AALL Boston 2023 – Bev Butula


First and foremost, I would like to thank LLAW for the grant to support my attendance at the AALL conference in Boston.  Second, thank you to Kris Turner and Carol Hassler for the opportunity to be part of a great team and fun presentation.    Lastly, a special thanks to my Reinhart colleagues.


Several of the Wisconsin contingent enjoyed some reading time Friday since the weather presented a few travel challenges.   However, once in Boston, a little rain could not dampen the enthusiasm for the upcoming conference.   (Plus, Bloomberg gave away umbrellas!)


On Saturday I attended the PLLIP Summit – Navigating the Here and Now.   Some of the highlights from this all-day event included an early morning discussion on several topics including: 1. Generative AI (we adapted before, we will adapt again), 2. Training (pathfinders and training continue to be key), 3. Partnerships (do Finance and Marketing know how the library can support them?), and 4. Analytics (what practice groups use which products, what practice groups use which services, what practice groups have the most alerts).   

Keynote speaker, lawyer-psychologist Dr. Larry Richard, addressed coping with change.   This was a fascinating look at his research into lawyer personality and coping with change.   His website – https://www.lawyerbrain.com/ – offers a variety of insights.  One available paper entitled, “Herding Cats: The Lawyer Personality Revealed,” aligned with his presentation.   In addition, he stressed the importance of reframing negative thoughts, and being grateful. 


Another interesting session concerned collaboration.    Evidence shows that collaboration improves the bottom line.   It isn’t a goal; it is how to achieve a goal.  A take-away statement was “the library can be the connecting tissue to share information.”


Sunday brought a new set of sessions and more learning opportunities.  The opening session was entitled “Art of Community.”  It was a moving and personal discussion regarding connection.  It was far from a generic presentation and the speaker, Charles Vogl, provided some very insightful commentary.   An article on his website,  Creating a Culture of Belonging: Invitations & Growth, https://www.charlesvogl.com/articles/creating-a-culture-of-belonging-invitations-growth  touches on some of the presentation that I thought was significant. 


Another Sunday session I enjoyed was “Gold in Them Thar Hills – Docket Research and Litigation Analysis in State and Federal Courts.”  Some obvious issues were discussed such as access, inconsistency in coverage, unknown updating policies and deleted/removed online records (e.g., 2014 PACER deletion issue and subsequent restoration or WCCA 2018 removal decision).    In addition, the session offered specific examples for searching expert witnesses, attorney billing rates, novel arguments briefed but not yet decided, corporate documents, etc. 


Monday morning should have been named – Wisconsin Rocks!   Not only were Kris, Carol and I presenting “Preserving and Promoting History: Libraries with Long Memories,” Bonnie Shucha and Pam Noyd were each speaking at different deep dive programs.   Bonnie was the coordinator for “Recognizing the Third Sovereign: Promoting Awareness of, Respect for, and Access to Native American Tribal Law” and Pam was a speaker at “Real World APIs: Who Is Using Them, and What Are They Doing with Them?”   For a small chapter, we were well represented. 


“Hunting and Gathering on the Legal Information Savannah’ was a Monday session focusing on the research of Professor Susan Nevelow Mart (https://scholar.law.colorado.edu/faculty-articles/1548/) and how different legal platforms address design and algorithms.  A significant take away was the significance of including secondary sources in research.   In addition, discussion of using Large Language Model (LLM) in search (think Chat GPT) and the trends of this functionality in the legal platforms.  One vendor reminded the audience that the well-known legal platforms are rooted in the law and AI functionality is coming from those sources.  


Tuesday I attended “SCOTUS: A Year in Review.”  Each panelist discussed a few cases decided this term and why they viewed them as significant.   Issues included Major Questions Doctrine, First Amendment, and Dormant Commerce.


My final session dealt with the virtual workplace.   Most of the attendees now work a hybrid model.   There were a handful that were 100% remote and a handful 100% in the office.  Topics like team building, increasing online training, and touching base with the team on regular basis were discussed.  


Boston is a lovely destination.  I am grateful to LLAW for supporting me and so many others.  We are a small but mighty group.    Thank you again for grant and the opportunity to continue to grow.   I am happy to discuss programs in detail with anyone interested, just give me a call.   

Enjoy your summer!

Bev Butula

Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren