AALL Spectrum Blog

PrintEmail


This blog provides a space for conversations about articles and ideas found in AALL Spectrum, the monthly magazine of the American Association of Law Libraries. The previous blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.
7/19/2013 2:46:14 PM

What's My Bottom Line: Managing Law Firms Through the Great Recession

Pamela Rogers Melton hosted this session, and was joined on the stage by James Lehman and Christine Sellers, both from Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough.  Lehman is the Managing Partner, and Sellers is a Research Specialist, at the firm. 

I liked the way Melton kept the session informal and conversational.  The speakers sat in chairs on the platform, without using the podium or tables.  Questions were encouraged and integrated into the discussion instead of being left for the end. 

The session provided audience members with valuable insights into management's perspectives on issues facing law firms and law libraries.  Lehman made it clear that firm attorneys appreciate and value the work done by law librarians.  He acknowledge that firm management probably takes the value of law librarians somewhat for granted (though in a positive way), and encouraged the audience to work to develop new ways to demonstrate their value to the firm.

Lehman highlighted the economic issues continuing to affect law firms.  He noted that there has been a bankruptcy involving a major law firm each of the last five years, and stressed "that there are still a lot of challenges to work through before we are on solid ground."  Demand for legal services remains relatively weak; as a result, clients continue to enjoy significant pricing power.  Information technology continues to be very disruptive to the legal industry, a trend he did not expect to go away anytime soon. 

The session highlighted Nelson Mullins' approaches to cope with these problems, including efforts to work more closely across practice areas in order to offer a diversified portfolio of services to clients and to maximize their chances of winning engagements.  Lehman believes we will continue to see the movement of support services to low cost areas, both in the United States and offshore.   He described the inherent fragility of the law firm partnership structure, in explaining why firm management needs to respond proactively to any signs of trouble.  Despite these challenges, he is confident that clients will continue to value the attorney's role as trusted adviser, and is optimistic about the industry's future.   Perhaps one of the most valuable lessons from the session is the need for law librarians to continue to strive to be this "trusted adviser" for the firm's attorneys. 

Posted By Douglas Southard at 7/19/2013 2:46:14 PM  0 Comments
TOPICS: AALL 2013
7/18/2013 7:50:25 PM

The New Normal and Your Library

The "Social Media and Your Library: Strategies to Lead the Way" session with Kathleen Brown, Steven Lastres and Jennifer Murray was very interesting discussion regarding how to strategically utilize social media in a law library environment. I was particularly interested in the session because I recently completed a marketing plan project for my Law Library Administration class. 

So, what does the "new normal" mean? It means that the web-based and mobile technologies such as Twitter, LinkedIn and blogging have changed how we communicate with each other. Communication has turned, due to the influence of social media, into an interactive dialogue in which all may participate in real-time.  The panelists assert that law librarians must use social media to market the law library's value to the community it serves. I believe it was Steven Lastres who said, "We must embed ourselves or perish." 

However, it most be noted that often an organization's leaders do not understand how social media can add value and will throw up barriers that must be overcome. Thus, it is up the library administration to overcome those barriers or as stated by participant, Stacy Posillico from Touro Law, "Make a good pitch!" 

I found the session to be very interesting and thought-provoking. Additionally, I was happy to learn that my marketing ideas were not as completely off-base as I feared they might be. But the most important takeaway for me was something Steven Lastres said about about our role as librarians - "Our job is to be ahead of the curb."

Posted By Kim Castellano at 7/18/2013 7:50:25 PM  0 Comments
TOPICS: AALL 2013
7/18/2013 2:12:57 PM

Pizza, Pure Bliss, Sauce...Crust...Cheese, Heaven on a Plate, Satisfaction

In Pulitzer-winning journalist Jesse Katz's session titled "Releasing Your Inner Writer" I was reminded that I may grossly overestimate my ability to be understood.  I hope I am not alone.

I've not figured out how it started but it may have begun in law school where the IRAC method of writing was drilled into me for three years.  I believe I spent many years after law school writing that way; here is the Issue, here is the Rule, here is the Analysis, here is the Conclusion.

There's nothing wrong with this method, but Jesse reminds us to start with what is important and then what is less important, to what is least important.  So, this made me wonder, do we start with the conclusion instead of the issue?  I guess it depends.

We should definitely know what the point is, know our audience, and skip the corporate acronyms and jargon.

During the session we had the opportunity to write a story about our favorite food and then turn it into a poem.  I've shared my poem, a cinquaine, above in the title. 

We learned to set aside "weak" verbs for more "muscular verbs."  Jesse told us to circle all the "to be" verbs in our story and consider restructuring those sentences by removing those "to be" verbs.  He also suggested to remove adverbs and prepositions.

At the end, Jesse asked us to turn our cinquaine into a strong sentence....here's mine:

Sauce, crust and cheese dance on my tonque to create the perfect bite of pizza.

Posted By Sonal Pandya at 7/18/2013 2:12:57 PM  0 Comments
TOPICS: AALL 2013