Thursday, April 06, 2006


I recently received my new Westlaw bill and then received my new Lexis bill shortly afterward. The Westlaw bill came with an offer to come visit me and explain it. I really wasn't able to take them up on the offer, but it certainly set me up for bad news. The Lexis bill just showed up.

Both bills were dramatically higher than in previous years. We had thought we were preparing for jumps in future prices on these lines, adding more than we expected in the coming year. But both Westlaw and Lexis caught us by surprise.

I complained not too long ago about legal publishers and vendors killing the goose that killed the golden egg (see that entry here. When a publisher or vendor raises the price of a product dramatically, they may look to their home office as though they are more profitable, but they are only hogging a larger proportion of the vendor/publisher's share of the library's money. Since the monopolization of legal publishing, so much of the product we buy is concentrated in the hands of West/Thomson and Lexis/Shepards/and their related brands that almost any price increase only hurts my ability to purchase the products of sister brands. It all goes to the same ultimate bottom line. There is a finite amount that the university and law school is willing to give to the law library.

You are not getting more money out of the stone out there; you are killing the goose. There once was a symbiotic relationship between legal publishers and vendors and the related libraries. We relied upon each other. I am afraid that the newer managers are unaware of that mutually beneficial relationship. I am not discussing anything unethical or even as tacky as free lunches or donations to AALL. I mean that law libraries always showcased materials to students and pracitioners. We bought things that most folks could not afford, or thought they couldn't until they used them for a while. If they came in often enough and found the item invaluable, bingo! The publisher made a sale. If the student used Westlaw and Lexis as a student, you guys have certainly been successful at making them reliant on those resources to the point where they have become absolute must-haves in the law firms of today. Who could have dreamed of such a sea change in law practice in the couse of a mere 20 years?!

It never would have happened without librarians and libraries. There is a mutuality here. Do not kill us off, and don't cut off your own noses to spite your sister departments, either. It will not benefit your home corporations, law or libraries!

Timing is Everything (by Jacob Stein, Washington Lawyer, June, 2001)

The link above is to a masterly essay at the DC Bar Association Washington Lawyer website by Jacob Stein. He opens with a lengthy quote from Ecclesiastes:

Washington Lawyer > June 2001

Legal Spectator
Timing Is Everything
By Jacob A. Stein

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: /
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; /
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; / A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; /
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; /
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; /
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; /
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
-Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

There is a time to sue and there is a time to counterclaim. There is a time to add a defendant and there is a time to drop a defendant. There is a time to admit and there is a time to deny. There is a time to depose and there is a time to use interrogatories. There is a time to speak and there is a time to remain silent. There is a time to send a bill and there is a time to reduce a bill. There is a time to be bold and there is a time to be cautious. There is a time to cross-examine and there is a time to waive.


There is a time to be prudent and there is a time to be reckless. There is a time to ask for a raise and there is a time not to ask for a raise. There is a time to sign a bank loan and there is a time to cut overhead. There is a time to move to recuse the judge and there is a time to flatter the judge. There is a time to go with a big law firm in order to pay the college loans and there is a time to go straight.

There are people who are out of time with the times. There are those who are prematurely wise and who only come into their own time as they grow older. And there are those who are in time when young and out of their time as they grow older. The right time for the right person at the right time.
Timing may be everything in the practice of law. As a preliminary matter, in deciding what to do for the client, one must consider whether it is the time for action or whether it is the time to do nothing. To let things be. Let sleeping dogs lie. This brings in the Precautionary Principle. Obedience to the principle requires that we do nothing unless the proponent of doing something can demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that doing something will not make things worse.

The Precautionary Principle carries with it the temptation to procrastinate. Lawyers are addicted to procrastination. How do you determine whether you are using good judgment in leaving things as they are rather than putting off any decision? If the factors are considered and a decision is made, then you may not be procrastinating. But in my own case I am never sure.

Timing is of critical importance where the sentencing guidelines connect with the future of your client. The guidelines give the prosecutor the option to reduce the sentence by his filing a sentencing statement with the court declaring that the defendant has cooperated. Therefore a defense lawyer must not waste time in telling his client that there is no time to waste in offering cooperation to the prosecutor. If the client delays, he will find that the prosecutor has all the cooperation he needs from those who got there just in time.

A judge recently made this observation: "Counsel's ability to persuade the judge or jury is now far less important than his ability to persuade the prosecutor that the defendant should be allowed to cooperate with the government. . . ." It is a race to the swift.

In a negotiation one must determine when it is the time to hold and when it is the time to fold. There are those who are content to leave something on the table in order to get, with certainty, the benefits of a reasonable offer. Then there are those who are not content to fold unless the adversary's blood is on the floor. Here again the Precautionary Principle comes into play. Will the rejection of the "best and last offer" end the negotiation and lead to a disastrous trial that exposes weaknesses in the case that have as yet not come to light? When to hold and when to fold.

There is also a time to open and a time to close. And this is the time to close. I opened with Ecclesiastes. I close with Shakespeare.

There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
-Julius Caesar 4.3.249-52

Jacob A. Stein may be reached by e-mail at

I have snipped his masterful essay, for which I am sorry. But I recommend you visit him directly at the link above, and look for more recent essays, since this is old. It just deals so perfectly with my topic: Timing.

Timing of these bills, timing of the offer to meet, timing of the jumps in pricing, and scattering of the price jumps. These vendors and publishers are attempting to cover their tracks with the library community. I do not like being manipulated. I do not trust companies that try to relate to me or my organization as a prey rather than a customer to be treated with.

I object.

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