#AALS 2017 Conference Diary

Posted on 6th Jan 2017 in Events, ICLR News

The story so far… Paul Hastings and Paul Magrath of ICLR are in San Francisco for the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools. We’re at Booth No 406 in the Exhibition Hall, sweltering under the chandeliers of what is otherwise known as the Grand Ballroom. Hundreds of law school deans, professors and librarians circulate and network here among the stands, enjoying the coffee and pastries on offer between sessions and seminars held in various other “ballrooms” in the vast Union Square Hilton hotel complex.



Although there are some librarians, the majority of the delegates are not our usual target audience. As deans and professors, they may be end users, and they may be the ones telling students to use English case law for comparative or international legal courses, but they are not the ones curating and managing legal information resources. But they still need to know where to find it. Following our disaggregation of content from the big two, Lexis and Westlaw in the US and Canada, they now need to come to ICLR Online for our law reports and Citator+.

A common inquiry concerns what is here called Shepardization. Nothing to do with rounding up ovine strays with a black and white dog. Named after the 19th century legal indexer Frank Shepard, it’s the categorisation of the relationships between earlier cases and the later cases which consider or apply them (or indeed distinguish or overrule them). What used to be called “noting up” of cases (annotating reports of earlier cases or inserting little stickers in their pages, listing the citations of later cases), and what we now call “case considerations”. It’s one of the functions of our Citator+ product. It’s prompted us to wonder whether a glossary of commonly used terms in legal research would help our non-domestic customers to navigate and utilise our content more effectively. (Action point duly noted.)


Compared with some of the librarian conferences, such as AALL in Chicago last year, the number of exhibitors is small. They include a handful of British publishers, including Oxford University Press, Edward Elgar Publishing and, of course, our old friends and conference drinking companions, Justis Publishing, represented as usual by Managing Director Masoud Gerami and Head of Sales, Aidan Hawes.


Also as usual, Justis are offering a number of prizes, including their coveted Barrister Bear. And ICLR are offering the chance to win an iPad mini. The prize draw takes place at noon on Friday 6 January, the third day of the conference.


UPDATE: and the lucky winner is… Janet Sinder, Director of the Library and Associate Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School. Congratulations to Janet!


Among the exhibitors are some slightly surprising vendors, such as the Adako relaxation foot-massage chairs and the Hidow TENS pain relief devices. Why have we not seen these at the librarian conferences? Could it be that the deans and professors are more stressed out and in need of relaxation than librarians?


We have our own approach to relaxation. At the end of the day, we unwind over a couple of beers in the Cityscape bar at the top of the hotel’s highest tower, for majestic views of the sunset over San Francisco, before venturing out to one of the city’s great restaurants. Thanks to helpful recommendations via Twitter, we seem to have no shortage of these to try.