Posts Tagged ‘westlaw’

Legal Headnotes

Someone better tell Granny Jones that her nutrition ain’t right:

From Westlaw’s headnote of the day.  Headnotes and the Key Number System lead to case-law through subject areas: food –> what is food  –> tobacco ain’t food judicial case.  This system began in books and revolutionized the way legal research was done. It’s easily done through books and coordinates with West online research as well.  This nifty little system, something like  “links” but before computers, came out back in the age of horse & buggy: 1890. [West History]


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A brief news update  from the ABA provides this quote:

A preview of WestlawNext also reveals it no longer requires users to learn the structure of its underlying databases. Instead, it allows users to enter a simple search term in natural language. As of late December, the company was debating whether to eliminate Boolean searches from the new platform or keep them as an option.

I couldn’t imagine a database that was useful, reliable, and worth my time NOT having boolean. It’s hard enough sorting through irrelevant results or finding hits without structured logical search methods.  Many companies are seeing revenues drop (see economy), but when you’re a powerhouse that has grown 5+ % for years, you can ride out a few bad years (w/drops less than 2%);  or you can lay people off, disfigure your business model/structure, and put George Boole into the trash compactor. If you want better market positioning, I always felt that more face time, customer satisfaction and service went a lot further than goofy tech updates and costly ice sculptures (looks like West pulled the images since Law Librarian Blog linked to it).  Perhaps I’m being too harsh, we’ll see how the new platforms plays out and I may soon be championing product(s) and their dedication to progressing humankind!

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Pt. 1 The Library Wastes Time

Westlaw has confirmed the mishap in advertising/marketing and issued an apology. Obviously their “library relations” should have nothing but good intentions. However this lack of judgment will create anti-westlaw fodder for years to come. Many librarians have made their voices heard on the law-lib forum;  will the library community respond en masse or will this simply be another story we hash over at librarian happy hours? Is this battle worth picking?

Personally, I have a career in librarianship of which I am proud. I  explain and stand up for librarianship in the professional workplace and in my personal life. And to have a major vendor, that shares such a heavy and important relationship with the librarian community, put out an ad that degrades my profession and value is upsetting and disheartening. In the end, there is someone at Westlaw who believes that anyone who knows my first name is being afforded a disservice.

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Are you on a first name basis with the librarian? If so, chances are, you’re spending too much time at the library. What you need is fast, reliable research you can access right in your office. And all it takes is West®.

This brilliant piece of marketing was sent out by the electronic database and news giant Reuters/Thomson/West. Hubris is one word that comes to mind after looking this over. Essentially they are saying, “hey, you don’t need the library, West has it all!” Any bit of information or data that you need can be obtained from West … despite the fact that much of the information on West can be found for free on Government websites or in a book. Asking a librarian would make it harder for West to turn you upside down and shake the change out of your pockets. And, thanks for the added stereotype- the glasses really capture the essence of all things librarian.

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Some good news for Opensource software, in which a suit was dismissed, filed by Thomson Reuters  against George Mason University and an injunction against Zotero ( “a free, easy-to-use Firefox extension to help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources”). Thomson puts out  EndNote (search online bibliographic databases, organize their references, images and PDFs in any language, and create bibliographies and figure lists instantly) and complained that Zotero’s ability to access EndNote code and files, thus allowing one to copy/access their EndNote citations, breached a reverse-engineering clause with George Mason University, as they produce Zotero.

Way to go Thomson, go after the research/educational institutions and tie them up in courts. That’s what we need more of, wasting education time and dollars on legal fees. I’m glad the judge saw this case clearly and didn’t side with the giant information behemoth.

And if you haven’t used, Zotero is great and free product.


[via LLB]

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