This post was written by Connie Quarnstrom, manager, Legal Editorial Operations at Thomson Reuters

I recently attended the NALIT Professional Development Seminar in Santa Fe, New Mexico, along with my colleague Jeremy Crumb. NALIT is the National Association of Legislative Information Technology, a group under the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). The members of NALIT are information directors and officers, network analysts, application developers – basically any and all IT personnel at the state legislatures.

Let me make this clear – I am not an IT professional. I manage editorial teams that publish legislative content in print and on WestlawNext. Therefore, it may seem odd that I would be invited to a NALIT event with IT developers.  But it’s actually not strange at all. I am involved with NALIT to create relationships with the states’ IT professionals to enable faster, smoother, and easier acquisition of source data for our legislative products.

At the seminar, Thomson Reuters was invited to present and participate in a panel discussion on Third Party Use of Legislative Data. I was a panelist, along with Kate Beck, computer applications developer from the Legislative Service Center in the state of Washington, and Emily Shaw, national policy manager from the Sunlight Foundation in Washington, D.C. This provided Thomson Reuters a unique opportunity to show providers of source legislative data what we actually do with their content.

Most of the attendees had never seen or used WestlawNext, so this was an exciting opportunity to get them engaged. I showed screen shots of WestlawNext, highlighting the enhancements to legislative content created by the Codes Editorial teams, as well as KeyCite flags, history information, the Notes of Decision feature, statute versions, citing references, and editorial context and analysis documents. I think what impressed the IT professionals the most was how we created relationships between many different documents.  All in all, the panel was very well-received.

In my involvement with NALIT over the past few years, I have met many of its members. What continues to amaze me is that the members’ stories of budgets, system migrations, and adaption to change are nearly identical to what I hear every day. We are all more alike than I had ever imagined. Recognizing the common ground that we all walk on will help secure a strong relationship between Thomson Reuters and our legislative friends.

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