The Secret to Addressing Your Clients’ Real Problem

13 Nov

readmindby Melissa LaFlair, Principal, LaFlair Legal and Project Management Services

Once a problem is identified – and I mean the real problem, not the symptoms – identifying the relevant solution usually is fairly straightforward. Unfortunately, when it comes to running the business part of their practice and managing client expectations (rather than solving legal questions), at best many lawyers unwittingly fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between addressing the symptoms and addressing the underlying problem.

This is readily seen in the context of lawyers’ responses to the ever increasing RFPs from clients. Many lawyers and firms view preparing RFP responses as something their administrative or management team should address with little or no lawyer involvement. While I am quite confident that many talented professionals fill these administrative and managerial roles, most times these professionals do not have relationships with the client and need the lawyer(s) actively involved in the response process to provide the context needed to identify the real problem triggering the RFP.

In hope of helping those administrative and managerial professionals who struggle to get their lawyers interested and actively engaged in reviewing and responding to RFPs (or any client relationship efforts for that matter) and those lawyers who mindlessly respond to RFPs,  I am sharing some examples of what this spectrum looks like and the impact on results.

The worst symptom-approach example I know of concerns a firm that assumed that a long-standing client’s RFP was a formality that need not be taken seriously – after all, the firm was the clear incumbent. The firm invested little deep thought in preparing its response; in the end, the firm’s submission missed the mark and lost the very large (as in lots of zeros) repeating client business to another firm. I heard about this one after the fact.

Conversely, the best real-problem-approach example I have witnessed was a firm that took an unexpected RFP from a key client (regarding services the firm had been providing for the past ten years) seriously, despite being undisputed experts in their area of practice and the client’s go-to provider. The result? The firm earned a spot on the client’s final list of approved vendors moving forward. That two other firms were added to that list confirmed that the RFP process was real, with no guaranteed outcome. Full disclosure – I know because I helped the incumbent firm prepare its RFP response.

Whether a symptom- or underlying-problem-approach was taken, in each example an initial question and answer about the RFP likely went something like this:

“Interesting, we just received an unexpected RFP from our client. Has the client issued an RFP before?”

“No, this is the first time and this is odd. We were introduced to them ten years ago by a mutual contact they trust, we are specialized in their main area of need, and they have been really happy with our services so far.”

My guess is many firms (including the unsuccessful firm in the first example) stop asking themselves any more questions as long as everything looks pretty straightforward and they have many precedents to pull from in answering the RFP’s questions. From what I have heard and seen, many of these automatic RFP responses do not end well for incumbent firms.

Those interested in maximizing their probability of success will dig further to understand the motivation and context behind the RFP. Using the second example described above, additional questioning might go something like this:

“Why would the 10 year client issue an RFP at this time?”

“I don’t know. They aren’t able to discuss the RFP, but I think it’s because our main client contact now has a new boss.”

“Why can’t they discuss the RFP?”

“Because they are a government-related entity and want to be sure there is no bias or unfair advantage at play when selecting vendors.”

“Why would the new boss trigger an RFP request?”

“I’m not sure, but it may be because the new boss wants to confirm that the law department is complying with the organization’s requirement that vendors be reasonably priced and selected by way of an open bidding process.”

“Why would their relationship with your firm be a concern?”

“Well, we started working with them 10 years ago from a word-of-mouth introduction. The requirement was introduced 2 years ago and, at that time, we were already regarded as a well-established, cost-effective supplier in a specialized area where there are no other real competitors – so no RFP was issued.”

“Why did the client introduce the requirement?”

“I would think it’s because a few similar governmental organizations have been found to be working with vendors who hadn’t been selected by a bidding process and were charging higher than market rates. So, they needed to demonstrate that they were prudently spending the public’s money.”

As you can see, asking “why” five times (a classic approach to identifying root causes to issues, symptoms, and problems) and considering the answers revealed that the main client contact needed to issue an RFP to:

  1. comply with organizational requirements in place for 2 years,
  2. establish that the main client contact’s historic decision to retain the firm was (and remains) wise (thereby looking good to the new boss and not looking foolish for having neglected the RFP requirement for two years), and
  3. demonstrate that the public’s money is being spent prudently.

Keeping this context in mind, the firm answered each of the many RFP questions in a way that demonstrated their understanding and responsiveness to the organization’s needs and sensitivities, expertise in the field and how that expertise specifically benefitted the client in the past and would continue to do so in the future, and overall cost-effectiveness. While not expressly asked, the firm also identified the main types of work that the client relies on the firm for, areas where retainer and fixed fees may be appropriate (providing cash flow certainty for the firm and cost certainty for the client), and alternative fee approaches for more specialized work (again to provide the client with more budgeting certainty).

Notably, while the firm was not able to ask their client for background, self-posed questions needed to identify the client’s underlying problem helped the firm piece together the most likely reasons behind the RFP. The firm could answer its own questions based on general information from the firm’s existing relationship and public knowledge to craft a relevant, meaningful, and competitive response.

Even with imperfect information, trying to understand why a client has put out an RFP (or included questions on topics like budgeting and project management capabilities) goes a long way to helping you identify and address your client’s real, underlying issue. And that is what client service is all about. So if you are not already, I strongly encourage you to ask these sorts of questions and have these internal discussions. Your clients (and your bottom line) will thank you for it.

Does Anyone Do Taxonomy Anymore?

27 Sep

taxonomyBy Andrea Alliston, Partner, Knowledge Management, Stikeman Elliott

In an environment of increasing enterprise complexity, integration of technology systems, desire for better data and analytics, and pressure to become more efficient in our delivery of services to clients, it is time to dust-off that old taxonomy and put it to better use. Let’s start by defining taxonomy.

Taxonomy is not the browse trees that once were the backbone of our old intranets and KM repositories. Today’s environment requires a modern approach to taxonomy, covering the full range of controlled vocabularies, thesauri, taxonomies, ontologies, and knowledge graphs. Think about your taxonomy as a holistic system of terms and concepts used to classify, manage and identify content in the law firm, enterprise-wide.

Facets in Search

Many firms have chosen search as the tool of choice for surfacing content and information. As a result, the taxonomy is primarily used as facets or filters rather than for browsing or boosting search results. It is a subtle, but critical change that affects how the taxonomy is developed and managed. Unfortunately, it is not simply a matter of turning a browse tree into facets. The purpose of the taxonomy is different and that needs to be taken into account.

Linking Information Across Systems

A uniform enterprise taxonomy is valuable for linking data between disparate technology systems. If we want to ensure that lawyers are as efficient as possible by having access to the content and information they need, our taxonomies should support that objective. By using consistent tagging in your KM, DM, HR, financial, experience and CRM systems, you can gather information from them around your taxonomy tags. Without consistent tags, you may have related data and information, but no easy way to extract it and present it to lawyers when they need it.

New Challenges

Newer activities, such as pricing and process mapping, also require support from an enterprise-wide taxonomy and should inform its development. Linking financial information to experience databases is not new; however, pricing activities may force us to rethink the taxonomy we use for that information. Pricing may also require new ways to tag data to extract the information needed to develop effective budgets and fee arrangements. The increased focus, use and expansion of the UTBMS phase and task code taxonomy is an example.

Similarly, process mapping will affect our taxonomies and the way we categorise content. Common outputs of process mapping exercises are checklists and precedents. To surface those resources at the right stage of the process, they must be aligned with that stage and one way to do so is through taxonomy tags that map to the stages of the process.

User Experience

An underlying theme to enterprise taxonomy is a desire for a consistent user experience.   Lawyers, other timekeepers, and assistants should not need to figure out how information is categorised and tagged within each system they use. The taxonomy in a closing book database should match that in an experience database and the file opening process.

Lessons Learned

All of this is top of my mind as my firm recently acquired a new taxonomy management tool. Here are a few tips I have learned from the journey so far.

  • Collaboration is essential. Working with your colleagues in other business departments is critical to any firm-wide taxonomy initiative; their perspectives and needs will differ from yours.
  • Understand your requirements. For my firm, taxonomy management is made more complex by the Canadian dual legal system and bilingual (English and French) requirements. Make sure you understand your firm’s particular needs.
  • Be prepared for fresh thinking. As observed, today’s taxonomies extend far beyond simple browse trees and are used very differently. So, you need to think about the taxonomy differently; making the shift is not always easy.
  • Take it one step at a time. Making changes to taxonomy lists and integrating them into systems can be complex. Now that a centralized tool holds our master taxonomy, we are integrating it into each technology one system at a time.
  • Get help. We had one chance to get our taxonomy tool set up properly in a way that would accommodate our requirements. We also needed help shifting from a browse tree to a facet approach and simplifying the taxonomy where possible. We have been fortunate to work with Joseph Busch and Vivian Bliss of Taxonomy Strategies who, together with Jim Sweeney of Synaptica, have set us on the right path. Goodness knows what mistakes we would have made without their help.

Organizations dealing with enterprise data, information and content management should be highly motivated to re-examine their current taxonomies, where they are used, how they are managed, and how they can support the firm’s objectives. It may not be the coolest thing a legal KM practitioner does, but it is a fundamental part of legal KM and if you get it right, your firm will thank you in the long run!

Lawyers: Jump Out of the Pot!

22 Jul

frogBy Melissa LaFlair, Principal, LaFlair Legal and Project Management Services

Fact: the legal profession is operating in a mature market undergoing significant change.

Fact: many lawyers think the change doesn’t apply to them (after all, while their colleagues and peers might not, they have great client relationships and provide unique services) or that clients don’t understand what is involved and are just seeking to pay less for something worth far more.

I wish these lawyers could see what I regularly see and hear what I regularly hear. Clients, under ever increasing pressure to provide integrated, practical legal input while reducing costs, express frustration due to the lack of data, innovation and partnership offered by their lawyers. The result is that many relationships either limp along on life support or are suddenly terminated after years of a lawyer being the go-to provider.

I know from working with consumers of legal services that while they are indeed often seeking to pay less in the aggregate for legal services, they are also often willing to maintain or even increase spend on certain must-have elements of services and are quite pleased to see changes in the nature and type of services received (from scope to product to process). As a result, change doesn’t need to be a zero sum game for providers.

Those clients who truly do want the exact same product for less are sending a clear message that they no longer see the work as unique or worth what they are asked to spend.  In that situation, lawyers have two choices; they can:

  • stick to what they know, continue as they always have, and eventually operate at a loss or lose the client’s business, or
  • figure out how to help their clients address the same issue (not necessarily with the same product) for less.

I also know from working with firms that many are frustrated by the lack of attention, input and appreciation they receive from their clients. Examples abound of firms receiving detailed RFP requests with no ability to ask questions or receive context regarding the underlying business objectives. In many instances, firms work hard to suggest complex alternative fee arrangement options, only to have clients select something from off the menu – a fixed reduction in hourly rates. More often than not these situations arise when clients don’t have the data or time required to provide the necessary context or assess whether the suggested alternative fee arrangements are reasonable.

While clients do bear some responsibility for addressing the current state of affairs, at the end of the day the lawyers are the service providers and the onus is on them to come up with viable solutions. Even with cooperative clients, no silver bullet will completely address a rapidly, ever-evolving operating reality. Given the complexity of forces and interests at play, I have yet to see a firm-client relationship that is above improvement or lends itself to a quick fix. You would think these attributes would make finding a solution right up most lawyers’ alleys. After all, what lawyer doesn’t love a nice juicy problem to solve? Puzzling then that many avoid this problem like the plague. While many reasons for this aversion exist, two particular qualities hinder many lawyers’ ability to successfully take the action needed to thrive in the long term.

The first is the pursuit of perfection. Not only does a quest for the perfect legal answer fly in the face of what most clients seek, but it can also kill relationships. I have seen lawyers steadfastly cling to their historical approach of producing their ideal legal product only to lose their book of business to lawyers willing to innovate and take new approaches to clients’ needs. The journey to innovative approaches is rife with missteps, dead ends, mistakes and imperfections. Recognizing that no one right answer is out there in this time of change, and that trial and error are part of the iterative development and change process, is required for lawyers to adapt and adopt an approach that works for everyone.

The second is the perception that lawyers need not be hasty in figuring out how to proceed – after all, plenty of time remains before they will (if ever) face a burning bridge. So, many observe from afar the myriad of existing technologies that can help lawyers adapt to the new market. They consider and often reject Legal Project Management (LPM) principles, processes, tools and techniques that support identifying and making the change necessary to adapt to the new market realities. They are apparently waiting for technology that is simple, intuitive, inexpensive and helpful enough to make adoption a no-brainer. They are waiting for a simple template that can be presented in a one hour LPM workshop, adopted the instant they leave the session, and allow them to address all their clients’ needs without changing their approach to practice. They wait until everyone else has accepted and adopted a new approach. As they wait, they fail to realize that they are the frog in the pot of boiling water. Sadly, it may well only be at full-boil when those lawyers realize the water is too hot because the bridge is burning.

Some level of data gathering, analysis, strategic thinking, decision making, hard work, risk-taking and failures are inevitable for lawyers to make the adjustments necessary to successfully continue to delight their clients, while living a life that doesn’t involve routinely toiling behind their desks until the wee hours of the morning for a sliver of an ever shrinking pie.   My money is on the lawyers, firms and organizations that are taking the temperature of the water and figuring out how to use technologies, LPM principles, tools and techniques to help them insulate themselves and – ultimately – jump out of the pot.

Lean matter management: a novel and practical innovation

10 Jul

k1By Gordon Vala-Webb, Principal at Building Smarter Organizations

Part two of a series about practical and novel innovations for law firms and legal departments.

There has been much ballyhoo regarding the use of LPM approaches – both the legal project and the legal process management varieties – in law firms and legal departments. Unfortunately, while some successes with both forms of LPM have occurred, neither approach has really lived up to the hype.

This is ironic given that, like Moliere’s M. Jourdain who was “speaking prose without knowing it,” most lawyers intuitively have been using some form of their own (light-weight) project and process management. However, when firms or departments formally implement either kind of LPM, it tends not to work for two reasons:

  1. the majority of lawyers’ work varies too much – both in the nature of the work itself and the day-to-day (minute-by-minute) priorities, and
  2. both formal project and process management run strongly against the grain for most lawyers who are typically task-oriented (“I don’t want to plan, I want to do.”) and value their autonomy (“Don’t fence me in.”); the result is strong (passive or not so passive) resistance when leadership attempts to apply LPM.

However, law firms and legal departments feel the pressure to be more efficient and effective and desperately seek ways to manage and improve legal work.  An alternative that I call “lean matter management” (LMM) does this by solving two fundamental problems that make firms and departments inefficient:

  • The work itself is invisible (unlike, for example, manufacturing widgets), making it difficult to
    • co-ordinate who works on what (especially as priorities constantly change) and
    • identify how the way the work is done could be improved (because inefficiencies and gaps are hidden).
  • The workers – primarily lawyers – inefficiently switch between too many different pieces of work (this switching-cost problem is a little understood, but substantial drain on legal productivity).

Also called kanban,  LMM comes from the lean (Toyota) production approach, but applied to legal work. The recipe for simple LMM is as follows:

  • Start with the “to do” lists lawyers already keep (either in their heads – the risk of error boggles the mind! – or in a notebook or electronic device).
  • Take each “to do” for a matter and place it on a shared board under one of three columns indicating status, namely To Do, Doing, and Done.
  • As work progresses, tasks move across the columns (consider adding another column titled “Waiting” for work that has been sent for client for review).

This can be done on a physical board, with each item of work – and the name of the person responsible for the task – on a separate Post-It (see image) or using software (many free or relatively inexpensive kanban software tools are available – Trello is any easy one to try).k2

With an LMM board, the work is visible and everyone immediately sees who is working on what, what has been completed, and what remains to be done. You can add information to the work items by, for instance:

  • colour coding for priority (for example, using red for high priority items),
  • including due dates (many software tools allow the board to be viewed as a calendar),
  • categorizing tasks (to allow for filtering by certain types of work, such as pleadings on a particular issue), and
  • using size (for example, small, medium, and large boxes) to indicate hours or complexity of work.

For larger matters, team meetings could focus on reviewing the board to co-ordinate work, identify where work might be stuck, and look for opportunities to do the work more efficiently or distribute it more evenly. You could even share a (perhaps restricted) view of the board with clients to provide up-to-the-minute information on the work you are doing on the matter.

Critical to the LMM/kanban approach is understanding that adding more work to a lawyer (or other team member) who is already fully committed to other work has four negative consequences:

  • A backlog of work waiting for that person develops.
  • Time is wasted as that person switches among the larger set of tasks now assigned (because reorienting deep attention on a task takes several minutes each time; so, the more tasks, the more time wasted).
  • The heavily tasked person becomes stressed worrying about all of the balls in the air.
  • Stress increases the possibility of errors.

The LMM solution for this is to limit the work-in-progress that each individual involved in the matter has at any given time (for instance, each person can have no more than a set number of hours of work in the “doing” column at any time). Placing limits forces individuals, the team, and leader to rebalance work and priorities realistically in the moment. The alternative is to pile the work on, have people work inefficiently, and be faced with some crisis as the deadline approaches.

Using software – with people and teams across multiple matters or projects – allows a team, firm, or law department to review work on a matter (or set of matters) for opportunities to improve the sequence and kinds of tasks, reuse a board for the next similar matter, balance workloads across a team or firm, and easily keep clients (whether internal or external) up-to-date on the status of work. You can also apply kanban to legal processes (for example, foreclosures) by setting each step in the process up as a column on a kanban board.

Applying our “practical and novel” test (from part one of this series), lean matter management rates as follows:

Test Answer Comment
Usable by both law firms and law departments Yes
Not widely in use Yes In use by only a small number of law firms (though widely used in other industries, such as software development)
Available now Yes
Track record to show the business results Yes Seyfarth Shaw LLP, known for LPM excellence, notes in the 2013 ILTA White Paper article, “Agile: A Non-traditional Approach to LPM” that “Kanban boards are an effective tool to track item backlog, work in progress and completed tasks. They are beneficial in visualizing and optimizing workflow in real time, and whether electronic or whiteboard with sticky notes, they often act as a centralized hub for team collaboration.”
Easy to adopt by most lawyers most of the time Yes Because it starts with what lawyers are already doing (and allows them to change what they like), it is easy to adopt
Can be started at a relatively small cost Yes Free and low-cost tools are available
Cost-effective Yes It is inexpensive per user and scalable (if using SaaS) and provides significant productivity improvement

LMM is a practical and novel innovation for law firms and departments.

Innovation Is Not a Dirty Word

23 Jun

censoredBy Gordon Vala-Webb, Principal at Building Smarter Organizations

It used to be that law firms simply looked at each other and made sure that they were neither too far ahead nor too far behind their pack of similar firms. In that world, anyone bringing an idea to firm leadership was immediately asked, “Who else is doing it?” Novel ideas were immediately suspect. Innovation was, in short, a dirty word. And, since law departments tend to be made up of law firm refugees and have far fewer resources, they too had little inclination and capacity to consider markedly new approaches (however desperate or overwhelmed they might feel).

However, law firms and in-house legal departments (now that many are keeping the work they once sent to outside counsel) are facing pressure to be faster, better, and cheaper. Sometimes that pressure can be intense – when, for instance, a firm’s revenues drop or a corporation applies restraints; sometimes the pressure is constant – more like boiling a frog. Either way, many managing partners and GCs are now looking for practical innovation that they can implement immediately.

Those leaders should also be looking for novelty, although that word may feel unsettling to them. Competition between firms is increasingly intensifying and competition between companies is already fierce. So, if everyone else is doing something, not much is to be gained by also doing it (unless that thing has become table stakes – in which case, doing that thing becomes necessary to stay in the game, but provides no basis for winning). In a series of posts about legal innovations that are both practical and novel (see my initial list), I will cover a wide range of approaches from practice efficiency to enhanced business development that may or may not require technology.

But what is novel? And what is practical? What test should be applied before bringing an idea forward? I suggest that ideally an idea should:

  • apply equally well to law firms and law departments,
  • not yet widely used (10% or fewer) by law firms or law departments – though possibly (or frequently) used outside of legal,
  • be currently available,
  • have some track record of positive business results (something leading, but not bleeding edge), evidenced by
    • improved efficiency,
    • reduced risk,
    • increased (internal or external) client satisfaction, or
    • attracting new work (or, for law departments, expanding the department’s mandate),
  • be easy for most lawyers to adopt most of the time (the tool or technique must build on or extend what most lawyers already do, rather than require them to do something entirely different),
  • can be started at relatively low cost (say, with a handful of lawyers in the pilot), and
  • be cost-effective when fully launched.

Let me know what you think of this proposed test for ideas and my initial list of novel and practical innovations – click here to review and rate the items on the list using the test. Also, let me know of any other ideas that should be tested and explored in this series. Together we can find identify the top ten innovations for law firms and law departments – and remove innovation from the naughty-words list.

More “Do Less Law”

26 May

by Ron Friedman, Senior Consultant, Fireman & Company

Corporate law departments face budget pressure and demand more value from their law firms. Yet they cannot clearly define value. Many in the market equate value with efficiency.  A focus only on efficiency, however, misses many other opportunities to control cost and create value. Doing something efficiently that does not need doing at all still wastes money. I expanded on this idea in my November 2011 blog post To Reduce Legal Spend, Do Less Law. I continue developing the idea in frequent #DoLessLaw Tweets and occasional Do Less Law blog posts.

What exactly does it mean, however, to do less law? And how big an opportunity is it? At ILTA 2015, you will have an opportunity to crowdsource the answers. Tim Corcoran and I will moderate an interactive session on this topic. In preparation for it, this post introduces the idea in more detail and seeks feedback.  Below is the taxonomy of Do Less Law options. Whether you think the ideas are terrible or great, we welcome comments or email to help refine it. And, we hope to see many of you at our session on Wednesday, September 2, 2015, at 3:30pm PDT in Las Vegas.  Our goal at the session is to get you and your colleagues discussing these ideas and deciding which are worth pursuing – and how to pursue them.

Do Less Law Taxonomy

1. Do what we now do but better
1.1 Improve Efficiency
1.1.1 Automate Lawyers learn tech to their work faster and more consistently
1.1.1. 2. Market adopts interactive advisory systems (e.g., Neota Logic) or cognitive computing (e.g, IBM Watson) to supplement or replace lawyer work
1. 1. 2. Improve process to eliminate waste
1. 1. 3. Manage work to control effort (legal project management)
1. 2. Reduce Cost
1.2.1. Staff matters with lower cost resources (“alternative staffing”)
1.2. 2. Partner with or use alternative providers (LPO, New Law, doc review companies, or .lower cost firms
1.2.3. Reduce overhead with smaller offices, moving work to low cost centers, and working virtually)
2. Do what we now do but less intensively
2. 1. Scope matters systematically, more specifically, decide explicitly the level of effort warranted
2.1.1. In transactions, decide what risks need papering
2.1. 2. In litigation, use risk analysis (decision trees) to value matters
2. 2. Stick to scope with legal project management (LPM)
3. Do less than we do now by practicing preventive law
3. 1. Improve compliance (or decide consciously the appropriate level of compliance)
3. 2. Identify legal risks in advance and then act to avoid them
3.2.1. Conduct legal health audit and act on findings
3.2.2. Use big data and analytics to find problem Detect prior “bad patterns” to prevent future recurrence
3.2.2. 2. Identify risky behaviors via analyzing email traffic (“big brother”)
3.3. Train corporate employees to comply where cost of non-compliance is too high
4. Re-think how we do what we do now
4. 1. “Settle” sooner
4.1.1. Decide litigation settlement value earlier and stick to it
4.1.2. Decide transaction key terms and stop negotiating when you get them
4.1.3. Decide how thorough a counseling answer is enough – what risks are you willing to live with – boulders or motes of dust?
4.2. Create open source law (this is not the law of open source code)
4.2.1. Pool know-how and re-usable documents across clients (privately or publicly, e.g., Docracy)
4.2.2. Think of this as collective knowledge management (KM)
4. 3. Automate contracts
4.3.1. Use existing technology more and more effectively Analyze and systematize contracts (with, e.g., KM Standards) Build document assembly systems Deploy contract lifecycle management software (e.g., Apttus or Selectica) Use eSigning software
4.3.2. Re-invent contracts Write contracts as software code Write contracts as database records (XML, JSON, or similar) Design and deploy a Blockchain approach
4.4. Re-think litigation
4.4.1. Substitute information governance for eDiscovery
4.4.2. Do risk analysis (e.g., decision trees) to assess individual matters and portfolios
4.4.3. Assess cases early and decide consciously whether to look for boulders, rocks, stones, pebbles, or motes of dust.
4.4.4. Online dispute resolution
4.5. Automate counseling
4.5.1. Collect inquiries systematically (KM)
4.5.2. Develop interactive advisory systems to handle high volume problems
4.5.3. Convert regulations into code

Listen Up: ILTA’s New Podcast Will Get You Moving

15 May

mobileBy Ginevra Saylor, National Director of Knowledge Management, Dentons Canada LLP

Do you think you know everything you need to know about mobility and the practice of law? If not, you will want to take a few minutes to sit back and listen to the new ILTA podcast, “Going Mobile – Getting Your Practice on the Road.” I had the pleasure of moderating this engaging and highly informative discussion that features three excellent panellists:

  • Dan Hauck is CEO of ThreadKM, a knowledge management platform that helps legal teams work together through integrated chat and file and project management. Before entering the world of technology, Dan practiced law at Bryan Cave LLP, where he focused on complex commercial and antitrust litigation.
  • Fiona Stone is a Systems Analyst at Perkins Coie LLP, where she administers systems and applications for the litigation, e-discovery, and personal planning groups and manages major cloud-based systems that her firm uses. Fiona holds several technical certifications, including Project Management Professional, and is a trained Six Sigma Green Belt and Lean expert.
  • Mark Thorogood is the Director of Application Services at Perkins Coie LLP. He holds several technical certifications, including Project Management Professional and Android Developer. During his tenure in the US Army, Mark earned the Distinguished Leadership Award and US Army Instructor of the Year. An invited member of the International Honor Society for the Computing and Information Disciplines, his passion is enabling others to maximize the value of technology.

Starting with a quick glimpse at the evolution of mobility in the legal industry, the speakers bring their own extensive and diverse experience to bear on a range of topics, including what every lawyer needs today to stay in the game and what additional tricks and tools can give them a real edge on the competition; what IT departments need to consider when developing a mobility strategy for their firm and pushing applications out to lawyers; and where the profession is likely headed with mobility in the next five to ten years. With a mix of practical advice, best practices, lesson learned, speculation, and humour, the three speakers candidly share a wealth of information listeners are bound to find useful and thought provoking.

And, while you are at it, you might want to also listen to “Improving Attorney productivity Through Third Party Applications” if you have not heard it yet.


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