Strategic Librarian

Using strategy to develop the law firm library.

What Functionality and Content Should I Add to My Intranet

Check out the series of posts I am writing for the Law Firm Intranet.  So far I’ve done 3 posts with more to come.  My description of the content of this series is in the first paragraph of Part 1:

As a consulting company, NPCI is often asked what functionality a  law firm intranet should have and what content should it contain.   The answer to those questions is largely, it depends.   This post is the first in a series that tries to answer the questions while keeping in mind that the options for creating an intranet can be limitless.  Another caveat:  What follows is based on our experience and probably not complete if you want to see the whole picture.

What Functionality and Content Should I Add to My Intranet: Part 1: Scope

What Functionality and Content Should I Add to My Intranet: Part 2: Site Architecture

What Functionality and Content Should I Add to My Intranet: Part 3: Site Architecture and the Bennett Jones Award

Webinar: SharePoint Out of the Box – Power Your Intranet Using SharePoint Lists

SharePoint lists allow you to quickly and easily integrate library content into your Intranet portal, making it possible to search, sort and filter without the need for programming or third party software.  Register now to join us in a webinar called SharePoint Out of the Box: Power Your Intranet Using SharePoint Lists, that will be held on Thursday, February 11, 2010 from Noon to 1PM Central. You can learn how to create and manage research portals, virtual libraries, bibliographies, collections of external and internal links, or even use lists to generate update-able navigation within your site. You can transfer Excel or Access data to a SharePoint list in minutes.  We’ll look at examples, examine the uses, benefits and drawbacks of using SharePoint lists, then walk through the basics of creating lists, adding data, and presenting the information on SharePoint sites.

During the session, you will:

  1. Understand the possible benefits and drawbacks to using SharePoint lists
  2. Learn how to create a list, import data to a SharePoint list and incorporate lists into your SharePoint pages

Cost:  $30 per person USD or $60 USD for groups of up to 10 from the same firm


Cindy Chick, Global Manager of Knowledge Systems, Latham & Watkins LLP
Cindy works closely with the library, docket, records and knowledge management groups to help define and implement technology-focused solutions in her current role as Global Manager of Knowledge Systems.   She was co-editor/publisher of for 6 years, and has been published in the American Lawyer, Searcher, PLL Perspectives and Online Magazine  as well as speaking for a number of conferences and programs.   Cindy maintains a blog called, “a conversation on law library technology and knowledge management.” Her most recent project is called, a web site for those who travel with their dogs.


Nina Platt, Principal ConsultantNina Platt Consulting, Inc.
Owner and principal consultant, Nina Platt is a law librarian and former AmLaw 100 firm library director who has worked in law firms since 1986.  Her work in library management has spanned all but 4 of those years.  Nina believes the most effective law firm libraries are critical to both the business and practice of law and that achieving to build a business critical library can only be done through the use of business tools like strategic plans, business plans, business cases, and more.  She has written and delivered numerous articles, presentations, and papers on library and knowledge management topics.   

Questions?  Contact

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FreePint’s Enterprise Information Architecture: A View From the Legal World

Freepint has come through again with a very interesting article on their FUMSI site.   Enterprise Information Architecture: A View From the Legal World written by freelance information architect Kate Simpson, provides a great commentary on why law firms need to invest more time in developing a sound information infrastructure before adding the latest and greatest technology. 

Kate states:

But maybe there’s a third prong that’s been missing from this focus? The messy middle: the content assets, the actual information itself contained in documents, e-mails, web pages, blogs, journals, books, video and podcasts etc.

She continues by pointing out how enterprise search implemented within a firm often points out the messy infrastructure of databases, document libraries, etc., where the metadata used to describe the information contained within those resources is poorly applied or in some cases, not done at all and other problems are present.  She notes:

Enterprise search has started to uncover some of the mess that we didn’t even know was there. As well as showing, rather too starkly, the mess that we haven’t wanted to deal with over the years: the poor tagging of content with useful terms or even consistent terms across different repositories; the lack of rigorous info management processes to identify the valuable, useful and re-usable information, or equally, to identify the duplicate, out-of-date or inaccurate information.

She goes on to describe the processes, systems & tools, information & information architecture assets and governance that are needed to develop a structure that will serve the firm well as existing systems are enhanced and new systems are put in place.   The accounting/auditing/consulting firms (e.g., Deloitte Touche) have already gone through this process making their success with systems more likely.

Librarians definitely need to be involved in this work.  We’ve been developing sound infrastructure for the information we manage since the first professionally run library was created.   Unfortunately many of the information technology and organizations

With this economy, many law firm leaders may decide to not fund projects that address the failings of the information systems they use.  This is shortsighted.  Down times like the one we’ve seen during ’08 and into ’09 give us an opportunity to step back and view what is needed to be undertaken so when workloads start to pick up again and no one has time to work on such a project, the improved structure is in place making the location and use of internal information/knowledge more productive and less costly.

As shortsighted as I view the decision not to go ahead with solving this problem I know that in reality many firms will not be able to proceed.  If your firms can’t find the time or money to tackle this problem in ’09, it should be addressed as soon as economy picks up again if possible. 

In the meantime, we have an opportunity to start talking about the importance of information architecture in firms.  Start by sharing Kate’s article.  Learn what you don’t know about taxonomies and metadata.  It might be the start of something very important.