“The First Thing We Do, Let’s Poll All the Lawyers”

Courthouse Libraries BC (CLBC) just launched its #CLBClawyersurvey2016. Now we’re looking for sweet, precious survey fuel to reach the moon-like destination of 350 respondents—our statistically significant sample. By “survey fuel” I mean, of course, human lawyers in BC capable of clicking through a 10-minute survey. Eligible takers can start the online survey now.

CLBC has a long history in BC. We have served lawyers and the public for over 40 years in (and beyond) dozens of branches in courthouses throughout the province. This survey is the first of its kind for us, and it should help CLBC evolve to meet the needs of the next generation of lawyers in ways:

  • that are highly relevant to their changing needs,
  • that make the best use of technology as well as traditional space/resources, and
  • that help us conceive new products, services and approaches to assist BC lawyers to endure the “transformational pressures” identified by the CBA’s Legal Futures Initiative.

Survey incentives range from the earthly (a number of $100 giftcards are up for grabs to eligible survey participants) to the abstract (it’s good karma to help libraries, right?), but either way data from kind and/or self-motivated lawyers will help CLBC articulate a value proposition as a law library/knowledge management org in a widely and variously disrupted space for legal services.

(With the US election over, Daylight Saving Time concluded, and adrenaline receptors sorely shot, a value proposition survey is exactly what your brain needs to reset! Click now…)

In marketing speak, value proposition means an outline for “specific factors intended to make something attractive to the consumer” (definition courtesy of OED). While this might sound elementary and basic, it is deceptively hard to know what’s really of value to clients (including lawyers) and therefore what the true value of a library/knowledge organization ought to be.

We’re enlisting the aid of a book popular with startups, called Value Proposition Design. Customers are rarely able to talk explicitly about their needs and wants as consumers, and it’s hard for people to proactively imagine and propose creative solutions when they’ve been relying on familiar ones for so long. The methodology we’re using presumes to sort lawyers into key profile segments (big firm litigators versus small community generalists, etc.) and looks at the pains each segment faces, the incentives that drive their satisfaction, and the jobs that they must do on the way.

When it comes to value-focused analysis, the legal and justice sector is actually fairly new on the scene. As late as 2008 the Association of Corporate Counsel (AKA lawyers embeded in other industries) began with the “ACC Value Challenge” which encouraged understanding the value of legal service from the client’s perspective. Firms can obviously demonstrate value by offering services at lower cost, but there is more to value than cost. Other indicia in the ACC context include better predictability in budgeting and fees for legal services, and also better outcomes for clients quite apart from legal bills (i.e. clients facing fewer legal disputes, having better settlement rates, faster turnarounds, etc.).

Our survey is part of a broader planning strategy which began earlier this year with in-depth, one-on-one lawyer interviews, and it will be interesting to see how the trends hinted at in this deeper, more narrow, qualitative exercise hold up in the wider, quantitative survey.

Please help share the word of our survey, and if you’re a BC lawyer put some gas in the tank to help us get it off the ground. The survey link is www.surveymonkey.com/r/DPPB9DJ. Hashtag is #CLBClawyersurvey2016. See our CEO’s message for more.

— Nate Russell is a liaison lawyer with Courthouse Libraries BC. Find him on Twitter @nrusse.

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