Thursday, January 23, 2014

Interview with Anne Ellis: First Librarian Relations Director at Thomson Reuters Retires

On January 1st Anne Ellis a former Chair of the Private Law Libraries, SIS and the first Director of Librarian Relations at Thomson Reuters retired after a long and distinguished career as a professional leader. I thought it would be interesting to get Anne's thoughts on her career and the challenges facing law librarianship.

Tell me about your career prior to going to Thomson Reuters?

I earned my MLS in 1975 from the University of South Florida. My first job was in public libraries. In 1984 I got my first law firm position as a reference librarian and later as the Director of the Library at Carlton Fields in Tampa. After ten years at Carlton Fields, my family relocated to Denver and I took a reference librarian position at Holme Roberts working for Mark Estes. Then I got the opportunity to be the Library Director at Holland and Hart. I became PLL Chair in 1997 and was recruited by Andy Prozes at Thomson Reuters to start the Librarian Relations Program for Thomson Reuters.

What made you leave a traditional career path and pursue the opportunity at Thomson Reuters?

I had the opportunity to meet many of the TR executives by being on the Westlaw Private Firm Advisory Board. Brian Hall, the first CEO of Thomson after the acquisition of West Publishing, wanted to build a librarian relations team to show the company's continuing support of law librarians and challenge the one that Lexis had had in place for several years. It was a very exciting opportunity to build the organization from the ground up.

Service as the PLL chair also made me recognize that there were important ways to support the librarian profession from the vendor side.I regard my move to TR as the greatest opportunity of my career.

As the first Director of Librarian Relations, what was your greatest challenge?

Law firms and corporations are very different environments. Law firms are like a little community. It was a big transition to get used to being in a huge organization. I relocated to Minnesota and worked in the corporate Headquarters. That move helped me understand the various business units in the organization. Being agile was the most important quality for succeeding in my position.

What do you regard as your greatest accomplishment?

Developing the librarian relations team and then helping that team develop wonderful educational offerings for law librarians.

Would you encourage other librarians to work for legal publishers?

I think it is a great career path. It requires a specific skill set. You need to be able to build relationships both inside the publishing organization and with practitioners in law firm, law school, and government environments.

What skills should the next generation of librarians and Knowledge professionals possess?

They need to learn how the technology behind legal online products work. It is no longer enough to be able to use the technology. We also need to know more about how the technology is built. The technology that is behind the information resource is as important as the content needed by legal practitioners.

Do you have any thoughts on the passing of Dwight Opperman?

He was no longer at Thomson when I went to work there, but I had met him as a member of the Advisory Boards. He remained completely beloved by the people at Thomson Reuters and would visit the offices from time to time. I respect the fact that he built a superior company in West Publishing and expanded it from print to the addition of online resources such as Westlaw. The acquisition by Thomson continued that expansion and led to huge investments in research and development which resulted in the transition of Westlaw from a software platform to Westaw.com and now WestlawNext.

 What are your plans?

I am already retired and am enjoying having time to go to "the Y" for exercise, volunteer work, and having more time with my family. I also am enjoying taking a break from extensive business travel. I am pleased with these changes, but would consider taking on challenging opportunities if they arise. I will continue to proudly call myself a law librarian.

All Access: Registration Open for The First Access to Justice Program For Law Librarians

Law Library Association of Maryland is sponsoring "All Access" the first access to justice program  for law librarians. According to Kate Martin of the Circuit Court of Montgomery County Law Library  the program will be  especially valuable for private law librarians by showing them a way to use A2J to raise their profile within their firms and support their firm’s pro bono efforts. A2J will also offers a way to give back to the community.
 
Martin stated that "A2J" seemed a natural fit for our LLAM biannual Legal Research Institute, which won the AALL award last year for its innovative programming."

 She also points out that there hasn’t been a symposium on A2J organized by and for librarians. There will be several tracks on A2J basics, practical hands-on advice and current issues in A2J. The venue at the University of Baltimore is brand-new and beautiful, convenient to the Baltimore train station, and less than two hours from Philadelphia and DC. The organizers are in the process of developing a webpage with all pertinent information regarding the conference. National A2J speakers are coming from Alaska, Montana, Minnesota, Utah and Atlanta.

 
Registration for this one-day event is $65. Registration has been kept low to encourage as many people as possible to attend.  They are also offering for registration fee grants to wider the attendee base further Registration includes breakfast, lunch and a wine reception as well as all programming and hand-outs. So far we’ve gotten sponsorship from AALL, West, Bloomberg/BNA, and Lexis; Fastcase, LLSDC and GPLLA.

 The Day The institute will be a day-long symposium on access to justice. Leading off with a colloquium of national thought leaders, the conference continues with concurrent programs on basic and advanced A2J issues.
 
The closing event will be a stakeholder fair, where attendees can meet informally with workers in the forefront providing A2J services.
They have already lined up national A2J speakers such as Judy Meadows, Joan Bellistri and Sarah Mauldin.
Topics Include:
  • How to raise your profile working on law firm pro bono issues, aid to prisoners
  •  
  • A2J basics, social worker on expectations of SRLs, resources for A2J, Minnesota’s database for pro bono attorneys
  •  
  • Ed Modell on the ombudsman position in the MD courts, how trends in courtroom tech will
  •  
  • affect A2J, new ways legal clinics are working at law schools, how to work with SLRs – what they expect
  • MD incubator programs, the People’s Law Library and how it helps SLRs, how public libraries can assist SLRs
Access to justice is a core value of law librarians -- and it is becoming more critical as professional legal assistance becomes more expensive and beyond the reach of even average, middle-class Americans. Law libraries are being inundated with these self-represented litigants and this trend will only continue to grow.
 
The State of Maryland is developing strategies that lead the nation in service to the self-represented litigant. A state-wide A2J commission works with the courts and has joined national leaders to in developing better A2J policies and practices. The state law library has developed an innovative website, the People's Law Library, to explain court procedures to the layman. County courthouse libraries are working to give free legal advice though Lawyer in the Library sessions. Baltimore law schools are offering novel legal clinics to inner-city areas.
 
For more information contact:
 
Kate Martin

Law Librarian
Circuit Court for Montgomery County
50 Maryland Avenue, Room 326
Rockville, Maryland 20850
Phone: 240-777-9121, Fax: 240-777-9126
Email: kmartin@mcccourt.com
.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Bloomberg BNA to Deliver Big Data Solutions: Bloomberg Law Executives and Staff Relocate to the BNA HQ


On January 1st the Bloomberg Law’s executives and sales team relocated from the Bloomberg Headquarters on Lexington Avenue in NYC to the BNA Headquarters in Arlington Virginia.. Does  it signify a shift in power, a shift in strategy, a shift in culture or all three? I met with BloombergBNA CEO Greg McCaffery to discuss the implications of the relocation and BloombergBNA's plans for the future.

Bloomberg and BNA are a fascinating “odd couple” in the legal publishing world.  Bloomberg Law is brash, edgy and data driven. BNA is  bow ties and bifocals with a long history of legal and regulatory reporting and analysis.  No doubt facets of each culture are co mingling to create a new organization. Elements of  Bloomberg ambiance have been introduced at the BNA offices. Like the Bloomberg Mothership in NY they have  an  all day  "pantry" with coffee, snacks, fruit, yogurt. They have begun renovating the office space and building glass walled conference rooms to be more open like the New York office. 

Greg McCaffery became the CEO of Bloomberg BNA in September 2012. After 16 months at Bloomberg headquarters in New York, he’s proud to be bringing BLAW back to the BNA headquarters. McCaffery joined BNA in 1986 as a reporter on the staff of BNA’s Chemical Regulation Reporter He covered polymer regulation at the EPA and then moved over to the labor and employment side of BNA. He later became editor and manager on Daily Labor Report, before moving into product development, and finally to the business side or the organization. Greg brings a unique understanding of both Bloomberg and BNA to the role – with a career at BNA of more than 26 years.

Is this change a reorganization or a relocation?

McCaffrey: It’s a relocation. It made strong sense to concentrate the organization around its center in the DC area, and also to move our sales and client engagement staff into the communities they serve all around the country. The creative synergies being realized from having our BLAW staff physically sitting with BBNA’s content experts are massive. 

Why are these changes happening now?

McCafferry:  Bloomberg took its time to  learn BNA. There is a lot of respect of the BNA culture  and the integration went smoothly. The joining of Bloomberg Law and Bloomberg BNA into a single subsidiary, announced in July, is now complete. This complex transition has been seamless for clients. Access to Blaw and BBNA products have not changed. Bloomberg Law is the "flagship" product. You can continue to subscribe directly to BNA products, but a single Bloomberg Law subscription includes access to all BNA content

How will these changes impact Bloomberg Law and BNA customers?

      McCaffery: We expect Customer Service to be even better. We are following the BNA model – sales account executives are regionally based to provide even more specialized customer service. Account executives have been fully trained and can help clients with all products– BLAW and BBNA.

       Some specific benefits will be:

  • ·    All invoices for Bloomberg Law and Bloomberg BNA will now come from BBNA – and clients can have their invoices consolidated if they choose. 
  •      The Bloomberg Law Helpdesk will remain staffed 24/7 with knowledgeable and experienced legal professionals – including attorneys and law librarians. 
  • ·     Whether you call the Bloomberg Law Help Desk or Bloomberg BNA Customer Service – the experienced staff will put you directly in touch with the appropriate representative.

How will the integration of the two cultures drive Innovation and product improvement?

McCaffery: ·BNA had this incredible depth of expertise and Bloomberg has the technology, data and analytics that few if any companies can rival.·The combination makes BBNA an incredibly powerful market force – not just more efficient, but more insightful. BBNA will be better positioned in both the vertical/niche information markets where it has excelled for decades, as well as the legal research and business intelligence space, which Bloomberg Law has helped to reinvent. We are bringing the Bloomberg strengths in data and R&D into BBNA, where, when meshed with editorial skill and knowledge, true innovation is possible.· We are introducing advanced and search tools that allow practitioners to do more than pull up a verdict or settlement but to easily see related news and cases or apply sophisticated filters.

··Powerful new Resource Centers with integrated analytics on top of deep knowledge

Bloomberg’s data enhancements to BNA resources can be seen in the BBNA Resource Centers. The  Labor and Employment Law Resource Center  now has an Arbitration Award Navigator ·The Navigator allows practitioners to conduct complex filtered searches on  a  repository  of arbitration data extracted from 20,000 arbitration awards.  Lawyers can  assess trends, evaluate arbitrators, and view fact patterns in awards to develop an optimal strategy for an upcoming arbitration. ·12 different variables including case name, arbitrator, topic, union, employer, industry, classification outline number, and more, to allow users to filter and sort an expansive and growing collection of more than 20,000 arbitration awards

McCaffery described a new focus on customizable, real time information that allows a practitioner to be “the first to know.”  This is  real time awareness is combined with advanced analytical tools. that will help a lawyer spot emerging trends which will impact clients and potential clients. In the coming months BBNA will be introducing "big data" solutions integrating analytics on top of a deep well of legazationl analysis and business data. The ultimate goal will be to provide trending and predictive analysis. 
As I have been saying for years,  since everyone now knows "what just happened", the next competitive edge will come from knowing "what is about to happen." I predict that Bloomberg BNA will not be alone in pursuit of the ultimate predictive product for the law firm market.
T
Although Bloomberg Law offers some very innovative features which weave legal and business information together, lawyers and librarians have been slow to embrace the product. The realignment of the organization in the BNA editorial headquarters may lend some "gravitas" and legal street cred to the Bloomlberg Law brand.


Related: Bloomberg Law Gets BNA's Intellectual Capital in the Capitol.
Bloomberg Law Rebrands: BBNA Let the Mashups Begin
Greg McCaffrey Named Bloomberg Law CEO: Headed Toward the Business of Law

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Martindale Hubbell: Another Legal Icon Bites the Dust. But It Was Once Worth Its Weight in Gold (and Held for Ransom)


 In August  2013 LexisNexis announced that they had entered into a joint venture with Internet Brands (the owner of Cars.com) to develop "marketing solutions" using the Martindale.com platform. Although Internet Brands is taking the lead in managing the joint venture there is no mention of Martindale on their website. Since LexisNexis owns InterAction,  the leading "contact management" product which is used in many law firms - it is puzzling why some effort was not made to integrate Martindale with InterAction and other LN sources containing rich actionable client data such as Courtlink dockets.

Blogger Kevin O'Keefe recently posed the question "Does Martindale Hubbell, as we knew it still exist?" "The answer is clearly "no," and O'Keefe wonders aloud whether the Martindale brand divorced from the legacy of Martindale Hubbell has any real meaning.  The announcement of the joint venture was followed by the layoff of most of the Martindale staff. These were the people who used to curate the surveys and data collected to evaluate whether lawyers and firms qualified for the for the "gold standard" AV rating. So what is left of the legacy?

A Reference Shelf Superstar. There was a time when Martindale Hubbell was probably the most heavily used reference book in the law library. It was not only the easiest way to locate lawyers and law firms, but it was chocked full of  other useful information. It contained summaries of the laws of all 50 states and for  hundreds of foreign countries. Need to see a sample notary form for South Dakota? Check Martindale Hubbell. Need to know the statute of limitations for breach of contract in Alabama? Check Martindale Hubbell. Need to learn about IPO requirements in Italy? Check Martindale Hubbell. Need to see the full Hague Convention on International Service of Process? You got it - check Martindale Hubbell.

The History. The Martinale Directory was created  by James B Martindale in 1868. His goal was to furnish lawyers, bankers, merchants and real estate agents with the address of one reliable, lawyer, banker, real estate office etc. in every city in the United States. In 1930 the company  purchased the rights to the Hubbell's Legal Directory which contained a digest of law for every state. The company was purchased by Reed International (LexisNexis)  in 1990. An interesting summary of the Martindale Hubbell peer review Rating system appeared in the journal Diversity and the Bar. Over the years the 2 volume set exploded into a 26 volume set containing over 1 million lawyers. It was also distributed on cd-rom, the web and on Lexis.

The Ransom Note. As I contemplated writing a blogpost, I realized that the best testament to the critical place of MH was hanging on the wall across from my desk. First you must imagine a world in which there is no World Wide Web, no Google -  your desktop is not connected to a freely available ocean of facts. On May 7, 1987 I  sent out a memo to all the lawyers at Shea & Gould pleading for the return of  the New York Martindale Hubbell volumes. This was a fairly regular occurrence. There was no firmwide email system. The style of the memo makes we wonder if it was -- yikes! -- typed on a typewriter.

The memo: "Once again both copies of the New York Martindale Hubbell are missing. Please contact the Library immediately if you know where these volumes are located." When I returned from lunch I found a ransom note on my desk. (Reproduced below) I was secretly delighted at the outbreak of pure fun mid-day.

The ransom note reads: "They're being held for ransom. If we don't receive $1 billion in small unmarked bills by one pm today, both volumes will be executed. We mean business!"

I showed it to litigation partner, Martin Shelton  who laughed and responded  "If you find out who wasted time doing this, I'm going to fire them." Then I showed it to firm's chief prankster and corporate partner, Arnold S. Jacobs of "Rule 10b-5 fame," who said "Find out who did it, I want to give them a raise." 

My best recollection is that I later discovered that it was done by two associates, a litigator and  a corporate associate. I believe they were both named "David." If only I had a 1987 copy of Martindale Hubbell, I might be able to figure it out!

I later framed the ransom note and to this day it hangs in my office as a reminder of a lost world. It is like an ancient map inscribed with exotic legends... "here be dragons."  I imagine a white gloved appraiser on Antiques Roadshow ..." What you have here is an original example of late 20th century large, law  firm associate folk art. It is virtually priceless."

Late 20th c. law firm associate folk art.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Fastcase Enters the Productivity Challenge with A Bankruptcy Forms and Filing Product from LexisNexis

Fastcase  which made it's name as a low cost alternative to Lexis and Westlaw with an innovative search engine including  graphical timelines for analyzing caselaw has announced a move into the growing legal process improvement and  workflow arena.

www.fastcase.comToday LexisNexis and Fastcase announced that the Collier TopForm & File product will now be provided exclusively by Fastcase and will be known simply as "TopForm."

In an interview Ed Walters, CEO of Fastcase stated that after Fastcase reengineers the product he expects it to become the leading bankruptcy efiling product which can be scaled to  law firms of any size. The current cd-rom platform has limited the product's appeal to solo lawyers and small bankruptcy practices. Walters expects the cloud based product to be available by April 2014.  Fastcase President Phil Rosenthal is quoted in the press release: "Integrating the editorial expertise of LexisNexis and one of the industry's best filing and form systems with Fastcase 's technology and online database will provide every TopForm subscriber with more access and helpful tools than ever before."

According to the press release:

"LexisNexis will continue editorial updates to the service through 2017, with Fastcase focusing on product development, especially a Web version of the TopForm software tightly integrated with Fastcase’s legal research service. The combination will produce the most authoritative, powerful bankruptcy software on the market"

In an interview, Ed Walters, Fastcase, CEO, stated  " We’ve been interested for some time in expanding into e-filing, document automation, and practice management, so this is a great entrĂ©e into all three. "

Key Features
  • Prepare and File Electronically
    Prepare and file schedules and forms electronically through a simple e-filing interface. Easily download new and revised forms. Prepare the Proof of Claim form as well as post-petition motions, orders and notices. Also expand your ability to take on new types of filings with comprehensive, up-to-date Chapter 13 plans.
  • In-Depth Form Interview Questions
    Form data entry interview questions with contextual guidance assist you every step of the way so you can finish your form faster and more accurately.
  • Click-Through Data Entry
    Experience simple click-through data entry, maximized full-screen viewing, easy access to master address list including common creditors and other key contacts, and related document/certificate attachment. Automatically populate credit report data. Customize personal and jurisdictional preferences and standard firm information. Capture and add key dates or case status throughout the entire case management process.
  • Review Forms While You Work on Them
    Easily review forms with a question-and-answer summary for each form, preview the form with your answers and spell-check the information you’ve entered directly from the data entry interview.
  • New Form Alerts
    Be alerted as soon as federal and local form updates are available to be confident you’re using the most up-to-date information, and help ensure that your filing is accepted.
  • Due Diligence Resources, Current Exemption and ECF Compliance
    Help verify that your client’s position is vetted by leveraging due diligence data and reports. Access the latest exemption laws for all jurisdictions and maintain full compliance with all current versions of CM/ECF used by the courts.

  • The LexisNexis Question?

    I get why Fastcase wants this product. I don't get why LexisNexis is letting it go. After all, LexisNexis is also in the productivity space.  I have to assume that this is happening because Lexis has a new  "Practice Advisor" bankruptcy product in  the wings. 

    Here is a link to the Press Release.


    Sunday, January 5, 2014

    Dewey B Strategic Honored as Top Legal Research/Writing Blog By ABA Journal

    Thanks to everyone who voted for Dewey B Strategic in the recent  ABA Blawg 100 poll.     It is a special honor given the quality of the other nominated blogs. It has been a wonderful experience to be part of the lively "fraternity" of legal bloggers.

    The winners were announced in the January issue  of ABA Journal. Congratulations to the  other winners in each category. as well as  all the members of the Blawg 100.



    Friday, January 3, 2014

    Take the Start/Stop Poll: What Did You Start or Stop in 2013?

     The Poll: Please take the brief (10 question)  Start/Stop 2013/2014 Poll

    I am a big believer in new beginnings.  The dawn of  a New Year always provides a good excuse to hit the "pause button" and reassess my trajectory both personally and professionally. I started 2014  with a good omen - being bumped up to first class on my first flight of the year. I will add it to my "good luck" inventory of the year - a list which I consult in those inevitable  moments of psychic whiplash.

    Knowing When to Stop. I am a big fan of Jim Collins author of the business classic "Good to Great."He counsels that deciding what to STOP doing is as important as deciding what projects we START. It is so easy to continue doing things - because we have always done them. Managing change is not easy. You may take some heat... it's part of the job.

    Decades ago I took one bold leap into the future. I decided to stop sending law reviews to the bindery. It was after the most current  issues of law reviews were on Lexis and Westlaw but before the full archives and images appeared in HeinOnline. I could no longer in good conscience spend the firm's money and staff time on this legacy ritual that was creating gilded buckram volumes destined for the dumpster within a few years. OK I can hear the snickers - what's the big deal? Well I was at a rather ..."scholarly/nerdy" law firm at the time - lawyers even wanted us to bind their private sets of law reviews from their alma mater... so my decision did raise some eyebrows. I was later reviled for suggesting that we should stop delivering the daily newspapers to every lawyers office (redundant,  inefficient, not green.)

    I was  pilloried for suggesting that the associates no longer looked at Shepard's in print - a notion which I tested  by putting rubber bands around all the volumes - to prove that this work had all moved online. But to the partners Shepard's Citator volumes were so iconic practicing law without these books was unthinkable. So we also have the unenviable task of building consensus around our changes. Luckily the "Great Recession" has had a remarkable impact on making lawyers more amenable to change, especially if you can show them the dollar signs. But there is no question you need to choose your battles, prepare carefully and assess the impact on lawyers - your clients when you introduce change.

    Make Room For Value.  The speed with which old processes and assumptions become obsolete is accelerating. We can only deliver more value by eliminating or streamlining the routine, the redundant and the unexamined.

    The Wisdom of Colleagues. In the spirit of collecting the wisdom of colleagues, I thought it would be interesting to do a poll on what we started or stopped in 2013 and on what we plan to start or stop in 2014. What products did we stop using? what new ones will we adopt in 2014?

    The Poll: Please take the brief (10 question)  Start/Stop 2013/2014 Poll

    The Survey will remain open until January 15th and I will report on the results. Thanks in advance to all participants.

    Also of note: Greg Lambert and I were on the same theme today.  He has an even more aggressive take on what to STOP in his post  Building Innovative Law Library by Subtracting Essential Services.