News From Elsewhere

This is a bit of a global pot-pourri drawn from what I’ve been reading from elsewhere.

Access to Justice in Australia
Another Thomson/West acquisition – this time a Brazilian publisher was acquired
Harvard Law Library joins the Chesapeake Project
The Guardian picks up on Rob Martin’s hyperbolic rant against Canadian Legal Education
An English law firm outsources all of its non-billable activities, including its law library, IT and knowledge management.

Let’s start in Australia where Attorney General Robert McClelland unveiled an ambitious range of measures to improve access to justice:

· launching an Access to Justice website, to provide seamless access to local information about legal assistance and related services;

· increased funding of $154 million over four years for legal assistance services, taking the total Commonwealth contribution to over $1.2 billion;

· introducing a new law, the Civil Dispute Resolution Bill, requiring people to take genuine steps to resolve their disputes before going to court;

· developing an action plan to ensure Commonwealth laws are clearer and easier to understand;

· establishing a national advisory body to develop national responses to critical challenges in the legal assistance sector;

· extending the requirement to attend family dispute resolution to property and spousal maintenance matters;

· examining options to improve the discovery process in civil litigation through a review by the Australian Law Reform Commission;

· developing improved administrative law guidelines for Commonwealth officials; and

· investing $1.6 million to attract and support lawyers working in rural, regional and remote areas.

The one obvious point that wasn’t there was an increase in the $50,000 the AG’s department in Canberra gives to Austlii.

Now to South America – we haven’t talked much on Slaw about Brazilian law – perhaps surprising since it is an economic powerhouse and has the largest number of lawyers per capita after the United States, with a growing base of medium and large law firms.

Our friends in Eagan clearly read the tealeaves too: Thomson/West today announced that it has acquired the Editora Revista dos Tribunals. Revista dos Tribunais has nearly 300 staff members throughout the country and 43 branches and a back catalogue of more than 2,000 published titles. Pricing wasn’t announced but you’ll soon be able to search Westlaw in Portuguese.

Now north to the States. As the first annual National Preservation Week begins, the Chesapeake Project Legal Information Archive announced the expansion of its digital preservation efforts with the addition of a new partner library, the Harvard Law School Library.

By joining the project, the Harvard Law School Library is taking part in
the first collaborative digital preservation program of its kind in the law library community. Libraries participating in the project share costs, resources, and expertise to preserve important Web-published, legal materials within a shared digital archive.

The Guardian has a regular blog devoted to weird scholarship. Today it featured a rant from Rob Martin at Western entitled University Legal Education in Canada is Corrupt Beyond Repair, published in the October 2009 issue of the scholarly journal Interchange. The text is on a rather extraordinary blog.

“There are two phrases that can be used to describe every law faculty in Canada. The phrases are: ‘feminist seminary‘ and ‘psychotic kindergarten‘.”

Rob certainly has a turn of phrase:

Current levels of homelessness are a disgrace in a country as wealthy as Canada. I have a two-step plan for freeing Canada at once of two major social ills. This is the plan.

Step One: Close every law faculty in Canada; and

Step Two: Hand the premises of the former law faculties over to homeless people.

The books in the law libraries would serve a much more socially useful function as cooking fuel than they do being gawped at by illiterate students.

Next from London to India. A vast legal outsourcing contract has English heads spinning, as Richard Susskind piles on praise: Integreon, the global provider of research, legal and professional business solutions, announced on Friday that CMS Cameron McKenna LLP has signed a 10-year agreement with the company for outsourced Middle Office services. This includes substantial portions of accounting and finance, human resources and training, knowledge management, marketing and communications, learning and development, library and information services, research, information technology, facilities and other services. The total value of services addressed by this agreement is £583 million, the legal industry’s largest outsourcing agreement ever. It includes the development of a shared service model which could be made available to all law firms and will feature the full range of business services and include a leading edge IT infrastructure.

Yes you saw right. A firm with 122 Equity Partners and over 1,000 fee earners in total. Outsourcing all of its non-billable activities. And knowledge management, marketing and communications, learning and development, library and information services, research, information technology, are all up for grabs. How would one outsource all of that.

Richard Susskind commented,

“This is a hugely significant development that sets the pace for the global legal market. The scale and ambition of the arrangement is remarkable, and the business case is compellingly strong – by outsourcing many of its non-core activities to Integreon, CMS Cameron McKenna should achieve major cost savings and free itself to focus more strategically on its clients and services.”

Legal Week adds some key details:

Under the terms of the deal, Integreon will review Camerons’ entire UK back office function, including all support departments, to establish which parts can be transferred to a separate Integreon-run outsourcing centre.

The deal could see the entire 200-staff operation employed by the outsourcing company with Camerons expecting to save 10%-15% of costs through the arrangement. The review will take four months and the new set-up will then be implemented between October and the end of the year.

The English blogosphere questions:

Will Law Libraries ever be the same again?

A wonderful world dear readers.

Comments

  1. Excellent collection of interesting reading Simon. Personally, I like the challenge that outsourcing of libraries brings. If I can’t show value to my organization, I should go (and work for an outsourcing company).

    I wonder how the law firm librarian role as “trusted adviser” will adapt to the type of change outsourced services would bring to an organization.

    I hope that CMS Cameron McKenna LLP will document this project.