Private law librarianship in the new economic climate


Nov 7, 2013 (4 years and 6 months ago)



Private law librarianship in the new economic climate

By Heather Heen

The impact of t
oday’s economy

librarianship in private law firms

been the focus
of many discussions. At the 2012 AALL annual meeting and the 2012 PLL Summit

was the central theme running through many of the programs, and there was consensus
that the current economic climate is calling for innovation and flexibility from private
law librarians.

Economic climate and its effect on librarianship

We all fac
ed significant challenges with the downturn of the legal market in 2008 that
culminated in the credit crisis in 2009. In mid
March and in October 2009, AALL
conducted a survey of law library directors to understand how the economic crisis was
affecting the

profession. What they found was that in private law libraries, 30 percent saw
staff reductions, but 72 percent also had a hiring freeze in place.

The impacts of this were many. Library directors were reducing their print collections

and their staffs w
ere taking on additional new duties, including tracking CLE

assisting with client relationship management software. There was more attention spent
on billing research time and increased involvement in research for implementing new
business/strategic i

In 2010 Thomson Reuters conducted a Large Law Firm Librarians Study to better
understand library directors’ roles in a changing economy. What stood out were the
increased responsibilities in business development research, knowledge management

practice area integration or specialization. Additionally, we heard librarian directors were
more involved in product evaluation for solutions traditionally belonging to the IT

We were not only seeing a change in the structure of the w
ork but also in
law librarian

reporting structure. The 2011 ALM Law Librarian Survey reviewed reporting
relationships for
irectors from 2008 to 2011. It showed that the percentage of law
library directors who reported to a COO, director of adminis
tration or executive director
fell 11 percent while their reporting relationship to a CIO or IT director increased 4

The Hildebrandt Institute anticipates that we are not out of the economic woods yet. They
are advising their clients that growt
h will remain a challenge and the key to success is
going to be balancing that capacity against the available work. Delivering high quality at
a reasonable price is now table
stakes to be competitive in the business law space.
Librarians are still perfectl
y positioned to assist in those challenges.

Change as opportunity: future librarian roles

These changes have created challenges for private law librarianship, but by being
innovative and nimble we are poised to create higher visibility for the library a
nd deliver
information in a more timely and efficient manner. The following three roles have been
identified as
increasingly needed
in private law firm librarianship.

The embedded librarian

The "embedded librarian" is a concept that is quickly gaining fo
oting in private law
libraries. It is a highly customized specialty with a focus on actively developing and
enhancing relationships in specific practice groups.

As reported by the
Three Geeks and a Law Blog

ARC group survey found there
was almos
t an even split between the firms

that have embedded librarians
and those that
don’t have them. This means there is a strong opportunity to create and define this
program as it works best within your specific law firm. We have heard a variety of
business s
upport models, including librarians being housed with the department they
support or in decentralized locations in order to continue supporting the library

as well as
the practice group. The benefits have been the creation of a stronger relationship with
practice groups and
an integral membership in
those teams.

Library as a knowledge center

The 2011 ALM Law Librarian Survey highlighted that the library’s role in the field of
knowledge management (KM) was up 42 percent since 2008. This is significan
t because
the value of knowledge management is to make content

no matter what it is or where it

easier to access. Where best than the library to manage this process? KM can
bring all of those disparate, hard
fathom sources under a single user
iendly interface.

But there is a lot of room for improvement in the KM efforts
. L
ibrarians’ increased
sophistication with technology can make this process more efficient and seamless. With
tools like wikis, blogs

and Microsoft SharePoint, it is no longer necessary to possess an
engineering degree to build Web portals and practice group pages that bring together far
flung content. In open
ended survey questions and follow
up interviews, several library
directors al
so pointed to enterprise search as a particularly promising new tool. This
technology enables users to
a single query
search a wide range of repositories

from document management systems to the firm's intranet. As this field expands, the
library bri
ngs a natural value
add to this technology.

Competitive intelligence

Competitive intelligence has always been an important asset that librarians have brought
to their firms. When we look again to the 2011 ALM Law Librarian survey, we see that
the depart
ment that was most in charge of marketing research was the library

at 52
As to

which department was primarily responsible for competitive information, the
was significantly above marketing.

This indicates that law librarians have a gro
wing and evolving role of value to the firm in
the field of competitive intelligence. Librarians are increasingly collaborating with
business development teams to research and analyze information for attorneys to use in
acquiring and retaining clients. Whi
le there has been some tension between the two
departments, law librarians need to continue to highlight that they are key in obtaining
“actionable” information, such as identifying new business opportunities, helping create

and ascertaining potential threats.


The future of private law librarians in this new economic climate is changing. They face
challenges in the form of reduced staff and budgets, new duties

and different reporting
structures. This new climat
e calls for innovation and flexibility from private law
librarians to highlight their unique skills and use them in important new ways to help the
firm succeed.


Heather Heen is a librarian relations manager for Thomson Reuters, serving law
ans in California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, and Nevada. Her e
mail address is


I’m just a bill (and here’s where to find me)

On Westlaw

Classic, there’s more
than one way to retrieve a congressional bill.

Congressional bills and resolutions aren’t simply “extra credit” reading for law
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Search a database

You can search for congressional bills i
n dozens of databases on Westlaw
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, then brow
sing the Bill
Tracking contents under
U.S. Federal Materials
). Among the many databases
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Arnold & Porter Legislative History: Sarbanes
Oxley Act of 2002

Legislative History

U.S. Code, 1948 to Present (LH)

kruptcy Reform Act Bill Text (BKRABILLTXT)


All Fifty States and Congress

Summaries and Full Text Combined

Congressional Bills (CONGBILLTXT)

Congressional Bills

104th Congress to Current (CONGBILLTXTALL)

Bliley Act Bill Text (GLBABILLTXT)

Federal Taxation

Congressional Bills (FTXBILLTXT)

U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News (USCCAN)

estlaw Directory (detail)

Tabbed Legislative History

Federal page

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you can narrow your search by
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Federal page.

Legislative History

Federal page

Links tab for the USCA section you are viewing

When you are viewing a section of the
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® (USCA®),
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Legislative History

on the Links ta
b. Links to available
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on the Li
nk Viewer.

In the alternative, you can click
Graphical Statutes

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Bill Drafts

ink on Links tab


Westlaw Classic

®: A
head(note) to head(note) comparison

What do all those links around a Westlaw Classic or WestlawNext headnote

As you’re probably aware, a headnote supplied by Thomson Reuters
editors in a
case retrieved on Westlaw Classic or WestlawNext is surrounded by various links.
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What do all the links do?

How do the links in Westlaw Classic compare to those in WestlawNext?


so, we’re glad you asked. Here’s a primer:

Westlaw Classic

KeyCite Citing References for this Headnote:

This link takes you to an expandable
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citing references that d
iscuss that point of law. The link is ideal for those situations in
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summarized in this he

Headnote number:

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West topic and key numbers:

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s classified under the respective topic or key
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Most Cited


This link also takes you to the Custom Digest search page, from
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Headnote on Westlaw Classic



Cases that cite this headnote:

This link indicates how many cases cite that
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eferences other than cases, click the
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Headnote number:

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Headnote on WestlawNext


“Stand your ground” laws analyzed in ALR annotation

Once a legal issue hits the headlines, it’s not lon
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Construction and Application of “Make
My Day” and “Stand Your Ground” Statutes
, 76 A.L.R. 6

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ALR annotation on

WestlawNext (detail)


Westlaw Classic
hesaurus: Brainstorming

Let the Westlaw Classic thesaurus bring you the alternative terms you need for a
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Suppose you are composing a Westlaw query pertaining to the taxation of S
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S corporation
. Where would you look? (Hint: Not

Instead, try this: Access a dat
abase on Westlaw Classic, type “s corporation” in
the Search text box, and click
. A list of more than 30 synonyms and
related terms is displayed, ripe for cherry


The Westlaw Classic thesaurus provides synonyms and terms related to those

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, for
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phrases in quotation marks) and click
. Select
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Terms in Search

list box, then select a term on the
Related Terms

box, and click
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After all, you don’t want to miss an important document just because one
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Westlaw Classic thesaurus


Public records content on Westlaw PeopleMap

Westlaw PeopleMap

the public records tool whose deep cross
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has enjoyed increased coverage in several areas, including
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Expanded Nevada coverage: Now includes Nevada Experian
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foreclosure: Added 236 new counties and more than
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Expanded criminal records include 250 new jurisdiction
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New warrants data includes 1.2 million total records, with arrest
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New criminal

and arrest images, when available


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If you

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Global search, narrowing results with Am Jur

2d and CJS


If you are unsure where to start, here’s a suggestion:

Run a plain language search from
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, and the
Corpus Juris Secundum

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Secondary Sources
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American Jurisprudence, Second Edition

Juris Secundum

check boxes under
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Each of these resources summarizes the major concepts and holdings within an aspect of
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ALR analysis of a relevant case or statute

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, statutes,


and other sources. Like many databases on Westlaw

Classic and
, ALR provides links for easy viewing of cited documents.

To retrieve ALR analysis for case or statute, click the
Citing References

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Secondary Sources

in t
he left column and use an ALR filter to narrow the secondary
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Context & Analysis tab and clicking
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Link to ALR annotations on Context & Analysis tab

Browsing by topic

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g Favorites

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t Key
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Free h
elp is available!

If you need ...


a password

contact your


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contact your
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assistance with Westlaw Classic or
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the West Reference Attorneys at



KeyCite® on WestlawNext
: It’s

You'd expect KeyCite to have a prominent place in WestlawNext. And you'd be

Among the first things you'll notice when you try out
WestlawNext are some time
saving enha
ncements to KeyCite, including
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Quick access to KeyCite history from case or statute

When you’re viewing a case, statute, regulation, or law review article on
WestlawNext, current KeyCite history is availa
ble on the History tab. (For a statute
or regulation, hover your pointer over the

tab and click
; for a case,
click the

Negative Treatment

tab.) For a current display of citing
references you can filter as you see fit, click the
Citing References


History tab on displayed USCA section

Citing References display

Quick access to KeyCite history from
search box

If you know a document’s citation, you can quickly display the KeyCite negative
direct history or negative citing references for it: Simply type


followed by the citation in the text box at the top of any WestlawNext page, e.g.,
you can type
c 378 fsupp2d 1249
. Then click

To view the full
text document, related court filings, and additional history and
citing references, click the appropriate tab at the top of the KeyCite result.


WestlawNext: Your source for expert witness profiles

Q: Can I use WestlawNext to identify accident reconstruction experts in my
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Run a search from the search box: Select a jurisdiction and type a
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Run an advanced search from the Expert Profiles category page:
Expert Materials

on the All Content tab, then click

the next page that is displayed. Use the Advanced Search template
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eral options
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Accident & Injury


Retrieve a deposition, jury verdict, court filing or other document
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Expert witness profiles have long be
en available in WestlawNext.

documents are native to WestlawNext, e.g., document views and
searches now appear in your WestlawNext history.

To retrieve references for an expert, click the References tab above his or
her expert witness profile.

Expert witness profile on WestlawNext


WestlawNext: Legislative history
in one fell swoop

Q: I’m doing legislative history research on sec. 1001.055 of the Texas
Education Code, and I want to retrieve all versions of this statute that have
been in effect since 2005. I browsed to the Texas Statutes & Court Rules
page, where I clicked
Texas Statu
tes Annotated

. A page of
links to individual years was displayed, but it didn’t look like I could search
more than one year at a time. How many searches do I need to run?

A: Just one: Type
fi: tx educ 1001.055
in the search box and click

to find the section. From the displayed statute, hover over the History tab
and click

on the menu. The versions of the statute are listed in
reverse chronological order.

If you also want bill drafts, committee reports, and other legislative hi
materials for each version, hover over the History tab and click

on the menu. Select the check box for each version for which you
want legislative history material; a list of available documents is displayed
for each section you sel

The historical versions feature was recently expanded. Jurisdictions with
this feature now include USCA and CFR, as well as

and TX statutes.
Watch for
jurisdictions to be added through

Historical versions feature on WestlawNext



Effective Research Tips on WestlawNext

September 2012)

This quick
reference guide provides 12 cost
effective research tips to help make your WestlawNext
research session more efficient.

Managing and Deleting Court Feeds and
Newsletters on Westlaw Court Wire


This quick reference guide shows you how to manage and delete court feeds and newsletters on
Westlaw Court Wire.

West Key Number System

August 2012)

This quick reference piece lists West digest topics and their numerical designations and shows how to
search using topic and key numbers.

WestlawNext: Searching with Topic and Key Numbers

(published August 2012)

This quick reference piece explains how to use topic and key numbers to retrieve cases and also how
to use the West Key Number Digest to find topic and key

numbers related to an issue.

Using Westlaw Court Wire

(published September 2012

This quick reference guide shows you how to track issues or parties, monitor industr
ies, or find and
distribute information about new court filings with Westlaw Court Wire, including how to create daily e
mail newsletters that report your court feeds to designated recipients in your office.