Which department should get the law library?
I’ve been following #lma10 (Legal Marketing Association 2010 Conference ) on Twitter for the past couple of days. It’s been an amazing experience to “overlisten” (as my friend April calls eavesdropping) on the discussions. One issue that has law librarians steaming (or not) is where to put the law firm library. One U.S. firm, Morrison Foerster, has put their library under the authority of the marketing department.
Over on 3 Geeks and a Law Blog, Greg Lambert shares his thoughts on why he doesn’t think the library and marketing go together, and this generated a large number of comments (full disclosure: I’m the first commenter). On Slaw.ca, Connie Crosby linked to Greg’s post, and while there’s only one comment, the post itself has been retweeted 19 times.
As I’ve often mentioned, I’m a solo librarian in my firm. When I started here four years ago, the focus of the work of the library was maintaining the collection, advising on new purchases, doing a ton of looseleaf filing, and the occasional research assignment, which usually involved finding case law, after having been given either the style of cause or the citation. In fact, Item #1 on my job description was “Keeping the library tidy.” Supporting the lawyers’ work product, like Steve talks about? – not so much.
In these four years, however, I have adopted so many technical aids that if I were just to do what I did in the beginning, I’d be doing nothing for most of my day. I promote myself to my lawyers all the time, and I’ve made some inroads, but for the most part, my lawyers want their research done by other lawyers. In fact, I once did a really interesting assignment for a senior partner, and then he said he’d get an articling student to check it!
So after hitting my head against a brick wall for a couple of years, I decided to look at what niches were not being filled, and try to fill them. I noticed there wasn’t really anyone doing research on business development. I approached a senior associate, and volunteered my services to help him grow his business. This was incredibly successful, and he’s now a partner in the firm. I have also become accepted as the firm’s leader in using social media for business.
So when I say, “I would love to be part of the marketing department”, I think I really mean, “I would love to be part of ANY department”, (although not IT). If you’re part of a 15-member law firm library, then I can see that being part of the Marketing Department may be seen as an erosion in the value of the work of the library, but in a firm like mine, maybe I’m just looking for any way I can generate a presence. Based on my discussions with my local colleagues, I’m not sure that it’s any different for them.
Anyone else care to comment?
Filed under: Advocacy | 6 Comments
Tags: Advocacy, Marketing