Posts

Law Librarian Status & Academic Freedom

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We know that law librarians lack status in the status-obsessed legal academy. Some could argue that this is a gender equity problem, with females making up the overwhelming majority of law librarians (another post for another time).

But the lack of status also confers a lack of academic freedom to engage in tough conversations. This is particularly difficult for law librarians because we are not protected to fully engage with and advance our field. A field that is wrongly pegged as supplementary or secondary.

In the era of big-data algorithms with no accountability and the "fake news" phenomenon, librarians must tackle tough, controversial subjects that affect information. And law librarians take the ethical use of information very seriously with the  ACRL Framework for Information Literacy emphasizing the role of “using information, data, and scholarship ethically” and the AALL Legal Research Competencies and Standards stating that a successful legal researcher “distinguis…

Artificial Intelligence in Law Schools: Busting the Silo

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As we further consider how to train future lawyers for the Algorithmic Society and develop the quality of thinking, listening, relating, collaborating, and learning that will define smartness in this new age, law schools must reach beyond their storied walls.

In law, we must got beyond talking about algorithmic implications to actually help shape algorithmic performance. We need lawyers and programmers to work together to create a sound "machine learning corpus." There's potential for an entirely new subfield to emerge if given the right support. With many law school attached to major research universities, it's a great place to start this cross-pollination and interdisciplinary work.

This type of interdisciplinary work would help to satisfy the career aspirations of advanced-degree seekers but also the wishes of many college presidents, deans, and faculty members who see an interdisciplinary professional education as a path to greater relevance, higher enrollments,…

2018 A Legal Research Odyssey

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Law Library Journal has accepted my manuscript for 2018 A Legal Research Odyssey: Artificial Intelligence as Disruptor



The abstract:
Cognitive computing is revolutionizing finance through the ability to combine structured and unstructured data and provide precise market analysis. It is also revolutionizing medicine by providing well-informed options for diagnoses. Analogously, ROSS, a progeny of IBM’s Watson, is set to revolutionize the legal field by bringing cognitive computing to legal research. While ROSS is currently being touted as possessing the requisite sophistication to perform effortless legal research, there is a real danger in a technology like ROSS causing premature disruption. As in medicine and finance, cognitive computing has the power to make legal research more efficient. But the technology is not ready to replace the need for law students to learn sound legal research process and strategy. When done properly, legal research is a highly creative skill that requires …

Training Lawyers for the Algorithmic Society

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After delving deeper into how AI will affect legal research, it's natural to develop a healthy fear about what is being dubbed the "Algorithmic Society." In the Algorithmic Society, we will continue to increasingly rely on algorithms to govern populations.

While we're not at a point where algorithms can understand natural language processing akin to the human brain, it's not inconceivable that with technology's exponential rate of acceleration that computers will one day be able to master the highest levels of natural language processing and "think" like a human brain.

As computers get closer to thinking like humans, where does that leave us?

According to the Harvard Business Review (sub req'd), What is needed is a new definition of being smart, one that promotes higher levels of human thinking and emotional engagement. The new smart will be determined not by what or how you know but by the quality of your thinking, listening, relating, collabor…

Law Librarians Practicing Gratitude

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Warning: Personal Post Alert

This blog started in 2013. I was 3 years into my career as a law librarian. Throughout that time, the public has been privy to an evolution. As with any career, the things I struggled with at year 3 are much different than the things I struggle with at year 7.

At year 3, I was mastering the practical side of law librarianship: sound legal research instruction and pedagogy, performing quality faculty research, mastering the effective reference interview, doing Michigan legislative history research in the books, recalling helpful resources, best practices for organizing and delivering content, curating a law library collection, etc... 
While I continue to hone many of these skills, the practical side of law librarianship is much easier now. This comports, I suppose, with Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule of mastery. 
My current focus is on learning the administrative side of law libraries, as well as forwarding the profession as a whole, particularly o…

The ABA Self-Study: Law Library Leadership Must Articulate Contributions to Program of Legal Education

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If you haven't gone through an ABA Site Visit recently, it may be interesting to know that the ABA has revised its guidelines on the ABA Self-Study, which is made up of the Site Evaluation Questionnaire (SEQ) and Self-Assessment. 
The SEQ is fairly straightforward; the Self-Assessment -- not so much. In the Managing Director’s Guidance Memo (revised March 2017), it states that the Self-Assessment will focus “on evaluation of the educational program and efforts to improve it.” It also mentions that  the schools should report descriptive data only once – in the SEQ portion  of the Self-Study.
At the conclusion of the Site Visit, the Site Team will review the law school's Self-Study as it prepares a report using the Site Evaluation Report Template

The Site Evaluation Report consists of the following sections:  Organization, Administration, Institutional Planning, and Finances: Questions 1 – 10  Program of Legal Education: Questions 11 – 38  Faculty: Questions 39 – 56 Students: Questions…

Preventing Law Librarian Burnout

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More recently, there's been a consistent pattern to my conversations with law librarians where the law librarians have mentioned, often through exhausted tone, that they are doing more with less in the face of shrinking budgets and ever-changing expectations.

I find this to be true, as well, but it's also led me to examine societal changes regarding productivity and the extension of work into all areas of our lives. Lately, it's felt more acutely like everything is work.

A recent NYTimes article discussing the death of leisure provided some insight about why more things feel like work. In analyzing the recent purchase of the Lord & Taylor retail space in NYC by a company called WeWork, the article stated, Today, of course, shopping is something else entirely, not a diversion but just an extension of our working or “productive” lives. At our desks and laptops we buy our avocados, face creams, bathing suits, boxer shorts, coffee tables, routers, sport coats, ski clothes. …