Saturday, March 08, 2008

Are Law Libraries Becoming Obsolete?

FROM LEGAL WATCH BLOG

Are Law Libraries Becoming Obsolete?

Are law firm libraries going the way of the dinosaur (or the typewriter)? Perhaps not just yet.  As  the Birmingham Business Journal describes, with the proliferation of electronic research, law firms are downsizing their libraries -- but they're not eliminating them entirely.

According to the article, law libraries will always serve a purpose. As attorney Mark Ayers explains, many times books are more efficient for legal research than a computer.  Moreover, not every legal document is available online, so libraries may have access to documents that can't be found on the computer.

But the library also serves other non-research related purposes.  Another lawyer quoted in the article, John Bolus says:

[t]echnology makes research more convenient, but it also takes attorneys out of a library atmosphere where they can focus solely on reading case law, rather than at a desk where they may have other distractions, such as a telephone or e-mail.

And believe it or not, some potential hires and clients are still impressed by the presence of a handsome, well-stocked law library.

Is your firm's library becoming an endangered species? 

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Posted by Carolyn Elefant on March 7, 2008 at 10:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

The British (IPOs) Are Coming

The British are coming, the British are coming -- or at least, the British IPOs are coming. Today's New York Times Dealbook reports that Lyceum Capital, a private equity house, is preparing itself for the changes implemented by Britain's Legal Services Act, which, among other things, will allow law firms to sell themselves to private equity or other investors beginning in 2011. Lyceum has hired a high profile team of advisers and created a 255 million pound ($512.17 million) fund for potential investment targets.

Currently, professional ethics rules don't allow for non-lawyers to hold interests in law firms. So it will be interesting to watch the impact of deregulation of the legal services in Britain on the U.S. firms that have set up outposts in London. Will British IPOs, like the British Redcoats, arrive on U.S. shores sooner than we think?

For previous coverage of law firm IPOs, see posts here, here and here.

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Posted by Carolyn Elefant on March 7, 2008 at 10:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Can Female Lawyers Go Home Again?

They say that you can't go home again, but a few female lawyers are proving otherwise. As this story, "Law Firms Opening Up to the Idea of Attorney Re-Entry" reports, some women who left their firms to raise children are now discovering that they can return to the fold, even after as much as a decade of absence.

Shari Solomon, now an associate at Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen is one example. She left her firm in 1995 following the birth of her third child. Ten years later, when she felt ready to re-enter the work force, she contacted a Wolf Block partner with whom she'd kept in touch, which eventually resulted in an offer to return to the firm. 

Still, how common is it for law firms to welcome female lawyers after they've been gone for a while? My guess is that these reunions are fairly infrequent and somewhat ad hoc. Indeed, the article mentions just one firm -- Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom -- that has institutionalized a revolving door option for women. Skadden's Sidebar program allows lawyers to take a leave of absence for up to three years and return to the firm thereafter. All of the other programs mentioned discussed leave time of six months which, while generous, hardly qualifies as extended time off (especially where women pop back in for meetings and conference calls during their leave).

In addition, it's not clear whether most women actually want to leave their firm for extended periods, or simply prefer more flexibility that would enable them to balance work and family. According to this post at the ABA Journal news site, a recent study by the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers found that 86 percent of women are interested in flexible and part time arrangements. So it's not clear how many women would avail themselves of a formal re-entry program even if firms were to offer it. In short, even if women could go home (to their firms) again, it's not clear how many women want to leave their firms for home in the first place.

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Posted by Carolyn Elefant on March 7, 2008 at 04:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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