Law books ain’t cheap

Certain old law books are very, very expensive (like this one).

Certain new law books are also very, very expensive. This book has slipped from its original publication date by about 3 years so far, so there’s no guarantee that it will actually be coming out in November this year, as currently promised. But just look at that price.
£785.
Yes: that’s not a typo. It actually costs £785 for a single volume of a single book.
It has 568 pages. 
That’s £1.38 per page.
Law book prices are just insane sometimes.
 

It’s not just librarians who suffer from stereotyping

Unfortunately, lawyers get it too…and one of the best (for best, read “irritating and patronising”) ones is the Legally Blonde female lawyer.

Y’know – that attractive yet dumb blonde girl who floats through life, until an major event makes her re-evaluate everything, and then she works her socks off to show everyone how smart she really is?

Seems like the BBC have been watching a few too many repeats of that film recently, judging from their reporting of this story (although Legally Blonde isn’t specifically mentioned in the report).

Look: she’s blonde!
Look: she’s pretty!
Look: she used to work in a beauty-based job! That means she must be stupid!
Look: she went to court to battle on her Mum’s behalf! Isn’t that an unexpected event!
Look: she’s studied to become a lawyer! And excelled at her studies!
Look: she’s actually really, really smart! Who could have imagined?

Dear god – all it needs is her bust size, and a hint that she’ll be sleeping with powerful people in law firms in order to get a job, and it could be a Daily Mail report.

Really, BBC, is this the best way you could report this? The undertone of surprise that someone female, blonde and pretty could also actually be really rather intelligent, and able to make full use of an amazing opportunity when it’s presented to her, is quite disturbing. For a profession that’s working its socks off to try and address inequalities in the representation of women, this sort of patronising reporting undermines everything that women in law have worked so hard to get…you know, that small thing called “recognition of their equal skills”?

Keeping (t)ABS on England

It’s all change at the moment in Englandshire law firms, and what happens in England no longer stays in England. Alternative Business Structures (ABS) are all the rage, and after a gradual run up period where firms could register interest in the conversion to ABS status (with mainly personal injury firms (PI) and smaller firms doing so, some large businesses such as BT and the Co-operative group being an exception), now they’re actually real – the first three groups to be approved as ABS’ were announced on the 28th March 2012.
Mid tier and larger firms in England seems to be adopting a “wait and see approach”, watching how the smaller, more adaptable firms (and also therefore possibly those who are more hungry for a cash-injection) fare before committing themselves to any tie-ups with investors. The existing large bodies like the Co-operative Group are big enough, and well funded enough to push on and expand their existing legal services in their own direction.
The reaction to this business option in England is likely to be a good predictor of the impact of the Legal Services (Scotland)Act 2010 in Scottish law firms. The Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 will allow 49% non-solicitor ownership of law firms in Scotland when brought fully into force. The regulations involved in the implementation of the 2010 Act are being drafted at the moment, and will be consulted on in two lots, in the Spring and Autumn of 2012.
The recently concluded Scottish Government consultation on ABS in Scotlandfound that most respondents favoured the inclusion of accountants as “regulated professionals” (those who are authorised alongside solicitors to own the majority, 51% share of the company), which raises the prospect of law firms co-owned by solicitors and accountants. It’s yet to be decided what the actual professions authorised to have ownership of a law firm alongside solicitors will be.
And what sort of changes are likely for cross border Scots/English law firms? Will it be more beneficial to become an ABS under one regime than the other? And how do law firms traditionally owned by, in effect, their staff, change to a culture where they’re partially owned by, and accountable to, external funders?
So, to see what a future Scottish law firm could look like, for the next year, we can watch to see how English firms deal with it…
Popcorn, anyone?

The apparently unsociable librarian

I’m the first to admit, I love social media stuff. I’ve been on Twitter for almost 5 years, I (slightly grudgingly) eventually joined Facebook around the same time, and have played with all sorts of thing in between, from Formspring to Pinterest.

However – my use of all those sites is almost exclusively personal (apart from Twitter, which is actually heavily weighted towards work-relevant networks). There’s not actually much need that I can see to do anything involving social media in its current form for my own library service. I do enjoy reading about how academic and public libraries are furthering the use of their resources and exploring how to best use sites, using Facebook to inform users about events and service specifics, Twitter to respond to individuals, and Pinterest to collate interesting visual materials…but it just doesn’t work in my situation.

As a corporate librarian, I’m in a very different position from a public or academic librarians, in relation to sharing resources. Those types of services are set up to spread information, and allow as many people as possible to benefit from their resources, partially because the people using the resources are also helping to fund them (either through tuition fees or taxation). In a corporate library, the employing organisation has invested from their own funds to create their own library service, and properly staff it. A lot of time and effort is spent in a corporate library to create resources that are tailored to the needs and demands of internal service users, and which are therefore a valuable business asset, and definitely not a thing which could be shared. Corporate libraries cannot be sociable outside their own body – their work is for the benefit of their own, internal users only, the exact reverse of the situation for public and academic libraries.

And if it were possible to use social media in a manner suitable for sharing externally (eg for marketing purposes, which the library may have involvement in), most of the social media sites are based on the model of free sharing, e.g. Pinterest (although this has its own copyright-infringement issues, due to the sites enabling of such easy online sharing), or sites which are free because they carry advertising. This throws up all sorts of issues for a firm – what if the adverts on a free site were for an offensive service/company, or for a competitor of a client? By having firm-linked material on the same page, we could look like we were endorsing a client competitor. What if we accidentally infringed copyright on Pinterest by using an image that seemed freely and legally available, but in reality wasn’t? It could be a highly risky activity to be involved in.

Corporate library services basically have to be faceless, neutral, and non existent on social media.

So…don’t think I’m being unsociable if I’m not joining in with these discussions and experiments, but just remember: for every interesting public use of social media, there’s probably a corporate librarian watching it all, feeling frustrated that they can’t join in with the fun stuff…

Any other library service types out there unable to be sociable?