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3 Major Challenges for Legal Librarians

According to the 2019 report produced by the American Association of Law Libraries, the role of legal librarians is changing.

While there are a few reasons for this, at Softlink Information Centres, we believe there are three major challenges that legal librarians face in 2019. They are:

  • The impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
  • The high return on investment (ROI) they provide to their organization.
  • Advocating for new technology.

1. AI And Machine Learning

AI disrupts the need for legal librarians, according to some sector and academic professionals. They believe that thanks to machine learning, predicting case outcomes and building legal arguments are becoming unnecessary. No need for in-depth studying of case law or precedents.

In the 2019 AALL report, for example, over 90% of government law library employees noticed a drop in their workload because so many tasks are now computer-generated, or automated through AI.

What does this mean? It means the focus of legal librarians and knowledge centre staff is changing accordingly. They understand the need to update and refine their skills in:

  • Competitive intelligence research.
  • Creating algorithms to return the data required.
  • Data analysis and visualization.
  • Trend reporting.

They are the skills that enable legal librarians to take advantage of AI data to deliver the most relevant and accurate legal and market information to their users.

Legal librarians will also play a key role in developing practical legal AI models in the future. Understanding legal research and their sector’s information is their unique skill set.

2. ROI of the Legal Information Professional

Legal librarians face constant pressure to justify their long-term value in a digital world. Why? Because, as the 2019 report showed, law firms and government law bodies saw negligible increases in library funding. Further, 23.8% of academic librarians reported reduced staffing levels in response to budgetary constraints.

That legal librarians are continually evolving and growing their skill sets to stay relevant is evident. However, “selling” their worth, while challenging for many, is not impossible.

Legal librarians have increasingly been proactive about marketing all of the services they deliver. It is one of the ways they can prove they are a significant return on investment.

3. Advocate for New Technology

Knowing what technologies are currently available to manage your increasing number of responsibilities more effectively is vital. That’s not hard to do for librarians skilled in the art of research!

Assessing, advocating for innovative and evolving technologies, and implementing them will further increase the ROI of library and knowledge staff. It will result in delivering even higher value services to your organization.

Legal librarians must increasingly upskill themselves to harness AI. They must advocate the implementation of innovative knowledge management tools with analytical reporting features, like illumin. How quickly they source, analyze, and deliver accurate data in easy to digest formats, will help determine whether they survive and thrive in a ruthlessly competitive sector.

Softlink IC believes the legal librarian’s role is evolving, not diminishing. The good news is that legal librarians are more valuable to the legal profession than they have ever been.

To speak to a Softlink IC representative about illumin, just click here.