I was recently honored to have been featured in the newsletter of the Southern California Association of Law Libraries (SCALL).  I have been thinking quite a bit lately about the overall future of our profession and the fear that seems to have gripped many within it.  Times are changing, no doubt.  But be that as it may, I am as optimistic about law librarianship today as I was on the day I landed my first firm gig.  Yes, there are some really big challenges ahead.  But they are opportunity-laden.  The highest hurdle is simply seeing the possibilities.   Continue Reading The “box” is dead . . .

Access to the most current and reliable information is a prerequisite to sound decision-making and innovative thinking.

Yet too many knowledge workers are tasked with finding information on their own, on the open internet, and increasingly that includes workers who often are not experienced or trained in doing information research and content discovery.

We all know that content uncovered by popular search engines like Google or Bing is often neither the most current, nor reliable. The “surface web” that search engines have indexed is quite literally the tip of the information iceberg. And internet searches have other downsides:

  • Sifting through pages of search results that are not quite relevant is inefficient, time-consuming and disheartening.
  • It’s the same information available to everyone, so there’s no real advantage.

Read more on my company blog!

Your business may not need a library, but it needs a librarian! For everything from risk management to productivity enhancement, librarians pay for themselves, and then some. Worried about putting a librarian on staff?  How about a virtual librarian, at your service? It’s flexible, affordable, and pays for itself in many different ways. Continue Reading Librarians are a Necessity

In February, I will have the honor of presenting an overview of a white paper on which my team at LibSource has been working.  We have been reviewing various content aggregation platforms and discussing their value within the legal research industry.  Fortuitously, this is happening at the same time that the juggernaut, now dubbed “fake news”, turned the world of social media on its head.  As both a response to the controversy  and a preview of our upcoming webinar, LibSource has published an article looking at the role of the librarian in combating the problem.

It’s clear that information illiteracy has become a problem. Many people are either unwilling or unable to discern what’s true and reliable in the content they view daily on the internet. That includes the so-called digital natives—millennials and young people coming up behind them who grew up with technology in the palm of their hands.

To read the full posting and for more information on February’s webinar, click here.

Visualizations continue to crop up in legal research software. This trend has been occurring for a handful of years now, and has been a topic I’ve spent a lot of time researching and talking about. The question is, can a visualization make a specific area of legal researching easier, faster, better, more relevant, etc? We have seen them in a lot of different arenas: Ravel incorporating visualizations into case law research, Monitor Suite and Bloomberg Law employing visualizations to spot litigation trends for companies, a number of software platforms (PatentIQ, Lex Machina) introducing visualizations into patent and IP research, pretty much every area of law has seen some element of visualizations creep into their researching software. Rank And Filed is one of the latest to move their chips onto the visualization table, and is specifically tailored for SEC filings.

SEC filings might get hedge-fund managers frothing at the mouth with excitement, but for most of us, they are as dry as dirt. It’s really hard to induce excitement with 10-ks, 10-qs, proxy statements, etc., but Rank And Filed is valiantly attempting to do so by displaying a company’s securities filings visually–as per the Apple Inc. visualization below:


The filings module does represent a nice way to filter towards specific filings, jump back in the past, and spot filing trends (which can suggest a lot about a company’s activity), but Rank and Filed is also flexing their muscle by creating a few more modules that deliver really unique information. For example, there’s a C-Suite module that displays a timeline of company executives:


There’s an Influence module that displays “ownership among the Company’s officers, directors and beneficial owners since 2003”:


And even a heat map for word frequencies in SEC filings, to visually show you the most frequently-used words:


Long story short, visualizations do help us interpret information that would otherwise be very difficult to discern. And, it is fascinating to see software developers create visualizations to expose very-difficult-to-parse information. Long story short, this trend is going to continue in legal research, and is going to direct what types of information we can deliver to our requestors. And, short story long, I recommend touring around the Rank And Filed site to toy with the free visualization offerings available, and to see if they have succeeded in their mission to deliver “SEC filings for humans”.

Re-imagining the civic role of libraries in our technological age is an intriguing subject to me. So, when an article sidebar espouses the innovative ways public libraries have reinvented themselves in order to play a central civic role in their various towns and cities, my ears perk up and my eyes open. I just wanted to pass along Deborah Fallows sidebar article “The Library Card” which appeared in the March 2016 edition of The Atlantic.

The sidebar is embedded in James Fallow’s long-form piece “Can America Put Itself Back Together Again?” concerning how cities and towns across America are reinventing themselves at a local level; this article is a fascinating “how does America look at the ground level”-type feature that I also recommend. But, again, what Deborah wrote in her sidebar really caught my eye: “as we traveled around the U.S. reporting on the revival of towns and cities, we always made the local library an early stop…. The visit to the public library revealed [the city/town’s] heart and soul”. And what this specifically meant was libraries have shifted towards offering access to technology; specifically, in addition to the more typical wi-fi and pc access, libraries have begun to provide access to 3-D printers, laser cutters, and wire benders. Libraries fulfill a role in educating the youngest members of their citizenship by giving care packages to newborns, providing educational materials to teachers, and opening up archives to underline the reality of U.S. history. And lastly, libraries underscore the idea of community by offering classes on citizenship, seed-lending programs, classes concerning conversational English, and more.

The marketing of the library is a topic of our profession I am constantly intrigued by. I am a firm believer in the importance of marketing how libraries have innovatively begun to satisfy patron needs in this technological age, because I am really afraid of public opinion holding libraries are antiquated places full of dusty, old books that nobody looks at anymore. Books, as a format for information, still have their place–don’t get me wrong, but satisfying technological and educational gaps in the citizenry is a compelling and exciting role for libraries to fulfill. As a private law librarian, the correlations are obvious and something I am surrounded by on a daily basis as more-and-more of the professional responsibilities in law librarianship concern reviewing, implementing, and educating users on new software that satisfies the information needs of those in the legal profession.

Long story short: libraries adapt. And when an article comes out espousing this very idea, it’s encouraging to believe that public opinion will adapt as well.



AALL reports this morning the name change proposal failed. A little more than 4 out of every 5 votes received were against the name change. AALL will continue to be the American Association of Law Libraries rather than the proposed Association for Legal Information.

Nearly 60% of the membership voted on the proposal, which AALL is reporting is a record number.

So, what does all of this mean? Judging by the pre-voting arguments posted on the AALL message boards, some members strongly identify with the terms “library” and “librarian” and believe they most accurately describe their employment position. Other members thought a name change is worth considering but did not like the vagueness of the proposed name: Association for Legal Information. Members voiced a desire to have the opportunity to come up with alternative names. A virtual town hall has been scheduled by AALL, for Tuesday, February 23rd, from 2:00-3:00 p.m. (register here), where, presumably, these issues will be examined.

On the macro level, law librarianship, of course, has been going through some massive transitions as we have entered the digital age. Examining if the terms “library” and “librarian” reflect a position that is dealing less with physical books and more with servers, clouds, and hard drives is a healthy exercise when assessing the big picture of our industry. And, this exercise has had some true positives: voter turnout shows how passionate and involved the membership is about this profession, and the proposal has sparked the debate on the future of our profession, which is the major issue we have to always be mindful of. Also, I am encouraged by the association’s decision to be proactive with regard to this situation, rather than reactive. It is a healthy question to ask what should we call ourselves, especially before someone outside of librarianship decides to change our name for us. Regardless, I am excited to see where the situation ends up–will the terms library and libraries begin to be associated with digital holdings as well, or will this name change debate continue on?

Though I have been accused of having “grizzly bear” hair by a certain toddler who shares a house with me, I have not been hibernating for the winter. I would not hold it against you if you thought that was the case, though–it has been a couple of months since I’ve posted a blog. But unlike those comatose endotherms who are contently slumbering away another cold and snowy winter, I have been (relatively) busy. The big news is, I have a new job. I am now a Manager of Library Services at a different AmLaw 100 firm (check out my LinkedIn page if you really curious as to which firm. Also, all the opinions I write here are my own, and not my current firm’s).

Admittedly, it has been on a long time since I was on the job hunt carousel, and I had to re-familiarize and re-learn some things. I certainly do not claim to be a job hunting expert, but I would like to point out a couple of things that were an invaluable benefit to me, and would benefit anybody currently embarking upon or considering hunting for a new position in law librarianship. 


Law librarianship is a pretty unique industry and niche, and AALL-chapter members tend to form close circles. What this means is, if you do join and volunteer for an AALL chapter, you will assuredly be in a position to rub elbows with your local librarian compatriots, including, potentially, those who may be responsible for hiring staff. And the networking itself is easy: we are all encountering shades of the same industry issues, and it’s nice to reach out to like-minded folks. Through what other means would you be able to meet all the local people working in a position similar to yours? I can definitively say I would not have been in a position to meet my region’s law librarians without being active in my AALL-chapter.

Local chapters are always encouraging volunteerism and support–they essentially rely on both to survive. And, yes, it can seem a little anxiety-inducing to take on responsibilities in addition to the ones you may already have at your actual workplace. But, working on chapter projects offers a variety of benefits. Again, projects create an excellent networking opportunity. But, also, they give you a chance to develop a part of your skillset that you may not be able to at your workplace, or through other means. A reference librarian certainly needs to show they are capable of handling typical reference librarian duties, but the real exceptional candidates are those who have extra experience and qualifications. Examples of this include experience giving presentations, writing, or working on projects at a local chapter or for AALL. Just that little bit extra can make all of the difference, and make you stand out as an exceptional candidate. Again, in my case, I was lucky enough to give presentations to the very people who would later determine if I made a good candidate for an open position. As with any self-marketing endeavor, the key to success is to stand out just a little bit from the other potential candidates–working for a chapter gives you opportunities to do just this.


Chapters also tend to have job hunting resources. For example, some chapters post job openings on a dedicated page on their site (here’s ALLUNY’s, for example, and GPLLA’s has both local and AALL’s on their right column), others employ listservs to email new position openings to their membership. These resources can be beneficial, even if you are not actively hunting for a position. These information sources provide a convenient way to keep tabs on your particular job market locally, and can help you answer questions such as: is the job market stable in this location, is there a lot of turnover in this location or at a particular firm, are there new positions being created? Long story short, there are benefits to this information, even for those who are comfortable in their current position. And, if we realize it or not, I think we are all always at least passively job hunting.

Happy (active or passive) hunting!

If you are a member of the American Association of Law Libraries and have not been living under that proverbial rock as of late, you are probably more than well aware that the organization is eagerly awaiting the results of the vote on a proposed name change. As the deadline to cast ballots nears, I want to encourage everyone who is a member to have your opinion counted. It takes just minutes and the result will impact not just the Association, but the whole of our industry for years to come.  While I feel it imperative to tell you to vote, what I do not want to do is tell you how you should do so. This is for several reasons. Continue Reading AALL Name Change – Enough with the Roses!

Continuing its innovative approach to docket research and retrieval, PacerPro has announced the release of its exciting new litigant profiling functionality. Attorneys and researchers seeking to look beyond just the dockets to the bigger picture of a litigation are sure to be pleased. The platform’s already intuitive and simple approach to docket research becomes even more robust and integral with this new capability. Continue Reading PacerPro Expands with Litigant Profiling