What’s Buzzin’?

What’s Buzzin?, a new brown bag series designed to foster more collaborative relationships between firm, government and academic librarians debuted on September 11, 2015, at DLA Piper.  This was the first of what is sure to be many informal discussions and exchanges of ideas among CALL colleagues.  Julie Pabarja, Lindsey Carpino and Annie Mentkowski led the inaugural discussion.  And, a special “thank you” to Diana Koppang who volunteered to take notes.

Topic: What do academic law librarians teach the law students in law school? What skills do law firm and court librarians wish new attorneys learned in law school?

The first What’s Buzzin’ discussion had a nice mix of of firm, academic and government librarians. Annie & I shared that we would be presenting at the MAALL Conference in Kansas City in October on “Everything’s Up to Date Preparing Practice Ready Students.” We thought it was fitting to host a round table on this topic and gather feedback for our own presentation. We showed everyone our Prezi and handout for MAALL. These highlighted the 5 topic areas that we plan on covering at the conference: Billing, Technology, Research 2.0, Law Firm Resources & Professional Skills. After getting feedback, we then asked the following questions:

Academic Library Questions:

What do you teach your students? More specifically are Digests and Headnotes being taught? 

Yes in law schools, but it doesn’t seem to stick with new practicing attorneys. A significant number of law firms are no longer subscribing to digests. Some law schools are cutting back on multiple copies – again due to costs. This makes it difficult to teach the digest with only one copy. Konya Lafferty suggested creating a video to teach the digest to cut down on heavy in-class use with limited copies. Plus law schools have to teach multiple digest styles (Lexis v. Westlaw v. Bloomberg for example).

Diana Koppang suggested creating a CALL survey of law firm, academic and court libraries as to what titles are being cut. Julie Pabarja is currently in the process of drafting this survey to be sent out to members.

What resources can you access?

Resources used in Law Schools: Westlaw, Lexis, Bloomberg, CCH, Checkpoint, Proquest, BNA, HeinOnline, EBSCO, JStor, Practical Law, E-Books (Westlaw & Lexis), Clio and Free sources used for legislative history, law reviews and Google Scholar.

How do you “stay in touch” with what actually happens at a firm?

By reaching out to our colleagues in firms and staying on top of current awareness. Some law schools even have programs where they invite librarians in to present – how to survive your summer internship or lecturers for specialty research topics (such as Intellectual Property).

Firm/Court Library Questions:

What resources can you access?

Resources used in Law Firms: Docket tools (PACER, Court Link, Court Wire), Securities (Intelligize, Securities Mosaic), Intellectual Property, People/Public records (Accurint) and Tax & Other Specialty.

What skills do you wish new attorneys have?

An overall knowledge of digests, headnotes, using an index from print resources, billing, the Document Management System (DMS), technology, security issues and metadata.

What are your pain points with new attorneys?

Law firms struggle with new associates’ researching skills, but academic librarians are facing the challenge of not being given enough time to teach advanced research. Firm librarians wish new attorneys were comfortable using an index within a print resource. Also, there is a huge gravitation  toward Google-like searching with students and new research platforms using a simple search feature. Additionally, firm librarians struggle with some new attorneys’ lack of basic civil law knowledge, such as how a bill is created and their ability to find material outside of primary law – such as ordinances, deeds and statutory material.

How can we collaborate/communicate with each other in the law librarian community? 

  • More round tables
  • Reach out to each other, talk, lunch
  • See where new associates went to law school and reach out to those librarians
  • Bring in partner, librarian and secretary to the classroom

Other discussion points:

We wanted to encourage attorneys to talk to librarians about Westlaw and Lexis charge back fees and to think of us as the safe zone. We do not want attorneys to be afraid to use these resources we are already paying for. We all agreed that law students should continue to be taught Boolean & Terms and Connector search strategies.  We should focus on the overall searches rather than teaching a specific platform as they might not have that resource in practice. Finally, we should arm students with the questions they should be asking when they start their legal careers.