Our Twitter account, @scotlawlibs, has been curating the developing news of Scots law firm, McClure Naismith which announced on its website late on Friday that it had entered administration with redundancies a certainty.
McClure Naismith’s situation has so far followed a familiar route for larger Scots law firms who have fallen away in the previous few years:
The SLLG Twitter Team has been admirably highlighting the stark lack of comment so far by all sources regarding the plight of support staff involved. They have been given no formal voice in this.
There is a straightforward reason. Law firm professional support staff have no equal help, support structure or opportunity available to solicitors, should the Firm enter administration. It’s not the Firm’s fault, it’s just how the system operates.
The situation support staff find themselves in when Scots law firms go into administration is expertly narrated in this heartfelt and instructive blog post, “Who supports the support staff?”
Where lawyers can be fitted into firms who want their client base and expertise (and, likely, good PR for themselves) – crucial support staff have far less mobility within the legal sector.
The community of Scottish law librarians is a small one. Not many firms expand their supporting resources to match their solicitor and client intake from a defunct firm.
Some will be fortunate but the most likely outcome for critical specialist support staff such as law librarians and knowledge managers is they will have nowhere to move to within the legal sector. In some scenarios, leaving a professional information career altogether as employment in the wider information field diminishes, will be the only option.
Law information professionals are key support staff for all law firms. They are qualified experts: trained in the art of locating and presenting good information. A well-resourced information professional can respond to enquiries authoritatively, effectively and flexibly. They provide information efficiency for a busy lawyer. And efficiency equals value.
Losing this pool of intellect and commitment from a firm and even the legal sector should be worth at least a footnote come the roll call.
To date the SLLG has received no responses to our tweets about McClure Naismith’s support staff from any professional legal body.