By Zena Applebaum, Director of Professional Firm & Corporate Segments with
Thomson Reuters in Canada
For many years, I have advocated for law librarians to be actively engaged in firm initiatives in competitive intelligence, knowledge management, business development research, and other areas of law firm administration that are increasingly becoming
important to a firm’s ability to compete. As competition in the legal world increases, firms are hiring fewer administrative professionals. The ones who are hired are expected to do more with less, take on additional responsibilities, and execute on more sophisticated projects. This necessitates not only a broadening of skill sets, but also a reimagining of roles and titles. To me, this is where librarians, especially more recent graduates with digital skills—but really any librarian with organizational, business-minded skill sets—can really add value to their law firm.
The deluge of available information is not decreasing; it is only increasing at a crazier rate each year. The amount of unstructured data, let alone the structured content that is streaming through firms at any given moment, is overwhelming. Cue the law librarians
and legal information professionals to help us make sense of the data, turn information into intelligence, and still deliver research while managing collection costs and physical spaces. Continue reading →
By Grace Carr Lee, Executive Director at Hoge Fenton, a midsize, multi-practice firm with offices in the Silicon Valley and the Tri-Valley areas of Northern California.
For decades, law firms have billed their clients for “soft costs,” including online legal research charges. Clients have always hated seeing these nickel & dime charges on their invoices, believing they are more fairly considered part of a law firm’s overhead. Who hasn’t heard a client argue that since they aren’t charged for updating books in a firm’s law library, why should they be charged for online legal research? Annoyed clients have increasingly pushed back on these soft costs, and many law firms have capitulated by reducing or eliminating them.
And today, that has resulted in law firms being faced with decreasing soft cost realization — a direct impact to the firm’s bottom line. Consequently, some firms have taken a more aggressive approach, doggedly charging clients for everything they can think of, including copies, scans, prints, postage and secretarial overtime. Other firms have simply thrown up their hands, deciding that any attempt at soft cost recovery is just not worth the effort. Some firms even have increased their hourly rates to account for the lost revenue, while others have imposed an administrative fee (usually, a percentage of the legal fees) that essentially does the same thing.
For those law firms that believe soft cost recovery makes sense, regardless of the method employed, any pricing strategy they employ must be ethical, transparent, reasonable and justifiable. Their clients deserve nothing less. Continue reading →
by: Steven A. Lastres, Director of Library & KM, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and Scott Bailey, Director of Research Services, Squire Sanders
A group of librarians from The Private Law Librarians Special Interest Section (PLL SIS) of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and The Law Librarians’ Society of Washington, D.C. (LLSDC) have been brainstorming ways to promote the value of law librarians. The idea is to demonstrate to lawyers, the “C” level and other professionals that work in law firms not just the traditional value to the practice of law, but to show how law librarians can be strategic allies in supporting the business of law. Continue reading →
By Robert S. Stivers, Manager of Information Services Harter Secrest & Emery LLP
I recently circulated a query to the Private Law Libaries Special Interest Section (PLL-SIS) of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) listserve asking whether anyone had experience with a particular consulting firm and its offer to evaluate the firm’s online services contracts, and negotiate future contracts with LexisNexis and Westlaw.
I received approximately twenty responses which, as these things go, seemed like a reasonable amount of interest in the topic. The responses provided some excellent information about the consulting firm and others who provide the same type of services. The information was instructive, occasionally opinionated and included examples of both the positive and the less than positive experiences of my colleagues. Continue reading →
Comments by Gregory A. Castanias, Library Partner at Jones Day, Washington, DC about the reaction to the speech he gave during the Private Law Libraries Special Interest Section Summit of the American Association of Law Libraries held in Philadelphia, PA, on July 23, 2011.
I confess that I was surprised at the reaction of the audience to my speech. While it was clearly my intent to deliver a certain message, I did not expect that the assembled attendees would interrupt parts of it with applause, and, in at least one instance, loud table-pounding. It’s apparent that the frustrations I’ve experienced from a partner-administrator level have been felt by librarians for years, and that my speech gave partner-level voice to many of those frustrations. Continue reading →