Last week Google engineer Anurag Acharya sent a shot across the bow of the multi-million dollar legal publishing business. “Starting today,” he wrote on the Google blog, people will be able to use Google Scholar to “find and read full text legal opinions from U.S. federal and state district, appellate and supreme courts.” And in typical Google fashion, these searches will be intuitive and simple. “You can find these opinions by searching for cases (like Planned Parenthood v. Casey), or by topics (like desegregation) or other queries that you are interested in,” he wrote.
That sounds familiar…. That sounds like a service law firms pay bajillions of dollars for every year. There’s been some speculation across the Web that Google Scholar’s new offering is a red flag for LexisNexis and Westlaw.
Robert Ambrogi of Legal Blog Watch writes:
Inevitably, Google’s announcement leads to another round of predictions that 2012 has arrived for Westlaw and LexisNexis. Scott Greenfield wonders whether the news signals the end of the duopoly. Social Media Law Student says this could fast become the preferred tool for “law students and lawyers of the younger generation (and tech-savvy elders as well).” But Carolyn Elefant says Google is unlikely to replace Wexis for some time to come. “Even as free services launch, the premium legal services still continue to improve,” she writes. “So the gap still remains between legal research haves and have-nots.”
We checked in with LexisNexis and Westlaw. They aren’t citing any fear. After the jump, get their reactions and take our poll about your plans for Google legal scholar.
It’s been a long time coming, but Bloomberg is finally ready to unveil its new legal research tool. It will compete with Lexis and Westlaw for the hearts and minds of law students and junior associates across the land. Bloomberg Law will have its launch party at the end of the month at the west side offices of Willkie Farr.
It is way too early to tell if Bloomberg Law will truly offer an innovation in case law research. But we already know the company has put a metric ton of money into the product.
And we know that they’ve been hiring former attorneys for at least two years. I found out about the Bloomberg Law project way back in early 2007, when I was freelancing and looking for work (I declined to follow up on the opportunity). More recently, if you know a New York attorney who was laid off at the end of 2008 who didn’t interview with Bloomberg, then you know a New York attorney that wasn’t really trying that hard to get a job.
Click here (PDF) to check out Bloomberg Law’s initial offerings.
We’ve learned how to Shepardize, we’ve learned how to KeyCite, will we all soon learn how to Citator?
Law librarians got miffed at Westlaw this week, after the legal research company sent out the following advertisement via e-mail:
Law librarians across the land were appalled and voiced their displeasure on this list-serv, among other places. From a librarian at a large southern law firm:
[Apparently] the folks at West think that attorneys shouldn’t know their librarians’ names. I’d love to see ATL’s snarky humor sticking it to West (or, Hell, stick it to us law librarians if you think we’re being too sensitive.)
We don’t think you’re being too sensitive. In fact, we have a great appreciation for law librarians.
We know that law librarians are hot. We know that librarianship is a good career alternative. We know that law library staffers save lives, literally. And we think knowing their names is not something to mock.
While the folks at LexisNexis are doing a little happy dance, what does Westlaw have to say for itself?
Life happens fast. This morning we reported that Thomson Reuters had revoked free printer access to law schools in Puerto Rico.
It seems that the policy has now been reversed. A message from University of Puerto Rico law professor José Julián Álvarez González, after the jump.
Update (4:15): After this post went was published, Thomson Reuters reversed course and reinstated the free printer access to Puerto Rican law schools. Click here for our coverage.
Thomson Reuters owns Westlaw and is one of the two major gatekeepers to legal research in the modern world. Recently, the company made an economic decision that some claim unfairly impacts law students in Puerto Rico. A tipster reports:
It seems Westlaw has decided to cut their free printer service to the four Puerto Rico Law schools for economic reasons, while keeping the service in all US law schools.
Why would Westlaw only discontinue free printer access to Puerto Rican law students? One Westlaw user wrote to Thompson Reuters, asking the company to reconsider its decision. But he also seems to have figured out why Westlaw made this decision.
If you think most legal technology misses the mark, LexisNexis Firm Manager® wants to change your mind. Read more about it here.
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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