Eric Goldman thinks it may have as a result of a broad statutory definition of “book.” For another analysis, read Eugene Volokh’s analysis of whether the statute would prevent bookstores from reporting patron-on-patron crime.
This is a republished guest post by Scott Kuhagen. Scott is a third year law student at Temple University Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia. You can find his blog at scottkuhagen.com.
I’ve been tinkering some with Lexis Advance, the updated version of the Lexis legal database, and thought I’d offer some initial thoughts on the user experience.
Two things I should state up front:
- When I began law school, I was very much in the Lexis camp. I had used LexisNexis Academic and LexisNexis Congressional as an undergraduate and in jobs before law school, and I was comfortable with the vaguely similar interface. I also strongly preferred Shepard’s Citation Service over Westlaw’s KeyCite feature, which I found unnecessarily unwieldy.
- When WestlawNext came out last year, I began using that much more often because it was a significant improvement over Lexis and so-called “Classic Westlaw.” I’ve since grown to like it very much, but am mindful that in practice, the price of using WestlawNext can be very high—$60 for a search, and $15 for each document opened from a search, according to an article by Professor Ronald E. Wheeler, Jr., Director of the University of San Francisco Law Library – h/t Law Librarian Blog)—so I’m trying to not get too used to it!
So far, I’ve used Lexis Advance to do some basic research and test out how it compares to regular Lexis. For the sake of illustrating some of my points, I conducted an intentionally very broad search for “modified categorical approach immigration 3d Circuit.”1 This was an attempt to get relevant results about how the Third Circuit has applied this (admittedly difficult-to-explain) doctrine to examine whether a criminal conviction fits within a potential removability ground in the Immigration and Nationality Act, if the statute under which the person was convicted is phrased in alternative elements and only some—not all—of those elements could constitute removable offenses. Here are some initial thoughts about what I’ve found:
Starting Your Search
Just like Google, Bing, or even WestlawNext, you can start your search by typing it into a single search box. If you want to immediately narrow your search at this point, there are numerous options for restricting by practice area, jurisdiction, and source type; as you might expect, Lexis has also included advanced options for constructing Boolean-type searches. I do not really have a strong reaction to this part, as those are standard features of many other websites and academic databases, but compared to what I’ll call “regular Lexis,” it does remove the step of selecting databases that you want to search up front.
Narrowing Down Your Search
I like two of the new changes designed to facilitate quicker access to the documents you’re seeking: (1) the date range slider; and (2) the choice of source tabs at the top.
The slider makes it easy to restrict your search by a specific date range.2 This graph also gives you an idea of how popular the search terms have been over time. With respect to the choice of source tabs, once you’ve received search results, the ability to quickly change the type of results you want to look at depending on what type of source you need—for example, switching from cases to analytical materials or other secondary sources—without having to select new databases to search, is also helpful:
Endnotes in PDF Versions of Lexis Advance Documents
When you either email yourself a PDF of a document, or download a PDF version of a document, the endnotes in that document are not clickable (i.e. you cannot click a endnote and be taken to the end of the document to read the note). In longer law review articles or treatise sections, this is highly inconvenient. I have—many times—sought out a document on Westlaw or WestlawNext specifically because they provide this function, which makes navigation far simpler within the document. In Lexis Advance, if I want to read the endnote, I have to scroll to the end, find the right note, then scroll back up to continue reading; this is quite disruptive to the overall reading process and absolutely untenable if you intend to read documents on an E Ink reader like the Kindle. Granted, this is also a problem in regular Lexis.
Copy and Cite
In Lexis Advance, when you highlight text and choose “Copy Clip to Clipboard,” the resulting citation is missing a pinpoint citation. Both regular Lexis and WestlawNext supply the pincite when copying clips. In Lexis Advance, you’re given only the generic full citation without the specific page reference to where your highlighted text appears. I would hope this type of functionality arrives soon.
They’re kind of interesting, and are one of the most noticeable changes to how a user actually uses the service compared to regular Lexis. They seem useful for managing several different documents at once, especially when it prevents you from leaving a document when you click another citation or link. But I must confess to finding them distracting because the entire page has to reload in order for the new document to be displayed in a new Lexis Advance tab. On some level I’d prefer to just open an entirely new browser tab, rather than have multiple documents open in Lexis Advance tabs within the same browser tab. But it seems that it’s difficult to even do that. When I press Control and click a link, which should theoretically open a new browser tab in Chrome, a new Lexis Advance tab opens in the same Lexis Advance tab instead. This might be my own somewhat neurotic web browsing preference, but I suspect there are others who deal better with one document per browser tab. On the other hand, Kyle Courtney, a law librarian at Harvard Law School, praises [PDF] the numerous document tabs within a single browser tab, opining that they make it “easy to toggle to different steps in the research trail path without opening 34 windows and losing track.” Reasonable minds can differ!
I know I have not engaged in a rigorous examination of Lexis Advance’s search capabilities compared to Lexis Advance or other databases, but Dan Baker at the University of Houston Law Library has more developed thoughts in this area, and his two posts on the subject are worth reading (especially his second post).
At this point, I expect that I will continue to try to use Lexis Advance and get used to it, but I’m hard-pressed to say why I’d use it over regular Lexis for basic legal research. Someone conducting more intense and sustained research over a longer period of time may feel differently. The single search box is nice, but if I have to select specific databases, that’s not the end of the world for me. Otherwise, the changes, while appreciated, do not seem major enough to the user experience to entice someone away from regular Lexis.
- I realize, in retrospect, that including “3d Circuit” in my search terms might have been an imprecise attempt to force a focus on Third Circuit cases, mostly by hoping for hits on “3d Cir.” or other such permutations in the citations of cases. Unfortunately it appears that in the jurisdictions tab on the single search box in Lexis Advance, one can only choose “U.S. Federal,” not individual federal circuits, along with specific states. [↩]
- Although LG Editor-in-Chief, Josh Auriemma, points out that this is both similar to and slightly less useful than Fastcase’s 3D graph visualization. [↩]
A study published yesterday by the International Center for Law & Economics seems to indicate that Microsoft uses Bing to promote its own products to a greater extent than Google uses Google to promote its own products. Might this have some effect on pending antitrust actions?
Meet Matthew Butterick’s Equity font. You should be reading this article right now in said font unless I’ve messed something up, or you’re using a seriously outdated browser.
I had the privilege of beta testing the font for Matthew, and I’m a fan (obviously, or I wouldn’t have embedded it into this blog). I used it in a number of court filings before it went live, and I’ve been just as satisfied with it as I have been with my typical [prohibitively expensive] filing font. The sales pitch here is that this is a font made by a lawyer, for lawyers. In particular, by the lawyer who literally wrote the book on legal typography.
“[I]f you can find a better font for legal work, buy it.”
Butterick just released a really neat type specimen on Equity that, inter alia, outlines the history of the 1930s font named Ehrhardt that served as the inspiration for Equity. It’s an interesting read and it’ll give you an idea for what a professional can do with the font.
The license terms are very progressive, which is why I can embed the font here on LG. It also allows limited embedding in Word documents if you’re transferring files back and forth between computers without a license for the font.
Check out Equity. You’ll dig it.
We got our hands on a new feature from the Fastcase Cloud Printing Suite recently that we’ve been looking forward to sharing with our readers. In our last review of the Fastcase Cloud Printing Suite, I mentioned that I was looking forward to experiencing the Cloud Printing integration with Microsoft Word. This feature takes your Word documents, parses through them, identifies the case citations within, and allows you to pull up any or all of the cases in one fell swoop.
While the browser plugin component of the Cloud Printing Suite is a killer feature for Biglaw types, the Word plugin is a must for offices of all sizes.
I foresee several different ways one might use this product to benefit his or her practice. The way that I have primarily been using it is to go back before oral argument begins and use this feature to pull all of the cases listed in my own brief. It really streamlines the oral argument preparation process. The other less obvious and perhaps even more useful way that one might use this product is to incorporate it into the document receiving process. At my firm, legal assistants scan and OCR documents into our case management system upon receipt. Training them to use Acrobat (or the Nuance Free PDF Reader) to convert the PDF into a Word document and then run the Cloud Printing app to extract all the cases cited by opposing counsel doesn’t require significant additional time or effort. So when I sit down to read opposing counsel’s brief, I can already have a file saved in the CMS with every case cited by opposing counsel.
“As we’ve come to expect from Fastcase, the experience is simple, seamless, and straight-forward.”
Now that you hopefully have an appreciation for the theoretical utility of the product, let’s talk about the implementation. In my unscientific study, the add-on is able to identify and find each and every case citation in my brief approximately 99% of the time. The efficacy is very slightly reduced when running the app on opposing counsel’s OCRed brief, but that’s a limitation of the OCR technology and there’s little Fastcase can do about that. Depending on the quality of the brief, the quality of the scan, and the quality of the OCR algorithm used, your results may vary. I have had great success scanning documents in with our Bizhub at 400 DPI, and OCRing and converting to Word with Acrobat 8. The results I have seen show close to 100% accuracy. Just today I identified several citation errors in a brief from opposing counsel within ten minutes of receiving the document by mail.
Now let’s talk about usability. As we’ve come to expect from Fastcase, the experience is simple, seamless, and straight-forward. After downloading a small add-on program, a new ribbon is added into Word (see below). After entering your activation key, you can either pull single cases by citation, or click the Extract Cases button, causing the add-on to attempt to identify each and every case listed.
Visually, the implementation is similar to the browser-based Cloud Printing plugin that we reviewed previously, which is great because we were fans of the browser visuals. Upon clicking the Extract Cases button, we’re met with the following image:
As you can see, even in its beta stage, the citation identification algorithm is excellent. I have yet to see an actual false identification (not caused by my own mistake). Once you select the cases you want, you can either print them or save them to various file formats.
It’s really a simple feature, but it’s a quality-of-life improvement. I am constantly surprised by how adding small tweaks like Cloud Printing to my practice aggregate to save a lot of time over the long term, but the effect is really undeniable.
As I mentioned, the program is in beta, and will likely be modified before its release. With that said, here are some features I’d like to see:
- Native support to save documents as PDF.
- The ability to save multiple cases as separate files within a zip file. (I mostly want this to support my Kindle addiction.)
- Where the user elects to save multiple cases as one Word or RTF file, it would be nice to have headings filled out properly to allow for easy case navigation with the Word Navigation Pane.
Note that all of these feature requests are fairly nit-picky, and that should tell you something about the guys and gals at Fastcase. Just as I’ve developed a “Shut Up and Take My Money” policy with Apple products, Fastcase is approaching that level of confidence with me as a result of their consistently well-designed and highly polished apps.
If you still don’t have a Fastcase account, I’m strongly urging you to consider checking them out. We need progressive thinkers like these guys pushing tech development in our field, and handing over our dollars supports future development.
If you’re having trouble updating to iOS 5 right now (generally resulting in an Internal Error popup), you are not alone. It seems that the problem is actually due to an overwhelming number of phones downloading, updating, and pinging Apple’s servers.
Don’t fret. The easy solution is to keep trying to update. Lucky for you, there’s a more expedient way to do it. Unfortunately, I’m at work right now, so I can only write this how-to for those of you running OS X.
1. Download iOS 5 (presumably you already have or you wouldn’t be here.)
2. Locate the .ipsw file. More than likely, this will be located in a hidden folder. The way to get into it is to click on your desktop, select the Go menu, and then click Go to Folder.
3. In the Go to Folder box, type in ~/Library/iTunes/iPhone Software Updates/ and press return.
4. Copy the .ipsw for iOS 5 to another folder (your desktop, perhaps).
5. In iTunes, click on your iDevice, and hold option while clicking “Restore.”
6. Click the .ipsw file you just downloaded.
7. Repeat until it works. It may take upward of 15 tries.
Of course, if you’re the patient type, you could probably just wait until tomorrow and I’m sure the issue will resolve itself. I’m not the patient type.
Mandatory Legal Disclaimer: on the off-chance that this deletes all your phone content or bricks your phone, I’m not responsible. You’re doing this at your own risk.
- Friend, avid listener, and token representative law student Scott Kuhagen joins the ‘cast this episode.
- Laura passed the bar. Whew.
- Josh has a special oral argument before an appellate court at his alma mater. Aww.
In the News
- Revisiting a topic we discussed last time: Eric Schmidt claims Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility isn’t about the patents…
- More about our trolling pals at Righthaven: are they on the ropes?
- Does it violate federal anti-wiretap laws to remotely take control over your stolen computer? A federal court thinks it can be.
- Yay for cash-strapped state government: Amazon has agreed to collect sales taxes in California
You’re Doing It Wrong
- The Ninth Circuit refuses to publish an opinion so it doesn’t reflect poorly on the parties, and draws more attention to that opinion, which will still show up in legal databases, than if it’d just quietly left the opinion unpublished.
- Josh raises an ethical question about hourly billing and efficiency.
Love for Our Geeks
- @ouij brought this proposed change to the iTunes Licensing Agreement to our attention — but Josh forgot to talk about it.
Like What You Hear?
We want to talk about what you want to hear about! Send questions, ideas, comments, complaints, and corrections by email to podcast /at/ legalgeekery /dot/ com.
I’m starting to become legitimately afraid for our country. Althouse called my attention to a recent Wall Street Journal article by Orin Kerr opining on the likely scenario that Congress will grant the request of the Obama administration in the name of “cybersecurity,” and make violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) felonies rather than misdemeanors, as they currently stand.
The unenlightened may think, “Good, punish those computer terrorists!” The problem is that the CFAA has consistently been interpreted incredibly broadly. Kerr points out two particularly disturbing cases:
2. A former employee was charged with violating the CFAA for violating company policy and using his work computer for reasons other than “legitimate company business.”
Why isn’t there a big fuss about it already? Althouse suggests that federal prosecutors tend not to prosecute misdemeanors. If this legislation changes CFAA violations to felonies, it’s reasonable to assume that we’ll be hearing about this statute a lot more in the coming months.
What say ye, felons?
As always, if you like what you hear, PLEASE support us by taking one minute of your time and reviewing us on the iTunes store, or (especially) writing a little review on iTunes. It helps people find our podcast, and more importantly, gives us incentive to keep podcastin’. Also, email us your tips and thoughts at podcast /at/ legalgeekery /dot/ com, because we without our listeners, we would cry ourselves to sleep at night.
In the News
– Google buys Motorola mobility, likely for the patent portfolio:
- Laura disagrees with her antitrust professor on the difference between open source and unfettered licensing, and thinks this deal is more analogous to Microsoft’s bias toward including Internet Explorer on Windows machines.
– Speaking of patents, how ’bout the Fed Circuit’s [Sweet] interpretation of Bilski? (Josh’s edit.)
- “Such a method that can be performed by human thought alone is merely an abstract idea and is not patent-eligible under section 101 [of the Patent Code].” I probe Laura on why she thinks this is “dangerously overbroad.”
– Josh thinks you’d be crazy not to listen to the recent This American Life podcast on “When Patents Attack!” After you listen to our podcast, of course.
-”This Is My Next” editorial on software patents and the system’s inability to handle them: http://thisismynext.com/2011/08/11/broken-patent-system/
– Do you like text messaging? Do you like paying a ridiculous amount of money? Then you’re in luck! http://www.engadget.com/2011/08/17/atandt-streamlining-individual-messaging-plans-august-21st-leavin/. AT&T is ditching their previous plans and only offering unlimited plans for $20. Way to go, AT&T. Just in time for iMessaging to kill text messages.
Love for Our Geeks
– @andyfromcornell writes in to pimp the Penn State Law Civil Rights Clinic’s recent grant of cert in Coleman v. Maryland Court of Appeals.
– Love for @typogforlawyers on ATL: http://abovethelaw.com/2011/08/small-firms-big-lawyers-a-period-piece/
(And an adorable discussion between Matthew and Bryan Garner on Twitter.)