Each week at a large East Coast law firm, LexisNexis and Westlaw representatives come in for 90 minutes or so to answer questions and let the lawyers and staffers use their research sites for free. “Everyone comes down, bringing all the research work they know their clients won’t pay for,” says the firm’s library director, who asked not to be identified. To her, it’s a simple way to mitigate — but not solve — a thorny problem: Research costs are high, and neither the firm nor many of its clients want to foot the bill. The little work-around isn’t exactly a trade secret. Says the library manager at another firm: “We teach [lawyers] that if it’s nonbillable, and you don’t think you can do it any other way, wait for training.”

Welcome to Recession 2.0. While our ninth annual survey of Am Law 200 librarians is a tale with all the usual recession elements — layoffs and cost-cutting, to name the big two — it’s also about resiliency. Faced with major challenges, including less staff, tighter budgets, and price-increase-happy publishers who, as one library chief puts it, “must live on another planet,” law firm librarians have developed new strategies to cope. The 80 librarians who participated in our survey are also saying no to an increasing number of publishers — particularly when it comes to print. And they’re coming up with new ways — like making the most of those free training sessions — to get more bang for fewer bucks.

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