Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Re-Designing Library Strategy: Advice for Executive Librarians from Jones and Dyson

Jim Jones, Thomson Reuters VP, law firm consultant, Leader of the Hildebrandt Institute, former  Managing Partner at Arnold & Porter and General Counsel at APCO Worldwide, provided a data rich overview of law firm financial and practice trends at the PLL Summit.  He concluded his review of  legal industry trends with a list of challenges and opportunities for Executive Librarians:

The Implications

Much of his talk centered around the trends to boost firm efficiencies through training, knowledge sharing and "Legal Process Outsourcing." What I find ironic and what I think Jones was implying in his list of "implications" below, was that firm leaders don't fully recognize  that Executive Librarians should be the natural leaders or key players in these initiatives. Librarianship itself grew out of a late 19th century efficiency movement and 21st Century Library and Knowledge Executives work at the intersection of substantive knowledge, process improvement and emerging knowledge technologies.

The Challenges
  • How will the likely changes in law firm management models impact traditional library/information services? 
  • How will the drive for efficiency and cost-effectiveness impact the ways in which legal research is undertaken? 
  • How might librarians/information specialists help in partnering with clients and in supporting “one-to-many” knowledge sharing models? 
  • In an age of “disintermediation,” how can information be rendered more useful and actionable? 
  • What roles might librarians/information specialists play in the management of new firm “products” – e.g., various tools for on-line guidance and services? 
  • What roles might librarians/information specialists play in the development of “just-in-time” training resources? 
  • How might the growing importance of information management impact the roles that executive librarians play in their firms?

Most of us have already begun recognize and to respond to most of these trends. But as new forces continue to emerge in the legal marketplace and as new technologies continue to "disrupt" traditional work flow and practice models, we will, as he said, paraphrasing Alice in Wonderland, "have to keep running just to stay in place."*

*The Queen: "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!" Through the Looking Glass:

Esther Dyson, in what was the second most controversial comment of her session,(the most controversial comment can't be printed)  responded to Jones' presentation by suggesting that if law firms don't recognize how the strategic insights and knowledge competencies  of  Library Executives  are core to the firm's competitive advantage, we should all just go work for Legal Processing Outsourcers who clearly do recognize our talents as core to their business model!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Cosmonaut at the Library Convention: Esther Dyson Beams Down At PLL Summit

On Saturday July 23rd in what surely will be one of the most memorable PLL events of my career,  I will be moderating a Q&A session with Esther Dyson at the  "Change as Action" Summit  in Philadelphia. This event is certain to be as  stimulating and as surprising as Dyson's wide ranging career (magazine fact checker, journalist, publisher, entrepreneur,venture capitalist, philanthropist  and yes trainee cosmonaut).".Her name is routinely prefaced by words such as "visionary," 'Guru," "pundit,"high priestess...'  Esther's bio .

Dyson "Addicted to Zero G Force"

If you haven't had a chance to read Dyson's books Release 2.1: A Design for Living in the Digital Age  or Release 2.0  there is still time to peruse a wealth of material by and about Dyson. A Google search nets you 999,999 hits in .10 seconds. Pick a topic, any topic and combine it with "Esther Dyson" and you are sure to find Dyson's spin on your issue. Want to preview Dyson in action?  A  YouTube  search retrieves  over 200 video clips.

Below is a sampling of Esther Dyson quotes which I have gathered in preparation for Saturday's conversation with Esther Dyson:
 On The Future Of Space Travel: "We Are Only At “The End Of The Beginning”

On Improving Wikipedia: .So, to get the best results, we have people sharpening their ideas against one another rather than simply editing someone's contribution and replacing it with another. We also have a world where the contributors have identities (real or fake, but consistent and persistent) and are accountable for their words. Much like Edge, in fact.

On Internet Search: "The future of search is verbs!"

On Wikileaks WikiLeaks matters for two reasons. The first is that we need a better balance of power between people and power. Information – and specifically the Internet’s power to spread it – is our best defense against bad, unaccountable behavior.

Second, we do want to trust our governments and institutions. The point of openness is to make those in power behave better – and to make us trust them more. Rather than viewing them as enemies, we should know what they are up to, and perhaps have a little more say in what they do.

On the Internet and Political Revolution: As long as a government can come and shoot you, you can't jump on the Internet to freedom.

On the Future of Intellectual Property: From a business point of view, intellectual property is dead.

On Failure: Everybody should have a real failure, ideally when they are pretty young, that gives them a sense of confidence.

On  Programming Human Perfectibility-
Call it simulated apprenticeship: if your company has a shortage of supportive managers to train employees, they can be modeled in the software. The games and simulation exercises can be designed to train and reward certain kinds of behavior – quick decision-making over too much deliberation, delegation rather than do-it-myself behavior, and so on.
It remains unclear how effective this will be, but I’m betting on it. Experience shapes us as much as our genes (or innate talents) do, and online experience is cheaper and easier to shape. In real life, success could be due to luck, and it might teach us the wrong lessons. In a game, we can make sure that it teaches us the right ones.

On the Groupon Business Model Groupon’s emergence is another step in the Internet’s move toward ever-greater efficiency and transparency. That is good news for the strong players, but not so good for the weak. Consider the airline business....
Increased transparency has made the airline business more “efficient,” but now airplane seats are hard to sell on any basis other than price. In an effort to keep their headline prices low, airlines are tacking on surcharges for baggage, drinks, pillows and other items that once were free.

On Net Neutrality: The biggest problem with the net neutrality debate is that no one knows what they are talking about.

On  Net Neutrality Solutions: Legislation isn't gong to solve them. Antitrust enforcement is probably the best solution.

On Internet privacy:  Internet privacy is basically a marketing problem.

If you are attending Saturday's Summit, please bring your own quotes and questions to what is sure to be a lively and memorable discussion which is sure to include her views on the future of librarianship, knowledge, legal issues and the legal profession.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Librarian as Hero: The Bard, The Bribe, The Bookseller, the "Cuban Cutie" and the Mystery of the Durham First Folio

So a man sporting Fendi shades, Gucci shoes and carrying a box of Cuban cigars walks into the Folger Shakespeare Library in DC and pulls a Shakespeare First Folio from a plastic bag and demands to see the librarian.

This is a remarkable "truth is stranger than fiction" tale. The characters and facts are dazzling, amusing and appalling.
But the point of this post is not simply to recount a "ripping yarn." The story illustrates how the specialized skills of librarians led to the recovery of a  stolen First Folio which had been missing for 10 years.  The Folger Library Staff demonstrated extraordinary results from utilizing the professional expertise, judgment and sleuthing that are the hallmarks of a successful research librarian. The ability of the members of the Folger staff to think on their feet, to meet the unexpected inquiry with dispassion and objectivity, to communicate so effectively with a charlatan that he turned over a stolen treasure, and to develop strategies to delay returning the volume until its true provenance could be established saved a cultural treasure. They applied  their extraordinary knowledge of bibliographic research and "CSI -like" forensic skills to solving an international mystery involving the FBI, Scotland Yard and the Constabulary of Durham, England.

Last week the Folger Shakespeare Library hosted a lecture To Catch a Thief: Recovering the Durham First Folio . Steven Galbraith, Curator of Books and Renate Mesmer, Head of Conservation, recounted the remarkable story with brilliant humor using the documentation they had prepared for the FBI and the Durham Constabulary to successfully prosecute Raymond Scott.

First Folios were printed in 1623, 8 years after Shakespeare's death and contained the first collection of Shakespeare's plays. Since no original Shakespeare manuscripts survive, the First Folios were the only source for 18 plays.   It that likely that Macbeth and As You Like It would have been unknown today without the printing of the First Folio. Although all the Folios were produced on a printing press, no two copies were identical, due to variations in spelling, misprints, and variations in page trimming. Over the years each acquired additional unique features as they were bound and rebound, gilded or damaged.  A specilialized reference work, The Shakespeare First Folio by Anthony James West was consulted by the librarians as the most current census of First Folios which are located around the globe and it  identified some of the unique characteristics of the Durham Folio which could be compared with the book that had landed at the Folger.


In December 1998  the Durham First Folio disappeared from a glass case in the Durham University Library in Northeastern UK. The estimated value at the time was $3 million pounds.

Act One - The Con Man at the Folger

On June 16th, 2008, Raymond Scott, walked into the Folger Library in Washington DC and asked to see the Librarian because he needed assistance valuing an old book which had come into his possession. Librarian Richard Kuhta was stunned when Scott pulled a book resembling a First Folio from a plastic bag.  The volume was missing it's binding, title and final pages. He explained that he had gotten the book from a friend in Cuba who became known through the course of the investigation as the "Cuban Cutie." He claimed to be an wealthy bibliophile, with homes across Europe. He bolstered the Cuba story by handing Kuhta a box of Cuban cigars, the first in a series of increasingly expensive "gifts" to be left on Kuhta's desk. Scott pressed Kuhta to confirm the book's value.He even suggested that it was a First Folio although the book was missing it's title page. Kuhta, who was growing ever more suspicious, convinced Scott  to leave the book at the Folger so the staff could study the volume more closely. The Folger's Head of Reference, Georgianna Ziegler moved the book to the vault and staff started investigating the book's  provenance

Several days later Scott returned and was told that the preliminary assessment indicated that the book was a First Folio, but Kuhta bought more time by saying they needed additional confirmation and didn't return the book to Scott. Scott returned on repeated visits bringing expensive ties, cigars and at one point put $2,500 on Kuhta's desk. Kuhta took the money and immediately enrolled Scott as a member in the "Renaissance Circle" of Folger supporters.

On his last visit to the Library, Scott brought a cake for afternoon tea which he had ordered from the chef at the Mayflower Hotel. The cake bore an inscription "Shakespeare First Folio?" with Shakespeare misspelled!

Stephen Massey a well known, rare book appraiser based in New York was brought in and  he identified the volume as the stolen Durham First Folio. Renate Mesmer, the Curator set to work on forensic tests to provide additional evidence that could be used in court to support the identification of the Folio. Her tests included studying the remnants of the book binding which was determined to be of goatskin, like the cover of the stolen folio. Through bibliographic research, she located photocopies of pages of the Durham Folio in England which showed that the stitches in the binding matched the stitching in the damaged folio.Durham Folio Evidence

Kuhta then notified the FBI, the Head of Durham University and Scotland Yard.

Act Two - The Investigation

 The Durham Constabulary determined that Raymond Scott was not a a wealthy, international, bon vivant, but an unemployed 51 year old bachelor who lived with his mother in public housing. on Widgon Close. He lived on public assistance and had piled up massive credit card debt. The constables went to the home and found 1,000 books (many later determined to be stolen) and interrogated Scott. The tabloids descended on the sleepy town  of Washington Tyne and Ware. Neighbors revealed that Scott drove a series of expensive cars, a Ferrari, a Rolls-Royce, a Lamborghini... Scott revelled in the tabloid attention brought on by the investigation and posed swilling Dom Perignon from jeweled, champagne flutes that he routinely carried around in his briefcase.

He had a criminal history including 17 convictions and had used a variety of exotic aliases.

The Cuban Cutie, Heidi Rios was a 21 year old chorus girl from Havana to whom Scott was engaged. Scott claimed that Rios had introduced him to a former Castro bodyguard turned bibliophile who had "inherited" the mutilated First Folio. Scott had agreed to bring the book to the US for valuation for a share of the expected profits.

Act Three - The Trial

In 2010 Scott went on trial. Librarian, Richrd Kuhta was flown to England and testified for four hours. Scott continued to profess his innocence and demonstrate his talent for the outrageous by, arriving at court in various costumes, or in stretch limos or horse drawn carriages. In the end he was convicted of handling stolen property and removing it from the country but there was insufficient evidence to prove he had been involved in the original theft. He was convicted of the two lesser charges but not theft. The prosecutor had argued that Scott had in fact mutilated the Folio in an attempt to remove the characteristics that would identify it as the Durham First Folio. He was way out of his depth on that one! He clearly underestimated the awesome research skills and expert knowledge of bibliography demonstrated by the Folger librarians. The Judge in sentencing him to 8 years in Her Majesty's Prison in Castington, described Scott's crimes as "cultural vandalism" inflicted on a "quintessentially English treasure."

The Terminal Jig

Scholars tell us that many of Shakespeare's plays ended with a bawdy dance or a "terminal jig" performed by a jester or a comic actor. And so ends this tale...
Scott, apparently never one to pass up an opportunity for self-promotion, decided to write a confessional while in jail and has now inflicted his own version: "Shakespeare & Love" on the reading public. (Amazon link omitted intentionally!).

The BBC Produced a documentary Stealing Shakespeare which recounts the story of theft and recovery of the Durham First Folio.

Sadly, the missing pages and binding have not been found, but the Durham First Folio is back home at the University of Durham where security has been dramatically improved since 1998.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bloomberg Law Takes on the Titans: An interview with Lou Andreozzi, Chairman of Bloomberg Law

I interviewed Lou Andreozzi to learn about the strategy behind the July 5th re-launch of the Bloomberg Law platform. Andreozzi makes the case that Bloomberg’s unique approach to content and pricing will allow it to peel off a significant market share from Lexis and Westlaw who have a 30 year lead on upstart Bloomberg.

Bloomberg Law includes a standard federal and state caselaw archive back to 1789 and 1755, respectively. They developed their own editorial topics and case summaries, as well as, a citator to compete with Keycite and Shepards. They have added dockets, law reviews, news, financial data, regulatory and legislative sources. It offers sophisticated Boolean, natural language and faceted field searching.

Andreozzi claims that Bloomberg has taken a fundamentally different approach than its main competitors. According to Andreozzi Lexis and Westlaw built vast mega-libraries, trying to be “all things to all lawyers.” Andreozzi believes that Bloomberg’s more focused approach will help lawyers avoid information overload and enhance lawyer productivity. Bloomberg has built it’s platform to target a core of business focused practice areas including, Corporate M & A, Securities, Intellectual Property, Bankruptcy and Litigation.(More in development).

Because Bloomberg owns both their legal and their business information they can integrate it in ways that is not possible for competitors who rely on third party data which is only available for as long as it is licensed. Bloomberg doesn’t need to compete for business content, because they already own it!

Andreozzi admitted that the original launch of Bloomberg in 2009 "coincided with the 'perfect storm' of upheaval in the legal marketplace." The year 2009 was most notable for massive layoffs in law firms, shrinking “profits per partner”, the implosion of several Amlaw 100 firms and unprecedented pushback on billing rates and disbursements from clients. According to Andreozzi this was simultaneously “the best and the worst of times for Bloomberg Law to launch”

Bloomberg has taken advantage of two significant trends impacting the law firm market, 1) cost containment and  2) increased competition among law firms to not only develop new business, but to keep even their existing client base.
Bloomberg's New Front Page

Cost containment

Bloomberg is offering a single subscription rate which will include all content that is added to Bloomberg. Andreozzi claims that it will be able to maintain the simplified billing and not impose new costs for “excluded” content, because Bloomberg is owned by Bloomberg, L.P. which is the third largest news provider and has a vast repository of financial analytics. Andreozzi points out that this will immunize Bloomberg from the third party content migrations between Lexis and Westlaw which have bedeviled users of American Lawyer publications and leading newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal in recent years. Bloomberg’s simplified billing stands in sharp contrast to the complex and multi-tiered billing systems which are the legacy of Lexis and Westlaw.
There is a growing consensus in the legal industry that in 5 years law firms may no longer be able to pass along Lexis and Westlaw charges to clients. Adreozzi believes that Bloomberg Law’s more transparent and predictable pricing model could more easily absorbed by firms as overhead since firms will not charged for additional content as it is added to the platform.

Lawyer as Rainmaker  Bloomberg’s focus on a core of business related practice areas allows them to leverage the deep “mother load” of business data created and owned by Bloomberg and seamlessly integrate it with practice materials. Bloomberg is the first legal service to code all litigation by industry, enabling a lawyer to easily focus in on caselaw impacting his clients business.

Andreozzi is rightly proud of the ease with which Bloomberg can generate an elegant and up-to-date company analysis which includes: breaking news, a litigation profile with graphs, a list of recent dockets, stock performance and basic company data. Since clients demand more loudly than ever that lawyers much not only know the law but also know their business, Bloomberg appears to have seized the lead in providing a simple way to generate a complex company profile right from the lawyers desktop.

The Future Belongs To…

I can’t make any predictions about the contours of the online legal market place in 5 years. But I do think that Bloomberg Law has gotten some key drivers right including: integrating law and business, simplifying the billing structure, integrating workflow into the research platform. Globalized legal practice will continue to have an impact and all of the major vendors incldung Bloomberg will need to respond to the changes in law firm demographics and financials.

My Favorite Things about Bloomberg Law

  • Industry Search in caselaw ...brilliant!
  • Breaking Complaints. Bloomberg focuses on important business cases in important courts that generate leading business litigation. They have gotten the reputation for posting these important dockets ahead of the competition.
  • Foreign and International Dockets Include UK, Ontario, Canada, Hong Kong, EU, Royal Court of Jersey and the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands.
  • Dealmaker Provides sample documents to be used as templates or samples of deals which can be used for negotiation.
  • Shared folders Improve collaboration and workflow allow lawyers to share content with lawyers within their firms.
  • Practice Centers Aggregates links  to case law, major statutes and regulations, treatises, breaking news. custom watchlist, trends in litigation, forms, significant filings, law firm news.
  • Legwatch and Regwatch - allow you to link directly to the codes and monitor topics of interest.
  • Multi- media – Bloomberg is already offering blogs, podcasts and videos on their platform. Since Bloomberg is the only legal legal platform affiliated with a TV station can other kinds of media offerings be far behind?
Custom Company Reports

Custom Company Profile from Bloomberg Law