Something New From West: Drafting Assistant

West might be onto something with this idea. Drafting Assistant, being introduced by West at Legal Tech New York as we speak, offers a suite of tools that integrate with your word processing system of choice (Word or WordPerfect), to pull in legal research, discovery material, deposition transcripts, case analysis along with other drafting tools peculiar to the legal trade. Drafting Assistant will reduce the number of steps a lawyer has to take to get all of the information pulled together for a finished product. For example, from the press release:

For example, the Locate Authority feature can identify the best case to support an argument that an attorney has just crafted, using trusted Westlaw research and without breaking the writer’s chain of thought. To quickly find and cite from a transcript or discovery document, Drafting Assistant can search and access all case-related information contained within West Case Notebook. With just a few mouse clicks, paralegals can save hours or even days, using tools that check the validity of cases cited, insert links to case law and correctly format documents and citations to comply with jurisdictional rules.

Drafting Assistant is but one tool within an integrated suite of tools, services and content called Westlaw Litigator. The suite includes:

• Westlaw CaseLogistix – document review and production tools
• West Case Notebook – legal research, case analysis and transcript management
• LiveNote Stream – live remote streaming of deposition audio, video and transcript text
• West Case Timeline – graphically displays important events in a case
• West Publisher – bundling & sharing of transcripts, related exhibits and other documents
• West km – leverages the internal work product and intellectual capital of a firm
• Westlaw Roundtable Group — helps find the perfect expert tailored to the exact needs of a case
• West CourtExpress — retrieves court or agency documents quickly and accurately
• Westlaw Expert Center – searches and profiles expert witnesses

But of course, this suite integrates with the toney WestlawNext service. I shudder to think what the price of this Cadillac, no make that Maybach-worthy suite of digital surgeon’s instruments will set an intrepid lawyer back. Ah well, kudos to West for taking legal tech a step forward into the future, even if the cost makes you want to jump back a bit.

Press release found here.

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Wikipedia's Gender Gap. Revisited

A couple of year’s ago, I wrote this blog’s most popular post: “I Finally Figured Out What Is Wrong With Wikipedia.” The crux of the article was a study showing that only about 13% of contributors were women. Obviously, a curated encyclopedia of supposed educational content with such a disparity of contributorship can’t possibly cover all the angles.

Fast forward to today, and an article from Sunday’s New York Times reveals Wikipedia is still struggling under the weight of the same deficit. Sue Gardner, Director of the Wikimedia Foundation has set a laudable goal for herself: increase female contributorship to 25% by 2015, but she recognizes some steep obstacles.

Not the least of which is what is perceived to be women’s aversion to conflict, an exercise found in abundance in the Wikipedia world, with roots in hacker mentalities and argument-fueled, semi-anonymous discourse that pervades the entire on-line world in abundance. Men, supposedly, feed off this conflict, while women are turned away from it.

Gardner also cites the massive disparities in quantities of writing pertaining to issues of interest to women compared to issues of interest to men. Although a somewhat banal example, check out the Wikipedia entries for the television shows “Sex In The City” and “The Sopranos” to get a sense of the interest divide.

Normally, I find myself accustomed to such divides, but the numbers relative to Wikipedia make me squirm: a sizable percentage of online researchers stop there first, and the number of adults who use the site to look for information has nearly doubled from 2007 to 2010.

How to fix this? I am not certain. Although I don’t normally shy away from conflict (I am a lawyer after all), I feel that the burden of time is my enemy here. I simply don’t have enough of it to spend creating new articles of interest to women or updating and expanding existing articles. However, maybe it is time to put a bit of effort in. Maybe we female Internet authors should pay a bit more attention to the single most popular research resource on the Web, if for no other reason to get our voices out there as authorities and to beef up those topics that interest and affect us. Perhaps if we build it, they will come.

What IS the Internet Anyway?

People are still grappling with the concept, but I think we might have a better grasp than poor Bryant Gumble and Katie Couric did. What is it? A giant computer billboard? You can decide for yourself, while you check out their hilarious struggle with the meaning of life, the Universe and the Internet waay waay back in 1994. Before even Google was created: