Thursday, April 28, 2005

J's Scratchpad - Wooo Hooo!!!!

Guess who linked up to the VLLB today? J's Scratchpad indeed!

For those not familiar with this blog, some of the best and even handed insight into new Library trends can be found in the words of j Baumgart. If you're still filling out your dance card, this is a must have.

If I ever get around to ranking my 'Top 10' Library trend blogs, this site will be in there. I'm obviously a huge fan... this is very cool. Thanks J!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

VALA Topics Profiles Gillian Crabtree!

Long time member of the Vancouver law library community, and 'instigator' (to steal some hockey jargon) of the VALA KM Subsection, Gillian Crabtree is profiled in the spring edition of the VALL Topics Newsletter.

It was very nice of Gillian to co-credit me with authorship of the initial KM subsection article. Note to the VALA editors - Matthews ... ;-)

And while I'm on the topic of the VALA KM group, I'm expecting many of you 'local folk' to come out to the 2nd Annual Joint VALL/VALA Luncheon Meeting. Gord Holley is going to be bringing his bag of tricks and teach us how to Sell, Sell, Sell!!!

Rumour also has it that future MLS candidate, and celebrity to many of us, Drew Jackson might show up.

Monday, April 25, 2005

End-to-end Knowledge Management

As many of you know, I'm always on the lookout for practical applications of KM in law firms. One resource I came upon recently was the blog of Tom Collins, a retired lawyer and KM Consultant. Tom's blog is pretty good (especially if you dig into those archives), but what intrigued me was the diagram on the homepage of his consulting practice, Advocacy 2100, LLC:

If you take a closer look (click on the image to see a larger version), you'll see some very practical examples of work processes that occur in law firms each day. When the experts start talking about codified knowledge, this is what I envision... The other part I like here is the 'loop back'. When KM is working well, a firm will have some excellent routines (and capturing technology) in place to gather the various 'outputs' in the diagram above. No 'loop back' equals no KM.

I'm usually not a big fan of diagrams or charts, but I think Tom's makes a lot of intuitive sense.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Making Law Firm KM Smaller

I'm willing to admit, firm wide sharing is incredibly difficult to encourage. In many cases, the problem gets proportionately worse as the firm's size increases. So how does one encourage knowledge sharing if Altruistic Information Sharing Doesn’t Happen? (thanks to Rees Morrison for getting me thinking...)

One of the big challenges, in my mind, is to break down the sharing process so it means something for the Lawyers involved. One of the reasons it's difficult to get contribution to a firm wide 'black hole' KM collection is that Lawyers have no connection to it. Forgetting the value proposition for a moment, unless you can forge an affinity between a lawyer and the collection, getting any type of contribution is going to be difficult.

Creating this connection can be as easy as letting Lawyers keep track of the content they find valuable or useful (what a concept!). Or, try to promote sharing as a benefit to meaningful or functional groups - be it by practice area, or a more interesting concept, connecting those with a common topical interest.

Content collections which are grouped or classified will retain contextual meaning, and will still be accessible by global firm wide KM searches. Topical or group oriented collections can also make for more interesting browsing, and potentially encourage a 'collection connection'.

At the very least, if you create a collection holding area for a niche topic which matches a particular lawyer's interests, you may get an opportunity to showcase your services. Also, encourage your lawyers to partner with you on the content collection - to help seed it, and to help encourage others to contribute - Every content collection needs a champion!

Some of the best collections are already in existence, but need to be found (no need to create a connection here!). Want proof? Go into any Lawyer's office and look around. Do you see any personal binders of precedents or articles? The truth is, Lawyers are every bit the collection builders Librarians are, and I don't think they're hiding content. The issue is trying to get them to collect openly and beyond personal use; and that's an easier sell when they're part of the process.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

TechnoLawyer Blog!

For those of you not familiar with TechnoLawyer, they run 8 different free email newsletters geared towards techie lawyers and law firm administrators. I subscribe to a few.

Well now it looks as though their editor, Neil Squillante, has picked up the blogging torch!

Welcome Neil! I've added your RSS feed, and if looking at your first month of posting is any indication, this should be fun.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Law Library Subscriptions: Paper or Electronic?

An article find via BeSpacific titled Law Library Subscriptions: Paper or Electronic?

It's so nice to see an article like this. An article that accurately describes the challenges faced by a law librarian - albeit, on a singular task - subscription renewals.

Customers & Consumers, & Shades of Grey

Both Connie Crosby and the Information Overlord (love that name!) picked up on my Law Firm Library - Customers & Consumers post (which I'm finding awkwardly written as I re-read it, but anyway...), and they offered a few comments, to which I'd like to respond.

First, as Connie says, "when your consumers have demanding customers things are even more interesting....". How true! The relationship between firm management and those providing legal services is always one of give and take. Management wants to be cost effective, but also doesn't want to take away actively used resources that help people do their jobs. And somehow it seems, if these groups aren't bickering, someone isn't pushing the profitability line hard enough. ;-)

And from the Information Overlord's perspective:

"I have always been in a situation where those controlling my budget, have been as equally concerned in the quality of service, and identifying the best resources - for the money - to help achieve this. I also think that (at least in my experience) many customers are also consumers"

This has generally also been my experience, which leads me to think my original post was a little black & white. Customers (Managers) can definitely also be consumers. My point was, at crunch time - say, budget time for Management, or a Researcher accessing an online DB prior to a client/matter number being issued - blinders can be firmly in place.

Also part of the mix here, is the fact that research tends to be conducted by younger Associates who are learning to treat firm resources as part of the business; and the Law Librarian's ongoing task to convince others that we are not a lunch expense, but a necessary and cost recoverable service that can effect profitability.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Easy Come, Easy Go

After winning my firm's NCAA March Madness Pool, it turns out our Carpenter Ant problem isn't going away, and is going to require an exterminator. Ah well, such is life I suppose.

On another but unrelated competition type subject, one of the websites I developed ( was named a finalist for the LMA's Your Honor Awards last week, and I just found out this afternoon that while it didn't win, it did get an 'honorable mention' at the awards ceremony. It would have been nice to get 2 in a calendar year, but perhaps that's just gluttony on my part. :-) Seriously though, the LMA is a very reputable organization, and I'm feeling pretty honoured.

Have a great weekend all!

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Take off from the Great White North, Take off it's a beauty way to go...

My appologies to Bob & Doug on the title.

Another law librarian blogger is in our midst. Although more journal than industry commentary, Gary's blog links us up with another colleague... this time a law librarian in Nunavut.

Welcome Gary!