CRIV/BBNA Semiannual Call Minutes (December 2019)

Thursday, December 17, 2019, 11:00 am Eastern

Participants: Joe Breda (President, Bloomberg Law); Mike Bernier (Director, Knowledge Services and Library Relations; Bloomberg Law); Vani Ungapen (Executive Director; American Association of Law Libraries (AALL)), R. Martin Witt (Chair, AALL Committee on Relations with Information Vendors (CRIV)); Karen Selden (AALL Board Liaison to CRIV)

New Bloomberg Law Products, Policies, and Issues of Interest

  • Corporate and litigation Practical Guidance tools continue to be expanded. New suites include:
    • Initiating & Defending Litigation
    • Litigation Finance
      • Both go live on December 18, 2019
      • Both fully integrate with existing tools on Bloomberg Law (e.g., Points of Law; Docket Key; SmartCode)
    • Law X.0 podcasts
      • Available on Apple Podcasts and Stitcher.
        • Focused on the future of the practice of law
      • Workflow enhancements
        • Revamped alerts management system
        • Simplified printing process, including bulk printing and downloading multiple files from a results list.

Upcoming Bloomberg Law Products, Policies, and Issues of Interest

  • Big product release of 2020 Q1 will include
    • Brief Analyzer
      • To be released to all Bloomberg Law customers
      • Will allow users to upload a brief and get related legal materials from Bloomberg Law

Requests for Assistance (RFA)

RFA #1 – Restrictions on Docket Use (Academic Law)

R. Martin Witt:

Background – There were a number of Requests for Assistance in which AALL members reported having Bloomberg Law users who were told that their Bloomberg Law accounts were prohibited from executing any further Dockets Transactions. These users received a letter from Bloomberg Law’s legal counsel saying they had been identified as having an excessive amount of docket transactions. Some AALL members also indicated that they had users also were told they were banned “for life.” Historically, AALL members have Bloomberg Law have often recommended Bloomberg Law as a resource for access dockets, precisely because there was not a preset limit on the transactions that could be completed.

Joe Breda:

In general, Bloomberg Law offers pretty much unlimited/unmetered dockets access to every single law school seat. There is, however, an external variable cost associated with the transactions, which is borne by Bloomberg Law. Docket usage is increasing at a non-linear rate, and – rather than severely limit docket access across the board in the law school market – Bloomberg Law identified 23 individual users whose usage was several orders of magnitude above “normal” usage and contacted them, referring to a Bloomberg Law’s general provision allowing access to be restricted.

Those 23 users are not forbidden from accessing Bloomberg Law; they are also not forbidden from accessing dockets on Bloomberg Law. The restriction applies only to the ability to incur costs via docket requests and docket alerts. Those 23 users could only perform actions that would generate costs if they agreed to cover the costs of those actions.

Agreements to cover the costs of docket requests have been discussed with two of the 23 users, but a billing mechanism is still being worked out by Bloomberg Law.

Mike Bernier:

Bloomberg Law will be meeting with a group of Law Library Directors at AALS, to gather feedback and perhaps work to establish thresholds that could be used moving forward. The purpose is not to reduce the use of dockets for general legal research, but instead to curb the excessive use of dockets above what is reasonably expected.

Joe Breda:

Again, the vast majority of law school users (students and faculty) – 99.8% of academic users –were completely unaffected.

R. Martin Witt:

Were any of the 23 users running scripts or were they all manually gathering/using dockets?

Joe Breda:

That’s less of a relevant question in this instance, because even if done manually the fees incurred were extremely high. This is particularly true with docket tracks because, once set up, they can generate substantial fees without any further human action required.

R. Martin Witt:

To recap, there is no strict limit right now, but setting a threshold will be discussed at AALS. Other aspects CRIV would recommend be included in those AALS discussions are 1) the possibility of some warning, prior to restricting docket functionality for users; 2) perhaps a suspension period prior to a permanent restriction of certain docket actions; 3) whether the permanent restriction will remain for all 23 users already identified.

Joe Breda:

Bloomberg Law is totally willing to return full functionality to any of the 23 users under either of two circumstances: 1) they discontinue whatever actions were driving disproportionate fee generation or 2) they reach at least an informal agreement to bear the financial burden for the excessive activities.

R. Martin Witt:

Finally, the letter from General Counsel indicated that “efforts to circumvent the prohibition” would lead to suspension and/or termination of the Bloomberg Law agreement. What would constitute efforts to circumvent? Would, for instance, a Reference Librarian requesting an item that the faculty member with restricted access could not request be an effort at circumvention?

Joe Breda:

Absolutely not, that activity by a Reference Librarian would be fine. The efforts at circumventing that are not permitted would be things like transferring all the existing alerts that caused an account to be restricted to another account that had not been restricted.

A summary of the AALS meetings will also be provided to CRIV to be appended to these minutes or share shortly thereafter. If Law Librarians would like to share their thoughts on this, please contact Mike Bernier (MBernier@bloomberglaw.com).

Post-Call Addendum

Bloomberg Law reported constructive conversations at AALS regarding law school docket use and are making some refinements to a policy based on feedback at that meeting and will communicate further.

RFA #2 – ABA/BNA Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct

Joe Breda:

As has been expressed multiple times over recent years, Bloomberg Law sees its future as two things: 1) completely digital; and 2) an integrated platform. At this point, this was essentially the final print resource produced by Bloomberg Law. After extended discussions with the leadership at the ABA, everyone agrees the future is digital and the time has come to make that move with respect to this product. An entirely new slice of Bloomberg Law was built out, which will allow for a better more current product that the print could offer.

R. Martin Witt:

ABA/BNA Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct has current archives in PDF, with citable pagination. Will that be maintained?

Mike Bernier:

Yes, the archive will be maintained.

R. Martin Witt:

Will new updates be similarly paginated?

Mike Bernier:

We have been reworking this resource from page-based pagination to paragraph-based pagination, which will hopefully make the transition easier since updates after the end of the year will not have fixed pagination. Even when print goes away, we will have a means of consistent citation.

R. Martin Witt:

OK, thank you. Moving to consistent paragraph formatting should hopefully alleviate some concerns over citations. With respect to access, there seems to be some similarity to the concern over access – primarily for court/public Law Libraries, or those open to the public – that we discussed in connection with the Tax Management Portfolios (TMPs) last year. For the TMPs, you were open to the idea of kiosk access based on IP address rather than simply by specific machine address. Could there be something similar – either a slice or kiosk-based access to the new professional responsibility platform – available to those libraries who are open to the public and have financial constraints that make providing public access to the complete Bloomberg Law platform untenable?

Joe Breda:

There is no current kiosk-based configuration for that particular slice. A challenge with IP authentication is that it becomes difficult to price appropriately. We are, however, willing to discuss the possibility and will follow-up with CRIV and the libraries impacted.

R. Martin Witt:

I’m not sure there’d be a consensus, given all the different circumstances Law Libraries face. For some Law Libraries though, especially those that make a concerted effort to serve the public and attorneys who are unlikely to have access to the full Bloomberg Law, this is a resource that is of great importance. It isn’t a niche practice area; it’s something that every practicing attorney should be able to stay informed on. IP-recognition would likely be preferred, for ease of administration, but even a kiosk-based configuration (single terminal) with just the professional responsibility slice available could be a good compromise.

Post-Call Addendum

Bloomberg Law responded to concerns that law school and court libraries were unable to make the ABA/Bloomberg Law Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct available to patrons after print ceased. As a result of issues raised by CRIV, law schools and courts may now purchase an IP-authenticated electronic version of just the ABA/Bloomberg Law Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct at a price significantly less than a full Bloomberg Law Patron Access terminal. Librarians should contact their Bloomberg Law Relationship Partner for more information.

RFA #3 – Itemized invoices, including of electronic subscriptions

R. Martin Witt:

An AALL member subscribes to multiple electronic products from Bloomberg Law and needs itemized invoices in order to properly allocate costs from Bloomberg Law to appropriate practice groups. Is there anything that can be done for this subset of firms that needs to allocate costs of individual electronic products?

Mike Bernier:

The default is to bill as one lump sum. Requests for itemized bills can generally be accommodated on an individual basis, since it is a manual process. If the request has been made to the billing contact and the response is not satisfactory, users should contact Mike Bernier (MBernier@bloomberglaw.com) directly for a cost-per-subscription breakdown (with some limitations if bundling makes such a breakdown impossible).

RFA #4 – BNA Books

R. Martin Witt:

Within the past couple days, there have been a rash of incidents where Bloomberg Law Books (formerly BNA Books) have been delivering multiple copies of materials and billing them separately when only one was ordered. There was also a lot of institution account information that was lost in a recent transition. I know you’ve just been made aware of the issues as well. Can you share any additional information or progress on diagnosing the issues?

Mike Bernier:

The books@bloomberglaw.com email address should now be sufficient to address most of the concerns expressed. There was a transition, but it is being worked on. If there is a need for escalation of a particular issue, people should be forward the previous correspondence to me [Mike Bernier (MBernier@bloomberglaw.com)] and I can assist.

Joe Breda:

We have someone in the office now tracking down instances where customers were sent books/copies that they didn’t want and working to resolve them. We are also working on fixing issues in our accounts that were transferred, including the loss of information related to tax-exempt status, so we are asking for that information and should be able to effectively keep track of that moving forward. Please just continue to communicate with us as we work through this process and the best initial contact is books@bloomberglaw.com.

R. Martin Witt:

Was there a pattern to the extra books that were sent out, which might indicate a systematic issue?

Mike Bernier:

Unfortunately, no. We’ve been able to resolve the individual issues, but there does not seem to be any commonality among the extra materials that were sent out.

RFA #5 – Full-time Equivalent (FTE) measure

R. Martin Witt:

A AALL member reported that Bloomberg Law was trying to “prove” that JD enrollment had crossed a certain threshold, thereby increasing their subscription cost and were requiring extra steps to certify the number as correct even though it was publicly available.

Mike Bernier:

Generally, Bloomberg Law takes the ABA 509 report and if enrollment drops we request something from the registrar that confirms the drop. If there is no discrepancy identified by the school, Bloomberg Law will not seek to identify discrepancies itself or require additional certification of ABA 509 numbers. This sounds like there was an unfortunate miscommunication and we can follow up.

 

CRIV Advocacy Request Update: Law360 Articles in which Attorneys Have Been Quoted

CRIV received a Request For Assistance regarding Law360 articles in which a firm’s attorney had been quoted in the text. The requesting librarian wanted a complimentary courtesy copy of the article to be provided to the firm in this situation.

CRIV spoke to Cindy Spohr, Senior Librarian Relations Marketing Manager for the LexisNexis Librarian Relations Group about this (Law360 was purchased by Lexis and is available as both an independent product and on Lexis platforms). Her response is below:

Law360 traditionally offers two different options for law firms, corporations, and/or other organizations interested in obtaining copies of articles where their attorneys have been quoted:

  • For Law360-original content in which an attorney or key practitioner has been quoted, the Law360-branded version can be purchased (similarly for wide distribution and marketing, subject to pre-agreed upon terms & conditions) at current rates for original Law360 content.
  • For our third-party-authored “Expert Analysis” content, interested parties may purchase a Law360-branded version of this for wide distribution and marketing (subject to pre-agreed upon terms & conditions) at specially discounted current rates for co-authored content.

If a firm / corporation / organization is interested in the content for internal firm use only, and does not need a publicly-distributable version, interested parties can contact Law360 directly at 646-783-7100 and talk to their account rep to get a copy of the article sent to them on an ad hoc basis simply for review (and not distribution) up to at most 5 times per year.

Librarians looking to get a free copy of a Law360 article in these situations should review the final paragraph of Ms. Spohr’s statement.

Thank you to Cindy Spohr for clarifying the policy.

If you have a similar issue or any issue that CRIV can assist with, please use our Request for Assistance form available at http://www.aallnet.org/mm/Advocacy/vendorrelations/CRIV-Tools/request-assistance.html.

CCH Replacement Pages & Reports

Responding to an inquiry from an AALL member about the demise of the CCH Replacement Pages & Reports tool, Linda Lev-Dunton, Manager, Librarian Relations, Wolters Kluwer Law and Business, explained the decision to remove the service in the following e-mail:

The CCH Replacement Pages & Reports tool has been retired as it was not sustainable. The tool was designed for a specific print on demand printer in the Peterson office that ceased to operate and was not viable to fix. We recently moved production and fulfillment to an outside vendor, but determined it was a faster turnaround for customers if they contacted Customer Service (CS) directly with their request for the replacements. CS is able to place the replacement pages order directly with the vendor and turn it around in just a few days.

The long term goal is to replace the tool, but this will not be in the immediate future. We are currently gathering requirements to upgrade MyAccount and our other customer self service capabilities, and this item is on our requirement list.

Customers can contact us via phone, email ticket or chat to request a replacement. CS will also go the extra distance to look for root cause as to why the customer may have not received the original and see if we can correct the issue from happening again.

Thanks to Linda Lev-Dunton for her response.

CRIV Advocacy Request Update: Changes to Thomson Reuters web store

CRIV was approached by a member librarian of AALL who had concerns about changes made to the Thomson Reuters web store. CRIV spoke to Lori Hedstrom, National Manger of Librarian Relations for Thomson Reuters about this. Her response is below:

The site has undergone a redesign which was completed in two phases – both of which altered the materials mentioned.

During the first phase, the shipping schedule information, which is part of product details page, was removed. Through [the AALL member]’s feedback, as well as other customers’, we have restored that functionality.

During the second phase of the redesign, the “highlights and filing instructions” link was moved – an effort to improve the user experience by making the link available with the publication itself, eliminating the need to navigate through another tab.

These changes were made as part of an effort to improve the site and its functionality. We know our customers are being tasked to do more with less and our goal through this redesign was to ultimately make your interaction more seamless. I apologize for the inconvenience it caused.

I appreciate you reaching out to us. Please let me know if you have any further questions that I may be able to answer.

Thank you to Lori Hedstrom for her help with this issue.

If you have a similar issue or any issue that CRIV can assist with, please use our Request for Assistance form available at http://aallnet.org/main-menu/Advocacy/vendorrelations/request-assistance.html.

CRIV Advocacy Request Update: Duplicate material in the Uniform Commercial Code Reporting Service and Hawkland Uniform Commercial Code Series.

CRIV received a request from a County Law Library asking about the duplication of material in Uniform Commercial Code Reporting Service and Hawkland Uniform Commercial Code Series.  CRIV contacted Anne Ellis and received the following information:

Thank you for contacting Thomson Reuters regarding the Uniform Commercial Code Reporting Service and Hawkland Uniform Commercial Code Series Local Code Variations pamphlets.  UCC Local Code Variations provides attorneys with an efficient, effective way to research UCC section and subsection provisions as used in every state jurisdiction as differences in terms and language can be critical as well as  subtle.  Because of the critical importance of local differences and provisions, this material is provided to subscribers of both Uniform Commercial Code Reporting Service and Hawkland Uniform Commercial Code Series.

UCC Reporting Service is a full service title where the annual subscription charge covers numerous updates and reporters.   Individual shipments are not priced separately to the customer and components are not available separately.

 UCC Reporting Service publishes state code variations in two ways.   Twice a year two pamphlet volumes are issued with the latest state code updates.  This material is organized by state, with all variations from the UCC organized under each state heading.  However attorneys access this information in different ways and so a separate pamphlet is issued each year called Local Code Variations which is organized by UCC section with all state variations listed under each Code section or subsection.

Because this information duplicates the state variations material but has a different organizational structure, the replacement charge for lost or damaged pamphlets is a minimal charge of $99.  The Local Code Variations pamphlet is not available as a separate subscription.

Updates to Hawkland’s UCC Series are invoiced  individually. The Local Code Variations pamphlet, provided as an integral part of the set, is priced individually.

Anne was also able to provide information to a follow up question “Is Thomson saying that the information is duplicated but the organization of information is different?”

The organization of the Local Code Variations pamphlets is the same for both Hawkland and UCC Reporting Service.  The State Variations pamphlets for UCC Reporting Service contain the same basic information as the Local Code Variations pamphlets but are organized by state rather than Code section.

Thank you to Anne for her assistance in this matter.

If you have a similar issue or any issue that CRIV can assist with, please use our Request for Assistance form available at http://aallnet.org/main-menu/Advocacy/vendorrelations/request-assistance.html.

Michelle Cosby, CRIV Chair