AALL Management Institute: Opportunities Granted

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By Allison Reeve, Library Manager at Littler Mendelson, PC

Thank you to the PLLIP Grants Committee for awarding me the 2017 Management Institute Grant covering registration to the event. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to learn and grow through my participation.

On Firmer Ground readers are not immune to, or unaware of, the exciting transformations occurring in law libraries today. Law firm librarians stay abreast of trends in the legal market, provide competitive intelligence, and inform client-facing and revenue-generating products.  They cultivate relationships with attorneys and practice groups so they can deliver relevant, on-point resource and research responses. Law library managers realize that the transformational challenges they face can also offer a myriad of opportunities, such as liaising between stakeholders and library staff to align strategic plans, motivating team members, and advocating for much needed resources.

Led by expert Maureen Sullivan, an Organizational Development Consultant at Maureen Sullivan Associates, the 2017 AALL Management Institute provided law library managers with tools and inspiration to guide teams and organizations through staff challenges, follow through on corporate visions, and enable personal growth. From my vantage point as a new manager, I found the boots-on-the-ground conversations exceedingly beneficial. Ms. Sullivan provided attendees time for individual reflection and small group discussions, and opened larger concepts up to the group forum. These shared experience dialogues fostered deeper understanding of challenges and provided real-world strategies for success.

The Client-Coach-Observer exercise is one that sticks with me. Groups of three took turns in which each individual played the role of client, or one who expresses an idea or challenge; coach, a mentor role guiding the client to a conclusion; or observer, who later advised the coach on her counseling communication skills. During this exercise, I appreciated the opportunity to discuss current projects my colleagues are working on and to practice coaching dialogue. I found myself most anxious during my turn as the observer, wanting to ensure I provided constructive notes to the coach. This session provided real-world conversation practice and the opportunity to share challenges and successes with colleagues.

The last day of the Institute centered on planning for library and personal development. Grouped with other firm librarians, we discussed strategies for making the case for the library’s value. Takeaways included tips on positioning to manage change in information management, and on demonstrating how research centers generate revenue by cutting costs while maintaining content. Librarians also shared successes in aligning with other departments, such as pushing competitive intelligence to marketing teams and training business development staff to read litigation reports. Much of this discussion underscored the importance of cultivating stakeholder relationships. Law library managers must maintain continued conversations demonstrating the library’s embedded position in the mission, vision, and values of the firm.

Finally, each librarian was encouraged to reflect on professional development goals. One of my top goals is to create a plan for continued monitoring of the evolving legal and information markets. After planning a path to achievement, we discussed our goals with a colleague. I came away not only with a defined goal and clear route, but a new mentor with whom to share my progress and challenges.

These are just a few of the many highlights attendees experienced at the 2017 AALL Management Institute. Again, I extend my gratitude to the PLLIP Grants Committee for awarding me the opportunity to participate in these exciting discussions and to share a bit of the knowledge with our community of law firm librarians.

The 2017 AALL Management Institute, an annual American Association of Law Libraries event, took place in Chicago from March 30-April 1.  Led by Maureen Sullivan, an organization development consultant (and a past president of AALL), the Institute covered topics such as principles and practices of managerial leadership, engaging staff for high performance, strategic planning and project management, decision-making and consensus building, and championing the library’s role.   The Private Law Librarians and Information Professionals (PLLIP) Special Interest Section of AALL awarded a grant to Allison Reeve, Library Manager at Littler Mendelson, PC  to attend the three-day event.

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