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/

Law Library Budgets & Staffing On the Rise

The 2017 AALL Biennial Salary Survey & Organizational Characteristics Survey shows that budgets and staffing for law libraries are on the rise, according to an article in the January/February issue of AALL Spectrum.

Some key figures/takeaways from the survey results include:

  • More than half, 270, of the 502 responses were from law firm/corporate libraries.
  • Budget information was provided by 366 law firm/corporate, government, and law school libraries. When compared with law school and government law libraries, law firm/corporate law libraries had larger budgets on average ($1,577,734). But law firm/corporate libraries “allocated only 25 percent of their information budget in 2017 to hard copy information” (p. 39).
  • Law firm/corporate library budgets were 10 percent higher than in the 2015 survey.
  • Staffing totals for all libraries show that the “the average number of total staff for all libraries increased from 9.23 in 2015 to 10.32 in 2017” (p. 40).
  • On average, firms had a ratio of 1 professional for every 42.99 attorneys.
  • For billable hours in 2016, the ranges were from “a low of 300 hours for law firm/corporate law libraries with 41-90 attorneys to a high of 4,206 hours for those with 451 or more attorneys”  (p. 40).

More statistics are available in the AALL Spectrum article Budgets & Staffing for Law Libraries are on the Rise, starting on page 40 of the magazine. The complete Salary Survey is available here to AALL members only.