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Archive for the ‘Legal Publishing’ Columns

All Gone West (Or East)

I recently attended another drinks party, again to celebrate, or rather mark, the forced departure of a former colleague after his many years of working for a major professional publisher. There was neither bitterness nor acrimony on his part, just an acceptance of that being the way it is. You work with them until you become surplus to requirement, too old (however young) and/or too expensive (however underpaid) and then you are out. The problem is that there are years of work still capable of being done and bills still to pay. In this way, another aspiring and hopeful . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

It’s 2014: All Change? or More of the Same?

Looking at the current contents of my ever expanding inbox, I see January has been a month of conflicting messages from the legal information world.

One moment it appears we really might have a real sea change in the way that legal content is perceived, published and prostituted.

Then, in the flash of an eye, a slew of endless press releases from Thomson Legal & Regulatory and LexisNexis praising themselves for the fact they are themselves; combined with their endless desire to control and purchase every and any new company (mainly tech based these days) that may actually have products . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Lexis, Westlaw, Wolters Kluwer – Advantage Won, Advantage Lost

The day is not far off when the providers of free legal information services will be able to match the services provided by Lexis, Westlaw and Wolters Kluwer.

There was a time when I would have said that this was not possible. My belief was based on the idea that the free services would always be playing catch up to a moving target, as the major legal publishers continued to enhance their products with high quality content and product innovation.

The scenario that makes the seemingly impossible possible is the “attack” on all things “Editorial” in the major legal publishing . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Unequal Incomes

A friend of mine is concerned about the existence today of income inequality that is leading to the accumulation of disproportionate wealth and economic and political power into the hands of a few.

No one doubts that individuals try to better their condition. Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations at page 237 said “But the principle which prompts to save, is the desire of bettering our condition, a desire which, though generally calm and dispassionate, comes with us from the womb, and never leaves us till we go to the grave”. President Abraham Lincoln said “I hold that while . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Legal Search

“Legal search algorithm” … now there’s a phrase to make your head spin. I’ve been thinking about legal search for years, but I confess that I hadn’t given the algorithm much thought until recently. Type it into Google, and you come up with an excellent post by Aaron Kirschenfeld in the Cornell LII blog: “Everything is Editorial: Why Algorithms are Hand-Made, Human, and Not Just for Search Anymore”.

For legal publishers, ensuring that our users can find what they are looking for is one of the biggest challenges we face. I’ve never encountered legal information that isn’t incredibly dense. We . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Ever Cuddled an Aardvark? Ever Studied Zymurgy?

A hitherto senior colleague, a mentor in legal publishing, speaking more allegorically than in truth, I imagine, recalled a difficulty that his wife allegedly suffered. Although an intelligent, urbane and charming person, she did not find herself always comfortable with some of the duties of the corporate spouse, particularly when it came to institutional dining. Her heart would sink at the prospect of an evening trapped between two crusty old judges with whom she had little in common. Her tactic, it was said, in trying to maintain conversation when it did not flow naturally, was to use alphabetic sequence to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

International Legal Publishers — Lexis, Westlaw, Wolters Kluwer, And… Wikipedia

Yes, Wikipedia

A recent encounter I had with German tax law was quite revealing. A claim had been made by the German tax authorities for the payment of a gift tax on a transaction in Canada that took place more than a decade ago. A computer trace of some kind by the German tax authorities had recently brought the matter to light and resulted in a demand for the payment of back taxes by a Canadian to the German government based on incomplete information.

Recognizing my serious limitations in tax matters of any kind, I approached a highly regarded member . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Frankfurter Buchmesse

With around 7,500 exhibitors from over 110 countries, the Frankfurt Book Fair is the publishing industry’s biggest trade event in the world. I found myself there this past October, mostly hanging around the “Digital Innovation” track. This for two reasons: we (Lexum) are in the business of helping publishers look good on the web and there was a beer stand conveniently located not far from the stage to help fight the jetlag.

The premise of the courtship between an IT service provider and a publisher is quite straightforward. Publishers want to sell more of their books by repurposing . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Legal Publishing Is Vogueing

Look around everywhere you turn is heartache
It’s everywhere that you go (look around)
You try everything you can to escape
The pain of life that you know (life that you know)

“Vogue” Madonna

Legal Publishing is vogueing again and Madonna’s lyrics must have been written for the legal publishing industry!

Here at Law Librarians News publishing legal books is a development that has come back into play in a big way in the last 12 weeks or so.

Management at various publishers may well raise their eyebrows at our comments if and when they read this. But it really . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

It’s the End of the World as We Know It …

Mobile devices! Google everywhere! Is this the end of the world as we know it? Is it the end of legal research as we know it?

Of course, it isn’t any such thing. Even so, the rise of mobile devices does seem to be related to changes in how legal research is conducted and what results are expected.

A recent post from Raymond Blijd of Wolters Kluwer predicts the death of legal research on desktop. As mobile devices become even more easy to use, and as information is organized and formatted to make it more accessible on those devices, the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing


Lawyers are frequently asked to predict the outcome of litigation.

Predictions are important in many other fields such as economics, politics, the weather and earthquakes.

The future performances of employees and athletes are regularly the subject of prediction. Predicting the performance and character of persons is very difficult. Lee Kuan Yew as Prime Minister of Singapore when discussing the appointment of ministers stated “despite all the psychological tests, we could never accurately assess character, temperament, and motivation”. See Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights ….. by Allison and Blackwill (2012).

In the field of politics the polls sometimes fail . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

In Praise of Peer Review: A Modest Proposal for Identifying Unscrupulous Open Access Journals

I remain indebted to peer review. Sure, I’ve been called a dilettante. Had ideas dismissed as half-baked. Had the floor swept with the derivative nature of my work. Been chastised for treating data as singular. And then the self-inflicted wounds of my own careless error. But having suffered from what appears only at first glance to be the slings and arrows of outrageous peer-review, I stand by this process.

I will defend a career’s worth of the anonymous and thankless work of reviewers who have provided the concerted kind of attention that I undoubtedly needed. It has made me, such . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing