Showing posts from September, 2015

Attorneys Respond To AI

The ABA's new Law Technology Today series kicked off with a series of questions about artificial intelligence in the legal profession. In the inaugural roundtable of a Law Technology Today series, we asked the LTRC Board, and other lawyers and legal professionals, five questions about AI and lawyers. Their answers range from skeptical to optimistic. What does artificial intelligence mean to you? To me, as a full-time practicing lawyer, artificial intelligence is sophisticated computer programming that allows your smart devices to provide more relevant responses to your inquiries. This could include narrowly tailored legal research results or more accurate search capabilities in document management programs. Artificial intelligence also means smart devices that learn more as you use them more. What area of your practice, or of the law, has benefited the most (or could benefit) from artificial intelligence? In my experience, legal research has benefited the most from artif

The Continuing Decline Of Bar Exam Pass Rates

States have been reporting their (generally lower) bar pass rates from the July examination, and the debate about what is the cause and what should be done is intensifying. In that vein, the NYTimes Room for Debate asks, Is the Bar Too Law to Get Into Law School? Bar exam scores have declined over the past few years, and last summer, graduates had some of the lowest scores in a decade. This years scores could be even worse. The National Conference of Bar Examiners, which creates and scores the multistate, multiple-choice portion of the exam, maintains that the quality of incoming law students has declined, while many law professors blame the bar exam itself. Why are so many law students failing the bar exam? A variety of debaters weighed in on the matter with advice to the ABA to create a more meaningful exam and law schools to better prepare their students. One debater noted that the incoming students have weaker credentials, and another opined that the bar exam should be dro

The Real State Of AI

We now know that Ross is in development for legal research, but we we are still a long way  from being replaced by machines. This was confirmed by an recent  NYTimes  article about the current state of artificial intelligence: An artificial intelligence software program capable of seeing and reading has for the first time answered geometry questions from the SAT at the level of an average 11th grader.  The achievement, in which the program answered math questions it had not previously seen, was reported in a paper presented by computer scientists from the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence and the University of Washington at a scientific conference in Lisbon on Sunday.  The software had to combine machine vision to understand diagrams with the ability to read and understand complete sentences; its success represents a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. Despite the advance, however, the researchers acknowledge that the program’s abilities underscore how far scienti

Pew Survey Highlights Disconnect For Libraries

A new Pew survey called Libraries at the Crossroads finds that while people report feeling strongly about the importance of public libraries in their communities, those people are actually using libraries less and less. Atlantic's take is that overall, perhaps people aren’t visiting libraries as much because their relationship to the printed word, still a library’s core offering, is dramatically changing. Nearly one-third of [Pew survey] respondents who were 16 and older said libraries should “definitely” remove public access to some of their print books and stacks in order to free up space for technology hubs and other more customizable workspaces like reading spaces and meeting rooms. Many more were open to the idea: 40 percent of those surveyed said libraries should “maybe” reconfigure space to include fewer printed books. On top of that, almost half of those surveyed said libraries should “definitely” make 3-D printing technologies available to patrons who want to use the

Fastcase Acquires Loislaw

Robert Ambrogi over at LawSites just reported that Fastcase has acquired Loislaw . LoisLaw subscribers began receiving notices over the weekend informing them of the news. The letter stated that WK will sunset the Loislaw product effective Nov. 30, and that “we are collaborating with Fastcase so they can offer comparable subscription plans on the Fastcase platform, including Loislaw treatise libraries, at the same or lower prices as your current Loislaw subscription.” Reached by phone, Fastcase CEO Ed Walters confirmed the acquisition. He said that it was an assets-only purchase that includes the Loislaw brand and domain name and that will move Loislaw’s subscribers to Fastcase. He declined to disclose the purchase price. Wolters Kluwer ... is increasingly focusing its products on the larger-firm market and on highly regulated and specialized areas of law such as corporate finance, securities, tax, banking and health. Given that focus, it no longer makes much sense for the comp

Materials For Research & Writing For International Students

As the 5th week of law school classes comes to a close, I can say that teaching legal research and writing to international LL.M. students is a great joy (and a challenge). For a law school population that is fairly homogenous, it is wonderful to be among 13 students from 10 different countries, and this also poses the types of challenges one could expect from such a diverse class.  While looking for additional resources on point, I recently came across this list from the Legal Writing Institute: The Global Legal Writing Skills Committee has created a video library and webinar series on teaching international students, which was awarded the 2015 Global Legal Skills Conference award for Outstanding Programming in Global Legal Skills Education.  The presentation slides and webinars are available at .   Contact the committee co-chairs, Sammy Mansour ( ) or Cara Cunningham Warren (, for more details. Online

Utility Law School v. Utopia Law School

The NYTimes recently ran a piece asking " What is the Point of College? " The author put college in two categories: utility university and utopia university. One vision focuses on how college can be useful — to its graduates, to employers and to a globally competitive America. When presidential candidates talk about making college more affordable, they often mention those benefits, and they measure them largely in dollars and cents. How is it helping postgraduate earnings, or increasing G.D.P.? As college grows more expensive, plenty of people want to know whether they’re getting a good return on their investment. They believe in Utility U. Another vision of college centers on what John Stuart Mill called ‘‘experiments in living,’’ aimed at getting students ready for life as free men and women. Here, college is about building your soul as much as your skills. Students want to think critically about the values that guide them, and they will inevitably want to test out thei

Suffolk Law Drastically Cuts Library Budget In Favor Of Digital Library

Newswire is reporting that Suffolk Law has drastically cut the Law Library's budget by 50% in favor of a digital library provided, in part, by LexisNexis. Founded more than 100 years ago, Suffolk University Law School in Boston is the seventh-largest law school in the United States. By complementing its existing physical library with the LexisNexis Digital Library solution, the law school provides students and faculty with 'anywhere, anytime' access to more law library titles than ever before, including electronic versions of course materials at no additional charge. Ron Wheeler, director of Law Library & Information Resources and associate professor of legal research at Suffolk University Law School, led the charge for digital change, driven by a number of factors: a 50 percent reduction in the law library's budget over a two-year period, the need to reduce the library's physical footprint, a desire to increase access to its collections, and the ambition t

College Students & Instructors On Library & Research

According to a study done by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU), 64% of college graduates believe they are well-prepared to locate, organize, and evaluate information while only 29% of employers agree. In spring 2015, Gale's parent company, Cengage Learning , issued its Engagement Insights survey to some 3,000 students and nearly 700 professors, gathering feedback on different topics including how both audiences valued the library, how they often they took advantage of its resources and more:

Reading Is Common Pastime Of The Successful

Steven Siebold has interviewed more than 1,200 wealthy individuals, and he has found a pastime that they have in common: They self-educate by reading. While I take aim at rich and successful being used synonymously, it is interesting to note the reading habits of those with a traditional marker of success. "Walk into a wealthy person's home and one of the first things you'll see is an extensive library of books they've used to educate themselves on how to become more successful," Siebold writes. "The middle class reads novels, tabloids, and entertainment magazines." Rich people would rather be educated than entertained. Take Warren Buffett, for example, who estimates that 80% of his working day is dedicated to reading. An interesting fact is that 67% of rich people watch TV for one hour or less per day, while just 23% of poor people keep their TV time under 60 minutes. It has also been found that only 6% of the wealthy watch reality shows, while 7

Too Much Info, Not Enough Time

What is going on in the human brain? We are seeing more and more studies that look at the effects of our increasingly digitized, information-anxious society. Earlier this year, Time reported on a new study by Microsoft. The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds, but according to a new study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the affects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain. Microsoft theorized that the changes were a result of the brain’s ability to adapt and change itself over time and a weaker attention span may be a side effect of evolving to a mobile Internet. The survey also confirmed generational differences for mobile use; for example, 77% of people aged 18 to 24 responded “yes” when asked, “When nothing is occupying my attention, the first thing I do is reach for my phone,” compared with only 10% of those over the age of 65. Couple this with the over

Law Library Faculty Ponderings

As we transition to tenure track law library faculty at my institution, I can't help my ponder this :  Faculty members and librarians disagree on the importance of working together, according to a survey conducted by Library Journal and Gale, the library arm of Cengage Learning. The two organizations surveyed about 1,000 faculty members and librarians, finding that the latter group valued cooperation more strongly. Virtually every librarian surveyed, or 98 percent of those respondents, said they wish for better communication with faculty, while not even half of surveyed faculty members, or 45 percent, said the same. About one-quarter of faculty members, or 27 percent, said they don't believe cooperation is necessary at all. Why do I care so deeply about a profession that no one else seems to care much about? My rose-colored glasses see the library as the heart of any true academic institution . With tenure track means the traditional teaching, scholarship, and service exp

RIPS Post: Disruptive Technologies & Library Automation

See my recent RIPS Law Librarian Blog post on disruptive technologies and library automation. George had R.U.D.I., and we have Ross. image: