Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bloomberg Law is Coming to Town

Bloomberg Law is being rolled out in Law Schools across the country. The more I get to know it – the more I like it. Since Bloomberg is coming to offer training here at the Law School next Monday and Tuesday, I thought it might be a good time to pick out some of my favorite things about this new kid on the legal research block.

I am going to start with features that appear on the opening page when I sign in to my academic account. I’m pretty sure this page is designed exclusively for the law school environment because there on the opening page is a section entitled “Law School Resources,” under which appears a section entitled “Career Insights.” There you will find sub-categories such as “Interviews, Networking and Job Search,” “Summer Employment,” and “Twenty Tips for Thriving as a Summer Intern.”  In the same  area,  there’s a link to a book entitled Thinking Like a Writer: A Lawyer’s Guide to Effective Writing and Editing by Stephen V. Armstrong and Timothy P. Terrell, which could be useful if one is debating between using “during the time that” as opposed to “while” and didn’t want to go look for Strunk and White.

Moving on to sections of more legal substance, I like that right there on the opening page is a section for “Secondary Sources,” and “Transactional Resources.” Under “Secondary Sources” one can get quick access to BNA Portfolios, highly prized in practice for their detailed information on technical topics. For example:  Tax Management Portfolio, Income Taxation of Trusts and Estates, No. 852-3rd, provides detailed coverage of the rules governing the income taxation of estates, trusts, and their beneficiaries.  Under “Transactional Resources” there’s a link for a resource called “Document Descriptions” which can jump start your quest to find out what a “bear hug letter” is. The description gives details on the characteristics, purpose, and key sections of the document. Then, to find an example, scroll to the top of the opening page under “Getting Started,” click into “DealMaker Documents,” scroll down to “bear hug letters” and hit search to get real life examples.  

I am not going to do justice to the depth and complexity of this resource but perhaps I have whet your curiosity? Bloomberg Law is not going to take the place of Westlaw or LexisNexis (yet). For example, it has nothing to compare to the annotated statutory codes found on both services. But it does make good use of freely available resources (like Pattern Jury Instructions – Federal Courts) and the sophisticated resources formerly available through BNA combined with the business sophistication of Bloomberg. It provides alternative access to federal dockets AND one gets access to documents found on a docket at no additional cost.* So no, it is not going to take the place of Westlaw or LexisNexis anytime soon but it sure is interesting.

*When looking at a docket list, if the number next to the document is in blue, it means the document has been requested before and will be instantaneously available. If the number is in green, that means no one has requested that document, but you can still request it and there will still be no additional charge   

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