Susan Hackett, The CEO of Legal Executive Leadership
kicked off the  2014 Private Law Libraries Summit with a bang. This year’s theme was  “The Voice of the Client” and  Hackett delivered a powerful message which
focused on “Re-engineering the Role and Value of  Private Law Librarian:  Practical Strategies for Leadership in Serving
Corporate Clients.”


Susan Hackett Points the Way
Photo (c) Bess Reynolds

We’ve Come A Long  Way. I couldn’t help but contemplate the  trajectory which the Summit has taken since the first Summit in 2010. Although the theme of the  first Summit was “Change as Opportunity,”  it was fear and bewilderment that fueled the discussions. By 2014 the Summit had moved information professionals from survival at the margins to front and center in the delivery of value to clients. Not only did we have Hackett the former Sr. VP and GC  of the Association of Corporate Counsel delivering the keynote, but she was followed by a panel of In House Counsel who reinforced and validated Hackett’s insights into the value librarians can bring to multi-disciplinary  client support teams. It is time for information professionals to move from the shadows  of administrative support to center stage  with a seat at the client table and with a voice in the value and process improvement discussions.

Clarifying the Context. Disruption in the legal profession is not solely
the result of the recession. Law firms will continue to struggle if they don’t
realign their business strategy with delivering value to clients. Law firm’s continue
to focus on cost, profit and pricing
which are the symptoms of dysfunction and not the root cause.
The Real Problem Is Client Disconnect: Lawyers still want
to sell their expertise by the hour. Clients want to buy business solutions and
The Opportunity: Information professionals are uniquely
suited to help lawyers leverage the firm’s knowledge resources and develop new
products, processes and multi-disciplinary strategies which will respond to the client demand for efficient business solutions.
The Innovators Hackett highlighted the innovative
initiatives at  two law firms Seyfarth
(Lean Six Sigma) and Eversheds (Agile) and two Legal Departments Intel (Dynamic
KM) and Cisco (Global Center of Excellence) as examples of workflow reengineering.
Clients Love Data Start demonstrating value by doing time trials. How long
does it take for an associate to perform a function that we as information professionals can demonstrably
deliver more quickly. Measure the time saved and translate into a value to clients.


Hackett’s Examples of Staffing Innovation


•      Focus on each person’s highest use, not pushing work down


•      Demand
Management Practices – firms and clients


•      “Captive”
work centers to drive down project costs


•      Design
a new kind of “contract lawyer” – you/your team.


•      Direct
client and firm exposure: training, client deep dives, issue monitoring, etc.


•      Assist
with feeding or writing blogs, Tweets, Social Media – push knowledge to firms
lawyers and clients


•      Sourcing
increasingly sophisticated work to those who do it faster and cheaper than


Hackett’s Examples of Knowledge Innovation


•       Aggressively
collect, catalog, and manage data, including big data. Offer it up to clients.
•       Create
a collaborative knowledge library of firm practices or one that shares clients’
practices.  Offer it
up to clients.
•      “Proof
of Concept” Discussions – questions posted online in firm communities are
answered communally and archived.


•      Assign
associates to capture partner knowledge experience as part of their training –
catalog it for future training.


•      Make
knowledge capture a legacy project for elder partners


•      Create
playbooks, process maps, trainings, etc. 

Equals Opportunity
. According to Hackett the primary competition for law firms
is not other law firms, it is the legal department itself. As legal departments
become more efficient, information innovators can help law firms develop value
strategies and services which can help firms compete effectively with their


The Bottom Line: Stop selling ourselves to our law firms, start selling our value to the clients.