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Law Library Lessons in Vendor Relations from the UC/Elsevier Split

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In early March, the University of California, one of the largest research institutions in the world, blew up negotiations with Elsevier, one of the largest publishers of research articles in the world. The university would no longer pay Elsevier millions of dollars a year to subscribe to its journals. It simply walked away.

Despite months of contract negotiations, Elsevier was unwilling to meet UC’s key goal: securing universal open access to UC research while containing the rapidly escalating costs associated with for-profit journals.

UC's goal of open access is something that every institution should move toward because:

(1) At the same time academic institutions are paying for access to journals, their employees are providing labor to journals for free. AND

(2) journals pay for the research that they publish. In the United States, research funding often comes from government agencies—in other words, from taxpayers. Yet if members of the public tried to read new academic research…

USNews Scholarship Impact Issues

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In spring 2017, I briefly discussed the problem with scholarship impact factor in law as a response to a recommendation by a law professor to create a rankings methodology based on Google Scholar citation.

Well it seems that USNews may have read that article because USNews is now asking each law school for the names and other details of its fall 2018 full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty. USNews plans to link the names of each individual law school's faculty to citations and publications that were published in the previous five years and are available in HeinOnline.

Using this data, HeinOnline will compile faculty scholarly impact indicators for each law school. This will include such measures as mean citations per faculty member, median citations per faculty member, and total number of publications.

Those measures will then be provided to USNews for use in eventually creating a comprehensive scholarly impact ranking.

Thanks to all of the folks who have opined on this issue. …

Are Algorithms Required for Ethical Legal Research?

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As we are increasingly aware, the ethical Duty of Technology Competence requires lawyers to keep abreast of “changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.” To date, 35 states have adopted the duty.

In a previous post, I highlighted the risks of blindly relying on algorithmic results (relevant technology) as a potential violation of the Duty of Technology Competence. We now have case law from Canada focusing on the benefits of using algorithmic results to perform legal research. In fact, this case law may be interpreted as requiring the use of algorithmic results when ethically performing legal research. 

In both Cass v. 1410088 Ontario Inc. (“Cass”) and Drummond v. The Cadillac Fairview Corp. Ltd. (“Drummond”) justices of the Ontario Superior Court made comments about artificial intelligence and legal research.

The Cass case was a slip and fall in which the defendant prevailed. The plaintiff, who was liable for costs, argued t…