Session Report–Innovative Member of the Year Contest

23 Aug

Post by David Hobbie, ILTA KM PG

These are my notes from the session where the speakers are seeking to win the “Innovative Member of the Year” Award. People present voted for the award, which will be presented on Thursday night at the ILTA Awards Dinner.

Bryan Cave

John Alber is presenting not on a particular innovation but on creating a process for creating innovation, “Creating an Innovation Factory.”  His session showed the innovation approach suggested by both of this week’s keynotes in action, moving structurally and profitably to change the way the law firm does its work.

Bryan Cave has set up three groups in a formal structure for creating innovation.

As addressed in the keynotes, innovation is at the core of the best companies in the world.  Lawyers are not known for innovation.  But there are opportunities to innovate in the legal sector.  Law firms are not structured to take advantage of innovation.  IT in many organizations is the source of innovation.  In law firms the focus on “utter reliability” of systems for capturing and storing the key legal knowledge work product detracts from their ability to innovate.

Law departments focus most of their innovation in reducing legal spend on fees to preferred counsel.

Bryan Cave has created three groups for innovating in particular areas relating to client legal spend, Client Technology Group, Accelerated Review Team, and the Practice Economics Group.

CTI was set up as a sanctioned “skunk works,” a sanctioned R & D laboratory within the firm, with web developers, business analysts, and content specialists.  It is independent of IT with a very different, change-focused mission (not reliability focused).  It is has had many successes such as online legal service delivery, social media knowledge platforms, and workflow management.

Accelerated Review Team created in 2010 to establish leading-edge streamlined review workflow problems, mainly in eDiscovery but also in review-intensive transactional work.

The third team is Practice Economics Group, set up to provide a new set of tools and techniques to help attorneys manage legal spend.  It’s already created tools to price engagements, track and manage engagements, reporting tools for commodity litigation, and give managers insight into the operations.  They provide support for AFAs and pricing.

There are 75 people in these three groups.  They are involved throughout the firm, very widely accepted, and support the highest dollar engagements.

Projects include:

  • Complex system to aid engagement teams of hundreds of lawyers on financial sector mortgage foreclosure crisis
  • Budgeting and dashboard app to develop detailed
  • Mobile pricing apps
  • Per-gigabyte pricing model, for lawyers work on document review
  • Claims management for client
  • Client-level & available dashboards for budget and project tracking
  • WIP and receivables monitoring system, aging etc.
  • Workflow management system for managing broker-dealing litigation, allowing it to be pushed down to more junior lawyers
  • AFA modeling tools

A client was pricing consumer financial litigation at half of what previous cost was going to be.  They developed a comprehensive management suite.  Intake captures essential data about jurisdiction, plaintiff’s lawyers, causes of action.  A management tab for every phase of litigation including risk-weighted assessment.  Tools facilitate production of work product.  A tool looks at a particular matter and helps attorneys identify that particular issues are active in that case, leading to a document assembly that generates a brief in support of motion to dismiss.  It was developed collaboratively with the case team, and the accelerated review team.  They looked for the best arguments among 80 different issues, and condensed into best practices, linked to a document assembly package.

Bryan Cave made a structural rather than an rhetorical commitment to innovation.

Margin on these innovations is estimated and projected to be in excess of $10 million.  John suggests that this innovation is leading Bryan Cave to where law firms will be needing to go.

Prioritization is based on “clients come first” and “look for the revenue stream.”

Fish and Richardson

My Social Media In Law Firms panelist Beau Mersereau is presenting on “OutLaw,” Fish and Richardson’s application that brings all the firm information attorneys need into Outlook.  He was assisted by another gentleman whose name I did not catch.

They already have high-definition videoconferencing and a lot of other custom applications.

They’ve found that attorneys live in Outlook.

Outlaw’s home page allows search of matters, documents, or contacts, view matters, worklist, and docket.

There is a tabbed view of those options.

He’s narrating a video, as the live demo would not work well.  I was impressed by how smoothly they handled the demo; they were very well prepared.

Internal and external contacts are searcheable.

Matter view shows user’s relationship to the matter (this is a good idea!) The worklist shows the matters worked on last 90 days (can be adjusted from 1-100 days).

Can do work such as time entry from a “power bar.”

In a document view, dragging them into a shortcut bar lets others access the document more quickly.  It’s a customizable Key Documents tab.  Anyone who works on the case can create their own tabs and documents.  It looks pretty easy to use, with drag-and-drop and right-clicks.

Outlaw also shows email drag and drop in a manner like FileSite, but it could also go into “Prolaw.”

It’s unique because it’s a unified interface within Outlook.  It’s captured a lot more time.

Seyfarth Shaw

“Transformation of Seyfarth Shaw LLP’s Project Management Office.”

Three women from Seyfarth presented.  I did not catch their names either.

Their PMO was founded in 2004, positioned outside IT, and had a diverse background in finance, IT, business operations, and telecommunications.  All are technically savvy and have an end-user perspective.

Projects focused on DMS, CRM, and employed traditional project management approaches.  They built relationships with “normal” IT.  They became known as the program that could “get things done.”

In 2008 they ran a first client-facing initiative in a compliance / employment matter.  The next transformation involved a camping trip (in a conference room).  They decided to change their internal-facing PMO to a client-facing PMO that would interact with lawyers to work with clients.  They decided to spend 70% of their time on the client-facing PMO.

No one else had a process they could emulate.

Their key word is “activate.”

INNOVATION; middle row of letters of Vision, Ingenuity, Brainstorm, Teamwork, Motivation, Creativity, Incentive, Inspiration, Development, Planning.

Firm has opened up a consulting branch that is delivering PMO services to existing clients and new clients, it’s been opening the door for provision to other services.  Seyfarth is trying for continuous improvement (kaizen), through process mapping and much more.  Clients are starting to participate in process mapping and fine-tuning.  Clients are asking Seyfarth to help them with process mapping.

Good communication is key to LPM.  They’ve had a more structured approach.  Project managers attend pitching.  They’ve doubled the size of the department.  77% of their time is devoted to client

They’ve received great feedback from the clients on their innovations.


For other’s comments on this very informative session please see the twitter stream for #award1.

To break the wall between reporting and participating, I will say that I voted for Bryan Cave.  All the presentations were excellent; John Alber, however, laid out in much greater detail the huge benefits to his firm’s legal business from his structural change of creating separate groups for legal technology and services innovation.


One Response to “Session Report–Innovative Member of the Year Contest”

  1. here April 16, 2015 at 9:53 pm #

    Thanks for another excellent post. Where else could anyone get that kind of
    info in such a perfect manner of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I
    am on the search for such information.

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