David Lat, editor-at-large for Above the Law, attended this year’s AALL Annual Meeting and wrote an article offering three takeaways from Monday’s session on “The State of Biglaw and the Evolving Role of the Law Librarian.” The session featured a panel comprised of Lee Bernstein, Library Manager at Haynes and Boone; Joseph Keslar, Director of Library Services at Blank Rome; and Steve Kovalan, Senior Analyst at ALM Intelligence. Rob Alston, Senior Director of Legal Intelligence Sales at ALM Intelligence, moderated the panel. According to the article, “Kovalan outlined six trends that he has been seeing in Biglaw and expects to continue:
1. The emergence of areas of intense competition between firms.
2. More consolidation of law firms (aka “merger mania”).
3. Continuing increase in the sophistication — and demands — of corporate law departments.
4. Growing importance of investment in technology.
5. Growing importance of firm management (i.e., firm success will be determined in significant part by firms’ ability to execute on their strategic plans).
6. Greater collaboration across different types of vendors.”
Lat’s three quick takeaways on what this changing environment means for law librarians included ensuring that they’re “getting adequate recognition for their contributions to firm success.” He also thought “law librarians and library departments need to be flexible, unafraid of making changes when necessary,” and that they “need to make sure they have the resources needed to do their jobs.” Resources would include “both adequate staffing and a budget sufficient to cover subscriptions to all necessary services — which are proliferating, thanks to the explosive growth in the world of legal technology.”
On Sunday night, David participated in an event called The Tech-Savvy Law Librarian, and “interviewed Dean Sonderegger, Vice President and General Manager at Wolters Kluwer (and Above the Law columnist), about the changing role of the law librarian in Biglaw — and what librarians can do to evolve along with their duties. He outlined several ways that librarians can add value to their organizations during a period of flux for the legal industry.”