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Messages - Ricephilx

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1
Folks,

Re: Lexis and Westlaw

Loislaw is available to law students for free, summers included, until 6 months after graduation.  You get access to their comprehensive National Collection, described here:  http://www.loislaw.com/product/subscriptions/national.htm

It IS permitted for use for non-academic purposes. In fact, since they are trying to gain market share, they encourage you to use it during your summer job.  You should be able to get a username and password through your law library. 

Link to an instant trial subscription, if you want to see how it looks and works: http://ecom.loislaw.com/freetrial/index.htp?target=demo/trialpage.htp&access=LLDEMO

The trial doesn't include all the features, like GlobalCite.  Here are GlobalCite's capabilities for your review:  http://www.loislaw.com/product/information/research/tools/globalcite.htm

It's clearly has some weaknesses. It is not as good as Lexis or Westlaw in terms of search sophistication, nor does it provide editorial enhancements or foreign law/treaties.  But I've never used it; I'm interested if actual work can be done with it.  Your expert feedback would be especially appreciated. 

Thanks,

Will   





2
Thanks for the replies.

Regarding the high hourly fees, remember, our service is intended for occasional use only, when lawyers are willing to pay extra for quick help they can trust.  We may adopt a multi-tiered system if we sense there is a demand for more-than-occasional usage. 

Re: per project vs. hourly rate:  We have a hybrid system.  It is intended to keep costs down and quality up:

When submitting projects, lawyers provide a description of the project and a limit, in hours, of how long the project should take.  Being lawyers, our clients are in a good position to accurately estimate the time a law student should take for a given project.  But if our students think a given limit is unreasonable, they are able to leave feedback on the project, and the client may raise the limit, or withdraw the project altogether -- but if a student thinks they can do it within the initial limit, they pick up the project on the spot.  This is the "first come, first serve" system I alluded to.  It is a free market competition.  If the student is unable to get it done satisfactorily within the time allotted, they have to finish the project to the client's satisfaction without getting paid for the additional hours -- if they want to remain our associate.  The client can also willingly add hours to the project if he wants to expand its scope, in which case, the student gets paid for the additional hours. 

With respect to the ABA statement, here is what I have told our future client-lawyers:

-We do not provide legal services, in the formal definition of the term, but help you provide legal services. The work we do can be thought of that of an uncertified paralegal.  In this sense, we are non-lawyers who have independent contracts with other non-lawyers.   
-You directly supervise all the work-product of our students.
-You have direct access to them when they are working on your project. 
-What you do with the work-product of our students is your business. We have no contact with your clients. 
-If and how you pass along our fee to your clients is up to your discretion, like it is with your own in-office legal assistants/paralegals. 


Thanks,

Will 


3
Stole,

Good comments.  I didn't expect to be getting into the economics of my company here, but you are a smart bunch.

1) a) We don't need firms to use us all the time as a safety valve.  Instead, we need a lot of firms, using us occasionally, perhaps an hour or two a month.  This obviously requires a lot of firms, and a lot of salesmanship -- that's our job. 

b) I see how there could be confusion here, but it actually does fit with my description.  My previous employer could have paid for me to be in his office for only half the time, and used a service like ours on the rare occasions he needed something fast, when I wasn't there.  This obviously will not work with all small firms, but we do not need the business of all small firms. 

c) We are not offering only research.  Anything a lawyer could imagine a law student could be useful for, we can do.  It's up to the clients.  But in the event research is what's needed, our students will add value to the raw research, not just send them some printouts. 

d) Yes, you could put out your own shingle. But will your clients offer you total flexibility of time?  How much time and money do you want to spend attracting and retaining clients?  These obstacles are often prohibitive for a law student with a busy schedule. 

2) Exactly.  We are not doing mega cases for mega firms  -- we are filling in for small firms wherever they need an extra hand.  I made the point to illustrate that if a large US firm is willing to regularly trust an Indian lawyer with an important task, a small firm should be able to occasionally trust a top US law student with a less important task. 

3) I used Lexis and Westlaw all the time.  It is by far the most effective way to do legal research.

4) Many law students have a full slate.  This is why our entire system is based around flexibility for students. 


Please let me address any further questions and concerns you have. 

Best,

Will


4
Folks,

Thanks for the comments.

1) This is not intended to replace an in-office legal assistant, more a safety valve that allows a lawyer to get help from a smart law student on an as needed basis.  There is no subscription fee or retainer for the client -- it is simply by the hour. 

2) Firms based in India do this exact kind of work, only they do not have a US law education, and they charge $60-70.  Many of these firms are quite successful, and have big name US clients.  Look up "Legal process outsourcing" to learn more. 

3) Firms can pass on fees like this to their clients, as a separate line item.  If for whatever reason the in-office legal assistant is unavailable, or perhaps just not that bright (remember they only make $42k a year on average), the client saves money because they aren't paying for the lawyer to do research or other lower-level legal tasks.

4) There are too many hangups about the Lexis/Westlaw issue.  I'm sure there is a way to do it without lugging around books, and without going to prison. 

Best,

Will
acelawstudents@gmail.com


5
Lazarus,

If a student associate of ours should choose to use Lexis/Westlaw despite the risks and our discouragement, it would be doubly imprudent of them to use it during summer break. 

Best,

Will

6
Changed,

I worked for an oil and gas firm as a legal assistant for a year.  This required me to do extensive legal research.  When I noticed that I was getting paid to sit around and do nothing some days, I figured there had to be a better way -- one that would save small firms money while giving them access to more qualified talent -- hence, on-demand legal assistants, who happen to be top law students.   

Best,

Will

7
Vap,

We are not lawyers. Our firm is called Insourcelegal LLC.  Our website is launching in 90 days. 

We charge the clients $50-$60 an hour.  We are the ones paying the students. 

We run the website, write the project management software, market and advertise, screen students, and manage any client-student problems.  The students just log in, do projects, and get a check in the mail.

Best,

Will

 




8
DudeMan,

Thanks for your input. 

Yes, we realize we may be excluding a wide sector of bright, talented, ambitious students.  Unfortunately, the problem we face is we need a fair standard to compare candidates with high disparities of experience -- it is not that useful to rely on class rank when comparing a 1L to a 3L, for example.  Nor is it especially fair to have a predefined list of law schools, because very talented students go to "lesser" schools for any number of reasons. 

With respect to our prestige, that's not something we will ever worry about.  Our goal is to deliver top service to law firms at an affordable price, and provide a meaningful, flexible PT employment option for current law students. 

Best,

Will

9
Stole,

Happy to address any specific concerns you may have. 


IrrX,

Haha, I, um, discourage those at Cooley from applying. 



Best,

Will

10
Bob,

You raise a good point.  Our clients will all be lawyers, who are ultimately responsible for what they do with the research or other work-product they receive from the students.  We will not be offering "legal advice".  Clients will have direct interaction with the students, guiding the project in the directions it needs to go. 

Best,

Will
acelawstudents@gmail.com 

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