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Selecting the Lesser of Two Evils: Saving Money by Choosing One Legal Research Provider

Last year's Law Librarian Survey from The American Lawyer revealed that 31 percent of law firm librarians were moving in the direction of choosing a single electronic legal research vendor, up from 18 percent the year before. 

Today, via Joe Hodnicki of the Law Librarian Blog (who also summarized the survey in September), I learned that Toby Brown at 3 Geeks and a Law Blog pulled out his adding machine and did some calculations, concluding that making such a move, at least for "primary law" materials, would save a firm roughly $1500 per year, per attorney (assuming the reduction is from two -- Westlaw and Lexis -- to one).

Brown calls this a conservative estimate, as the math is based on the notion that only 25 percent of the legal research costs are attributable to primary law, whereas he believes the actual proportion to be much greater. Assuming primary law to include cases and statutes, I'd tend to agree that the proportion is greater.

It's unclear to me whether Brown is advocating keeping some access to multiple services for "secondary law," which I'm assuming would include law reviews, treatises, etc., where the content certainly differs more between vendors. If that's what he's advocating, how would keeping access to multiple vendors (but still saving money) work in practice?

Associates (and other firm lawyers): Have you already been limited to one vendor? How was the restriction implemented? What happens if you really, really need something that you can't get on the preferred system?

Posted by Eric Lipman on May 12, 2010 at 01:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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