Archive for February, 2009

Review of The Organized Lawyer

The Organized Lawyer. Kelly Lynn Anders. Carolina Academic Press, 2008, softcover, 155 pages, $20.00.

With innumerable responsibilities and countless demands on their time, developing and maintaining an organized workspace is a low priority for many lawyers. In her new book, The Organized Lawyer, Associate Dean for Student Affairs at Washburn University School of Law Kelly Lynn Anders rejects the premise that workplace organization is unimportant, articulating instead the many personal and professional benefits that attorneys derive from an organized workspace, and the dangers they face in ignoring or minimizing the importance of office organization. Written with the needs of lawyers in mind, in this brief 155-page work, Anders invites readers to identify their individual “organizational style,” and to use this information to make decisions about office layout, desk arrangements, storage, filing systems, and personal organizers. Attorneys who apply these suggestions can expect improvements in the functionality of their workspace. Though lacking in great specificity or detail, this book is a useful resource for attorneys interested in achieving a more organized and supportive work environment, and as such, is an appropriate addition to any law library.

Anders begins her book with an admission- she too was once a disorganized lawyer. Her office cluttered with piles of books and papers, she eventually realized that an attorney’s workspace can affect how they are perceived by others, and that a chaotic space might suggest to clients and colleagues that the attorney is overextended, overwhelmed, or even careless in their work. Worse still, a disorganized office can lead an attorney to make inadvertent mistakes or errors- missing filing deadlines, losing papers, or comingling funds- that can result in allegations of malpractice, sanctions, or disciplinary action by the bar. Anders contends that attorneys can guard against such mistakes, project an image of competence and control, and achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness in their professional practice by maintaining an organized workspace.

In the second chapter, Anders identifies four distinct organizational styles- stackers, spreaders, free spirits, and pack rats- and presents readers with a quiz to identify their organizational style. Empowered by new found self-knowledge about how they relate to items in their environment, readers can now begin the process of getting organized. In the chapters that follow, the author offers recommendations concerning office layout, furniture placement, desk and file organization, storage systems, information management, home office design, and portable work spaces that best support the needs of each organizational style. Anders also suggests that attorneys can achieve greater organization in their professional lives by taking advantage of “personal services,” like dry cleaners, tailors, and barbers that offer pick-up and delivery, or in-office service.

Divided into fourteen brief chapters, the book is (not surprisingly) well-organized and easy to read. The author includes a “Chapter Checklist” at the end of each chapter to reiterate her main points, as well as a general index. My main criticism of the book is that though the author identifies the four organizational styles and makes recommendations for each type, her advice is still fairly general, offering readers guidance rather than explicit direction for how to achieve an organized workspace. Priced at a modest $20.00, The Organized Lawyer succeeds in reminding readers of the importance of maintaining an organized work environment and provides a general road map on the journey from clutter to order.

Reviewed by Emily Bergfeld, reference librarian at Alameda County Law Library in Oakland, CA

AALL and NELLCO Members Receive 50% Discount on Computers in Libraries 2009 Conference

The New England Law Library Consortium (NELLCO)and InfoToday have teamed up to offer NELLCO and AALL members a 50 percent discount on the Computers in Libraries 2009 registration fee – $234, instead of $469 for the three-day conference. To take advantage of this offer, simply complete the registration formand fax or mail it back to NELLCO with payment.

Conference Date: March 30-April 1

Location: Arlington, Virginia

Tools for Success in Today’s Economy

tools-for-success-logoIn response to the U.S. recession and its impact on law libraries, AALL has created a wiki of Tools for Success in Today’s Economy. On the wiki you will find:

  • Tips for operating your law library with a tight budget
  • Advice on negotiating contracts with vendors
  • How to interview effectively for your next job
  • Resources for professional development
  • And much more

Any AALL member can add material to the wiki, so we encourage you to use the tools and share more resourcesthat will help our friends and colleagues in AALL.

Corrected Post: Law Librarians Diamond and Peoples Launch Legal Information & Technology eJournal

Randy Diamond, director of the law library and technology resources at the University of Missouri School of Law, and Lee Peoples, associate professor of law library science and director of international programs at Oklahoma City University School of Law, recently launched the Legal Information & Technology eJournal on SSRN.  The archive already includes more than 150 papers and is growing daily. Subscribers will receive e-mail issues announcing works in progress and recent publications.

The eJournal welcomes all other publications from 2005 to the present that fit within the eJournal‘s subject matter. If you already have an SSRN account, you may upload your paper and classify it under the Legal Scholarship Network > LSN Subject Matter eJournals > Legal Information & Technology eJournal.

If you do not have an SSRN account, you may set one up and upload your paper for free at

Comments to the February Issue

The “Getting Personal: Understanding Personality Types” article by Monice Kaczorowskiand Holly Pinto earned repeated kudos from partners in Monice’s partners firm, Neal Gerber & Eisenberg, after the Marketing Department posted the article on the Firm’s portal. Way to go Monice and Holly.

BTW,  Monice & Holly are panel members for the upcoming webinar on 12-1 pm EST on2/17, “C-ing Is Believieving: Next Steps for Library Success.” Registration is limited & closes on 2/12. The cost is $45 for members.

Happy Together: How to foster mutually-beneficial library-vendor partnerships” by Devin GawneMark and Sarah Nichols has drawn some comments.  See “Working with Vendors” for a thoughtful post from a Canadian colleague, Emma Wood.

AALL Webinar Features Spectrum Authors

Following their February AALL Spectrum article, “Getting Personal: Understanding personality types for better communication,”  Monice Kaczorowski and Holly Pinto with be two of the four speakers in this month’s AALL Webinar, C-ing is Believing: Next Steps for Library Success (February 17, 12-1 p.m. EST).

The Webinar focuses on the importance of communication with C-level management (CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, etc.) to earn their respect and provide a clear understanding of the value the law library brings to their organization. Best practices will include tips on better understanding the hot button issues the C-level is grappling with, learning that confrontation is an effective management tool, and recognizing personality styles and how to communicate with them.

In this webinar, you will learn to:

  • Open the lines of communication with management
  • Craft your message to the C-person
  • Use personality types to get the conversation going

Register by February 12.

GPO’S Federal Digital System (FDsys) is Live

The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) today turned the switch on for its Federal Digital System (FDsys). According to GPO, the system provides a one-stop site to authentic, published government information.

FDsys allows GPO to receive information from federal agencies in all three branches of government and create a repository for permanent, public access. More than 154,000 documents are currently accessible, with additional documents being added daily. 

FDsys offers search capabilities for users such as: searching by Congressional committee, a member of Congress, keyword, and date.  FDsys will replace GPOAccess in mid-2009, and releases with additional functionality will occur throughout the next several years.

For more information, check out the AALL Washington Blawg.

February 2009
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