3. Most importantly... What exactly do they mean by "law library?" Are any two people in the article talking about the same thing when they refer to” law libraries.”?
Is Your Law Library a Time Capsule? 30 years ago most law libraries operated according to a fairly standard template focused mostly on maintaining print resources, overseeing book circulation, routing newsletters and magazines. Research support was generally confined to “ready reference fact checking.”
I have observed at least 3 different tiers of legal information support in ALM 200 law firms and there are probably more. But for purposes of assessing the value of “outsourcing” to an organization you need to define the central idea of the “law library.” What kind of support does your firm offer now and what kind of support do you need to maintain a competitive edge?
Low tier. A basic library. Supports the management of print and electronic resources. Provides reactive, basic legal research.
Middle Tier. Research and Intelligence Center. Provides proactive legal and business intelligence and complex legal and business research services, in-depth research analytics. Oversees the organization wide content acquisition strategy informing management and business decisions. Offers a wide range of services including KM, competitive intelligence, practice aligned support, practice portals and key client portals. Director/CKO assures that information polices mitigate ethical risks.
Top Tier. Strategic Knowledge Services . Director or CKO oversees integration of workflow and resources functions including research services, conflicts, dockets, records, intranet, competitive intelligence, knowledge management. Investigates emerging technologies, AI, machine learning, process improvement and advises firm on development of integrated desktop workflow solutions.
It is not at all clear how an outsider, even if given a “Director” title with no "seat at the management table" can help a law firm build out their 21st century knowledge enabled desktops and workflows.
SEE ALSO Greg Lambert's response to the American Lawyer article on 3 Geeks and a Law : Law firm libraries can not simply be a service: they need to be a strategic partner.