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Challenges For Law Firm KM: The Billable Hour Model?

17 Feb
Post By ILTA Steering Committee Member Chris Boyd

In recent decades, the prevailing revenue model for large law firms has been the billable hour.  Many people think this model hinders law firm KM programs in two ways: first, because under it the connection between KM-driven efficiencies and profit is less clear, and second, because time spent by attorneys on KM is not billable and thus usually not recognized or rewarded. This observation is of course not new; Ron Friedmann, John Gillies, Ted Tjaden, and others have discussed the challenges to KM posed by the billable hour model.  So while KM done well is absolutely the right thing to do — because it increases the value provided to clients, hopefully leading to increased client satisfaction and client retention, and it also improves the practice of law for a firm’s attorneys – it may nonetheless suffer from underinvestment.

One long-standing explanation for the perceived lack of monetary returns to a firm from KM is that lawyers who charge by the hour want to make each task last as long as possible, so as to pad the bill and collect more money.  Anything that cuts the time per task, such as well-done KM, thus reduces revenue and won’t be valued. While this view may have some cynical appeal, my experience has been markedly different.  Lawyers generally want to get their work done well and quickly, to please clients and move on to the next assignment. Any attorney who frequently works late and yearns for a more balanced life has a strong reason to work efficiently.  And any partner who regularly writes time off prebills has an equally strong incentive to see that service is delivered efficiently, to cut down on write-offs and increase realization.

Even in the absence of this cynical view, however, the billable hour model does still handicap KM as a potential firm investment, because it is difficult to prove that KM delivers bottom-line returns under such a model.  Increased efficiency and value to clients?  Sure.  Better work-life balance?  Sometimes.  But clear, quantifiable, profitability increases driven by either increased revenues or decreased costs?  Not so much.  In fact, showing true KM-driven ROI has for years been an elusive quest for law firm KM leaders because under the billable hour model, it is very difficult to show a directly profitability increase by implementing KM.  Without that hard numerical business case, KM will usually get short shrift when it comes time to allocate precious headcount and program budget dollars.

But change a matter’s billing structure from hours-based to a fixed fee, and suddenly the benefits of KM resources become more visible in the firm’s bottom line.  Delivering the same (or better) results with fewer hours both delights clients and increases a firm’s profit margin on the matter, and may increase the firm’s overall profit margin as well, depending on how the “saved” hours are allocated.  For firms that measure per-matter profitability, KM-driven time savings on fixed-fee deals or cases can be quite compelling.

How, then, can CKOs use fixed fees and other AFAs to overcome the billable barrier to increased investment in KM capabilities?  One way is to work with firm management, practice group leaders or even individual partners to develop packaged service offerings with fixed fees that appeal to clients and lend themselves to KM-driven efficiencies such as precedent databases, automated documents, and expertise locators.  CKOs can support such packaged services by making sure their KM teams deliver the resources, processes, and training to enable efficient service delivery.  CKOs can also work with marketing and finance departments to develop client-facing materials promoting the benefits to clients of the service offerings and measure the resulting uptake by clients along with the associated revenues and profits.

Another way is to design and deploy tools that partners or the finance department can use to estimate one-off fixed fees based on matter parameters.  The underlying algorithms will likely rely on past matter fee data and associated variables from KM matter tracking systems.  And done well, these tools will help partners quote competitive yet achievable fees, and thus increase the number of such fees the firm quotes.  Growing usage of fixed fees will in turn create demand for the KM resources required to deliver efficiently on the promised fee.
The second way that the billable hour revenue model can hinder firms’ KM efforts is that while client-facing attorneys absolutely need to participate in KM initiatives, they can be reluctant to do so because the time spent will be non-billable and thus not count towards billable hour totals that are so frequently used by firms to assess performance and allocate bonuses and other compensation.  Attorneys rightfully spend most of their time on work for which they will receive credit and for which the business will obtain revenue.
To address this challenge, many larger firms have hired full-time professional support lawyers or subscribed to services such as Practical Law Company.  While doing so can provide excellent results, for firms not willing or able to make this level of investment, there are other ways to address this challenge:

  1. Make KM time equivalent to billable hours, perhaps capped at some reasonable annual total given that firm leaders are unlikely to approve unlimited amounts of KM time that doesn’t bring in revenue.  Our firm has done this, and our experience is that the capped credit does motivate associates to spend time on KM projects.  KM leaders do need to check time recorded to KM matter numbers to make sure the work is legitimately KM, and not mis-coded client or administrative work, but that’s a small price to pay for the benefits that the capped credit brings.
  1. Clearly and tangibly reward associate work on KM projects, through performance review plaudits, public recognition, or other methods. This may work where firm or practice group leadership visibly champions KM but may not be able or willing to make KM time fully or partially billable.
  1. Sidestep the reluctance of billable attorneys to participate in KM projects by pursuing a “windmill” strategy to power KM projects via existing firm processes.  Ron Friedmann and I wrote about this for the June 2006 ILTA KM whitepaper, and the ideas set forth in the article continue to work..

Other suggestions?  Feel free to contribute in the Comments.


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.

Report From ILTA Conference–Transformation Through Emerging Technologies

23 Aug

Post by David Hobbie, ILTA KM PG

The panel was comprised of:

  • Gerard Neiditsch, Exec. Director, Business Integration & Technology, Mallesons
  • Michael Mills, Neota Logic
  • Loretta Auer, CIO, Fish & Richardson
  • Sally Gonzalez, Senior Director, HBR Consulting

This enlightening session highlighted several thought leader’s forward-looking opinions on actual and potential transformations of legal work through emerging technologies.  They moved at breathtaking speed but touched on a number of areas of innovation that will or may impact the field.

Sally’s Introduction

What comes first? Technology change or organizational change?  When do you see external forces driving incorporation of technology change into the organization.

This is the wrong question.

Lawyers want to work at any place, any time, on any device, by 2020.  We keep getting there in baby steps.  Today we are in “hyper-information” mode.  We are in the cusp of hypermobility which will lead to hyper-communication.  We’ll need hyper users.

Virtual lawyering will require maturation in each of these areas.  What will the virtual lawyer look like?

We’re all dealing with lawyers.  Psychologists have run thousands of Hayes tests on lawyers.  Deviations from normal include high-end skepticism, leading to analysis paralysis, autonomy, and abstract reasoning.  They are low in sociability and resilience, meaning they are hyper-sensitive to criticism.  90% of people don’t share lawyers “sense of urgency.”

These personality traits are different from the general population.  Change efforts need to take into account these traits.

Michael Mills

These characteristics are matched with brains, skills, and speed, making lawyers interesting to work with.

Firms are drowning in data.  There’s more information available, it’s not delivered in useful ways.  Software for building data visualization is now reasonable and accessible.  Providing spreadsheets of data doesn’t provide the information lawyers need in a way they can use it to act.

“Basic” Visualization

He’s showing Actual vs. Forecast revenue by partner, with rows of partners.  Partners understand colors and spatial order.  Forward is better than backward, red is bad, yellow is less bad, green is good.  Another chart compares matter size by fee type and client industry.  Fixed / Hourly / Hybrid / Outcome-based; 0-$100K/ 100-200 K, etc., with colors showing industry.  You could also compare matters by client industry and region.

Radical Visualization

This new application provides visualize of legal rules, for instance, across jurisdictions.  Lawyers laid out the risks, qualifications, in a detailed memo; this can be reduced, for instance, to a “collateral directive” chart, showing no/ usually / uncertain / yes (with colors).  If you click on one of the sections, you drill down to the related substance.

Law is transformed from chunks of text to the same tools that client use to analyze other aspects of their business.  Visual interpretation of risk is much easier to digest.

Loretta Auer

Some providers of legal services to lower-income people are developing multi-media legal documents based on knowledge bases and rules.  The Maricopa County Arizona court system has set up kiosks that help citizens generate own legal documents for divorce, child support, landlord-tenant matters, and simple estates.  They’re expanding to 150.  These systems simplify law and make it more accessible.  It’s part of a large nationwide pro bono effort.  Law firms that participate in this effort are gaining an understanding

If it’s easy to find your reservation on JetBlue, it better be easy to find information from clients’ law firms.

Gerard Neiditsch

The background is Mallesons Connect (addressed in Caselines here).  Lawyers are accustomed to command and control system in which collaboration does not come naturally.  The new generation of clients and lawyers is expecting to operate in a network.  Our IT systems work from the top down.  We can pump out information from the top down but find it hard to aggregate and coalesce information coming in from the “bottom.”

Some of the lawyer’s children talk to them from time to time and share their experiences with social media (like FaceBook).  His lawyers reached out to him and said they wanted a way to reach out to people they work for.  He’s suggested social media and they seemed to get it.

“Springboard” will be rolled out in 2-3 months.  In one place it will bring in a prioritized view of what lawyers need to do, a view of social information.  The end goal is for every person at the firm to have a prioritized, aggregate, personalized dynamic view of information about work, client needs, and their social and information network.   Make the good important information float to the top.

Mallesons has a matrix organization with practice areas and (industry) sectors.  You can follow information that is tied to those structures.  Everything is dynamic.

His goal is to make information much more transparent.  Half of their pricing is fixed (informally or formally).  Transparency is absolutely more important.  Everyone on the team needs to see where you are.

He shows a dashboard that shows all the matters he’s working on, with schedule, popup window with detail on a matter; you can see others working on it including detail such as Invoiced / WIP / Total / Estimate / % Estimate.  People’s availability is shown dynamically, updated every 4 seconds.  They are focused on *very* dynamic information.  They need to hide static information because it’s not needed as much.  They are trying to highlight dynamic information.  SharePoint is unsuitable for such dynamic information (ask him for details).

They have developed a mobile app (sample shown was on an iPhone) with high acceptance among clients.  It allows clients to call, text, email, and show a lawyer’s colleagues.  It will also display project statistics and financials.  They have no time for training.  iOs native development is a challenge—Michael Mills is impressed that Mallesons has done it, and feels that it is worth the investment.  It has development tools that are as easy to use as Microsoft work.

Sally asks how they are driving acceptance.  Gerard replies that they are not expecting lawyers to go to training.  They are putting “liking” and “following” on their intranet.

Michael Mills on Mobile

He shows a chart laying out location of texting (place of worship, bed, during meeting); there are much higher percentages of texting among younger folk, not surprisingly.

A survey shows that users employ mobile phones/iPads 69% of the time to do work; the survey also shows that IT thinks users are only employing about 35% f the time.

The new iPad will likely be “the new iPad.”

Loretta on the Gestural Computing and the Post PC world

Pranav Mistry of the MIT Fluid Intefaces Group is working on “sixthsense.”  It’s a wearable gestural interface.  It projects a hologram.  Look at airplane ticket, it shows you that your flight is delayed.  With it you can use a blank sheet of paper as an iPad.  People don’t want computing, they want to get things done.

These are personal technologies.  Why would you go to an office where the technology is more primitive?

If bandwidth continues to improve, HD video will be much more prevalent.  GoTo Meeting is getting better; it’s not Cisco telepresence, but it’s a lot better than IM or phone.  Michael wonders if that will make us question what lawyers need all those offices for.

Loretta on Voice Recognition

We’ve had voice recognition tech but most people don’t use it.  We need to take it to a different level.

Dragon is the quickest way to start a search.  (Michael Mills is a convert.)  In a large law firm, where you can customize Dragon for a law firm, you can roll it out quickly.  There’s a lot of productivity value there.  Conceptualize the applications that would be meaningful to them.  Search for someone, drill down into financials, and so forth.

An audience member asked if there is a copy of each message kept on Dragon servers.  She said that fact kept them from rolling out Dragon to lawyers.

Lawyers in the UK appear to take dictation more seriously.  The return of voice recognition may happen; the skill of speaking in good sentences and paragraphs persuasively is a skill also useful in deal negotiations and in the courtroom.

Unified communications will greatly assist productivity.

Michael thinks that Microsoft Link is a good product—it gets a lot of things right.

Loretta on Avatar-Based Meeting Support

Go online and watch demos at IBM Virtual Unity Community where people are taking “Second Life” concept into workflow and collaboration.

The head of Microsoft’s research labs was saying that bandwidth will be a constraint for the next five years.  They are looking at system where body is an avatar but the head is “real” looking.  It looks odd but may become normal.

Loretta’s Social Media Work

iFish “I Create.  I Innovate.  Escape the Tank.  iFish.”  They are building an “Outlaw” application that will be highlighted in the next session.  

Sally on Managing Organizational and Individual Transformations

Will law firms “drive creativity out of the young folks”?  Younger lawyers tend to mirror the behavior of the senior partners.  There are senior partners who embrace these changes.  A transformational leader will pull along those who are ready.  You may not be able to make that leader, but you can find her.

Michael hypothesizes that we under-invest in leveraging partner’s capabilities.  Declare this the “year of the partner.”  Undertake every IT initiative just for the partners.

Virtual Lawyering

For firms, this means VMWare, virtualizing applications, and also mobility for lawyers.  Some examples of “invisible law firms.”  Axiom does substantive legal work on a disbursed basis, “Law firm on a diet.”  Clearspire does something similar, addressed on this blog a few months ago. VLP Law Group virtualized very high end work in a virtual way.  LawPivot participants are like a virtual law firm.  DirectLaw and Legalzoom are at the “small end.”  Legalzoom will raise money, clients will see this model.  Google invested in RocketLawyer.  These will impact the way we do business.  Consumerization of the way clients deal with lawyers will impact law firms.

In Fish & Richardson, different teams deal with substantive KM and also are changing how they want to work.  They are co-developing applications, self-service issues, and more.  They have a three-year window to ramp it up.  They have a sense of collaboration, and want to work with each other.  It’s a great place to be in IT when you are helping lawyers figure out better ways to do their jobs and live their lives.  Attorneys don’t have a lot of time to deal with this.

An excellent session, combining to an unusual degree some practical solutions that are happening now and some more theoretical changes that might occur someday.


Knowledge Management and the ACC Value Challenge: ILTA Conference Discussion

10 Aug

Post By David Hobbie, ILTA KM PG

Conference is just two short weeks away.  There’s been some great conversation on this blog following John Albers’ guest post on Making An Impossible Engagement Possible, about a crowdsourced session on Monday August 22, and a lot already happening on Twitter and, now Google+ as well.  There will be a few more posts here about KM track sessions before conference, this being the first.

The last session of the KM track, “KM Helps Meet the ACC Value Challenge,” is taking place Wednesday August 24th at 3:30 PM in room “Delta C,” immediately before a cocktail reception sponsored by Recommind that will be in the same room.  No ogling the beers during our session please.  The Twitter hashtag for this session is #KMPG6.

The formal description:

The Association for Corporate Counsel (ACC) has challenged law firms to better understand their clients’ business, be more efficient in their work, be more effective in training junior lawyers, and better budget and manage costs. Find out how knowledge management can help achieve these goals.

The panelists are Mary Panetta of Crowell & Moring, Jeffrey Brandt of Clearspire, and Thomas Wisinski of Haynes Boone.

I’ll be moderating, and providing an introduction to the ACC Value Challenge;  then, because this is such a potentially broad topic, we’ll be asking the audience to self-select into one of three discussion groups, which will carry on at the same time.  (This means you might have to move if you find yourself in a section of the room that will cover a topic you don’t care for as much as that in another section of the room.)

The three topics:

1.  Communication About Financial Information (discussion led by Mary)

One of the key values or goals of the challenge is enhanced communication between clients and firms about the goals and status (particularly but not exclusively monetary status) of matters.  What is KM’s role currently in enhancing client communication?  What should it be?

2. Communication Through Social Collaboration Tools (Jeff)

Another approach might be to “socialize” the work on the matter, such that activity like adding a document to a wiki platform kicks off a notification of a change.  Wikis also allow the team working on the matter to collaboratively develop status reports.  How can collaboration tools help internal teams add more value?  How can collaboration tools enhance communications and work relations between clients and law firms?

3.  “Core KM” and Enhanced Value (Tom)

The ACC Value challenge calls for the greater value to clients in part through creating greater incentives for more efficient legal work.  Substantive KM resources are an obvious way that matters teams can work more efficiently, but they can be hard (read:  expensive) to create and challenging to maintain.  How can firms overcome that challenge?  Is it possible to share the cost of value creation through “traditional” KM with the client?  When is the best time to invest in such resources?

After the three sets of discussions, we will resume “general session” and bring back to the whole audience the primary thoughts and lessons expressed in the sub-sessions.

I look forward to seeing you there and to your contributions to the discussion.


Making An Impossible Engagement Possible

26 Jul

Guest Post by John Alber, Strategic Technology Partner at Bryan Cave LLP

At the ILTA Conference in Nashville, at 1 PM on Monday August 22, Ayelette Robinson, Rudy DeFelice and I will be conducting a session called “Making An Impossible Engagement Possible.” It will be unlike most other sessions because it is our intention to crowdsource the content and run the session as a highly interactive Bar Camp.

We are beginning that process with a problem statement posted here. Our hope is to enlist a wide audience in the creative process of solving this problem and to conduct the preliminary brainstorming discussions in this forum, on Twitter and in a number of other social media venues. For Twitter, we’ll use the hash tags #ILTA11 #ORG2, which tie to the session number at conference. We’ll net up all the crowdsourced material during the session. It should be fun and informative.

Now, on to the problem statement. It’s derived from some very real engagements faced by firms around the country:

Your firm has had a long relationship with a major financial institution–Mega Mega Bank. As a consequence of the housing bubble bursting and the ensuing recession, the bank is dealing with a number of defaulted consumer and business loans. It’s facing hundreds or even thousands of lawsuits. Each suit is, on average, not a major matter, ranging from a few thousand to a few hundreds of thousands of dollars at risk. But collectively, they pose a significant expense to Mega Mega Bank.

Rather than asking the law firms that serve it for price estimates to do the lawsuits, the bank has set a not-to-exceed price for each suit. That price is extraordinarily aggressive. It is a fraction of the average your firm has been charging for such suits to date, and you regard your teams working on the suits as already quite lean, leveraged and efficient.

Your firm views the business with Mega Mega Bank as strategic and it has decided to do a portfolio of some hundreds of cases at the price proposed by the bank. The lawyers, project managers and technologists who will assist in handling these matters do not, at present, have any firm ideas how they will do the work to a high quality standard while, at the same time, controlling costs so as to make the engagements economically feasible.

Your job is to work with others on the team to find a way, or many ways, to accomplish high quality work at a much lower cost than has previously been possible. The firm will invest as necessary to preserve the relationship–within reason. But time is of the essence. The longer the team does business the old way, the more money the firm will lose.

What steps can the firm take immediately to meet its goals here? What steps can it take over the medium term? What technologies and process improvements can be brought to bear? What can the firm do to increase the likelihood of success? In thinking about this, don’t limit yourself to your area of expertise. Cross boundaries. And don’t limit yourself to conventional solutions. If a conventional solution worked already, the client wouldn’t be pressuring your firm for radical innovations.

We’re eager to hear your thoughts and suggestions for solving this problem. Provide your input and begin the conversation in the Comments section here, or via Twitter by including #ILTA11 #ORG2 in your tweet.




It Takes a Village To Deliver Effective AFAs

18 Jul

Guest post by Pam Woldow, Partner and General Counsel at Edge International, Inc.

On Wednesday, August 24th, at 9:15 am, you are invited to learn how key players from Finance, IT, Knowledge Management, Business Development, Professional Development, Legal Project Management, Records, and other disciplines can join forces to help their law firms optimize success with AFAs – Alternative Fee Arrangements.

AFAs are hot, and getting hotter. Time-based billing is under attack from clients who judge results on the basis of the value conferred, not the time spent conferring it. Lawyers locked into 1/10-hour billable increments will have to adapt to new ways of charging for legal services or risk being left in the competitive dust.

The AFA “drivers” are clear: tighter client budgets…pressure to curb legal costs…increasing client demands for greater predictability of legal spend. Unfortunately, many firms find themselves in the dark when trying to master all the different kinds of AFAs or to craft AFAs that make clients smile while preserving firm profitability.

It requires a “village” of multi-disciplinary professionals to make the most of AFAs, and ILTA has convened an all-star panel to show you how to create your own AFA village. Three of the top experts in legal information and management, Tom Baldwin (Reed Smith), Toby Brown (Vinson & Elkins) and Pam Woldow (Edge International) will discuss best practices for drawing on the diverse expertise of internal firm experts to craft, implement and manage AFAs.

The focus will be on practical and effective tactics and techniques for tapping essential information and developing practical approaches to creating fee structures that meet both client needs and firm profitability targets.

For more information, visit the official ILTA Conference website page: It Takes a Village to Deliver Effective AFAs or visit the Conference Overview Page, where you can see detailed session agendas and read about the five other Knowledge Management Peer Group track sessions.

Twitter hash tags: #KMPG3 / #ILTA11