The Place for e-Libraries in Law Firm IT Strategy

At the end of October, attendees of the Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute 15th Annual Law Firm COO-CFO Forum were asked to rank their top IT priorities (excluding cyber security). Underlying that question was the understanding that IT budgets are not infinite, and choices must be made to effectively balance operational needs with financial realities. The pie chart below shows attendees’ responses: information governance leads the list, followed closely by knowledge management and infrastructure. Firms know that they need not only the right technology infrastructure, but to ensure that it’s integrated with their other systems and accompanied by appropriate policies.

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Seventy percent of attendees also said they consider technology to be a strategic differentiator for their firm. So how do digital and online research platforms fit in to firm technology strategy and priorities? For those integrating eBooks into their firm libraries, an eLibrary platform that offers the right features can further the firm’s business and IT goals in the following ways:

  • Integration Through Deep Linking: Deep linking in eLibraries means that an attorney can go from anywhere within the firm’s infrastructure – email, internal practice pages, the firm library catalog system – directly to the page and section of the book that they want to reference. They should be able to click once on a hyperlink to the desired content, without switching devices, logging in to a new application, or additional scrolling and navigation. Integration is about uniting disparate pieces into a seamless whole, and deep linking is one way that an effective eLibrary platform can easily integrate legal content into existing systems.
  • Fostering Collaboration and Knowledge Management: eLibraries can provide more equitable access to legal content, as well as facilitate sharing of that content and related annotations made by the reader. Within the organization, a good eLibrary platform will provide concurrent access to the same law resources regardless of the location of the team member – whether that be at headquarters, in a satellite office, or from a mobile work station. In this way, firms can ensure that their users are literally on the same page when referencing content. In addition, the ability to copy and paste eBook text or create PDFs of sections of law eBooks means that sharing referenced content with clients over email is faster and easier, and allows attorneys to communicate clearly with clients without requiring them to have access to the same full library of legal content that the firm does.

As a final note, some reading this may be coming from organizations whose members’ preference for hard-copy legal books creates resistance to using eBooks or implementing eLibrary platforms. While eLibraries will not be a replacement for books in many cases for this reason, for some users, eBooks that provide a book-like reading experience can serve as a bridge between books and adoption of other digital resources and platforms.

Want to know more about Thomson Reuters ProView eLibraries? See how they work in this 2-minute video.

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