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An attorney checks her e-mail for the library’s daily alert. She quickly scans the highlights, then requests via e-mail the full text of an article. An attorney who needs some Securities and Exchange Commission filings leaves a late-night voice message for a librarian. The next morning, the librarian orders some SEC documents from an outside vendor and downloads others from a Web-based provider. The reference phone rings — it’s a request for books dealing with proxy contests. Another librarian is monitoring the U.S. Supreme Court’s site for an opinion that is about to be issued. Another typical day for our firm’s library staff is just beginning. Every day, librarians are dealing with the delivery of information of all types and in all formats to wherever our attorneys need them. Technology such as e-mail, the Internet, intranets, and online databases have forever changed the way legal research is conducted. For one thing, it has radically reduced the face-to-face interaction between law librarians and attorneys. And since the younger attorneys do so much of their own legal research, the library staff deals with more business and nonlegal research than ever before. Librarians have whole-heartedly embraced technology, for it has allowed them to provide better services to their attorneys and to expand their role far beyond being “keeper of the books.” Attorneys these days rely on our expertise to ascertain the best method for the research to be done: books, online databases, Internet sources, or outside vendors. If we have a choice, we tailor our method of delivery to the attorney’s preference. COAST TO COAST Although Proskauer’s library, known as the Research Center, is located in the New York office, the entire library staff is utilized as a resource for the firm. Due to the depth and breadth of the firm’s client base, the reference questions we are asked to research can be very interesting and encompass national and international concerns. E-mail and telephone calls keep all 14 staff members in the firm’s New York office informed of daily events. When working on research projects, we often confer with the reference librarians in our Los Angeles and Washington libraries. Besides, they have access to other resources that can expedite the research requests for our attorneys. And they in turn work with the New York reference staff. Our attorneys can call or e-mail us from anywhere in the world to get answers. This is my definition of a virtual library — technology has allowed the “walls” of the library to expand. Here are a few ways that members of the library staff utilize technology to market our skills and value to the firm. � E-mail: This tool allows our attorneys to communicate research requests to us at their convenience, no matter where they are. Often, electronic documents can be e-mailed back to them. E-mail allows requests for information or research — and the results — to travel quickly and effortlessly. Another way Proskauer uses e-mail is via a Lotus Notes platform, to deliver daily or weekly electronic periodicals to the attorneys’ desktops. New legislation, reported cases, and news articles about issues affecting our clients are monitored by our staff and forwarded to the attorneys. E-mail provides a quick delivery method to keep our attorneys up-to-date on issues affecting their clients. Since our librarians are familiar with the firm’s practice areas, we can attach full-text documents specific to an individual attorney’s practice (for example, recent Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations in the workplace) or an entire practice group (such as the new tax legislation, H.R. 1836). Attorneys have to read so much material to keep abreast in their practices, and this is one way we can assist them. It is our job to know these important issues, and the attorneys rely on us for this value-added information. Even with so much e-mail traffic, the attorneys regard e-mails from the library as a “must read.” � Internet: The World Wide Web has certainly changed the way information can be found, especially from government agencies. Federal, state, and city sites are chock-full of useful resources that used to be obtained by making phone calls to government offices. Now, access to SEC filings for a specific public company, for example, is just a mouse click away. Another resource is searchable catalogs of law school libraries, which makes it much easier to track down books that we need to borrow. There is a wealth of all types of information from reliable sites on the Internet. The Code of Federal Regulations, the Federal Register, and slip opinions from the U.S. Supreme Court are heavily used and can be printed out in hard copy (with PDF format), downloaded, and e-mailed to the requester. Of course, the Internet has also allowed law firms to have a Web presence, and many have designed elaborate Web pages. In addition to offering information about the firm, biographies of attorneys, news releases, and descriptions of practice areas, many include a library Web page. Proskauer’s ( www.proskauer.com/library) is entitled Research Tools, and the staff is responsible for its content, accuracy, and reliability. Our library Web page contains hundreds of links to legal sites, search engines, and helpful reference materials, including newspapers, dictionaries, maps, and electronic telephone books. The sites most used by the attorneys are set up by practice group and contain practical material geared to that group. The attorneys use this site as a starting point for their research on the Web, and they bookmark sites they regularly use. The library publicizes the addition of new sites by sending an e-mail to the attorneys in the relevant practice group. Under our Corporate & Securities Law heading, for instance, some of the most heavily used sites are links to the SEC’s electronic filings (EDGAR) and to stock exchanges, including the NYSE, the NASD, and Nasdaq. There is also a list of stock exchanges in other countries. The SEC’s site is particularly useful, as it contains securities rules and releases, forms, and testimony, speeches, and public statements by SEC senior officials. � Intranet: [email protected] is our internal knowledge management tool. One of the many attorney resources are research tools that include the searchable online catalog and Web-based subscriptions. These are accessible to all of our attorneys and legal assistants in all of our offices, as well as from remote access such as a home PC. Our online catalog includes not only books and treatises, but the nearly 500 periodicals and current awareness magazines that are circulated to the attorneys. The catalog can be searched by title, author, and subject, even if you only know a few words of the title. Our collection of practice materials, particularly in labor and employment, is extensive. Publishers of both print and CD-ROM materials have been converting some of their products to Web versions. These products, often subscriptions that can reside on a firm’s intranet, can only be accessed by passwords. The passwords are embedded, so the attorney only has to click on a title to access it. These Web-based subscriptions offer searchable access to full-text practice materials. E-mail, the Internet, and intranets have allowed librarians to expand their reference services to firm attorneys. But it still takes a skilled librarian to ascertain the best method of delivery to meet a deadline. Since visits to the physical library have been decreasing, it’s become more important to communicate with our attorneys, either by phone or e-mail. And often a librarian will personally deliver research results to an attorney to explain how the research was done, to make sure all the requested information was delivered. This adds a personal touch to our service, and it is appreciated by both the librarians and the attorneys. We always get a “thank you,” and often another research request. This is such an easy way to market our skills and value to the firm. While technology has dramatically changed how we do our job, it’s our reference skills, plus personal contact, that makes our service valuable to our users�and to the firm. Kit Hartnett is director of library services at New York’s Proskauer Rose. She can be reached at [email protected].

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