Thursday, 24 June 2010

June meeting - Minutes

12.30 pm Wednesday 23rd June 2010

In attendance

Caroline Mosley (CM), Caroline Covington (CC), Diane Harris (DH), Helen Dunn (HD), Alison Parker (AP), Hazel Hewison (HH), Rachel Relves (RR), Matthew Cadden (MC), Stephen Wheeler (SW), Jackie Sellars (JS), Barry Vickery (BV), Adele Champkin (AC), Jasmin Hollingum (JH), Sue Kendall (SK), Christine Lambert (CL), Tricia Wyspianska (TW), Pat Pritchard (PP), Susanne Homer (SHo), Sally Hassell (SHa) & Phil Uttley (PU)

1. Apologies

Margaret Brittin, Jon Beaumont, Christine Newlove, Aine Astbury, Caroline Janukowicz, David Houston, Erica Foster, Mandy Hulme, Denise Watkins, Mike Troon & Louise Young

2. A.O.B.

· Report back from Conference

Jasmin Holingum presented her report (which is attached to the same email as these minutes) and thanked ALLICE for funding her bursary. She encouraged others to apply in future years, should the bursary be available, as the experience of attending conference was very worthwhile

· BLS library at Aston University

Adele Champkin advised members that a complete refurbishment of the Aston University library will be completed over this summer and promotional material would be available soon afterwards. Online access to Lexis Library and WestLaw was also being considered. Details of the new developments would be sent to BLS members and she encouraged them to feedback on this and anything else pertaining to the library

· ALLICE Union list

Phil Uttley asked those members who wanted to make a contribution to the ALLICE Union list to send details of their law report and journal holdings to him in the form of a MS Word document by 9th July

· Old law books

Please let Diane Harris know if you are interested in pooling any old law books that you might be holding, with a view to donating them to a charity, so that she can look at the possibility of asking some organisation to collect them in bulk

3. Round table discussion

· Enquiry trends and measurement

Legal enquiries are now generally only those involving complex issues or ‘difficult to source’ cases. (PP/CM). Legal research work has reduced in some firms so that only minimal resource is required. (SHo/CM)

More business development work is being done (HH/PP/CM) in fact, following active promotion, it now requires the allocation of significant resource. (CM)

Work on company research is increasing (AP) and regularly involves non-UK companies as these are the ultimate holding companies of many new clients. (PU/RR) Additionally, more knowledge is now required on foreign legislation and systems. (RR) International company research might be a good topic for a future ALLICE training course. (PU)

Whilst it is known that some firms are restricting their legal research enquiry hours (SHo), the trend is for library staff to be required outside their normal times. (PU/RR)

Enquiry forms were used by some firms (SHo) but others had met resistance from lawyers. However, adopting some form of enquiry management system is useful for monitoring and measuring enquiry work and may help justify library resources going forward. (AP)

Visibility of library input can be diluted where research work is presented back to lawyers by third parties, eg, professional support lawyers (PSLs) and this makes justification of library resource more difficult. Some libraries ‘brand’ their work to prevent this happening. (PP/CM)

Research Monitor is used by some to monitor usage of electronic resources (RR) and this can be useful in justifying and/or terminating subscriptions to online resources. It also helps identify training needs and could be used to allocate costs. Details of this system will be sent to members later via the secretary. (BV)

Current measurement of enquiry work is restricted to manual systems, mainly Excel spreadsheets. The problem with these is that they are dependent on people remembering to fill in all their enquiries, which can be difficult at busy times

· Allocating costs

Generally, no firms allocated library resource costs other than those costs incurred when purchasing documents from Companies House, Land Registry, etc. Some firms had tried in the past but even though PSL and trainee time spent on research was sometimes charged back to clients (PP), doing the same for library time had met with resistance. (CM)

· Lexis v WestLaw

At one firm, users had wanted both systems (CC) but, once usage statistics and costs became more visible, most opted out of Lexis subscriptions. Taking both systems, however, had allowed some firms to cancel hard copy versions and, therefore, reduce costs but this meant that they were now more committed to retaining both on-line subscriptions. (CL/RR) Where firms had both systems, there seemed to be a general trend towards WestLaw by users. Both suppliers offered bespoke training but the quality of this varied by system and firm. (HH/PP/SHa)

Lexis ‘commentary’ was far superior to that on WestLaw (HH) but WestLaw case analyses, especially the case precedent information, was preferable. (DH)

Lexis ‘commentary’ package costing was restrictive, though, with reduced packages sometimes incurring increased costs. More recent contact with Lexis, however, was revealing a more flexible approach. (HD/AP)

Historic legislation, especially the ‘point in time’ facility was a unique feature of WestLaw (DH) and while Lexis offered the same information through their helpdesk, they could only offer 24 hour response. (SHo)

Lawtel was also discussed and it was felt its key features were its alerts and unreported cases.

4. Next meeting
This will take place in September and it is hoped that Sweet & Maxwell will be in attendance. A location is required for this. Please let Phil Uttley know if you are able to host

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