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Friday Roundup

My dream come true:  more ways to look up cases.  Or rather, new ways.  In the face of declining revenues growth -- 1% to 2% a year, as opposed to 5% to 7% a year in the past -- Lexis and Westlaw have decided to give their programs a major facelift.  More than just a facelift, actually.  This article, which takes a first look at Westlaw's overhaul, scheduled to debut next Monday, points out that the "this is no mere cosmetic redesign. WestlawNext completely changes the search interface and the search engine behind it."  (A screenshot of the new interface, substantially streamlined from the present one, can be found here.)  Lexis is coming out with a revamped product -- imaginatively titled "New Lexis" -- later this year.

One of the goals of Wexis is to make the search process easier and more intuitive, as web users have come to expect with search engines like Google.  Interestingly, Google itself is developing a legal research tool, called Google Scholar, which you can check out here.  It contains all state appellate and supreme court decisions since 1950, federal cases from 1923, and US Supreme Court cases from 1791.  The downside is that it doesn't allow the complex searches that the big guys do, but the upside is a big one:  it's free.

And speaking of free, here's the really big news:  you no longer need to be tethered to your office computer (or laptop) to do legal research.  A new legal research company, Fastcase, is coming out with an iPhone app which, as this article explains, will let users access cases and statutes from all jurisdictions, without charge. 

I can hardly wait.

The almighty dollar.  As my wife will sadly inform you, I didn't get into law for the bucks; her favorite observation is that the only thing that amazes her more than what I'll do for money is what I'll do for no money. 

The lawyers at K&L Gates in Boston don't have that a problem.  After a nine-day trial in a will contest, they submitted a bill for $710,321.50 in fees and $95,868.47 in costs to the probate court for approval for payment from the estate.  A pretty nice haul, considering that the estate was valued at only $1.2 million.  The judge cut their take to $510,000 in fees and $64,000 in costs, but a hat tip to Legal Blog Watch for telling us that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court kicked the case back to the trial court for a re-examination of the fees, finding that there was evidence of "overlawyering."  Ya think?

At first I thought this was from The Onion.  Speaking of Overlawyered, they cite this article from the London Telegraph:

Nicole Mamo, 48, wanted to post an advert for a £5.80-an-hour domestic cleaner on her local Jobcentre Plus website.

The text of the advert ended by stating that any applicants for the post ''must be very reliable and hard-working''.

But when Ms. Mamo called the Jobcentre Plus in Thetford, Norfolk, the following day she was told that her advert would not be displayed instore.

A Jobcentre Plus worker claimed that the word ''reliable'' meant they could be sued for discriminating against unreliable workers.

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