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.
By Cynthia Brown, Sr. Director of Research Services at Littler Mendels; Michelle Hook Dewey, Legal Research Services Manager at BakerHostetler; and Jennifer Mendez, Director of Knowledge Management Innovation at Fisher & Phillips LLP
The term “robot lawyer” has been tossed around for years, but what about “robot librarians” or “robot knowledge managers”? In Singapore, several libraries already have a full-fledged robot named AuRoSS (Autonomous Robotic Shelf Scanning system) wandering the aisles doing shelf reading and collection maintenance. For most folks though, the idea of an actual robot, or “bot,” is a bit too futuristic. Nevertheless, across industries, the concept and implementation of automation continues to grow. This is where robotic process automation, or RPA, comes into play. Though physical robot librarians are probably not on the horizon yet, the potential uses for RPA and other task automation bots in the law library and legal knowledge management are endless.
Sophisticated consumers of legal services are already using task automations such as
RPA in a variety of spaces. Payroll, time and attendance management, compliance
reporting, and benefits administration are just a few of the ways many companies are
using RPA to streamline human resources (HR) functions. For example, HR systems
use RPA to simplify forms by copying the address fields from one form to dozens of
others. Clients are also looking to simplify supply chain management by using RPA
processes for tasks such as inventory management, demand and supply management, and invoice and contract management. In the finance and accounting space, RPA bots have regularly been implemented to facilitate payments, records, sales, and collections. Other forms of task automation, such as chatbots, are used to facilitate simple information gathering undertakings.
Research support is perhaps the most natural next task automation candidate. Libraries and knowledge centers are rife with opportunities to explore the benefits of task automation. Beyond just research tasks, your library may find a variety of ways to employ bots for some of its day-to-day administrative actions, thus allowing your staff
to engage in the highest-caliber, most valued work. As you begin to think about identifying and developing RPA and task automation opportunities in your library, you may find the guidance below to be helpful. Continue reading →
Reposted with permission from Jean O’Grady at Dewey B Strategic. Jean is a member of the Private Law Librarians & Information Professionals Special Interest Section.
Please take the 2019-2020 Dewey B Strategic Survey here. Review the 2019 highlights below and tell your colleagues about the best and the worst of 2019 in legal publishing and legal tech.
The Highlights 2019 was a relatively quiet launch year in legal technology and publishing. The year opened with speculation about the impact of layoffs at Thomson Reuters. Mid-year Wolters Kluwer suffered a significant malware attack on May 7 but was fully back online within a week.
LexisNexis announced the full integration of one of its oldest acquisitions. Courtlink which was acquired in 2001 was finally integrated into their flagship product Lexis Advance. The market responded with mixed reviews.
Bloomberg re-branded itself as Bloomberg Information Group (BIG.) Sadly this signified the retirement of BNA ( Bureau of National Affairs) as a brand. Bloomberg had acquired BNA in 2011 add a significant library of secondary sources including newsletters and books. The full integration of BNA into the Bloomberg platform allowed the company to revert to the simplified pricing model they had pioneered during their launch into the online legal information market.
Fastcase continued an aggressive spree of acquisitions and alliances covering public records (TransUnion), bankruptcy forms, Expert witness information (Juris and Courtroom Insight) and legal news (Law Street Media) clearly positioning product to move into the large firm market.
The Year of the Brief Analyser. Casetext CARA which launched the first brief analysis tool in 2016 now has a competitor in the Westlaw Edge “Quick Cite tool.” At the 2019 American Association of Law Libraries AALL Annual Conference both Bloomberg and LexisNexis previewed their brief citiator tools which are expected to launch in 2020.
Please respond to the survey here. The Survey will close on “leap day” February 29th.
Legal Analytics is changing the practice and business of law. LexisNexis has released its third annual survey. Bringing Analytics into Focus suggests that firms have reached a tipping point in embracing analytics in the business and practice of law with 90% of users reporting that analytics makes them more efficient and more effective. Here is a link to the full press release.
Survey Demographics 77% of the firms listed are listed in the Am Law 200. 70% of the respondents to this survey were attorneys representing over 25 different practice areas.
Librarians Deserve Credit. Since 75% of the responded cite an increase of analytics use at their firms, lawyer awareness of analytics is very high. In most firms, Library and KM directors have brought in the analytics products and driven the awareness the report suggests that their efforts are paying off. Training and driving up use remains a challenge. LexisNexis’ integration of Lex Machina and Ravel (now Context) content into Lexis Advance is also driving awareness and lowering the “login” bar since lawyers don’t need a special password to see analytics in their research results.
“As the leader in legal analytics, we couldn’t be happier to see more law firms, attorneys and other legal professionals adopting these tools and finding new ways for the technology to add value to their business and profession,” said Sean Fitzpatrick, LexisNexis CEO, North American Research Solutions. “The legal industry’s most groundbreaking, innovative and impactful analytics solutions reside on our flagship Lexis Advance platform, enabling attorneys to do their work more efficiently, provide better client counsel and make more informed business decisions in today’s hyper-competitive environment.”
Use Cases No surprise all of the uses support the competitive needs lawyers as practitioners and rainmakers:
I have been an early promoter of the value of analytics and insights. I recall the early days of online usage — it took large law firms almost a decade to fully accept online research as delivering workflow efficiencies. Online research was viewed as “optional” for a long time. The current competitive marketplace has accelerated the embrace of analytics because they can position the firm for competitive advantage at even save a firm from humiliating meetings with clients who are armed with an analytics report on the firms litigation history.
Lack of training is still an obstacle. One of the most revealing charts illustrated the obstackes to adoption. Training was at the top of the list.
Partners are the Most Resistant?
This finding really shocked me. In law firms that have not adopted analytics partners do not expect to be adopting analytics in the next two years!
Don’t plan to implement analytics
As a die hard fan of analytics in law, I am pleased with the progress in driving awareness and adoption. Legal analytics vendors need to continue to enhance transparency into any limitations in data or in the coding of the data to assure that lawyers know what they are looking at.
As the data sets grow the challenges will expand as well. No one can be complacent in the analytics market either buyers or sellers.
By G. Patrick Flanagan, Research Analyst at BakerHostetler LLP
How information vendors and new technologies are impacting the way law librarians research and gather company information.
Legal information professionals frequently need to research information about companies. We research adversaries and potential clients. We research industries and companies for academic projects. We investigate the vendors we hire. Technology innovations change the way companies record and publish information about their businesses. In turn, information vendors adapt to changing technology and provide innovative ways to make more information available. This column highlights some of those methods and points out potential future developments. Today, legal researchers are often most familiar with judicial and governmental sources that usually have official and structured publications. Information systems frequently marketed to financial and business professionals, however, often employ a more journalistic approach to corporate research and fact gathering. Understanding the use and benefits of these other approaches and tools is helpful given the ebbs and flows in the market for company information. Continue reading →