About Cheryl Niemeier

Cheryl Niemeier is Director of Knowledge & Research Services at Bose McKinney & Evans LLP. Ms. Niemeier received her Master of Science in Library Science from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in 1986 and her Bachelor of Science in Education from Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana in 1981. Ms. Niemeier has held multiple professional leadership positions in local, regional and national library associations. She frequently speaks at professional association conferences and continuing legal education seminars. Ms. Niemeier has authored multiple articles and seminar publications.

Interview of Research Services Librarian Yael Rosenblatt

This post introduces Yael Rosenblatt, Research Services Librarian at Reed Smith in New York.

What was your path to law librarianship?

Law librarianship was a natural outgrowth of my 9+ years spent at Westlaw which brought me into contact with some of the largest firms in New York City.  I really enjoyed seeing what law librarians do and was so impressed by the wide range of projects within the law firm that they were involved with.  I believed my skill set would dovetail nicely with that and was excited when an opportunity presented itself.

Did you have a mentor or librarian who helped you and/or influenced your work style/ethic?

I was fortunate to work with so many smart and talented librarians at many firms and to observe many different work styles and many different work settings.  I think most of the librarians I had contact with have served as a mentor for me in his or her own way.  I have tried to adopt for myself some of the qualities I most admire.  Since moving to Reed Smith, Brian Blaho’s help and guidance has obviously been invaluable to me.  I have also kept in regular contact with many of my librarian contacts who have provided lots of advice.

How has your job evolved from the time you first began your career?

My career really began when I served as law clerk for a judge in New Jersey.  Even then, I always loved research.  I even served as a research assistant for a professor in law school.  I transitioned to Westlaw and so my focus was exclusively on Westlaw , and eventually on the whole suite of Thomson Reuters’ legal offerings – and how those products can bring value and efficiency to lawyers and law firms.   Now my focus (in terms of research) is finding out how each product I have access to can bring value to the work I am doing.  It’s a learning curve – and it’s exciting to learn — in depth – about other resources.

What is your biggest challenge at work?

Currently my biggest challenge is still learning about all of the available resources.  I have so many great research tools to choose from.  It takes time to figure out what is available and then what is the most cost effective and thorough research platform to use in the particular instance.

What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy working with all different people in a law firm – and I enjoy learning about the diverse practice areas.  In my prior position, I always tried to meet attorneys in different practice areas.  I’ve continued trying to do that and enjoy working with corporate attorneys as well as litigators.  It keep things challenging and interesting.

How do you keep up with news and trends in law libraries?

I joined AALL and the local library associations.  I also follow popular blogs.  The librarians in my firm are also great about meeting regularly to keep in touch and keep each other up to date.

What job would you have if you had not become a law librarian?

I would be a private investigator.  I love the quest for information.  It keeps things interesting!

How do you reach out to your attorneys to let them know how the library can help them?

I am fortunate that I get a chance to meet with each and every attorney that starts – whether they are new associates or laterals or partners.  In this way, I can impress upon them the many ways the library can help them and show them what an essential resource the library team can be.

Law Firm Information Professional Elected to the AALL Executive Board

Congratulations to Jean O’Grady, Director of Research & Knowledge Services at DLA Piper on her election to Board member of the 2017-2018 American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Executive Board.

As a blogger for Dewey B Strategic Jean has always championed the roles of private law firm information professionals and she has been active for many years in AALL and the Private Law Libraries and Information Professionals-Special Interest Section of AALL. We are proud of her and know she will be a great spokesperson on the Board for law firm librarians and all law librarians and legal information professionals.

New Vendor on the Block: An Interview with co-Founders of Start-up Company Clause

An interview with Houman Shadab and Peter Hunn of startup company Clause.

What is your background?

Clause was co-founded by Houman Shadab and Peter Hunn. Houman is a former BigLaw attorney turned professor of financial law. He has always had an interest in technology, and in recent years increasingly focused on how recent rapid advances in technology can impact business law. Peter read for multiple law degrees in the UK, worked in private equity, and was involved in startups that were funded by leading accelerator programs.

Why did you create this product?

We created this product to bring contracts into the 21st Century by connecting them to the physical world that surrounds them. This means that legal contracts are able to respond to dynamic and data-driven changes. Doing so will help to automate commercial processes, significantly reduce inefficiencies, and create new business models. Contracts unfortunately still remain largely unchanged from how they’ve been for millennia: static documents that capture parties’ agreements at a point in time.

What was missing from the market and how do you think your product will address/solve this need?

What is currently missing from the market is: (a) a way for parties’ contractual and broader commercial relationships to reflect, respond to, and monitor, in real-time, the changing world around them and (b) a system that can extensibly work with the other services that enterprises and attorneys use.

Clause offers a revolutionary new contracting paradigm that uses proprietary technology developed over the last year to enable commercial contracts to ‘come alive’ and autonomously manage themselves in response to the state of the physical world through real-time data from the Internet of Things, data streams or APIs. For example, when a manufacturer orders parts and there are a lot more defects than expected, an autonomous contract will reduce the invoice price, extend the warranty coverage, and refund payments automatically. An autonomous legal contract can also search for and replace an existing supplier in response to persistent part defects. But these contracts can also help suppliers: severe weather conditions or an earthquake that delays delivery or drives up supply costs could immediately be reflected in a price increase or revised delivery schedule. Ultimately, autonomous contracts create value for both parties by enabling pricing and other terms to instantaneously adjust in response data analytics, including about profit margins, delivery times, and the correlation between sales and location. This helps to solve the pervasive business and contract management problem of contracts being inflexible and not reflecting the changing world around them.

What are the future plans for your product as it relates to helping with attorney’s transactional documents?

Attorneys’ transactional documents will become a more integrated part of their clients’ business by being plugged into and reflecting the company’s current operations. Our product will help lawyers know the status of contract performance and history in real-time and thereby help them to advise their clients with respect to contract compliance, re-negotiations, and their standing in case a dispute arises.

How can law librarians/legal information professionals partner with you and what would be the benefits of the partnership?

We can partner by integrating our platform with developments that impact contracting, from transactional trends to legal developments that may require new terms and structures or undermine enforceability.

Have you or do you plan to attend events or exhibit your product at any upcoming law library, legal, or legal technology association meetings?

Yes, we are planning on attending several events in 2017. We would be happy to demonstrate to the AALL.

For more information about Clause read The World’s First ‘IoT-Enabled’ Legal Contract and feel free to contact them via their blog: www.medium.com/@clause or Email: peter@clause.io or follow them on Twitter: @clauseHQ

5 Tips to Make Your Outreach Efforts Stick

Guest post by Michayla Sullivan, Bose McKinney & Evans, LLP, Knowledge & Research Services Specialist

As law firms continue to look for ways to cut budgets, it is important that all employees add value to their firm. Firm librarians can do this most efficiently by leveraging their research experience to assist attorneys on cases and business development. In order to provide this assistance, librarians must first persuade attorneys to send them research requests. In many firms, whether due to lack of awareness of the full scope of library services or forgetfulness of those services’ existence, many attorneys do not utilize their libraries’ research services as often as they could.

Firm librarians can address this under-utilization by conducting library outreach within their firms. There are several methods law firm librarians can use to gain and retain research requests that require little time from the attorney while maximizing the amount of attention gained for the library’s research services.

Stickiness of Everyday Promotional Materials

Every single item that passes through the library to an attorney is an opportunity for outreach. Thus, every routed current awareness publication, book delivered to an attorney’s office, and document written to an attorney that comes from your library should have a sticker containing the library’s interoffice contact information. The sticker message can directly call to attorneys to “Save time!” and “Send us your research questions!”

The stickers can be created using Canva, a free online tool for creating graphics, which can then be imported into a Word label template. Thereafter, simply print, peel, and stick the labels on as needed or add a digital image of the sticker to the footer of every email sent out. Doing so provides continuous and consistent library promotion, which may result in immediate research requests when the attorneys see the stickers reminding them of the information services offered. The value added from time spent on the research requests generated can more than make up for the initial time spent creating the stickers.

Occasional Promotional Materials

Utilizing promotional materials that require a little more time and attention from attorneys and distributing them on an occasional basis are another great way to promote services. Creating a flyer with longer descriptions of the types of research services provided and examples of actual research questions you’ve successfully addressed is another option. This helps provide attorneys with a better picture of the types of complex research handled.

Getting to Know You

Making yourself more visible will help your attorneys remember to use your services. A personal conversation about your research skills will often be more memorable than a flyer. Utilize interoffice mail delivery as little as possible and instead personally deliver items to the attorneys.

Given the large volume of materials that need to be delivered, it is not likely feasible to hand-deliver everything. Just do what time allows, and if the attorneys seem amenable to a little conversation when you make the deliveries, take the opportunity to talk to them about ways you can assist them with research, as conversations may reveal that attorneys are unaware of the variety of information needs with which you can help them.

Remember the Paralegals

It is not just attorneys who can benefit from your research services. When they do not have time to address a research need, attorneys will often push these tasks to their paralegals. Like attorneys, paralegals are often short on time. Librarians can help alleviate this burden by taking on some of their research tasks. Make special efforts to reach out to your paralegals and you will likely find they are pleased to hear how you can assist them. Value added to a paralegal’s work is also value added to the firm overall.

Put in the Time Again and Again

The above efforts require both time and repetition, as many attorneys may forget the research services offered even after they have used them. Given this never-ending time commitment, how can an already busy librarian find time for outreach? Just do what you can.

You do not have to deliver everything to every attorney in your office. Perhaps you can deliver only to attorneys you have not seen in a while. You do not have to create new stickers and flyers all the time. Just expend time creating them once and then occasionally refresh the design by making a few changes to the message. Only you can judge how much time to spend on outreach, because you know your law firm and its library best.


Private Law Librarians & Information Professionals Group Releases New Resource Guides

Below is a re-post with permission of the same article by Jean O’Grady on her Dewey Be Strategic blog.

The Private Law Librarians and Information Professionals – Special Interest Section (PLLIP) of AALL released two new resource guides on strategic planning and intranets. They also re-issued a major revision of a previously published guide on internet research.The Guides are free and available to law librarians and legal information professionals as well as law firm administrators who are interested in learning about best practices for managing information services. These guides are “slick” professional publications which combine high quality content with a visually polished presentation. Steve Lastres, Chair of the PLLIP Communications Committee, Natalie Lira, Communications Committee Member and Chair of the Resource Guides subcommittee and Cheryl Niemeier, Chair of PLLIP deserve special credit for shepherding these guides from concept through publication.

Strategic Planning for Law Firm Libraries.” was written by PLLIP members Anna Irvin, Natalie M. Lira, Saskia Mehlhorn and Lindsay Carpino. Since 2007 the law firm market has been in a continuous state of reinvention. Firms are facing competition from alternative service provides, increased pressure from clients to control costs and offer alternative billing arrangements. Firms are exploring off-shoring, on-shoring, outsourcing and new types of partnership structures. It is more important than ever for information professionals to reassess their mission, goals, structure, and services to maintain alignment with the strategic goals of their organization. The resource guide highlights some of the non-traditional initiatives which information professionals are undertaking to improve strategic alignment including centralization, collaboration with other departments, embedding practice specialists, competitive intelligence, knowledge management, practice portal development, risk management and non-traditional outreach.

The strategic planning guide provides a step-by-step outline for the strategic planning process which can be used as a tutorial for newer managers and a checklist for more experienced professionals.

Law Firm Library Intranets was written by PLLIP members Julia Berry, Emily R. Florio, Catherine Monte and Nola M. Vanhoy. Law firm intranets have become important knowledge sharing platforms which provide access to key firm, client, administrative and staff data. As law libraries are going digital, intranets provide links to full-text treatise libraries, online databases, knowledge repositories, and educational platforms. The resource guide addresses key issues facing information professionals who want to develop the firm’s first intranet or enhance an existing intranet, Topics include: selection and design, collaboration, project justification, content creation, Sharepoint tools, alternatives to intranets, extranets and suggestions for continuous improvement.

The Internet as  a Legal Research Tool was revised by PLLIP members Andrea Guldalian and Cheryl Niemeier. According to an ABA study 50.8% of lawyers begin their legal research using free internet resources. Information professionals are uniquely qualified to assess the risks of free legal research resources. They are often the only professionals at the firm engaged in training lawyers on internet “hygiene” and creating resources and intranets which direct lawyers to the most cost-effective and reliable internet resources. The guide includes an important discussion on authority and guidelines for assessing reliability of resources. There is guidance on best practices for legal research on the internet as well as using mobile apps for legal research.

Earlier guides cover how to hire a law librarian, new roles for law librarians, competitive intelligence, collection re-balancing, negotiations and space planning.