Looking after the talent

Earlier this week I attended the ARK Group conference Managing your law firm library and information service through challenging times this was a really interesting conference, which you won't be surprised to learn looked at some of the challenges facing Information Managers and Law Librarians.

One of the presentations on the first day looked at how Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance are using "outsourcing" companies to manage some of their library resources. It was very interesting to see how much was being outsourced and also what they were keeping hold of. Unsurprisingly there were a number of questions raised by people attending the session, which were answered in a panel session which followed.

During the panel session, which was hosted by Sarah Fahy and Sara Berry from Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance respectively, several people asked what the impact of outsourcing would be on new professionals. This was a really interesting question at the time, but thinking about it after the Conference makes me slightly uneasy. Not because there are less jobs out there now then there were when I first joined a law firm in 2001 but because of the impact outsourcing will have on those people considering a career in Law Librarianship, the people we need to carry on the hard work we're currently doing.

I don't believe new professionals will stop joining law firms simply because they think the library service might be outsourced but there are certainly some implications for the development of people joining law firms and those people who are already working in a law firm library setting. Some thoughts that occured to me then and since the conference;

  • We all need a career ladder to climb, if responsibilities, work and opportunities are being outsourced, how are individuals expected to gain experience and develop?
  • Will there still be roles like Information Managers, Information Officers and Research Librarians roles are being outsourced?
  • Will there still be graduate library assistant roles?
  • What do we need to do as information professionals to ensure talented individuals are making their way through the "system"?

I certainly don't know the answers to these questions, it may be that in five years time after a number of other law firms have outsourced some of their library services.

I'd love to know what everyone else thinks?