Saturday, July 23, 2011

PLL Summit - Greg Castanias - How librarians add value to their law firms

One of two lunch speakers at PLL Summit. These are notes from a talk by Greg Castanias, Partner at Jones Day on how librarians (and library partners) add value to their law firms.  Note: these are my notes from this session; any inaccuracies or omissions are my own.

Greg Castanias related a story about how their libraries came to be coordinated under a global library partner.  He talked about how their various offices are being supported by the libraries. 

He outlined who law firm librarians work with:

  • Library customers
  • Firm management
  • External vendors

He urges us to adopt the model for dealing with internal clients: adopt a customer service model. Speak the talk of a service, not of a "space." E.g. What is your problem and how can I help you find the answer?

He suggests:

  • putting out a newsletter
  • publishing photos of the professional staff so people know who can help them
  • put tips into the firm newsletter
  • making services seamless so that library staff in other offices can take over work
"If you are sitting in your library waiting for your clients come to you, you are doing it wrong." "Change is not coming, it already came and has passed you by."

Ask yourself if the library space, physical collection and staff the right size? Is the library adding value, or perceived as adding value, or perceived as being a drain?  You can earn gold stars by offering to give back space for new staff.

When he told lawyers about case law in Google Scholar via firm newsletter. He got a lot of feedback back from lawyers who thanked him for being sensitive to their client cost needs.

Castanias then talked directly to vendors:

"Vendors, your business model is broken." Demands for increasing costs do not make sense. Others do not provide sufficient tracking, forcing firms to buy third party tracking services to see how the firm's own lawyers are using the services. 

"You fail to understand how we do business while seeking partnership with us."  

"We are eating a significant amount of our contracts with you." 

"You acquire and acquire and acquire, but you are incapable of integrating your businesses in any meaningful way."  Businesses may be under one umbrella name, but firms are forced to deal with them all as individual businesses.

Libraries are heading toward a virtual approach. Clients are going to expect virtual libraries as part of the firm's overhead; they are not going to accept disbursements in the future. 

He predicts vendors are going to see more consolidation and elimination. He tells the vendors to find ways to distinguish themselves. He implores vendors to treat law firms as clients. 

"We are willing to pay for value."  He encourages vendors to create the right services for the right clients, and to come up with a better pricing model.

He says the "winners" may be vendors that do not exist yet. Beware that other publishers are finding that they being passed by, and legal publishers need to beware.

1 comment:

Michael Ginsborg, Caucus Chair said...

Thank you for summarizing comments by Greg Castanias so quickly. I have relayed the news to the Consumer Advocacy Caucus.