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Marlene Gebauer

Marlene Gebauer is the Director of Knowledge Solutions at Greenberg Traurig. Previously a successful practicing lawyer, Marlene transitioned into...

Greg Lambert

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Sharon D. Nelson

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Episode Notes

The job of a librarian involves a lot more than books. In this episode of The Digital Edge, hosts Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway talk to Marlene Gebauer and Greg Lambert about the skills of law librarians and the roles they play in different areas of the law. They discuss the different facets of being a law librarian and how they can help with analytics, risk management, and streamlining processes.

Marlene Gebauer is the director of knowledge solutions at Greenberg Traurig.

Greg Lambert is the chief knowledge services officer at Jackson Walker and is the president of American Association of Law Libraries.

Special thanks to our sponsors, ServeNowScorpionAnswer1, and Clio.


The Digital Edge

The Wizardry of Law Librarians



Intro: Welcome to The Digital Edge with Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway, your hosts, both legal technologists, authors and lecturers, invite industry professionals to discuss a new topic related to lawyers and technology. You are listening to Legal Talk Network.


Sharon D. Nelson: Welcome to the 129th edition of The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology. We are glad to have you with us.

I am Sharon Nelson, President of Sensei Enterprises, an information technology, cybersecurity and digital forensics firm in Fairfax, Virginia.

Jim Calloway: And I am Jim Calloway, Director of The Oklahoma Bar Association’s Management Assistance Program. Today our topic is The Wizardry of Law Librarians.

Sharon D. Nelson: And before we get started we would like to thank our sponsors.

Thanks to our sponsor Clio. Clio’s cloud-based practice management software makes it easy to manage your law firm from intake to invoice. Try it for free at That’s

Thank you to Answer 1, a leading virtual receptionist and answering services provider for lawyers. You can find out more by giving them a call at 800 Answer 1 or online at

Jim Calloway: Thank you to Scorpion. Scorpion sets the standard for law firm online marketing with proven campaign strategies to get attorneys better cases from the Internet. Partner with Scorpion to get an award-winning website and ROI positive marketing programs today. Visit

Thanks to ServeNow, a nationwide network of trusted prescreened process servers. Work with the most professional process servers who have experience with high volume serves, embrace technology, and understand the litigation process. Visit to learn more.

We are very pleased to have as our guests Greg Lambert and Marlene Gebauer. Marlene Gebauer is Director of Knowledge Solutions at Greenberg Traurig and an attorney. Her position revolves around the adoption and application of innovative legal services technologies and process. She is responsible for knowledge management, strategic purchasing, predictive analytics and competitive intelligence.

Greg Lambert is the Chief Knowledge Services Officer for Jackson Walker in Houston, Texas. Greg is also the Cofounder of 3 Geeks and a Law Blog, which includes the new podcast The Geek In Review, which he does with Marlene Gebauer. Greg is the immediate past President of the American Association of Law Libraries.

Thanks for joining us today Marlene and Greg.

Marlene Gebauer: Thanks. Glad to be here.

Greg Lambert: Sounds like Marlene brought her dog with her.

Sharon D. Nelson: But the dog is welcome on the podcast.

Greg Lambert: Good to talk to you Jim. Good to meet you Sharon.

Sharon D. Nelson: Well Marlene, I love the title of today’s podcast, The Wizardry of Law Librarians. I have often thought them to be Wizards. So can you tell us what some of the biggest talents are of law librarians which go underappreciated by those who are seeking your help?

Marlene Gebauer: Well, I think most people get that librarians understand the financial cost of knowledge tools, but I think that their strategic vision in relation to these tools and services can be overlooked. The information platform or knowledge center of a firm has really become the centerpiece in terms of innovation marketing for firms.

So clients want to know that the firms they use are employing tools and services that create efficiencies and excellent work products, and law librarians have in-depth knowledge of the knowledge platform space, what the tools do and how attorneys and staff use them. And because of this they can offer guidance on which platforms make the most sense to employ and how to present them in an enticing manner outside of the firm or even how clients can use them effectively.

Jim Calloway: Greg, was there ever any time you uncovered a smoking gun while conducting legal research on behalf of your firm?

Greg Lambert: Yeah, I love telling this story. So when I was at another firm a few years ago, I had this great researcher who was bilingual and we had a question come up about some litigation work that we were doing down in Mexico. So there was this potential witness in the case that we couldn’t track down, but she had done an interview with a reporter at a local newspaper and in the article of that newspaper, on the photo inset we noticed that the woman was holding a document from the company which was on the other side of the litigation.


So I had the researcher call the reporter and see if he could help us find the woman so that we could get her to testify. But in the midst of the call the reporter mentioned that he still had that document that was in the picture, that he had it in his files, and so he faxed us a copy of it and the document had some details in the case which led to it being immediately settled.

So sometimes answers aren’t always on the Internet or on fancy databases, sometimes you need to do a little legwork, pick up the phone and call people. So it still works that way as well.

Sharon D. Nelson: Well, that sounds like you were greatly appreciated for your wizardry that time Greg.

Greg Lambert: Oh, yes, yes. Well, it wasn’t me; it was the other person, so I made sure that the credit went where the credit was due.

Sharon D. Nelson: There you go. Marlene, when I think of stereotypes of law librarians I remember the Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, when Mary, who is played by Donna Reed is kind of this very timid librarian. I think there was a time when you thought of law librarians being sort of spinster types and of course in the old days they were largely women and that’s no longer true. But what stereotype of law librarians is furthest from the truth?

Marlene Gebauer: Well, I mean you certainly hit on a few of them there, but in my career so many times when I have told people I am a librarian, they say, oh, you must like to read books, and then they ask me about the Dewey decimal system, which nobody uses outside of public and school libraries.

But back to books, yes, I do like to read books and magazines and blogs and most anything I can get my hands on, but so do other people. I, along with many of my colleagues, we have much broader interests.

So as an example, I like to kayak, I run marathons, I make pottery, I volunteer for school events and I co-host a podcast. My point is that your librarian likely has a richer life than you probably think and it’s not all just library related. And my advice is to engage with them, you might be delightfully surprised about the person you discover.

Sharon D. Nelson: Good advice.

Greg Lambert: Yes. I can say that I still look really sexy when I let my hair down and I kind of shake it over my shoulders.

Sharon D. Nelson: I am glad we are doing a podcast and not a video cast.

Marlene Gebauer: True, he does, he does.

Jim Calloway: Greg, I have certainly known you longer than anybody else that we are speaking with on the podcast today and I know you — we don’t see each other as often since you have moved to Texas, but in your job currently, what brings you the most joy in what you do?

Greg Lambert: Oh Jim, I would have to say it’s definitely the amount of wealth that I have accumulated over the years as being a law librarian, that’s just great.

Seriously though, I would have to say it’s really working with intelligent people that still have the ability to be curious about what they are researching. I have been very lucky in that I have worked for firms over the years that have allowed me to be a voice in the industry and as a result it’s helped me to make connections with others in the industry, both in law librarianship, but really in the whole legal industry. So that’s been very valuable.

And it’s really kind of cool when you are sitting in the middle of a management meeting and you are dealing with all the partners of your firm and someone happens to just go well, I read this article from Casey Flaherty and it’s really interesting what he has to say and I get to pipe in and say well, you know, I know him, I can connect the two of you if you want. So it ends up being a real win-win situation, so I really enjoy that part of the profession.

Marlene Gebauer: He enjoys namedropping.

Jim Calloway: That’s great.

Greg Lambert: Yeah, I love namedropping.

Jim Calloway: Podcasts are great for namedropping. Before we move on to our next segment, let’s take a quick commercial break.

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Sharon D. Nelson: Welcome back to The Digital Edge on the Legal Talk Network. Today our subject is The Wizardry of Law Librarians and our guests are Marlene Gebauer and Greg Lambert.

Marlene is the Director of Knowledge Solutions at Greenberg Traurig and an attorney. And Greg is the Chief Knowledge Services Officer for Jackson Walker in Houston, Texas.

So Marlene, look into your crystal ball and tell us what the future of law librarianship looks like.

Marlene Gebauer: Well, I think there is a great deal of opportunity for law librarians. I mentioned earlier how important knowledge platforms are becoming and they are encompassing tools outside the traditional research realm, so things like practice support tools like document drafting, so there is a lot of opportunity to broaden the scope of platform management responsibility.

Also, there is a lot of opportunity for data steward and analyst roles. Data analytics, as you know, is a really hot area right now and librarians are well suited for this work and are already familiar with many of the tools in the space and analytics includes not only the external information but also the firm’s internal content as well.

Librarians can evaluate metrics say on a firm’s experience with a judge or successful motion practice and the language used in the motions, which can then be translated into useable business development and case strategy intelligence.

Jim Calloway: Greg, as you know, I advise a lot of solo and small firm lawyers, so for those solo and small firm lawyers, what options do they have in getting help from a law librarian?

Greg Lambert: Yeah, that’s a great question Jim. And for those that don’t know, Jim and I worked pretty close together when I was in Oklahoma. So there’s really a number of opportunities for solo and small firm lawyers to connect with law librarians.

First of all, I would check out how your county law library is structured. I know that not every county has a law librarian, like when I was in Oklahoma we didn’t have a librarian in every county, but there is usually a law librarian somewhere in that chain who you can reach out to and get some help. It could be having them help you identify resources that are available from the county, the state or the federal courts, or it could be help on vendors, the products and vendors, and you can get that help without the sales pitch, so that’s kind of another reason to reach out to them.

Second, if there is a law school around, you can find out what programs they offer to the public or to alumni.

And third, there is a number of law librarians who work as consultants or will come in part-time. There are companies as well out there who can connect you with law librarians, and I have found that nearly 100% of the time a good law librarian, even those that are only working part-time, can more than save you what you spend on them.

Sharon D. Nelson: I can believe that to be true. I have happily been the recipient of some of the wizardry of law librarians over the years. And so Marlene, I bet you can tell me how they act as risk managers, especially for lawyers.

Marlene Gebauer: I would be happy to do that and there’s a couple of ways I can highlight Sharon.

First, law librarians have an in-depth knowledge of the licensing requirements of law firm knowledge platform. More often than not, they are the ones that are actually negotiating a license. So they know the pricing and the payment structures. One platform may allow individual accounts; another may require a firm-wide subscription.

Platforms also have overlapping content, so there is a danger of buying multiple sources when only one might be needed. The librarian, who knows how many people need and use a platform and who can quickly compare content on each platform, can and should make recommendations to the firm so the firm isn’t spending unnecessarily.

Second, the librarian knows what is allowed by each license. They are not all the same. For example, some licenses may allow sharing of content with a client and some might not. And as for individual licenses, I think we all know there is sometimes the tendency for people to share with others and these situations can pose serious financial and access risk. And librarians are in a position to educate and in some cases police in these instances and protect the firm.

Jim Calloway: Greg, what are today’s opportunities for librarians outside of the library?

Greg Lambert: Oh man, there is so much opportunity. Law librarians are really big time leaders when it comes to access to justice issues. So I have seen a number of court law librarians who are out there and helping streamline processes like work with pro se litigants and they have worked ways in creating a method to taking the court time down from what used to take hours down to minutes.


In academia you are seeing a lot of law librarians help prepare students for the actual practice of law, and that includes understanding the technology and the business acumen needed to practice. And in my world, in law firms, we have librarians who are working in everything; technology, knowledge management, records, marketing, business development, there is just a vast range of other positions that are out there. The good thing is that great librarians identify the voids that are going on within their organizations and they find ways to fill those voids and solve the problems of their organization.

So if they are really good librarians, they find the need and they fill the need and they help solve those problems.

Jim Calloway: Before we move on to our last segment, let’s take a quick commercial break.


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Sharon D. Nelson: Welcome back to The Digital Edge on the Legal Talk Network. Today our subject is The Wizardry of Law Librarians and our guests are Marlene Gebauer and Greg Lambert.

Marlene is the Director of Knowledge Solutions at Greenberg Traurig and an attorney. And Greg is the Chief Knowledge Services Officer for Jackson Walker in Houston, Texas.

Marlene, I have an implicit question in this question. The first question is how does the networking and professional development of law librarians benefit firms? The second part is, is this a plea for those who hire you to crowbar open their wallets and let people get out and about more so that they can do some of this valuable networking?

Marlene Gebauer: Well, I certainly hope whoever is listening does in fact think about that, because look, no one works successfully in a silo and librarians are no exception. I have learned so much and gotten so many opportunities through professional development and networking opportunities offered by professional association and vendors, and it’s not just library related opportunities. Understanding legal operations more broadly improves understanding of challenges firms are experiencing more holistically, which in turn helps the librarian better understand the strategic direction of the firm and act accordingly.

So I remember this one time when I was very new to the profession and I met a librarian at the AALL Conference who worked in an aviation library, and we were just sitting next to one another and we just started chatting, we were at a seminar, and we exchanged cards. And within six months I had a request that involved getting an article or an administrator ruling dealing with aviation that I could not find anywhere.

Now, remember, this is in the early days of the Internet and the request was very time-sensitive. So I was in a bit of a panic. So I took out my Rolodex, remember Rolodexes, I took that out and I gave this woman a call and she got what I needed to me within an hour.

So instead of having to say sorry, I can’t help you to the requester, I became a wizard. I became the one with the solution.

Jim Calloway: Well, that’s a great story.

Sharon D. Nelson: Yeah, and it makes perfect sense.

Jim Calloway: Greg, what does the library need from management?

Greg Lambert: Well, they definitely need management to give them some type of seat at the table or at least a voice at the table. I had a local congresswoman here in Houston one time say something that really stuck with me and that was, if you are not at the table, you are on the menu, and so we need to make sure that we are at that table.

Organizations, they are really sitting on highly intelligent resources and sometimes they push those resources down the chain because they pretty much have limited their expectations. So having the library’s voice and ears at business meetings, at strategic planning sessions, and even at matter planning creates an opportunity on both sides to make the overall organization better. I always say that it’s my job to give my people the resources, the time and the opportunity to thrive and in doing that it makes me and the organization better.


Sharon D. Nelson: Well, I can believe you do a very good job at that Greg. And we certainly, Jim and I want to thank you both for being our guest today. It’s obvious that law librarians are very colorful as well as wizards in plain clothes probably, but you do a lot of great stuff for the folks you work with and for and I certainly treasure everything that law librarians do. So thank you for shedding some illumination on that subject and being with us.

Greg Lambert: All right, I just want to say for the record that I am in Slytherin House of Wizardry. The Sorting Hat said I was a Hufflepuff, but I am not a Hufflepuff, I am a Slytherin.

Sharon D. Nelson: I believe that of you. Okay, we got one from each house and there we leave.

And that does it for this edition of The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology. And remember, you can subscribe to all the editions of this podcast at or on Apple Podcasts. And if you enjoyed our podcast, please rate us in Apple Podcasts.

Jim Calloway: Thanks for joining us. Goodbye Ms. Sharon.

Sharon D. Nelson: Happy trails cowboy.


Outro: Thanks for listening to The Digital Edge, produced by the broadcast professionals at Legal Talk Network. Join Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway for their next podcast covering the latest topic related to Lawyers and Technology. Subscribe to the RSS feed on or in iTunes.

The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.

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Episode Details
Published: September 26, 2018
Podcast: The Digital Edge
The Digital Edge
The Digital Edge

The Digital Edge, hosted by Sharon D. Nelson and Jim Calloway, covers the latest technology news, tips, and tools.

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