AALL Spectrum

AALL Spectrum / November/December 2019 / Volume 24, No. 2

AALL Spectrum / Published by American Association of Law Libraries

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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2019 | AALL SPECTRUM 25 lawyer can't acquire and maintain the vast storehouses of information needed to serve today's complex client needs. Individual lawyer brains need to be sup- plemented by large "institutional brains" that are always up to date and ready to contribute insights. Law libraries can and should develop these institutional brains so that they can become powerhouse advisory knowledge engines. Top Three Types of Advisory Knowledge Three types of advisory knowledge are particularly important for law firms: Client Intelligence Deep current knowledge of the client's business, organization, strategy, mar- kets, customers, competitors, governing regulations, pending innovations, etc. Major corporate clients are pressing their favorite outside counsel to be their partners and collaborators, which will require these firms to make serious long- term investments of time and effort into knowing their best clients inside out. Data and Analytics We've only scratched the surface of what kinds of legal data can be collected and what insights can be generated from analyzing that infor- mation. But we already know, for example, that judges' propensities can be charted, litigation and negotiation outcomes can be estimated, and firms' pricing habits can be enumerated, all of which is information that would be highly valuable to clients facing major litigation. There's much more of this to come. Embedded Firm Knowledge Law firms have never done a great job of identifying, distilling, and leveraging the collective knowledge of their lawyers—mostly because lawyers have been very good at resisting these efforts and hoarding their insights. But renewed efforts to curate and deploy not just the firms' knowledge, but also their experience and expertise, will separate the good firms from the outstanding ones. [E]ven the most brilliant lawyer can't acquire and maintain the vast storehouses of information needed to serve today's complex client needs. Individual lawyer brains need to be supplemented by large "institutional brains" that are always up to date and ready to contribute insights. Going Forward Law librarians and legal information professionals might not be the primary sources for acquiring this raw data. Other members of the firm (finance, IT, marketing, etc.) could be the pri- mary "miners" of information about the law, the firm, and its clients, while knowledge professionals could be the main "refiners" of that data, translating it into advisory knowledge to be dis- tributed to lawyers (or even directly to clients). Truly sophisticated legal knowl- edge supply chains will anchor future law firms, and the law library should be the focal point of that process. Law firms that want to win the highest-value, most complex work from clients will need more than just smart lawyers. They will need powerful knowl- edge engines to augment and amplify the skills of those lawyers, while also constituting capital assets that accrue in size and value every year. Law libraries and legal information professionals hold the key to assembling and growing such engines, and they are, therefore, the key to the future sustainability and competi- tiveness of the firms themselves. 3 READ Jordan Furlong's article "Leveraging Knowledge, Technology, and Process: Legal Information Professionals and the Transformation of the Law Firm Business Model," from the January/February 2016 issue of AALL Spectrum at bit.ly/JF16Furlong. © 2019 BY JORDAN FURLONG JORDAN FURLONG Ottawa, Canada jordan@law21.ca Jordan Furlong of Ottawa, Canada, is a legal market analyst, speaker, and con- sultant who forecasts the impact of legal industry trends on lawyers, legal organiza- tions, and clients. He is the author of Law Is a Buyer's Market: Building a Client-First Law Firm and writes regularly about the legal profession at law21.ca. Research + Analytics Information Management Image © iStockPhoto.com/Piranka

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