With so much uncertainty, one thing is clear: librarians and information specialists will (or should) be ready for it. To be recognized and become a major player in any firm’s changing landscape, one must become a leader in that change. There are many ways to approach this, but this article will address marketing to internal clients, specifically to the Practice Group Chair.
Although, the C-Suite ultimately has the final say, the Practice Group Chair or Leader and the attorneys in that practice group are the library’s clients. Providing attorneys with the information necessary to help them go beyond their client’s expectations scores a big star in the eyes of upper management--but we all know there are those Practice Chairs who don’t realize the library exists.
Today, marketing the library must take place with every service offered. The library must be aggressive and make the first move. Engage the “chair” and let him/her know the library is the resource for making the attorney look exceptional. Talk with the “Chair” and discuss how the library can make sure they have the tools necessary to succeed. Then, follow through with a written plan, possibly with a PowerPoint presentation to the group.
The package presented should follow the guidelines set forth by the firm's strategic plan as well as that of the individual group. This project will not be done overnight. If there are embedded librarians in practice groups, their knowledge of the group and their needs will be incredibly important. A staff meeting to brainstorm how to approach the various practice groups would be a good starting point. Each library has certain members who have relationships with various practice groups. Their input into the plan will be invaluable.
Items to consider when preparing a presentation package are:
- Obtain copy of firm’s strategic plan
- Obtain copies of each Practice Groups’ business plan
- Set goals the library will need to achieve success
- Have conversations with Practice Group Chairs to discuss ways to use the library
- When the presentation package is complete, make a presentation at a monthly practice meeting to show how the library can work to enhance the group
- Everything you prepare should carry the firm’s logo.
Firm’s Strategic Plan
Your firm has a strategic plan, and your library needs to align its goals and presentation with it. Each department is usually asked to contribute to this document. Even if the firm does not take the plan to the department level, there should be a high-level plan for moving forward. Request a copy if it is not shared with the leaders below the C-Suite.
Practice Group Business Plan
Practice Groups naturally have their business plans follow the firm’s Strategic Plan for moving forward. That being said, practice groups approach the plan in different ways. Having a copy of each group’s plan will guide the library as it sets goals to make the relationship a success.
The best way to ensure the library and the Practice Chair are on the same page is to have an in-person conversation. It can sometimes be difficult to obtain, but always have it as a goal. If the Chair takes the time to have a conversation, he/she is interested in obtaining more information regarding the resources and skills the library can provide. Seize the opportunity to market the library! Brag on what can be accomplished.
Each practice group will need a customized plan to meet their goals. After conversations with staff and the practice chair, work to specifically meet the practice group’s needs. It may be they need training on products, more resources, or specialized research, etc. Work to map out a plan that meets their expectations. Be honest. If something cannot be done, let them know.
Branding the Library
Branding the library is necessary. It is one of the easiest ways to communicate who you are every time a product leaves the library. To brand the department, work with your marketing department. They can provide a logo to place on any products being sent out. This logo can also be placed on SWAG you hand out after a training session and on notepads made in-house. Place these notepads on conference room tables, coffee tables in the lobby, etc. Hand them out freely to secretaries and paralegals. If nothing else, it’s a conversation starter. You will, of course, want to get approval from upper management before doing this.
Hopefully, the information shared here will help jump start a program to show the value of the library in a law firm. With shrinking budgets and the elimination of print, working with a practice group in this way shows management that the library is still a very integral part of the firm. Keep in mind that although this article focused solely on practice groups, the plan can be applied when working with other departments within the firm as well.
About the Author
Becky Bowman, Law Library Consultant
Becky served as the Chief Research and Information Analysis Officer for Am Law 100 firm, Baker Donelson for 32 years where she ultimately led a team of 5 to serve 750+ attorneys across 23 domestic locations. Becky's accomplishments at Baker were multiple, including transforming the library from print to digital, overseeing the efficient combination of 15 mergers and acquisitions of library materials, and successfully rebranding her department, and achieving buy-in from key stakeholders. Her exceptional experience is invaluable for clients as they assess the actual total cost and value of their library and research department including current print and digital collections, vendor contracts, as well as consider cultural and workflow disruptions or benefits in moving to an outsourcing vendor.