Six Keys to Success as Law Librarian, Part Two

April 28, 2017 Daryn Teague

ALM Legal Intelligence’s 2016 Law Librarian Survey documented an exciting trend for legal information professionals: “Law libraries are phasing out print collections, reinventing themselves as sources of competitive intelligence and analytics,” according to ALM.

Law librarians are increasingly likely to be tasked with overseeing the acquisition, storage and distribution of knowledge within the law firm -- one of the linchpins to any firm’s success in serving clients. As influential blogger Jean O’Grady notes, information professionals are now “offering lawyers new insights and workflows leveraging augmented intelligence, big data insights, predictive analytics, intelligent documents and linguistic analysis.”

Law librarians who are prepared for this transformation in their strategic role inside of law firms have an opportunity to have significant influence in those firms. Reed Tech sought to provide a forum for law librarians to learn more about how they can elevate their value in today’s law firm by hosting a recent webinar: “The Influential Law Librarian: Six Keys to Success.” The webinar can be viewed on demand by clicking here.

The keys were shared by guest speaker Diana Koppang, library manager at Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP. Koppang has specialized in intellectual property research throughout her 12-year career as a law firm librarian. She recently served as the Chair of the Intellectual Property Caucus of AALL and is currently Chair of AALL’s Economic Status of Law Librarians Committee, as well as on the Board of the Chicago chapter of AALL.

 

In a previous blog post, we recapped the first three tips shared by Koppang. In this blog post, we’ll summarize her remaining three keys to success as a law librarian:

4. Partner 

“Library professionals may not be eligible to be a partner in the law firm, but it’s important to be a strategic partner in the firm and to understand the firm’s goals,” said Koppang.

She cited, as an example, how crucial it is to know the firm’s strategic goals so you are in a position to contribute helpful business ideas, should the occasion present itself. Likewise, it’s important to know the individual practice group goals and look for ways to deliver enhanced value by sharing information that may be relevant, such as targeted prospective clients or specific industries. Koppang advises that library professionals serve as a “communications link” between various practice groups and client service teams within the firm.

“There was a time when we talked about law librarians as the ‘gatekeeper’ of information, but the implications of that term have shifted over time,” said Koppang. “That’s not a word you want to use anymore, in my opinion, because you need to redefine yourself as partnering with your colleagues throughout the law firm.”

5.   Be Present

Koppang recommended that library professionals resist the temptation to limit their interactions with attorneys to emails and other forms of electronic communication. Get out from behind your desk and drop by their offices or – if they’re based in another office – pick up the phone and call them from time to time.

“It’s important to take specific steps to remind the attorneys you are there and available to support them,” said Koppang. “Something as simple as a casual conversation while you’re getting coffee can be an important way to be present. It helps them to see you as normal and professional.”

Another tip was to arrange vendor presentations for individual practice groups, for attorneys at various levels, in order to interact with attorneys on a personal level. Koppang also encouraged library professionals to be visible at as many firm social events as possible, in order to be present and engaged with your colleagues.

6.   Be Vigilant

“It’s our job to be vigilant and to keep current on as many things as we possibly can in order to deliver the most value to our firms,” said Koppang. “You need to be that one person in the room who understands what’s happening out there and monitors important developments.”

She advised that library professionals maintain current knowledge, for example, in the areas that will be of greatest important to attorneys in the firm: the legal industry; your clients’ industries; legal research products and tools; relevant statistics; influential events for the firm and its key clients; and key trends that may impact the firm in general and specific practice groups in particular.

“No one is going to expect you to be an expert in the law, but having a current understanding of what is happening out there in the world is so important,” she said.

Koppang urged law librarians to be as familiar as possible with all available technology resources that will help atttorneys do their jobs as effectively and efficiently as possible. For example, LexisNexis PatentOptimizer® is a tool built for better patent drafting and dissection of issued patents. Created by patent attorneys for patent attorneys, PatentOptimizer® streamlines patent analysis and serves as a critical quality control check when drafting patent applications or dissecting issued patents.

Please check back soon for a recap of best practices related to legal research product evaluations by law librarians, also presented during this recent Reed Tech webinar.

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