raises more questions than it answers. A few key clarifications are in order. Are law firms throwing away institutional intelligence instead of just tossing the books? Will they pay a high price later for a short term savings?
1. Outsourcing is not new – I suspect that 100% of ALM 200 firms engage in some level of outsourcing, looseleaf filing, cataloging, document retrieval and repetitive technical processes are the processes which are most commonly outsourced. Functions involving deep, specialized knowledge and high levels of expertise are not.
2. Outsourcing is not unique to law libraries – many large law firms have outsourced lower level repetitive work from many different departments including HR, IT, conflicts, marketing, accounting. The key metrics which determine whether to outsource a job are: the complexity of the work, a short learning curve, high repetition, low decision making authority. Outsourced positions anticipate high turnover with low impact on service in order to maintain savings.
when they refer to” law libraries.”?
overseeing book circulation, routing newsletters and magazines. Research support was generally confined to “ready reference fact checking.”
getting what they need to compete in the 21st century knowledge economy.
level work. Any firm that has not begun these transformations is way behind the curve. Before law firms jump on the outsourcing band wagon leaders and partners
should do some “soul searching” and consider what kind strategic information support they currently offer to their lawyers and what kind of
intelligence they want to integrate into their business and legal work processes to compete in the 21st century.
need to define the central idea of the “law library.” What kind of support does your firm offer now and what kind of support do you need to maintain a competitive edge?
Provides proactive legal and business intelligence and complex legal and business research services, in-depth research analytics. Oversees the organization wide content acquisition strategy informing management and business decisions. Offers a wide range of services including KM, competitive intelligence, practice aligned support, practice portals and key client portals. Director/CKO assures that information polices mitigate ethical risks.
Director or CKO oversees integration of workflow and resources functions including research services, conflicts, dockets, records, intranet, competitive intelligence, knowledge management. investigates emerging technologies, AI, machine learning, process improvement and advises firm on development of
integrated desktop workflow solutions.
workflows. Information professionals are in demand across a wide spectrum of jobs in the emerging fields of competitive intelligence, pricing, process improvement and data analytics, so positions in marginalized “library” operations are unlikely to offer an attractive career option for innovative information professionals. Who will want to take these jobs?
Let‘s be frank there are law firms which have tolerated law libraries staffed by “book tenders” which are rightly at risk for drastic measures such as 100% outsourcing… and then there are firms who had the foresight to hire professional knowledge strategists who have spent the past decade transforming law libraries into strategic intelligence units that are driving competitive insights and analytics through all legal and business processes. It is one thing to throw out the books and another to throw out the information professionals who act as “force multipliers” in assuring that the firm always knows more and looks smarter than their clients or the competition.
SEE ALSO Greg Lambert’s response to the American Lawyer article on 3 Geeks and a Law : Law firm libraries can not simply be a service: they need to be a strategic partner.