Case study: DAC Beachcroft gives an inside view of its outsourced library arrangements
“We try to be a trusted advisor and partner to our clients,” says Jeffrey Ng, operations director and 21-year veteran of law firm DAC Beachcroft. “We are keen on client management and fostering relationships. Our oldest client is as old as the firm, dating back to the 1800s.”
In 2012, DAC Beachcroft, which employs 2,000 people, decided to outsource its library services to Integreon. The move to outsource its library services was not necessarily about cost, according to Ng, but more about expertise, which enabled the law firm to focus on what it does best – practice law. Another factor was that DAC Beachcroft spent too much time recruiting people to fill open positions in its law library and bringing librarians up to speed once they came aboard.
Unfortunately, what Ng experienced was more of the same. While he had succeeded in shifting the HR burden to Integreon, he had not escaped the negative impact of library staff turnover.
“Over three years of working with Integreon, we saw many changes in personnel and several different account managers,” adds Ng. “The constant change made building a relationship difficult.”
The contract DAC Beachcroft had with Integreon was coming to an end in 2015. The firm tries to do benchmarking at the end of contracts for its providers. Ng’s benchmarking of other providers of library services – along with a series of conversations with LibSource – led DAC Beachcroft to sign a new Library as a Service® (LaaS) contract. The flexibility of LaaS allowed for a mix of both virtual researchers available “on demand” along with on-site librarians was something DAC Beachcroft liked. Ng says DAC Beachcroft switched to LibSource for that contract “because library services is its lifeblood.”
A new proposition – onsite staff supported by agile research services
LibSource’s proposition was to offer an experienced manager and librarians supported by an agile, or virtual, research staff. LibSource also proposed an information portal to access key research resources and log and track research requests from the firm’s lawyers. When lawyers have a request, they can email the LibSource team, phone them directly or log a request through the portal, which is available directly via the firm’s intranet. LibSource also instituted a variety of measures and performance indicators for Ng to monitor on a monthly basis.
LibSource have also been conducting a cost review of Ng’s subscriptions to see which services best suit DAC Beachcroft. The analysis is helping the law firm to identify cost savings, which Ng says would be a complex undertaking for his team to do as a firm-wide review.
Alison Henry, a professional support lawyer (PSL) at DAC Beachcroft, has been a user of the law firm’s conventional library, Integreon and LibSource. “As we used Integreon, people were a little unhappy because we were losing our physical resources but didn’t have a real connection with the new provider,” says Henry. “With LibSource, we have a proper point of contact, and they are keen to inform us of what’s going on. Their portal is a work in progress, and I want to put still more information in the portal. But the resources that are there, I can get to really quickly, in one click.”
LibSource has employees on-site at DAC Beachcroft in London and Manchester. Lawyers can interact with either the onsite person or the agile LibSource team. Ng says they’ve come to be a part of DAC Beachcroft and support the law firm around the clock. If Henry or the other lawyers need a piece of research that they can’t find, they can contact LibSource to look beyond what appears available. LibSource will uncover additional material, citing references and sources for Henry and her colleagues.
“We have 2,000 people, and outsourcing is about scale for us,” says Ng. “Many law firms worry about a strategic part of their team working for an outside company, but our experience has proven those fears unfounded.”
“Physical libraries are fast becoming pre-historic creatures; it’s a quite interesting time,” says Henry. “Law firms aren’t there, yet, in terms of a wholly virtual model. I hope we will get there.”
According to Henry, before LibSource, people at the firm didn’t always know where to turn for research. DAC Beachcroft hasn’t moved all its hardcopy resources online, yet. But as research subscriptions come up for renewal, LibSource handles this too.
“The shared model helps with research,” says Henry. “Whether you’re in Manchester or Bristol, you want to get the same information.”
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