On Tuesday 9th June we visited the library of the London office of Lovells LLP (http://www.lovells.com/Lovells/Homepage.htm), a major international legal firm. The London office is housed in a very impressive modern building in Holborn, which makes a big impact upon the visitor – a large statue dominates the entrance, and makes a statement about the scale of the firm. The library and library staff of the office were suitably impressive.
To begin with we were given a talk by two professional librarians, who are termed researchers at Lovells. The head of the library, and the librarian who facilitates the training of the two graduate trainees there, explained the particular role that a library plays in a law firm, which is very different to the usual academic or public library. A major role of the librarians there seems to be to conduct research for lawyers, such as finding cases, hence the name ‘researchers’. There is also a specialty in the selection of materials in the law firm, as it was explained that whereas an academic library may select several texts on the same topic, a law firm library may just select the most appropriate one for the lawyers. The library is very much tailored to the need of the lawyers conducting their work.
The two graduate trainees then gave a very interesting presentation about their backgrounds and roles within the library, and how the training scheme there is structured. They said that the position is an enjoyable one, which involved responsibility and variety and a good structure of progression – the trainees will be supported through a professional librarianship course and employed by Lovells as trainee researchers at the end of their initial training year. After the presentation they gave us a tour of both the library and the facilities (gym, canteen etc) of the whole office. The main firm library was quite large, and covered the areas of law that the firm practise in. Beyond this, each different practice area (e.g. Tax) had its own sectional library which focused on the particular area of the section. The library also uses document delivery services to access materials from other libraries (e.g. IALS and the British Library), for which a fee is paid.
The visit was one of the best I had been on, as the library and the environment of a law firm are so different from the other places we have visited that it was quite enlightening. The staff were very friendly and seemed to enjoy the jobs, and we were made to feel very welcome.