Vendor Liaisons and Requests for Assistance

Another week in May, and we continue highlighting the CRIV website and the tools available there for the AALL membership. This week’s focus is on resources established for addressing specific vendor relations issues — CRIV’s Vendor Liaisons, and the Request for Assistance Form.

Vendor Liaisons

The Vendor Liaisons were established by the Committee on Relations with Information Vendors (CRIV) to maintain a channel of communication between AALL and the four largest vendors of legal information resources. These four vendors were chosen because they have the most customers among the AALL membership: Bloomberg Law, LexisNexis, Thomson Reuters, and WoltersKluwer. Each year the CRIV Chair determines the assignment of a member of the committee to each vendor. Since CRIV membership is three years, often a vendor liaison is appointed in their second year on the committee, and the assignment will continue into their third year. This helps with continuity of relationships and institutional memory.

Each Vendor Liaison meets twice per year with their assigned vendor. Each vendor typically assigns its own employee contact to communicate with the liaisons and coordinate the semi-annual meetings, which typically take place in May/June and November/December. When there are issues of interest to the CRIV Advocacy Subcommittee, or when there have been Requests for Assistance submitted by the membership, these topics are added to the agenda for the next Vendor Liaison meeting. The meetings also usually include updates from the vendor about new products, new features, changes to their business practices, and anything else they would like to inform the membership about. The AALL Executive Director and the CRIV Board Liaison also attend these meetings. Notes about the meeting are shared with the AALL Board and published on the CRIV Blog and in the quarterly CRIV Sheet.

Members are welcome to contact Vendor Liaisons with questions or issues they would like to propose for the semi-annual meetings. You can also use Vendor Liaisons as a channel for providing comments or feedback to the “big four” information vendors.

Request for Assistance Form

The Request for Assistance Form (RAF) is available on the CRIV website, and serves as a conduit for members to document their disputes with any legal information vendor and request the aid of the committee in achieving a resolution. Ideally, a person considering using this form would contact a member of CRIV to discuss their problem, especially if the issue is time-sensitive, but anyone can use the form at any time, for any issue.

The RAF asks you to describe your issue and the actions you have taken to attempt to resolve it on your own. Everyone has disputes with a vendor from time to time, and it is our own responsibility to work them out; however, when there is an impasse, or when a vendor fails to respond to an issue (or does so unfairly), this is when the committee can attempt to assist. Use the form to explain the issue and what has happened so far. Someone from CRIV will respond to your request for assistance and discuss options with you for moving forward. The committee does not promise to fix everyone’s problems with vendors! But they will try to assist with finding a solution. Sometimes merely filing the request for assistance will get things moving toward a satisfactory resolution.

Up next week — The CRIV Blog!

AALL Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers

Did you know that AALL through CRIV provides the AALL Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers?

You can find this guide on the list of CRIV Tools on the AALL Website.

The guide was first published in November 2002 and has been updated a few times since then. The latest update was 2018. The Federal Trade Commission encouraged AALL to take over providing guidance to Legal Publishers, after rescinding their publication, Federal Trade Commission’s Guides for the Law Book Industry.

The Guide provides Five Principles for Legal Publishers to follow:

  • Principle 1: Truthful and Accurate Communication
  • Principle 2: Disclosure
  • Principle 3: Fair Dealing
  • Principle 4: Customer Satisfaction
  • Principle 5: Product Quality

Each of the Five Principles is expanded on in the guide with Sub-Principles, Comments and examples. For example, Principle 1 introduces the sub-principle Truthful Advertising. There is a comment stating that a legal publisher should be able to substantiate any claim in their marketing. Then there is a Practice to Avoid, which give the example of stating that a product has been thoroughly tested, when beta testing has not been completed.

Up next week — Principles & Practices for Licensing E-Resources!

Getting to Know CRIV

Over the next few weeks, the CRIV Blog will focus on … CRIV! We’ll be highlighting our website and the vendor tools and information that have been created for the AALL community.

This week’s post spotlights the AALL “Vendor Relations Policy.” Future posts will highlight “Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers,” “Policies & Procedures for Licensing Electronic Resources,” CRIV’s vendor liaisons and Request for Assistance form, and the CRIV publications, the CRIV Blog and The CRIV Sheet.

Finding CRIV Information Generally

Finding CRIV information is easy from the AALL homepage. Scroll over the Advocacy tab at the top right of the screen. A popup box provides links to the Liaisons to Vendors, The CRIV Sheet, CRIV Tools, CRIV Blog, Policies, and the Request for Assistance form.

Finding the AALL Vendor Relations Policy

Scroll over the Advocacy tab on the AALL homepage and select, “Policies.”

AALL Vendor Relations Policy

The purpose of the Vendor Relations Policy is to direct AALL’s advocacy on issues related to legal publishing and legal publishers. The goal of the policy is to provide the AALL community with information that helps them in their interactions with suppliers to the profession.

The Policy consists of 4 parts: part I, an introduction; part II, issues supported by the AALL Government Relations Policy; part III, other AALL policies that support vendor relations activities; and part IV, issues identified for advocacy with legal publishers.

The Government Relations Policy monitors proposed legislation and regulations, evaluating the impact on members, access to justice, and the legal information industry. In part II, you’ll find a list of issues and principles relating to public policy and the publishing industry that support areas related to vendor relations.

In part III, other AALL policies that support vendor relations, you will find, among others, AALL’s Preservation Policy, which supports standards and guidelines to ensure preservation of legal materials, and AALL’s Sponsorship Policy, which outlines parameters for sponsorship to ensure a mutually beneficial exchange. This part also provides a statement encouraging legal publishers to provide usage statistics in compliance with the COUNTER Code of Practice.

Many publishing and customer service issues are addressed in other CRIV documentation, but part IV identifies 10 additional issues identified for advocacy with legal publishers. Some issues mentioned: more pricing transparency, simplified licensing models, and assignment of customer reps who have knowledge and understanding of all product lines and individual library accounts.

Antitrust Questions

A number of years ago, AALL developed a list of antitrust frequently asked questions, which have been posted on the CRIV website along with the Vendor Relations Policy. In recognition of the need to review the questions, the FAQs have been removed from the website. In the meantime, the AALL Executive Board is moving forward to develop and adopt a full antitrust policy for the community.

For readers who are interested in what other associations state about antitrust, see the American Library Association’s ALA Legal Framework: Twenty Questions (questions 13, 14) and Part 10 of the Special Libraries Association’s 2019 Unit Recommended Practices (page 47).

Up next week — Fair Business Practice for Legal Publishers.


Consistent User Statistics – Not Always Easy to Obtain

A question that comes up for libraries when evaluating whether to renew a digital resource is usage statistics. Libraries want to know if the resource is being used often enough to merit the amount of money that the resource costs. Budgets are not, no surprise, limitless. Libraries must make informed digital collection development decisions. Part of that decision-making process is governed by how much a resource is used by library patrons.

Vendor-supplied data can assist libraries in making informed decisions. However, libraries generally have found it difficult to obtain this electronic data from vendors. If data is provided, it may not be easy to interpret, it may not cover relevant time periods, or it may require special programmed software to retrieve.

In efforts to address this issue, one organization, COUNTER, has created a Code of Practice that vendors and publishers can use to report usage statistics in a consistent way. COUNTER is the acronym for Counting Online Usage of Networked Electronic Resources. It is a non-profit organization sustained by fees from its member organizations.

The organization’s vision is simple: “Consistent, credible, and comparable usage data.” Their mission is “to develop and maintain the standard for counting and reporting use of electronic resources. It will ensure that content providers can implement the code of practice efficiently and their library customers and users will receive relevant usage reports in the format they need.”

COUNTER promotes collaboration and dialogue, as well as openness. The COUNTER Code of Practice is an open standard. Membership in COUNTER is open to all libraries, institutional repositories, publishers, and vendors globally.

COUNTER for Libraries includes resources, including Foundation Classes, Friendly Guides, and a Manual for Librarians. The COUNTER Code of Practice for libraries “ensures that librarians are able to compare usage statistics from different vendors, calculate cost-per-use, and make better informed purchasing decisions.”

For publishers and vendors, COUNTER provides a guide to becoming a COUNTER compliant content provider. Paul Meehan, part of the Journal Usage Statistics Portal, offers top tips for COUNTER compliance for vendors, including comments on challenges with compliance. Some notable publishers and vendors who support COUNTER include Springer Nature, Sage Publishing, Atmire, HighWire, Wolters Kluwer, Scholarly IQ, IOP Publishing, ABC, JISC, and BPA Worldwide.

While some vendors may resist providing information, whether they lack the sophisticated technology to pull data or fear that low usage statistics may result in losing an account, ultimately an awareness of how often a resource is used can only serve to improve the information being provided and thus the greater likelihood of libraries purchasing the resource because of its enhanced value. COUNTER may be the solution that works for everyone.

Women’s History Month Resources

March is Women’s History Month and the CRIVblog would like to highlight some sources of information related to Women’s History and legal rights for women.  

First up is The National Women’s History Alliance. This group spearheaded the movement to have March declared Women’s History Month and their page has a summary of the process. In addition, the site contains a detailed timeline regarding the history of women gaining rights in the United States. The site provides links to many other useful resources related to women’s history.  

Next is the National Women’s Law Center, per their website they “fight for gender justice.” Their site contains information about the historical legal struggles of women in the United States. NWLC is often involved in litigation that affects the rights of women, so the site provides detailed information about current issues. 

The National Organization for Women is another organization that provides resources and useful information about the current issues related to women’s rights. NOW publishes advisories related to their core issues to help everyone understand those issues in more depth.  

HeinOnline has a specific collection known as Women and the Law. This collection provides resources related to Women’s History and their legal rights. This collection has many primary sources related to historical women’s movements as well as analytical sources on these movements.  The collection also covers information related to the struggle for women’s rights.   

Most of the resources above deal specifically with the history and rights of women in the United States. However, the issues covered in the resources above affect women all over the world. The International Resource Justice Center has a section that summarizes the various issues that affect women worldwide. This resource is found under the heading Women’s Human Rights. The page also connects some primary resources through its summation of the issues.  

E-books and Open Book Exams

By: Emilie Menzel, Jane Bahnson

The advent of ChatGPT has left many faculty members uneasy with allowing student access to the internet while taking law exams and many are considering switching back to in-person timed exams. Considering the in-person administration of state bar exams, a switch back to the traditional methods may be a pedagogically sound choice, regardless of the new text writing programs. But what does this mean for open-book exams, and for the many students who have switched, at the urging of publishers, to e-casebooks?

Publishers offer a varying menu of formatting options for purchasing textbooks. Some students will prefer e-books solely for the convenience of transporting them. This is not insignificant, considering the sheer weight of a typical constitutional law, torts, civil procedure, or contracts casebook. Publishers of 1L casebooks such as Aspen Publishing, Foundation Press, and West Academic actively promote e-book editions of their casebooks, although older editions are often not available electronically. Format options can include connected e-book or connected e-book plus print, often with an extra charge for including the print copy.

For those opting to purchase electronic access only, it is important to understand the type of access being purchased. The digital preservation is another question, as this may limit long-term access. For example, Aspen’s Learning Library offers a collection of digital study aids through an institutional subscription, which can be accessed by students through an application of the same name. However, these files will only stay on a device for 120 days.

There are often limitations when it comes to downloading electronic casebooks, due to restrictions imposed by publishers and by copyright laws. Aspen’s Casebook Connect does not allow downloading by students and only 30% of the book can be printed. However, those books published by Aspen that can be purchased through the VitalSource eReader can be downloaded and accessed offline. CasebookPlus, the West Academic and Foundation Press e-book platform, allows titles to be downloaded, and it also comes with a print copy. If you opt out of the print copy, you can print up to 10 pages at a time. However, a “learning library” accompanying a purchase includes study aids that cannot be downloaded, and access expires after 12 months.

So, what should faculty members consider when assigning casebooks? If an open book exam is contemplated, assigning a book available through a platform that allows downloading and use offline will avoid problems for students who purchase e-books. At a minimum, students should be aware of the issue upfront before they purchase their course textbook so they can choose a format that can be used in an open book exam. If assigning an older casebook with electronic versions that have limited downloading options, consider asking colleagues or former students to loan spare print copies for the open book exam. Alternatively, when selecting a textbook, consider some of the free and low-cost casebooks available on a variety of legal topics, and choose ones that can be used offline or printed out for exam use:

CRIV / Thomson Reuters Semiannual Call

Elizabeth Outler
eResources Librarian
LAC Group

Date: Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Participants: Elizabeth Outler (CRIV Liaison to Thomson Reuters), Mark Baker (Director of Product Management, Thomson Reuters), Blythe McCoy (Thomson Reuters Information Management Consultant), Michelle Hook Dewey (AALL Executive Board Liaison to CRIV)

Thomson Reuters provided an overview of their new platform, Westlaw Precision.

  • Thomson Reuters developed Westlaw Precision because legal research still takes a lot of time and lawyers are often worried they’ve missed something important.
    • Searches inevitably miss relevant documents due to language variation because courts use different terms than your search to refer to the same concept.
    • How to improve research outcomes and time spent for researchers?
    • Addition of new Precision Attributes to improve case law research in Westlaw Precision: legal issues and outcomes, facts, motions and outcomes, causes of action, party types.
    • New and intuitive classification systems to use these attributes for searching, browsing results, and filtering.
  • Added 250 attorneys to editorial staff and trained them to capture the Precision Attributes from cases (in selected topics for the first phase rollout of Westlaw Precision).
    • Machines still can’t do it at the level of quality and reliability needed.
    • Attorney-editor tagging followed by extensive quality control process.
  • New Browse Boxes in search result display help researchers quickly and confidently determine whether to read each case – Browse Box includes legal issue and outcome, material facts from the decision, causes of action and motion types (with outcome) from the decision.
  • Build a Precision Search by selecting issues and facts in the Precision Search template (on the home page), or run a search in the main search box and then use the new Precision filters to limit your result to cases with your issue, facts, and outcome.
    • Can also use Precision filters to assist with issue-spotting (helpful for law students or more junior attorneys).
  • Launched with 8 topics (Antitrust, Commercial Law, Employment Law, Federal Civil Procedure, Federal Class Actions, Federal Discovery and Evidence, Federal Remedies, and Securities Law); post-launch released 3 more: Insurance, Arbitration and Real Estate. State Civil Procedure coming soon.
  • Back to 2010 for all published cases in each topic, plus older leading cases (frequently cited).
  • Results from a large test involving over 100 attorneys showed that Westlaw Precision users were twice as fast at finding relevant cases compared to Westlaw Edge.
  • Significant quality improvements – 90% of participants said Westlaw Precision helped them find cases they might not have found otherwise.
  • Rollout to law schools in January.
  • Developers are very interested in feedback from users.

Additional features available in Westlaw Precision rollout:

  • KeyCite Cited With – what other cases are cited alongside my case?
    • Adjust how closely together the cases are cited.
    • Citing relationship filter – allows you to filter out cases that don’t cite your case or are cited by your case.
  • KeyCite Overruled in Part – attempts to solve the “red flag problem,” where a red flag makes a case look like bad law just because one point was overruled.
    • Helps navigate directly to that point of law and highlights the operative language so you don’t have to hunt for it.
  • Graphical view of research history
    • Helps navigate research history so you can reconstruct your steps.
    • Highlights documents where you spent a lot of time or returned multiple times.
  • Keep list
    • Each item in search result you can bookmark to add to your list (up to 50).
    • Remains across research sessions – move to folders if you want to organize or retain.
  • Hide details
    • Click and it will minimize the info displayed in search results so that you can tell you already looked at the case.
  • Outline builder
    • Create a research outline in Westlaw and drag language from a case or other document into it.
    • Can submit it to Quick Check and find related case law.
    • Can export to Word.

Sydney and Friends – Legal Research, A.I., and Chat GPT

ChatGPT and OpenAI, Bing and Sydney (it sounds like a movie!), Google Bard . . . all references (sometimes to the same thing) to tools (or something more than tools . . . intelligent tools? . . . sentient tools? . . . or not tools at all but some sort of quasi-human intelligence?) that, at least in the minds of some real humans, “trace the outer bounds of human creativity” and usher in “a new dawn in how we build.” [Thompson]  Creepily deep conversations can be had with Sydney (the real name of the AI/chat function on Bing); Sydney can fall in love – somewhat obsessively; Sydney uses emojis to excess; and Sydney wants to be human. [Roose]

We’ve been inundated with articles about the dangers – and benefits – of artificial intelligence and resources like ChatGPT in law practice and in the academy.  ChatGPT can write essays about law; it can tell you what the law is (albeit without citations); and it can get a decent grade on a law school exam and pass the bar exam.  Reaction from lawyers, law scholars, and teachers to ChatGPT has focused on, among other things, its potential for cogently summarizing massive amounts of law-related information and providing a clear and at least sometimes accurate description of the law, its potential for data mining and extracting information from files and documents; its ability to draft contracts and add increasingly complex provisions upon request; and its facility in writing text, titles, captions, etc., for blog posts, briefs, memos, reports to clients, whatever.    

I wanted to think about A.I. in the context of the legal research databases that law publishers (if we can still call them that) make available to us and, more specifically, in the context of traditional (at least in substance if not in form) legal research itself.  We all know that vendors have long incorporated A.I. tools into their resources, whether it’s to, among other things, accommodate natural language searching, analyze and compare briefs and contracts, explore and predict the decisions of particular judges, characterize the kinds of expertise of particular attorneys and experts, identify authorities whose value has been questioned, or predict whether proposed legislation will be enacted.  But in a time when ChatGPT – in its relatively early form – can adequately – albeit, again, without any indication of sources – answer questions like what are the elements of negligence in Nevada; what do I need to do to do a Regulation D offering; how do I set up a generation-skipping trust; or what’s the liability for dog bites in California, what does that mean for legal research databases going forward?  And is the kind of technology on which vehicles like ChatGPT depend well adapted to answer the legal research questions that lawyers – and law students – pose?

None of our familiar – and not-so-familiar – legal research databases do anything quite like what Sydney does.  As a general rule, we enter a query and we’re referred to authorities that the database technology has determined apply to what we asked.  There’s no generation of text by the resource itself.   Sometimes – if we’re lucky – there’s a source that does answer our question pretty directly, but that source is really answering someone else’s question that happens to be – at least in the judgment of the database engine – remarkably similar to ours. 

I – who know nothing about AI systems – am the last person who should attempt to understand how something like ChatGPT works, but maybe there is something in the underlying approach of systems like ChatGPT that might make them either useful in the context of traditional legal research or a little bit dangerous. 

Thank goodness others can write about these things incredibly clearly.  Ted Chiang’s article, “ChatGPT Is a Blurry JPEG of the Web” in the February 9th issue of The New Yorker describes the difference between lossless compression and lossy compression when it comes to digitally storing information.  Data, images, whatever, are compressed for storage and, then, when their content is needed, they are somehow reinvigorated and, like a sponge taking on water, expanded so that they can be used.  Sometimes the compression is ‘lossless’ and the rejuvenation process is robust and complete, but, in the case of large language processors like ChatGPT, the compression is, instead, ‘lossy’, that is to say, something of the original is lost each time the compression and expansion process takes place.  Chiang analogizes to an image that is repeatedly photocopied; each successive image is increasingly blurry.  And, he points out, that if ChatGPT output becomes part of the universe of information that ChatGPT uses to produce answers, the blurring of new output becomes all the more pronounced.   

Chiang suggests that if something like ChatGPT used lossless compression its output would be only immaterially different from what a search engine now retrieves.  If ChatGPT employed a lossless algorithm, Chiang predicts that “it would always answer questions by providing a verbatim quote from a relevant Web page. We would probably regard the software as only a slight improvement over a conventional search engine.”  Bloomberg, Lexis, Westlaw, and other legal research tools provide us with exactly this, in Chiang’s words, “verbatim quotes” from relevant and recognized sources. They also provide us with the full text of those sources. 

Sometime in the future, though, it’s conceivable that our legal research resource providers might employ something like ChatGPT to directly answer our questions.  Unlike Sydney which has the entire web at his/her their disposal, we might not have to worry too much about misinformation if an AI-ChatGPT-like system was implemented in the big legal research databases – if, that is, the universe of content included only primary authorities and vetted secondary authorities (and not AI-generated responses to queries).  But it might trouble us that a machine – sentient as it may be – was formulating responses to our queries in language that no one actually wrote or reviewed. . . . especially when secondary sources are supposed to serve exactly those information-providing purposes. If we want someone – well, really, something – else to write what we pass off as our own work, we may have problems quite apart from the accuracy of the content of whatever is written. We care a lot about attribution or at least we’re supposed to . . . do we attribute text to the resource and its Sydney-like being?

As law librarians or lawyers, do we really want tools (or beings) that may use somewhat degraded content to produce grammatically well-written – albeit perhaps not too creative or inspiring – text that answers our questions?  Admittedly, maybe sometimes we do, but we might hope that those circumstances are few and far between. It’s fun and entertaining – and creepy – to interact with Sydney; I’m just not sure I’d want his/her/ their take on my legal research question.

Ted Chiang, “ChatGPT Is a Blurry JPEG of the Web,” The New Yorker, February 9, 2023.

Jenna Greene, “Will ChatGPT Make Lawyers Obsolete? (Hint: Be Afraid)”, Reuters, December 9, 2022.

Charlotte Johnstone, “It Can Do ‘Real Freaking Work’: Could Lawyers Be Replaced by ChatGPT,” Law.Com International, February 9, 2023.

Paul Riermaier, “ChatGPT and Other AI Technologies in the Study and Practice of Law,” Penn Carey Law, University of Pennsylvania, February 6, 2023.

Kevin Roose, “Bing’s A.I. Chat: ‘I Want to Be Alive,’” N.Y. Times, Feb. 16. 2023.

Derek Thompson, “Breakthroughs of the Year,” The Atlantic, December 8, 2022.

Civil Rights Collections

In honor of Black History Month the CRIV blog is highlighting some of the collections related to the history of Civil Rights. These collections contain photos, documents and other resources that can help us understand the history of the movement for Civil and Political Rights in the United States.

The National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC) is part of the Smithsonian Institute and covers the history of African Americans in the United States. The digital collection has many digital objects that cover the Civil Rights Movement. Among these digital objects are photographs, buttons, magazines and a variety of documents related to the Civil Rights Movement. These digital objects are available to reuse and share as part of the Smithsonian Open Access initiative.

The Library of Congress, in association with NMAAHC, conducted a project to collect oral histories from individuals involved in the Civil Rights Movement. The Civil Rights History Project is available through the Library of Congress website and contains the video interviews taken for the project. Transcripts of the interviews are also available.

The Civil Rights Digital Library (CRDL) is a project of the University System of Georgia. This archive gathers links to individual items from Digital Collections all over the United States and provides easy access to those items. The CRDL aims to enhance the understanding of the Civil Rights Movement. The archive includes film of historical news broadcasts, photographs, interviews and other resources related to the Civil Rights Movement. Some of the links include material useful for teaching about the Civil Rights Movement.

The Civil Rights Movement Archive, formerly known as Civil Rights Movement Veterans, contains photos, documents and other materials from those who participated in the civil rights movement. There is a collection of materials straight from activists involved in all parts of the civil rights movement, which includes written documents, oral histories and videos. In addition, the site also hosts a collection of poetry from various well know African American poets and activists.

CRIV/LexisNexis® Semiannual Call

The CRIV/LexisNexis® semiannual call took place Friday, December 16th at 12:00 p.m. Central. Attendees on the call were:

Carolyn Bach, Sr. Manager, Knowledge & Research and Faculty Programs

Simon Weierman, Sr. Director, Large Markets

Monique Gonzalez, CRIV Liaison to LexisNexis®

Vani Ungapen, Executive Director of AALL

Michelle Hook Dewey, AALL Executive Board Liaison to CRIV

The semiannual vendor calls provide an opportunity for the CRIV vendor liaison to discuss and follow-up on any requests for assistance that have come in from AALL members, related to that particular vendor, as well as an opportunity for the vendor representatives to apprise CRIV, and, by extension, the AALL membership, of any recent product updates since the last call. CRIV has not received any requests for assistance pertaining to LexisNexis® in the last six months, so the call consisted of news and product enhancements released between July and December 2022.

New Developments


  • Released Fact and Issue Finder, a powerful, practice-specific feature empowering litigation researchers to rapidly find resources pertinent to issues, topics and facts. Winner of the LegalTech Breakthrough Award For “Legal Search Solution of the Year”
  • Search experience:
    • Query building tools (connectors and segments) for Search Within
    • Run Search As, a toggle for transparency & control over your query
    • Improved relevance and presentation of  Lexis+ Answers
    • Enhanced segment searching ofNational Labor Relations Board decisions
  • Multiple Shepard’s® enhancements were rolled out, including:
    • Ability to narrow citing decisions by publication status in Shepard’s® Statutes Reports.
    • Extended coverageto over 14,000 TTAB decisions for complete agency coverage
    • 85+ agencies were extracted for citations to cases and statutes—and incorporated as citing decisions in Shepard’s reports.
    • 52 state and territorial administrative code citing sources added to the Shepard’s report.
    • Tennessee Workers Comp Claims and IL Labor Relations Board history connections were completed for the entire collection.
    • Enhanced for Shepardizing™ administrative decisions—citing references will display preview text and links to the cited reference in the full documents that use a parallel citation of the Shepardized™ citation.
  • Expanded tools to improve Document review, including:
    • Court Rule Compare tool enabling customers to compare current and archived versions of federal and state court rules.  
    • Federal & State Legislation Compare feature for single‒click comparison of bill versions.
    • Filings tab in Cases added for easy access to all related court materials corresponding to the case being viewed.
    • Enhanced Copy with Citation to include TX Petition and Writ History as defined by the Greenbook. Shepard’s® histories were added to over 100K Texas Court of Appeals documents in support.
  • Extended Legal News Hub coverage through integration of 40 Mealey’s® Litigation News focused publications, Law360® Real Estate Authority, and FTC Watch™
  • Improved tools for monitoring and leveraging content through Lexis+®:
    • Refined Search Alert form for easier alert setup
    • Ability to sort Work Folders documents by jurisdiction
    • Annotations and Highlights options added to Download dialog for documents saved in folders
    • Improved Alert delivery with the option for full-text document grouping
  • Law School Student Preference Update:   LexisNexis® Widens Lead as Top Research Platform Among Next-Generation Lawyers
  • Coming Soon: More Like This Passage, enabling researchers to identify an important passage in a case law document and with one click find other cases with highly similar language using a highly targeted approach.

Lexis+® & Lexis® – Content Additions

  • Released 32 exclusive Matthew Bender® treatises and guides including Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain & Smart Contract Law, Corbin on Contract Drafting, Corbin on New York Contracts and Dorsaneo & Chandler’s Texas Claims and Defenses.
  • Released 49 licensed treatises from the American Bar Association, American Lawyer Media, state bar associations and Wolters Kluwer, including Antitrust Law: An Analysis of Antitrust Principles and Their Application (Areeda & Hovenkamp), Fundamentals of Municipal Finance and Employment Law Answer Books.
  • Released Jury Instructions in seven states, extending market-leading coverage to 47 states compared to Westlaw® coverage of 37 states and Fastcase® coverage of 26 states.
  • Added over 127K federal cases, 82K state cases, 539K trial court orders, and 830K brief, pleadings, & motions documents in H2 2022 to our leading primary law collection

Practical Guidance

  • Market Standards, Antitrust module released with 1400+ deals, 40+ specialized deal points with precedent language and market trends data visualizations
  • Improved searching and sorting within Automated Templates
  • A new Construction practice area was launched
  • Expansion of practical guidance in video format with over 375 short, practical videos now available
  • Explore the latest practice insights in our Practical Guidance Journal
  • See more of what’s recently been updated within Practical Guidance in our Issue 2 (August) and Issue 3 (November) Newsletters
  • Coming Soon: Commercial preview of Agreement Analysis— a new document analysis tool that supports transactional attorneys in analyzing, negotiating and finalizing transactional agreements.  


  • Rollout of CourtLink update Search page designed to be faster and more responsive when entering your search criteria
  • Expanded criminal docket collecting in the U.S. District courts, to automatically collect new proceedings in every docket throughout the day
  • Released coverage for 10 new courts not previously available
  • System updates to improve overall performance & reliability including restored connections with select courts (offline for their own maintenance) impacting access to documents and document delivery through CourtLink
  • Updated the “Last Retrieved” date field for tracking dockets to reflect the most recent successful docket update
  • Added  Document Type filter for more precise search capability and expanded  range of searchable federal docket number formats to include judges initials

Lexis® Verdict & Settlement Analyzer (VSA)

  • Added new filters to narrow your search results including plaintiff age and sex
  • Updated work folder & delivery capabilities consistent with Lexis+®
  • Integration of cases by resolution analytics into Lexis+ when searching Jury Verdicts & Settlements as a preview allowing for deeper insights—available through Verdict & Settlement Analyzer
  • Improvements to the presentation of graphical analytics on VSA
  • Updated user experience for presentation of results to be consistent with Lexis+
  • Improved search relevance, consistent with searching on Lexis+
  • Improvements targeted to improve accessibility to VSA

Lex Machina®

  • Launched State Motion Metrics—taking the next step forward in providing the most accurate, comprehensive and complete litigation analytics on the market by incorporating Legal Analytics for state motion practice (“State Motion Metrics”) into the platform. State Motion Metrics allows users to quickly assess their state motion strategy and easily identify winning arguments.
  • Rollout of legal analytics coverage for a new practice area,Internet Law—adding over 10,000 cases to the Lex Machina® dataset.
  • Legal analytics coverage added for Chapter 11 Proceedings in Bankruptcy Court, providing unparalleled insights into an entirely new U.S. Court system— adding over 115,000 proceedings filed since 2009 under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code.
  • Launched multiple industry trend reports (available to non-subscribers)
  • 2022 Employment Litigation Report – While employment case filings declined throughout the pandemic to the lowest number in a decade, COVID-19 cases and damages awards have remained robust
  • 2022 Torts Litigation Report – While torts case filings (excluding mass torts) have remained fairly steady over the past 10 years, motor vehicle and premises liability cases have increased over the same period
  • 2022 Contracts: Commercial Litigation Report – Commercial litigation case filings have declined steadily throughout the last ten years to the lowest number in a decade, while the total amount of damages awarded each year has remained steady
  • 2022 Bankruptcy Report – Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in 2021 dropped to the lowest number in a decade; case filing trends revealed the disparate effects of the pandemic on different Chapter 11 bankruptcies
  • 2022 Surety Bond Litigation Report – Surety bond litigation cases, including Miller Act cases, dropped to the lowest number in a decade in 2021, while total amount of damages awarded remained generally steady over the past ten years.


  • Launch of Law360® Pulse Small Law, delivering industry-leading business of law news directly to small law legal professionals to keep them informed.
  • Named the #1 Legal News Source by the ABA Law360 is named the “Leading Fee-Based Online Services Most Preferred for Legal News” and “Leading Fee-Based Online Services Used for Legal News” by the ABA® Legal Technology Survey Report 2022.

Nexis Newsdesk

  • Expansion of Usage Stats – Download Newsletter Usage Data
  • Ability to delete previously added RSS/User Added feeds
  • “Favorites” and “Group Content” sections added to Saved Content panel
  • 3 additional editorially created National Source Lists: U.S. Major Newspapers, UK National Newspapers, and Netherlands National Newspapers
  • Newsletter Edit & Send Changes:   rearrange or remove articles prior to sending

Resources for Legal Information Professionals:

LexisNexis, Lexis, Lexis+, Shepard’s, CourtLink, Lex Machina, Mealey’s and the Knowledge Burst logo are registered trademarks of RELX Inc. Law360 is a registered trademark of Portfolio Media, Inc. Matthew Bender is a registered trademark of Matthew Bender & Company, Inc. FTC: Watch is a trademark of MLex Limited. Westlaw is a registered trademark or trademark of Thomson Reuters. Fastcase is a registered trademark of, Inc. Other products or services may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.

Going “Off-Label” to Prove Library Value

The author is CRIV member Carol Ottolenghi, Director of Research & Library Services, Ohio Attorney General’s Office

            Going “Off-Label” – using products in new or unexpected ways – can provide needed resources, save your organization money, and demonstrate your Library’s value. This post describes recent off-labeling at the Ohio Attorney General’s Office (OAGO). If your Library uses an information product in an innovative way, please share it in an email to the CRIV Blog Coordinator, Christy Smith  ( Your responses may appear in future blog posts or CRIV Sheet articles.

            Legal organizations use scores of electronic products. Many of them have little direct Library application. However, our Library staff stays aware of 1) the tools the OAGO has, and; 2) the activities and needs of the various agency sections.

            This awareness is key to “off-label” success because the OAGO is so large that many sections do not know what the others are doing, except in a general sense. By making it a point to regularly query sections about their needs, Library staff can promote information-product sharing. We can help develop procedures that use existing tools in new ways. For example, in 2021, we tested and demonstrated how two of our litigation-support tools could also help our Law Enforcement agents organize cold case files. This:

  • Increased OAGO efficiency
  • Spread the product costs across additional sections
  • Showed the OAGO as an effective steward of public money, which made Administration happy
  • Demonstrated Library value to Administration, the new users, and Finance.

            I emphasize this last point because it is no longer enough for Libraries to do good work. If Libraries are to thrive within our organizations, we must be seen doing good work.

            Our most recent off-labeling adventure involves that quintessential Library product: the catalog. This project is currently underway and will be fully operational early in 2023. It began because the OAGO is moving to a new case management system. Unlike our previous system, the new system doesn’t play nicely with several existing programs. In addition, the new system “silos” information so that each section can see only its own documents.

            While this system may work beautifully for case management, it severely limited access to the Office’s section-based collections of institutional knowledge. It also prohibited the sections from searching our “PDF Library” – our 100,216 digital documents version of the old-school “vertical file.” It created, in short, a knowledge management (KM) problem.

            Great angst ensued when this was recognized.

            Necessity is the mother of innovation, as well as invention. After Librarian-worthy cursing and gnashing of teeth, we realized that a catalog upgrade might resolve some of the agency’s information-access problems. Obviously, catalogs are KM products. But they are not marketed as such. To convince our agency’s powers-that-be that this was a viable answer that deserved funding, we worked with our current catalog vendor to explore product aspects that fit specific OAGO KM needs. Vendors are (very) eager to help you develop new uses for their products, so it’s vital to keep them on task. The grid below is a simplified version of the one we used to keep our discussions focused on the OAGO’s needs, rather than vendor selling points.

NeedWhat would a Successful Solution Look Like?What Product Feature Could Fit the Need & How?
Cost-neutral solutionCost of the solution would be no more than the cost of the now-useless KM productsCost of the catalog upgrade was less than the cost of the KM products
Agency-accessible way to store Library collection recordsA Library catalog open to all members of the OAGOThe catalog could sit on a separate server and be open to all members of the OAGO
Agency-accessible way to store PDF Library records linked to PDFsA Library catalog open to all members of the OAGO that links to documents stored by the LibraryThe upgraded catalog allows linking to documents in the Library’s storage system
Agency-accessible way to store section-specific knowledge linked to section documentsA Library catalog open to all members of the OAGO that links to documents stored by the LibraryThe upgraded catalog allows linking to documents in the Library’s storage system
Way to load existing collection records with minimal Library staff inputExisting catalog entries transferred with minimal Library staff inputExisting catalog entries transferred with minimal Library staff input
Way to load existing PDF Library documents as searchable documents with minimal Library staff inputExisting PDF Library documents transferred as searchable documents with minimal Library staff inputExisting documents are loaded with minimal Library staff input. If the documents have been saved with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) features, then they are searchable.
Way to load existing section-specific documents with minimal Library staff inputExisting section-specific documents transferred with minimal Library staff inputExisting documents are loaded with minimal Library staff input. If the documents have been saved with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) features, then they are searchable.
Way to collect section documents in the futureAutomated process to collect documents curated by the subject matter experts (SMEs)in each sectionA Library query system that allowsOAGO staff to send us documents approved by SMEs. Still requires Library staff to enter materials into the catalog and storage system.
Support for the Library and OAGO IT section during and after implementationScheduled meetings, upload assistance, and check-ins, as well as a “help hotline.”Scheduled meetings, upload assistance, and check-ins, as well as a post-implementation “help hotline.”

            Our Library has two full-time, and one part-time, Librarians. That made vendor assistance in this project’s implementation the key to its success. We emphasized that from the beginning, and the company has proved a worthy partner. Library staff still has a lot of work ahead. But, it’s traditional Librarian work – collecting, organizing, disseminating – work that demonstrates the Library’s value to the OAGO.

This sort of Library-vendor collaboration isn’t unique, or even unusual. Please send your experiences to the CRIV Blog Coordinator, Christy Smith (

Carol Ottolenghi is Director of Research & Library Services at the OAGO, and the author of Intentional Marketing: A Practical Guide for Librarians, published by Rowman & Littlefield.

Wolters Kluwer Semi-Annual Call

CRIV Vendor Liaison – Wolters Kluwer Semi-Annual Call


Attending:       Jenna Ellis, Wolters Kluwer Liaison

                        Vani Ungapen, AALL Executive Director

                        Michelle Hook Dewey, AALL-CRIV Board Liaison

                        Jane Bahnson, AALL CRIV Wolters Kluwer Board Liaison

The meeting commenced at 3:00 pm. Jane has taken over as the new AALL CRIV Wolters Kluwer Board Liaison; all others are continuing on and we are looking forward to a productive year.

Updates from Wolters Kluwer

Jenna Ellis told us of new enhancements to VitalLaw.

One enhancement is the addition of Abortion Restrictions Jurisdictional Compare Smart Chart to the “Smart Chart” tool, which is a multi-jurisdictional comparison survey that includes laws, regulations, executive orders, and seminal cases. This new topic compares abortion rights and restrictions by topic, such as time and  insurance coverage restrictions, and across multiple jurisdictions.  Links provide full access to the underlying documents  and the chart format can be customized. This new smart chart is available to most subscriptions that include the related underlying publications.  

Another enhancement involves the expansion of research features available to everyone for the statutes and regulations database, which includes primary statutory and regulatory law at both the state and federal level. The search template now offers search by “document type” in addition to the jurisdiction, citation, and keyword options. There is also a “curated topic” option that will retrieve cross-jurisdictional results on a specific topic through a pre-designed Boolean search. For example, for the curated topic “cannabis,” there are six pre-designed searches that retrieve relevant laws and regulations on discrete subtopics. One such subtopic, “Medical Marijuana Cultivator Requirements” runs the search “cannabis w/5 medical AND cultivat*” and retrieves 1,021 cross-jurisdictional results.

Another feature, Next Generation Laws and Regulations, alerts users to updates or pending updates in laws and regulations. Researchers can use pre-search filters, curated topics, “show all future versions,” and other functions.  An orange flag identifies those laws under revision, and a redlining toggle in the upper right of the screen allows the reader to see what the changes are. New language is indicated in green type, while deleted language is shown in red type. These changes will remain for a few weeks after the changes take effect. There is no retained archive of older versions of the laws after this period has run.

Wolters Kluwer representatives can also provide training on the use of its products, including training for law schools in conjunction with upper level courses on topics such as tax and arbitration. Contact links are available on the VitalLaw home page.

Requests for Assistance

No formal requests for assistance were submitted, but one issue of concern was raised to a CRIV member regarding the receipt by individuals of Wolters Kluwer communications they no longer wish to receive. Wolters Kluwer acknowledges some who have opted out of communications may be on different lists and is taking steps to make sure the lists are updated.

Updates from AALL

The 2023 AALL conference will take place from July 15-18 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. The topic for the vendor round table has not yet been determined, but all expressed a preference for an in-person meeting if possible. The format will be decided when the date gets closer and will be influenced by health and environmental concerns as they exist at the time of the conference.

The meeting adjourned at 3:30.

Survey of Library Services Platforms in U.S. Academic Law Libraries

Having just participated in a demo of a fairly new library services platform, I wanted to identify other ABA-accredited U.S. academic law libraries that are using the system and to see what other systems academic law libraries are using. Having been in the academic law library world for a while, I recall the days when Innovative Interfaces, now part of Clarivate, dominated the academic law library integrated library system landscape. However, there are newer systems and vendors in the landscape.

Our demo was timely because November marks the month that Marshall Breeding, founder of Library Technology Guides, sends out the annual International Library Automation Survey.

Judging by the data found in Library Technology Guides, searches of catalogs of about 35 libraries not included in Library Technology Guides, and a few questions to some individual libraries, it appears that Innovative is still a contender with about 34% of U.S. academic law library users using Sierra (or Millennium) but Ex Libris, also a part of Clarivate, has taken the lead with about 39% of academic law libraries using Alma. OCLC’s WorldShare Management Services (WMS) has about 9% of the market and SirsiDynix has about 7% of the market with Symphony. Other contenders are the open source Folio with about 4% of the market; EOS.Web (a SirsiDynix product), the open source Koha, and Voyager (an Ex Libris product) each comprise about 2% of the market; and Aleph (an Ex Libris product) and Tind, each have about 1% of the market.

There are about 43 U.S. academic law libraries with English language catalogs that are not listed in Library Technology Guides. To see if your library is included, check the directory of U.S. academic law libraries. You can also check out the market share listed in Library Technology Guides, but keep in mind that not all academic law libraries are included.

The Federal Depository Library Program . . . Going “All-Digital”?

With more than 1000 library participants nationwide, the Federal Depository Library Program has long served both as a means for the public to access materials published or authored by the federal government and for ensuring the preservation of current and historical government information.  Libraries that participate in the Program include academic, judicial, and government law libraries, college and university libraries, public libraries, and historical societies; member libraries have historically received print and /or microform copies of selected government documents at no charge and, in more recent times, digital access to some government publications as well.  In late 2021, the FDLP notified libraries that, beginning in 2022, distribution of documents in microform formats would be phased out.

Since 2014, libraries new to the FDLP have had the option of selecting only those documents that are available in digital formats (so, they’re all-digital FDLP participants!).  Having seen how the pandemic affected access and use of government information, and recognizing the needs of more and more libraries to move to nearly all-digital collections, the FDLP formed a Task Force on a Digital Federal Depository Library Program in early 2022.  This past September, the Task Force released its draft report for public comment. 

The Task Force was charged with determining “whether an all-digital FDLP is possible, and if so, [defining] the scope of an all-digital depository program and [making] recommendations as to how to implement and operate such a program” (Draft Report for Public Comment).  Data that lend context to the Report included the facts that (i) 25% of current FDLP participants already select only digital or nearly only digital documents; (ii) an additional 17% of federal depository libraries intend to transition to a truly all-digital collection; and (iii) 97% of new federal government documents published since 2009 are in digital formats.

The work of the Task Force was apportioned among six working groups charged with considering, respectively, the impact of an all-digital FDLP on access; the impact on depository libraries; the impact on federal agencies; the impact GPO, library services, and content management; Title 44 and legislative and policy issues; and implementation and strategic framework necessary to support a transition.  The first thing to note is that the Task Force’s use of the term “all-digital” does not imply that the FDLP would be exclusively digital.  Rather, the Task Force acknowledged that “alternative formats of both current and historical information would continue to be available” – for how long and which documents are included are yet to be determined (Draft Report for Public Comment). 

After outlining both the benefits of an all-digital program (e.g., improved access and metadata; flexibility for participating libraries) and the risks of not going all-digital (e.g., lack of standardization among agencies and lack of a systematic approach to collection and curation, let alone missed opportunities), the Report noted some corresponding barriers to and disadvantages of the all-digital approach (e.g., digital disparity; accessibility issues; challenges associated with particular types of government publications; authentication and version control; user privacy).

In the end, the consensus of the six working groups was that FDLP members would benefit from an all-digital approach and that the FDLP should indeed go all-digital.  Some working groups commented on the underlying laws and regulations that would affect or in fact inhibit the transition to an all-digital program and others described the infrastructure that would be necessary to develop and maintain an all-digital approach.  The recommendations in the Report focus on (i) ensuring cost-free access to government information; (ii) protecting the privacy of users of an all-digital depository library system; (iii) determining which documents should continue to be distributed in print and for how long; (iv) developing both standards to ensure authenticity and version control and best practices for digital preservation; (v) allowing different levels of participation among libraries; (vi) creating training to enable participating libraries to locate digital materials and curate digital collections; (vii)  collaborating with agencies, libraries, and others to ensure access to technologies that support the use of an all-digital FDLP; and (viii) considering new bibliographic resources and support for FDLP libraries. 

As the Report states, “[t]he move to an all-digital FDLP is not revolutionary, but rather in many ways, evolutionary and would result in the formalization of a process long-underway as increasing amounts of U.S. Government information are born digital.”  That said, there is much work to be done in reliably standardizing the creation and collection of authoritative government information.  But the fact that the FDLP is moving in the right direction – with thoughtfulness and a pretty comprehensive approach – is nothing but good news both for libraries that participate in the program and those who might want to do so in the future (and, really, for all of our patrons as well!).


Draft Report for Public Comment, Task Force on a Digital Federal Depository Library Program, September 14, 2022.

Association of Research Libraries Statement on Digital FDLP Task Force Draft Report, October 31, 2022

Platform Updates and the 1L Teaching Conundrum

Last week, Westlaw invited us to test drive Westlaw Precision a few months before the scheduled January general rollout. We are grateful for the head’s up. No instructor wants to be simultaneously learning how to use a research platform while teaching students how to use it. But it does once again present the problem of how to keep our students abreast of new technology while making sure they understand the role these products play in legal research, and this can be particularly tricky for students struggling with the nuances of jurisdiction and precedent and trying to remember what “F. Supp.” means. Do we take time out of our already material-dense classes to introduce these products to brand new researchers? If so, what materials do we omit?

In the March/April 2021 issue of AALL Spectrum, Mary Ann Neary and Sherry Xin Chen published a terrific article on introducing brief analysis tools to students, offering suggestions for how they might be introduced using exercises that illustrate the limitations inherent in the technology and their potential usefulness. Since that article was published, at least one of these products has disappeared (EVA, an ambitious open access product by now defunct Ross Intelligence), and others we don’t hear about much. By most accounts, these analyzers are most useful as a “self check” after the underlying research has been done and the work product is finished. They do not replace fundamental research tasks, but add a layer of review. This seems right, and if time and money permit, probably helpful. But do these belong in the 1L curriculum, and if so, how much time do we give?

With Westlaw Precision, we have yet another tool, and all signs indicate that when it is rolled out, it will be given center stage. We understand some law firms already have it. Although the topics covered so far don’t include the standard 1L curriculum, they do cover potential 1L appellate brief topics. I took it for a spin using an old topic, and while I have so far been unable to produce helpful search results, it was . . . fun. And now, there is yet another analytical product being rolled out, a Wolters Kluwer Securities Enforcement Analyzer. Many of our students are interested in working in the financial sector. Should this also be part of our instructional menu of analyzers?

As Neary and Chen correctly point out, our students will be subject to the duty of technology competence, and as research instructors we are on the front lines in helping students understand and use these tools. When and how to introduce which tools remain open questions. As research platforms become increasingly complex, we need to be nimble with our curriculum, but doing this without overwhelming our students is an ongoing challenge.