Strategic Librarian

Using strategy to develop the law firm library.


Ark Group – Partnering for Profitability: The Convergence of Business Analytics, Competitive Intelligence and Client Relationship Management

The second session of the Ark Group conference I reported on this morning is titled “Partnering for Profitability: The Convergence of Business Analytics, Competitive Intelligence & Client Relationship Management.”  It was moderated by Joel Alleyne, Chief Information and Knowledge Officer for Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.

Mark Young, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Foley Hoag, introduced the session talking about the business of law in this competitive market. 

Ruth Armstrong, Director of Library and Information Resources at White & Case followed with a description of her firm’s competitive intelligence program.  60% of the work they do in this area is non-US based.  She began working with her firm’s CMO and with the Finance department to determine what their program would look like.

Christine Scherzinger, Director of Library & Research Services described how her library works closely with Marketing to conduct competitive intelligence

Question from Joel: Who has responsibility for CI in the firm?

  • Ruth – The library has primary responsibility.
  • Mark – works collaboratively with the library in his firm.
  • Christine – Marketing has responsibility for setting strategy.  The library supports it.

Ruth described how it is for the library to change in their focus from research focused to business focused. 

In all three cases the library is responsible for the acquisition and management of any resources used for CI.  All agreed there is no place for any turf war between the library and marketing.  The focus should be to work on CI as a collaborative team.  Expect it to take time to work out all the details of how the team will work.

The group as a whole discussed the issue of a library that had responsibility for the whole CI process but were short staffed and the staff in the library were not trained to do the analysis.  Many of the participants said they saw that as an opportunity and not as a problem.  The reverse where the library is left out of the process is the real problem.  Work with your management to justify additional staff (tough to do in this economy) and participate in training to develop analytical skills.

Question from Joel to the group:

  • How many of your firms have an active CI process – 12 out of 29 participants in the room.
  • Which of you have the prime role of CI – 2 firms

Question from group about how to develop the report formats.   Panelist response:  It takes time to determine the best formats and whatever we create will change over time. 

Summary from Joel.  The panelists brought 3 different prospectives.  One from the marketing department looking at CI from a different viewpoint, one very organized structured program and one that approaches from it in stealth mode.  In any case CI is a great opportunity for libraries.

This was another thought provoking presentation and discussing.   Next presentation: Protecting the Core – While Being Strategic.


Ark Group/Managing Partner Magazine’s 3rd Annual Best Practices & Management Strategies for Law Firm Library & Information Service Centers

The following is a description of second session of the Ark Group/Managing Partner Magazine’s 3rd Annual Best Practices & Management Strategies for Law Firm Library & Information Service Centers which I am attending today (I presented during the first session so don’t have a report on that).  This session is on Aligning Technology with Explicit Business Goals.

Janet Accardo and Anthony Amabile started the session with a discussion on their library’s work with a specific practice group to support the business goals of that group. 

They worked with the group to improve practice page including access to

  • LoisLaw Bankruptcy codes and rules and Ordin on Contesting Confirmation
  • Mergent
  • HeinOnline
  • Electronic subscriptions including Mealey’s publication (via Lexis Nexis Publisher) and Andrews publications (via Westlaw Watch)
  • Forms Workflow
  • Specific law review articles (via HeinOnline
  • Bibliographic records from the library catalog (Innovative Interfaces Millennium)

They also worked on:

  •  Use of Serials Solutions to add catalog records for premium databases
  • Use of Outlook for email subscriptions.  (Side note:  Participant/speaker Steve Lastres (Debevoise) said he is working with his library vendor (EOSi) to have that system intercept emails that arrive in the subscription email box and then routes it using the routing information within the system.)
  • News from Factiva sources & legal materials via LNP
  • Use of Westlaw Watch for Docket news.
  • Customized subject and practice area alerts written by librarians based on RSS feeds, newsletters, etc.
  • Use of LookUp Precision basically using to measure usage.  Client validation for 20 years.  Who uses our electronic subscriptions, substantiates charging to practice groups, provides usage statistics for contract negotiation.
  • Areus by Iconitel provides contract alerts and store usernames and passwords.

Ted Tjaden, director of library and knowledge management for McMillan LLP, Toronto Canada, went next with his presentation.  He provided snapshots of online catalog including their French interface. 

McMillan’s innovations include:

  • Formally merged Library and Knowledge Management departments
  • Created value-added “knowledge products” that leverage research, precedents and the document management system including best practices for practice groups
  • Created E-books page on intranet. 
  • Created online legal research and writing tutorial, research guides by topic, etc.
  • Working with SharePoint to better organize information
  • Exploring use of RSS, Wikis, and Blogs

Jean O’Grady was the last speaker of the session focusing on financial alignment and service enhancements.  She described the innovations that they have undertaken including:

  • Implementing Onelog
  • Leveraging the ILS with the implementation of Innovative Interface’s Millennium. 
  • Took to heart the adages “Simplify – Just Say No – Less is More
  • Put vendors to work providing analytics of the firm’s use of their systems
  • Using technology to reach their clients

 Jean’s emphasis in closing was on the importance of getting a handle on the analytics available to us to better manage costs with a focus on billable vs nonbillable.

The session provided a lot of interesting discussion leading to more ideas and questions.  This afternoon’s first session will be “Partnering for Profibility: The Convergence of Business Analytics, Competitive Intelligence & Client Relationship Management.  I’m looking forward to more of the discussions that come out of this program.