AALL Program Review: PLL Change as Action Summit

By Thea C. Warner
Niles, Barton & Wilmer

Since I found the Private Law Library Change as Opportunity Summit, held last year in Denver, to be such a great learning experience, I decided to attend the PLL Change as Action Summit on July 23rd in Philadelphia. The Change as Action Summit was the culmination of a two-year initiative by the Private Law Libraries SIS. I found the programs at this year’s Summit to be replete with valuable information and ideas.

The Change as Action Summit began with a reception at the Union League Club of Philadelphia.  Although Amtrak trains to Philadelphia and other points along the Eastern Corridor were delayed due to the extreme heat, I arrived in time to attend part of the reception.  There was still to time to network with colleagues and to sample some local fare, including soft pretzels, Philly cheesesteak, and a variety of pizzas.

The Summit continued on Saturday with two morning speakers.  The first speaker was James Jones, Senior Vice President at Hildebrandt Baker Robbins, the world’s largest provider of management consulting services to law firms and corporate law departments, who gave a very informative talk on understanding law firm trends. Esther Dyson, the founder and chairman of Edventure and considered one of the most influential voices in the Internet industry, provided her insight on technology changes in business and libraries.

The morning speakers were followed by break-out sessions that provided attendees with the opportunity to discuss the series of Law Firm Management webinar programs held throughout the past year.  There was time to attend two of the five sessions and I selected “Technology and the Law Firm Library” (Greg Lambert and Scott Preston, moderators) and “Moving Beyond the Library Walls to Support Strategic Knowledge Management” (Steve Lastres and Julie Bozzell, moderators). All the moderators were very knowledgeable about these constantly changing aspects of law firm library management.

Greg Castanias, Partner, Jones Day, spoke at the PLL Summit luncheon. His talk, entitled “How Librarians Add Value to Their Law Firms”, probably elicited the most intense reaction of any program at the Summit.   The full text of his talk can be found on the On Firmer Ground blog: http://firmerground.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/how-librarians-add-value-to-their-law-firms-advice-from-greg-castanias-jones-day-library-partner/.  At least two out of the three individuals behind Three Geeks and a Law Blog followed with a lively and interesting talk on “Trends, Tempests and Teapots.”  Although some of the posts admittedly sort of go over my head, their blog is sure to help law librarians keep up with legal technology: http://www.geeklawblog.com/.

The afternoon programming consisted of three concurrent tracks focused on administration, reference/research and technology/tech services. I found it difficult to select only three of the total of nine sessions offered. I ended up attending two of the technology/tech services programs – David Curle on transformations in the legal publishing industry and Joelle Coachman on integrating new technology into your library. I also attended one of the reference/research programs  – Gary Price on finding and evaluating web-based resources. I found these programs all to be very interesting and informative.

Once again, I found the PLL Summit to be well worth the investment and I would highly recommend any future PLL-SIS programs of a similar nature.