AALL State of the Profession 2019: Data-Driven Exploration of Current Legal Information Professionals’ Contributions

The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) recently released its AALL State of the Profession 2019, “a data-driven exploration of current legal information professionals’ contributions.”  Per the AALL press release, the report “provides quantitative insights on user services, technology services, operations, budgets, and partnerships” and covers the following areas:

  • research platform expertise,
  • contract and vendor negotiation,
  • AI development and implementation,
  • metadata management,
  • legal writing and research instruction,
  • competitive intelligence,
  • customer and client relations, and
  • leadership.

The report also “features an inventory of expertise – including current skills held by law librarians and competencies for library and law school graduates.”  A State of the Profession Advisory Group created surveys for each main law library type – academic, government, and firm/corporate – and  883 responses were received. The report highlights librarians’ assessments of their areas of expertise and how they contribute to their organizations.

Below are some outtakes with law firm librarians’ answers:

TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT:

“AALL members are technology experts, and take the lead with the purchase, implementation, operation, and overall management of research databases in their organizations. Their expertise extends to overseeing knowledge management systems, websites, intranet, and other digital services.”

PERCENTAGE OF LAW LIBRARIES MANAGING EACH PLATFORM, BY LIBRARY TYPEFirm

FIRM/CORPORATE LAW LIBRARIES: SKILLS SYNOPSIS

Snapshot of where firm/corporate law librarians stand on a selection of skills.

  • Customer/Client Services – 70.5% are experts
  • Resource Evaluation – 67.3% are experts
  • Communication/Presentation Skills – 64.1% are experts
  • Competitive Intelligence – 55.0% are experts
  • Vendor Management – 54.2% are experts
  • Leadership – 52.3% are experts

Looking Ahead: Skills 2021

“Plans for professional development during the next two years focus on AI/machine learning, blockchain, and data expertise.”

The complimentary AALL State of the Profession 2019 Snapshot provides an introduction to the full report. The AALL State of the Profession 2019 is available in print and digital formats and can be purchased via AALL’s website.

Media coverage of the report:

New Report Underscores the Evolving Role of Law Librarians, by Robert Ambrogi, Above the Law, April 22, 2019

“The survey on which the report is based polled librarians who work in each of three main library types — academic, government, and firm/corporate. Not surprisingly, in all three types of libraries, librarians’ most common technology role is overseeing research platforms. But they also have responsibility for knowledge management systems, intranets, websites, and blogging platforms.”

Law libraries chart a new direction for the future, new report shows, by Amanda Robert, ABA Journal, April 16, 2019

“The inaugural AALL State of the Profession 2019 report—which captures information from academic, government, law firm and corporate law libraries—shows that 27.4% of law firms or corporations have at least one active artificial intelligence initiative. Of those, 68.4% involve the library.”

The State of the Legal Profession, 2019, by Greg Lambert, 3 Geeks and a Law Blog, April 16, 2019
“…I’m thrilled that the report showcases law librarians’ adaptability. Of the 27.4 percent whose law firm/corporation had an AI/machine learning initiative, 68.4 percent involve the library. Law librarians also regularly manage or contribute to: competitive intelligence, business development, marketing, professional development, management, and strategy in firms/corporations.”

Three Takeaways from Above the Law’s David Lat on “The State of Biglaw and the Evolving Role of the Law Librarian”

David Lat, editor-at-large for Above the Law, attended this year’s AALL Annual Meeting and wrote an article offering three takeaways from Monday’s session on “The State of Biglaw and the Evolving Role of the Law Librarian.”  The session featured a panel comprised of Lee Bernstein, Library Manager at Haynes and Boone; Joseph Keslar, Director of Library Services at Blank Rome; and Steve Kovalan, Senior Analyst at ALM Intelligence. Rob Alston, Senior Director of Legal Intelligence Sales at ALM Intelligence, moderated the panel.  According to the article, “Kovalan outlined six trends that he has been seeing in Biglaw and expects to continue:

1. The emergence of areas of intense competition between firms.
2. More consolidation of law firms (aka “merger mania”).
3. Continuing increase in the sophistication — and demands — of corporate law departments.
4. Growing importance of investment in technology.
5. Growing importance of firm management (i.e., firm success will be determined in significant part by firms’ ability to execute on their strategic plans).
6. Greater collaboration across different types of vendors.”

Lat’s three quick takeaways on what this changing environment means for law librarians included ensuring that they’re “getting adequate recognition for their contributions to firm success.”   He also thought “law librarians and library departments need to be flexible, unafraid of making changes when necessary,” and that they “need to make sure they have the resources needed to do their jobs.”  Resources would include “both adequate staffing and a budget sufficient to cover subscriptions to all necessary services — which are proliferating, thanks to the explosive growth in the world of legal technology.”

On Sunday night, David participated in an event called The Tech-Savvy Law Librarian, and “interviewed Dean Sonderegger, Vice President and General Manager at Wolters Kluwer (and Above the Law columnist), about the changing role of the law librarian in Biglaw — and what librarians can do to evolve along with their duties. He outlined several ways that librarians can add value to their organizations during a period of flux for the legal industry.”

Read the entire article on Above the Law.

3 Tech-Savvy Ways Law Librarians Can Shake Up the Status Quo

Reposted with permission from AALL Spectrum, Volume 22, Number 6 (July/August 2018), pgs. 46-48.

How law librarians can use technology to increase efficiency and effectiveness in their day-to-day responsibilities

By Ellyssa Kroski, Director of Information Technology, New York Law Institute

Today’s new technology enables librarians to stay organized, plan intriguing events, and even develop their own applications without any specialized knowledge or previous technology experience. By taking advantage of everything that web-based software and apps have to offer, tech-savvy librarians can wow colleagues while increasing their efficiency and effectiveness in their day-to-day work lives. Below are three ways that librarians can become cutting-edge and shake up the status quo. Continue reading

Our “Small” Project with a Big Impact: Littler’s Knowledge Desk, A Case Study

Innovations in Legal KM Cover
By Cynthia L. Brown, Director Research Services at Littler Mendelson P.C..

This is a chapter from ARK Group’s new book Innovations in Legal KM and has been posted with permission from ARK Group. 

Littler’s library, a division of the greater KM department, bridges information needs and answers through its one-stop-shop for all KM and library research inquiries and needs via the Knowledge Desk. The Knowledge Desk is available to all Littler attorneys and staff for any legal research, traditional library resources, KM requests or questions concerning our legal training group Littler Learning Group (LLG). Via the Knowledge Desk, attorneys are connected to subject matter experts, a vast collection of databases, print materials, practice groups, internal work product and proprietary data collections, through which our team can search efficiently to locate exact information.

We had distinct goals when creating the Knowledge Desk:

  1. Centralize the gathering of attorney’s questions;
  2. Use library, KM, and LLG more efficiently;
  3. Create time for higher level projects and innovation;
  4. Better serve our attorneys.

Our first step was to determine what types of questions were separately coming to the library, KM and LLG, and who was answering these questions. We reverse-engineered the services we were providing to our attorneys and staff. The team reviewed years of emails, and sifted through mountains of data collected in our ticket-tracking system. We discovered that questions were being sent to KM that should have been sent to the library, and high-level KM attorneys were gathering documents that could have been provided by a library assistant. We were doing the wrong work with the wrong people.  Continue reading

The “2018 State of Corporate Law Departments” Report: Modern Law Departments Taking More Proactive Stance

Reposted with permission from the Legal Executive Institute’s LEI Blog

Today’s modern corporate law department has taken a more proactive position within its organization, seeking not to be seen (as it too often was in the past) as a cost-center or — worse yet — the department of “No!” that kept other department’s business initiatives from moving forward.

Instead, today’s corporate law department is working to add value to their organization, whether through innovation and improved efficiency or by developing collaborative partnerships that will benefit the organization and offer better outcomes.

In the inaugural annual report on corporate law departments from Thomson Reuters and Acritas, successful modern corporate law departments are seen today as those that embrace innovation, are data- and metrics-driven, and work collaboratively with outside counsel and other parties to create optimal results. The report analyzed data and research from Thomson Reuters Legal Tracker, Acritas and the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC).

The report — the “2018 State of Corporate Law Departments” (available for free download below) — also notes that corporate law departments are reporting more satisfaction with the value they see generated by their outside counsel.

The average satisfaction rating given to outside counsel based on value has increased 9% over the last five years and showed improvements across all areas of legal service delivery, according to the report. Not surprisingly, the report also notes that corporate law departments identified controlling outside counsel costs as their number-one priority.

The report also examines how corporate law departments are seeking to leverage technology, focus on innovation and instill a greater sense of discipline to the business operations of the department — so it’s not surprising that half of corporate law departments now have dedicated legal operations roles.

Overall, it’s a change within corporate law departments that is a result of the dramatic shifts the legal industry has witnessed over the past decade. Corporate law departments are now the empowered buyers of legal services and are finding many more opportunities to flex that muscle, whether being more cost-conscious with their traditional outside counsel, or by looking to alternative legal service providers for some of their legal needs. At the same time, however, corporate law departments are also under pressure from their own organizations as companies seek to control their own costs. This has led directly to law departments bringing more work in-house and embracing technology and process improvement to give their organizations better results.

“Corporate legal departments are adjusting to deal with dynamic businesses and shifting legal landscapes,” said Chris Maguire, managing director of the U.S. Corporate segment of Thomson Reuters. “Increasingly, they are looking to leverage technology to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and better manage risk and compliance.”

Download your free copy of the report at http://legalexecutiveinstitute.com/2018-corporate-law-departments-report/