30 Jun 2016

BIALL (British & Irish Association of Law Librarians) - Review

Guest post by Ann O'Sullivan, (BA HDipLIS ALAI) is the new Knowledge Services Manager in A&L Goodbody, having recently moved from the Houses of the Oireachtas Library and Research Service where she was the Acquisitions & Research Librarian.


I attended this conference in Dublin on the 10 and 11 June 2016 in the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel (formerly the Burlington). The theme of the conference was the Value of Change. In attendance there were approximately 200 delegates, 43 speakers and representatives from 31 suppliers. It was a busy conference with people from Ireland, the UK, France, America and Canada. The BIALL Conference Committee put on an excellent show; they engaged the services of Sovereign Conference Exhibitions and Warrick Event Services to assist them in running of a very smooth conference. I was also very impressed with the conference facilities at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel.

The theme of change was evident in all of the talks and presentations. As librarians and information professionals we recognise that the environment in which we work is constantly changing. It is very important that our skills evolve with these changes in order to transform our services and ensure that we are providing world class services in all sectors – corporate, academic, government. There were plenary sessions on Cyber-crime, Knowledge Management and Data Protection and the parallel sessions covered many topics including: embedded services, different ways to use technology and digital literacy. There were also talks from the sponsors and exhibitors on new products, and a series of 10 minute lightning talks that covered everything from patron drive acquisition to deep breathing.

Plenary sessions

Day 1 kicked off with the keynote address by Andy HarbisonCyber-crime, how much of threat is it? Andy is a computer forensics investigator with Grant Thornton. Andy talked with great insight and depth of knowledge about the large scale cybercrimes that are committed against all kinds of organisations every day, including law firms. Zone-H.org is a website where you can find out who has been hacked most recently. Organisations and individuals can use all of the security measures imaginable to ensure their online safety, however Andy says that one of the most important things for everyone is awareness of your online presence. Training in online security and what to look out for is invaluable. Passwords MUST be complex and changed regularly, be suspicious when you are online, do not open suspicious emails, and be careful when you are browsing.

Amanda McKenzie's talk was entitled What Does Knowledge Management Mean for Information Professionals? Amanda is the Head of Research and Information Services as Olswang LLP. She is actively involved in KM projects and is keenly interested in how the concepts of information management and knowledge management interact. Amanda started her presentation with a quote from Albert Einstein: Information is not knowledge; the only source of knowledge is experience. She then went on to speak about the differences between information management and knowledge management. While they are different this does not mean that the two are not connected or that they do not support each other. Amanda addressed the question of whether the interchangeable use of the word knowledge with information means that information management is diluted or does it mean that information has to adapt to the mechanisms that knowledge management brings to an organisation and does it bring opportunities? Law firms have recognised that for many years that Knowledge Management supports the clients. The Knowledge Management strategy must be in line with the firms overall strategies. Amanda recommends having a Knowledge Management Steering Committee in-house to drive the Knowledge Management agenda and to ensure buy in from senior management. Collaboration is the key to creating a knowledge sharing environment. In order to value change we should suggest change, embrace change and challenge change.

Claire Greening from Withers LLP and Karen Brown from Dentons had an idea; they brought it to the BIALL Council and now we have two new tools for benchmarking legal library services: the annual BIALL Commercial Law Firms Survey and the BIALL Professionals Skills Framework. During their presentation Claire and Karen took us through their journey with the two working groups responsible for the creation of the new tools. BIALL already have an academic library survey and the salary survey, these still exist along with the new tools.
The Commercial Law Firms survey will be sent out to 145 firms in October 2016 (15 in Ireland), with the results due in Spring 2017, for the first time we will be able to benchmark items such as the library budget as a percentage of turnover, the number of library/information/knowledge staff related to the number of fee earners. Once the first survey has been completed the plan is then to issue this survey annually in January.
The Professional Skills Framework is now available on the BIALL website. The idea behind the framework is to provide a detailed overview of the skills and experience which legal information professionals need to carry out their role. It is designed to supplement, rather than replace, other relevant frameworks of skills, competencies and ethics, such as the CILIP Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB’) (also now available to LAI (Library Association of Ireland) members) and in-house documents. It is designed as a skills framework, rather than a competencies framework. The intention is that that the skills framework will be able to assist legal information professionals at all stages of their careers, with the principal uses being: as a benchmarking tool for personal professional development; to assist managers with appraisals and to assist managers with recruitment.

Denis Kelleher also spoke in plenary on the topic of Data Protection. His talk was entitled Europe & Data Protection: A Law onto Itself? Denis is the author of Privacy and Data Protection Law in Ireland; he is a Barrister-at-Law and is currently employed as Senior Legal Counsel in the Legal Division of the Central Bank of Ireland. Denis looked at the application of EU data protection laws to the global internet and social networks. Denis is an expert on this subject and took us on a whistle stop tour of the history of data protection in Ireland, Germany and Spain. He then looked to the future and explained what the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will mean for us in the coming months and years. One of the new requirements will be Data Protections Officers in every organisation.

Parallel sessions

Embedded legal information professionals: challenges and opportunities"
Peter Wilson & Cosmo Anderson, Slaughter and May
Peter is the first Knowledge and Information Officer to be embedded in Slaughter and May’s Pensions and Employment practice group. Cosmo has been part of the Knowledge & Information Officer team at Slaughter and May for over four years and currently supports the firm's IP/IT practice group. Embedded librarianship has been on the rise in the legal sector since the early 2000s. Peter and Cosmo discussed the ideas behind embedding legal information professionals in their user communities and their experience of establishing embedded services at Slaughter and May. Embedded librarianship is an approach, a particular way of working; it does not necessarily mean that you are physically located in the same area as your users. Peter and Cosmo suggest that the characteristics of embedded librarians are: relationship driven, enterprising, have specialist skills and knowledge; actively engage in networking and are flexible. The embedded approach is knowledge oriented.

Up the Value Chain: Transition from Law Librarian to Business Analyst
Helen Marshall & Kelly Taylor, Pinsent Masons LLP
Pinsent Masons has a team of research analysts providing the firm with in-depth sector and market analysis. This innovative approach has benefits for Pinsent Masons and also for the research team - increased visibility within the firm and developing a role as a trusted adviser to the business. The team are drawn from a variety of backgrounds, including experienced law librarians. During their presentation, Kelly and Helen who are both law librarians, discussed Pinsents approach to business and sector insight. They told us how the team adds value to the firm and how they have developed their existing skillsets to meet this new challenge. Their case study discussed the challenges in expanding our output from traditional legal research to more business and commercially aware research. The key new skill that they have both acquired is commercial awareness and the ability to carry our research on companies and form a view on the current status of the company and where is it is going.

Building bridges: using SharePoint to connect with law students
Celine Kelly, A&L Goodbody
Celine Kelly is the Knowledge Systems Manager within the Knowledge team in A&L Goodbody solicitors. The UCD Student Knowledge Centre developed out of Celine's professional experience in legal information and knowledge management and her post-graduate study in IT. This mix of experience and study made it possible for her to project management the venture from start to finish and execute much of the build on the extranet. A&L Goodbody have built on a tradition of adding value through knowledge by leveraging SharePoint technology to reinforce relationships between the firm and students the UCD School of Law. The Student Knowledge Centre uses SharePoint to bring together legal know-how and expert insight from A&L Goodbody lawyers to offer students support in their studies, further their commercial awareness and to provide a flavour of how law firms work and what it feels like to be a legal professional in Ireland today. Celine shared her lessons learned during this project from the planning, development, implementation and testing stages of using SharePoint as a web content management system and extranet.

Lightning Talks

For the first time at a BIALL Conference we were treated to lightning talks – a number of short presentations, just 10 minutes each, covering a wide variety of topics, presenters were both practitioners and suppliers, here are some of the highlights:

"Ask not…"
Marianne Barber, BIALL Immediate Past President & Tim Barlow, BIALL Council
Marianne and Tim discussed the benefits of getting involved with your professional association in this case BIALL. Joining a committee, organising events etc. is very beneficial at all stages of your career.
(I concur as my involvement with the LAI has been very enjoyable and beneficial!).

Beyond The Lawyer: Services for Support Teams in a Law Firm
Seána McAuley, Allen & Overy LLP
Seána presented a case study of the development and implementation of the A&O Belfast office Learning & Development collection which provides resources to support staff. The collection provides a continuation of the learning that is offered through internal courses, seminars and online resources. It also supplements other initiatives such as Be Well week, encouraging staff to maintain and improve emotional wellbeing. She discussed the practicalities of developing the collection, promoting it within the office and embedding the concept within senior management and key departments such as HR.

Creating a Law Collection at Royal Holloway
Sian Downes, Royal Holloway
In 2015 the Royal Holloway University introduced a new school of Law. Sian discussed the challenges of creating a new Law collection from scratch in an academic setting.

Beyond the expected: the Library's role in creating an institutional faculty blog platform
Claire Germain, University of Florida Levin College of Law
The Law Library at the University Of Florida College Of Law has created the faculty blog. They are instrumental in facilitating a social interactive academic research service that promotes the intellectual content of the institution.

More change? Deep breaths!
Jane Del-Pizzo, University of Law
Jane instructed us how breathing techniques can help cope with anxiety. Anxiety can often arise from periods of change. Learning to breathe from the abdomen i.e. deep breathing, not shallow, is a valuable first step in combating anxiety and building resilience in the face of constant change. Jane demonstrated the technique and we followed, the photos are available on Twitter!

How many times are you paying for the same case?
Masoud Gerami, Justis Publishing
Many cases are reported in multiple different report series – authoritative and specialist. And to have “better coverage”, customers are encouraged to buy as many different titles as they can afford. Masoud presented the statistics produced by Justis using their JustCite tool on how some cases are reported in many different case reports and are then available on many different online platforms.

Making your subscriptions work better for you
Mark Windsor & James Orr, Informa Law
Mark and James demonstrated how their solutions as Informa Law can make subscriptions more proactive instead of just reactive. They were promoting i-law.com to ensure that users are able to get to the information they need e.g. journal email alerts etc.

How to Respond To Research Requests More Efficiently
Peter Borchers, Priory Solutions
Peter's flight was cancelled so he didn't make it to Dublin, at the last minute his colleague José stepped in to talk about how using a research request tracking tool can help law librarians, specifically those working in law firms, find better answer research requests through the use of template responses and knowledge base searching. And Priory Solutions have just the product to help you to do this - Quest

Careers Panel

If only I had known that... Career insights from senior managers"

This session was chaired by Michael Maher from The Law Society of England and Wales, the other speakers were: Dunstan Speight, Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP; Susan Scorey, University of Roehampton; Darron Chapman, CB Resourcing; and Samantha McCombe, Linen Hall Library.

You can read the speakers biographies here: http://www.biall.org.uk/pages/dublin-2016-speakers-433.html

The first question posed by Michael was about what skills we think are most important to our roles as law librarians: knowledge of the law, knowledge of IT or customer service. We first considered it from the point of an interviewee and then as interviewer. Customer service skills won hands down, as we all agreed that IT and Law can be thought but some people just have innate customer service skills and while someone who struggles with this skill can shadow and observe colleagues it is a huge advantage if you have a natural leaning towards excellent customer service. Other Items discussed and questions posed included: CV tips – what to include or leave out; do not forget to proofread, one of the speakers was once sent a CV without the candidates name!; when is the right time to move (don't be scared of moving was the advice from all of the speakers – don't be too mechanical in planning your career, allow for serendipity to intervene); get involved in your professional association (join a committee, if not BIALL then maybe the LAI, CILLIP, SLA etc.).

LexisLibrary Awards
The LexisLibrary Awards were presented at the conference dinner in the Mansion House on Friday night and all 3 awards went to libraries on the island of Ireland.
The award for Best Information Service 2016 went to The Bar Library in Belfast; Library Service of the Law Society of Ireland was the runner-up and Legal Aid Board’s Research and Information Unit was Highly Commended in the same category.

Charity Collection
At the conference dinner there was a collection for the Capuchin Day Centre who provide a range of services to the homeless in Dublin City Centre. GBP£945.00 was raised.


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