I written before that I think the Library department and the Marketing departments work very well together.  However, apparently the folks over at Morrison Foerster (MoFo) have taken my advice further than even I would have imagined.  Yesterday at the Law Marketing Association conference, MoFo new CMO, Joe Calve, discussed the topic of increasing ROI in the Marketing department and announced that the first thing he did when he came on at MoFo was to move the Client Development team and the Library Department into Marketing.  At which my initial reply was “Whaa??”

I am still having a hard time wrapping my head around this decision, and am reaching out to Joe Calve to get his reasoning behind the move. I understand putting Client Relations in Marketing (although others may disagree wwith me), but putting the Library in Marketing seems odd.

From what I’m hearing from the Librarians at MoFo, they are excited about the change and are looking forward to the transition. So, again, maybe I’m missing why this is a good idea. I just can’t seem to think of any off of the top of my head. I guess if the Library can fit under Marketing in order to improve ROI, then how about moving it under Accounting? Or under the Paralegal group? Or Recruiting? That makes about as much sense to me as Marketing.

Anyone disagree with me??

  • I would love for my library to be under the marketing dept., but we don't have one. Providing competitive intelligence research for business development is one of the easiest ways for a law library to show ROI and value.

    Am I missing something?

  • Moving the library under marketing makes a lot more sense to me than under information services / technology. At my last firm, I worked hard to have the library seen as one of the technology departments. In the end, I reported to the CIO who had no clue as to what we were doing and could do for the firm.

    At the same time, no matter what dept you report to, if the dept head doesn't understand the value of the library, you have a lot of work ahead of you to help them understand.

  • I agree that the library does great Competitive Intelligence work and that the two departments should coordinate that work in order to make it work best for the firm. However, CI is just a slice of the pie of what the library does. Most of the library's work is in supporting the needs of the attorneys doing work for clients. Embedding a librarian in Marketing is one thing… embedding the whole library department in Marketing seems to overlook the primary purpose of the library. The libraries ROI is not based in the fact that it is a Marketing research tool… a library is a research tool of the firm that also happens to do very good marketing research in addition to legal research.

  • Greg, I think you nailed it when you said "Most of the library's work is in supporting the needs of the attorneys doing work for clients."

    Demonstrating the value that a client is getting from library research/services is part of overall client relationship management, and I can see that as a Marketing function.

  • I don't know Bonnie. That type of argument could apply for any department in the firm. Accounting does a great job for the client in processing its invoices… that could be a Marketing function. The Records department keeps the client's documents SOX compliant… that could be a Marketing function. It doesn't mean that every department that helps an attorney accomplish his or her job of providing legal work to the client should be under Marketing does it?
    Perhaps the Library is unique in its function and fits very well under Marketing where obviously Accounting and Records wouldn't. In my opinion, libraries should (and usually do) prove their worth in the firm and shouldn't have to be moved into Marketing in order to have someone else do it for them.

  • Nina,

    The only advantage I see with the library 'with' IT and not 'under' IT is the fact that there is a lot of vendor issues that cross the IT and Library worlds (throw KM in there too while we're at it.) Lexis and Westlaw (and others) have contracts with each of these departments, and if IT/KM/Library are under one umbrella, then these contracts can be negotiated as one voice and clean up a lot of duplication that happens when you have multiple contracts from multiple departments, with a single vendor.
    I agree with you that a CIO that doesn't understand what a library does should not be in charge of a library. But, in the past 15 years when IT and Marketing carved themselves out "C-Level" positions for their departments, what where the librarians doing?? Apparently, we got passed up and never got included in the "C-Party" and now we are having issues of where do we fit on the company ladder when we don't have a C-Level person? (And, I'm still mad that a C-Level IT person uses "Information Officer" as their title, when it usually isn't "Information" they are in charge of, but rather "Technology".) Many times the library gets moved under someone with no clue because there is no other place to put us on the org chart. So, I'm with you in that even if you're a C-Level person, if you don't know how a library operates within your firm, you shouldn't be the one in charge of it.

  • Mariann Storck

    I figure when the library is placed under another division and people say, "They don't have a clue" then, the librarian has failed to educate the audience or the audience has not been ready to hear the message. It seems to me that SLA addresses ROI much more than AALL. It would be nice if there were some "turn-key" words librarians could use to educate their patrons. I feel like I'm always searching for the magic words. I picked up some useful information from Mary Ellen Bates recently. When someone asks you what you do for a living, and you tell them, "I'm a librarian", they start snoozing. If instead you say, "I help people succeed" the response is different. So if we take that concept and somehow mesh it with all the actual tasks we do, is that the answer to keep us from being put under a division where we have no business being?

  • Anonymous

    Wow – I don't believe you people who actually think it is a good idea to move the "Library" anywhere. How about having the self confidence and the courage to stand apart and be recognized for the work we can do – work that many of us ARE doing – that differentiates us. Most of us have been billing for years and can actually show (some) ROI, and just because another department wants the "glory" of that very special aspect of our services – we would choose to blindly be subsumed? It really frightens me that (some) marketing dpartments can't be comfortable with their own successes and need to poach others. What happened to working together to accomplish the organizational goals? As a 26 year "veteran", I am truly frightened by what I see – and although I am very proud of the niche we have carved out in our own firm, and like to think it has positively influenced others, it seems that on many fronts, things are going in a very bad direction. It would be incredibly sad if losing our identity becomes part of our profession's legacy…

  • It's been my expereince that law librarians are excellent at what they do. Unfortunately marketing what they do isn't on that list. Greg and I made a presentation at a recent HALL seminar and I started it off by asking the question: "Which department would you pick to be in?" This was meant to spur discussion – and it did. We ended up talking about ways to make the library more valuable to a firm, etc.

    The law library has lost it's sacred place in the law firm world. Is this bad? Probably. Inevitable? I think so. Especially with the market for services chnaging so dramatically.

    My advice to librarians: You need a business plan to place your group strategically within the law firm. Don't expect some partner to do this for you. If you want to remain vital, you'll have to add the self-promotion skill to your already valuable tool-kit.

  • From Anonymous:

    "Wow – I don't believe you people who actually think it is a good idea to move the 'Library' anywhere. How about having the self confidence and the courage to stand apart and be recognized for the work we can do – work that many of us ARE doing – that differentiates us."

    I agree, the Library should be a department parallel to the others rather than reporting to them. However, in the larger organizational picture this has to work with the firm's larger strategy. I agree with Toby Brown's advice to get a business plan in place to position the library within this larger firm strategy.

    Anonymous, I wish you had the self confidence and courage to use your real name in the post. Because your comment is anonymous, it feels more like a snipe than anything constructive.

  • I've had some "off-line" conversations with other librarians at big firms and there is a question that has been raised whether the people that have run the law libraries at firms over the past 15-20 years (basically the baby-boomers that are about to retire) have screwed the law library field (add in the law library associations to this, too).

    Whenever the library gets progressive and starts promoting new ideas, those ideas get spun off into their own departments and the creative librarians leave the library field to join these departments. Things like Knowledge Management, Competitive Intelligence, even some Marketing and IT ideas were created in the library, but now exist outside the library. I pointed out in a comment earlier that while all of these other departments demanded C-Level leadership positions, the library management stood by and let everyone pass them by. So it seems that the general direction the law firm libraries have taken in the past 15-20 years is to get us back to what we were doing in the 1980's .

    One conversation I had said it might be time for the 'X' and 'Y' generations to reevaluate what the library does and stops spinning off all of our great accomplishments and letting others take credit for what we've created.

    It's time to change the way the library is run, and viewed by those we work with. To steal a line from the GOP, maybe it's time to come up with a type of library so we can announce:

    "This Ain't Your Daddy's Law Library!"

  • Jim Senter

    MoFo marketing: see also https://www.geeklawblog.com/2010/03/its-not-just-ugly-that-mofo-site-is.html and wonder or cringe wondering what might happen to the Library. Whatever you think of the website they produced, you have to admit it ain't your daddy's law firm website. The Library may be in for an interesting ride!

  • The success or failure has more to do with involvement than title. If the CMO doesn't understand library services there will be no growth. Same is true for a CIO. To me, library services are part of Knowledge Management. Greg makes a good point about contract issues (IT/LS share many vendors).

  • I think the Library is a much more valuable resource when it supports all aspects of a firm's operations, from operations to clients, without favor. Placing the library under the umbrella of a specific department, such as Marketing or IT, sends the message that the firm values their services in that context greater than that of their primary mission. As for the ROI concern, I believe that it is very simple to show ROI for the library outside the usual billing numbers. Billings for new clients acquired with the aid of the library staff, streamlining technical implimentations with their unique view of the needs of the end users, the knowledge of the vendors that result on contract savings and the assistance with cost recovery all results in a Return for the firm that doesn't favor one particular department or function.

    By the way, I agree with Jim and think the MoFo website may be an excellent example of what not to do.

  • Zena Applebaum

    Here's why the Library or Information Resources or whatever you want to call it should NOT live in Marketing.

    Marketing's primary role in a law firm is to bring the special attributes of that law firm to the outside – to build the firm's public profile, to pitch new clients, to reinforce the firm's market position and so forth. The primary role of the Library is the opposite – to bring the outside world in – whether monitoring new or changing legislation, providing competitive intelligence and so forth. The relationship between the two departments can and should be symbiotic but they should remain separated so as to maintain the perspective each needs to do their jobs effectively and help the lawyers provide optimal client service.