A Framework for Improving Your Law Firm’s Library & Research Function
In this blog post, we share key elements of the rigorous analytical framework we use to help leaders of Library and Research (L&R)functions support their firm’s business priorities:
- Providing the highest quality professional service and value to clients
- Identifying business growth opportunities and strengthening specific offices
- Helping attorneys build/maintain a knowledge edge
- Increasing the understanding of a client’s’ business and industry and proactively anticipating risks to clients
- Reducing the time attorneys spend looking for information and expertise
In these types of engagements, we identify the highest-priority improvements to capabilities — people, process, technology and data — that will enable the L&R function to increase the value it provides to the firm.
The effort to systematically improve the L&R function centers on analyzing the health of key processes and activities such as:
- Providing research and current awareness monitoring support
- Strategic and operational management of the library function,
- Subscription resources management
- Training new attorneys and staff
First, we gather information about the roles involved in the process, the customer beneficiaries, the outcomes and outputs provided, the IT systems and content sources used, key metrics, specific improvements needed in the next 90 days, prerequisites to making the improvement, who can lead them, how long it will take, and the status of existing process documentation.
We don’t shy away from asking how other functions in the firm are impeding or supporting each activity and whether talent mismatches or capacity shortages are impacting results. And for each L&R activity and process, we ask specific questions, such as:
- When attorneys and staff submit questions and research requests, does the L&R function respond quickly, accurately, and with depth, providing suggestions that go beyond basic database query results?
- How easily can attorneys locate experts and obtain comprehensive information about their past performance and relationship with the firm?
- How easily can L&R leadership track and analyze data points about the firm’s utilization of paid subscription information products and services?
Collecting and analyzing this data provides L&R leadership with the basis for a strategic improvement plan. The next step is to determine the criteria to use to prioritize improvements and to weight them. Then, all the improvement opportunities can be given a weighted score, and compared using a weighted ranking matrix, a tool popularized in “The Thinker’s Toolkit” by ex-CIA analyst Morgan Jones. In this way, L&R leaders can make smart strategic decisions about where to invest their time and resources in improving the performance of their function and the value it provides to their law firm.
In the next blog post, we’ll discuss profiling companies during new client onboarding.