Reed Smith and award winning innovation
Reed Smith has an impressive track record in the legal innovation space, having launched an Innovation Hub in October 2016. The firm’s initiatives include creating innovation seats for trainees, implementing innovation hours, and an innovation-focused placement year in collaboration with the University of Exeter. The firm has won multiple awards for their technological approach, including the Financial Times ‘North America Innovative Lawyers’ award.
The firm is known for its expertise across a broad array of industry sectors and highlighted in five practice areas. A new office in Brussels reflects the firm’s strengthening position in Europe. Nine of its lawyers were classed as leaders in their field across 11 categories in rankings from 2020 Chambers and Partners Europe.
The Reed Smith library team is highly respected within the legal information world. Loyita Worley was awarded Wildy’s/BIALL Law Librarian of the Year in 2018. Their EMEA Library Manager, Fiona Fogden, has extensive experience providing professional services firms with the information they need, using tools such as Vable and the Linex platform for current awareness provision.
Many information challenges; one innovative solution
Fiona explained that Linex, Vable’s legacy platform, was originally rolled out as an innovative solution to track news about the firm’s clients and the industries in which those clients operated. Lawyers in specific practice groups need prompt access to specialist information. This can be a challenge for information professionals, especially when alerts are coming in from multiple suppliers, and updates are being generated and distributed from different locations.
Prior to the implementation of Linex, the library team would have spent time checking Lexis, Westlaw etc and lawyers would have experienced a delay in receiving alerts. With Linex, they have all the third party alerts running alongside their automated alerts and curated newsletters so they have quick and clear visibility on who gets what.
As Fiona and the team became familiar with the Linex product and functionality, they took an increasingly bold approach to their news alerts. For example, they started bringing in trademark application information to track potential intellectual property breaches, as well as enriching their company news alerts with Companies House data.
“Our journey with Linex has been an extensive one”
Creating and maintaining an effective current awareness service requires substantial investment from both vendor and library service, in terms of time and other resources. As a vendor, we are happy to commit to long-standing, trusting relationships with library and information departments.
We are extremely grateful for the ongoing partnership that we have with the team at Reed Smith. Part of this relationship building is vendor flexibility and agility. In the past Fiona has said how impressed she was with the responsiveness of the team and we are proud that she continues to say,
Emily, Tina and the team are amazing. They are responsive and helpful in supporting our requirements. I love that Tina is proactive in discovering sources that have maybe been removed by the supplier and hunts out alternatives and keeps us updated about these sources.
Given her expertise and technical understanding of both Vable and Linex, her feedback on how she saw Vable developing was important. She was keen to explore the next generation of news aggregation services and evaluate how the technology had developed. For instance, it was important to Fiona that she could find alternative ways of integrating their premium, subscription or bespoke content.
Vable is content agnostic
She comes to the Vable platform with professional insight and a wealth of new ideas, and she has been able to rethink and refresh the firm’s current awareness provision.
She explains, “we currently have Linex across the whole of the Europe, Middle East and Asia offices. The multi-source capabilities of Vable has enabled us to take advantage of the multiple language capabilities to set up alerts in both English and German for our German colleagues and include Chinese news stories for those in our Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong offices.”
Vable is content agnostic so she says it’s easy to pull in multiple content streams from a huge variety of sources whether it is a website, rss, [or] email.
With some of the new functionality in Vable she says she will be exploring the opportunity to involve subject specialists who might currently be getting alerts and then filtering the content to be involved at an earlier stage, and within the Vable platform.
She continues, “I love that it enables you to pull in third party alerts and organise these alongside your news alerts so that a monthly journal on property from Westlaw has visibility alongside a property news search that pulls content from subscription and free sources. Being able to track official and government sources is also a boon.”
Vable alerts are highly valued by lawyers - and library services
Fiona has written about how to negotiate licenses for digital resources and therefore knows the importance of measuring the value of library services.
She explains, “current awareness is a category that we record in our Research Statistics and it has the highest incidence of requests. This could range from setting up new alerts, curating manual alerts, tweaking searches or adding people to distribution lists.”
The bespoke Reed Smith newsletter and alert templates are designed to be as readable and eye-catching as possible. It is important that communications from the library service are professionally branded.
She continues, “alerts are branded and sent out from the library, so we regularly appear in the lawyers’ inboxes.” These alerts drive engagement because they sometimes reply to the alert asking for something similar to be set up - on a slightly different topic or geographic scope. This demonstrates that existing alerts are valued, and the regularity of new requests show the continued demand.
Fiona says, “in our move over to Vable, Emily and Matthew have worked closely with us to get the templates just right. Whilst the Linex version of the alerts are valued and recognized, we wanted just the right balance between being familiar but also having a fresher look and feel to them, and with Vable’s help we’ve got just the right balance.”
As Fiona notes, the work needed to get a current awareness service up and running might seem daunting, and there are hurdles to overcome, but it is worth the effort. The time you save in the long term means that the investment at the beginning does pay off in the end.