Law libraries have changed over the last decade or so, collectively powered by a newly-articulated need to demonstrate both ROI and alignment with the firm’s overall strategic plan.
In making this happen, a good starting point is always understanding what strategy is in the first place.
“Strategy” like “love” and “honesty” is one of the most poorly-defined terms in the English language. That being said, a workable definition is that strategy is the determination of how you plan to win in a market or game or war with other players, by determining where you’re going to put your resources.
A law library has a limited amount of time, management attention, and most of all, budget with which to work. It can’t do everything, and it especially can’t do everything well. Given that it’s a zero-sum game, where do you focus your resources? What’s most important, and what’s not? There are two responses to this question, which have to work in concert.
First, know what the profession as a whole is doing. Your library has to have a strategy, and if it’s innovative or new to the firm, knowledge of general trends within law libraries gives you the data and ammunition you need to defend your strategy. Know what’s going on with your peers and how they’re reacting to changes in the marketplace, in technology, with information providers in general.
Second, look at your firm’s strategic plan. How are they planning to compete? Where are they putting their resources? What practice groups, technologies, markets, initiatives are being funded, and which are not? Every law firm of any size has such a plan, either written or not, and the key to adapting to the new normal for law libraries is to be able to demonstrate how your library’s strategy (including expenditures and priorities) directly supports firm goals. Used together, knowing what your peers are doing coupled with the firm’s strategy provides a very strong platform for defending your library’s over-arching goals.
If your current library strategy addresses both of these questions, you’ll have the answers ready and provide demonstrable value to your firm.
Feit Consulting’s experts can help you evaluate your strategy and show you how it compares to best practices in the market. If you don’t have a strategy, we can help you develop that too. You can reach out to us here with questions.
Michael Feit earned his J.D. from the Loyola University School of Law in Chicago and was an executive at Westlaw before founding Feit Consulting 16 years ago. Feit Consulting partners with law firm administrators and legal information professionals to optimize vendor contracts and the management and delivery of legal information resources by providing leading-edge, customized solutions. Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org