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Day in the Life - London City Law Firm Library Manager

Page history last edited by Sarah Brittan 13 years, 4 months ago

The following is an article I wrote for the BIALL Newsletter.....


A day in the life….


 Meetings: 2 (average),   Training sessions:1,   Sales calls fielded: 3 (bad),   Invoices paid: 17 (v bad), Missing books found: 2 (very good),  Coffees: 1,   Alcohol units: 3 (v v bad)


I get up at 6am as I like to get into work early.  Besides the advantage of managing to get a seat on the train, it's almost peaceful in the office early.  I started at Baker & McKenzie fourteen months ago, after spending 15 years working for a number of other law firms, and I think I can say this is the most interesting and challenging role of them all. 


My day usually starts with a coffee - a large coffee from our friendly in-house "barista".   I then trawl the emails (mostly spam and alerts!), and deal with anything pressing.  I get lots of requests for new publications, enquiries about training and queries regarding the collection, along with the usual pleas for reminders of passwords, missing books and chasers for invoices that have already been paid!


We have a team of 15 (12 based in London and 3 in Manila),  which is split between the Library & Information Centre (LIC) and the Professional Support Unit (PSU).  My role is as LIC Manager, and for the most part, I manage the hard copy stock, the research team and training. 


As for most firms, the priority has recently been on training the new intake of trainees.  We had 25 start at the beginning of September, and we have a fairly intensive month of research training with them.  We start with a general "Legal Research Skills" training course, and then, as the trainees start in their new seats, we run a series of sessions that are designed around the specialist areas of law.  These sessions are shared out amongst myself and the researchers.


We offer a wide range of training to all staff, from inductions, to group refreshers, to one-to-one training to meet a specific need.


Our team of researchers staffs the research desk in shifts, from 9am to 6.30pm, and I often provide back-up throughout the day, where necessary.  The researchers also compile and send out daily legal alert emails every morning, on a wide-ranging number of subjects, companies and industries.  If I have some time, and they need cover, I will help do this.  We trawl a number of online resources for anything that may be of interest. 


Budgeting has been at the forefront of all our minds recently, and I am constantly reviewing our hardcopy resources.  I work closely with my co-manager, who deals with the online resources, and we regularly work together to fend off requests for large amounts of our budget allocation!


I like to take a break at lunchtime, and regularly attend our in-house yoga classes, which help me relax (when they're not trying to bend me into unimaginable shapes!), or take a walk along the Embankment, and have recently started a Pilates class with a with a few colleagues.  I find these all help me come back refreshed and revitalised for the afternoon.  They also help counteract the delicious home-baked cakes or sweets that we usually have in the Library.  Our department is a very talented bunch of bakers!


My hard copy team deals with the day-to-day running of the library stock, from opening post and circulating journals, to loose-leafing and cataloguing. One of the Library Assistants is helping with our change from hard copy circulation of journals to electronic circulation, and the other Library Assistant is also doing her MA part-time, so we try to take time to train her in research and other practical aspects of library work.


One thing that has really impressed me about the firm is its commitment to professional and personal development.  Corporate social responsibility is taken very seriously, and besides the usual fundraising, every member of staff is encouraged to take time out to do volunteer work.  Last year I spent a day helping the legal team at Save the Children with research.  It was incredibly interesting, very moving and amazingly impressive that they do the work they can, with so few resources.


On average, I have a couple of meetings a day, either with a rep, or another department (maybe training, business development or a Professional Support Lawyer).  At the moment, I am also heavily involved in a review of all our services.  Although the project has arisen out of the challenges of the current economic climate, it is a fantastic opportunity for us as a department to review and revise what we do, and work smarter.  We're meeting with a cross-section of each fee-earning department and the Business Development team.  These form the majority of our client-base, and their feedback will help us target our services more effectively.  As for most firms, the start of the year was very difficult but the review has given us focus and is seen as a positive step to providing a better service.


Unless I have a networking meeting, professional seminar or work to finish up, I like to leave the office on time, to spend the evening with friends, or potter round in the kitchen (cooking is a particularly relaxing hobby for me), creating meals for my long-suffering partner.


My day is never predictable, but always challenging, and interspersed with great humour from my colleagues.  I'm sure Bridget Jones never had this much fun….

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