Extras - AALL Alerts

What's Happening at the American Association of Law Libraries Annual Conference, Washington D.C.

July 18-22, 1999

If you attended the AALL Conference, and would like to share any information or experiences with our readers, send an e-mail message to Cindy Chick. This page will be continuously updated as we receive information from our roving reporters at AALL.

Contributors:
Cindy Chick, Co-Editor, LLRX
Joan Loftus, Librarian, Davis Wright Tremaine, San Francisco
Lourie Russell, Katten Muchin & Zavis

Handout for Program F-1: Encryption at the Crossroads is available at: Computer and E-mail Security Bibliography -- Schmid Law Library University of Nebraska

To see pictures taken at the annual meeting go to Annual Meeting Photos from AALLNET.

To order audiotapes from the annual meeting, go to AALLNET AALL Products Annual Meeting Audio Tape.

From: Lourie Russell, Katten Muchin & Zavis
Reference From Coast to Coast

I have been a law librarian for 20 years, so it surprises me to realize how much I learn from each AALL annual meeting I attend. I am a better librarian today than I was on July 15. One of the most valuable opportunities was spending time with other KMZ
librarians. We really do operate as one national library with three locations. I hadn't realized how much it helps to really know the rest of the people on the team. As a result of the time we spent together, I am much more inclined to pick up the phone and ask for or offer help, or to bounce ideas off of the librarians at the other locations. It is too easy (and lazy) to rely on the librarians who have been with the firm longest and not incorporate the newer librarians into my arsenal of reference resources. I'll do better at that this year.

I'm also better now at using my time wisely in the exhibit hall. I'm embarrassed to tell you how many years I thought of it as the "goodie hall". Now I use it as a combination classroom and bully pulpit. I learn the things that can be learned quickly, I express my opinions on things that can be told briefly, and I leave my card with others (with the intention of being in touch later when we have more time.) I come away with more knowledge, fewer gripes, and a lot less junk.

There were so many opportunities for both personal and professional growth; both make me better at my job. I listen to news with a more critical ear after listening to Ray Suarez. I have a stack of books about the U.S. Constitution next to my bed because David Baugh convicted me of my need to know more. I came back to work excited about the future of our profession, convinced of my need to stay current on so many issues, and feeling the camaraderie attendant with being part of a real team of librarians.

Date: Wednesday, July 21, 1999
From: Cindy Chick

I'm glad I decided to leave Wednesday afternoon instead of Wednesday morning, because if I had, I would have missed a couple of very good programs!

The Gumshoe Librarian's program was excellent. I thought I knew a lot about public records searching. But Joan Feldman, the first speaker, discussed how she tracks down evidence from computers for use in civil litigation. She tracks "what people leave behind."

There are all sorts of ways you can get tripped up should you be trying to hide something! For example, Word has a setting that will track changes to the document. If this setting is on, and you send a file to someone rather than just a copy of the page, they can go back and see all the changes you made. Joan mentioned an instance where a settlement memorandum was sent to opposing counsel, who was able to see changes reflecting what they felt was a better offer, thereby giving away the figures that the other side was willing to settle for. Excel has similar potential hazards, such as the hide columns option.


Joan gets hints as to whether people are trying to hide something by determining how the user is using their computer. For example, was the hard drive recently re-formatted or defragmated? Other possible sources of information are "file clones" which are back-up or temporary files that are created on the hard drive while you're working. Sometimes she finds back-up disks make by individual computer users. Of course, there are also residual files, those that users delete, but are still there on the hard drive until they're overwritten. Even the buffer memory of laser printers can contain valuable information. Web footprints are left by cookies, caches, bookmarks and transaction logs.

Joan reminds us that people have an obligation to preserve information if they're under subpoena or involved in litigation. Formatting hard drives or overwriting back-ups would not be looked on kindly, and there are ways to tell if that's been done.

Analyzing computer data is not a cheap proposition. The average cost for a review of a hard drive is about $5,000. For an email review in a system with 100 users, the cost would be $30,000 and up.

For more information, see Joan's web site at http://www.forensics.com.

Connie Kaplan from Kroll & Associates discussed sources that she uses for investigation purposes. Among some of the web sites she finds useful are http://www.thestreet.com for information on policing of Wall Street and http://www.vitalrec.com for finding sources of vital records in different areas.

She mentioned a new database just recently added by CDB Infotek called "Address Inspector." This search offers access a database of nearly 2 million potentially fraudulent addresses as identified by law enforcement and
insurance investigation experts. She pointed out that Dow Jones Interactive publishes the Wall Street Journal at 2:00am in the morning, before the hard copy is published.

When she wants to find absolutely everything she can on the Internet, she particularly likes a product called Bulls Eye Pro from Intelliseek. She likes Northern Light for its ability to search both web special collection documents at the same time. A service called Bloodstock let's you research horse ownership for asset searches. And ArtQuest is a British organization that has records from all the auction houses throughout the world.


Date: Tuesday, July 20, 1999
From: Cindy Chick

It was definitely an exciting day for me! I found out I won the LEXIS Publishing drawing on Monday for a trip to Amsterdam & London. (Did I remember to tell you that LEXIS has changed their name to LEXIS Publishing? The announcement of their name change was made at their Sunday TRIPLL and AMPLL alumni party held at the Capitol.) So here I am, the happy winner:

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I think it was definitely a good economic indicator that the vendors seemed to be spending more money than ever on give-aways, drawings and advertising.

But on to more serious things. Just a couple of tidbits from an afternoon program, Financial Management in the Private Law Library. According one of the speakers, Stephen Blackwell from Holme Roberts & Owen LLP, library expenses are typically 1.4-2% of the firm's gross revenues, or 1-3% of total firm expenses. In his opinion, the most important benchmark for measuring profitability of a law firm is revenue per lawyer. Overhead per lawyer measures the efficiency with which your law firm operates. In discussing how to measure profitability of a law library, he advised librarians to forget about "soft" recoveries. They're not compelling because easy to capture and quantify, so don't rely on them heavily when making an argument.

Mr. Blackwell also acknowledged the "more for less" law firm mentality and recommends coping with such pressures by:

  • capturing economic data
  • innovating, not defending
  • improving public relations.

The skills set needed by managers in law firms include:

  • Business acumen
  • Knowledge of basic accounting principles
  • Leadership qualities
  • People Skills
  • Creativity
  • Flexibility

He recommend re-reading the ABA Formal Opinion 93-379 on a regular basis, though he admits that it's not as limiting as we might first have believed.

I snuck in about halfway through a program called, "Internet-based Interlibrary Loans: Making Your Chapter's Web Site Work", and was blown away by the web-based serials union list that the Association of Boston Law Librarians developed. If you'd like to take a look, you can visit it using a guest account through August 20, 1999. The URL is http://www.abll.org/union.htm, the user name is "guest", the password "aall". They contracted with Christopher Carr for the database design and hosting, and also had the help of Cassidy Cataloging in collecting and preparing the data. The database has been partially funded by vendors, and they came up in an very innovative way to incorporate vendor advertising into the union list itself by including links to order information for specific titles. Great job!


Date: Monday, July 19, 1999
From: Joan Loftus, Librarian, Davis Wright Tremaine, San Francisco.

Wow, I just love the exhibits, especially when you run into a "new" product that knocks your socks off. If you've ever used PACER or had to do docket searches, I think you'll agree that Marketspan/CaseStream has performed a miracle. Marketspan has downloaded *all* the PACER info from the courts in to their historical section, and you can search all PACER info on their site.

At http://www.CaseStream.com/ (or http://www.marketspan.com/) just go into Historical Info and, after registering, you'll gain access to all the docket info searchable by a variety of fields (litigant, court, law firm, lawyer, judge, type of case, etc.). Marketspan downloaded all the info in the last few months and adds new cases each night. They do not keep all dockets up-to-date but have an easy refresh feature that will do it at your request. You will be contacted by e-mail when the update is on the system (not only do you get the update but the historical info is also updated for everyone else to use.) What's the cost? No charge to sign up and no monthly fees - you pay as you go. You do a search and then you are given the number of results. At that point you will be given a cost estimate (how long have we asked for that info from vendors?) You are only charged for the search if you decide to proceed to the list of all the cases. The cost is $.25 per case listing with a minimum charge of $5.00. To view a docket is $3.00 and to refresh or update the docket is $2.00. If you get 10 results you can request that all the docket info be viewed on one Web page or make 10 requests to have them printed out separately.

If you've ever had the experience of not being able to get into a court because the lines were busy via PACER or CourtLink, then this service is a gold mine. Quite a few of my requests are "I need to know how many cases have been filed against this company" or "who represents this company." For those searches, I may never need to refresh the info and I won't have to wait for each search to connect to the courts. You can also order copies of any item on the docket sheet. FDR is their vendor at present and they will be adding others as time goes on. You can set up an account for your firm and create login and passwords for each user. CaseStream will also let you set a top dollar amount that people can incur per search and then you, as the administrator, will also be able to raise it if needed for a project. I also discovered that Marketspan is providing this info to Lexis. The header info (everything but the docket) is online with Lexis in the Docket Library. The searches are more expensive but it would be interesting to have someone do a review of CaseStream Historical, CourtLink, CourtExpress and the Lexis Docket Library to see when one is more cost effective or easier to use than the other.


From: Cindy Chick
Date: Monday, July 19, 1999

It's of no surprise to anyone that the weather in D.C. is extremely hot and muggy for AALL. It is, after all, July in D.C. All the more reason to hang-out in the exhibit hall! The exhibit hall is quite well populated this year. In addition to the large LEXIS/NEXIS and WESTLAW booths, you'll find LOIS law, Current Legal Resources, and other relative newcomers to AALL. There's also a much better selection of library technology companies than usual, including Horizon, Sirsi, Gateway Software, SIMA, even Right-On Software.

The competition is hot in the area of court records. CourtExpress is showing off their new web product. (See our review, CourtExpress.com: The Web Enabled Document Retrieval System. Hot on their heels is Casestream. You might be familiar with their case monitoring system, which gave you current case tracking, but no historical PACER information. At their booth, you can see their new Casestream Historical, a web based product that provides access to PACER data downloaded from PACER, but maintained on the Casestream computers. This provides extremely quick response time, an impossibility when using a system that dials into the individual PACER systems.

WESTLAW started their countdown to the new Millenium at 10:01 this morning with Dick Clark as Master of Ceremonies. Among the announcements, the new Westlaw.com, new Keycite features, and the new librarian relations Web page, http://www.westgroup.com/librarians.

In the LEXIS Cybercafe, I saw a demo of the new LEXIS.com, which will be available on August 22. It sports a much cleaner and easier to navigate look, and offers a new feature, Search Advisor, which provides pre-written searches to give you focused search results in particular subject areas. For example, if you select Copyright, Fair Use, a search will be executed to find cases, law reviews or treatises on that topic. You can also further narrow the search with additional terms. They're working on enhancing the case information by providing summaries of the cases, along with their core terms which were introduced in Anaheim last year. Checkcite 2000 and the new Shepard's' were also heavily featured.

Other exhibit tidbits:

An entry into the law portal market is law.com. They started with an orientation to law students, and are now branching out to the legal and business community as well as consumers. By the way, Lawoffice.com has given a new look to West's Legal Directory.

On to the programs! From all accounts, Hazel Johnson coordinated two excellent programs. The first one, Legal Resources at the Crossroads: What Will the Millennium Bring? took place this morning. I hope to have a report on that program soon. I attended part 2 this afternoon, At the Crossroads: Law Firm Management Speaks Out About Their Law Library Expectations. The two speakers, Karen Knab and Todd Miller, are law firm executive directors. They frankly discussed the importance of communication between management and librarians. According to them (sorry, I don't have exact notes on who said what), the library may not get as much attention as other departments because it's less problematic. The executive director probably has to talk with the IS director on a daily basis, but if the library is running well, there are considerably fewer crisis that need their attention. So it's important for the librarian to make sure he/she is visible to management. They emphasized the need for face to face communication on a regular basis. E-mail doesn't suffice. Ask the executive director to lunch and regularly ask for feedback. The problem arises when/because the librarian is not high-profile enough.

They felt strongly that we need to sell ourselves better, not only relating to our traditional roles, but in terms of other areas that we can get involved with such as knowledge management. See yourself as a business, marketing your services and abilities to the attorneys. In terms of finance, make sure you have practice group information, for example, library expenses by practice group, for your administration. If you're having a beneficial effect on the bottom line, make sure that management knows it, and doesn't just see the line item figure.

Volunteer for things that perhaps others don't want to do so as a means of staying on management's radar. You must make the time to bring problems to management. If you're busy or understaffed, the need to communicate with management is even greater. Also, make sure you get to know management's secretaries and administrative assistants. They can help you get better access to management. This is a tape that is worthwhile. There was a great deal of audience participation. Not all of the comments made by the speakers were well received, and there was considerable dialogue between members of the audience and the speakers.