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Each week at a large East Coast law firm, LexisNexis and Westlaw representatives come in for 90 minutes or so to answer questions and let the lawyers and staffers use their research sites for free. “Everyone comes down, bringing all the research work they know their clients won’t pay for,” says the firm’s library director, who asked not to be identified. To her, it’s a simple way to mitigate — but not solve — a thorny problem: Research costs are high, and neither the firm nor many of its clients want to foot the bill. The little work-around isn’t exactly a trade secret. Says the library manager at another firm: “We teach [lawyers] that if it’s nonbillable, and you don’t think you can do it any other way, wait for training.”

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