November 22, 2010
Do Law Firms Still Need Librarians?
Apparantly the answer is "yes" even if the law firm library is passé.
If you were designing a law firm today, would you even have a library? I think many, including me, would answer, “Probably not.” As long as the Internet exists, information that was in a law library will be available online. So why bother, right?
Ah ... OK, I guess all law firms are cut from the same cloth, right?
The above quote is the lead paragraph from Patrick J. Lamb's ABA Journal article, Does It Pay to Hire a Law Firm Librarian? But according to this installment in "The New Normal" series about changes occurring in the delivery of legal services, Lamb's all-knowing crystal ball reveals librarians will still be needed by law firms.
If you have someone who is really good at finding the right information, why would a firm need, or even want, to draw a line between where that information came from? But firms do precisely this when they have a "knowledge officer" (internally created information) and a "head librarian" (externally created information). Frankly, information is information regardless of its origin, and one person should manage it. But you can further imagine the important ties that should exist between the marketing department and the knowledge librarian (business development) and between the accounting department and the knowledge librarian (pricing). The library itself may be passé, but the role of the librarian, viewed in this light, is becoming more critical as the volume of information in the world grows.
Oh boy, we're still be needed in the "new normal" era! Before jumping for joy over this nonsense, give pause to Lamb's fundamental navel-gazing assumption: "information is information regardless of its origin." [JH]
Joe...it isn't a navel-gazing assumption. Let me ask this question: If a law firm downloads 10 cases for an ongoing matter, is that now internal or external information? Has it morphed from internal to external? Is a brief on Westlaw internal or external?
Firms are interested in having the right information to complete their projects. Attorneys want it at their finger-tips and they don't care whether we consider it internal or external. There are several pioneers in the law firm arena who are making this happen, such as Alirio Gomez and Steve Lastres. They've somehow become more relevant, while many of our colleagues have become less and less relevant.
Posted by: NA | Nov 22, 2010 12:20:47 PM