#AALL16 – Chicago, here we come!

Posted on 17th Jul 2016 in Events, ICLR News

Team ICLR is in Chicago for the 109th Annual Meeting & Conference of the American Association of Law Libraries. The theme is “Make it New: Create the Future”. This is our conference diary, which we’ll top up daily.

AALL16 banner

The ICLR team in Chicago is a pair of Pauls – Paul Hastings, Account Manager, and Paul Magrath, Head of Product Development and Online Content. This diary will be updated regularly, with new content going in at the top.


Tuesday 19 July

Last day of the conference begins at 9 and ends at 2pm. Perhaps because it’s the delegates’ last chance to grab some goodies and discuss products with the vendors, the exhibition hall experiences a last surge of activity. Soon after 11 we announced the result of our prize draw of business cards, for the chance to win an iPad Mini. And the lucky winner is…

By 1.30 most of the exhibitors are taking down their stands and packing up. The empty spaces look rather forlorn. But we’re done now, and we’re outta here. Another double-A double-L. Next year it’ll be in Austin, Texas, where the theme will be …

Austin theme

And ICLR will be there.

In the meantime, in about 10 days’ time, we’ll be in Oxford, England for the International Association of Law Libraries (IALS) 35th Annual Course – July 31 to August 3, 2016


Monday 18 July

Our little tin of business cards is getting fuller and fuller. Wonder who’ll be the lucky winner of our iPad Mini prize?

Demonstrating ICLR Online is our other main activity at the booth, which with our comfy sofa is conveniently done sitting down, with the laptop on the coffee table. We take a quick tour of the features of the product – new case feeds on the Dashboard, with judgment transcripts, case summaries and full case reports in their allotted columns; simple and advanced Case Search, Case Browse (by series, year or volume), Legislation Search (using data from the official government site, legislation.gov.uk), and a Session History feature that captures your cases and legislation as you go and lets you reopen them, or save them for later in your Briefcase “bundles”. Sometimes librarians whose use is intermittent like a refresher course or a quick trip round the newer features (such as our transcript service) introduced since last year’s conference.

SandwichThe sofa has other uses. At lunch, a few lucky delegates get to sit down with their buffet plate and eat in comfort. Today’s lunch is mainly sandwiches. The organisers are very specific about what, exactly, a sandwich is (has the word ever been construed in a reported case, I wonder?) and how many of them you can eat, so no one goes hungry. 



Sunday 17 July



Conference proper begins. Much of the day is spent saying Hi to the delegates who stop by our booth, No 421 (opposite Hein Online), offering them pens, pencils (most librarians seem to prefer pencils over pens, which is interesting), our rather handsome hardback notebooks, and the things that look like a zip-up wallet but turn out, on being unzipped, to be a shopping bag. Useful for anyone but particularly if you live in a state that requires the stores to charge for carrier bags. We also have some power bars, a useful source of back-up power for your portable device. Unlike the freebies from some of our rival vendors, these ones actually work.

We’re also running a business card raffle for an iPad Mini, so delegates drop their business cards into a tin on our stand. We will do a draw on the last day (Tuesday). It’s a useful way of collecting names and contact details, which we hope will eventually become contract details when they sign up to ICLR Online.


One of the other vendors, FastCase, holds a reception at a penthouse suite in a neighbouring hotel, to which we are kindly invited. The view is stunning (see above) and they’re also giving away some rather (to us) provocatively worded T-shirts. But I think the intended victim is a mashup of two rather dominant legal information vendors. Need one say more?



IMG_6767But that theme of “you can manage without them” brings me to a topic that is slightly sensitive and one of the main reasons why we need to be here to talk to our North American customers.


There, I said it. And yes, it’s happening. Our own little legal information Brexit. ICLR is pulling its content from Westlaw and Lexis at the end of this year in this and some other territories. It’s not something we chose to do lightly, but as a small non-profit charged with the mission to ensure the proper reporting of legal precedents in England and Wales, for the benefit of the whole common law world, we need to do this to survive.

Most delegates have been very understanding about this, and simply want to know when it’s happening, and how to manage the transition. We’ll be contacting all those who inquired about this nearer the time, and setting up trials for ICLR Online. (The territories affected are: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, USA. Elsewhere, if you’ve been getting ICLR content via Lexis or Westlaw, you’ll continue to do so.)


Saturday 16 July

First task today is setting up the ICLR stand in the exhibition hall. We’ve gone for a relaxed look and feel, with sofa and armchair and a low glass top table for informal demonstrations of the product on our laptops. AALL have given us a good location, in a busy spot with plenty of traffic. The two Pauls stand ready to help.

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Paul H left, Paul M right.


The conference proper begins this evening with an Opening Reception. Delegates get wine and buffet, and we stand around waiting to talk to them. (Nothing is for nothing, and if exhibitors like us want a drink we have to buy one of the special tickets that delegates are given free – though no doubt they pay handsomely for the privilege.) Hot dogs on the buffet are great, and there’s also popcorn, though no one is showing any movies at this time.

As for dinner… well if you have never had a deep pan pizza pie, Chicago (where they were invented – by whom is hotly disputed) is THE place to try one. We came, we tried, and we were defeated. (A single slice would have been enough, and we only ordered the small size pizzas!) But at Gino’s East the micro-brewed beer called Broken English was great.


Friday 15 July

Jet lag stirs us early and we meet in the lobby for a stroll in park in the early morning sunshine. Chicago does nothing by halves and Grant Park is no exception. This wide angled expansiveness is well reflected in the famous Cloud Gate sculpture by Anish Kapoor, better known as the Bean.



Other attractions in or around the park include the massive fountain which from a certain vantage point shimmers with rainbow hues, the ornate early skyscrapers built a century or more ago along Michigan Avenue and the splendid museums, such as the Art Institute of Chicago and the Field Museum of Natural History. After a hearty brunch at the appropriately named Yolk diner we split up to deal with the museums. Paul M spends the afternoon at the Art Institute, which has an excellent special exhibition of paintings from the 1930s, while Paul H hooks up with Jason from Wildy’s Bookshop to give the Field Museum the attention it deserves, including an encounter with its most famous resident, the remains of a Tyrannosaurus Rex (or in her case perhaps Regina) named Sue. (In fact its sex is unknown, and the name recalls the person, Sue Hendrickson, who found the 67 million years old fossil.)


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Say hello to Sue – she’s 67 million years old


Thursday 14 July

We arrive at Chicago O’Hare international airport after a cramped flight in a very full aeroplane from Heathrow and spend an hour and a half queueing for passports, customs declarations and baggage reclaim. Then there’s another hour and a half in a taxi creeping towards the city on the congested freeway. Our taxi driver is an affable chap who turns out to have won a visa lottery to come to America from Ethiopia. The situation there is very bad, he says. The government suppresses all opposition and has locked up all the journalists. They regularly shut down Facebook and WhatsApp or even the entire Internet, he says, to prevent news and discussion. He has family back there to whom he sends much of the earnings he gets working 15 hours a day driving his taxi. He thinks America is great. Except for the traffic and the other drivers – he points out several as we go – who are texting while they drive. We concur with his disapproval.


Paul H recommends Green Line


Paul M consults his conscience

Chicago is hot, especially after England and her cancelled summer. After our cramped and interminable journey, our first port of call is the hotel bar, where Paul H insists we sample one of the local beers, Goose Island’s Green Line pale ale, which we’ve tried from a bottle in London, but is available here on tap.  

We’re staying at the massive Hyatt Regency on Whacker Drive, overlooking the river, where the conference is being held in vast subterranean halls. Already, in the bar, we see a few of our friendly librarians from the American universities who subscribe to ICLR Online for their direct access to authorised Law Reports of England and Wales since 1865.

At dinner in a beer garden round the corner I seem to have a mini chap in my glass of wine. It can’t be a leprechaun because we’re not in Ireland. Perhaps he’s my conscience? (But my conscience is clear.)



This post was written by Paul Magrath, who also tweets as @maggotlaw. It does not necessarily represent the opinions of ICLR as an organisation.

Comments welcome on Twitter @TheICLR.


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