Training Lawyers for the Algorithmic Society

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

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

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

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. …

Facilitating Law Library Sponsors

After another session in a longstanding conversation with my wonderful colleague, Alyson Drake, about the state of the profession, she made the brilliant connection that law libraries need sponsors. In the past 5 or so years, there's been quite a bit of discussion surrounding sponsorship for career advancement. You'll find relevant articles here, here, here, here, and here.

While many of the articles discuss sponsorship in terms of individuals, the notion, as well as the need, is similar for law libraries.

So what is a sponsor? 
A sponsor is someone who will use his or her internal political and social capital to move you . . . forward within an organization. Behind closed doors, he or she will argue your case. A sponsor has been described as “an influential spokesperson for what you are capable of doing.

And what’s the difference between a mentor and a sponsor? 
Mentoring is a gift. A sponsor, on the other hand, is more transactional. . . . A senior person is not going to go out…

Teaching Legal Research in the Books: Necessary or Not?

Over the course of the last week or so, there's been a lively discussion on the LRW-PROF listerv about teaching legal research using books.

The discussion started from this post:

At SCU, we have traditionally held one or two class sessions in which students conduct legal research in the library in books.  

Some of us are considering modifying, shrinking, or even eliminating these exercises to make more time for additional electronic research practice. We identified some theoretical pros and cons to this approach. We are curious to hear about practical effects from anyone who has gone through this process of shrinking or eliminating book research. What effects, good and bad, have you seen in your students' ability to research? Any flak from librarians or employers? I appreciate any ideas. 

Here is a sampling of the responses:
Sample Response 1: I have always taught a modicum of book research each year, and, at the very least, I introduce my students to the existence of the books an…

Librarians Guiding the Use of Classroom Technology

As librarians, we are often the go-to institutional source for teaching technologies. In law, the faculty often look to us to help train on and maintain these technologies for the benefit of the law school community. And with a 21st Century library's focus on service, we are happy to help.

To that end, The Teacher's Guide to Tech 2017 is an invaluable resource. It’s a 265-page digital binder you’ll use all year: Keep it on your desktop, laptop, tablet — even your phone — to help you navigate the tech world with confidence. Like having a tech-savvy friend on call to explain things in plain language, the guide will give you a sense of control over all the options.

The guide explains over 150 tools in clear, simple language. All tools are grouped into categories based on what they do. Each section starts with a discussion of classroom applications.

Then it takes one tool at a time, explaining what it does, how you can use it in the classroom, what it costs, and what platforms it w…