Kristen Perez and Janet McKinney received grants from the Private Law Librarians and Information Professionals Special Interest Section to attend the PLLIP Summit occurring on Saturday, July 13, before the AALL Annual Meeting. Below are their conference recaps.
By Kristen Perez, Research Specialist at Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough in Charlotte, NC
Jordan Furlong of Law 21 started off the day by delivering the keynote address, “How Law Librarians and Legal Information Professionals Can Redefine Law Firms in the 21st Century.” Mr. Furlong took us on a tour of the climate change that has occurred in the legal industry in recent years and provided a map to the future and our changing roles.
Mr. Furlong outlined the factors at play in the legal industry that can provide opportunities for legal information professionals as we navigate these changes:
- Law firms have traditionally operated under the billable hour model, letting young associates ‘train on the job’ at the expense of clients. This business model is being called into question by big law firm clients, many of whom have negotiated alternative fee arrangements. Clients are increasingly unwilling to pay for research expenses and the training of new lawyers.
- Legal work is becoming divided into commodity-level versus complex tasks. Alternative legal service providers have begun to assume work previously done by junior-level associates, leaving firms to handle tasks that involve more expertise.
- The technology of legal work has evolved, as artificial intelligence and analytics providers have emerged.
- Overall, client expectations are changing and are forcing law firms to adapt. Alternative legal service providers are creating competition for law firms. Clients demand value and want law firms to ‘know’ them and their industries, and to anticipate their needs.
This invites opportunity for we, as legal information professionals, to redefine our roles. Our profession has not only embraced and promoted the use of technology in legal research, but has also kept pace with the various incarnations of legal research platforms. We are neither unfamiliar with, nor adverse to, change. As a service department, we are also accustomed to working with other departments within our organizations to achieve institutional goals. Continue reading