Oct 30

Meet the Managed Services Evaluator Team!

By Michael Feit | Feit Consulting

As we launch our new offering, the Managed Services Evaluator, we sat down with our lead law library consultants, Stuart Zimmerman and Becky Bowman to discuss their thoughts.  Both Stuart and Becky have distinguished backgrounds as law library leaders.

Stuart was the Director of Research and Information Services for Davis Wright Tremaine for 18 years, Becky was the Chief Research and Information Analysis Officer for Baker Donelson for 32 years. Both Stuart and Becky bring a long track record of incredible accomplishments achieved at their firms, and look forward to their leadership and insights evaluating managed services options.  Read more about Becky and Stuart here.

As Stuart notes, “Every firm’s culture is unique as well as their mission and market-positioning—there’s simply no one-size fits all solution, which is why it’s so important to have a critical eye weigh all the factors into this decision. As outsourcing becomes more prevalent, many firms are going to want to reevaluate their in-house operations.  Librarians tend to be more vocal about the research they provide and focus less so on making their value visible.  Costs, however, are laying very heavily on firms.  They know they need information services, but no one wants to pay for it.  I look forward to helping firms understand the value that flows from the library throughout the firm as well as how to most cost-effectively place that spend, in-house or outsourced.” 

Becky adds, “We will be approaching Managed Services Evaluator with firms in an unbiased way, but also holistically. Law librarians are caught between two worlds:  vendors who want new business and managers that are cost conscious.  Both have inherent self-interests which is why it really is helpful to insert an unbiased voice into the dialogue.

Some law firm leaders are reluctant to embrace what is going on.  They are disconnected and don’t have a way to connect the increasing cost to market trends.  We will help them look at the big picture, from staffing, to collection trends, and of course analyzing their contracts.  Firm management often likes the theory of outsourcing, but there are tradeoffs when there is homegrown staff right there with institutional knowledge.  I am looking forward to helping firms put data on both sides of the equation that guides better decision-making.”

Click here to learn more about the unbiased, Managed Services Evaluator.

Oct 29

Do “They” Know You Exist? Marketing Library & Information Services in Law Firms Part III: Branding

By Becky Bowman and Stuart Zimmerman | Feit Consulting

In this three part series, we have been examining ways information professionals can demonstrate their value.  As talk of a 2020 recession continues and as firm leadership feels the pinch of expenses outpacing revenue as we come to the end of 2019, cost centers like your firm’s library become even more scrutinized than normal.   

Part I focused on how information professionals can work with their attorneys to show that business value; in Part II, we looked at demonstrating value to firm leadership.  In this final piece, we look at branding your firm’s information services.

Branding is another tool to help build the profile of the library/information services department.  Consider developing a departmental logo. Use logos liberally to brand communications, deliverables, and web resources coming from the library.  If you are lucky, the firm’s graphic designers may be able to craft something that ties in with the firm’s logo.  Appearance matters here – brand all of the work products that have been touched in some way by the library or research department.

Law firm departments tend to become siloed, so it is key to ensure your material is branded to reinforce the value your department provides.  It is all about keeping the name of the library/information services department top of mind.  If your colleagues are actively aware of the departments value, you are one step ahead of the game and standing out – but be consistent.

Branding involves building blocks and consistency is the foundation.  For this is to take off you need to ensure your team is aware of the goals and process. Librarians are the brand ambassadors of the legal information services department and it takes a unified village to meet your goals.

Marketing plays a huge part in how we present ourselves to the firm and how “they” see our value. It is all about realizing the opportunities and build in ways to routinely tell stories of success, backed with meaningful metrics. Make sure that firm leadership knows the value that the library brings to the firm!

Did you know?   Feit Consulting offers Contemporary Library Solutions, examining and recommending changes to save the firm/organization money, improve efficiencies, and maximize utilization of resources. Contact Feit Consulting today to set up a free consultation on modernizing your Law Library.

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.

About the Author

Stuart Zimmerman, Law Library Consultant

Stuart provides strategic input on library and research services in large law firms with a focus on library audits, the development of best practices for the delivery of library services, and the implementation of new generations of digital resources for research and library administration. Stuart brings more than 25 years of law library experience both in law firms and public law libraries. Prior to joining Feit Consulting, Stuart was Director of Research and Information Services for Davis Wright Tremaine LLP where he transformed a patchwork of individual law office libraries into a coordinated, efficient, contemporary, firm-wide library system providing high-quality research and library services across nine offices.

Oct 28

The Importance of Lexis’ and Westlaw’s Ancillary Products

By Michael Feit | Feit Consulting

Earlier this year when pulling together the data for our 2019 Optimizing Legal Information Pricing book, we noticed a trend across our AmLaw 200 segment.  Some of our most impactful dimensions – Market Power, Penetration, and Importance--resulted in a nearly identical “Top 4” ranking among Lexis and Westlaw ancillary products, 3 of which fall to Lexis currently (Law360, ALM, NYTimes/WSJ) and just one (Practical Law) under Westlaw.  Only in the importance ranking does Intelligize bump the NYTimes/WSJ Lexis ancillary product out of the top 4.

Take a look at the details of the top-ten products in our charts below:

As vendors drive tougher bundling packages, particularly for Lexis, the stickiness of the ancillary products is proving to be a key factor in retention.

Oct 28

Do “They” Know You Exist? Marketing Library & Information Services in Law Firms Part II: Firm Leadership

By Becky Bowman and Stuart Zimmerman | Feit Consulting

In part I of this series, we considered that as expenses outpace revenue as we come to the end of 2019, increased scrutiny will fall upon information professionals to demonstrate the business value of their services to the firm.  Part I focused on how information professionals can work with their attorneys to show that business value.  Here in Part II, we will look through the lens of firm leadership.

Firm leadership will be most cognizant of the tightening margins resulting from expense growth and will be keen to understand cost-efficiencies and returns on investment.  At the same time, however, firm leadership also feels the tremendous competitive pressures in the market to win and retain talent. 

There were nearly 9,000 lateral partner moves* within the AmLaw 200 in the five-year-span from 2014 through 2018, bringing an estimated $17.1 billion in total business with them. The lateral market is so fluid, nearly half of all partners are up for grabs at all times.

For firm leadership, value is tied to the bottom line and communications should focus on metrics that tell the story of how the library contributed to the firm’s success in identifying and winning new business, as well as recruiting and retaining talent. There are several ways to do this.

Annual Reports - Highlight successes of the past  year and outline focus for the coming year. Use annual reports to show year-over-year trends, highlight new resources, technologies and initiatives coming from the library.

Utilization - Usage reports for online resources are key for identifying heavily used and valued resources and services. Sort reference statistics by practice group and compare them against expenses and revenue.

Billing/Revenue - Capture and report all billables coming from the library on a regular basis.

Trumpet successes -  Find your supporters and amplify their voices through testimonials and peer-to-peer conversations.

Data Visualization - Employ techniques to make data easy to digest and illustrate the story. Take care that the information provided supports the message of value provided by the library.

In part III, we will shift the lens and consider how better branding can demonstrate the value of your firm’s information services.  Stay tuned! 

Did you know?   Feit Consulting offers Contemporary Library Solutions, examining and recommending changes to save the firm/organization money, improve efficiencies, and maximize utilization of resources. Contact Feit Consulting today to set up a free consultation on modernizing your Law Library.

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.

About the Author

Stuart Zimmerman, Law Library Consultant

Stuart provides strategic input on library and research services in large law firms with a focus on library audits, the development of best practices for the delivery of library services, and the implementation of new generations of digital resources for research and library administration. Stuart brings more than 25 years of law library experience both in law firms and public law libraries. Prior to joining Feit Consulting, Stuart was Director of Research and Information Services for Davis Wright Tremaine LLP where he transformed a patchwork of individual law office libraries into a coordinated, efficient, contemporary, firm-wide library system providing high-quality research and library services across nine offices.

Oct 28

Collection Re-balancing Part II: Facilitating the Move from Print to Digital in Law Firm Libraries and Information Services

By Becky Bowman and Stuart Zimmerman | Feit Consulting

In part I of this 2-part report, we looked at the drive to enhance digitization and provided some top reasons, challenges and paths to success. 

In part II, we drill down into some details as how to approach print reduction strategically—as well as a few reality checks that can be helpful along the way.

What to cut? How to decide?

The determination of which print resources are ripe for online replacement begins with an examination of current print spend by vendor in tandem with a review of online holdings. A tracking spreadsheet [sample below] is a useful tool for this process.

      Sample tracking spreadsheet 

Most firms will find that the bulk of their print spend is with some combination of the big four vendors; Thomson Reuters, Lexis, Bloomberg and Wolters Kluwer. Each of these vendors offers robust online services that include the majority of their print publications.

Using Resource Types [see box below] as a rough guide, calculate and plot the cancellation potential (high or low) of each title on the spreadsheet which, when sorted, will surface those titles with high potential for cancellation. Continue working down the list of print by vendor, reviewing online options and plotting cancellation potential. Not every print resource has a digital equivalent.

Licensing terms can vary greatly from vendor to vendor. Make sure that contracts/licenses are adequate to cover all who need access to each resource. Identify gaps in online content and/or any material contract limitations and see if there is a need to expand current contracts or purchase additional licenses.

Once the list of titles with high cancellation potential has been generated and the online alternatives identified and vetted the emphasis moves to a communication campaign to reach users who will be impacted by the elimination of those print resources with high cancellation potential.

Many users will be fine with the move to online and some will express concerns. Listen carefully while making final determinations. This is an excellent time to learn how resources are being used, and the value these resources bring to the firm, directly from the end-users themselves.

Reality Checks

  • The process of reducing print involves series of compromises and occasional hard decisions to navigate sometimes-competing goals. Be flexible and pick your battles.
  • Not everything needed is available online and just because something is available online doesn’t mean that it is accessible. Costs, inflexible licensing terms, and incompatible technologies can thwart the best plans.
  • It is not uncommon for firms to increase spending on digital media in order to realize print-cutting goals. Review budget impacts of needed contract changes, additional licenses, etc.
  • When needed publications are not available in digital/online formats, options are fairly limited; purchase and maintain print or rely on third-party sources.
  • Firms will need the flexibility to accommodate some print to achieve maximum efficiency.  

Conclusion

While there will never be a completely paper-free library, law firms are realizing good success in rebalancing their collections and actively managing the usage of online and digital resources while reducing their reliance on print to best fit their specific goals.

Feit Consulting offers Contemporary Library Solutionsreviewing law library operations and assessing collections to identify opportunities to improve utilization of information resources, maximize efficiencies and improve ROI.

 Contact Feit Consulting today to set up a free consultation

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.

About the Author

Stuart Zimmerman, Law Library Consultant

Stuart provides strategic input on library and research services in large law firms with a focus on library audits, the development of best practices for the delivery of library services, and the implementation of new generations of digital resources for research and library administration. Stuart brings more than 25 years of law library experience both in law firms and public law libraries. Prior to joining Feit Consulting, Stuart was Director of Research and Information Services for Davis Wright Tremaine LLP where he transformed a patchwork of individual law office libraries into a coordinated, efficient, contemporary, firm-wide library system providing high-quality research and library services across nine offices.

Oct 25

Agnostic Approach to Legal Information Management

By Michael Feit | Feit Consulting

"Doubt is the key to knowledge." Persian Proverb

Law firm overhead expenses outpaced revenue in 2019 and are forecast to continue to do so in 2020, but investments are not being made across all business functions of the firm. Instead, law firms are mainly investing in associate pay and decreasing spend on library overhead expenses. It’s vital to think critically now more than ever.

When it comes to managing legal information resources for law firms, often hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars are at stake. With multitudes of hybrid methods to deliver legal information today, it has become business-critical to examine the status quo in an agnostic fashion. With so much money involved, all firms should review their current choices with an open mind and determine if more profitable options might exist.

An agnostic, when not applied to religion, believes a neutral and factual approach is the right method for obtaining the truth. Additional effort is required to find the answer(s) or solidify the one(s) that we have.

For example, eliminating either Westlaw or Lexis is a difficult decision, yet >55% of large law firms have done so at some point in the last three years. What about Bloomberg? These questions should be examined at least every three years. What was right 2 or 3 years ago might not be correct today.

Law libraries running well can yield a large return on investment that often goes unnoticed. It is important to understand what the library is doing right and what changes, if any, should a firm make to improve knowledge management and the delivery of legal information resources. There is no 'right answer'; nothing is cookie-cutter. All firms are unique in culture and legal information needs are always evolving. All of this should be considered, carefully and agnostically to optimize output and profitability.

The agnostic approach begins with questioning every past decision - taking nothing for granted. Don't accept answers like "because that's the way we've always done it" or "everybody is doing it that way" as a valid reason to do anything without further research.

When we look at a situation from every angle, with thought and imagination, the more holistic the view becomes. It's important that we recognize and are aware of our biases and work to maintain a neutral approach. This means we must clear our minds and start with a fresh perspective. Some ways to take an agnostic approach:

  • Don't let partners and vendors dictate your business decisions and processes by looking only at one resource for information.
  • Be in control of your expertise, strategy and business decisions. Perform due diligence and investigate the market.
  • Take a partner and vendor-neutral approach during due diligence; this will empower you to be ideally informed.
  • Informed decisions lead to better decisions and better business results.
  • Better business results make you more valuable to the organization.

Law firms like any business must exist in a constant state of agnostic re-evaluation in order to keep up with the rapidly changing world.