To better understand the current state of how the law firm library is being utilized to produce newsletters and email alerts, we surveyed nearly 30 librarians from different sized law firms.
Their feedback was captured in an 11-question survey, where questions ranged from the purpose newsletters serve to which types of sources are being leveraged to perform searches.
We thought it would be helpful to share the results and provide a brief snapshot of the constantly evolving state of the law firm library.
Newsletter and email alert creation
When asked if the firm’s library is tasked with producing newsletters or alerts, a majority of respondents answered yes. Interestingly, 37.04% of libraries do not participate in such activities, which leads us to assume that the task is either being outsourced, handled by another function within the firm, or not done at all.
For those who are responsible for producing newsletters, most use news/content aggregation platforms when setting up newsletters or alerts and perform manual searches for content generation. The remaining respondents rely exclusively on news aggregators for content or compile newsletters without leveraging news aggregators.
When the library is tasked to perform searches for newsletter setups, the top source used is news aggregation platforms such as Nexis Newsdesk and BLAW. Following closely behind is legal research (e.g., dockets, opinions, etc). Manual internet searches and specialized subscriptions including academic, industry, and other publications not available via news aggregators come in tied for third.
Content aggregation platforms
For the librarians who use content aggregation platforms, the leading vendors are BLAW, Nexis Newsdesk, and Manzama, respectively. Outside of the platform choices listed in the survey, others specified that they also use Westlaw News and other secondary sources.
Librarians reported they are mainly satisfied (43.75%) with their platforms, with a few stating they are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied (25%) or very satisfied (18.75%).
Newsletter and alert requests
As for who directly requests newsletters from the library, librarians primarily provide to individual attorneys, practice groups, and marketing & business development teams.
Newsletters are mainly designed and distributed for an internal audience, but some libraries will produce them for both an internal and external audience.
Librarians typically spend less than 5 hours per week to support newsletter initiatives.
Content for newsletters and alerts
For many firms, the purposes of newsletters are to equally track clients and prospects (78.57%) and identify future prospects or opportunities (78.57%). Reporting transactions and regulatory developments (71.43%) and early warning about future risks (64.29%) are other goals. A few librarians noted that they also use newsletters for library-related news specific to their firm, tracking industry news and current awareness.
Original content is not exclusively developed for firm newsletters. Librarians use a mixture of original and curated material or only pull content from established sources.
If the content librarians need is behind a paywall, most will pay for a subscription so readers can view the content. Others will either not include the gated content or try to locate the content elsewhere from other reputable sources.
- Content aggregation platforms are popular in many law firm libraries. They are commonly used to find relevant content and deliver that information in newsletters or alerts.
- Firms are heavily focused on clients and forecasting. The main recipients of newsletters are internal to the firm, made up of individual attorneys, practice groups, and marketing & business development teams. These departments are largely responsible for attracting, retaining, and delivering services to clients. They also need to be aware of what lies ahead and potential impacts on clients. This naturally leads to the main reasons why law firm libraries produce newsletters or alerts to begin with — to track clients, identify prospects or opportunities, and report future risks.
The responses shared by our survey participants provided an insightful look into today’s law firm library and their role in producing newsletters and alerts. We hope these findings help guide your own library’s initiatives.