Legal librarianship is constantly in a state of flux, with continual changes in job titles, habitual shifting of responsibilities and the explosion of legal artificial intelligence all playing a part. In January of this year, LAC Group surveyed their internal personnel about the future of law librarianship, based in part by the responses collected from the 2018 American Association of Law Librarians conference. The resulting blog post, Legal librarianship in 2019-2020, showcased three major takeaways:
1. LAW LIBRARIANS MUST DEMAND RECOGNITION FOR THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS.
By shining a light on their embedded value (made possible by a widely varying range of skillsets) librarians declare their worthiness to the firm. In a climate that outsources more tasks than ever before, it is imperative that librarians declare what they can do, and remind their colleagues of the tasks and projects they did do, showcasing the return on investment. While the scope of law firm libraries usually depends on the practice areas and size of the institution, they typically have several information professionals to assist attorneys with tasks such as research and analyzation of requests and documents, training partners on new and existing technologies, and the acquisition and classification of library materials. Shining a light on their services and the value they bring to the firm is imperative for continued success.
2. THE TRADITIONAL JOB TITLE OF LIBRARIAN IS CHANGING TO REFLECT THE NEW SCOPE AND FUNCTIONALITY OF THE POSITION.
The concept of library as place is diminishing and its purpose is expanding. Gone are the days of simple reference requests. Now, information specialists are expected to be familiar with a wide variety of special areas such as competitive intelligence and project management—often with reduced staff, diminishing budgets and name changes.
3. COGNIZANCE OF NEW LEGAL TECHNOLOGY IS PARAMOUNT TO SUCCESS.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are making their way into even the most sparsely-staffed law firms, and previously established workflows are being disrupted as a result. In a recent reader survey, 42.86% of participants stated their firm or company uses advanced technology. Applications exist that assist with legal research, contract review and management, due diligence and prediction of legal outcomes are becoming the norm, leaving law practitioners with ample time for more intricate tasks. Becoming a subject matter expert on these tools is a boon for librarians as it makes them a required part of any innovation initiatives at their firm.
I share more of my thoughts on these observations as well as answer questions about who we are and what we do over on the LAC Group website. Check it out!