Steve Martin, Jean O’Grady, Scott Baily, Greg Lambert

On February 1st, the first panel of the new Legal Pros track at Legal Week– 
New Ways for Law Librarians & Knowledge Managers to Become Indispensable
brought in a standing room only crowd.

Steve Martin, a Principle and head of legal design practice at Gensler provided an overview of the transformation of law firm libraries from rooms full of stacks into innovation and collaborarion hubs. A Gensler survey of library users had identified new roles for information professionals. At the top of the list was digital curator, change agent, connector and innovator. All of these issues emerged throughout the panel discussion.

From this framework — I joined my co-panelists, Scott Bailey, Global Director Research Services, Squire Patton Boggs  and Greg Lambert, President-Elect, AALL, Chief Knowledge Services Officer, Jackson Walker in a discussion about the challenges  and opportunities facting information professionals in  21st century law firms.

I highlighted the importance of business skills including budget analysis, scenario planning and analytics for knowledge services leaders. Since lawyers are not always open to innovation– there are times when it makes more sense to act first and get permission later–  acting when   a unique opportunity presents itself.

Scott Baily highlighted the importance of outreach and  deep engagement with practice groups to identify knowledge gaps where information professionals can create new solutions. New opportunities can arise from embedding researchers in practice groups where they can advise on the development of new workflow best practices.

Greg Lambert focused on interdepartmental collaboration opportunities. Most administrative functions have knowledge needs and information professionals can help develop workflow solutions .There are also opportunities to assume responsibility for a wide portfolio of knowledge related serviced including, conflicts, pricing, business development, competitive intelligence, intranet management, and client portal development.

We all agreed that lawyers simply can’t keep up with all of the changes in knowledge products and technologies and that  the role of the information “connector” has never been more important. Information professionals will play and important role in assessing and deploying emerging Augmented Intelligence, analytics and workflow enhancement products.

It was clear from the audience questions that not every law firm and corporate legal department has invested in hiring strategic knowledge leaders – so the panel provided a great platform for educating the wider legal community on the transformative roles information professionals can play in giving lawyers an information edge.




1)    New efficiencies within the department

JOG – What skill do you
wish you had learned before you became a Knowledge Services Leader/ Library

SB-Many studies regarding
innovation have suggested that the way to create indispensable services is to
be inventive and develop something new. How has your firm effectively
recognized (or not recognized) your attempts at innovation? Is failure an
essential part of the process?
SB-What innovative services
does your department offer that expand your value and insight and impact?

JOG – Have you ever gone
out on a limb to introduce innovation (opting for  forgiveness rather than


2)    Unique partnerships within firm and

GL – What non-traditional
opportunities are available within the firm to the leaders of Knowledge

SB-What are the points of
resistance toward establishing an effective internal awareness campaign of what
you and your team can do?

JOG – What have been your
most successful alliances/collaborations to initiate change?


3)    Effectiveness of information services

GL – How are you leveraging
the technologies your firm already possesses in new ways that expand the role
of KM or Libraries?

 JOG – What new technologies are you watching closely with
an eye future innovative opportunities?