Extras - What's Happenin' at the SLA Annual Conference
(Archived July 1, 1999)
Date: Mon, 7 Jun 1999 16:34:02 -0400
Greetings from the SLA annual Conference in Minneapolis from Jeff Stickle of Wilkes, Artis, Hedrick & Lane in Washington, D.C.
Most folks arrived here in Minneapolis on Saturday and Sunday to some really nasty weather in the form of Tornados and severe thunderstorms. Several went on short trips to places like Sioux City and Fargo before making it in.
The opening conference speaker, Laurence Prusak, managing principal at IBM Consulting Group, talked about Knowledge Management. I had pulled his article mentioned in a recent Information Outlook (the May issue, I believe) and have to admit I did not have a good grasp on what Knowledge Management is even after reading the article. I can safely report I still do not have a good grasp on this rather slippery subject after hearing him speak. It is not information we are concerned with here. Information is a message sent to a recipient intended to inform while knowledge is what a knower knows and there is no knowledge outside the person/knower. While Mr. Prusak spoke for some time, for the sake of brevity, we seem to be dealing with what people know and the way knowledge is obtained through networks individual use to talk to others. He told the story of being asked to sum up his extensive research in the knowledge area. His answer was: Hire smart people and let them talk to each other.
This is a pretty new area of study and I think it is worthwhile to look further into it even though it is still quite confusing and has not been well defined. Mr. Prusak said if we really want to advance we need to master the concepts, otherwise we really are or will be of little value to our organizations in the future, apparently when they catch on to the knowledge management concept. I state here that this is my opinion of what he said and is not representative of the beliefs, concepts or desires of any person or organization. If you have an opinion send it along and we an revisit knowledge management in the future.
The annual business meeting luncheon was held and the gavel passed from Cass Morrow to the incoming chair, Larry Guthrie. The officers besides Larry are Anne Abate at Chair-Elect, Jeanne Korman at Chair-elect-elect, Carol Furnish Treasurer, Hellen Kerr at Secretary and Tom Fleming as Director. Hellen and Tom are serving the second year of their two-year terms.
The membership passed a motion to give $1,000 to the Global 2000 campaign to assist in bringing a librarian from a developing country to the Global 2000 conference in Brighton, England in October 2000. Most members wanted to give more. The Division is not in any financial difficulty but most of the funds currently on hand have been committed for use at our next annual conference.
There is an opportunity for the Legal Division to help some up and coming librarians with donations to Global 2000 and to cultivate a higher profile within SLA. I think the route to take is to ask our firms to donate to this very good cause. I am planning to ask my firm for a donation and I am planning to ask some other firms to open their wallets. Do you think your firm or company or organization would be willing to contribute? Drop me a line with your thoughts on the subject. One more point. I have seen the qualifications for a librarian to be sponsored to Global 2000 and the people selected will be solid committed professionals. We should be helping out?
Mon, 07 Jun 1999
Tax Librarians Roundtable met Sunday morning for a breakfast meeting of the Special Libraries Association Legal Division to hear Mark Luscombe of CCH, Inc. explain the legislative process of getting a tax bill through Congress.
Judy Parvez of Deloitte & Touche moderated the meeting of about 25 American and Canadian librarians. Their plans for next year include a tentative program on cross-border tax problems between Canada and the U.S. The Tax Librarians Roundtable is celebrating their 4th year at SLA this year.
Lexis-Nexis is helping keep librarians from going into email withdrawal at the SLA Annual Conference this week with their internet room/Cyber Cafe which is in a prominent location near the exhibit entrance. They have provided 28 desktops and 5 laptop workstations for easy access by all conference registrants.
From Larry Guthrie, Annual Business Lunch June 7, 1999 SLA Legal Division:
My Fellow Legal Division Members:
We are poised on the precipice of possibility! During this coming year, "Let's Make Our Presence Known!" Through Press Releases and Policy, we must move into the mainstream and claim our rightful place among high-profile professions.
Tomorrow an ABA panel will recommend allowing sharing of fees between lawyers and other professionals including: "financial planners, accountants, social workers, psychologists." Why aren't we on this list as information professionals?" Let's be among these!
Last weekend at the Canadian Association of Law Libraries conference, it was mentioned that in the United Kingdom some librarians are also partners in law firms. Where are we as American Information Professionals in this movement?
Cass's year was the beginning of raising our consciousness to these new combinations. I want to take this one step further during my Chairmanship!
We can partner with Suzan Hebditch, President of CALL on articles in our newsletter, Yearbook and webpage; and on programs on Retirement and Tele-Commuting! I've heard that these issues are of importance to you!
We can work with AALL Internationally on the Joint Spring Institute! We want all international librarians on board with us! (Please Stand up) We welcome you! Let's do some Pro Bono activities to raise our visibility:
How about SLA Global 2000; the Oklahoma Tornado Victims! And I want to look to you for other ideas! For when a volunteer association does volunteer work itself, it is surely twice blessed.
One new Division appointee will be Division Attorney: Leslie Peat, Librarian who also attended Yale Law School with Gary Hart. We want to recognize our members' impressive credentials! Let's plan for next year's programs at the Leadership Tea this afternoon.
(I have invitations.) and at the breakfast tomorrow morning. I challenge you to join me in negotiating the precipice!
Let's grow the Division in size, stature, and expertise. Let's work with other law library associations towards our mutual goals. And Let's serve our organizations, communities and countries as they serve us in the year ahead. We have a rich history, generous sponsors, and an abundance of talent.
We have all the qualities for success! Let's win Our shot at the Triple Crown!
Date: Tuesday, 8 Jun 99 08:48:40 PDT
This is being sent to you from "Cyber-Cafe" near the exhibit entrance, Convention Center, in Minneapolis, from Carolyn Korkmas, Shell Oil Co., Tax Library, Houston.
Special Libraries Association, Legal Division
Minneapolis: Joe Bremner, President of Electronic Information Group, spoke on "The Future of Legal Publishing" to a group of 114 members of the Legal Division of SLA at its annual BNA Networking Breakfast. Demonstrating an "E-Book", he described some of the dramatic changes we are experiencing in 1999.
History shows that periods of tremendous growth are followed by "drop-outs" or disequilibrium.
Bremner explained that the Web is a larger force than all of us and insists that no one can exert much control over it.
The Web will continue to become increasingly important to researchers and the general public.
Some of his other observations are that search engines are becoming less important, while all-purpose portals which can be personalized and customized at the desktop seem to be replacing them.
As for legal publishing, he predicts scaling down, mega-companies breaking up because of the difficulties in managing such large entities, and vertical, not horizontal growth.
The Annual BNA Networking Breakfast, in addition to featuring a speaker, gives members an opportunity to gather around subject-designated tables for discussions. Discussions today centered on Legal Division Development, Division Communications, Flexible work arrangements, Technology training programs, SLA 2000 program planning, International outreach, and library pro bono programs.
Date: 8 Jun 99 10:22:53 PDT
I attended a very interesting, but slightly distressing, program called, "Trends in the Global Marketplace -- Legal Supermarkets." The speaker was Ward Bower, a princial of Altman Weil. He told us that the invasion by the Big 5 accounting firms of the legal market place is going on worldwide; only the bars of Japan and Korea seem to be putting up much resistance. He said that Arthur Anderson is already the largest "law firm" in the US, employing almost 1,800 attorneys in this country, while the largest traditional firm only has between 800 and 900 working here. He also said that accounting firms are luring away top law firm partners by paying them high salaries, but that the partners who follow will not be paid at the same rate and that the attorneys will never be allowed to be members of the accounting firms unless they are also CPAs.
He said the best argument that can be made against allowing accounting firms to incorporate legal services is that the CPA's duty to disclose irregularities discovered during an audit conflicts with the attorney's duty to protect a client's confidentiality. He said this argument, not the unauthorized practice of law argument which was made by the Texas Bar, is the one that traditional firms must focus on if they are to successfully fend off the challenge presented by accounting firms. The Big 5 have vast resources at their disposal to use in their fight to gain access to areas traditionally served by law firms. (For example, Arthur Anderson spends $800 million a year on advertising, which, according to Mr. Bower, is about the same as the gross revenues of the most profitable domestic law firms.) Other factors in their favor: they are very adept at cross selling; they know which legal areas to focus on, since law firms have been feeding them information for years about profitability, e.g. the Price Waterhouse annual legal survey; and they can offer their clients "one stop shopping."
I have enjoyed the other programs I have attended, but none of them made quite the impression on me that this one did.
Date: 8 Jun 99 10:54:29 PDT
Judith Jackson, SLA Legal Division member, Harris County Law Library, Houston, TX reports from SLA:
Yesterday morning, I attended the "Trends in the Global Marketplace - Legal Supermarkets," a lecture by Ward Bower of Altman Weil. A dynamic speaker, Mr. Bower traced the growth of the "Big 5" accounting firms and their massive movement to take over the work of law firms in all the international markets. MDPs (multidisciplinary partnerships or practices) have long existed inGermany, starting after WWII. Local rules kept these entities small in size.
Bower described an MDP as an organization owned wholly or "in part" by non-lawyers that hire lawyers to provide legal services for a fee or lawyers and nonlawyers working together to market their services. The Big 5 accounting firms are the primary MDPs that are taking over the legal markets in foreign companies by luring away top firm lawyers as was done in Spain and then offering North American clients the reassurance of quality work by a "name brand" company. This is a "one-stop" shopping convenence for such clients. Such efforts have generated controvercial issues which the American Bar has been slow to resolve. The legal conflict of interest precept precludes a firm from taking legal work work from some businesses because it imputes knowledge of the client's interests to all in the firm whether or not an individual comes into contact with the client. In the accounting industry, the conflict of interest concept is interpreted differently. Here, imputation of the client's interests does not extend beyond the accountant directly working with the client. The second area of conflict between the accountants and the lawyers is in the area of duty to client. The lawyer has a duty to preserve the client's confidentiality. The accountant has a duty to disclose problems. Problems are generated when a client shares a problem with a MDP partner in a firm that has a disclosure duty. Is the client's privilege waived if he hires such a firm?? So far the only answer the SEC has provided to the auditor/lawyer duties conflict is in the release of a recent report stating that if the auditing firm provides other services (legal) and it is seems to be a conflict, the firm must explain it away. Bower believes that, if pushed, the SEC could say no to firms who want to provide both audit and legal services to the same client. Will the ABA start pushing?
P.S. The article attached to the Ward Bower's speech outline, "Trends in the Global Marketplace - Legal Supermarkets" is entitled "The Big Five's Case for MDPs," in Report to Legal Management, pages 3-6, Jan. 1999, vol. 26, no. 4. This newsletter is published by Altman Weil. Unfortunately, the Altman Weil page which may be publishing this newsletter, is not yet ready.
See: http://www.altmanweil.com/publications/newsletters/rlm.htm. Interested individuals perhaps could try calling an Altman Weil office to request a copy.
I did find that Bower has written a similar article that touches upon some of the issues in his speech. It is entitled, "Multidisciplinary Partnerships and Other Non-Traditional Legal Service Providers;" the text is at: http://www.altmanweil.com/publications/articles/management/mgt3a.htm
In a related note, the June 9 issue of USA Today ran an article on page 2B entitled "Andersen takes on H-P, IBM for Net Consulting." The article notes that an Andersen marketing campaign is touting the company's revenue lead over IBM and Hewlett-Packard in e-business consulting. Andersen's marketing campaign ad headlines read "The dinosaurs never see it coming." Andersen obviously intends to dominate in this field as well.
On 9 Jun 1999, Donella Johnson wrote:
Yesterday was a very disappointing day at the convention. The two programs I wanted most to attend were overflowing with people -- there was no way I could even get in the door. Perhaps SLA needs to do a preconference survey (similar to the one AALL does) of which sessions people will be attending, so they can do a better job of space planning. One of the too popular programs was held in two adjoining suites. There was an empty suite next door -- why wasn't this suite also made available for the program?
To future conference planners: the following types of programs will draw a crowd:
1. Any program dealing with recent technology developments; and
Please plan accordingly.
On a lighter note, Primark had a great Cave party last night. There was gambling, swing dancing, good food, photo-ops with a great vintage car, and cave tours. They threw in a nice bus tour which went by the governer's mansion, etc. Thank you for a great time.