What’s Bothering Patent Law Librarians Today – LOTS! – And How I Found Out

By Lucy Curci-Gonzalez / Executive Director,  New York Law Institute

Every few semesters my good friend and colleague, Ralph Monaco, asks me to talk about patents and patent law research to his advanced legal research class at St John’s University Division of Library and Information Science.  I’ve been involved in  intellectual property law or IP (patents, trademarks, and copyrights) for much of my career, researching patents and patent law, and managing IP law boutique firm libraries.

“While we teach, we learn,” said the Roman philosopher Seneca.  The process of putting together the 90-minute lecture, PowerPoint, reading list, and a homework assignment is very daunting and very rewarding.  The greatest benefit of this effort is that teaching obliges you to keep up-to-date and forces you to find clear and concise ways of expounding on a topic. Best of all, it lets you play visiting adjunct grad school lecturer for the evening and meet the people coming up in the profession.

The lecture I gave this past March was no exception.  One of my PowerPoint slides I always do for this presentation deals with hot topics in IP research – the new and current pain points that law librarians experience dealing with vendors and publishers, the effect changes in the law or new case law have on the way they conduct research, and finally how the present economic landscape of the legal and legal information industries impacts the work of IP information professionals.   New law librarians need to think about how the present-day external business world will influence their careers.  Being aware of these issues gives them a leg-up in an interview or dealing with a new job, and gets them in the good habit of looking for patterns and trends throughout so they can be prepared for change rather than being forced to react to it. Continue reading

AALL Management Institute: Opportunities Granted

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By Allison Reeve, Library Manager at Littler Mendelson, PC

Thank you to the PLLIP Grants Committee for awarding me the 2017 Management Institute Grant covering registration to the event. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to learn and grow through my participation.

On Firmer Ground readers are not immune to, or unaware of, the exciting transformations occurring in law libraries today. Law firm librarians stay abreast of trends in the legal market, provide competitive intelligence, and inform client-facing and revenue-generating products.  They cultivate relationships with attorneys and practice groups so they can deliver relevant, on-point resource and research responses. Law library managers realize that the transformational challenges they face can also offer a myriad of opportunities, such as liaising between stakeholders and library staff to align strategic plans, motivating team members, and advocating for much needed resources.

Led by expert Maureen Sullivan, an Organizational Development Consultant at Maureen Sullivan Associates, the 2017 AALL Management Institute provided law library managers with tools and inspiration to guide teams and organizations through staff challenges, follow through on corporate visions, and enable personal growth. From my vantage point as a new manager, I found the boots-on-the-ground conversations exceedingly beneficial. Ms. Sullivan provided attendees time for individual reflection and small group discussions, and opened larger concepts up to the group forum. These shared experience dialogues fostered deeper understanding of challenges and provided real-world strategies for success.

The Client-Coach-Observer exercise is one that sticks with me. Groups of three took turns in which each individual played the role of client, or one who expresses an idea or challenge; coach, a mentor role guiding the client to a conclusion; or observer, who later advised the coach on her counseling communication skills. During this exercise, I appreciated the opportunity to discuss current projects my colleagues are working on and to practice coaching dialogue. I found myself most anxious during my turn as the observer, wanting to ensure I provided constructive notes to the coach. This session provided real-world conversation practice and the opportunity to share challenges and successes with colleagues. Continue reading

Conference Recap: Best Practices and Management Strategies at 11th Annual Ark Group Conference for Law Firm Libraries and Research Centers

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By Alicia Navarro, Electronic Resources Manager, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP

I had the opportunity to attend the Ark Group’s 11th Annual Conference on Best Practices & Management Strategies held on February 23, 2017.  It was my first time attending, and there were many takeaways for me in terms of best practices to apply. Below are some of the programs that stood out for me and what was discussed.

The program kicked off with Robert DeFabrizio, Manager of Library Services at Goulston & Storrs. He reviewed the steps to develop a plan for reintegrating the library into the business of law and discussed how to align the library with the firm’s mission.  Robert mentioned we should always “start with a goal and a strategy.” Often we tend to focus on the goal, when we should also be on the “lookout for what changes may be happening in the industry” and “be adaptable to changes.” My takeaway from this session is that we should consider letting go of things that are no longer relevant, challenge ourselves, and avoid plateauing in the performing zone and not growing in the learning zone.  We must always review to see where we are and where we are going. Continue reading

Product Spotlight on Clarion:  New Business Insight Tool from Wolters Kluwer

Wolters Kluwer recently released Clarion, a “due diligence and client advisement solution,” according to their January 24th  product announcement.  Wolters Kluwer’s news release promoted Clarion as a tool for corporate attorneys, with “the ability to surface vital information on a company’s revenue sources, partnerships, customers, and suppliers that would typically take hours of research.”  Clarion definitely has utility for a wider audience than corporate attorneys though and could be helpful in firmwide competitive intelligence/business development efforts. It allows for searching by company/ticker symbol to get to a company dashboard or lets a user drill down by industry and pull company lists sorted by Revenue in Industry, Total Revenue, or Company Name.

The last couple On Firmer Ground posts focused on business development, and we highlighted a Private Law Librarians and Information Professionals’ resource guide discussing librarians’ role in business development and competitive intelligence.  The resource guide listed a number of databases for company and industry research, so this seemed like a good time to take a closer look at Clarion, since it’s a product that can be added to that list.

We asked Wolters Kluwer a few questions about why they saw a need for the product, how it was developed, and what distinguishes this tool from others on the market. Continue reading

All Hands on Deck for Business Development Efforts: Libraries Part of the BD Crew

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It was great to see the library getting recognition in an article by Bloomberg Law’s Scott Mozarky, Large Law’s Not-So-Secret Weapon In Marketing And BD: The Library.  In the piece, Scott says, “Law firm libraries have always been major assets for partners and associates in providing strong practice of law results to their clients. However, the library was not often perceived to be a key component in a firm’s marketing or business development machinery.”

This particular line struck me as timely since On Firmer Ground recently recapped two webinars where private law firm librarians/information professionals were discussing competitive intelligence efforts at their firms.  You Ask, We Tell – Your CI Report Formatting Questions Answered was hosted by the Private Law Librarians and Information Professionals’ Special Interest Section of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), and Library and Marketing: Why Can’t We Be Friends? represented a first-time collaboration between the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) and AALL. Two of the panelists representing the library function in the LMA webinar said they had been involved in competitive intelligence work at their firms for ten years, and that they played an integral part in the firm’s business development efforts.

Scott is correct that librarians aren’t always perceived as a key part of the firm’s business development machinery though, and his article offers a perfect lead-in to a list of competitive intelligence/business development resources available from the American Association of Law Libraries.  Hopefully, firm librarians can glean some useful nuggets from these as they keep pushing ahead with their business development contributions. Continue reading