This question was posted to the PLLIP MyCommunities page on September 16, 2021. 

We’re Open!

  • We opened up on September 3.  Before that secretaries were coming in 2 days a week.  Associates are encouraged to be in the office, some partners are not coming very much.  I, the librarian, have been coming in 1 day a week for the last 16 months and I can continue with that schedule.  We are a firm of about 30 attorneys.  Most of the large firms in the area are not back in full time.
  • We have been asked to be in the office at least 2 days a week since July 6.  They had expected to change that to 3 days per week after Labor Day, but we’re still on 2 days a week because of the increase in cases.  This isn’t a hard mandate (I don’t know if they’re checking), and we’re not required to select the days and stick to a schedule.
  • Our offices are open, and we are welcome to work in the office if we want to, or need to, but we’re not currently required to be in the office.   There are no incentives for coming in, but they were rewarding those of us who are in with lunches or special afternoon snacks.  I think the lunch ordering became problematic, because that has stopped.  But, they did issue gift cards to local food places as a thank you for those who have been coming in. Nothing has been said about when we would be re-opening, or what the options would be once we do.
  • The office reopened after the July 4th holiday with a hybrid schedule.  They request 3 days on site and 2 days remote per week. This change is supposed to be permanent going forward.  They also relaxed the dress code so that we can wear jeans every day, and have been bringing in free lunch on Wednesdays. As far as I can tell it is working well.  The office is quiet and half full any given day, which is good for social distancing.  They’ve recently asked that we wear masks in hallways and common areas, but not at our desks, due to the unfortunate continuing wave here in the state.
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We Need Intel!: Recap of AALL’s Competitive Intelligence Foundations Training

By Theresa Greco, Advisory and Managed Services Manager, HBR Consulting

I recently had the privilege of attending the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) 2021 Virtual Competitive Intelligence Foundations training.  Special thanks to the Private Law Librarians and Information Professionals (PLLIP) Grants Committee for sponsoring my attendance to this informative event. 

The two-day training educated attendees on the skills needed to effectively establish a competitive intelligence (CI) function in their firm.  Presenters also shared practical tips and tricks for leveraging competitive analysis for enhanced marketing, client management, and other firm strategic initiatives.

Facilitator Patricia Ellard kicked off day one with a healthy dose of enthusiasm and motivation.  “Confidence is key!” were her words of encouragement to new and experienced CI professionals gathered on Zoom to learn all they could about the ever-evolving Competitive Intelligence function within a law firm.

The importance of “value adding” was a key theme throughout the event.  A panel discussion with Business Development (BD) and CI specialists Barbara Malin, Emily Rushing, and Samantha Callahan reinforced that CI is not an “information collection” activity and that “data on its own is never intelligence”.  What turns a “data dump” into CI is “connecting the dots” and pointing out both the risks and the opportunities for the client.

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Taking on Data Analytics

Reposted with permission from AALL Spectrum, Volume 26, Number 2 (November/December 2021), pgs 46-48.

By Miram Childs, Director, Law Library of Louisiana Supreme Court; Andre Davison, Research & Information Operations Implementation Manager, Orrick LLP and Scott Vanderlin, Student Services Librarian, University of Chicago D’Angelo Law Library

Data is everywhere. Many law librarians’ job responsibilities increasingly require them to understand and handle data. What advice, recommendations, or tips do you have to help legal information professionals improve their data skills?

ANDRE: Fifteen-plus years ago, mathematician Clive Humby made headlines when he declared that “data is the new oil.” His metaphor explained that “just like oil, in its rawest form, data is almost useless. But when it is refined, it can be turned into something much more valuable.” Firm law librarians have the unique skills and tools to refine and transform data to perform analytics to support the practice and business of law. Data can seem intimidating, but I will offer recommendations that helped me become more acclimated to using and understanding data analytics. 

VOLUNTEER FOR PROJECTS

At my previous firm, our new CIO created a project to revise our budget reporting process. We were previously utilizing an Excel spreadsheet to track our annual budget. He asked me to lead a project where our goal was to transform the invoice data we were collecting into insights we could use in our budget report. In this project, I learned to utilize tools such as Microsoft SharePoint and Power BI to transform a considerable amount of data into a digestible format for our finance committee. I was able to take some courses to help familiarize myself with the products. My willingness to volunteer to lead that project helped me learn new methods and processes to transform large amounts of data into actionable insights.

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Law Librarians are Data Specialists

Reposted with permission from AALL Spectrum, Volume 26, Number 2 (November/December 2021), pgs 42-43.

By Diana Koppang, Director of Research & Competitive Intelligence, Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP

To continue to lead, librarians must build on their existing expertise by gaining data science fluency and proficiency with new data-driven tools.

In the 2021 AALL State of the Profession report, 52 percent of private law library respondents stated that they did not have an AI/Machine Learning Initiative and had no plans to start one. I may have been among those 52 percent (honestly, I can’t remember that far back). If so, then I too fell into the common habit of downplaying my technical expertise as a librarian. We must stop doing that. 

Law librarians have been among the lead users of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology in law firms since the advent of this technology in law ‑rms. Early machine learning in legal tech appeared in legal research platforms and e-discovery software. It’s only recently been expanding into the fields of process optimization, contract review clause analytics, and other knowledge management solutions. So, because librarians are often not part of those new initiatives (even though we likely should be) we think we are not promoting advanced technology within our organizations. But we have been promoting it—and at times necessarily pointing out the flaws in developing tech. 

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Ask a Director: Implementing Data Analytics

Reposted with permission from AALL Spectrum, Volume 26, Number 2 (November/December 2021), pgs 28-29.

By Patricia Barbone, Director of Library Services, Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP and John Digilio, Firmwide Director of Library Services, Sidley Austin LLP

Last week, we posted an article from AALL Spectrum on How Data Analytics Can Change the Way Law Firms Do Business, as well as an article highlighting how some law librarians have made use of internal and external data repositories to launch their own data projects, DIY Analytics:  Beyond Excel.   This week’s posts from AALL Spectrum complement those articles.  One illustrates how law library directors and their teams are currently implementing analytics solutions.  The others encourage law librarians to further embrace their data scientist skills and to look into the “black box” of technology, so they can understand and present data and analytics in ways that will best benefit their firms and organizations. 

PATRICIA BARBONE

For the past three to four years, as analytics research tools have proliferated, we have familiarized our lawyers and legal staff with the concept of legal analytics by introducing them to the data analytics features in our existing legal research products. We currently subscribe to many products for litigation and transactional research that contain analytics tools. Some of the most popular products include Bloomberg Law Litigation Analytics, Lexis Context, Lex Machina, and Westlaw Litigation Analytics. For transactional lawyers, we frequently instruct them to use Bloomberg Deal Analytics, Lexis’s Intelligize, and LexisNexis Market Standards.

Analytics training for lawyers has been gradually taking place over the past few years as these tools have increasingly become an integral part of the research platform. Originally, when a database had a data analytics component, it was highlighted in training if it illustrated a typical legal problem that our lawyers were trying to solve but was cumbersome to tackle using traditional research techniques. In our current general orientation, we let lawyers know that analytics research tools may help them get to a better understanding of the legal issue, a better assessment of the strategy, or a better way to retrieve relevant precedents. ­The results will be presented in a tabular or graphical format that provides a different perspective than a list of case citations. We highlight a couple of tools when they begin, but we don’t overstress them because we find a relevant use case is needed for lawyers to fully appreciate the power of analytics. ­Therefore, we showcase the data analytics tools all year round, not just as part of the onboarding process.

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