I always look forward to the PLL luncheon as a time to gather with colleagues; see old friends and meet new ones! In addition to all of the networking, a great speaker is always a part of the program. This year we enjoyed listening to Ross Guberman of Legal Writing Pro. I thought that Ross was an interesting choice, as I don’t normally think about law firm librarians having a role in legal writing. However, Ross made some very compelling arguments, some of which I agreed with, and some of which I did not. Here is a summary:
- Why is “researching like a librarian” a compliment, but “writing like a lawyer” is an insult?
- A good writer makes the reader feel smart
- How can librarians get involved? Ross went through the stages in the associate writing process and asked the audience to discuss:
- #1 — Starting fresh or using an existing document? Howard Trivers from Baker & Daniels was at my table, and stated that “the librarian usually knows who the expert is on a given topic, and can tell the associate.” We also agreed that the librarian could help with search strategies for the KM system.
- #2 — Initial research stage. The entire audience agreed that pointing associates towards treatises and other secondary sources is a huge role for the librarian.
- #3 — Writing. Ross believes that this is an area where the librarian has a great opportunity to help with structure. He stated that the librarian could serve as a proxy for the ultimate reader and help with structure.
- #4 — Attention to detail. Again the librarian can help with the proof-reading, citation checking and direct the associate to reference sources.
While some of this may seem radical, in these economic times an open mind is called for and may be rewarded by the firm. Don’t know where to start? Ross has some fantastic free tools/articles on his site to get you started!