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.

Oct 25

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

By Becky Bowman and Stuart Zimmerman | Feit Consulting

Introduction

The competitive need for digitization has intensified across all industries—and this need is not sparing the legal industry.  If it’s any solace, it is not just law firms that are feeling the pressure of change.

In this two-part series, we outline the primary points to consider when rebalancing the print/digital ratio of a law firm library collection, along with an approach to analyzing current print spend to identify titles with the highest potential for cancellation.

Reasons for reducing print

  • Reduce library footprint – Print libraries require lots of space which is expensive in law firms.
  • Eliminate duplication – Online services, especially from the big four legal vendors, typically include the same or comparable information online as in their print publications.
  • Reduce environmental impact – The production and shipment of print products increases firms’ carbon footprints.
  • Serve users in multiple locations - Multiple print copies are expensive; online easier to share/scale across large operations.
  • Reduce upkeep costs – Print requires upkeep including ordering, receiving, processing and maintenance.
  • Increase efficiency - Digital resources offer search and collaboration features that can improve research and project efficiency.

Challenges in reducing print

  • Attorney preference/resistance to change - Attorneys are famously change-averse, especially if they see change as an imposition with no benefit to them. 
  • Licensing terms & costs - Contracts may need to be expanded and/or additional licensing purchased to ensure access and compliance to digital resources. Ability to negotiate new or alternative terms varies widely by vendor.
  • Existing print commitments - Contracts that commit firm to purchasing a set level of print in exchange for discounts may limit options for reducing print.
  • Market instability - Increased competition between information vendors is resulting in market instability. Firms without access to one or more of the big four may need to purchase essential products in print in the absence of online access. Some vendors are tying essential/popular products to contracts for their online services thereby complicating choices.

Paths to Success

  • Communication is key to success. Seek input from print users while working through the process.
  • Leadership backing is critical. Firm leaders must be prepared to help make and communicate difficult decisions and manage reluctant lawyers.
  • Use as champions those attorneys already successfully using digital resources. Get testimonials, have them promote resources at practice group meetings, etc. Word-of-mouth campaigns can be very effective complements to other marketing efforts.
  • It is important to consider the firm’s online billing policies and practices and make any adjustments that may be needed.
  • Review firm’s practices and policies around office copies. Office copies are frequently heavily used for practice efficiency giving them a lower potential for elimination.
  • Prepare to transition print users to online alternatives. Make plans for impacted users to access new resources, including links, passwords, and training.
  • Follow up with key users in the weeks and months after implementation. Address issues and work to resolve them.

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.

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

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

By Becky Bowman and Stuart Zimmerman | Feit Consulting

Law firm expenses are outpacing revenue causing shrinking margins as we round the corner to the end of 2019.  This was detailed in Citi Private Bank's Law Firm Group annual report, released just before Labor Day.  While lawyer compensation growth accounts for a significant portion of the expense increase, shrinking margins and the drumbeat of a potential recession in 2020 turn scrutiny to law firms’ cost centers—and of course, this includes the library and information centers.  Information professionals need to be ready to demonstrate the business value to the firm.

While it may be a common sentiment for information professionals to walk out of a meeting, whether it be with administration or a practice group and think, “‘They’ just don’t get it!” or “They have no clue the value the library brings to their work and the firm itself,” law firm leadership is under tremendous budgetary pressure.  It’s time to change the conversation.

Law firm libraries have evolved to deliver tremendous cross-departmental and cross-practice value.  We employ increasingly sophisticated tech tools to perform substantive legal and technical research. We partner with other departments such as business development, professional development and conflicts that need access to our resources and expertise.

In fact, information professionals have access to better data than ever before to help illustrate the value the library brings to the firm, and yet we still struggle with making sure our department gets the recognition it deserves from leadership and the firm’s decision-makers.

So, how do we demonstrate the business value of the library?  We will take this question and tackle it from three different perspectives:  in Part I, we tackle the attorney perspective; in Part II, we will review firm leadership’s perspective. Finally, in Part III, we will take into consideration branding.

Attorneys 

For lawyers, value is more immediate and tied to the resources and services provided by the library. They need library expertise to serve their clients and grow their practices. Communications will involve highlighting new and important resources and services.

Getting the attention of busy attorneys remains a primary challenge. Keep communications brief and lead with the primary message. Whether in person or by email there is a very small window of opportunity to reach the target. Below are suggestions for promoting the library/information center:

Practice Group Presentations - Practice Group presentations are the gold standard for reaching attorneys as they provide for face-to-face interaction with end users. In person, librarians can get candid feedback including subtle cues such as body language about attorneys’ needs and whether they are frustrated or satisfied with available services and resources. This is a fantastic opportunity to hear first-hand the value attorneys' place on the library’s performance. Getting in front of attorneys, live or virtually, shows that there are actual librarians/people who provide the resources and services they need to succeed in their work. A Practice Group meeting is a captive audience … take advantage!

Custom Newsletters (e.g. NewsDesk) - Customized, curated practice group or department specific newsletters help attorneys stay abreast of news that is relevant and important to them.

New Product Demonstrations - Librarians and researchers can position themselves as experts and keep attorneys abreast of new tools.

Library Newsletters/Updates - Highlight success stories so firm leadership is aware of activities in the department. Use newsletter to inform lawyers of new resources in their practice area.

Teach New Skills - Provide training and skills development opportunities for library users. For example, offer Tech Tuesdays to help with setting up apps, learning how to save favorites on a particular product, etc.                  

Substantive CLE Sessions - Provide sessions throughout the year, not just in the month of December!

Involve Practice Group Chairs -  Involve the Chair in decision making for products to get buy-in and promote the capabilities of the department while developing a better understanding of the needs/concerns of practice groups. 

Word-of-mouth - Conversations among attorneys can also be a driving force. There are many attorneys who, although they may not voice it, do know the value of what the Library/Information Center does. Find and amplify those voices.

Next, in part II, we will shift the lens and consider how information professionals can demonstrate value to firm leadership.  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 25

Edge: Failure or Masterstroke?

By Michael Feit | Feit Consulting

Our recent mini survey about Westlaw Edge and Lexis Context results are in, and it is interesting to compare the data to our forecast for Edge pricing. In our latest book, Optimizing Legal Information Pricing, we forecasted that roughly 20% of the market would purchase Edge within a year, at nearly 10% increases.

With almost a year under its belt, it appears that Edge adoption will be very close to our forecast. With 15% of Westlaw firms having already adopted, we think it is reasonable to expect that in the next 5 months Westlaw Edge will penetrate another 5% of the market.

The average Edge percentage price increase is slightly lower than the double-digit year-one increases we expected, coming in at 9%. Firms that have purchased the product are happy with it, but for the most part, they do not feel that Edge is a game-changer in the way that WestlawNext was.

So, has Edge been a failure or a masterstroke?

To understand the impact Edge sales have had on Westlaw revenue, we looked at the large law firm market segment (defined as firms with over 100 attorneys). We made some general assumptions about that population and for illustrative purposes, using a hypothetical average spend per attorney to come up with potential revenue impact for this segment. Please note this hypothetical does not match our actual price guidance for Westlaw. (You can find that guidance in our Optimizing Legal Information Pricing book here). Below are our assumptions:

  • 400 firms in the over 100 attorney segment
    • 80% of those firms have Westlaw
    • 320 firms have Westlaw
  • Average firm size is 250 attorneys
    • 80,000 attorneys total large law population with Westlaw
  • Hypothetical average spend per attorney for Westlaw in the market $175 per attorney per month
  • Hypothetical revenue to Westlaw for over 100 attorney law firm segment: $168 million

Our survey indicated that roughly 15% of the market has purchased Edge, which translates to 12,000 attorneys with the product. If their cost increased 9%, Westlaw's annual revenue grew roughly $2.2 million annually, or roughly only a 1.4% increase. If this 1.4% increase was the entire story, you'd probably call Edge a failure.

However, to really understand how well Westlaw has actually performed with Edge you need to consider who the real purchasers likely are. In our Optimizing book, we note that roughly 15% of the market is over-paying for Westlaw, by 150% or more. Although we have no way to correlate who each of those firms are, it is very likely that they are most of the early adopters of Edge. These firms tend to be early-adopters of all products and have less price resistance than the market in general.

If you assume that most of the early adopters of Edge have a spend per attorney that is vastly (>150%) above the market, Westlaw's incremental revenue grows to $6.8 million per year. This represents a 4% increase alone, just from Edge. If that is the case, Edge would be deemed a moderate success.

Beyond this, and likely the greatest impact to Westlaw is the ability to leverage Edge to lock-in and extend a majority of their highest-paying customers. Every Westlaw Edge discussion that is not a renewal (about 2/3rds) is a reason to drop into the firm and extend the agreement for another 3-5-year period, securing a very significant and otherwise vulnerable revenue stream.

In conclusion, although Westlaw Edge may seem to have had an unspectacular first year, the dollar value increase combined with the ability to extend existing contracts has bought valuable time for Westlaw to hold off potential threats from Lexis or Bloomberg - making Edge a masterstroke.