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Interdepartmental collaboration: Law librarians strengthen their role

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Interdepartmental collaboration

Our recent article, What are new career paths for information professionals?, covered the shifting nature of the landscape for information professionals in the legal industry. Rather than this being the end of the line, or even a daunting process, it can instead be viewed as a career boosting opportunity for law librarians.

However, it will require a change in mind set of the limitations of the library space. It will require a moving out of the confines of the department through better interaction with other departments such as IT, marketing or knowledge management, and even to act as a bridge between these departments and the lawyer.

New technologies demand a shift in processes in order for law firms to continue to be competitive alongside other firms who are boosting efficiency; and often as a result maintaining competitive rates and improving client satisfaction. However, many lawyers are reluctant to acknowledge the importance of embracing these new technologies, or if they do understand the need, are unsure of where to start. Librarians speak the same language as lawyers when compared to the IT department; and due to the research component and explorative nature of their job position, know all too well the benefit these processes have and where to go about first implementing them. They can be trend setters.

Working closely alongside other departments, librarians can assist firms in offering a higher level of client service.

However, workflow or collaboration between law firm departments is a relatively new concept; there is still work to do on making this an automatic and conflict free process. According to Greg Lambert, interdepartmental competitiveness needs to take a back seat for the good of the firm:

If you work for the same law firm, you are on the same team. You don’t have to like each other, but you cannot be successful as a firm if you are undermining each other, or you are so sensitive that you think other leaders are out to get you. Administrative departments of law firms are the grease that makes the organization run smoothly. Find ways to talk to one another.

This is an excerpt taken from Lambert’s article, Libraries, Marketing, Money, Credit, and People. Unsurprisingly, AALL is hosting a Web Seminar on the 23rd Feb, 2017 entitled, Library and Marketing: Why can’t we be friends? and Lambert is AALL’s incoming president. At Legal Week 2017, he was part of a panel hosted discussion New Ways for Law Librarians & Knowledge Managers to Become Indispensable where he focused on interdepartmental collaboration opportunities. Read more here.

According to Jean P. O’Grady, “the panel provided a great platform for educating the wider legal community on the transformative roles information professionals can play in giving lawyers an information edge.”

Panel discussions and events such as these create awareness of the need for what O’Grady calls ‘strategic knowledge leaders’ to be put in place; with information professionals set to take on just that role.



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