Today the American Association of Law Libraries announced the release of it’s 2nd State of the Profession Survey. The Survey was created and administered by a State of the Profession Special Committee which created three different versions of the survey for academic, firm/corporate and government legal information professionals. The report was designed to gather insights on the opportunities and challenges facing legal information professionals across a wide variety of roles in academic, law firm and government organizations. The members of AALL include law school professors, CKOs, Law Library /KM Directors, researchers, technologists and competitive intelligence professionals.
An Executive Summary is available for free at this link The full 2021 State of the Profession Survey can be purchased at the AALL website
The Survey was created and administered by a State of the Profession Special Committee which created three different versions of the survey for academic, firm/corporate and government legal information professionals.
Key findings include:
Firm/Corporate Law Libraries:
Technology & Innovation -Nearly all firm/corporate law libraries utilize their research and technology mastery to test new platforms (95.6%)and recommend products for purchase (97.1%). All firm/corporate law libraries negotiate contracts (100%).
Providing Value & Expertise – Firm/corporate legal information professionals provide value and expertise far beyond traditional notions of the law library. More than 30 percent of firm/corporate law libraries are formally responsible for curated newsletters
(35.8%), competitive intelligence (35.2%), and conflicts/new business intake (NBI) (31.5%). Additionally, more than
30 percent regularly contribute to the following: marketing (55.8%), business development (52.7%), management
(50.0%), litigation (44.2%), professional development (38.9%), and information technology (32.7%).
Technology Leadership –Academic law libraries are responsible for managing technology platforms and services internally as well as
throughout the law school. Over 90 percent manage research platforms and databases (93.0%) and the library
website (93.0%). Additionally, 79.1 percent oversee their organization’s integrated library system (ILS), 48.8 percent
are responsible for the library management system (LMS), and 18.6 percent oversee course management systems,
classroom technology, and blog platforms.
Impact of COVID-19 – Academic law libraries used their agility and ingenuity to adapt to COVID-19—with more than 80 percent (81.8%)
creating one or more new services and 78.2 percent of staff taking on additional responsibilities. Operational changes
include expanded remote working practices (98.2%) and the creation of new policies (45.5%). Some other metrics
point to the challenges of the pandemic—including staff not taking vacation time (47.3%), staff working longer hours
(29.1%), and staff resignations (16.3%).
Public Services & Pro Se Litigants – Government law libraries provide their expertise to courts, judges, agencies, and legislative bodies—and more than 70 percent of government law libraries serve the public. They are essential partners in the access to justice movement
and many provide assistance and training to self-represented litigants, also known as pro se litigants. More than 40 percent of government law libraries surveyed offer a self-help center and 31.0 percent provide educational programs and legal clinics to self-represented litigants.
Reference Services – Government law libraries utilize a variety of tools to deliver reference services to their constituents. Nearly 97
percent (96.9%) provide email assistance and in-person help, while 93.8 percent offer reference services over the telephone. In addition, 31.3 percent use chat/IM/Ask a Librarian, 9.4 percent employ text, and 6.3 percent have a chatbot. In addition, 9.4 percent use other methods.
Law librarians and information professional are finally getting the recognition they deserve in the larger legal practice and technology communities. AALL’s State of the Profession Survey is a valuable resource for communicating the value of its members. COVID-19 certainly created new challenges – but across the profession, information professionals demonstrated ingenuity and resilience in meeting the unique research. monitoring , organizational and logistical circumstances triggered by the global pandemic.