Category Archives for "Budgeting"

Jan 13

Billables: A Metric of the Modern Law Library

By Michael Feit | Benchmarking , Budgeting , Modern Law Library , Pricing

Seeking out new ways to (bill) financially support the library is a core element of the library modernization.  Feit Consulting’s research found that 94% of Libraries that deem themselves “modern” are billing for their time.

Billing for Library time and research services is an easy metric to illustrate use and ROI, if your firm has the necessary tools in place.

Here are 3 tips for how to implement appropriate billing practices.

  1.  Monthly Monitoring – You can work with Finance to obtain monthly reports.  These monthly reports allows one to see which attorneys are passing on costs or writing off your time.  This information provides talking points for conversations with attorneys, shedding light on which attorneys are billing and which are not.
  2. Highlight Expertise – For some, the title of librarian is not optimal for billing.  If the case, it could be time to change the billing title to analyst or senior analyst.  This provides an opportunity to dispel the librarian stereotype.  Many attorneys are not aware of the librarian credentials and subject expertise.  
  3. Create a Billing Structure – There are various ways billing can occur.  The Library’s time can be directly billed to usage.  Alternatively, the Library’s costs could be divided evenly amongst all attorneys. 

Billing time allows the Library to function like a business, and provides data for annual budget development.  If these conversations are not yet part of one’s annual budget development, it can feel uncomfortable at first but is necessary to becoming a Modern Library.


Nov 20

The Modern Library: A Business Within a Business

By Michael Feit | Budgeting , Modern Law Library

Supporting the business of law has become an important concept for the Modern Library. Through interdepartmental cooperation, librarians have moved beyond the realm of attorney supported research into new roles supporting business development, risk management, data analytics to name a few. While all of these are essential firm functions, the Modern Library shouldn’t lose sight that supporting the business of law also applies to running the library as a business.

As a business unit within the firm, the Modern Library should be cognizant of the firm’s strategic plan. As annual budgets are prepared, the expense of resources and initiatives should be evaluated to make sure they are in support of where the firm is going in the future.  As those annual contract renewals come up, don’t maintain the status quo. It isn’t enough to look at the renewal, approve the % increase and sign on the dotted line for another 1 to 3 years.  Vendor content is constantly evolving as are the needs of the organization. Is your firm moving into an emerging area of law? If so then make sure the contracts you are renewing include resources and licenses that can support those needs. Have you been called upon to perform due diligence on potential laterals, a practice group or a merger candidate? Be proactive, use that information to question Finance on the impact for resource support. Has the firm promised new laterals joining the firm office copies or subscriptions that could make your budget plans obsolete?

Operating your law library like a  Modern Library requires looking beyond the dollars associated with anticipated expenses. One must consider the timing of events that impact the budget. Timing affects cash flow as expenses are incurred. Timing is everything; so make sure you know the timeline of events that you are budgeting to support.

Being in the know; collecting data on upcoming strategy, and preparing a budget to meet identified needs is the mark of a fiscally responsible business owner. You can’t budget for what you don’t know. The Modern Library needs to understand what is coming and be ready to support those plans. Make the Library’s success your business.

Sep 18

Is your library budget ready?

By Michael Feit | Budgeting , Modern Law Library

Budget season is here. Are you ready?

Budget season is here, and 2018 expense is right around the corner. While no one enjoys the necessary number-crunching of budget preparation, annual budgets are an important tool of modern-library metrics. The library budget, a microcosm of projected expense within the larger organization, should be meaningful by helping you to understand how you spend firm dollars. Your budget, broken down by categories of material, or service, or major vendor, should allow you a framework to monitor expense.

When preparing the budget, utilize all tools at your disposal. Annual budgeting should never be done in a vacuum. Talk to Finance to get a better idea of the firm’s strategy for the upcoming year. What is the firm’s fiscal goal for the new year, and what does that mean for the library? Is this a year of zero-based budgeting? Are there plans for a new office or strategic downsizing firm-wide? Is the firm planning to right-size practice groups? If so, then performing an office-copy audit becomes a valuable tool of budget preparation. Addition or deletion of attorneys and staff affects library spend and seat licenses, so make sure you are proactive in understanding what the firm is planning. If you have an Electronic Resource Management (ERM) tool in place, pull usage reports, and analyze user data and actual ROI of electronic subscriptions helping to support renewal or cancellation decisions. Don’t forget to survey your user population to make sure their needs have not changed and the firm is subscribing to the right content. Make sure you are current on legal-vendor offerings and haven’t overlooked new vendors with the same content but a better value.

The Modern Library requires individuals to change their mindset from maintaining the status quo to becoming open to new ways of doing things. Consider how you will shape your budget to reflect new solutions that you want to present to your organization. Whether it is new software to improve workflow or hiring a consultant for upcoming contract negotiations, the budget should reflect the library’s needs and projects for the upcoming year. If you are proposing something new, consider adding a business case as a supplement, providing the needs assessment and ROI derived from the new solution. For the law firm administrator that is often a numbers person, hard-budget data turned into informative charts and graphs will tell your story in a visual way that is powerful beyond just numbers. The law library budget should be well thought out and reflect your needs and expenses for the upcoming fiscal year.







Sep 05

Budgeting to Maximize ROI

By Michael Feit | Budgeting , Modern Law Library , Resources

Will you play it safe or take a risk for greater returns?  

The Modern Library requires individuals to change their mindset from maintaining the status quo and becoming open to new ways of doing things. Budget season is here. Now is the time to consider how you will shape your budget with new solutions to your organization’s anticipated changes in 2018.

Checklist of budget items to consider adding or changing in your 2018 budget:
  • ERM (Electronic Resource management system): If your firm doesn’t already have an ERM, it may be time. Read more here.
  • Content Aggregators: Influencing the firm’s bottom line with current awareness on clients and potential business.
  • Library Membership Fees: Save on subscription costs, fill content gaps at a lesser cost, access to archival and historical collections and just-in-time document delivery.
  • New Software: Consider software that offers newer efficiencies, extensive analysis and taming big data.
  • Outside Services: Budgeting for value-added insights on those special projects, allocating funds for consultancy services or to purchase resources that will provide critical insights on pricing, creating efficiencies and library modernization to name a few. Tap into Feit Consulting’s white papers or other consultants’ resources.
  • Conferences and Events: Be smart in which topic class or conference you decide to attend. Think about who may also attend as networking is as valuable as the content offered. Specialized topics covered by ILTA or the Ark Group offer valuable takeaways on timely topics that will affect your bottom line. Discounts available for multiple attendees from your organization.
  • Staffing: Do your foresee a need to add staffing capacity? Will it be a short-term need or long-term? Hiring temporary or permanent staff is one option as well as outsourcing depending on how each option delivers return on the expense.


Jun 20

Beyond the Price

By Michael Feit | Budgeting , Contract Negotiations , Pricing

Often times, the focus in legal information contract negotiations is the contract price. Securing a great price for the service and product offered is great, but only if the service and product offered match the firm’s legal information needs.

The first and most important step in optimizing your firm’s legal information resources and budget is a library audit. Evaluating and assessing how often resources are utilized is a key indicator of value. As practice groups come and go, information needs change and new products come to market.

The library audit can be conducted in various ways: from a high-level comb-over to evaluating each specific resource. If the latter, this can be a time-intensive pay-off. If your firm has not conducted a library audit in the last three years, it is worthwhile to take the time to do so now. If you don’t have time, consider outsourcing this task.

Understanding the use/value of your firm’s resources is essential to optimizing your firm’s legal information resource budget. Feit Consulting has encountered clients paying for resources that offer little value and have little to no use. When asked, firms share, “It costs so little.”

Don’t become a victim of paying for products the firm doesn’t use or need. Feit Consulting’s latest report, Optimizing Legal Information Pricing shares detailed steps and processes for achieving optimal results in legal information contract negotiations. Learn more here.

Apr 18

Value of the Office Copy Audit

By Michael Feit | Best Practices , Budgeting

Savvy librarians are always looking for ways to assess and right-size their collections, both print and electronic. As practice groups come and go, information needs change and new products come to market. There are several kinds of collection audits that can be conducted at different times. For instance, the Office Copy Audit can be a valuable tool in annual budget preparation.

“Office Copies” is a budget line that is continually growing and can be an emotional powder keg when surveying attorneys about their office-copy needs. As you review office copies by practice group, you can build a report with data showing Management exactly how much it costs to support a practice area’s information needs. Finance is always interested in data that provides insight into practice-group spend versus practice-group profitability.

For report generation, you will need to categorize and sort your resources by title, vendor, practice group and price. Areas to consider for your Office Copy Audit:

(1) Are you choosing the best content for the price?

(2) Have other vendors moved into the market with the same content, but at a better value?

(3) Are you including office copies in a LMA, and if so, does the Swap-Out Period give you enough flexibility to add and delete copies as attorney numbers change?

(4) When was the last time you actually surveyed attorneys on the value of the office copies they receive?

Once you have your report in hand, set aside a time to meet with the Practice Chair to review titles and expenses charged to the group. This can be a real eye-opener when it comes to costs incurred. Many times the mere cost of publications will gain support for cancellation of materials that are seldom used. This conversation can bring up other factors to consider, such as format changes from electronic to print for better access.

The Office Copy Audit is a win-win for the library, because it highlights to Management that you care about your budget spend. The audit opens a line of communication with the Practice Chair and shows that you are thinking about how to best support their legal information needs in a cost-effective manner.

As firms continue to question the costs of library real estate and resources, a full Collection Audit might be something to consider. As prices of print and online resources escalate, the Collection Audit will identify redundant content and help you right-size your resources better. Feit Consulting can work with your firm on an Office Copy Audit or a full Collection Audit. Click here for how your firm can work with Feit.