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A Major Shift – Transforming the Practice of Law

We at Cable&Clark have evolved over the years, adapting to change and market needs. Right now, we are going through a major shift in our business model — a model that changes that way we deliver our services to clients and, more importantly, puts greater control in the hands of law firms.  We believe this makes the greatest market sense, and after several years of working in the industry, firmly believe that law firms are primed and ready for this shift.

At C&C, we got people thinking. We got our clients to change their perceptions of the law library and to view it in a new, modern way with unlimited potential. We shared knowledge and trained staff with skills to implement new procedures and processes on their own.

We’ve been preaching various concepts for years with our clients, but oftentimes libraries don’t have the resources or know-how available to facilitate new ways of monitoring, distributing and strategically planning the effective use of the offered resources.  So, instead of talk, we decided to put these best practices, strategies and concepts into action through Topaz Research, an integrated platform where legal research takes place.

There is a lot we have learned through the years – what attorneys need in the new world of law, what firm business leaders need from their library business leaders and to quote a favorite CFO, “Why does the library cost so damn much?”  Topaz was created to answer these questions and more. Topaz introduces an unprecedented level of intelligent legal research management that is defined by your firm’s different users and needs.

In this way, Topaz represents a major shift – transforming the practice of law with intelligent legal research. Law firms now have access to a tool that gives them the power to implement streamlined processes and procedures, manage information distribution and procurement in a wholly integrated environment, and perform critical decision-making on-the-fly for resource management and cost containment.

If you would like to find out more about Topaz or would like to test drive it for your law firm, email me, Sarah Clark Kavanagh.

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Change anyone?

Everyone knows that change is inevitable. For law firms and their law libraries, significant change has occurred over the last decade and will continue for the unforeseen future. Change is a necessity for survival.

I’ve been an advocate of and embraced change my whole life … from Iowa farm girl to my job now, advocating for and supporting libraries as they transition to serve the modern needs of their constituents.

Change impacts us here at Cable&Clark too. After years of friendship and professional collaboration, our well-respected colleague Colleen Cable is leaving the company and law firm library consulting. For those of us at C&C who have worked with her over the years, we mourn her loss and the many times of laughter-filled, day-to-day interactions. We will miss Colleen and wish her much success in her new life endeavors.

As sad as it is to say goodbye to a long-time team member, we know that change is inevitable, is a necessity and an opportunity to embrace change as “life made different.”

Life is being “made different” in another big way for us at C&C. We are evolving as a company in ways to best serve the changing realities of our clients. Because of our industry experience and work from the inside, we are well-equipped to recognize opportunity in change — and to embrace innovation.

This openness to transformation is leading us in wholly new directions. C&C will continue to partner with law firms to increase profitability and develop innovative information strategies for library services and legal research, but we are developing exciting new ways to deliver these services to law firms.

We are proud to introduce our first major innovation in the launch of Topaz Research. Topaz is an exciting new smartware application that puts unprecedented control in the hands of law firms, helping them intelligently and seamlessly manage, track and leverage law library resources and legal research. For more about Topaz, please visit www.topazresearch.com or feel free to contact us at C&C.

STAY TUNED! In my next post, I’ll briefly share how Topaz Research evolved and the way it is transforming the practice of law through intelligent legal research.

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Things change, life can go on even better than before with the right attitude

Even though some changes in life are a long time in the planning, when the time actually comes to implement the change our human instinct is to resist. However, at C&C we collectively agree that change has sparked amazing opportunity for all of us and our clients in our years of working together.

We could continue to on with the same-old, same old, but where does that get us?

Changes are a-coming…so, stay tuned!

In the meantime, we want to share the eulogy for Steve Jobs as given by his sister. It makes one stop and think about what you are doing today, tomorrow and for the years to come…

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/30/opinion/mona-simpsons-eulogy-for-steve-jobs.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

 

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The Only Constant is Change

Fantastic post on the SLA Future Ready blog! Bruce Rosenstein lists some great ideas for renewing yourself and preparing for change. In my opinion, his post highlights the internal readiness for change that must be present when someone is serious about welcoming change into their life.

This list is derived from research for his new book about Peter Drucker. The post seems especially apropos as we near the end of another year (how did it get to be 2011?) of big and small changes.

At Cable&Clark, we fully embrace change and recognize that it is part of living and growing as individuals and as a company. That is not to say that change is easy nor does it always arrive in an expected manner, but it is always exciting.

Here are some of my favorites, slightly paraphrased, from Bruce’s post:

  • Get Organized for Change: Try not to think in terms of preserving the status quo. Instead, how can you look for and take advantage of changes in the workplace and society that may have an effect on you? (emphasis added)
  • Systematic Abandonment: In order to embrace the new, organize for change and expand your horizons, you‘ll need to find time. Most people are so busy that they can‘t add many new activities without dropping current ones, even those that they find satisfying and worthwhile. Regularly take a look at all your activities (inside and outside of work) and determine what can be dropped or scaled back to make way for something new, and potentially even more valuable. This could be the perfect opportunity to create more time for leisure activities such as playing in an amateur sports league; taking music, art or acting lessons; or doing more traveling. (emphasis added)
  • The Power of Self-Reflection/Retreats: Take time, at regular intervals, to assess the direction of your life. Does your current job reflect the kind of person you are now, or is it more reflective of who you were when you were hired? Are you sure you will be working for the same organization in five years, and doing the same kind of work? It‘s difficult for most of us to do this thinking in the midst of a busy daily schedule. Try to carve out some time, even a short period, for sitting or walking alone, without distractions. Many people find value in short retreats, even silent ones.
  • Networking for the New: Information professionals are world-class networkers, in person and online. This is an efficient and powerful way to learn about activities to add to your life. Studying the profiles of your friends in Facebook and LinkedIn can give you an idea of how people spend their time, and can be a great source of ideas. Talk to people to find out how they find time to engage in these activities, and to learn more about what they do. It could lead to a new outside interest, a volunteering opportunity, a new learning initiative, or even a new job.
  • Learning by Teaching: Drucker believed that no one learns as much as the person who must teach his or her subject. But that is only one reason to get involved in teaching. It may turn into a parallel career that you can do on a part-time basis while you work at your main job. It can provide volunteering opportunities, if you teach, for instance, at a religious institution. There may also be teaching opportunities within your workplace or within library-related organizations. Try to find people who are already teaching in some capacity, and find out how they got started.

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One Search Does Not Equal Research

This is an old axiom, but seems to ring true now more than ever. It came to mind while reading Greg’s post today about finding that elusive needle in a haystack. I completely agree with his statement:

Not every fact pattern can be answered by a previous court decision. In fact, it is usually the attorney that takes a blending of statutes, case decisions, and the ability to interpret the intention of the law within the community’s setting that wins the day. Fact-based, “one case in one jurisdiction,” is valuable, but the research process is far greater than that idea. Admitting failure by not finding that “one case in one jurisdiction” is selling yourself and the legal research process short. (my emphasis)

The entire point of legal research and the practice of law is the analysis/interpretation of what is found during the process, not the process of research. If we removed the analysis/interpretation step, then the practice of law becomes obsolete.

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Bloomberg Law 2.0

Bloomberg Law introduced a new and updated version of their platform last week. The new web site gives more information than the old site, but a new user would still need to contact sales for a demonstration. However, much more information is available in Jean O’Grady’s new blog post complete with screenshots.

I’m still trying to figure out what the Bloomberg Law strategy is, and where they see themselves in the future, but in the meantime, it seems that the product has much to offer.

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SLA Program: Cost Recovery vs. Cost Prevention

I moderated a fantastic panel at the annual SLA conference last week, and wanted to share the tips that were developed during the discussion. These tips are not difficult or costly; however, the impact on the bottom-line of the firm can be huge.

To focus more on cost prevention instead of cost recovery is to shift from a reactive environment to one that is proactive. This is something that can be undertaken by every librarian, no matter their influence or clout within the firm. Additionally, if the impact of these changes is being measured, the potential to raise the profile of the library is tremendous.

Our 5 easy tips:

  1. Get to know Accounting. If the librarian does not have full access to any and all of the data that impacts the library, how can informed decisions be made? The librarian cannot take ‘no’ for an answer when it comes to developing this relationship, and accessing this data.
  2. Manage and control the conversation around the firm’s contracts with large vendors. Another benefit to a relationship with Accounting, is finding out how much the firm spends with some of the large vendors. Imagine the bulk discounting that might be possible if the librarian could leverage the entire spend, and not just that of the library. Talk about a direct savings to the bottom-line!
  3. Education/Training. Controlling the training and education of your users is a great way to prevent unnecessary costs. Vendor representatives only train on their own products, and promote new content and services. This probably isn’t the most cost effective use of all the research resources purchased by your firm. It is imperative that training sessions be vetted by the library or conducted by a librarian, if possible.
  4. Using knowledge management (KM) to leverage internal and external resources. This doesn’t mean you have to implement some complicated KM software, it just means that you need to look for efficiencies in everything that you do. For example, the library could create an internal wiki to share answers to regularly asked questions, contacts, and/or frequently accessed internal content. This is KM, and once a small step is taken, more will follow.
  5. Creating innovative and simplified contracts. Vendors have been using the same contracts since they started offering their online services. Has anything else in your library stayed the same over all these years? How about exploring contract structures that reflect how you use the product, instead of accepting the same old, one-size-fits-all contract. Work closely with your vendor before you are even presented with a contract to let them know that the status quo isn’t going to work for you anymore.

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