Current Awareness Strategy Blog

Why should all legal information professionals attend BIALL 2021?

BIALL conference-1

Welcome to the second conference post this month. Full BIALL is back! After last year’s shortened (but brilliant) online version, once again we are looking forward to a 3 day event. I am particularly excited about the BIALL conference because I am delivering one of the parallel sessions. The theme this year is “Bodies in the library: sleuthing, plotting and making the case”. 

BIALL President Karen Brown introduces the conference, 

We are lucky enough to have two keynote speakers this year. Chris Howard, Director of Professional Legal Education Professional Law Institute, King’s College London and Joshua Rozenberg QC (hon), a leading legal commentator, journalist and non-executive board member of the Law Commission.

I’m particularly pleased that the House of Commons, House of Lords and Houses of the Oireachtas libraries have agreed to give a presentation on the role that Parliamentary research services fulfil. 

Mental health and wellbeing is always topical but perhaps even more so after the events of the last twelve months, so I’m happy to say we have a panel session on this subject within the legal community. The parallel sessions and lightning talks cover a wide range of topics including escape rooms, American legal research, starting an academic law library and the print vs online debate. 

The title of the conference was inspired by best-selling crime author Agatha Christie. She spent a brief yet mysterious spell in the town of Harrogate, which is where the original physical conference was supposed to take place. How many Christie references can you find in the programme? 

“Destination Unknown”: As apt a title as you can get!

I’ve been privileged to hear Joshua Rozenberg speak at a number of legal information events and it has always proved illuminating. Given the current state of the UK legislature, I really hope to hear some good news from an authoritative source. This keynote will complement the one given by David Allen Green in 2019, where we hoped the political past wouldn’t come back to haunt our economic future.

David couldn’t have predicted a global pandemic but he was certainly right about the political and economic costs. As the current programme notes conclude, “2020 will be remembered as a pivotal year for the constitution of the United Kingdom. We know where we started from. But our destination remains unknown”. Let’s see if Joshua leaves us in an upbeat mood!

How do we approach training and education? 

As mentioned above, BIALL presents us with two keynote speakers. Christopher Howard will provide his perspective on the challenges and opportunities for legal education. The legal profession is undergoing significant transformation so his talk will examine the impact of regulatory change, new technology and a changing student mindset, and consider how providers of legal education can best equip themselves for an uncertain future. 

Given this uncertainty, ongoing CPD/training and the education of end-users are topics of hot debate. One discussion plans to cover recruitment and inductions, for instance, what extra services or practices did you employ in the past year? When an employer gives you the opportunity to up-skill, why not embrace the confidence it brings?

On that note, a couple of sessions explore the changing role of the law librarian and predict what’s on the horizon for legal information professionals. Perhaps we can look outside the box and see what is happening in other industries. Is the support offered to nursing students that different, what are the parallels and similarities?

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Are your lawyers future-ready?

It would be nice if all tech creation and implementation could be as simple, clear and succinct as Agatha Christie’s prose! It is inevitable and imperative that tech features heavily within the programme; from ensuring graduates are “practice-ready”, to knowledgeable industry discussions regarding the future of print. After a great talk a few years ago, I’m looking forward to Robin Chesterman's presentation. 

Last year COVID-19 provided an unexpected plot twist. Although the relevant technology was theoretically available pre-pandemic, not every law firm was ready to embrace it. What happens when you have no choice? There will be discussion about the tech employed to make your work - and the work of your users - easier. 

Sessions mentioned above - at a glance

Wednesday 9th June


09:35 – 10:35


Future of the legal education for a changing profession

10:35 – 11:20

Parallel Session B

Too many cards on the table: Empowering end-users

11:45 – 12:15

Discussion Group 2

Welcome to the team, welcome to the library

12:15 – 12:45


The Law Librarian of the future




Thur 10th June


14:25 - 15:10

Parallel Session C

The mysterious affair of business intelligence

14:25 - 15:10

Parallel Session D

Making the case for legal tech

15:11 – 15:25


The future ready lawyer in the COVID-19 era

15:35 – 16.20

Discussion Group 3

Technology on trial: the ups and the downs during lockdown

15:35 – 16.20

Discussion Group 4

Careering into the future




Friday 11th June


13:35 – 14:35


Destination unknown

14:40 - 15:25

Parallel Session E

Weighing the evidence: how supporting nursing students enhances support for those studying law

15:50 – 16:35


The future of print collections in light of Covid-19

16:40 – 17:25


Partners in crime: a blueprint for true collaboration


If you're going to be tweeting, don't forget to add the #BIALL2021 hashtag. 

See what's happening at #LIDA2021

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