Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

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
1.1.1.1 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
3.2.2.1. 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
4.3.1.1. Analyze and systematize contracts (with, e.g., KM Standards)
4.3.1.2. Build document assembly systems
4.3.1.3. Deploy contract lifecycle management software (e.g., Apttus or Selectica)
4.3.1.4. Use eSigning software
4.3.2. Re-invent contracts
4.3.2.1. Write contracts as software code
4.3.2.2. Write contracts as database records (XML, JSON, or similar)
4.3.2.3. 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.

New ILTA Podcast: “Increasing Attorney Productivity Through Third Party Apps”

12 Apr

appsBy Gwyn McAlpine, Director of Knowledge Management Services at Perkins Coie LLP

Are your attorneys asking you how they can get more done through their mobile devices? Are you wondering how to respond to this demand because of concerns about choosing, supporting and training from among thousands of apps on multiple platforms? Well, have we got a podcast for you!

In “Increasing Attorney Productivity Through Third Party Apps,” our panel discussion ranges from general issues in supporting mobility to our favorite apps for specific business cases. You’ll hear from two KM lawyers, a library director and a security specialist, giving a diversity of perspectives and ideas. Our panelists are:

The podcast covers the following topics:

  • Mobile device management and using it to push out firm-sanctioned apps
  • How the mobile app distribution model differs from traditional software distribution
  • Training and support of mobile apps
  • Apps for specific uses cases:
  • Doing legal work, such as accessing work product, editing, notetaking, research and trial support
  • Current awareness
  • Staying organized and connected in your professional life
  • Other ways to use small chunks of time

While we leave discussion of specific apps to the podcast (and please let me know if you need help finding any of the apps we mention), I thought I’d share some links for additional app inspiration (or app-spiration!):

  • iPhoneJD: Put this one in your blog reader app. This blog is authored by attorney and Apple fan, Jeff Richardson. He posts frequently on topics including app, accessory and device reviews, tips and tricks, and news round-ups. There’s a nice index on the site for finding past reviews and lists. This link takes you to a recap of the “60 Apps in 60 Minutes “ presentation at the 2014 ABA Techshow.
  • 40 Essential Apps for Trial Attorneys: Robert Ambrogi, another tech savvy attorney, recently posted on apps for trial attorneys via his LawSites blog.
  • How Legal Apps Rank Part 1 and Part 2: iBrary Guy analyzes legal apps based on downloads and earnings via App Annie. Part 1 addresses WestlawNext and Lexis Advance for legal research, and Part 2 discusses litigation and current awareness apps.

Hopefully, the podcast and the links above will give you ideas on helping your attorneys use their mobile devices for more than Angry Birds. In the spirt of productivity through mobility, download the podcast to your Podcast app and listen to it on your next commute or visit to the gym. It will keep you nicely occupied for about 53 minutes. We’d love to hear your thoughts (and favorite apps!) in the comments below.

P.S. I drafted this blog post on my iPad on a plane using the OneNote app. Yay for apps!

KM as Agents of Adoption

31 Oct

agentBy Gwyneth McAlpine, Director of Knowledge Management Services, Perkins Coie

Like many of you, I often start my day scanning the Pinhawk Law Technology Daily Digest while waiting for the coffee to kick in. The three-part series called “Why Do Law Firms Struggle With Strategic IT” (see part I, part II and part III), by David Houlihan, Esq. of BlueHill Research, caught my eye. It dissects why law firms are not doing more in response to calls for innovation and disruption, possible obstacles preventing the shift to more strategic IT, and thoughts on how to overcome those obstacles. Blame it on a lack of caffeine, but I immediately interpreted the series through the lens of my current problem: adoption of Knowledge Management resources and productivity tools. Like the IT departments discussed in the series, KM programs often roll out new tools and resources with hopes for high adoption only to have those hopes fall short in reality. Low adoption makes it difficult to show return on investment and get budget for the next projects, even those that promise innovation and disruption. If adoption is essential to continuing investment, how can we improve it?

The Adoption Challenge

Because attorneys are timekeepers, the time they spend on nonbillable activities – such as sharing feedback, participating in pilots, reading rollout communications, training, and changing their behavior – roughly equates to time spent on the couch. This causes resistance to change, lack of engagement with technology, and no time for learning about possible solutions to their business problems. So our efforts to teach attorneys how new innovations can help their practice often fall on deaf ears. With the pressure they are under, who could blame them? Can a robust adoption program conquer such obstacles?

Objectives of an Adoption Program

Strategies that tie our solutions more closely to attorneys’ problems could be the answer. The goal is to insinuate solutions into workflows to shift the burden from the attorneys back to ourselves. Ask yourself whether you are addressing the following objectives across the board and building on what works in your firm.

  • Focus on Ongoing Education, Not Rollout. The rollout fanfare is somewhat self-serving on our part. We want our project to be over and so we inundate users with rollout communications and training when it is most convenient for us – the end of our project. What happens next tends to be fairly ad hoc. Since no one remembers anything during a rollout, reduce the commitment to rollout and redirect that time and effort to ongoing adoption activities.
  • Go to the Attorneys. Stop assuming that attorneys read and digest our emails. We need to visit the attorneys where they are, in real-time. That means walking the halls and popping into offices, making time to attend and participate in regularly scheduled practice group and office meetings, and coordinating with Attorney Development to be part of their CLE-accredited programming. Though a huge time commitment, this direct touch can pay off. Live conversation often brings unexpected issues to light and you can shift your focus accordingly to make the time invested even more valuable and relevant.
  • Target the Audience. Preparing one set of materials for training and ongoing communications about our resources and tools is easy. But, different practice areas really are…well, different. Examples relevant to one group may not resonate with another. Our communications (whether written, live, or recorded) must be tailored with examples and situations for each practice group so that, for instance, litigators can see how your great new solution will help them litigate without the noise of the solution’s transactional application.
  • Marketing and Promotion. Take a marketing approach to adoption. While trying to convince someone to use your widget, you are actually educating them about it.  Maybe some enticing brochures that quickly and effectively convey the what, why and how of your resources or a trade-show booth at attorney retreats to show off the latest and greatest would serve your cause. We do a booth at our Partner Planning Conference to showcase a variety of services (with giveaways for visitors, of course!) and, after some growing pains, we are seeing some success in getting the word out about new resources.
  • Tie to the Larger Business Environment. We are often more current on changes in the legal industry that affect the business of law than our attorneys are. Think of how, for example, AFAs, the legal tech audit, and legal project management (LPM) have changed the conversation in recent years. When promoting our resources and tools, we need to include the context of the larger business environment so our attorneys understand the importance of evolving their practice. When working with practice groups on developing their forms and precedents libraries, consider conveying the strong client demand for LPM and the vital contribution KM resources paly in LPM’s success. It is not just about individual legal skills anymore, my friend!
  • Be the Concierge. Our attorneys do not care which department sponsors which resources. We should ensure KM knows about the full panoply of offerings across the firm and acts as a concierge. When attorneys have problems, do not make them forum shop; rather, help them with the solution. In this way, KM acts as an advisor and problem-solver.  When we match solutions to problems, adoption follows.   And, this leads to my final point…

Be an Agent of Adoption

I have been a little vague in talking about “resources and tools” to allow you to assume I have been talking only about what is in your world. Actually, I think KM professionals are ideally suited to take on broader adoption activities. While we need to learn about and tackle adoption challenges for our own KM resources and tools, are we not equally well-positioned to bring value to attorneys by matching their business needs with other technology tools and firm resources that enhance their productivity? Assuming many KM programs have an ultimate goal of increasing attorney productivity, does it matter whether what makes an attorney more productive comes from KM, IT, or Finance? To become an agent of adoption, consider developing a program that targets not just your own department’s efforts, but also anything that enhances attorney productivity. Being an attorney-adoption clearinghouse puts us right in the middle of bringing meaningful solutions to attorneys.

What adoption challenges do you face? How have you successfully overcome these challenges? Are you an agent of adoption in your firm? Please contribute your experience and ideas in the comments below!

ILTA KM Peer Group Steering Committee Opportunity

5 Aug

Guest Post by Chris Boyd, Peer Group Vice President

ILTA’s Knowledge Management Peer Group Steering Committee has an opening and we’re looking for an interested volunteer to fill it. The KM peer group works with ILTA, fellow peer groups, and regional leadership to deliver programs and publications on how law firms and law departments can use KM to help their attorneys and other professionals be more effective and efficient and ultimately deliver more value to their clients. We enjoy working together to develop conference sessions, put on webinars and local meetings, encourage the use of the e-group, publish an annual white paper, post on this blog, collaborate with vendors on peer-focused programming, and otherwise capitalize on ILTA’s excellent resources to facilitate peer knowledge sharing and champion KM.

Our steering committee has eight people, and one of our long-serving members has decided to step down, so we are looking to fill that slot. Our departing member is from Washington D.C., and because we collaborate with local KM groups and each have an assigned regional ILTA group to work with, we are especially interested in applicants from ILTA’s Middle Atlantic region (Delaware, D.C., Kentucky, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia), but that is a preference rather than a firm requirement.

Click here to learn more about Steering Committee member qualifications and responsibilities, as well as to submit your application. Please also feel free to contact me at cboyd@wsgr.com or 650-354-4195 if you have any questions.

ILTA Conference KM Track Preview

25 Jul

Imagine Guest post by David Hobbie, KM PG Steering Committee, Conference Committee Liaison

The amazing annual conference put on by ILTA in Nashville, Tennessee is less than a month away!  This post lays out the speakers and substance for the six sessions on the “formal” km track, that organized by the KM Peer Group itself–although, as in other years, numerous other sessions are being organized by knowledge management professionals, address knowledge management concerns, or are otherwise of interest to the knowledge management community.  I’ve already located a few time slots when I would like to clone or perhaps “bi-clone” myself, so I could be in two or three places at once.

This year the KM track is grouped early in the week, with four sessions Monday August 18 and one each on Tuesday August 19 and Wednesday August 20.

The KM Peer Group is also hosting a reception on Tuesday evening at 4:30 PM in the Governor’s A Foyer, in the time between the last session of the day and the annual Distinguished Peer Award ceremony (the reception is generously sponsored by HighQ.)

Tweeting during the sessions can leverage the #ilta14 hashtag (already seeing significant amounts of vendor traffic) and the session hashtags, which are #kmpg1 through #kmpg6 and will be announced at the beginning of every session.  Please note that twitter searches on the session-specific may reflect previous years’ information, for a while at least.

1. Expert Systems, #kmpg1

Title:  The Rise of Expert Systems: Threat or Opportunity to Traditional Legal Services?  

Description:

It is no longer necessary to build technology that “bakes in” legal wisdom to deliver fact-based advice. Instead, expert systems for delivering legal advice are coming more into play, led by providers, client-facing document assembly products and budget wizards. What types of legal market needs do these kinds of products meet, what opportunities are ahead for law firms and legal departments, and how can law departments best harness the collective wisdom of their and their law firms’ lawyers?

The first session after the keynote, Monday at 11 AM in “Governor’s B,” features an innovative technology, “expert systems,” which has only recently made the transition from laboriously developed custom one-off creations to mobile or intranet applications, developed on an expert system platform (read more about expert systems on my Caselines posts here and here.)

Speaking at the session are Neota Logic President & Chief Strategy Officer* Michael Mills, whose company Neota Logic created the platform for creating expert system apps, Scott Rechtschaffen, CKO at Littler Mendelson, who has already publicly leveraged expert systems with the Health Care Reform Advisor, and Professor Tanina Rostain, who runs the Georgetown Law’s Iron Tech Lawyer competition that also leverages expert systems technology for the benefit of legal services. The panel will be moderated by Ginevra Saylor.

2. Security, #kmpg2

Title: KM, Security and Compliance: Fist Fight or Compromise?  

Description:

Clients demand compliance with strict information security guidelines vis-à-vis protection of legal work product. But the “need to know” security model could hinder information access and collaborative KM processes, including, but not limited to, accessibility of enterprise search. Clients are under regulatory pressures and are cracking down on what they consider lackadaisical law firm security. Is there a right balance or compromise that can address the concerns of all involved — clients, KM and security officers? Come watch the fight unfold!

The next KM session, after lunch on Monday at 1 PM, in the same room, “Govenor’s B.” Security is an increasing concern for law firms and legal organizations. Pressure to enhance security has flowed from federal and state regulators to corporations and to corporate legal service providers such as large law firms.  Many approaches to security directly or potentially conflict with knowledge management practices and goals, such as the ability to search across client matter files. We’ll hear about this issue from the perspective of key stakeholders on all sides.

Speakers include moderator Tim Golden of McGuireWoods, James Tuvell of Fox Rothschild, Dawn Radcliffe of TransCanada Pipelines, and Jim Higdon of Vendor Direct Solutions.

3. Experience, #kmpg3

Title: Leveraging Experience To Enhance the Bottom Line: New Information and New Tools

Description:

Firms are under pressure to collect more information about firm experiences and new kinds of information that relate to estimating the expected costs of new matters. New processes, information systems and staff are needed to meet this challenge, which will ultimately result in accurate pricing, effective business development and the efficient provision of legal services. Come hear more about how experience management can enhance your firm’s pricing, budgeting and KM efforts.

Next up, in the same room at 2:30 PM, is a session highlighting new uses for what is in some firms old technology and business process.  Come hear how some firms may have found a way to uncover the “gold” hidden in the firm’s experience and financial information.

Speakers will address key requirements for effective experience databases, when used primarily for pricing purposes rather than marketing purposes; discuss new technology that is being leveraged for experience management; and have a robust discussion about different approaches that different organizations have taken to this old area of inquiry and work that has new meaning in today’s legal industry.

Speakers include Toby Brown of Akin Gump, Andrew Pauluhn of Bryan Cave, and Matt Laws of Crowell & Moring.  I will be moderating.

4. Failure #kmpg4

TitleIt’s a Failure Party! How To Celebrate These Learning Opportunities

Description: 

Embrace productive failure! We’re not celebrating failure itself, but rather the ability to learn from it. While some tend to be reluctant to acknowledge or follow up on their mistakes, we know this is not an ideal strategy. Come listen to several successful legal information management professionals tell stories about their least successful projects, what they’ve learned and how to turn your last failure into an opportunity for future success.

Same room, 4 PM.  Learning from past experiences, good and bad, is an essential component of knowledge management and project  management.  Experienced panelists will offer perspectives on learning from failure from the military (Col. Scott Reid (retired), formerly leader of the Army JAG Corps KM, now of Littler Mendelson), and KM (John Gillies of Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP and recent conference co-chair Rachelle Renegal of  Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler), moderated by Scott Rechtschaffen.  Do not fail to attend or you might regret it!

5. Gamification #kmpg5

Title: Gaming the Lawyers: Driving Adoption, Contribution and Change 

Description:

Motivating people to change their behavior often comes with KM territory. Can gamification help change behavior by making the change competitive and fun? With gamification moving beyond a fad in the corporate world, this session will explore a few examples of successful gamification in aid of KM programs inside legal organizations. Join us to see if we can motivate you to brainstorm and share ideas on how to apply gamification in the context of legal KM. Competitive ILTAns may race to chime in!

The next KM track session is an extended Tuesday morning session at 11 AM in Governor’s C/D.  Rather than offer my own gloss, I link to moderator Milena Higgens’ recent ILTA KM blog post on the session.

Speakers are Raul Taveras of Fish & Richardson,  Pamela Woldow of Edge International, Scott Reid of Littler Mendelson, and Rubsun Ho of Cognition LLP.

The KM Peer Group reception is Tuesday evening, 4:30 PM, in the Governor’s Foyer.

6. KM and Advertising #jnog6

 Title:  Upselling KM:  What Would Don Draper Do? 

Description:

What would Don Draper do if he were put in charge of a legal knowledge management program? In other words, what points must be made to firm leadership to start or reinvest in KM initiatives? How can you “sell” the value of KM in the current market? We’ll present insights from knowledge management professionals who have successfully “sold” KM in their organizations. 

This charismatic panel of experienced and successful knowledge management practitioners has repeatedly made the pitch for knowledge management within their legal organizations.  Come hear some of their secrets in what is sure to be an entertaining and educational session.

Speakers include the handsome Tom Baldwin of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, the beautiful Meredith L. Williams-Range of Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz, and the dapper Joshua Fireman of Fireman & Company, moderated by talented KM Distinguished Peer Patrick DiDominico. Cigars and Scotch optional.
*Earlier version of this post had an incorrect title.

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 210 other followers