PLLIP Resource Guides: Law Firm Library Intranets

PLLIP members Julia Berry, Emily Florio, Catherine Monte, and Nola Vanhoy contributed to Law Firm Library Intranets, a resource guide created in 2015.  This guide examines how a well-designed law firm intranet serves as a powerful tool for sharing knowledge within a firm.  It delves into the library’s role in selection and design of an intranet, who’s involved in building and designing an intranet, and how to make the case to management that a robust intranet is needed.  The guide also explores the library’s role in content creation, what to include in the library portion of the intranet, how to utilize Sharepoint parts/webparts, and how to maintain and promote the intranet on an ongoing basis.  Finally, it touches on options for delivering content and making resources accessible without an intranet.

From the Introduction:

“A well designed and executed intranet can be a powerful tool for knowledge sharing within a law firm. This information hub can allow easy access to electronic research resources, documents, communication about best research practices, training materials, and much more. It can drive attorneys and other firm staff to the library’s most authoritative electronic research materials and knowledge repositories, thereby allowing librarians to spend their time on other strategic and value-added projects.”

On the library’s role in selection and design of an intranet:

“The threshold decision of whether a law firm utilizes a firm-wide intranet involves multiple administrative departments. Library staff can offer valuable input into a firm’s decision to create an intranet and assist in its design.  Librarians, better than any other administrative group’s members, understand the research and business information needs of legal practice groups. They also understand how attorneys and staff utilize research tools to service clients. Librarians can provide support for the business case for an intranet, explaining how the ability to offer resources on an electronic platform can both increase timekeepers’ productivity and efficiency and free up librarians to provide additional, sophisticated services to a firm.”

On making the case to management:

“An information professional will need to provide a rationale for devoting staff time and resources to creating intranet pages. The following are some key points that can assist librarians in making the case for an intranet to firm management:

  1. Having a centralized intranet benefits all law firm employees by putting access to resources directly in their hands on a 24/7/365 basis. An intranet also provides for mobile, anywhere, and anytime access and increases timekeepers’ efficiencies.
  2. By providing easy and direct access to resources, librarians will have more time to work on value-added projects. This is especially helpful as the size of departments continues to decline and everyone is forced to do more work with fewer staff members.
  3. By creating a resource listing or directory on an intranet, law librarians push their users to the most authoritative and applicable resources. Law firms spend quite a lot on subscription databases and other services, so a categorized, practice-focused directory can help ensure that the right information gets in the right hands at the right time.
  4. Getting buy-in from firm leaders on what can help them practice or manage more efficiently and effectively will give librarians another opportunity to prove value within the organization. Curated library pages for each practice or administration group promote efficiency by showcasing the most relevant resources.
  5. Including quotes or feedback received on what people like or dislike about any existing intranet offerings supports the case for continuing or changing those practices. Highlighting the demand for centralized, organized, and useful pages will also support the library’s involvement in any project.
  6. Emphasizing that software developers and programmers are not needed to create web parts, lists, and content within an intranet bolsters the case for librarians’ involvement as designers and content curators. For tech-savvy individuals, much of the functionality within a web design program will be easy to grasp and learn in a short amount of time. It is possible that you already have library staff members willing and able to help with any intranet project.
  7. Offering cohesion and consistency within an organization by having one place to turn for assistance, whether it is regarding billing, IDs/passwords, or types of research skills available, leads to a more informed and productive law firm. It also provides for a bird’s-eye-view of the firm or organization, especially if enterprise search is utilized. Curating intranet content or using it as a way to collect information can lead to tacit knowledge being available to a wider audience and allows librarians to share information across all the firm’s offices.”

Read the full guide for recommendations on what to include in the library’s portion of the intranet and for ideas for using Sharepoints parts/webparts.  Links to additional resources are also included.

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