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Archive for the ‘Legal Publishing’ Columns

The Lure of the Other IP, Intellectual Philanthropy

It’s funny how you can work in a field for a good number of years and completely miss an extremely pertinent term for that field. Then, suddenly it strikes you as particularly apt, and leaves you wondering how you had missed it. I have been working on questions of open access to research and scholarship for a little more than a decade, and last week I ran into intellectual philanthropy in a 2011 book by Taylor Walsh entitled Unlocking the Gates: How and Why Leading Universities Are Opening Up Access to Their Courses. Intellectual philanthropy struck me as . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Aids to Searching Caselaw

The development of computers changed and enhanced the searching of caselaw.

In 1971 a study of the application of computers to legal research was undertaken by the Federal Department of Justice and the Canadian Bar Association. The study was completed in April 1972 and the opening paragraphs of the report were as follows:

This study referred to as ‘Operation Compulex’was undertaken at the initiative of the Federal Department of Justice and the Canadian Bar Association. The Bureau of Management Consulting of the Federal Government was engaged to carry out the inquiry which began in June of 1971 and terminated in

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Publishing

Just Trying to Keep the Customer Satisfied

It begs to be asked, increasingly, who is the customer for professional information publishers. No longer can they think simply about students, teachers, practitioners and librarians. Not when there are KM specialists, procurement managers, IT geeks, consultants and financial managers media buyers and, doubtless, countless others who have a role to play in what is chosen to support the information needs of a firm, corporation or institution.

Nevertheless, decisions need to be made as to what to invent and develop in order to create product and service offerings and, though some will disagree, the focus group, questionnaire and consultancy approaches . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Triple A: August Acquisition Action

While the US government deals with having less A’s these days it’s been AAA (August Acquisition Action) in the world of legal publishing.

We’re not sure though whether we should adding a plus or minus after those three A’s.

Law Librarians News readers will know that we’ve touched upon this subject in our last two editorials

Usually we see acquisition and deal season in the world of legal publishing happen either post Easter or in September to combine with the Partridge hunting season (Sep 1 – Feb 1) in the UK.

But for reasons we haven’t yet deciphered August 2011 . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

I Am Now an App™

[W]e’re writing these things that we can no longer read. And we’ve rendered something illegible. And we’ve lost the sense of what’s actually happening in this world that we’ve made.
Kevin Slavin, How algorithms shape our world, TEDGlobal (July 2011)

I finished my last post speculating that the business of law will be changed by programmers in the same way one might boil a frog. That is, it will happen slowly under the guise of software support for all of the decision making you have to do every day, and you’ll accept that support, incrementally, because you are a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Public-Interest Patent Option

On July 29th, 2011, the U.S. federal appeals court reaffirmed, in effect, the right to patent genes, if in limited cases. The court’s ruling overturned a lower court decision that voided a patent held by Myriad Genetics on BRCA1 and BRCA2, two human genes used in determining the risk that women face with breast and ovarian cancer. Much hinges on the outcome of such patent challenges, given the thousands of genes that have been patented in the United States and elsewhere.

The appeals court accepted that the chemical structure of DNA, once removed from a cell was “markedly different” from . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Professional Information Publishers’ PR, Whatever That Is

PR? What does it mean? I search around and wonder if it’s Public Relations or Press Relations (or rather media relations). But the two, although not unrelated, are not the same and that makes me think if, in that environment, there is more art than science applied; perhaps more faith and belief than evidence. In fairness, those within that trade seek to communicate their purposes and objectives, e.g., at the UK’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations website, where, usefully and unsurprisingly, they offer a “jargon buster”.

Mostly, whether it’s one interpretation or another doesn’t bother me. The use of PR . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Rise of the Programmers

I have this dream—a nightmare really—like one of those dreams where you’re trapped in an embarrassing or compromising position. In this dream, I walk into my law firm’s library and the shelves and books are gone. Instead, I see rows of keyboards and gleaming cathode ray tubes. The computers have staged a coup d’état.

Scott Stolley, The Corruption of Legal Research, For the Defense (Apr. 2004).

The promise and scope of Big Data is that within all that data lies the answer to just about everything.

Vivek Ranadivé, Chairman and CEO, Tibco, from Crunching Big Data: more than a

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Publishing

Free Legal Information? Really?

When I was chatting with one of my American colleagues at this summer’s ACLEA conference, our talk turned to our competitors. We agreed that our biggest competition is the free material on the web, rather than legal resources published by any other legal publisher. (We both publish secondary legal material: practice manuals and the like.) This set me on a train of thought about the funding behind all that free legal information.

With my belief in access to justice and to legal information, I can’t help supporting initiatives to make primary legal material and legal scholarship freely available online. I . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Importance of Character and Experience in Hiring

The following is a quote from the book, From Third World to First, by Lee Quan Yew, prime minister of Singapore from 1959 to 1990. The quote refers to his appointment of ministers.

The attrition rate was high because, despite all the psychological tests, we could never accurately assess character, temperament and motivation.

Here at Maritime Law Book we have had the same experience in the hiring of employees.

Marks at school or university, taken alone, are not determinative of an applicant’s likely success in a position such as a legal editor. Character traits are an important indicator or . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Halsburys Laws of Canada

The “Great Encyclopedias” of Legal Research – Part II

This is the second of a series of posts that were prepared as the sequel to a request by Professor Daniel Poulin to explain the character and purpose of “Halsburys” and the “C.E.D.” to his seminar on legal information at the University of Montreal. The views expressed are the personal opinion of the author.


There are three encyclopedic black letter statements of the law that follow the Halsburys model in Canada. Two of them are well established in the market – the Canadian Encyclopedia Digest (Western . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Decision Names

When referring to court or tribunal decisions in our daily lives, we generally use only the name of the main party or organization involved in the case. This “style of cause” or “case name” as we call it, doesn’t have to be unique in order to be specific: in any given legal context, the names of one or two main parties often suffice to refer to a decision, its full citation being used only in formal writings. Also, with electronic databases, we can afford to refer to only one decision and other decisions made in the same dispute are often . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing