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The once-quiet law firm library has transformed in recent years into a hothouse for business development research. But that also means firms’ library staff members are billing less of their hourly work to clients and coping with shrinking staff budgets.

All those trends were apparent in the responses received in The American Lawyer’s annual Survey of Law Firm Knowledge Management, Library and Research Professionals, which we have conducted each of the past nine years.

This year’s survey results show that for firm librarians the focus is switching from practice of law research to business development research—sometimes referred to as competitive intelligence. Specifically, 75 percent of respondents expect to see requests for business of law research increase in the near future, as opposed to 52 percent expecting the same for practice of law research.

Asked if the business of law has overtaken the practice of law as their researchers’ principle focus, 31 percent of respondents said it had. More significantly, 84 percent of respondents said they believe their departments should be the primary provider of business of law research for their firms.

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Miriam Rozen

Miriam Rozen covers the business of law and focuses on how lawyers preserve and expand their client roster. Contact her at [email protected] Twitter: @MiriamRozen.

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