Are we teaching what they will use?

Here at Stanford we haven’t shown our students Shepard’s in print in at least a decade.  And we have long since stopped using the digests in print as well.  So it was good to see these decisions validated in an article from the latest issue of Mississippi College Law Review, “Are We Teaching What They Will Use? Surveying Alumni to Assess Whether Skills Teaching Aligns with Alumni Practice,” by Sheila F. Miller.

The article wasn’t surprising to me, except the evident reluctance by law school alumni to use low-cost tools made available to them, namely Casemaker and Fastcase.

As can be seen from the frequency of usage chart, Lexis and Westlaw continue to be the most popular choices for online research. This finding is not significantly different depending on the size of firm, or year of graduation. This data is similar to a 2007 survey of Chicago lawyers in which 87% of attorneys surveyed who had practiced for zero to five years did “most” of their research in Lexis or Westlaw.   Casemaker provides free research for members of both the Ohio and Indiana Bar Associations. 43 Yet, only 16.9% of respondents used Casemaker often, very often, or always, and only 13.5% used it at least sometimes. This was a surprising number given the number of the respondents in small offices. In the follow-up interviews there was some criticism of Casemaker. For example, attorneys stated Casemaker is “too slow” and Casemaker is “not as easy as Westlaw, and I have an unlimited subscription for Ohio law.”

From Footnote #43:

Fastcase provides basically the same service for some other states, and we asked in the survey about Fastcase as well. The numbers were so low on Fastcase use that I did not include them in the tables of results.

2009 Directory of Indian Law Firms

The India Business Law Journal has posted a profile of over 30 Indian law firms. The Directory also includes a brief article on the state of the legal profession in India.

2009 Directory of Indian Law Firms

Thomson Reuters to Cut Law-Unit Jobs

The Wall Street Journal, Friday, December 4, 2009, p. B9

“Thomson Reuters to Cut Law-Unit Jobs”

By Jerry A. DiColo

Thomson Reuters . . . said . . . it will cut 240 jobs in its legal businesses . . .

. . . legal has been a relatively weak performer, hurt by layoffs and cost cutting at law firms.

The company’s third-quarter revenue fell 4% as it began to feel the effects of slowdowns in subscriptions to its legal and financial-services products.

. . .

Morrison & Foerster Privacy Library

Morrison & Foerster maintains a wonderful “Privacy Library” of statutes, regulations,  links to government institutions, and IGO & NGO reports. This includes all 50 states and many foreign countries. The foreign country pages provide the laws and regulations in the vernacular and in English when avialable. All of this is available free of charge.

Hat tip to Paul for finding this resource.

Morrison & Foerster Privacy Library

What Price, Captain?

Yesterday I saw, and thoroughly enjoyed, the new Star Trek movie.  It’s fun, and funny with some terrific lines.   But one of my favorite all-time movie lines comes from the 1987 film Spaceballs:

          Prepare ship for ludicrous speed!

It was spoken by Colonel Sandurz, following this dialog:

Colonel Sandurz: Prepare ship for light speed.
Dark Helmet: No, no, no, light speed is too slow.
Colonel Sandurz: Light speed, too slow?
Dark Helmet: Yes, we’re gonna have to go right to ludicrous speed.

An earlier post here,“Lawsuit alleges Chadbourne overcharged for computerized legal research,”cited Westlaw’s per-minute charge of $ 13.86 for its ALLSATES database.  I was citing from a 2006 Westlaw price list.  I have since found a more recent (April 2009) price list and, not surprisingly, the cost of this access is now higher.  Today the per-minute charge for using this database is $17.48.

Listed below are some of the prices for Westlaw database access as listed in the Pricing Guide for Private Price Plans (April 2009) brochure:

Per Minute Charges
All Federal and State Cases     $20.98
All Federal Cases       $17.48
All U.S. Supreme Court Cases    $8.95
U.S. Courts of Appeals Cases    $17.48
U.S. District Courts Cases      $17.48
All State Cases         $17.48
Individual State Cases  $8.95
United States Code Annotated    $10.50
Individual State Statutes Annotated     $10.50
Code of Federal Regulations     $8.95
Texts and Periodicals   $23.87
American Law Reports    $20.98
American Jurisprudence 2d       $17.48
Federal Practice and Procedure  $13.75
Journals and Law Reviews        $17.48
All News        $17.48

Remember that that’s per minute.  Multiple some of those numbers by 60 to see what an hour fishing online would cost.

The other billing method listed in the brochure by “Transactional Charges.”  A “transaction,” as I understand it, is a “search” – i.e., once in a database, entering a query and then pressing the “Search” button — ka-ching.  Here are some of these costs:

Transactional Charges
(no connect time or communications charges)

All Federal and State Cases     $194.00
All Federal Cases       $120.00
U.S. Supreme Court Cases        $61.00
U.S. Courts of Appeals Cases    $73.00
U.S. District Courts Cases      $73.00
All State Cases         $120.00
Individual State Cases  $61.00
State and Federal Cases         $120.00
United States Code Annotated   $73.00
Individual State Statutes Annotated    $73.00
Code of Federal Regulations     $66.00
Texts and Periodicals   $244.00
American Law Reports     $120.00
American Jurisprudence 2d       $90.00
Federal Practice and Procedure         $104.00
Journals and Law Reviews        $120.00
All News        $120

The price list also identifies “Per Minute Billing Classifications” which includes Specialty databases ($ 12.45/minute), Premium databases ($ 13.75 per minute), Allfile databases ($ 17.48 per minute), Super Allfile databases ($ 20.98 per minutes), Select databases ($ 23.87 per minute), Super Premium databases ($ 26.17 per minute), Super Select databases ($ 30.97 per minutes), Super-Duper Select databases (if you have to ask you can’t afford it), and Super-Duper Blow-my-Mind databases (priceless).  Okay, I made those last two up.

Westlaw has a terrific feature called ResultsPlus, which suggests additional resources based upon the research queries — often to valuable resources not considered by the researcher.  It’s impressive, and it has its own set of costs:  ResultsPlus Standard ($ 11.42 per minute), ResultsPlus Premium ($ 17.68 per minute), ResultsPlus Allfiles ($ 22.57 per minute), ResultsPlus Super Allfiles ($ 27.75 per minute), ResultsPlus Select ($ 30.98 per minute) and ResultsPlus Super Premium ($ 34.02 per minute).

All of the above charges are to find and view documents.  Printing and/or downloading has its own sets of associated fees.  Under “Line Pricing,” identified in the brochure as the default, “[c]harges to print and download documents range from $0.045 to $0.65 per line.”  Under “Per-Document Pricing (Flat Rate Per Document),” [c]harges to print and download documents range from $5.00 to $50.00 per document.

The brochure also lists separate fees for viewing some images, fees for clipping services, fees for KeyCite Alert, Docket Alert, Transactional Citation Research Charges, Per Minute Citation Research Charges, and Charges for Previewing Documents in the Link Viewer.

I do not mean to focus only on Westlaw.  LexisNexis pricing is similar — I just don’t have a pricing list handy for LexisNexis.  And these are great resources — one reason why I’ll never retire is that I could not give up my personal LexisNexis and Westlaw accounts.  And we law schools do not pay the above prices — we pay a flat rate, for unlimited academic use.  My only beef with West (and other legal publishers) is their annual price increases that far outpace our budget increases (For United States Code and Congressional News, for example, published by West, we’re being billed $ 568.44, a 24% increase over the $ 459 that we paid last year).

Time is money, and both LexisNexis and Westlaw are attorney time time-savers.  Saving an hour of an associate’s time could save the client somewhere around $ 300.00 or more.  But still:  When we share this pricing information with our students, their eyes do grow very wide.

But most law firms, I’m told, have negotiated flat-rate contracts for much of their LexisNexis and/or Westlaw access.

And in my opinion, one cannot perform fully adequate legal research today without access to LexisNexis or Westlaw (or possibly Bloomberg Law).  That’s today anyway.  Tomorrow remains to be seen.

Complaint in CALR billing case posted

In regards to our earlier post, “Lawsuit alleges Chadbourne overcharged for computerized legal research,” we have posted a copy of the complaint:

J. Virgil Waggoner, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated


Chadbourne & Parke, LLP, and Doe Defendants 1-100

Lawsuit alleges Chadbourne overcharged for computerized legal research

Everything is negotiable.  Most law firms have flat rate contracts with LexisNexis and/or Westlaw.  The databases also have transactional or hourly (more accurately:  minutely) charging.  For example, according to the March 2006 Westlaw Plan 1 Price Guide, to search the ALLSTATES database costs $ 13.86 a minute.  Some firms charge their clients these per minute rates, even if they are paying for the service under a flat rate contract.  If this is not done with the client’s knowledge, it can lead to a dispute, as this story in the National Law Journal reports:

Lawsuit alleges Chadbourne overcharged for computerized legal research

Tresa Baldas


. . .

Consumer protection attorney Patricia Meyer filed a suit against New York’s Chadbourne & Parke on March 2 for allegedly overcharging J. Virgil Waggoner, a Texas businessman, by several thousands of dollars for computerized legal research. His bill was roughly $20,000 for the research, she said, but it should have been closer to $5,000. Waggoner v. Chadbourne & Parke, No. BC408693 (Los Angeles Co., Calif., Super. Ct.).Meyer of San Diego’s Patricia Meyer & Associates said that many similar lawsuits are in the pipeline, noting that she has amassed evidence that shows at least a dozen other law firms are overcharging clients for legal research, but not telling them.

. . .

“This appears to be more widespread than you would think,” Meyer said. “Basically what we’re finding is that certain law firms are using Westlaw and Lexis as profit centers, as compared to simply passing along their actual costs to their client….Quite candidly, what we’re finding is the clients really have no idea that this is going on.”

Cancelling LexisNexis and Westlaw


I was reading the New York Law Journal.  The April 6, 2009 issue has a front-page story, “Cash-Strapped Lawyers Strive to Slash Costs,” part of their “Hard Times” series, a “series of occasional articles about efforts by solo practitioners and mid-sized firms to weather the recession.”  The April 6 article, by Vesselin Mitev, profiles a number of attorneys, including Manhattan entertainment lawyer Theodore Blumberg, which includes this information:

” . . . Mr. Blumberg said he keeps a watchful eye on costs.  He has gotten rid of his Westlaw and Lexis accounts and switched to a cheaper service.”

Reports on Asian Legal Markets from ALB Legal News

ALB Legal News magazine has generously posted free reports on the legal market in individual Asian countries. The reports cover the outlook for the legal profession in each country, as well as specific legal sectors. In 2008, they have published reports on China, Singapore, Korea, India, Vietnam and the Philippnes.

ALB Legal News Reports

Law Libraries’ Tech Tools – e.g., Ozmosys

Today’s Daily Journal at p. 4 has an article by Gina Lynch and Jane Metz, “Law Libraries’ Tech Tools Give Firms a Handle on Vast Information Universe” (password may be needed).

Talk to any information professional today, and they will tell you that their biggest challenge is taming the information glut and sifting through the hundreds of technologies now available to slice and dice this data.

The article discusses current awareness services and how “LexisNexis in partnership with Ozmosys. . . created TotalAlert – a software product that consolidates multiple sources of electronic information into one daily e-mail.”

With this tool

the library team can create practice-, industry- and client-specific searches in commercial databases such as Lexis, CourtLink and Westlaw. These searches can be captured by Ozmosys. In addition, Ozmosys provides a long list of free Web alerts and can capture premium electronic subscriptions held by the firm. Librarians use the Ozmosys software to consolidate these various resources into practice-specific topics and create e-mail distribution groups.


The article also addresses:

Creating an Interactive Intranet: Applets and Custom Views

Turbocharging the Library Portal: More Than Just a Catalog

Facing New Frontiers