The Modern Library: A Business Within a Business

By Michael Feit | Budgeting

Nov 20

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.

About the Author

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