By Maureen Burns, Research Services Manager, Godfrey & Kahn
I recently had the privilege of attending the recent American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Executive Leadership Institute, which was held on July 28-29, 2021, following the AALL Annual Meeting. Thank you to the Private Law Librarians and Information Professionals (PLLIP) Grants Committee for the opportunity to learn, grow, and connect at the Institute.
The Institute provided relevant and timely leadership-related sessions, covering topics such as inclusive communication, collaboration, driving change during transitional times, and the integration of wellness into leadership. Communication was a common thread throughout the one and a half-day Institute, coming up both in the excellent presentations and in small group discussions. The word that kept coming to my mind as I heard each of the presentations and participated in discussions with my fellow attendees was “listen”.
While discussing inclusive communication and how to move from conscious bias to conscious inclusion, Dr. Daisy Lovelace presented us with ideas to help lead us to an inclusive mindset, recognizing that teams diverse in identity, background, and experiences lead to better problem solving. One element Dr. Lovelace talked about was listening to understand, validate, and offer support. As librarians trained in the art of the reference interview, we are accustomed to asking questions in order to solve a problem. When someone we lead comes to us with an issue, we should validate their feelings and seek to understand. Listening, without fixing, is important in today’s world where often stress-inducing change is a part of our everyday lives.
Stephanie Huffnagle, a faculty member at Erie Community College in Buffalo, NY, was one of this year’s recipients of a Private Law Librarians and Information Professionals (PLLIP) grant for the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Annual Meeting. Stephanie wrote the following recap.
“Legal Deserts in America: What is Meaningful Access to Justice for All” proved to be an informative and worthwhile session. The session not only provided statistics on the current state of affairs in terms of lack of access to legal services, but also highlighted the reasons behind this reality and presented concrete examples of programs aiming to fill the justice gaps throughout the country. The presenters were all stakeholders in the battle for justice for all, and they provided their first-hand insight into the issue of legal deserts.
Lisa Pruitt, Professor of Law at UC Davis, discussed her research, which served as the backbone to the legal desert information in the 2020 ABA Profile on the Legal Profession. The findings of Lisa and her research team echo and expand on the idea of the justice gap, showing specifically where the gaps exist based on the number of attorneys at the county level. Lisa explained that legal deserts are those counties where there are either no lawyers, or only one to two lawyers. The research shows that 40% of counties have less than one lawyer per 1,000 people.
While Lisa focused on the why and some general tools to respond to the situation, her colleagues discussed ongoing recruitment and training programs designed to combat lack of access and legal deserts.
Suzanne Starr, Director of Policy and Legal Services at South Dakota Rural Recruitment Program, outlined South Dakota’s response to the issue. South Dakota initiated a rural attorney recruitment program back in 2013. This is based on a financial incentive to get attorneys into rural areas. It was interesting to hear how the program was started and to recognize the influence that one person/a small group of people can have by being change agents.
By Whitney Brionez, Business Intelligence Manager at Holland & Knight LLP
Every other year, AALL holds a Leadership Academy, a program developed to guide participants on being effective leaders. I was accepted into this year’s 2020 Academy which was originally scheduled for Chicago in March, but ended up becoming a virtual program in August. The three day agenda included interactive discussions, leadership assessments (and what they mean), group coaching, collaboration, and networking.
There was much uncertainty and many questions leading up to the Academy, especially after the program was postponed and then became virtual. I was apprehensive about having the program in this format, as the greatest potential benefits to me were networking with peers, meeting new people, and sharing stories, and I was unsure how this would work in a solely-online environment. Thankfully, while we did not have those impromptu, passing-in-the-hall-on-break conversations, we did all get to meet each other and share stories over multiple break-out sessions.
Before the Leadership Academy began, we had the opportunity to meet our fellow participants in an afternoon virtual chat – a perfect way to start getting to know our colleagues. The first official day of the Academy began on the afternoon of August 6, and started with introductions from our facilitators, Karyn Nishimura Sneath and MJ Tooey, and our coaches: Julie Pabarja, Halle Cox, and Jean Wenger.
By Linda-Jean Schneider, Manager-Digital Access, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
For more than a decade, the Private Law Librarian and Information Professionals Special Interest Section (also known as PLLIP) of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) has organized a day-long Summit for members to focus on issues of concern to librarians in a firm or corporate setting. The PLLIP Summit has provided a day filled with stimulating, firm-focused sessions and inspiring thought-provoking speakers on the eve of the AALL Annual Meeting. These have been held in nine locations across the country, with Philadelphia as the only repeat location. All the planning that goes into a day-long information-filled, energizing, motivating, and rewarding event of this magnitude must begin immediately after the previous one. So, in the customary fashion, the dynamic duo of co-chairs Christine Sellers Sullivan and Cynthia Brown gathered a rock-star Committee, came up with the overall theme, and began planning for the 2020 event in the summer of 2019.
Little did they suspect that the theme — Transformation 2020: Instrumental Tools for the Future — would prove to be one that they could both build on as a guidepost for the future of the legal information professional, and which stayed relevant while the entire legal industry and society as a whole had to pivot into an unexpected and challenging New Normal. Even with the drastic challenges and demands of the current crises, the organizers made the necessary adjustments, transforming the in-person sessions of the past into a virtual offering with three informative, enlightening, and outward-facing presentations. Continue reading
Reposted with permission from Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites
Yesterday kicked off the 2020 annual conference of the American Association of Law Libraries, which runs all this week through Friday. It is the AALL’s first virtual conference, and it comes at a time when legal information professionals, like so many in the legal profession, face challenges and uncertainty on multiple fronts.
Recent years have seen an unprecedented surge in the use of technology and artificial intelligence within the legal profession, and most agree the pandemic will only further accelerate that surge. What does that mean for the future of the law librarian?
In my opinion, technology will not diminish the role of the information professional. Rather, never has that role been more essential within the legal profession.
In my column this week at Above the Law, I detail four ways in which law librarians will become even more essential as technology evolves.
Read it here: The Increasingly Essential Role Of The Law Librarian.