COVID exposed the stark boundaries of traditional legal publishing. Lexis and Westlaw built their reputations by developing robust libraries of federal and state primary law material ( cases, statutes and regulations). The issuances of individual state agencies e,g, health departments as well as the terra incognita of village, township, borough, and city law was not even on their “to do” list. To make matters worse in the first weeks of the pandemic shutdown, a deluge of local orders, policies and proclamations were published in unpredictable and almost un-capturable formats including, tweets, texts and Facebook postings.
Law firms and librarians found out almost overnight that every client needed to understand the landscape of “hyper local” law. Law librarians rose to the challenge. This year as part of this blog’s annual Hits & MIsses Survey, I explored COVID specific issues that emerged in 2020.
I asked survey participants what kind of specialized products they were tasked with developing to fill the void in traditional legal publishing.. 63.3 % of responders indicated that they had led or participated in a COVID Project.
What Kind of Projects? Below is a word cloud of responses identifying the kind of COVID related projects which librarians were tasked with.
Curating Resource Pages, Newsletters, Trackers, Alerts and RSS Feeds
- More than half of those who worked on COVID Projects created some form of COVID resources page for either internal or external use.
- Almost 100% of the librarians who were tasked with COVID projects developed methodologies for tracking COVID related impacts.
- Almost every responder performed some form of tracking which results in both internal and external alerts, newsletters and RSS feeds.
- 50% of those participating in COVID projects undertook the tracking of state and local executive orders, regulations and policies.
- Special topics included : remote work, court closures and tracking other law firms responses to COVID
- More traditional COVID related materials tracked include dockets, cases, news and industry developments.