Free & Low-Cost Course Materials

At our law library we maintain one print copy of each required textbook for a semester. To meet this service our access services department reviews a list of required textbooks for the coming semester. We check these against what we currently have in our collection and then create a list of textbooks that we need to order to fulfill the remainder of books on the list that we do not have. The number of new books we need to purchase each semester does not change too much, but we have seen the cost of this same number of books creep up over time.

The Education Data Initiative provides eye-opening numbers about how the average cost of textbooks has increased over the years. For example, the article notes that textbook prices increase by 12% with each new edition. Additionally, for a view over time, the cost of textbooks increased by 1,104% between 1977 and 2015. Most professors believe the cost of course materials is a burden to their students. However, not many professors are aware of open educational resources (OER). Both articles provide more statistics and information to boggle the mind, which I will leave to you to further investigate at another time and so I do not totally dampen your day with grim news!

On a more positive note, post conversation with a colleague, I borrowed from and added to a list of free and low-cost course materials she created. With our law faculty currently making decisions for their spring courses, I am sending them a list of free and low-cost materials in hopes it may encourage some of them to consider alternative selections. Below are a few resources I am mentioning to them.

Legal Casebooks & Materials – Casebook Platforms

  • The eLangdell Bookstore. Open-access publishing wing of CALI. Provides free casebooks on many law school topics written by distinguished law school professors and experts.
  • Semaphore Press. Provides a selection of case books on a small but growing number of topics. Digital editions of casebooks are $30, print around $70, depending on the casebook.
  • Open Textbook Library. A curated collection of open textbooks either in use at multiple higher education institutions or “affiliated with a higher education institution, scholarly society, or professional organization.” Some are relisted titles from eLangdell, but others are original titles. Platform allows user reviews that faculty can refer to when considering whether to adopt a textbook.

Individually Published Free & Low-Cost Casebooks

The following is a sampling of casebook titles that are not aggregated on any platform.

Casebook Development Platforms

Faculty and their associated institutions interested in making educational resources (e.g., digital textbooks) available for their students and others can look to publishing platforms that make it easy to create, adapt, and share educational material.

  • Pressbooks. Built on a WordPress framework which simplifies the development of Open Educational Resources (OER) books. Provides a range of textbook design templates and a cover creation tool. Cost is per book, not edition. Includes online hosting and export to PDF or eBook formats.
  • H2O. Developed by Harvard. Platform facilitates creation of casebooks. Authors can import U.S. case law directly into the case casebook and omit text to only the relevant portions. Allows authors to write introductory text or create annotations for each case.

Informing our law faculty about alternatives is essential in addressing the high cost of course materials. We librarians can get that conversation started.

Have you seen the new Westlaw?

About two weeks ago, Thomson Reuters released a new version of Westlaw. It’s called Westlaw Precision, and they say the focus is on precision in search. They invested a lot in adding metadata to their source documents (e.g., judicial opinions) to increase that search precision. Other noteworthy additions are new KeyCite features, like Cited With (i.e., citing proximity), which notes cases that are frequently cited together, even if those cases don’t cite each other, and Overruled in Part, which is exactly what it sounds like. If you have ever taught law students about citators, this latter KeyCite feature should sound pretty exciting to you. It could solve a lot of problems in the new attorney’s understanding of what a red flag really means.

So this new launch is exciting, and if you haven’t already seen a demo, it is almost certainly coming your way. Since so many other blogs and legal news sources have already reported on or reviewed this new product, I doubt I could add much that hasn’t already been said. Given that CRIV is not in the business of promoting the products of legal information vendors, it is probably important to let other people say it anyway. Therefore, if you are looking for reports or reviews of this new product, below is a roundup of blog posts about Westlaw Precision that came out on release day.

LawSites – “Thomson Reuters Unveils Next Generation of Westlaw, Aiming to Make Legal Research Results More Precise”

Dewey B Strategic – “Westlaw Precision Launches With Promise to Cut Lawyer Research Time in Half”

Attorney at Work – “Westlaw Precision: Next-Generation Legal Research With a Human Touch”

Legal Insider – “Thomson Reuters unveils Westlaw Precision, with potential to ‘halve’ research time”

Trying Tango for Short Web-Based Training Tutorials

I learned about the free Chrome extension “Tango” from Beth Jennings’s post to ALL-SIS which included a sample tutorial she made. I was intrigued by the idea that I could show someone how to do something without creating 1,000 “snips” with the Windows Snipping Tool or making another 3-10 minute video of myself using the internet. Tango’s homepage promises I can document what I’m doing instantly and after a year of online teaching under my belt, I am painfully aware of how long it takes to create and edit screen capture images and video.

So in the pursuit of science, I decided to take the lead by documenting my first tango with Tango.

Getting Started

From the start, Tango seems to be a business-oriented product. That is not a bad thing of course, but I was a little disoriented when I went to pick a role. “Training” seems the most appropriate and really isn’t a stretch—law librarians in all settings often train people how to do legal research.

Dropdown menu with business-related roles as options. Text reading “You’re Almost Ready to Tango, Katelyn” is displayed across the top.
I can hardly contain my excitement

The initial dashboard has a simple, bright, ultra-modern look and is preloaded with two tutorials- How To Pin the Chrome Extension and How to Capture Workflows. I am going to go ahead and start off with these because (1) I am totally new, and (2) they are in the format of the types of capture I am seeking to create with this product.

Just from the tutorial I can see the utility of Tango—instead of a lengthy video capturing cursor movement on screen, the Tango recordings take what they describe as a ‘highlight reel’ of your actions in a particular Chrome tab. This makes the visual aspect of the tutorial much more attractive to people who don’t have much time (like lawyers and law students) and people with a short attention span (myself, and surely others.)

To use Tango, you need to pin the extension so that you can access it quickly when you are on the page you want to record. The tutorial on how to record shows the controls so you know what to expect when the recording starts.

Image of controller for Tango extension
The anticipation continues to build

The best thing in my opinion, by far, is the ability of Tango to highlight wherever you click with a rectangle. In the absence of something like Camtasia (or numerous other helpful but costly screen capture programs), it can be difficult to call attention to your clicks. Tango adds the highlights as you are capture, making it much faster to convey your actions.

Up to this point, I am writing this based on the tutorial—so let’s see how this works out in practice.

Recording My First Workflow

I was curious about how Tango would work with a commercial legal research platform, so I selected Westlaw and decided to make a quick tutorial on how one could access Government Accountability Office Board of Contract Appeals opinions. To start, I opened Westlaw and logged in. At the homepage, I clicked on the Tango extension that I had pinned.

Tango icon pinned to top of web browser
This is where the pin lives

A small window pops down and there is just one button that says “capture workflow.” Once you click on it the capture begins and Tango takes a small screen shot of each of your clicks and typing activities.

Pop up window with the word “Tango” at the top and a button over the words “Capture Workflow” followed by a short text advertisement for the pro version

Once you begin to capture the workflow, you can see the ‘highlight’ shape (an orange rectangle) on screen wherever you rest your cursor on text or images with hyperlinks. The snapshot for your tutorial is only taken when you click or type text.

After pressing capture, all I had to do was navigate to the GAOBCA opinions page and each step was automatically captured. Toward the end of the process, I clicked where it said “Ten Most Recent” so that a screen shot would be taken, then I clicked in the search bar and ran a search. I ended the process by clicking on the green check mark in the bottom left corner of the page. If you hover your cursor over the checkmark, the controller shows up and provides the option to pause or discard the workflow. You may also change the controller to be on the right-hand side of the screen. There is a blur feature on the controller for premium users which allows you to blur out sensitive information on screen.

I did not time myself exactly, but the process from start to finish of just the capture was only a second longer than it took me to navigate to the desired page. At this point I was happy at how little it took to gather the images for the tutorial. Once the capture is complete, you get to edit your steps and provide accompanying information.

As a quick side note, out of curiosity I tried to see if I could make a tutorial on how to use Tango to capture Westlaw, but it wasn’t possible because clicking the icon again simply paused the recording.

Editing My First Workflow

The automatic title for whatever you record is “Workflow with [website you started on].” The first step is a direct link to whatever webpage you started on—you don’t have to add it at all, but you might want to change the title. Tango automatically pulled Westlaw’s logo to associate it with the steps in the guide (pictured below).

table of contents side-bar for tutorial
Looking sharp!

To edit the automatically generated headings, you simply click on them and can change them immediately. A couple of the steps didn’t need to be changed at all because Tango automatically identifies your actions and the text that you click on. For example, the step pictured in the below image was 100% Tango:

The third pane in the editing page of Tango titled “Click on Administrative Decisions and Guidance”

I had to edit the heading for last two because I wanted to indicate that the person using the tutorial could browse the “ten most recent” list or search within the content area. The automatic headings simply stated exactly what I had done. This was the most work I had to do during the editing process.

One other thing that made the editing process easy was working within each pane where the captures were organized. You can click next to your captures to add a description or modify the link that Tango adds to each picture (automatically!) If you hover over the image you can zoom in and out, adjust how much appears in the frame, and add alt text to enhance accessibility. The editing is done to each step, so those that were automatically generated and perfect could be left alone completely unless you wanted to zoom in or move the focus of the image.

Editing pane of Tango with a red circle around the button for creating alt text
Adding alt text to images is easy

The Final Product and Thoughts

My final product is here:

The tutorial may be shared by link or you can invite someone else to view it via email. Users may also download the guide as a PDF or copy the HTML code to put elsewhere. I copied the HTML into Microsoft word and was stunned when I could see all of my highlighted images and could edit the accompanying text. Each step became a heading that could be minimized in the document to create more of an outline. I would prefer this format because the PDF download has a cover and end page branded with Tango. Copying into Microsoft word allowed me to soften Tango’s brand presence because it’s only mentioned a few times without logos. With the pro version you can add your own logo to the PDF downloads which would also mitigate the distraction.

I am probably going to use this at least a few times for tutorials on how to do simple tasks, and I am curious about how it will work out with more complex research tasks. Overall, Tango is definitely going into my virtual tool box because it’s user friendly and would cut down the time it takes to prepare visual aids. I also suspect that it will capture attention differently, and I always try to deliver information in a variety of formats.

Digital Casebooks

For law school libraries that provide required textbooks as part of their course reserve services, it is a good time to review various features of digital casebooks. While some vendors sell bundled packages of casebooks, this post is about casebooks purchased as individual ebooks for library patron use.

Libraries can purchase Aspen casebooks individually in digital format from ProQuest LibCentral for library patron use. Carolina Academic Press casebooks can be purchased individually in digital format from Matthew Bender and made available for patrons via the LexisNexis Digital Library in the OverDrive platform. West Academic sells digital casebooks as part of a bundled package with other casebooks; libraries cannot purchase individual digital casebooks for library patron use.

The LibCentral and OverDrive platforms allow users to highlight, annotate, and bookmark. Users can highlight in multiple colors which can help with the IRAC process. Both platforms require extra clicks to get to the pagination and it does not necessarily match the print book so professors may need to assign chapters, sections, and subsections to read rather than pages.

A library’s ProQuest LibCentral administrator can set individual ebooks so that they can only be read online, or the administrator can set limited check-out periods. However, ProQuest does not allow for early return so the ebook will be inaccessible to others until the user returns it. Reading online, rather than checking out, makes the book inaccessible to others until the user closes the browser.

OverDrive only allows check-out options, rather than reading online. The minimum check-out period is longer than most academic law libraries would use for course reserve materials. There is an option to return the ebook early. However, it may not be intuitive for users to figure out how to do this.

During the pandemic, students appreciated digital access and usage statistics appear to be greater than historical print circulation statistics, but we will need more time and usage data to determine if students truly prefer digital casebooks.

Bloomberg Law CRIV Liaison Meeting

June 15, 2022


            Michelle Hook Dewey, CRIV, Board Liaison (Mercer University Law Library)

            Tom Hemstock, CRIV, Vendor Liaison (Albany Law School, Schaffer Law Library)

            Mike Bernier, Bloomberg Law

            Kristyn Hyland, Bloomberg Law

            Vani Ungapen, ALL Executive Director

Prior Business


Current CRIV Member Issues with Bloomberg Law


Mike Bernier and Kristyn Hyland reported on updates and recent changes to Bloomberg Law.


  • Bloomberg Law Continues to Enhance its Collection of Practitioner Tools. New content development in this category includes 325+ new Practical Guidance documents so far in 2022.
  • New Tort Defenses Practical Guidance – a companion to our Tort Actions and Tort Damages and Relief coverage – including state-specific content for defenses to claims such as negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, defamation, and fraud.
  • State Allocation of Liability Chart Practical Guidance, providing insight into a client’s level of risk in a negligence case. This chart quickly identifies the theories of liability applied by each state and DC.


Enhancements available in the Transactional Intelligence Center continue and now include:

  • How to Use Transactional Tools & Features Practical Guidance designed to help lawyers unlock the value of our transactional tools and resources, including descriptions of how the tools work, common use cases, pro-tips, and more
  • Marketing & Digital Rights Practical Guidance that provide sample language, drafting tips, and precedent searches to assist Bloomberg Law customers with drafting and negotiating common forms of marketing and engagement agreements that involve digital rights.


  • Market-leading Bloomberg Law Dockets is a mainstay of Bloomberg Law’s litigation offering and has had several recent enhancements.
  • Enhanced dockets search with new filtering options (Resolutions, Class Action, County Courts, and new CSV fields when downloading search results, e.g., nature of suit, cause of action)
  • Enhancing dockets is a key priority for 2022 with more to come.


  • Bloomberg Law will add 40+ new Books & Treatises in July from leading publishers including ABA and James, strengthening the litigation reference library.  A MARC record update in July will cover the changes.  Contact Matthew Newton ( or Mike Bernier ( to be added to our MARC record update distribution list.


Bloomberg Law continues to strengthen practice area coverage with important enhancements.

Labor & Employment.  More state coverage as a result of user feedback:

Environmental, Social, Governance

Banking & Finance


  • Redesigned practice group landing coming June 21.
  • Ready-made OnPoints presentations on key tax developments are new, allowing practitioners to use and edit presentations on key tax developments.


Bloomberg Law has launched a law school innovation program to highlight innovative efforts to teach future lawyers.

Law School Innovation Program identifies and promotes law school programs that are helping students transition successfully to legal practice.  Applications are now open and will close on 9/6/2022.  Bloomberg Law’s law school representatives can answer any questions, and the organizers of the program will be at AALL.


Bloomberg Law will be present at AALL to highlight what’s new with Bloomberg Law and to answer any questions.  Librarians wishing to sign up for time to meet with a representative of Bloomberg Law before the conference should reach out to Mike Bernier

CRIV/LexisNexis® Semiannual Call

The CRIV/LexisNexis® semiannual call took place Thursday, June 30th, at 12 p.m. Central. Attendees on the call were:

  • Carolyn Bach, Sr. Manager, Knowledge & Research and Faculty Programs
  • Simon Weierman, Sr. Director, Segment Management
  • Ashley Ahlbrand, 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 January and June 2022.

New Developments

  • First commercial launch of Lexis+® UK to small/mid law customers.
  • Lexis® Create, a new solution designed to surface insights for attorneys while drafting in Microsoft Word, is set for Beta testing in Q3 2022.
  • Acquisition of Contract Lifecycle Management Solution Parley Pro to complement LexisNexis’ industry-leading Enterprise Legal Management (ELM) platform, CounselLink®.
  • API Developer’s Portal a self-service portal that allows law firms and legal departments to integrate unmatched legal data, content and analytics from a variety of LexisNexis® applications and data sources into their existing systems, applications and processes.
  • NetDocuments commercially released “Highlights” powered by LexisNexis® to the small legal market. This is the significant milestone in an 18-month collaboration where LexisNexis enrichments are incorporated directly into NetDocuments’ document management solution.

The Lexis+® Experience

  • Shepard’s History at a Glance: Displays a visual of the cases that impact or are impacted by your shepardized case. Use it to quickly find the cases that tell you whether it is still good law from an appellate history perspective.
  • Ability to filter Shepard’s reports using Motion Type filters on Lexis+.
  • Recommended Secondary articles & resources in association with LexisNexis Headnotes.
  • Hotkeys were enabled in Lexis+ documents for improved accessibility.
  • Codes research: Cited Law Preview to get an advance understanding of cited laws without leaving your current document
  • New Pending Regulations feature to quickly identify and review pending & adopted regulations impacting federal and state administrative codes
  • Merging of ‘sub-content type’ post filter under high level content types to more quickly and easily narrow to results of interest on Lexis+
  • Brief Analysis: new “upload text” feature to get recommendations from cases, practical guidance, treatises or find similar briefs without requiring an entire document. 
  • Access to initiate Brief Analysis directly from a brief, pleading, or motion on Lexis+
  • MLex regulatory news and analysis integrated into Lexis+ Legal News Hub 
  • Support to select and deliver documents the full document page for greater efficiency in the research workflow.
  • Lexis+ Copy with Cite: support for accurate pinpoint citations when a quote is within a footnote.
  • Lexis+ awarded Best AI Enabled Content Solution, 2022 SIIA CODiE Winner
  • Coming soon: Fact & Issue Finder for Lexis+

The Lexis+® and Lexis® Services – Content Additions

  • New caselaw source to US for American Maritime Cases (“AMC”) that includes new AMC cases released by Lexis since the acquisition of the AMC content portfolio in 2020.
  • New caselaw source to Lexis+ for Vaccine Cases in the US Court of Federal Claims.
  • Expanded statute indices with over eight states released and an additional 40 statutory indices targeted for rollout in 2022.
  • 1.4M new trial orders, briefs, pleadings, and motions have been made available year to date.
  • 400K+ state trial documents were added, many from major metropolitan areas in California, Texas, Georgia, and Nevada.
  • Added access to Laws & Regulations for Switzerland & Luxembourg laws, access to Singapore statutes.

Practical Guidance

  • A new Healthcare practice area was launched.
  • Lexis+® Practical Guidance Video Center released with 180 videos guiding users on legal tasks.
  • Usability improvements to eliminate entry of Client ID when utilizing Practical Guidance on Lexis+ (based upon customer preferences for Cost Recovery).
  • New “suggested documents” for quick access to relevant documents when entering a search.
  • See more of what’s new from Practical Guidance in Q1 2022.

The Lexis® CourtLink Service

  • Launched Alaska court coverage and added coverage for thirty new state courts across five states.

Lex Machina®

  • Approximately 400,000 federal courts of appeals cases added in support of the launch of Legal Analytics for federal courts of appeals (“Appellate Analytics”).
  • Launched multiple industry trend reports (available to non-subscribers)


  • Released their Climate Change Disclosure Report which examined comment letters issued by the SEC to companies both before and after the agency’s Division of Corporate Finance published a sample comment letter on climate change-related disclosure in September 2021, which updated guidance from 2010.

Nexis Newsdesk

Resources for Legal Information Professionals:

LexisNexis® at AALL 2022

Summer Associate Training Resources

Federal Legislative History Research Guide

LexisNexis® War in Ukraine Resource Page

Coverage of the Dobbs decision from Law360®

Lexis+ Certification Program: available for your law firm’s information professionals. Please contact your LexisNexis Knowledge & Research Consultant to learn more.


LexisNexis, Lexis, Lexis+, Shepard’s, CourtLink, Lex Machina, CounselLink, and the Knowledge Burst logo are registered trademarks and LexisNexis. Law360 is a registered trademark of Portfolio Media, Inc. Intelligize is a registered trademark of Intelligize, Inc. MLex is a registered trademark of MLex Limited. Other products or services may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.

In Case You Missed It: CRIV Vendor Roundtable Recap

Last Wednesday, CRIV held our annual Vendor Roundtable. Based on a survey we sent out to the AALL membership, we asked our guests to address the question of how their companies are working to ensure a diversity of voices are represented in their collections or products. We had representatives from Bloomberg Law, LexisNexis, and Thomson Reuters at this year’s roundtable. This post will briefly summarize the highlights of each vendors’ presentation. If you’d like to see the event in full, a video recording will be made available soon.

Bloomberg Law

Presenters: Lisa Helem & Molly Huie

Screen Grab: DEI Framework Homepage

Representatives from Bloomberg Law focused on two aspects of their company’s products. First, Lisa Helem discussed how their news team is working to engage and feature content focused on the careers of young diverse, women, and first-generation lawyers, their leadership paths, values, and perspectives. You will find many of these stories in their “They’ve Got Next” series. Lisa next discussed Bloomberg Law’s podcasting division, and their 5-part podcast, “Black Lawyers Speak,” which looked at diversity in Big Law and law firm leadership, and “The Black General Counsel Project,” which profiled Black general counsel at Fortune 1000 companies. Molly Huie then shared a project Bloomberg Law has been working on, the DEI Framework, that collects and presents data on diversity, equity, and inclusion in law firms. Begun in 2021 with 36 participating firms, they have over 50 firms participating in 2022. The framework is available on Bloomberg Law now (I found it under the Practitioner Tools tab), and is a helpful tool for benchmarking and comparative purposes.


Screen Grab: First Slide of LexisNexis CRIV Vendor Roundtable 2022 Presentation

Presenter: Min Xiong

Min began by emphasizing LexisNexis’ commitment to advancing awareness, engagement, and advocacy, both externally and internally, on matters of diversity, and directed the audience to RELX’s Corporate Responsibility highlights for 2021. Addressing product development, Min discussed their efforts to build more inclusive technology, use more inclusive language, and recruit from under- and mis-represented groups when engaging in UX research and design. Part of this inclusivity includes a commitment to accessibility in their products, and Min noted that, if you notice issues or have questions about accessibility in their products, a good source to direct those remarks to is She ended by discussing several recent external initiatives LexisNexis has engaged in through the LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation, including partnerships with organizations such as the International Bar Association, the Law Society of England & Wales, and Freedom House.

Thomson Reuters

Screen Grab: First Slide of Thomson Reuters CRIV Vendor Roundtable 2022 Presentation

Presenters: Catherine DiFiglia, Tasha Hutchins & Sharon Sayles Belton

Finally, representatives from Thomson Reuters similarly highlighted both internal and external DEI efforts. They noted their Equity Diversity & Inclusion Customer Advisory Board, launched in 2021, comprised of members of the legal community who have demonstrated active allyship with members of underrepresented communities. The Board’s focus is on promoting diverse recruitment and retention in the legal industry and supporting awareness and best practices on topics such as structural barriers faced by members of underrepresented communities through forums, research, and published content. Speakers then highlighted the DEI resources within Practical Law’s Legal Operations & Professional Development Toolkit, including topics such as increasing law firm diversity, drafting your firm’s diversity statement, Q&As with several law firm diversity and well-being experts, and presentation materials and recordings of webinars related to diversity in law firms and the legal industry. They ended by reviewing several external initiatives, including partnerships with organizations such as the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance, Equal Justice Works, Books for Africa, and the Minnesota Justice Research Center.

It was great to hear the many ways these vendors are addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion within their own companies, collections, and products, and how they’re partnering with organizations around the world to advance DEI efforts externally as well. I look forward to hearing how these efforts continue to grow and expand in the future.

For those interested in seeing this roundtable in full, I will post the recording on The CRIV Blog as soon as it’s ready. Thank you to all who attended, and a special thanks to those who presented.

What’s Coming Up from CRIV

I just wanted to send out a quick reminder post of a couple of CRIV activities going on/coming up soon.

CRIV Membership Survey – In case you missed it in the AALL Weekly eNewsletter, we have a CRIV Membership survey going on right now, in which we’re hoping to hear from you about your familiarity with and use of CRIV’s services, programming, and publications, as well as any thoughts you have on how we could improve or change to keep meeting the needs of the AALL membership. Thank you to those who have responded thus far, and if you haven’t had a chance to yet, the survey is open through this Friday, June 17th, at the link above. Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts.

CRIV Vendor Roundtable – The annual CRIV Vendor Roundtable is coming up next week, Wednesday, June 22nd, 1-2 p.m. (US/Central). Representatives from Bloomberg Law, LexisNexis, and Thomson Reuters will be presenting on how they ensure a diversity of voices are represented in their collections/products. The free, online event is open to all AALL members. Register here. I hope to see you there!

CRIV-Related Annual Meeting Programming Preview – If you’re starting to set your conference schedule for the Annual Meeting next month, and you’re interested in CRIV-related programming, check out our latest issue of The CRIV Sheet, in which our CRIV Sheet editor, Andrew Christensen, highlights several CRIV-related programs to look forward to.

Thanks, and as always, thank you for your continued readership.

Summer Associate & Intern Guidance from Vendors

The three leading legal research vendors – Bloomberg, LexisNexis, and Thomson Reuters (Westlaw) – each offer free online guidance and resources to help law students and new graduates use their products in the legal workplace.

These resources are current for summer 2022 and may be helpful as a complement to on-the-job training or as a refresher on platform-specific research tools and tactics. Consider sending the links below to your students, associates, or interns for their preparation and reference this summer.

Evidence-Based Acquisitions

Ever wonder how you can leverage usage statistics to select materials for your collection based on what patrons are actually using? Meet Evidence-Based Acquisitions: here is how it works. You agree with a publisher on a “deposit”- essentially, the dollar amount you commit to the publisher. This amount is a negotiated percentage of the value of the collection as a whole, and there is a floor amount required. This “floor” amount is then adjusted, based on the dollar value of the available titles. After 11 months, you look at the usage statistics, and decide which materials you want to purchase. Unlike demand-driven purchasing, there is no automatic trigger- you aren’t forced to buy books accessed “x” amount of times- it is up to you. The money in the deposit is credited toward the list price of what you decide to keep, and those materials are yours to access, download, and loan. If you want additional materials beyond the value of your deposit, some publishers will offer a discount for those, others won’t.  

Here come the caveats. This system only works well if it is a publisher you will likely buy a lot from, but not everything. If you have a standing order with a publisher, this might be a good deal. Publishers can also decide to exclude some materials- think textbooks and encyclopedias- so it may not be as good as it looks. The “deposit” price is also negotiated annually, and it will increase as new content is added. And, what happens to those books patrons accessed during the trial period that you don’t end up purchasing? Voila- they may reappear during the next trial, and you re-gain temporary access—unless (or until) they are later excluded.

What’s in this for the publishers? They get a guaranteed purchase amount- certainty in this economy is nothing to sniff at- and a chance to create patron-driven demand for materials we may not have thought of buying. What’s in it for us? We get to try out a broad collection and buy what we want, with more information about how popular a title actually is before we commit. Usage statistics can indeed be eye-opening. We are currently using this program with two publishers, and for us, it is a fairly new venture. It takes a lot of time and attention to detail to make it work, so there is a significant degree of librarian effort involved. So far, we like it, but it may not work for every library. We welcome any information on others’ experience with this system. The more we know, the better informed our decisions.  

Trellis for State Trial Court Records

Our library recently started a trial of Trellis. Trellis is a newer resource that provides researchers access to state trial court data and records. Because of the content, we thought our clinic professors might be interested.

In addition to state trial court data and records, Trellis offers search features such as Judge Analytics, Verdicts, and Motions & Issues. Trellis is also adding state statutes, administrative codes, constitutions, and court rules.

If a student in a legal clinic needed to look up a sample complaint or motion, a Trellis search can locate a similar case with a searchable docket containing pleadings that have been filed. Similarly, the same student looking to apply for a clerkship with a specific judge can utilize Judge Analytics to see what types of cases the judge typically has on their dockets, how often a case goes to trial, and what kinds of motions the judge is ruling on. 

Trellis is still building the database and does not have every state available and does not have every feature available for every state that is currently in the database. For the states that are included, searchers can filter cases by judge, county, practice area, dates, and more. You’ll find the dockets and some of the docket documents. You can track the case and receive email alerts when there are changes.

Because the cases are entered into the state filing systems by the clerks, Trellis is dependent on how those cases have been entered and classified in the state systems.

States included so far are AZ, CA, CT, DE, FL, GA, IL, MA, NV, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, TX, WA.

Your Opinion Needed! CRIV Vendor Roundtable

For the third year in a row, we will be hosting the CRIV Vendor Roundtable virtually in late June (a follow-up announcement with more details coming soon!). If you have not attended before, the roundtable traditionally invites four major legal information vendors — Thomson Reuters, LexisNexis, Bloomberg Law, and Wolters Kluwer — to discuss how their companies or products address a given topic. This year’s overarching topic will be diversity, equity, and inclusion, but because that topic itself is quite broad (and the roundtable is only an hour long), we’d like to narrow it down a little further. That’s where you come in!

CRIV is here to serve the membership, so we want the roundtable topic to reflect the membership’s interests. Within the umbrella topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion, what would you like to hear the vendors address about their products? We have put together a very short, two-question survey to help us narrow down this topic. If you could take thirty seconds out of your day to answer it, we would truly be grateful. You can access the survey here ( It’ll remain open until May 25th. Thank you for your input!

Islamic Law Resources

April 2nd marked the beginning of the Islamic Holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month on the Muslim Lunar Calendar and lasts 29 to 30 days. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Since we are in the middle of this Holy Month I wanted to share some free resources that provide information about Islamic Law.

There are a few journals which publish articles about Islamic Law.

Harvard Law School Publishes the Journal of Islamic Law. This journal is fairly new and provides a look at Islamic law from a historical, comparative and social context.  Harvard also provides access to Shariasource a resource that provides context about Islamic Law as well as primary sources.

UC Berkeley publishes the Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Law. This journal is a little older and provides articles that relate to the Middle East as well as Islamic Legal Traditions. The journal focuses mostly on legal issues but also provides information about the philosophical and sociological issues that underpin the legal issues.

Finally, UCLA Law publishes Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law (JINEL). This journal has been around the longest of the three that I have highlighted. JINEL covers all issues related to Islamic Law. They also cover legal topics that may be unrelated to Islamic Law but affect the Near East.

In addition to the Journals above there are a few LibGuides that provide more resources.

Let’s Do the Time Warp Again

Looking back at vendors and the AALL Annual Meeting

Recently, registration opened for the 2022 AALL Annual Meeting (shameless promotion! Register here) and I began to think about past conferences.

Luckily, and perhaps amazingly, AALL keeps a record online of all past conference locations going back to the first meeting in 1906 (help in Narragansett Pier, Rhode Island). Scrolling through the list I realized that many older locations were in smaller cities, likely due to the to the smaller size of the organization.

Scrolling though the list is a great distraction:

“Hey, it was held in Saratoga Springs! I used to live near there!”

“French Lick, Indiana? Where’s that? To Google maps!”

Needless to say, this list can be a great game!

However, I also realized (and I promise, this is connected to CRIV) that several meetings were held in Rochester, New York (1945 and 1978). A wonderful city, but also (former) home of Lawyer’s Co-Op. I don’t know the details of these meetings, but I have a feeling that the location of a major legal vendor played a role. Of course, this could also be nothing more than a coincidence.

What role should vendors have in supporting the annual meeting? Is it fine to have vendors sponsor events at a meeting?

I realize and recognize the amazing work that the AALL annual meeting planning committee does, and don’t want to second-guess decisions. What if a vendor, say Bloomberg Law offered to sponsor a meeting but wanted it in New York City? Or maybe in the digital age location matters much less than it did in 1945 or 1978.

What makes a “good” vendor?

Deciding the criteria for a “good” vendor is a personalized and complicated question to answer. The needs and priorities of libraries vary tremendously even in the (relatively!) small world of law libraries. While the exact importance of factors may vary, I suggest that these are items we should be reviewing when we review vendors:

  • Product. Does the product fill a need? Does this item (print subscription, database, service) fill the need that still exists? Are there other alternatives? Changes in library staff, leadership, law school program changes, technology, and the marketplace make it useful to re-examine a product’s need in your library.
  • Cost. Sometimes cost will be an absolute number while other times it is best expressed as cost per use.
  • Usage. Is this item used by most of the first year class? By an entire upper-level writing course? By a single faculty member for scholarship? Although these questions may appear to be framed as “good” to “bad”, maybe that resource is key to that single faculty member’s scholarship. How much weight to place on this factor will vary depending on budgetary needs, however even low-use items may be of great importance to key members of the law school community.
  • Vendor commitment to equity and social justice. How committed is the vendor to diversity, equity, and inclusion? Is this surface-level commitment via social media or are there concrete steps taken by the company? See earlier posts on this blogs for some great examples of vendor action in this area.
  • Customer service. What happens when things go wrong? Flexibility can also fall into this category

Finding a balance between these factors can be tricky. What about a great product with poor customer service? An expensive product with low usage? There are many tricky questions we could ponder. However, this small blog post is simply a reminder against not examining any factors and thinking the scariest phrase in all of collection development: “we’ve always done it this way”.