Law Firm Management: Is Lamb on the Lamb from Law Librarians?

The Lamb has been skewered by law librarians in the legal webosphere. When reading the posts and comments of Patrick Lamb's recent blog, I couldn't help but be reminded of the hierarchical structure of law firms--or of any professional services environment. Lawyers (and partners at other professional services industries) fail to appreciate or understand the measures, lengths and methods that their legal professionals employ to execute the business of a law firm. Yes, there are exceptions to this rule, but they are not the norm. Because of this, it results in, dare I say, a discriminatory attitude towards legal professionals. And these lawyers' prejudice manifests itself in a number of ways:
  1. failing to seek staff input on best business management practices,
  2. failing to acknowledge staff's expertise in areas of legal research, knowledge management, IT and marketing,
  3. failing to recognize the influence staff have inside and outside of the firm,
  4. not leveraging staff relationships, expertise and methodology to secure new business,
  5. not rewarding staff for securing business, and
  6. not empowering staff to challenge the status quo to help the law firm grow.

I've worked at a number of large law firms but always as a support person. And this occurred after I got my law degree.

Why? Because I like the business of law firm management. I recognized that there was a huge opportunity for someone who has a law degree and strong business administrative skills.

But what I have witnessed time and time again at my previous firms was how rarely lawyers included legal professionals in their business decisions. Many lawyers failed to recognize that their staff are, at times, far more educated than they--heck, law librarians not only have to have JDs but also Master Degrees in Library Science.

Some of my best colleagues have MBAs, leadership training and PhDs.

So in this week of celebrating Martin Luther King and his call for equality, I ask lawyers everywhere to take off their blinders and take a look at the people working with you every day.

Who knows--that helpdesk guy who just fixed your computer may very well have a daughter who is a GC at a Fortun 500 company.

It's happened to me before. Really.

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Caren Rabinowitz said...

The devaluing of librarians, especially in law firms, is especially noticeable when cost reduction is desired. Librarians are often cut from the budget as my own experience has shown. Mark's article should be required reading for all law firm CFO's and managing partners.


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