After the Evolution: Promoting the Value of Law Librarians

collaborationSubmitted: Emily R. Florio, Manager of Libraries & Library Information Systems, Fish & Richardson (florio@fr.com).

On Thursday April 25th, 2013 LLAGNY (Law Library Association of Greater New York), ILTA (International Legal Technology Association) and SLA (Special Libraries Association)’s New York chapter sponsored After the Evolution, an educational event and networking reception. This strategic initiative and program built upon the LLSDC (Law Librarians’ Society of Washington, D.C.) Showcase, a grassroots approach to communicating the value that law librarians bring to their firms, particularly lawyers, the “C” Suite and other firm administration. Several non-DC librarians from AALL’s Private Law Libraries Special Interest Section attended the DC event and helped bring it to NY with future plans for Boston, Chicago and hopefully beyond the East Coast. The objective of this ongoing project is to aggressively promote the management value of law librarians to the target community of law firm leaders. Participating librarians promoted their diverse management skills to administration, technology and marketing professionals rather than to our traditional audience of peers. This concept recognizes that library management is an insightful component of firm management strategy and that our contributions are vital to the overall operation and success of the firm.

Both the LLSDC Showcase and After the Evolution addressed many of the common challenges firms face and provided a stage for presentations and discussions on some current proactive solutions and innovative approaches. The events were designed to evoke the exhibit hall at a conference, featuring kiosks where presenters had laptops and iPads to showcase certain skills, but no formalized or lengthy presentations or PowerPoint slides. The five topics or sales force teams were developed from key law firm strategic priorities:

1. Knowledge Management: Beyond practice support, KM is now an enabler to provide your firm with a competitive advantage

2. Business & Competitive Intelligence: See proactive methods to grow your firm’s business and anticipate the next growth opportunity

3. Strategic Research & the Embedded Research Librarian: Librarians have moved out of the library and are now integral practice group members providing enhanced practice support

4. Strategic Cost Cutting: Learn about the new generation of cost management tools to tame Lexis, Westlaw and other metered research services

5. eBooks: The move to digital continues with the adoption of easier to use eBooks that provide far more functionality than the desktop

The event had over 90 attendees with members from all sponsoring associations, along with CIOs, IT professionals, administrators, law firm consultants, and marketing, records and information governance professionals. Librarians showcased the value they bring supporting the practice of law and their strategies and approaches for supporting the business of law. As librarians and information professionals, we spend a lot of time corresponding, networking and presenting to our peers, but don’t always have the same visibility within our organizations. This event provided an informal, but lively atmosphere for presenters and attendees to interact and make valuable connections and contributions to the topics at hand.

We’ve heard from many attendees, including sponsors, vendors, attendees and presenters, who were very pleased with the event. For many attendees, the overall impact of the event helped reconfigure their perceptions of the law librarian and information professional. For the betterment of the profession, we hope the successes from this new strategic and outreach opportunity will grow from benefitting an individual or firm, to impacting the industry as a whole. As collaborative, innovative and proactive librarians, we are certainly on the way towards gaining mutual respect and are always looking for further opportunities to collaborate with our peers and other industry professionals.

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