Announcing the 2021 PLLIP Summit–Hindsight is 2021: Responding to Chaos and Change

The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) will be holding its annual meeting virtually this year (July 19-23, 2021), and the Private Law Librarians and Information Professional section will once again offer a pre-conference Summit (Friday, July 16).  This year’s Summit, Hindsight is 2021: Responding to Chaos and Change, will explore change, our response to change, change management, and finding opportunities and happiness in change.

The Summit Planning Committee has gathered an excellent lineup of speakers.  You can read more about each speaker below.  To register for the 2021 Summit, please visit the AALL registration page here.

April Rinne- Keynote Address

April Rinne has been weaving her own story about how to thrive amid flux, personally and professionally, for as long as she can remember.

Today April is an acclaimed speaker, thinker, advisor and writer. She is known for her many keynotes each year to business, industry, investment, policy and educational audiences around the world, and for her role as a bridge: between startups and governments, between developed and developing countries, between those excited about change and those resistant to it. She is also an impact investor, mental health advocate, yoga teacher and insatiable handstander. April’s handstands underscore her upside-down perspective on the world: they help her see differently, stay flexible, and bring joy (and occasionally amazement) to others. Earlier in her career she served as a global development executive, microfinance lawyer, and hiking and biking guide.

April holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School, an M.A. in International Business and Finance from The Fletcher School at Tufts University, and a B.A. in International Studies and Italian (summa cum laude) from Emory University. She is a Fulbright Scholar and studied at Oxford (University College; one full academic year), the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and the European University Institute.  April was a practicing attorney at Allen & Overy in London, UK and at O’Melveny & Myers in San Francisco.  Her practice focused in corporate, banking, international capital markets, development finance. Like many of our members, April has had an atypical legal career, harnessing legal skills in unconventional yet future-forward ways.

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10 Ways Data Science Can Help Law Librarians

Reposted with permission from AALL Spectrum, Volume 25, Number 5 (May/June 2021), pgs. 16-19.

By Sarah Lin, Information Architect & Digital Librarian at RStudio, PBC

As law librarians, many of us scrutinize the data we have access to with Excel and out-of-the-box visualization tools. Whether that data is from docket activity, research databases, websites, or online catalogs, what we have can generally be described as “usage data.” But what one skill set would allow us to do so much more with that data, to better understand and communicate what our users are doing and what they need? Enter, data science.

Broadly speaking, data science brings opportunities to work more quickly and easily with data. It provides better reporting formats by incorporating outside data from various sources, and can even turn text into data that can be displayed visually. Even though legal information isn’t always associated with data, science, or data science, data science skills enable law librarians to do their jobs with greater efficiency. With data science skills, we are able to show new value for our teams and organizations, so it is definitely worth the time invested.

Even in a year when time has been both condensed and stretched (when many of us picked up new hobbies, such as baking), learning to code for just one use case, such as replacing Excel as a data analysis tool, doesn’t make sense. Luckily, data science skills are useful for more than just data manipulation, and learning to code allows you to provide many more use cases than just creating better data visualizations for management. Cooking is a useful metaphor for data science: while it’s completely possible to eat take-out, frozen food, box mixes, and cereal for dinner, you can actually create healthier meals with the right tools, enhanced cooking skills, and a better understanding of ingredients. For example, pre-cut vegetables are available in grocery stores, but a chef ’s knife and some practice allow you to customize any meal you make as well as lower costs. Similarly, while you can do your job with Excel and a commercial tool such as Tableau or PowerBI, learning to do data science opens a window of opportunities to new and improved skills that do more than just create improved graphics for reports or budget projections.

The following 10 data science skills and techniques, along with descriptions of the amazing deliverables that are associated with them, are listed in a progressive skill-building sequence, and they will provide you with a fully stocked data science kitchen. Keep in mind that the examples in this article focus on the R programming language, even though data science can also be done in Python (which has similar and sometimes compatible resources for you to use). The power of data science using R or Python comes from the powerful skills and techniques they enable you to use to transform how you work with data in your day to-day job. It’s time to graduate from Excel and start cooking with gas!

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Brief Analyzer Tools in Law Firms: Evaluation, Implementation & Attorney Adoption

Reposted with permission from AALL Spectrum, Volume 25, Number 5 (May/June 2021), pgs. 22-24.

By Cara Henley Johnson, Library Manager for O’Melveny and Myers

The modern law firm library has a plethora of brief analyzing tools at the fingertips of librarians, attorneys, and staff. While the major vendors have created their own brief analyzers, they are not all the same, and some have qualities that may be better for different users within your firm. A survey of law librarians from the Private Law Librarians & Information Professionals Special Interest Section (PLLIP-SIS) was made available via their listserv for this article. There were 23 responders, about half from large firms and half from medium and smaller firms. Many of the respondents are not the managers of the brief analyzing tools within their law firm. Frequently, a knowledge management or attorney manager professional works with the attorneys to evaluate, implement, and even train on brief analyzer tools. It could be a growth area for law firm libraries to provide more assistance or manage this particular area as it is so tightly integrated into existing research tools.

Following is a short overview of four brief analyzing tools and how to help your firm appropriately learn and use the tools.

Westlaw Quick Check

Revealed at the 2019 American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Annual Meeting, Westlaw Quick Check is only available on Westlaw Edge. Law firms must subscribe to Westlaw Edge in order to get access to this brief analyzer, so the return on investment (ROI) calculation will vary from one firm to another. The majority of PLLIP-SIS responders to the brief analyzing tool survey use Quick Check and felt it was the most accurate.

If Westlaw Edge is a firm’s preferred platform, then adopting this product might be easier than with some of the other tools. Attorneys can drag and drop their briefs into the system after also having conducted research per their normal workflow. This could decrease training time, as they are familiar with the look and feel of Thomson Reuters products, including Westlaw and Practical Law. In this case, in-house training may be easy to implement, whether a firm is working remotely or in person. However, if implementing Edge and Quick Check at the same time with a new upgrade, vendor assistance may be useful. With Westlaw Edge being used in law schools, law students who may have researched within Edge, but not used Quick Check, could be trained just on this part of the platform.

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PLLIP Diversity Summit 2021: Using Personalized Experiences to Apply DE&I Initiatives in Your Library

By: Ana Ramirez Toft-Nielsen, Research Attorney; Jill L. Kilgore, Research Librarian; and Autumn Collier, Assistant Librarian II, at Littler Mendelson, P.C.

Our experience attending the virtual 2021 Diversity Summit was unexpected and invaluable. Each of us left with surprise takeaways, including some that hit close to home. In particular, the panel and breakout sessions provided us with more than one perspective or dialogue on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. We agreed that these personalized sessions made this a reflective experience. The personal stories were affecting—whether allowing us to relate to someone else’s experience, or by showing us a glimpse of what marginalized groups experience regularly. Being aware is a priority, but what’s next? As individuals, we should evaluate how to apply our experiences from the 2021 PLLIP Diversity Summit. What actionable steps is your workplace taking? What actionable steps are you taking? Let this be one phase in your progress toward change.

Leading where you are

We can lead in this work from where we are by identifying the initiatives and commitments made to DE&I at our institutions. We all work at Littler, where leadership supports Diversity, Inclusion and Equity opportunities for our library department. Examples of opportunities include attending conferences such as this Diversity Summit, internal initiatives, and organizational involvement. For this Summit, our director provided the team with the program’s information, supported the registration costs, and provided us with coverage for our daily work, enabling us to focus solely on the conference. When a call to write was sent out, we were urged to write about our experience. With other conferences, such as the AALL Leadership Management Institute, we were encouraged to attend, and offered guidance and assistance with alternative ways to reimburse our costs or help in applying for grants. This encouragement and financial support made us feel empowered to learn and grow. We have the latitude to reflect on these experiences and bring back what we learn to our team.

Within the “walls” of our library, opportunities for open dialogue and professional development abound. We can subscribe to newsletters, including a Littler library-curated weekly newsletter with a DE&I section. We have round-table discussions on a rotation of topics in our book club; this month we are taking time to discuss our experience at the Summit and share with our colleagues.

Our leadership wants us to take an active role to further Littler’s overall Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion goals. Many of our team members are involved in special interest or other professional organizations. Given the uniqueness of our library department, we have the option to attend development opportunities offered not only by AALL, but also by the American Library Association, local chapters, the International Legal Technology Association, and many other professional organizations. These experiences allow us to bring back new knowledge to team members who might not make that step. We can increase awareness and open discussions in our team meetings, book clubs, and newsletters. The work is ongoing. We will continue to explore DE&I initiatives and continue the conversation that brought us to the Diversity Summit.

Additionally, firm initiatives such as Littler’s Volunteerism Program provide a means for employees to voluntarily participate in social justice opportunities. Employees donate their time, and in exchange, Littler will make a monetary donation to an organization of the employee’s choice. Messages of support flow from the Managing Director and are always accompanied with personal growth and learning opportunities.

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