Tag Archives: Technology

In a Tech-Saturated World, Don’t Forget the Importance of the Human Element…

Source: Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

It seems like every time I turn around, there’s a new task that can now be automated or outsourced or a new program that can do what I do accurately and in half the time. Sometimes it’s easy, as a technical services librarian, to get a little concerned about my job security. What place DO we have and what role CAN we serve when computers and technology keep on finding ways to do our jobs better and faster?

This concern isn’t limited to technical services librarians, of course. I think we can all find similar feelings within ourselves, regardless of our positions or our industries. We may even feel it in our personal lives.

So 3 Geeks and a Law Blog hit the nail on the head with their recent post, What Are Humans Good for… in Legal Services?, and I was reminded that there’s no need to fear. I can do something a computer can’t do – and that’s be a human. I can relate to other humans in a way technology never can, meaning I can more effectively generate ideas, solve problems, strategize, persuade, argue, tell stories, and most importantly, collaborate with others.

Other recent posts have backed up this idea:

Robert Oaks, Chief Library and Records Officer for Latham & Watkins LLP, states “It’s not about the library. It’s about the relationship the librarian has with those who do or could benefit from the library.” View the library as a service, not a location, and shift your perspective and role to be more proactive and prescriptive. You know who finds it challenging to be proactive and prescriptive? That’s right. Computers.

A recent survey of faculty and academic librarians done by the Library Journal and Gale shows that there’s a disconnect between faculty and librarians, and suggests that you need to ingrain the library in campus culture, actively participate in student education, and seek out opportunities for engagement with teaching faculty. You know who doesn’t oftentimes seek out opportunities to further engagement with others?  Technology.

The library sector is changing under out feet, and this blog post, by Rebecca Jones, offers 4 ideas to “rewire” our thinking.  My favorite one is “The Intelligent Organization of People is Key to Success.”  Again – it’s not the power of our technology and our ‘stuff’ that defines our success as librarians.  It’s the ways in which the human dimension works that defines a library’s success.

Want ways to help the human component, even while leveraging the best parts of connecting through increased technology?  Check out these tips to improve collaboration among remote teams, by Mike Gilronan, where he lists five clear cut to-dos.

And have you realized that technology alone will not make us more efficient and can, at times, make us less focused and therefore less efficient?  Technology can actually make us less useful.  Collaboration is what leads to efficiency, and this posting by Mark Hunter reminds us that fostering collaboration requires both a shift in culture and in the way we do things.

And finally, here’s an interesting combination of out-sourcing and in-sourcing that gave a future-proof strategy to one law firm.  “People get the answers they need, better and faster.” It’s not outsourcing to machines, but outsourcing to expert PEOPLE.  Again, people are the key to successfully serving others.  Not just the technology.


~Ashley Moye~

TSLL TechScans is “a blog to share the latest trends and technology tools for technical services law librarians.”  This content was originally posted on TSLL TechScans and is reprinted here with permission.

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More Advice from “The Reference Desk” – Technology Skills

“The Reference Desk” is a regular column featured in the AALL Spectrum.  The column below originally appeared in the Sept/Oct 2015 issue and is reprinted here with permission.

What goes into developing a technology skills course for law students? Are there opportunities to teach these skills in private and government law libraries, as well? Attorneys are tasked with understanding the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, and, according to Susan Catterall, law librarians are in a position to provide that knowledge.

Q: My academic library director oversees IT as well as library operations. I would like to propose a technology course to the curriculum committee—one which might involve co-teaching with members of the IT staff. I’m not talking about Microsoft certification, but my library colleagues and I have seen too many students who don’t know how to create a PDF document or manipulate an Excel spreadsheet. I’m concerned that there will be push back, not only from our overworked IT staff, but also from the faculty because the course will be more of a skills course than a doctrinal course. Do you have any suggestions?

A:Yes, you definitely should propose the course. Technology skills are emerging as critical “practice-ready skills,” in part due to the upsurge in the number of attorneys who have gone solo or who work within small practices. These practitioners are responsible for the equipment and software needed to support the business of law. Today’s attorney needs to familiarize himself or herself with e-filing, e-discovery, cloud computing, and litigation support products, for example. In addition to the regulations that dictate document retention, there are potential privacy and metadata issues affecting the dissemination of information and security issues that may impact attorney-client privilege.

The American Bar Association has recognized the role that technology plays in the practice of law, and, in 2012, its House of Delegates amended Comment 8 to Model Rule 1.1, which addresses attorney competence and strongly encourages attorneys to keep current with relevant technology. Attorneys are tasked with understanding the “benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.” By now, at least 13 states have adopted a technology competency rule.

This requirement begs the question of how attorneys are supposed to acquire this knowledge, and that burden seems to be shifting to law schools. If it provides any comfort to you, your school wouldn’t be the first to offer courses focused on technology skills and law office management. Some trailblazers have been offering courses for decades and have honed sophisticated syllabuses. This means that you can tap into the collective experience of those who have gone before you. Your timing is great, and there is so much low-hanging fruit that your major challenge may be one of focus.

Creating a technology skills course can easily become overwhelming. Start by determining the needs of your students. The concerns you previously addressed are similar to those identified by Casey Flaherty, who, as corporate counsel of Kia Motors American, Inc., developed a basic technology competency audit, now referred to as the “Kia Audit.” He found that many lawyers were unable to efficiently use Word, Acrobat, or Excel.

As librarians, we are dedicated to helping each other as well as our clientele. We are able to turn to each other for advice and assistance. In this instance, I turned to Katie Miller, Research & Instructional Technology Librarian at Florida State University’s College of Law Research Center, for advice.

“Our students studying in the library were asking for help with things like creating PDFs or manipulating data in spreadsheets,” Katie told me. “After conducting enough one-on-one trainings in our offices, we decided to try to include some technology topics in our lunchtime workshop series. Now those workshops are being developed into a technology skills course for our students. If there is not support for an entire skills class at your school, start small with some seminars or workshops. Try offering to teach some basic law practice technologies identified by the Kia Audit to clinics or journal students. This would highlight the proactive skills and responsiveness of the library staff.”

Another way in which we librarians shine is in providing our patrons with the tools for self-sufficiency. We don’t just give a man a fish; we teach him to fish. The American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center has some great primer tutorials, as well as other resources. Likewise, many local bar associations have similar resources.

You were specifically inquiring about a “for credit” law school class, but there are also opportunities for private and government law librarians. Within firms, the library and IT personnel should work together to provide ongoing instruction to attorneys and staff members. Similarly, government librarians should be proactive in partnering with in-house IT staff members and local bar associations to create training and CLE opportunities. Consider your first effort to be a work in progress, and be willing to evaluate your efforts and build upon them.

Good luck.

~Susan Catterall~

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Links We Love Weekly Round-Up — August 31, 2015

weeklyroundup60 Nontraditional Jobs You Can Do with a Law Degree (and should strongly consider doing)

In my career spanning more than two decades as an attorney and legal recruiter, I have met an astonishing number of people who have chosen nontraditional legal careers. With very, very few exceptions, most of these people are far happier than they ever were practicing law. A good number of these people who left the legal practice also make more money in their new professions.

Law Firm Librarians: An Under-Utilized Resource

There has been a lot of discussion in the blogosphere and twitter this week about the Bloomberg Law article “Law Firm Librarians Feel Underused and Underpaid” and the accompanying survey.

Owning Our Authority: Tanya Geisler at TEDxlsfeldWomen

Tanya Geisler is a Toronto-based certified business and life coach and catalyst. She wrote The Joy Pages, created Board of Your Life and speaks with great passion on all things joy, meaning and purpose. Her talk explores the space between the continuum from Imposter to Authority.

Research Reveals Link between LSAT Prep and Brain Improvement

Neuroscientists from the University of California at Berkeley have found that the structure of the brain is changed microscopically by intensive prep for the LSAT. The change in the brain actually strengthens the connection in the brain that is responsible for reasoning.

How to Locate a Published Congressional Hearing: A Beginner’s Guide

In 1947, aviation and film industry executive Howard Hughes testified before a hearing of the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program. The hearings that followed were contentious, with the committee investigating Kaiser-Hughes Aircraft for receiving taxpayer dollars for aircraft that were never delivered, including the flying boat called the Hercules, also known as the Spruce-Goose…

My Final Blog Post: by Brian Mathews

May 22, 2006. That’s when I started The Ubiquitous Librarian Blog. I wrote before at Alt-Ref where I explored new approaches for reference and instruction. But I felt too boxed in. Ubiquitous gave me freedom to roam.  It ends today. Right here. 407 posts…

Could You Handle These Interview Tasks? (Some Are Pretty Crazy)

Interviewing at Google has become something of a legend in job-hunting circles.  The company realized early on that it didn’t necessarily just want the right person for a particular job description, it wanted the right person for Google. Because the company places a premium on employees who will move up within the company, they wanted to hire for the right personality more than the just the right skills for any particular job.

Teaching a Class Again

We never teach the same course twice. Some of the changes are out of our control: new students, new classroom, new time. A move from early morning to late at night can change the whole feel of a topic, while a group of students with strong camaraderie might take on collaborative assignments very differently from a group that includes many non-traditional students or a range of disciplines. And of course when technology is involved, the foundations are likely to shift every semester: even when I teach courses that seem to have the same name, the platform, scripting languages, and digital landscape changes so much in the course of a few months that I am always re-inventing.

Thinking Outside the Cube

How offices will change — for better and for worse.

Forensically Beta

Forensically is a set of free tools for digital image forensics. It includes clone detection, error level analysis, meta data extraction and more.

Pre-ILTACON: Interesting Times

Lawyers who entered the profession when the standard means of production were a dictaphone and a dedicated secretary will, without any sense of irony, EMAIL me to tell me that technology has no impact on the way they practice law. One of the most underappreciated characteristics of technology is how quickly it can be assimilated into the ‘natural’ order of our lives.

Best Way to Take Notes in Class Isn’t on Your Laptop, Research Finds

The research is clear: Typing out your notes results in decreased comprehension of lecture material.

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ALR Student’s Corner: And Justice for All – A Review

“Don’t you care? Don’t you even care? They’re people you know? They’re just people… He’s dead! Half hour after they put him in the lockup he hanged himself. God damn it!”

We often become too familiar with our jobs. That along with losing passion, fatigue, personal issues, and conflicts may cause us to bring down our standards. Laws form the boundaries of our society, structure our government, maintain order, guarantee our rights and the freedom of private enterprise, regulate complicated affairs, and punish wrongdoers. However, what drove most of us, or at least many, to pursue a career in law is the idea of justice. Justice can be defined as the truth pursuant to the evidence, what is right under the totality of the circumstance, or what the law interprets as permissible based on the facts presented.

In “And Justice for All,” Al Pacino plays defense attorney, Arthur Kirkland, who has a reputation for having a high moral standard. He is also known to have bad blood with an authoritative judge named Henry Fleming, who is accused of raping and assaulting a woman. Unfortunately, Kirkland is forced to represent Fleming because the judge threatened to disbar him for breaking client confidentiality unless he takes the case. Because he is tied up with the big case, Kirkland asks a friend to fill in for him on a case involving a gullible transgender defendant who is accused of robbery and is petrified of how other inmates will treat him if he is convicted.

The lines quoted at the beginning of this article are from the scene where Kirkland finds out that his friend has neglected to request probation before judgment and the transgender defendant has committed suicide after being sentence to serve time. Not knowing all the facts, the friend yells, in response, that it’s just nickel and dime.

Defense attorneys make deals with prosecutors to request a favor in return, prosecutors want to be a star by convicting a judge, defense attorneys and prosecutors both fabricate or hide evidence to win the case. Kirkland says in his opening statement that the intention of justice is that the guilty people are proven guilty and the innocent are freed. He adds that the only problem is that both sides would like to win regardless of the truth, regardless of who’s guilty, because winning is everything.

The adversarial system has its merits. The procedural laws have its merits. If anyone’s been in an actual hearing or a trial in session, they would realize that nothing would be done without the strict rules governing the process, and the truth is often revealed during the cross-examinations and the presentation of evidence by the adverse parties. The courts also rule not only based on the law but on equity. The law is not only prescribed and remedies are ordered according to what is reasonable.

Then what is it that makes people fear the law yet not respect lawyers? Why do we entrust so much power to a profession that is not so trusted? Is it because lawyers are not honest?

Sam, Kirkland’s grandfather asks him if he’s a good, honest lawyer. Kirkland answers with a sarcastic tone that being honest doesn’t have much to do with being a lawyer. Sam replies back, “if you’re not honest, you’ve got nothing.” However, if all attorneys are completely honest, many defendants will not get a fair trial. We don’t want that. The issues and disputes that end up in court may be extremely complicated and confusing. Anyone can be the defendant – whether they meant to or not, and more importantly, judges will be more prone to be wrong if they only hear one side of the story. In that sense, although TV ads make you feel otherwise jaded, thank God there are plenty of defense attorneys.

If it’s not the law, and if it’s not the lawyers, why is it so difficult to achieve justice? Is the blindfold on lady justice getting in the way when she reads the scale and strikes that sword? I believe that regardless of how we might feel about the justice system we are on the right track and it’s a process in which we will ultimately build the most ideal system to achieve justice. Developments in technology, open public discussions, political debates, and new laws protecting individual rights are all examples of how we can and are advancing to construct a better justice system.

In “And Justice for All,” the defendant judge passes the polygraph although he later admits that he raped and assaulted the victim. Today’s DNA testing technology, and more advanced polygraph tests could have helped the prosecutor in cases like the one in “And Justice for All” where there were no witnesses other than the one planted by the defendant. Forensic use of DNA technology in criminal cases began in 1986, whereas the movie took place in 1979. North Carolina also permits the use of DNA evidence. As for polygraph (aka lie detector) test results, in many states including New York, Texas, Illinois, and the District of Columbia they are generally inadmissible. Some states do recognize them as admissible evidence and some permit them only to support probable cause for warrants.

Although I’m not sure how the law was back then, now no one in a courtroom would be able to shout things out, make comments, laugh and whistle without being held in contempt.

Human history is not that lengthy. Yet even after including prehistoric times, humans have been on this earth for only about 30 seconds out of a day in Earth’s time. Although we have achieved so much during the past few millennia, we are only discovering what we can do with what we have, not only with tangible materials but also with the products of our minds. As one of the greatest inventions and tools that was essential to our development and prosperity, the law and the justice system have evolved greatly, and will continue to change to one day achieve justice for all.

This film is available as part of the Charlotte School of Law Library DVD collection.

~Inchang Moses Sye, L’15~

Class Advisor – Susan Catterall, Esq.

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ALR Student’s Corner: Department of Commerce: Minority Business Development Agency


The Commerce Department’s mission is to make American businesses more innovative at home and more competitive abroad. Responsible for everything from weather forecasts to patent protection, the following twelve departments of the Commerce Department impact the everyday lives of all Americans:

The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) embodies the Commerce Department’s goal of maximizing job creation and global competitiveness by creating a new generation of minority-owned businesses that generate $100 million in annual revenues.  The MBDA provides services in five major areas globally through its business center:

Global Business Development: Focus is on the importance of minority-owned businesses as a key component of U.S. international trade. Minority-owned firms have the most favorable export attributes of any sector of the U.S. economy and represent the future of export growth.

Access to Capital and Financial Management: MBDA’s business advisors offer extensive experience in commercial lending and banking, financial, credit and risk analysis and general finance counseling.

Access to Contracts: MBDA business development specialists provide procurement assistance to help minority-owned firms do business with the federal, state, and local governments as well as private corporations. These specialists provide identification of procurement opportunities, solicitation analysis, bid and proposal preparation, research contract award histories, post-award contract administration, and certifications assistance.

Access to Markets: MBDA services in this area include government procurement assistance, private sector contract identification, and specialized certification assistance, including 8(a), MBE, and Small Disadvantaged Business. Assistance with market research, market plan development, and marketing communications is provided, as well.

Strategic Business Consulting: This service area includes strategic and business planning, staffing, organization and structure, policies and procedures, and general business consulting.

Most recently, MBDA featured a segment on how minority manufacturing businesses have strengthened the “Made in America” brand. This year, MBDA recognized a couple of businesses for outstanding manufacturing impact and achieving significant success in employing new and innovative techniques that led to a significant increase in market share, job growth, and customer satisfaction. “Manufacturing creates good jobs and has the largest multiplier effect of any part of the economy,” said Alejandra Y. Castillo, MBDA National Director. “We are very proud of the tremendous achievements of minority businesses in the manufacturing industry that help grow the national economy through innovation, job and wealth creation.”

MBDA’s website is user friendly and provides an unlimited amount of information and resources, including a repository of publications for public research and review, dedicated to minority business developments.


~ Zona Julien, L’15 ~

Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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