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Everybody knows there are two keys to profitability: 1) increase revenue, and/or 2) reduce costs. One area where you can exercise some control is watching your expenses for legal research. Here are 12 quick money-saving ideas: 1. Buy some books. It is usually cost-effective to own several targeted practice books. Examples: state code, state encyclopedia, specialty practice books. These often contain useful checklists and forms, which can speed your productivity and enhance your work product. 2. Bundle purchases. Ask your legal research vendor about package plans that can save you money on legal research services and books. 3. Monitor orders. Make sure that every book you receive is one you actually ordered. Many vendors send unsolicited material based on your previous purchases — a very sly marketing strategy. 4. Audit yourself. Are you using materials you have purchased? If not, cancel the subscription. Only keep what you use. 5. Capitalize on your vendor’s expertise. Don’t assume that sales representatives necessarily are your enemy. They can be a terrific resource and help you stay current. But set ground rules about appointments and whether you prefer in-person visits or telephone calls. Explain the nature of your practice so they won’t bother you with unnecessary calls or useless information. 6. Scale down. Ask your vendors if they offer special programs for small firms. Do they customize options for your state or practice area? Explore whether Loislaw, LexisOne or FindLaw may serve some of your needs. 7. Pay-per-view. If you don’t need a subscription service, but occasionally want to use online research, ask about pay-per-view by credit card options. 8. Call customer service for online research assistance. Staffers can give you good ideas about preparing a search strategy and suggestions for appropriate databases. The smaller the database searched, usually the more cost-effective it is. Oftentimes, they will walk you through the process, and conduct a pre-search of your request. 9. No free lunches. While there are great free resources online, be sure the database is current and authoritative. 10. Use bookmarks. There are some great Internet “compiler” sites (where someone has already gathered together a number of valuable resources). One of my favorite compilers is www.ceoexpress.com. Its law resources include the American Bar Association’s law links, FindLaw and federal and state resources. Bookmark your state and local bar association Web site or your favorite law library site to speed up your next search. 11. Blogs. Web logs (aka blawgs) are an up-and-coming legal research resource. These diary-style resources are often put together by experts in subject areas, and usually include commentary about new cases, legislation, regulations and trends. 12. Get a library card. My favorite legal research cost-containment idea: Join your local law library. These libraries can be under the auspices of your county courthouse, your local federal or supreme court bar association or a nearby law school. No matter which one, they are a bargain. Library membership dues are usually less costly than a single book purchase. If your local law school library does not charge dues, support it through a tax deductible donation. Your library is an overlooked resource that is truly a bargain. Alvin Podboy is director of libraries for Baker & Hostetler, based in Cleveland. E-mail: [email protected].

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