I feel unclean... so unclean...
As part of Legal Writing and Research, we had to do Lexis Nexis and Westlaw training this week. I have never felt so bribed in my life. Hoping to learn something about how to look up citations, do research, or make sure my case law is up to date, I instead found myself subjected to an hour's worth of sales patter regarding Rewards Programs, Bonus Points, Redeeming Points, and advantages over "the other system." I'd expect that at a time-share condo pitch or maybe from Tesco's, but not from two organizations ostensibly helping me to learn about the law.
Is it too much to ask that I be expected to make my choices on legal research tools based upon the quality of information they provide and their usability? The brief and rubbish introduction I've had leads me to believe that Westlaw has the edge on usability, while Lexis owns Shepards, and so might (but I certainly couldn't tell you from the presentation) have an edge on telling me which cases are up to date. In the meantime, I've come away with a mug, a light-up pen (which will be sent to my brother for his amusement), several hundred 'bonus points' and a bad taste in my mouth.
If anything, this has convinced me further of the malign influence of money on the legal system.  There's just so much money sloshing about that it fosters these perversions. Think about it: OK, providing students with free access to your databases makes sense, as it means you've got a trained user base to sell to later. (I've commented before on how software producers will refrain from prosecuting students with pirated software for just this reason.) But the elaborate and lavish system of rewards, incentives, bribes, and free chocolate! (Am I the only person who found that very grade-school?) The cost for this has to be recouped somewhere, and it's in higher prices to the law offices that use these systems, and ultimately, to their clients.
Right now, a good assignment that would allow me to use either system to get some worthwhile legal research experience would be far more useful than a hundred light-up ballpoint pens. And in the meantime, if I'm going to sell my soul, it's got a higher going rate than a goddamn coffee mug.
I need a shower now.
(Entry title from The Mr. Snaffleburger Corporation Childrens Show. Motto: Conform! Consume! Obey!
 Please don't get me wrong: Tesco's is a sterling organization with a wonderful IT department and the kind of company from which I expect rewards patter. I have no intention of drawing it into my 'plague on both your houses' opprobrium against Westlaw and Lexis.  Is there a bit of irony or hypocrisy in people who are happy to support McCain-Feingold because of the obscene amount of money in politics looking forward to highly-paid jobs in law?