What is CRIV?

When I was preparing to write my first CRIV blog post for the semester, it occurred to me that there may be some in our profession who are unfamiliar with CRIV and the work that we do (and others who might not mind a refresher!). So for this post, allow me to (re)introduce you to CRIV.

CRIV is AALL’s Committee on Relations with Information Vendors. You can read our formal Purpose and Charge on the committee’s page on AALLnet, but in a nutshell, our mission through CRIV is to foster and maintain positive, open communication between members of AALL and information vendors. We work toward this in two primary ways: First, we monitor AALL chatter for any complaints related to information vendors, whether those complaints have to do with billing practices (not pricing), resource functionality, or general communication issues. Then, in most cases, we will reach out to a contact within that information vendor’s organization to see whether and how that complaint can be addressed and resolved. We have four formal vendor liaison relationships with Bloomberg Law, LexisNexis, Thomson Reuters, and Wolters Kluwer. Four of our committee members are designated each year as the CRIV vendor liaison to each of these vendors. You can find this year’s vendor liaisons here. Throughout the year, the liaisons will take any complaints or questions received about these vendors to our designated contacts within their organization for resolution or clarification; and twice a year, the liaisons have a conference call with the vendor to discuss any outstanding issues and learn the latest updates to the vendors’ products and services. As you may have seen, the minutes from these calls are then published here on the CRIV blog and in the next issue of The CRIV Sheet.

Does this mean CRIV only takes questions or complaints regarding those four vendors? No — we are happy to assist in communication with other vendors as well, and certainly have in the past. The best way to seek help from CRIV is by using our Request for Assistance page on AALLnet. This helps us keep a record of inquiries. While you are asked to provide contact information when you submit a RFA (so we can reach you to follow up), when we take your complaint or question to the vendor, we keep it anonymous. If the vendor responds that they need more details, we would only provide them with your permission. Our ultimate goal is to serve as an advocate for AALL members in establishing positive working relationships with information vendors, and as such, keeping your confidence as we share your concerns with the vendor is a priority.

While vendor relations is at the heart (and in the name) of CRIV, another significant service we provide is education, including programming, like our Vendor Roundtable at the AALL Annual Meeting each July; this year’s recording can be viewed here (recording will be available through July 2022). In addition, through the CRIV blog and our thrice-annual newsletter, The CRIV Sheet, we endeavor to keep the membership informed about the latest developments and trends from information vendors. If you have an article idea and would like to write for us, e-mail Andrew Christensen, this year’s CRIV Sheet editor. And if you have an idea for a blog post, reach out to Christy Smith, this year’s blog coordinator.

CRIV is always looking for ways to better serve AALL members. Be on the lookout later this year for a survey from CRIV on this very topic, but in the meantime, if you have questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate to reach out! As CRIV’s current chair, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Ashley Ahlbrand, CRIV Chair, aaahlbra@indiana.edu

What’s New in the ALWD 7th Edition?

Recently I sat in on a book talk with Professor Carolyn V. Williams,* the author of the newly released 7th edition of the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation. ALWD, she explained, is designed to complement the Bluebook while also serving as a teaching tool for legal writing instructors and an easy-to-use resource for students and legal practitioners. With that in mind, there were two main goals for the new edition: 1) maintaining conformity with national standards and 2) ease of use.

To maintain conformity, Prof Williams focused on consistency with the Bluebook by keeping the same exact citations. In addition, “call outs” to the Bluebook are incorporated in Appendix 8. The “call outs” note precisely where in the Bluebook a user can find the rule. In some instances, the Bluebook does not address a specific citation point. For example, how does someone cite to an interview — especially an interview conducted on Zoom? Prof Williams created citation rules for this and other technological sources that have not always been thought about or even considered until COVID-19. The section on citing to practice documents was overhauled as e-filing has become the norm, providing guidance, for example, on how to reference electronic case files (ECF) numbering.

Because ALWD is also a teaching tool, Prof Williams researched how students learn so as to create a book that students would find easy to use. She included more visuals and explanations. Diagrams are color coded and “snapshots,” actual pages from a book or document, offer real-world context for students. Charts of abbreviations are included in relevant chapters for quick access. Additionally, favorites, such as the red triangles that indicate spacing were retained, along with Fast Formats, quick reference to citation formats, and the Sidebars, short informational snippets that explain “why” or offer background on a resource. Prof Williams also reviewed guide examples, revising to reflect diversity and inclusion.

New — and cool — to this edition is the online availability of two appendices. Appendix 2, Local Court Citation Rules and Appendix 5, Periodicals and Looseleaf Services are free to access at the Wolters Kluwer website (scroll and click on Student Resources): https://www.wklegaledu.com/Williams-ALWDGuideLegalCitation7. Accessibility to Local Court Citation Rules means students and practitioners who find themselves working in different jurisdictions need only look online to locate relevant local information. In Appendix 5, every imaginable periodical and resource are listed along with its corresponding abbreviation.

Some differences between ALWD and the Bluebook do appear. They are small, but interesting. For example, the Bluebook uses “e-mail.” ALWD dispenses with the hyphen and uses “email.” ALWD changed LEXIS to Lexis. After consulting with many people, including LexisNexis, Prof Williams could not find anyone who capitalized every letter of the word. With the proliferation of databases and variations of commonly used legal databases, ALWD suggests being specific about the database being cited. For example, if the user’s research comes from using Westlaw Classic, state Westlaw Classic (not just Westlaw) in the citation. On the other hand, if the user’s research comes from using Westlaw Edge, state Westlaw Edge in the citation (again, not just Westlaw).

It goes without saying this new edition was a massive undertaking and took a lot of work. Prof Williams had numerous discussions nationwide across states, including time spent talking to practitioners learning what they needed. She also communicated with Bluebook editors, asking questions and even, on occasion, noting an error.

At the end of the book talk, Prof Williams was asked what she learned from the process. Barely skipping a beat, she said: “I learned everyone has an opinion on citations, and they are not afraid to share it.”

*Prof Williams is an Assoc Prof of Legal Writing and Asst Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law in Tucson, Arizona.

CRIV/Bloomberg Law Bi-Annual Call

The bi-annual CRIV/Bloomberg Law call took place on July 29, 2021, at 11:00 a.m., via Zoom. In attendance were:

  • Mike Bernier, Director of Library Relations, Bloomberg Law
  • Joe Breda, President, Bloomberg Law
  • Michelle Hook Dewey, AALL Board Liaison to CRIV, Mercer School of Law  
  • Tom Hemstock, CRIV Liaison to Bloomberg Law, Albany Law School

Outstanding Issues:

None

New Items:

Expanding News Channels

14 new news channels added in 2020 and that number is increasing. Bloomberg Law is adding timely channels such as Social Justice & Diversity, Cannabis, and more.

Improved Email Alerts

In response to customer feedback and to increase engagement, Bloomberg modified email subject lines in alerts to be more descriptive. For example, the sender for the Banking Report will be a variation on “Banking” instead of the umbrella “Bloomberg Law” line that is unclear.

ALM News Content

Although introduced in 2020, and mentioned in the previous vendor call, Bloomberg Law emphasizes that they have ALM content (such as National Law Journal) added shortly after the content is published on ALM’s site.

In-Focus Content

Bloomberg Law continues to add new in-focus pages that brings resources together in one place. Resources on these pages are crafted by experts in the field. Recent In-Focus pages include Contract Drafting, Biometrics and a Core Litigation Skills Toolkit.

Draft Analyzer Improvements

Significant new features are now included such as improved comments, the ability to create a table of contents of clauses, hyperlinks to defined terms within the uploaded draft, and details/comments on the clauses used in the document.

Case Law Enhancements

Opinions can be now filtered by published and unpublished opinions.

Law Librarian Update

A newsletter for librarians launched and is available at https://pro.bloomberglaw.com/law-librarian-newsletter/.  Emails are sent to librarians when new editions are posted.  Contact Mike Bernier at mbernier@bloombergindustry.com to be added to the distribution list.

CRIV / Wolters Kluwer Bi-annual Call

The bi-annual CRIV/Wolters Kluwer call took place on June 21, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. PDT. In attendance were:

  • Jenna Ellis, Wolters Kluwer Liaison
  • Vani Ungapen, AALL Executive Director
  • Karen Selden, AALL, CRIV Board Liaison
  • Cynthia Condit, AALL, CRIV Wolters Kluwer Liaison

Wolters Kluwers Programs, Activities, or Business of Interest to CRIV and/or AALL. Jenna Ellis provided several updates on items of interest.

  • Treatise Search Solution: This solution provides access to Wolters Kluwer Treatise content through a REST-based API framework that allows firms to embed Cheetah’s native research experience within their intranet site resulting in seamless access to expert information from within their own environment and includes an “out of the box” search interface to serve as a reference for implementation by the firm’s IT team.

  • (Federated SSO) Expansion and Simplification of Single Sign-On with Seamless Authentication: This capability makes it possible for law firm users to access Wolters Kluwer content tools and research sites securely without being prompted to enter their credentials via custom links designed to automatically authenticate users based on the firms internal directory.

  • Establishment of Permanent Links: Permanent links to Reporters, primary source content, Treatise titles (including targeted chapters or sub-chapters) plus Practical Content all can be obtained from multiple sources (including directly from the Cheetah platform) and stay consistent even when the underlying content is updated, making them an ideal low-maintenance solution for posting on SharePoint practice and other firm intranet pages.

  • Expansion of Widgets: Wolters Kluwer now offers more than 850 customizable Title and Practice Tool Widgets that provide seamless access to specific content via a simple turn-key integration solution, including Treatises, Reporters, or Practice Tools (such as multi-jurisdiction Smart Charts) that easily can be embedded on a firm’s SharePoint practice or other intranet site. Please see this link for more information about these widgets: https://www.wolterskluwer.com/en/solutions/cheetah/cheetah-widgets.

  • Fast-Access-by-Citation Feature: This solution provides users with a simple tool to efficiently find and print or download targeted primary source content and forms directly from their SharePoint practice or other intranet site without being prompted for any credentials.

Requests for Advocacy:

  • There were no requests for advocacy.

AALL Programs of Activities, or Business of Interest to Wolters Kluwer

  • Vani Ungapen thanked Wolters Kluwer for its vendor participation at this year’s Annual Conference.

  • Additionally, CRIV thanked Wolters Kluwer for participating in CRIV’s Vendor Roundtable, which is on accessibility this year. Participating vendors will highlight features and/or services vendors currently provide or might be providing in the future to allow people of different abilities to use their products.

Adjournment

  • The meeting adjourned at approximately 10:40 a.m.

CRIV/LexisNexis Semiannual Call

Conference call took place June 11 at 11:00 a.m. EDT.

Participants:

  • Carolyn Bach – Senior Manager, Librarian Relations and Faculty Programs, LexisNexis
  • Simon Weierman – Sr. Director Segment Management, LexisNexis
  • Ashley Ahlbrand – CRIV Liaison to LexisNexis
  • Karen Selden – AALL CRIV Board Liaison
  • Vani Ungapen – AALL Executive Director

This update includes product enhancements released between January – June of 2021.

Lexis+™

  • Lexis+™ Litigation Analytics released in late January as part of the Lexis+ ecosystem. Lexis+ users now have access to a powerful toolset for litigation analytics in a single, integrated workflow providing precise, relevant, data-driven insights from Lex Machina® and Lexis® CourtLink® to quickly evaluate or compare judges, courts and counsel.
  • Shepard’s® At Risk helps ensure users are citing the best authority for a point of law. It was extended beyond the full-text case opinion to display in other context across Lexis+, including Brief Analysis and Shepard’s® reports.
  • Brief Analysis was included at Lexis+ launch and offers powerful insights by analyzing legal briefs (users or their opponent’s) and providing recommendations to craft stronger legal strategies and drive winning outcomes. This year to date, multiple updates have been rolled out to further improve Brief Analysis, including embedding Shepard’s analysis in the “Cited in your Document” tab, enabling users to filter recommendations for specific legal concepts and jurisdictions, and launching enhanced PDF processing capabilities.
  • A recent case study was published about Brief Analysis by AWS, LexisNexis® Builds AI-Powered Legal Brief Analysis Tool Using AWS, which highlights the collaboration between Lexis Labs and AWS through a “Working Backwards” innovation approach to develop a capability which improves productivity and decision-making for our customers.
  • Other recent Lexis+ updates:
    • The experience dock choice a user makes (Research, Practical Guidance, Brief Analysis or Litigation Analytics) now remains as the default across sessions, so users can pick up where they left off.
    • In a similar manner, the Explore Content area of Lexis+ that enables users to browse our collections of content and resources, was enhanced to persist the last tab utilized so users can pick up where they left off across research sessions.
    • Annotations and highlights are now made visible when a user returns to a document without requiring the document be saved to a Lexis+ work folder.
    • The Lexis Answers® tool is now made available when searching Practical Guidance materials on Lexis+.
    • The full-text document display across our content collection was updated to improve the presentation, focusing on readability and navigation.

Lexis® and Lexis+

  • Law360® Pulse, which launched in January and provides unparalleled business of law coverage, was integrated for access to archived articles through Lexis and Lexis+.
  • Our International Primary Law collection, already leading in coverage from beyond the U.S., was expanded to include laws and regulations through machine translations and original-language source documents. The initial wave began with Latin American countries (January), with later additions of Germany and Indonesia (April) and then Spain (May). Sixteen new countries have been added within 2021, increasing our total collection to 25 plus the European Union.
  • The LexisNexis® Public Records user interface was refreshed to align with Lexis and Lexis+.
  • The Trial Court Orders content collection was expanded by over 100K documents through March. 
  • Search Relevance enhancements were launched for Statutes & Legislation and case law searching, which will improve the relevance of results for Lexis and Lexis+ users.

Practical Guidance

  • The approach to search was updated by combining results across previously separate content categories, leading to more relevant results when searching Practical Guidance.
  • An updated presentation of the Practical Guidance home page and starting practice area pages was launched to all users to improve discovery of important resources and simplify product navigation.

Context

  • A new module of Context, Context Attorney Analytics was released in March, which applies the powerful language analytics capabilities of Context to attorney data. Our solution provides unique insights into the records and experience of attorneys and uncovers the precise arguments they have made in prior motions and briefs, helping attorneys neutralize their arguments and strategy.
  • Context Judges and Courts for Canada was released, expanding our powerful language analytics capabilities to international use.

Law360® and Law360 Pulse

  • Navigational support was added between Law360.com, Law360 Pulse and the Law360 Authority products through the left-hand navigation panel on each website.
  • Law360.com search was extended across products. Users on Law360.com can now search across all content and filter results, helping reduce research time. Content exclusive to Law360 Pulse, Law360 Tax Authority and Law360 Employment Authority is labeled as exclusive.
  • Our mobile applications for iPhone® and Android® devices now include all Law360 brands for on-the-go coverage. Law360 Enterprise and Platform customers have access to the Law360, Law360 Tax Authority, Law360 Employment Authority and Law360 UK products in the app. The Law360 app can be downloaded at the Google Play™ store or Apple® App Store.

InterAction®

Lexis® for Microsoft® Office

  • Texas Greenbook citation formatting rules on Lexis for Microsoft Office have been updated to the 14th edition, along with enhanced Lexis for Microsoft Office Canada McGill’s formatting rules for legislative citations.

Nexis Newsdesk™

Multiple enhancements have been made to Nexis Newsdesk newsletter management and analytics capabilities.

  • The Nexis Newsdesk Insights view helps surface key events and trends in a graphical display without running a full analysis.
    • Read the top stories for each search.
    • Identify the most active sources and their sentiment.
    • See which people and companies are dominating the conversation.
    • View topics word cloud and sentiment charts now in the Insights view.
  • Dashboards are now customizable to resize or reorder the widgets.
  • Sources cards reveal key information about the publication.
  • Journalist articles panel quickly displays more articles from a selected author.
  • One tab is used for newsletter management options.
  • Playable clips are included for TV/radio (for accounts with the TV/Radio Broadcast add-on).
  • For accounts with the Premium Social Media Package:
    • Volume column and pause control for Twitter streams
    • Full-length tweets now visible in the search results.

Summer Associates

The new Summer Associate web page includes a wealth of resources for training and guidance, including career advice from legal professionals, practice area resources, essential legal research skills and more.

AALL

  • LexisNexis is proud to be a Platinum sponsor of the 2021 AALL Annual Conference. Please join us in the Virtual Exhibit Hall on July 19, plus additional sessions on July 20 – 22, to learn about the most recent product updates and announcements. View offerings here.  In addition, LexisNexis is sponsoring the following conference-related events. We’re looking forward to connecting with you at the conference.
    • July 21 at 2 p.m. ET Program Session: “What’s in a Name? Expanding the Concept of Libraries and Librarians in the 21st Century,” Panel Discussion

LexisNexis, Lexis, CourtLink, Shepard’s, Lexis Answers, InterAction, Lex Machina and the Knowledge Burst logo are registered trademarks, and Lexis+ and Nexis Newsdesk are trademarks of RELX Inc. Law360 is a registered trademark of Portfolio Media, Inc. Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation. Other products or services may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies. © 2021 LexisNexis.

The Next Development in A.I.: Certification

Law librarians are no strangers to discussion and critique of artificial intelligence systems and their potential benefits and hazards, both in legal practice and in society at large. A short list of recent law librarian scholarship in this area includes:

With the growing number of stories of A.I.-gone-wrong, such as the (now scrubbed) A.I. system Amazon tried to introduce into their recruiting program a few years ago that was discovered to disfavor female applicants, several initiatives have arisen, calling for certification of artificial intelligence. In March, Lyle Moran, writing for the ABA Journal, reported on this wave of projects, focusing particularly on one spearheaded by Gillian Hadfield, a law professor at the University of Toronto. Her project, a partnership between U. Toronto’s Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology & Society and AI Global, aims to develop an international framework for identifying ethically responsible A.I. systems.

I won’t spoil the whole article for you, but if you are interested in the increasing influence of A.I. systems in law and society and efforts to ensure their responsible development and implementation, I encourage you to give Moran’s article a read (and watch for a shoutout to Casetext’s Compose product!). As many members of the law librarian community have noted for years, attorneys’ exposure to A.I. systems, whether through their clients’ A.I. use or within the legal industry itself, demands that legal practitioners understand the implications of A.I. in the law; as trained information evaluators, law librarians are poised to provide this education and expertise.

Rising FTEs and Budgeting

According to the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) the number of applicants and number of overall applications are up over 20% and 30% respectively. LSAC’s website is surprisingly transparent as it includes a publicly available graph charting the week to week total number of applications and total number of applicants. Additionally, users can easily compare between the last five years on the chart to see the trends in admissions. While this may not necessarily translate into higher incoming 1L classes, and it is not institution specific, it does raise some questions such as:

  • Are any of your schools databases tied to FTE (full time equivalents)?
  • Do you expect your school’s FTE to increase based on the national trends?

While looking at national numbers as a crystal ball for individual law schools may be tricky, it is possible to see trends in a larger incoming class and use this number to assist in budgeting for FTE-sensitive databases. Checking with your own Admissions office can help sharpen predictions as well.

Has anyone found it effective to try to predict future FTEs when budgeting? Is it closer to psychic predictions than science? Comment below!

Further useful links: The TaxProf Blog frequently reports and analyzes future class sizes using the LSAC data above.

Prepare to Practice, New and Notable: The Ever-Growing Collection of Practice Ready Tools from Bloomberg Law, Lexis, and Westlaw

prepare to practice graphic

At this time of the year, as the spring semester winds down (how is that already possible?!?), my mind always seems to wander to thoughts of law students heading off to their summer jobs, putting their legal analysis, writing, and research skills to the test in a real-world setting. These thoughts then naturally drift to the many practice-focused products legal information vendors offer. In this post, I highlight the new and notable products from Bloomberg Law, Lexis, and Westlaw.

Bloomberg Law

The first development that caught my eye was Bloomberg Law’s new In Focus: Core Skills – Litigation feature in the Litigation Intelligence Center. This resource begins with quick links to core research tools, such as their docket search, court opinions search, and litigation analytics, and includes a box of links to litigation-related reference materials, such as the ABA’s “How to Succeed as a Trial Lawyer.” But the other thing that struck me about this resource were the visual aids, including two flowcharts, one on research and writing and one on document review; and an interesting graphic about the variety of Bloomberg Law resources available across the platform. Legal research databases have so much rich content today that it can be a challenge to know what all is available; while I am sure this graphic doesn’t cover everything in Bloomberg Law, it is an interesting method of introducing users to the types of resources and tools at their disposal.

While we’re at it, I’d like to give a shout-out, in general, to the entire In Focus series on Bloomberg Law. These are great information portals on an array of timely topics in law and law practice. Most recently I’ve found the In Focus: Lawyer Well-Being resource of particular interest, with sample surveys and forms for the workplace, quick links to state lawyer assistance programs, and other news and analysis on the subject of wellness in the legal profession.

The In Focus series is by no means the only practice-focused tool in Bloomberg Law. From the Brief Analyzer to the Draft Analyzer, Practical Guidance to Practice Centers, not to mention the Certification Courses law students can take, there are many, many resources users can take advantage of to build their practical skills.

Lexis+

Two newer practice-focused tools in Lexis+ are Practical Guidance and Brief Analysis, both off to the left of the Lexis+ home page. In Practical Guidance, you can search or browse by practice area, task, jurisdiction, or content type (here, content types include documents such as checklists, practice notes, and clauses, rather than statutes, cases, and secondary sources). Additional tools here include everything from state comparison tools to smart forms to training videos.

Brief Analysis, similar to Bloomberg Law’s Brief Analyzer, scans a user’s work product and uses the Lexis+ research platform to seek out any additional or alternative recommended authority based on the arguments made in the uploaded document. Brief Analysis even scans the uploaded document for viruses!

Again, these are two of the more recent, but certainly not the only, practice-focused tools from LexisNexis. With their own set of trainings and certification courses, not to mention their many practice-focused add-on products, such as Lexis Tax and Products Liability Navigator, there are a variety of tools here too that students might use to become more efficient in their legal research and analysis.

Westlaw Edge

Westlaw’s best known practice-focused suite of tools, of course, is Practical Law, with its checklists, practice notes, sample forms, and more, covering a variety of legal subjects and specific law tasks. In the student Law School Survival Guide, the Practical Law editors have even put together a series of podcast episodes about careers in various areas of law. Like Bloomberg Law and Lexis, Westlaw too has training videos and certifications, from basic to advanced research skills, transactional to litigation skills, and even a specific and separate prepare to practice certification. Similar to Lexis’s Brief Analysis and Bloomberg Law’s Brief Analyzer, Westlaw’s Quick Check tool helps the user analyze their own legal document by suggesting additional or alternative legal authority.

Whether a student will be working in a transactional or litigation environment this summer, whether they prefer, or will be restricted to the use of, Bloomberg Law, Lexis, or Westlaw, all three offer an ever-growing variety of practice-ready tools and certifications to help them build their skills and make a great impression with their summer employer.

HeinOnline’s New (and Improved) Search Box

HeinOnline has updated their search box so that it is now more streamlined and easier to use. Regular users of HeinOnline will know that the original search required you to select the appropriate tab based on the search parameters you wanted to set (i.e. Full Text, Citation, Catalog, or Caselaw). If you failed to select the correct tab, wacky results would ensue (like searching a citation in Catalog).

While this was a minor inconvenience, it was nevertheless an inconvenience. HeinOnline has removed it, relplacing it with the One-Box Search. The new search box allows you to type in your search terms and offers the fields for you to complete your search. The generated options include “Just search for” (the new “Full Text”), Author, Title, Citation, and Catalog. This change is also made in the advanced search field which is now more streamlined.

You can read more about the One-Box Search box, as well as other HeinOnline features and updates on the HeinOnline Blog.

Document Analytics in Academia

Is there a place for document analytics products in the law school legal research curriculum?

Document analytics platforms have a big footprint on the legal tech landscape, and at least one is nudging its way into academia. Newcomer Kira https://kirasystems.com/  is offering a “Kira for Education” initiative to some in the academic community. Kira provides a machine-learning platform that identifies, extracts, and analyzes language in documents the user can drag and drop into a template. Kira also offers a customizable search tool that allows users to highlight sample document language and create their own custom platform. Kira can search documents written in other Latin-based languages, including English, French, and Spanish.   Contract analytics products have been on the market for years, although these products don’t typically target law schools.  LawGeex, LinkSquares, Contract Wrangler, Affinitext, IntelAgree, and Docusign are just a few of the many contract analytic products currently available.

Some academic research platforms currently provide access to programs that can assist with contract drafting. Lexis Practical Guidance offers “Smart Forms” that include sample customizable forms for various industries and in numerous jurisdictions. These forms contain drafting note advice that alert the user to specific legal issues when incorporating certain language. Bloomberg Law’s Draft Analyzer allows the user to upload a contract and will compare clauses in that contract to other similar contract language within its database.  Bloomberg is currently beta testing an analyzer for merger agreements.  Westlaw offers “Contract Express,” but this product is not included in academic accounts.

Even with an already crowded legal research curriculum, it may be time to consider the best way to expose our students to these increasingly popular products. It would also be great to hear from our colleagues in law firms about which of these products seem to be getting the most traction, so that we can better prepare our students for practice.

FastCase-Casemaker Merger Seeks to Create More Robust Cost-Effective Legal Research Alternative

On January 5, 2021 FastCase and Casemaker announced a merger. FastCase and Casemaker provide a cost-effective alternative to other legal research databases. According to the CEO of FastCase, Bar associations in all 50 states provide FastCase or Casemaker at no or low cost, so the merger creates the largest lawyer subscriber base of any legal research database.

Although the merger was announced 2 months ago, the two companies still provide two separate databases. Since the announcement, the companies are working on ways to combine their resources to provide the best service to their customers. The first half of the year will be spent examining the two products and deciding how best to merge the existing platforms. Both companies bring different strengths to the merger.

In the last few years, FastCase acquired several companies that strengthened and broadened its services, including Docket Alarm, Next Chapter, Law Street Media, and Judicata. Docket Alarm provides docket tracking and litigation analytics. Next Chapter is a practice software that provides attorneys with assistance preparing, managing, and filing bankruptcy cases. Law Street Media is a legal news service. Judicata is another legal research service that provides advanced legal search tools for researching and analyzing California law. FastCase is working to expand that technology to their much larger database. In addition to its various acquisitions, FastCase has developed a publishing arm under the name Full Court Press, to provide practice guides and other secondary sources.

Casemaker is known for its continuous updating of state codes, and regulations. They also provide support products, such as CaseDigest, CaseCheck+, and CasemakerLibra. CaseDigest provides summaries of Federal and State case law, produced by attorney editors. CaseCheck+ is a citator that provides users with information about negative treatment of case law. CasemakerLibra provides a library of secondary sources, published by CaseMaker.

Anticipating the benefits of combining the best of both platforms, it is possible that the FastCase-Casemaker merger will create a robust and substantial low-cost alternative to other legal research databases.

New from GovInfo.gov and Congress.gov

Like most, when teaching in my Advanced Legal Research courses, I always like to stress reliable free sites for legal research, along with subscription resources, and two of my favorite sites to show are govinfo.gov and congress.gov. As I prepare upcoming lectures for this semester, I thought I’d share with you some of the most recent releases and updates to these two excellent, research-friendly government sites.

Govinfo.gov

GovInfo made several improvements and enhancements in its latest release (see full details here), but a few of particular note include:

A couple of other features of note: If you haven’t read the articles available on GovInfo (I’ll admit, I hadn’t taken notice of them until recently), you should give them a read in the Features section of the website; recent topics have included how to research Presidential inaugural addresses and an historical piece on the first live televised Presidential news conference. The U.S. GPO has also been making great strides recently to improve their publishing process, incorporating a new, XML-based system, called XPub. In the December 2020 release notes, they highlight a document published with XPub, H. Rpt. 116-562, The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress – Final Report; to see how XPub improves GPO publishing and makes it more user-friendly, make sure to give that document a glance.

Congress.gov

Congress.gov issues monthly release notes, so I’ll highlight a few features added in the last few releases.

Shows the committee profile page and the alert link.
  • Fresh out of the (digital) oven, an alert service for tracking your favorite congressional committee! If you create a (free!) congress.gov account, you can sign up to get alerts from any congressional committee’s profile page. Alerts would include any time a measure is referred to the committee; whenever the committee holds a hearing or publishes a report; and in the Senate, any time a nomination is referred to a committee. Refer to the two images here to see where the alert link is on the committee profile pages and what alert options are available.
Shows the alert options
  • Also in the February 2021 release, public law text was added to legislation from the 93rd to 103rd Congresses (1973-1994).
  • For all my fellow advanced search nerds out there (you know who you are!), in the January 2021 release, they added some handy search fields to search amendments to any bills, resolutions, or amendments. amendsBill: and amendsAmendment: These can be used in conjunction with other search criteria to limit by keyword or sponsor.
  • In December (when they added so many enhancements they had two separate releases!), they added the bound edition of the Congressional Record from the 85th to 93rd Congresses (1957 to 1974).

I could keep going, but I’ll rein my excitement in. Suffice it say that congress.gov and govinfo.gov are constantly receiving enhancements and additions to improve the user experience and make more authenticated government materials available to the public for free. If you haven’t made regular use of these sites in the past, I highly recommend you give them a look. You might be surprised at what you find.

CRIV/LexisNexis Semiannual Call

Date: January 14, 2021, 10:00 a.m. EST

Participants:

  • Carolyn Bach, Senior Manager, Librarian Relations & Faculty Programs, LexisNexis
  • Simon Weierman, Senior Director, Segment Management, LexisNexis
  • Vani Ungapen, AALL Executive Director
  • Karen Selden, AALL CRIV Board Liaison
  • Ashley Ahlbrand, CRIV LexisNexis Liaison

Product Brand Updates: Rebranding and streamlining of several existing product names, making it easier for customers to identify and navigate LexisNexis® products (September 2020):

Lexis+™:

Commercial product launch of Lexis+ (September 2020). Released to the law school market in July, and commercial markets in September

  • Feature-rich, premium legal solution that unites advanced research, Practical Guidance, Brief Analysis and enhanced tools with a modern user experience to deliver data-driven insights, greater efficiency and better outcomes
  • Dramatic visual styling and simplified layout designed to set a new standard in ease of use 
  • Striking imagery, bold colors and typography to help improve readability, reduce visual “clutter” and emphasize essential information and tasks
  • New Experience Dock that creates an integrated starting point for core legal tasks and enables seamless switching between product experiences and workflows
  • New and intuitive features, such as Search Tree, Code Compare and Shepard’s® At Risk, to make it easy for practitioners to access the information and insights they need, control their search experience and provide better counsel
  • Delivers on the demand for legal solutions that look and work more like the modern technology products attorneys use in their personal lives

Multiple incremental updates to Lexis+ following initial commercial market rollout (October through December 2020)

  • New “light/dark” home page toggle option
  • Code Compare feature updates with expanded coverage, additional display options and delivery support
  • Shepard’s At Risk enhancements that display within Shepard’s reports
  • Brief Analysis enhancements including the Shepard’s Preview, At Risk indicator and Cited in Your Document tab, updated with more information and additional delivery options
  • Work folders enhancements to enable document highlights and annotations without saving to a folder
  • Search relevance improvements launched to drive more relevant case law results
  • Lexis Answers® feature updates to recognize implicit questions and offer answers curated from Practical Guidance

Lexis+ and Lexis®: Incremental platform updates applicable to Lexis+ and Lexis

  • New Exclusion Filter added to News search results to filter out “noise” from news, including stock stories, non-business news and obituaries 
  • 861K new trial court cases, briefs, pleadings and motions added online 
  • Acquired American Maritime Cases, a specialized collection of maritime and admiralty cases and AMC’s in-depth index of maritime topics, to become the exclusive provider moving forward 

Law360® updates:

  •  Launch of Law360 Employment Authority (December 2020): Law360 Employment Authority, offering actionable intelligence for employment lawyers through exclusive insights, in-depth analysis and deep news coverage. Covers three key areas in employment law: discrimination, wage and hour and labor. Each section offering breaking news, timely features and thoughtful analyses for readers who specialize in labor and employment law
  • My Law360, enabling customization for  Law360 & Law360® Pulse news and analysis experience

Law360 Pulse: a new product offering that released in early January 2021

  • Brand-new Law360 Pulse business-of-law news service, combining the award-winning journalism and research of Law360 with powerful data and analytics from Lexis+ to deliver unparalleled coverage, timely insights and industry intelligence to help law firms and legal departments succeed   
  • Complements the industry-leading Law360 practice-of-law coverage, giving legal professionals a single best source for comprehensive legal news with LexisNexis

Practical Guidance:

  • Launch of new Market Standards for M&A solutions (October, 2020): the new Market Standards for M&A solution enables searching, comparison and analysis of publicly filed M&A deals, helping users jump from insight to action with the most current and comprehensive M&A coverage—and the interactive analytics needed to make more data-driven decisions.
  • Multiple incremental updates to the Practical Guidance product to aid users in locating critical guidance, improving their document drafting experience and sharing greater insights with users:
  • Enabled alerts on Practical Guidance at the document level to track changes in the law that affect their practice
  • Enhanced forms on Practical Guidance, enabling users to download forms with in-line drafting notes and alternate/optional clauses so they can better engage with annotated forms
  • Updates to improve discoverability and navigation of International Practical Guidance content
  • Refined Practical Guidance search experience to offer a combined search result that surfaces all Practical Guidance content in a single place
  • Launched Clause Finder on Practical Guidance to help users quickly research and find relevant clauses by Agreement Type, Point of View (i.e., buyer/seller) and Jurisdiction
  • Launched the Survey of Commercial Lease Terms in Practical Guidance, providing up-to-date intelligence about the commercial leasing market and giving real estate attorneys a clear view of market standards and trends to aid them in lease negotiations

Courtlink®: Multiple product updates to improve CourtLink ease of use

  • Updated alert and track result display in table format with additional view and delivery options
  • Support to save favorite courts for searching to simplify and streamline docket research
  • Search improvements, including a unified search form, for a simplified search experience
  • Support added to edit the criteria of existing alerts
  • Improved Summary Alert email presentation for easier review and deeper insight

Lexis® Search Advantage: Multiple updates to drive greater insights and efficiency for users

  • Released Context and Lexis Search Advantage integration, enabling Lexis Search Advantage users to link from references within firm documents to judges, attorneys and expert witnesses into Context to gather insight and analytics on the entity
  • Rolled out new motion type and sub-type document classifications to enable precise search and filtering of firm documents within Lexis Search Advantage | Litigation
  • Refined the landing and results pages of Lexis Search Advantage | Litigation to support customization and research integration

Lexis® Verdict & Settlement Analyzer: New Lexis Verdict & Settlement Analyzer search filters including Filter by Judge, Filter by Attorney and improved Practice Area and Topics filtering

InterAction®: Updates to this business development solution

  • Launch of “Strategic Data” subscription tier
  • Embedded analytics—visualizations on process status and integrated views of relationships
  • Nexis Newsdesk™ embedded into user interface for easy view of public news information curated to contacts
  • Partner integrations with Foundation Software (integrated experience management) and Bunnell Idea Group (video coaching on business development)

Nexis Newsdesk: Multiple enhancements to improve administrator ease of use and efficiency of relevant information distribution through Nexis Newsdesk, improved readability for end-users

  • Launch of entity cards to help ensure accuracy of news results by matching to companies
  • Simplified process to add topics to searches within Nexis Newsdesk
  • Refreshed Manage Sources page for administrative ease of use
  • Updated clipping flow for selecting content
  • Ability to access saved content from landing page
  • New Trends Chart for additional insights
  • New Post-Search Filter to avoid duplicates
  • Article load date replaced with publish date per user feedback 
  • Readability of newsletters through mobile devices improved through mobile friendly newsletter theme
  • Self-service support for managing Twitter feeds within Nexis Newsdesk

Web Newsletter Easy Subscribe to permit readers to opt-in for email delivery when using a web link

New Librarian Resources:

  • Competitive Intelligence Toolkit: a comprehensive resource, created with the assistance of CI specialists, designed to help law librarians and other legal professionals complete CI research more efficiently as it relates to the LexisNexis® products they have access to. The kit Includes helpful checklists for public companies, private companies, industries, attorneys, law firms and people
  • LexisNexis® InfoPro site: contains a variety of updated resources for legal information professionals, including research tips, webinars, newsletter content and product information

Guest Blog: Supporting Our Consortial Partners

Guest Blog from Cynthia Bassett, Collection Management & Electronic Services Librarian at University of Missouri School of Law.

I would like to confess – I made a mistake this fall while renewing access to a database that I think might have bigger ramifications in our profession than I am comfortable with. But let me rewind and give some context.

I am new to my role as the head of a Collection Management department. I have been an electronic services librarian for a number of years so I am familiar with providing access to a database and managing its life cycle. As an electronic services librarian, I did not participate in negotiations with vendors or decisions about which partners to work with to secure a purchase. The actual purchase of the databases had always been handled by my predecessor.

Since my predecessor’s retirement, I have begun to learn the acquisitions process. I have some influence (subject to director approval) regarding where I purchase a resource. This spring, I was having some difficulty working with a consortial partner to purchase a needed database. It was the only purchase that my library made with that particular consortium; I thought it would be easier to move the purchase to a consortium that I work with regularly, if the price was similar and reasonable. While in the process of making this change, I spoke to a vendor rep personally and they offered me a better deal to work directly with the vendor, cutting the consortium out of the middle. 

I took the deal. 

Of course, we had every right to take the deal. In the short term view, it was smart to take the deal because it saved my library money at a time when our budget has been cut and cut again. But I question why we were offered the deal in the first place and I think I made a rookie error that possibly weakens the profession at large by diminishing the purchasing power of the consortium. Much like a monopoly is harmful to the buying public and union busting is harmful to labor, I think my failure to support the consortium may weaken it a bit, making it less powerful in its next negotiation with that vendor, and then with all the other vendors. And I may have ultimately weakened my own position by leaving the group negotiation. Possibly I got a slightly better deal this time, but next time may not be so favorable.  

I am curious what other, more experienced, collection librarians think about their duty to buy consortially. Do they feel they have a duty or is the higher duty to saving their library money? Are vendors eager to separate us so that eventually we don’t stick with group, weakening our individual and collective bargaining power? Is my one small decision a ripple in a pond that may have larger ramifications than I realize? Time, and experience, will tell. 

CRIV Bloomberg Bi-Annual Call

Date: December 17, 2020. Approximately 2;00 to 3:00 pm EST

Participants:

  • Joe Breda, President, Bloomberg Law
  • Lauren Kaplan, BLAW Strategy and Customer Experience
  • Vani Ungapen, AALL Executive Director
  • Karen Selden, AALL CRIV Board Liaison
  • Tom Hemstock, AALL Bloomberg Law Liaison

Note: Due to extenuating circumstances, Mike Bernier, Bloomberg Law Director of Library Relations was not able to make the call but he did provide follow up information.

Agenda

  • New Bloomberg Law Developments and News
  • Questions
  • Requests for Advocacy
  • Other

New Bloomberg Law Developments and News

Analyzers

2020 was the “Year of the Analyzers” for Bloomberg Law as several new analyzer products launched:

  • Brief Analyzer. Users upload a brief and see integrated points of law, suggested content, connections to the material, and links to practical guidance.
  • Draft Analyzer. Enhanced version launching in January 2021. Features include the ability to break contracts into clauses, link into defined terms, determine if those terms are standard market terms, and compare with thousands of other clauses on file.

Practical Guidance

Bloomberg Law added more than a thousand new practical guidance documents in 2020. These attorney-focused documents provide short practical guidance on new areas of the law with features such as annotated forms, explanations and overviews. In 2020 these items saw 100% increase in use.

Hot Topics

New hot topics on developing legal issues such as COVID-19 are available from the go bar menu. These hot topics highlight and combine available resources on a specific timely legal topic.

Legal News

Bloomberg Law is increasing coverage of usability of legal news. [Note: Following this call, on January 5, 2021, Bloomberg Law announced that ALM material is now available on Bloomberg law.] Additional features on legal news is also available as newsletters and now have table of contents and increased number of subjects for news topics. Personalized news is in beta testing.

Questions

Although there was not a specific request for advocacy regarding the change in policy regarding docket usage for law schools, Bloomberg clarified that up to $1500 of individual account docket usage is free of charge.

Bloomberg’s representatives estimated that 99%+ of academic users will not be affected by the new change in docket pricing.

Bloomberg clarified that approximately 50 to 60 individual academic account users were responsible for driving a huge amount of the cost.

Law school accounts can monitor their usage via a port on Bloomberg Law and should contact their representative for details on accessing this information.

Requests for Advocacy

None at this time. All issues currently resolved.

AALL Programs, Activities, or Business of Interest to Bloomberg Law

None at this time.

Other Items of Interest

None at this time.