AALL Spectrum Blog

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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.
12/19/2013 8:07:21 AM

Book Review: Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success

Schawbel, Dan. 2013. Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success. St. Martin’s Press: New York. 250p. $25. ISBN: 978-1-250-04455-6

The workforce is evolving. How workers promote themselves and their work has changed, with “change” being the only constant. This is the theme of Dan Schawbel’s recent book written for the newest people in the workforce, the Millennials. Intended for the youngest generation in the economy, the common sense approach and practical advice are relevant to any employee, including the experienced worker who is looking for a promotion or searching for a new job.

Schawbel’s main areas of discussion include: the importance of soft skills; social media skills; self-promotion; and building relationships or one’s network - both online and in person. The chapters covering these topics are full of how-to information, including the steps a new employee can take to talk with one’s manager about how to succeed in a current position, gain the training necessary for promotion, as well as the characteristics and behavior that make an exceptional employee.

The section on managing one’s social media presence and skills should be read by all employees in the workforce! As more employers use social media to review potential hires, it is imperative for new workers to build a healthy online presence and current employees consciously maintain a good online image. The author emphasizes that employees are an online reflection on their employer; this point should influence employees to think before they post. The author includes advice for creating online content, building digital connections and cleaning up a damaged reputation.

Schawbel’s discussion on building work relationships across generations is an in-depth review of the current workforce, including statistics on how the workplace will change by 2025. The author encourages inter-generation engagement in the workplace through an understanding of generational values, work styles and communication preferences. Schawbel suggests Millennial employees be proactive in asking for advice, searching for a work mentor and for participating in projects that allow their technology skills to shine.

The book finishes strong with chapters on how to turn one’s passion into a promotion, using intrapreneurship in one’s current job to explore new projects or opportunities that will benefit one’s company, and how to evaluate when to move up, sideways within the company or move on to a new position or job. The author’s commentary on job hopping and starting a business are must read advice for all employees. 

This book is recommended for all types of libraries, in particular academic libraries. As librarians interact on a regular basis with Millennials as students, student workers or new colleagues, this resource will help the reader understand the newest generation in the workforce. For new employees, this book is an excellent guide on how to standout in the workplace, effectively promote one’s work and be aware of the soft skills necessary to thrive in the competitive workplace. The real world examples provided by the author balance the advice and suggestions for new employees, providing an easy-to-read manual for managing one’s career.

Marcia L. Dority Baker is the Access Services Librarian at Schmid Law Library, University of Nebraska College of Law.

Posted By Marcia Dority Baker at 12/19/2013 8:07:21 AM  0 Comments
TOPICS: Book Review
12/11/2013 8:16:55 AM

Book Review: The Generalist Counsel: How Leading General Counsel are Shaping Tomorrow’s Companies

Dubney, Prashant, and Eva Kripalani, The Generalist Counsel:  How Leading General Counsel are Shaping Tomorrow’s Companies (Oxford:  Oxford Univ. Press, 2013), ISBN 978-0-19-989235-8 (softcover), xvii + 193p p. (incl. index), $49.95.

As law librarians, our work supports a profession often deemed incapable of innovation.   Not so in the office of the general counsel –or the generalist counsel, as Dubney and Kripalani dub this position.  The authors, Kripalani herself a former general counsel, stake out the world of in-house legal work as incredibly dynamic, spurring changes in not only the companies GCs serve but also making broader waves across the legal profession.

So what is a generalist counsel?  No longer a “minor management figure,” the authors claim,  “[t]oday, leading General Counsel are sought out by their peers on the senior leadership team for strategic input to decisions that will move the business forward” (p. 2, xiv).  This term speaks to a “significantly broader skill set” than that traditionally honed among general counsel or law firm partners, for that matter.  Generalist Counsels not only master the law but also function as a key part of the corporate team.  Success in this position requires a host of proficiencies not often instilled in the traditional law firm setting:  communication, trust-building, understanding the corporation’s business in detail, and critical risk-assessment.

Just as generalist counsel are being shaped by the new business environment, they are shaping a new legal environment and join this evolution.  The authors offer some advice about how law firms can improve their relationships with in-house counsel.  Law firms will face greater scrutiny in light of the more sophisticated skill set of their clients, and they will benefit from heightened attention to the business context of their advice.

The authors rely heavily on personal narratives to convey their vision of the generalist counsel and how to become one, providing concrete illustrations.  One of the most memorable of these came from Jeff Kindler.   After a stint at a firm, Kindler became general counsel at McDonald’s.  When the company bought Boston Market, Kindler saw opportunity where others did not.  As a result, he was given executive control of brand, acting not as its general counsel but as its president.  Kindler’s story illustrates the interwoven nature of legal judgment and business acumen the authors see as the essence of the generalist counsel.

 The authors successfully craft a broader framework from these stories in many ways, but the book could deploy that framework more effectively.  For example, the authors describe various paths to achieve the generalist counsel title, outlining three main categories:  fatalist, careerist, opportunist.  Described in the second chapter, these labels loose some heft, as the authors do not leverage them throughout the work.  In spite of these occasional missed opportunities, however, this title remains a valuable one for most libraries.

The authors provide lots of advice for those interested in becoming a generalist counsel.  But it also merits a place in both law firm and law school libraries.  Firms can learn much about how to improve their relationships with and service to in-house counsel.  Law schools will also benefit, in part because the authors offer specific curricular advice, including project management courses.

Susan Azyndar is a reference librarian and adjunct professor at the Moritz College of Law at the Ohio State University.

Posted By Susan Azyndar at 12/11/2013 8:16:55 AM  0 Comments
TOPICS: book reviews
11/26/2013 3:03:42 PM

Check Out the December 2013 Issue of Spectrum, Now Available on AALLNET

We hope you enjoy the latest issue of Spectrum and encourage you to share your thoughts and feedback using the "comments" box below!

Public Relations: A Day in the Life 2014
How will you document your library? 
By Frances M. Brillantine 

Law Firm Librarians in Transition
Career changes and challenges 
By Elizabeth A. Greenfield 

Law Librarianship in China
Challenges and opportunities 
By Kara Phillips, Wei Luo, and Joan Liu 

LibGuides, Blog Posts, and Articles, Oh My!
Library-supported portfolio pieces for law school students and graduates 
By Marie Stefanini Newman and Taryn L. Rucinski 

Research Competition Awesomeness
Implementing legal research competitions at law schools 
By Lisa Junghahn and Richard L. Buckingham 

Happy Anniversary, Treatise!
A celebration of longevity: comparing Moore's Federal Practice and Procedure with Wright and Miller's Federal Practice and Procedure 
By Adrienne DeWitt 

Be Our Guest!
What reference librarians can learn from the hospitality industry 
By Andrea Alexander 

MLZ: Citation Management for Law School
The new citation manager MLZ, based on Zotero, helps collect, organize, and use research materials 
By Mitchell L. Silverman 

Massive Open Online Courses
One participant's perspective 
By Colleen Williams 

Online Only! Put Your Library on the Map, Part 3: Surrender and Success
By Ashley Krenelka Chase 

From the Editor
Dear Peace Corps, I'm Finally Here, Almost . . . 
By Catherine A. Lemmer 

Washington Brief
Law Librarian Advocacy in 2013 
By Emily Feltren 

The Reference Desk
I recently accepted a position as librarian-manager in a local law firm library. When I was hired, I was told that I would report to the executive manager. However, a couple of days after I began working, the senior administrative assistant, Carol, sought me out and told me that I should actually be reporting to her. When I asked the executive manager to clarify, he responded that he didn't know why Carol would say that. I'm worried that he won't set all this straight and there will be a clash in the future. Do you have any suggestions for what I should do? 
By Susan Catterall 

Announcements
AALL Announcements, Memorials, Stu's Views, and Next Issue of Spectrum 

Member to Member
What creative phrase or statement describes your past year? 

Views from You
Views of the modifications made to Harvard Law School's Pound Hall 

Members' Briefing
Identity, Meaning, and Names 
By Steven P. Anderson

Posted By Ashley St. John at 11/26/2013 3:03:42 PM  0 Comments
TOPICS: spectrum