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Twenty-five years ago, the card catalog was generally the best research aid and means of organizing and accessing a collection of legal materials. This system was perhaps sufficient at the time, but it ultimately proved to be an incomplete and inefficient form of knowledge management. In recent years, as firms have grown and litigation matters become more complex, firms have generated a valuable collection of in-house work product. Increasingly, the price of neglecting that accumulated knowledge greatly exceeds the expense of gaining control over it. Litigation attorneys recognize it is essential to have access to work product, as well as classic library resources, to better serve clients and remain competitive. In addition, as technology advances, litigators have become heavily dependent on e-mail, Web sites and other electronic materials with considerable research value. As any litigator knows, the ability to control and leverage vast amounts of information efficiently can mean the difference between success and failure. For firms to provide better support services to their litigation practice, they must bridge the gap between traditional library resources, emerging legal technologies and their own intellectual capital. To do so, they must develop a more sophisticated approach to research. In other words, forget the card catalog. At Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky, a key strategy has been to develop an information technology and services department, composed of a library, an automated litigation support section, an IT department, an insurance coverage analysis department and a specialized practice resources section. The specialized practice resources section is a concept of particular interest to litigators. With three nonpracticing attorneys and one research assistant, we enhance litigation research services by integrating traditional library resources, internal work product and new technologies. Originally, one nonpracticing attorney served the specialized needs of our insurance coverage litigators. This model worked so well that we expanded the section to include three professionals, who serve the entire litigation group, working in partnership with the library. Our active library continues to provide broad legal, business and general reference and research services to the entire firm, as well as handling traditional library responsibilities. Instead of delivering raw information in response to attorney requests, we use technology as a tool to retrieve, organize and review large amounts of information. With our legal backgrounds, we can evaluate and respond to attorney research requests in a targeted and focused manner, saving litigators precious time. ESSENTIAL WORK Knowledge management services: A valuable research tool, accessible to all attorneys at their desktops, is a gateway the firm has established, using Hummingbird’s Enterprise Information Portal and Fulcrum search technology. The portal incorporates a full-text searchable database of selected internally created documents, as well as relevant external resources. We use the portal’s Fulcrum component to organize selected litigation documents into practice-specific electronic libraries. These “best practice” libraries organize internal work product into categories tailored to the various needs of our litigators. For example, an electronic library may contain motions for summary judgment with subfolders organized by issue or jurisdiction. Full-text searches can be done on any level, including within a library or across all libraries. The contents of a library also can be browsed for a relevant sample document to be used as a model. Substantive legal research: We generally respond to information requests with a legal summary or memo to supplement research materials. To provide this service, we created a system of research files consisting of a comprehensive repository of materials, paper and electronic, that address particular issues of importance to our litigators. These files are electronically indexed to facilitate fast and accurate information retrieval. For example, one file may combine research memos, articles and e-mails on the topic of attorney-client privilege. Another file may contain deposition transcripts and biographies for a particular expert who is frequently involved in cases handled by the firm. Business development research: In addition to providing substantive (and billable) legal research, we also provide research support to attorneys for client development and other nonbillable matters, such as background research for seminars and publications. This support includes researching issues affecting a potential new client and researching and monitoring emerging issues or trends in the law to enable attorneys to identify potential new clients. In today’s legal environment, where it can be hard to find the time for nonbillable matters, our attorneys rely on the special practices resources section to assist them with this essential work. We also provide other valuable services to enhance efficiency and profitability, including the following: � Teaching seminars to new associates and acting as summer associate research advisers. These services concentrate on how to frame and then research substantive legal issues. � Monitoring news and issues on topics particularly relevant to the work of the attorneys. The staff members write a weekly in-house electronic newsletter, as well as a quarterly newsletter on insurance litigation issues distributed to clients. � Participating, along with IT and library staff, in vendor efforts to develop and test new knowledge management and legal technology tools. Firms must develop new approaches to managing information services to help litigators work more efficiently and better serve the needs of clients. In addition to taking advantage of technological innovations, an integral part of information services is an experienced staff of legal professionals who can offer specialized litigation research services. It is vital that firms capture, re-use and integrate their intellectual capital with the rest of their information resources to avoid re-inventing the wheel. In today’s computer-savvy legal and business environment, clients demand that firms employ that capital effectively. A firm that can connect traditional library resources, emerging legal technologies and attorney work product will be better able to secure a competitive position in the legal marketplace. Frances G. Durako is chief information officer at Washington, D.C.’s Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky. Cherylyn J. Briggs, Hollye R. Mann and Joanna K. Therway are attorneys in the specialized practice resources section.

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