Research topics for professionals in law and business

Recommended readings by John DiGilio

Teaching legal research

April is here and I’m showering you with another colorful mix of research and information topics:

  • Teaching legal research
  • Information vendors—new services, new relationship issues
  • Showing ROI of KM systems and initiatives
  • Pushing research and reference comfort zones
  • New opportunity for legal bloggers
  • Gmail updates to look forward to

Enjoy and feel free to share!

Teaching legal research in three parts

Paul Gatz offers a three-installment series on teaching legal research. Featured in both the RIPS Librarian Blog and LLRX, Paul’s series has been thought-provoking and inspiring. He powerfully asserts,

“If we are to be the experts in legal research, then we must also be leaders in developing knowledge in our field, furthering the understanding of the legal domain and of our own place within it.”

I could not agree more, which is why I’m sharing all three posts.

From part 1 on relevance:

“How can you teach legal research to students who know little to nothing about the substantive law or legal analysis and reasoning? They do not know what they need, they cannot recognize it when they see it, and they cannot fit it within a legal argument.”

Can Legal Research Be Taught? Part 1: The Relevance Paradox

From part 2 on different kinds of relevance:

“In order to understand the ‘why’ of a document’s relevance, the student must grasp the reasons why a given document occupies the role it does within the subject literature.”

Can Legal Research Be Taught? Part 2: Varieties of Relevance

And from part 3 on pushing ourselves as experts:

“We need only teach our students enough of this subject knowledge to enable them to conduct effective and efficient legal research. In order to teach this material, however, our knowledge as instructors must be expert.”

Can Legal Research Be Taught? Part 3: Pushing Ourselves Further

Information vendor growth and expansion into new areas

Bloomberg has been aggressively growing its suite of offerings since it entered the legal market. Jean O’Grady brings us the inside scoop on the company’s latest expansion into the happening health care fraud sector. How Jean explains it:

“The tool enables subscribers to search and filter health care fraud settlement agreements by court, entity, allegation, date which can be used to display trends in health care enforcement and settlements.”

Read her entire article at Dewey B Strategic: Bloomberg Law Launches Health Care Fraud Enforcement Analytics Tool

Information vendor relations

Strained information vendor relations?

Having worked both sides of the aisle, I am well aware that vendor-customer relationships involve more than the products and services. I am also well aware that whether we are the client or the seller, we are all in this industry together. Our fortunes are definitely intertwined. Today, we offer up some examples of where there is still work for us all to be doing, vendors and clients alike.

From Greg Lambert at 3 Geeks and a Law: Can Law Librarian/Vendors Relations Ever Be a Win-Win Relationship Again?

From the Law Librarian Blog: What! Is LexisNexis discriminating against law libraries that cancel Lexis Advance?

 The ROI of KM

Keeping the knowledge management train running, our colleague Nick Milton discusses the seemingly fabled notion of “return on investment”. He says,

“The ROI conversation could be the best opportunity you are given to progress KM.”

Nick truly excels at breaking concepts down to make them both understandable and practical. His approach to the ROI challenge and what it could mean for your knowledge management efforts is a prime example of his prowess, outlining five key factors that present an opportunity.

From Nick Milton’s Knoco Stories blog: The “KM ROI” question – problem or opportunity?

Comfort overrated?

Throughout my 20+ years as a law librarian, I have repeatedly been asked what I do. In addition to the standard litany of items that make up the standard law librarian job description, I would often insert the phrase “push boundaries”. That was usually the hook to garner raised eyebrows and a more-than-casual interest in what I actually did on the job. While it was provocative, it was also a very true statement. I think that all of us in this profession have learned that our longevity is only partially based on how well we do the expected work. The rest, however, rests fully on our ability to expand what we do, take on new areas of responsibility, and to push new boundaries for librarianship.

Lora John takes the bull by the horns by asking how we engage with ideas that make us uncomfortable. In a world that has become so politically and culturally charged, this is a question that we must be prepared to answer – not only in theory, but also in deed. As Lora so brilliantly writes,

“What we can do is meet people where they are. We can and should lead our patrons down a research path that does not simply echo their preconceived notions (or ours).”

Do not miss this posting in which she illustrates exactly what that sentiment means.

From the RIPS Law Librarian Blog: How Do We Engage with Ideas that Make Us Uncomfortable?

 Blockchain: More than currency speculation

Blockchain continues to make the highlights. I guess that reinforces what we already know… Blockchain has become a pretty big deal in our industry. Today, we feature a short blurb from Joe Hodnicki regarding a new treatise from Primavera De Filippi and Aaron Wright.

Bottom line—blockchain is more than a new form of digital currency:

“Blockchains are being used to create autonomous computer programs known as ‘smart contracts’ to expedite payments, to create financial instruments, to organize the exchange of data and information, and to facilitate interactions between humans and machines.”

Joe gives Filippi and Wright’s book, entitled Blockchain and the Law: The Rule of Code, a big thumb’s up. You may want to add it to your own library.

Read more at the Law Librarian Blog, article also titled: Blockchain and the Law: The Rule of Code

Legal bloggers

Calling all legal bloggers

When it comes to making a splash, the conventional wisdom these days is that one needs to either go big or go home. The folks at LexBlog are clearly opting for the former as they announce an ambitious and exciting plan to go global. Earlier this year, industry luminary and blogmeister himself, Bob Ambrogi, was named editor-in-chief of LexBlog. He shares with us the big news and his vision for what could be the biggest thing to happen to industry insights since the very advent of blogging itself:

“…we are opening participation in the network to any legal blogger, without cost and without regard to whether the blog is hosted on the LexBlog platform. This means that anyone who is blogging about the law will be able to extend the blog’s reach to wider audiences and be part of a first-of-its-kind legal news network.”

Do not miss: LexBlog Opens Its News Network to All Legal Bloggers

A new look for the world’s most popular e-mail service

Google is releasing a redesigned Gmail that has everyone talking, and following are two links to more information on what Google’s got going on with the world’s most popular e-mail service; but for those of you who want just the facts, the new Gmail is about the following:

  • Sidebar that includes Google Calendar alongside your messages;
  • The ability to “snooze” emails so they reappear later;
  • Algorithmically-generated “smart” replies now available for iPhone and Android Gmail will also be available on Gmail.com;
  • New ways to store emails on your computer for offline access

The Verge: This is the new Gmail design

Tech Crunch: Google is about to launch a Gmail web redesign

Interested in more?

Peruse other topics and writers on the LAC blog.

Drop me a line to tell me what you’re dying to know—about legal research that is.

John DiGilio

John DiGilio

John DiGilio is the Senior Director of Research & Intelligence at LAC Group. He has written for numerous regional and national publications as well as taught college and graduate courses in such topics as business ethics, e-commerce, fair employment practices, research methodology and business law.
John DiGilio

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