures. Even to a numbers illiterate like myself it’s fairly obvious that Lexis Nexis may well be generating some revenue but profit margins are negligible. Lexis capital expenditure compared to the other members of the Reed Group is also way out of whack as we’ll discover.

So first up …..

Revenue
Legal Year to 31 December 2013
2013  £m 1567
2012 £m 1610

Change Constant Currency -4%
Change Underlying +1%

Revenue is up, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Show Me the Money

Since late last year, a groundswell of opinion seems to be developing in favour of open and free access to legal scholarship and secondary sources.

Sean Hocking’s recent column speculates that “someone will see that a Wikipedia type solution to the cataloguing, editing and free distribution of legal information is of benefit to a functioning democracy in the 21st century.”

Who will do this work? He suggests that this role will be taken on by “unemployed or at least underemployed legal editors, academics and dare we say it, lawyers, out there who’d be willing to initiate the process of getting . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing