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Law Library Management and Legal Research Meet Artificial Intelligence

Magazine article Online Searcher

Law Library Management and Legal Research Meet Artificial Intelligence

Article excerpt

New technologies based on artificial intelligence (AI) will transform not only the legal information world but also the management of law libraries and law firms. Al has moved from theoretical innovations in computer science departments to practical implementations, particularly in the legal field. Legal information vendors are now offering products that are ready to integrate with systems already in place. These tools offer advances in managing library operations, particularly for electronic resources. Beyond libraries, AI tools enhance law firm management as well.

AI technologies such as machine learning and predictive analytics will also have a substantial effect on how legal research is conducted. It behooves information professionals to pay attention to how new tools change both back-office functions and research capabilities.


Library Maintenance Agreements (LMA), as originally introduced by West Publishing (now Thomson Reuters), were meant to help law libraries determine whether retaining print products alongside electronic versions would meet user needs as well as be a wise expense on the organizational budget. An LMA unifies the library's print subscriptions into a single contract designed to reduce administrative costs across time (the library receives a single bill each month, locking in prices to guarantee lower year-over-year increases for the life of multiyear agreements). This type of arrangement is supposed to allow libraries to plan for the future, but with rapid developments in publishing, a 3-year commitment may no longer be the wisest move.

Once touted as an innovation, LMAs are experiencing resistance. Law librarians fear being locked into restrictive, expensive contracts that are difficult to renegotiate except at renewal time and that limit the ability of libraries to experiment along the way. Reconciling monthly statements with invoices enclosed with shipments of print products reduces administrative burden, but restrictions concerning adding/eliminating/swapping titles remain a problem.

It's ironic that the very solution to problems frustrating law library administrators, such as multiple invoices from the same publisher for shipments of individual titles and loose-leaf updates, is designed to keep libraries bound to print with expensive and opaque LMAs that obscure the true cost of subscriptions. To determine if an LMA is right for your library, have your Thomson Reuters representative compile a detailed comparison of print and Thomson Reuters ProView eBook subscriptions covered by your existing contract(s) and under an LMA, including an estimate of your projected savings during the next 3 years ( - agreement).


The ability to bill clients for time and expertise is baked into the very fabric of the law firm, and libraries are part of this billback practice. In the past, librarians scoured usage reports from vendors to assess who is using which resources associated with which client legal matter.

Onelog ( offers seamless and transparent access to electronic resources, facilitating e-resource portfolio management. With Onelog, librarians have the ability to track the usage of web resources, searches performed, and costs incurred; control and automate passwords used to access online resources; and submit/track reference questions. These vendor-independent usage statistics validate resource use for charge-back purposes.

Other useful software solutions for the library, developed by the U.K.-based ITS (, include MyPC (web-based computer booking for shared computer resource management) and R&R (item, room, or even person booking, embedded with rules that determine how each can be booked, for how long, and by whom).

Another U. …

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