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The days when a law firm librarian simply managed a library budget, circulated the firm’s subscription publications among its lawyers, filed periodic updates to loose-leaf services and occasionally cite-checked a brief are fast coming to an end. That is because the role of the law firm librarian is greatly expanding. Firm libraries have changed in recent years in many ways. Their physical space needs have decreased, as more and more products are sold in CD or other formats that take up less room. Moreover, technological developments have had a significant impact on the manner in which librarians handle their traditional obligations. But perhaps the most important development in the law library arena in the recent past has been the growth of the role of the firm librarian. And this may be no better illustrated than in the important position law firm librarians have come to play in connection with their firm’s marketing and client development efforts. WINNING BEAUTY CONTESTS Simply stated, librarians in some firms already are, and others should be, a key resource for attorneys who engage in marketing as well as for in-house marketing departments and outside marketing consultants. Moreover, in addition to in-house libraries, both print and especially virtual, and information professionals serving as powerful marketing tools, law firms are discovering that their librarians genuinely can offer valuable services to the firm’s clients. Law librarians can assist the client development process in a number of ways. For one thing, they should participate in preparing attorneys for beauty contests, responding to requests for proposals, and engaging in other new business pitches. Lawyers need to tailor these kinds of proposals to the particular audience to which they are targeted. Who better to perform the necessary market research and obtain the relevant background information for such a proposal than the firm’s librarian, who has expertise in — and the ability to manipulate — both print and online databases? The librarian can pull together articles discussing or mentioning the proposed client and its industry and can research the individual decision-makers (e.g., in-house counsel) to determine where they went to college and law school, the activities in which they are involved, the articles they have written, and their particular idiosyncrasies. Imagine how helpful it would be, for instance, if a law librarian could locate a general counsel’s statement as to his or her personal requirements for outside counsel! WEB CONTENT Law firms use Web sites for client development purposes, among other things. Librarians can help to improve their firm’s Web site so it offers more benefits to existing and prospective clients, a service known as “extranetting.” For example, a law firm’s librarian can obtain the information that allows visitors to the firm’s site to link to legal resources, news sites and financial data that might be of interest. They also are able to obtain information regarding seminars and conferences that can be placed on the firm’s Web site and can keep the site current with respect to congressional and administrative agency developments as well as the status of pending court cases and appeals. Librarians also can make certain that white papers, articles published by the firm’s lawyers and firm newsletters are available to clients via the firm’s Web site. A librarian at a Washington, D.C., law firm has worked closely with a partner to market the firm’s expertise in the area of cyberspace law (cyberspace law includes e-commerce and copyright among its topics). The librarian designed the site to tout the firm’s expertise in that practice area to current and prospective clients. The librarian, in conjunction with the partner-in-charge, provided content and designed the navigation structure so that it could be integrated into the firm’s Web site. Significantly, the contact names on the site include that of the librarian, as Webmaster, as well as the name of the partner. Alirio Gomez, the director of library and information services at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy in New York, stresses the importance of intranets and extranets as marketing tools by demonstrating directly to prospective clients various aspects of client portals he has established (of course, making certain never to reveal sensitive client information during these demonstrations). These portals, gathering all current information on a client or on a particular current issue concerning the client, place this information at the desktop fingertips of the attorneys representing these clients. Gomez states that “virtual environments are significant value-added services for clients who are concerned with the firm’s technological capacity.” Milbank’s Knowledge Center page on its Web site is “a powerful research tool that combines the resources of our state-of-the-art law library with the sophisticated legal skills of our attorneys to help our clients and friends gain a greater understanding of the ever-changing legal and business trends in the global marketplace.” ADDITIONAL ACTIVITIES When a law firm commences a public relations program, it needs to be able to evaluate its success. That can be measured in a variety of ways, including the times the firm is mentioned or a lawyer in the firm is quoted in the media. In the first instance, a law librarian can determine the leading publications for particular industries and can obtain the contact information to enable the firm to contact those publications. Once the public relations campaign has begun, the librarian then can help to find the articles or stories that result. Librarians also can be of assistance to those in the firm in charge of preparing brochures, capability pieces, newsletters and other similar materials. All too often, these documents have little of a law firm’s flavor but read as if they have been produced by one of a dozen other firms. What helps to distinguish these materials is not the general statements they often contain, but the firm-specific information that they include. Librarians are able to find that information — whether it resides in a firm’s internal database, in court decisions or in biographical data to which they may have access. How is a law firm headquartered in New York City or elsewhere in the New York metropolitan area able to determine whether to open offices elsewhere in the United States (or overseas) or even whether to merge or acquire firms located outside the geographic area? They need information to be able to make these decisions, and law librarians can help obtain that information. CLIENT CONTACT Perhaps the most startling development in the growth of the law librarian’s role is that more and more law librarians are moving out from the library carrels to the point where they have actual contact with clients. Firms are recognizing that librarians can provide research and information management services to clients — and that they can bill clients for these services. These services cover not just legal developments, but business and financial matters, too. In many instances, the research and information gathering abilities of a law firm librarian far exceed those available at even a large corporate client. Of course, a firm that has a librarian with these skills should make certain that its brochures highlight that point. In addition to performing research for clients, librarians also are gaining the opportunity to meet with clients and demonstrate their firms’ technological capacity in the area of knowledge management — that vast storage of intellectual capital generated by a firm. Jean O’Grady, director of information services at Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering, a D.C law firm, mentioned that a particular client was interested in how the firm leveraged its prior knowledge — was it reinventing the wheel when confronted with a previously researched issue and charging the client for that reinvention? O’Grady provided the client with information on the firm’s technology infrastructure and illustrated the way in which the firm’s internal corporate knowledge was readily available to attorneys. She stated that the client viewed this knowledge management capacity as a “tool of an efficient practice.” CONCLUSION Certainly, law librarians can handle discrete research projects and provide excellent information in response. It seems clear, though, that the more involved law librarians are in the marketing process — such as by attending firm marketing meetings, joining the marketing committee and having a say in marketing decisions — the better the services will be that they can provide. At the least, they may be able to explain the kinds of information and technologies available to the firm, and the ways they may be used. It would seem clear that law librarians are destined to play increasingly important roles in their firm’s marketing programs in the future. Steven A. Meyerowitz, a lawyer, is the president of Meyerowitz Communications Inc., a marketing communications consulting company based in Northport, N.Y.; Ralph Monaco is the director of library services for the New York County Lawyers’ Association.

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