Thursday, January 23, 2014

Interview with Anne Ellis: First Librarian Relations Director at Thomson Reuters Retires

On January 1st Anne Ellis a former Chair of the Private Law Libraries, SIS and the first Director of Librarian Relations at Thomson Reuters retired after a long and distinguished career as a professional leader. I thought it would be interesting to get Anne's thoughts on her career and the challenges facing law librarianship.

Tell me about your career prior to going to Thomson Reuters?

I earned my MLS in 1975 from the University of South Florida. My first job was in public libraries. In 1984 I got my first law firm position as a reference librarian and later as the Director of the Library at Carlton Fields in Tampa. After ten years at Carlton Fields, my family relocated to Denver and I took a reference librarian position at Holme Roberts working for Mark Estes. Then I got the opportunity to be the Library Director at Holland and Hart. I became PLL Chair in 1997 and was recruited by Andy Prozes at Thomson Reuters to start the Librarian Relations Program for Thomson Reuters.

What made you leave a traditional career path and pursue the opportunity at Thomson Reuters?

I had the opportunity to meet many of the TR executives by being on the Westlaw Private Firm Advisory Board. Brian Hall, the first CEO of Thomson after the acquisition of West Publishing, wanted to build a librarian relations team to show the company's continuing support of law librarians and challenge the one that Lexis had had in place for several years. It was a very exciting opportunity to build the organization from the ground up.

Service as the PLL chair also made me recognize that there were important ways to support the librarian profession from the vendor side.I regard my move to TR as the greatest opportunity of my career.

As the first Director of Librarian Relations, what was your greatest challenge?

Law firms and corporations are very different environments. Law firms are like a little community. It was a big transition to get used to being in a huge organization. I relocated to Minnesota and worked in the corporate Headquarters. That move helped me understand the various business units in the organization. Being agile was the most important quality for succeeding in my position.

What do you regard as your greatest accomplishment?

Developing the librarian relations team and then helping that team develop wonderful educational offerings for law librarians.

Would you encourage other librarians to work for legal publishers?

I think it is a great career path. It requires a specific skill set. You need to be able to build relationships both inside the publishing organization and with practitioners in law firm, law school, and government environments.

What skills should the next generation of librarians and Knowledge professionals possess?

They need to learn how the technology behind legal online products work. It is no longer enough to be able to use the technology. We also need to know more about how the technology is built. The technology that is behind the information resource is as important as the content needed by legal practitioners.

Do you have any thoughts on the passing of Dwight Opperman?

He was no longer at Thomson when I went to work there, but I had met him as a member of the Advisory Boards. He remained completely beloved by the people at Thomson Reuters and would visit the offices from time to time. I respect the fact that he built a superior company in West Publishing and expanded it from print to the addition of online resources such as Westlaw. The acquisition by Thomson continued that expansion and led to huge investments in research and development which resulted in the transition of Westlaw from a software platform to and now WestlawNext.

 What are your plans?

I am already retired and am enjoying having time to go to "the Y" for exercise, volunteer work, and having more time with my family. I also am enjoying taking a break from extensive business travel. I am pleased with these changes, but would consider taking on challenging opportunities if they arise. I will continue to proudly call myself a law librarian.

1 comment:

  1. Wish you the best in your retirement Anne. I will always remember being able to communicate with you when needed. You have provided so much insight to the law librarian community. Glad you took a different path when opportunity presented itself. You are a trailblazer.