The theme of this year’s 110th AALL Annual Meeting and Conference Forgo the Status Quo strikes a chord with what we are hearing from clients in the legal market. We are seeing a paradigm shift as law librarians look for ways to reinvent themselves and the value they bring to their organizations. The future for information professionals is full of possibilities and many of those lie in the area of knowledge management. Who better than librarians to manage institutional knowledge, making sure the right information gets to the right people at the right time?
This was the message of the session entitled “Knowledge Management for the 21st Century Information Professional”. If you think about it, isn’t this what librarians have always done through the creation of online catalogs, legal research and curated taxonomy? Librarians might benefit by broadening their view and looking at the big picture to identify KM-related roles they may take on in their organization. Law librarians know what attorneys need and understand attorney workflow. We are often seen as trusted advisers when it comes to providing and organizing their information needs. We already have a user base, let’s consider re-branding ourselves as thought leaders in Knowledge Management and expand the level of support we provide through KM solutions.
Moving beyond the status quo was further highlighted in the session titled “The Law Firm Librarian’s Role in New Business Intake”. Good loss prevention and risk management begins at intake, when client conflicts are identified during the development of the scope in the engagement letter. Who better than the librarian to perform due diligence on potential clients? With access to necessary databases to perform the research, coupled with the organizational skills to establish systems and checklists to further the Conflicts process, we are able to infuse valuable information into a critical process and demonstrate the value of the library. This is just one way to showcase our research and organizational skills to the rainmakers of the firm, who are responsible for bringing in business but may not currently be utilizing their library for traditional research services.
If you have the bandwidth in your library to take on this function, it can prove to be a quick win for showcasing your value. The only expense is staff time and a bit of training, since the resources required to support this function are already in place in the library. Knowing what business is coming into the firm will provide the library with intelligence to make sure that subject experts and resources are in place to support traditional research requests for these new clients.
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Monice M. Kaczorowski is the Vice President of Library Strategy and Innovation. As a former Chief Knowledge Officer, she has been a proponent of law firm KM as a way to improve attorney workflow and foster efficiencies within the practice of law. Managing her own consultancy firm prior to joining Feit, Monice has a keen sense for the large picture while understanding the micro-nuances of legal information management.