Legal information professionals can work in many different areas of the law. They may be academic law librarians, information officers in a law firm, librarians in a court service or government department, knowledge managers or document and record managers. Over 150 law firms in Britain and Ireland employ legal information professionals. They may work as small one-person units or within large teams, either in a physical library space or embedded in the teams they support. Legal information professionals find material and information from a variety of sources. These include: electronic online databases, print resources such as text books, reference books and law reports; journals and other documents both internal and external to the organisation in which they work.
The legal information professional has a vital role within their organisation and must be able to combine many skills. They need to have an excellent grasp of current affairs, a working knowledge of IT and how to exploit it, and an interest in the law. They also need good communication and people skills. Management skills (such as project management, budgeting and staff management) are also required for some positions.
Blake Morgan has a team of three legal information professionals who, between them, are responsible for managing the legal and business research resources of the firm; providing updating services on new legal developments, new sector developments and on the activities of clients and potential clients of the firm; and training members of the firm on research techniques and databases.
Blake Morgan subscribes to a range of legal databases such as LexisLibrary, Westlaw and Practical Law and has an extensive collection of books and journals. The legal information professionals at Blake Morgan use these resources to respond to a wide range of requests from members of the firm ranging from simply providing a case or article, checking whether a particular piece of legislation is in force, horizon scanning for new developments in particular sectors to undertaking detailed research on complex topics. The particular skills of a legal information professional are a detailed knowledge of all the sources that their firm subscribes to and an expertise in database search techniques.
Blake Morgan’s information professionals provide a business research service to provide background information on companies, organisations and individuals.
The team at Blake Morgan also provide a range of updating services for different practice areas and individuals within the firm. They use a range of sources including newspaper databases, hardcopy newspapers, email alerts, websites and RSS feeds to track a range of sectors and topics. They then compile daily and weekly bulletins to keep the firm up to date with what is happening in their area of law or sector.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of the role?
The sheer diversity of the requests that come in, particularly in a firm like Blake Morgan which acts for such a wide range of clients. No two days are ever the same for Blake Morgan’s information team.