UoL Library Blog

Develop, debate, innovate.

EMLIP Meeting & Westlaw Update – 9 May 2012

Posted by JackieHanes on 10 May, 2012

I attended my first EMLIP (East Midlands Legal Information Professionals) meeting held at Freeth Cartwright in Nottingham.  The meeting attracted an unusually high turnout (including 4 academic law librarians) – perhaps drawn by the promise of lunch courtesy of Thomson Reuters?

The main event was a presentation from Santiago Alonso (Westlaw UK Product Manager) on the new Westlaw platform scheduled for release in Q2 (July) 2012.  Westlaw considers their main competitor to be Google – not LexisLibrary et al.  New features in Westlaw UK include:- word wheels (predictive typing) indexing case citations, case names, legislation titles, and the Sweet & Maxwell legal subject taxonomy; improved relevance ranking of results (currently displayed chronologically); ability to filter results by subject, date and content type; and unlimited number of results (currently limited to 4000). 

Westlaw UK are also introducing new products including:- an online legal encyclopaedia led by Daniel Greenberg (editor of Stroud’s judicial dictionary), of articles providing a statement of the law on a subject in England, Scotland and Wales; a release of 50 more Sweet & Maxwell e-book titles (pay per title – additional cost on subscription); and status checking software to review legal citations in word documents.  Westlaw UK are also looking at mobile optimisation, and are planning APIs that could be used in mobile technology or embedded into websites.  The (as yet unnamed) legal encyclopaedia is a particularly welcome addition to the product range.  Westlaw asked for name suggestions – with the most apt being Halsbury’s Laws of England!

Westlaw International (currently well-hidden in Westlaw UK) is likely to move to a new platform in the near future, but will remain part of the Westlaw Academic subscription.

Also presenting was Mosharaf Hossain (Knowledge Management Consultant) who demonstrated the Solcara Legal Search federated search engine.  Solcara is aimed at the legal practice market, and searches across all major legal subscription databases, external legal websites, intranets and document management systems.  A federated search enables the user to search multiple datasets from a single search.  Results are organised by dataset, and you can link directly to the primary resources.  You can also create collections of resources and share them within your organisation.  While second federated search engine is probably not a path we would follow at UoL, it is interesting to hear that Westlaw / Lexis et al can be interogated by a federate search engine – which makes me wonder why Summon and Primo are unable to interogate legal databases …?

Thomson Reuters (Westlaw & Solcara parent company) then left the EMLIP – retiring to the Rutland Square Hotel to arrange lunch.  EMLIP continued their meeting, welcoming new members including me, Caroline Ball (University of Derby), and Paul Keegan (Fraser Brown).  Members exchanged views of Lexis PSL as an alternative to PLC; and discussed policy and opinion on sharing personal information (e.g. photo and social media) on company intranets and websites.  I was particularly pleased to make contact with law librarians at DeMontford, Derby and Nottingham Trent Universities.

Lunch was a splendid hot-fork buffet with a choice of fish-pie, chicken curry and vegetable pasta; plus couscous salad, potato salad and bread rolls (carb overload?); and followed by a ‘mystery fruit brule tart’ and fruit salad.  I avoided the wine – it being rather warm in the conservatory, and me being quite thirsty (never a good mix)!  Thomson Reuters gave us a lovely goodie bag of pens, usb stick, post-it notes, stress ball, drinks bottle and chocolates.  My daughter was particularly taken with the ball, bottle and chocolates …

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