I spent the weekend presenting at Lexis’ Advance Management in Private Law Libraries (AMPLL 2009). Even though the weekend started out by my missing the flight to Dallas, and then having to scramble to make the 5 hour drive (I did it in a little over 4) to make it to the conference center in Plano, I had one of the most enjoyable experiences of my professional career.

The AMPLL conference brings together law firm library managers and directors to discuss current processes within their profession, and to discuss best practices. But, just like most conferences, the real information is found around the dinner table, or discussing issues over a glass (or, two) of wine.

In 2005, I was a participant in the AMPLL conference, and discovered that the best part of the conference wasn’t necessarily the presentations, or the wonderful presenters. It was the people sitting right next to you. It was a relief to find out that the problems you were facing back in the office weren’t unique. Granted, you assumed others were fighting these issues just like you were, but it really makes it a lot better when you have the opportunity to talk about it with someone that really understands.
This year’s AMPLL conference was kicked off by a COO from a Chicago law firm. We all listened as he gave us the C-Suite point of view. And we appreciated getting honest and frank answers. In return, I noticed that after the presentation, the COO remained at the conference to listen to what we had to say. He could have been on the golf course, or getting a massage, but instead he stuck around and continued to contribute. I even heard (second-hand) that he was amazed that “Best Practices” were being discussed, and that the attendees were getting actual “take-aways” that they could use when they returned to work on Monday.
At the end of the sessions, we all shared what we were going to do differently when we returned to work on Monday. Going individually through the 38 law librarians, it was apparent that we’d all had a rough time over the past 6-8 months, but we felt that we could turn the challenges into opportunities. Being able to bounce ideas off of each other, and getting the feedback we just cannot get within our own departments proved to be valuable to everyone in attendance. We’ve all learned from each other that we’re not facing impossible tasks. In fact we all walked away with tips, tricks, suggestions, and contacts that we didn’t have last week.
I’d like to thank the folks at Lexis for sponsoring the AMPLL conference. In this year of cutting Administrative Development costs, this conference (which the participants only had to cover travel costs) was extremely timely. I know that the batteries of a few of us were recharged over the weekend.
If you’re a law library manager/director in a law firm, I highly suggest that you apply in 2011 when the program cycles through again.