In a keynote address delivered to the PPLIP (Private Law Librarian and Information Professional) Summit in Washington DC in July, legal analyst Jordan Furlong – a former colleague of ours at Edge International – predicted a promising future for law librarians.

Reporting on the speech in Above the Law, Robert Ambrogi said Furlong predicts that as much of the “commodity” legal work leaves law firms for cheaper delivery systems – including computer platforms and accounting firms – lawyers will need to focus on the more complex components of legal services.

“Law firms will still need great lawyers with leading-edge skills. But they’ll also need embedded knowledge beyond any one lawyer’s individual capacity,” he told the PPLIP.

That is where the law librarian comes in: complementing the work of lawyers by fulfilling their needs for “deep client intelligence,” “legal data and analytics,” and “embedded firm expertise.”

Ambrogi writes: “The need for this knowledge within firms will give rise to what Furlong described as the legal knowledge supply chain — the variety of personnel within a firm who help create that advisory knowledge. He divides these personnel into two functions:

  • Data miners, including IT, operations, finance, practice groups, and business development.
  • Data refiners, made up of law librarians and information professionals.”

I encourage you to check out Ambrogi’s article, and then to let me know if you are seeing an increasing role for law librarians in the work your firm is doing. If so, how are you addressing it?

I welcome your thoughts on this or any other matter relating to the management of your law firm, either in the comments section below, or directly via email.