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The Future of Legal Knowledge Management

16 Aug

future bohrBy Patrick DiDomenico, Chief Knowledge Officer, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

While no one can really predict the future, I can tell you that I’m scheduled to talk about the future of legal knowledge management (KM) in the near future. Barring any unforeseen, intervening circumstances, that will happen on Monday, August 29, 2016, at 1:00 pm at ILTACON in a session aptly called “The Future of Legal KM.” I’ll be joined on the panel by Rob Saccone and Sam Nickless. Steve Lastres will moderate.

In addition to talking about it in the future and blogging about it presently, I’ve also written about the future of legal KM in the past. Wait, that’s confusing. What I mean is I’ve written about this topic (the future of legal KM) before. It’s the topic of the final chapter of my book, Knowledge Management for Lawyers, which I wrote (and you may have read) in the past. Or perhaps you will read it in the future (or never).

I mention the book not as a shameless plug, but because some of what follows is reproduced from the book and the publisher (American Bar Association) made me tell you that. I do, in fact, feel great shame about the plug.

Anyway, back to the future…

At the aforementioned future ILTACON session, my co-panelists and I will discuss the future of legal KM in four main sections:

  1. the current state of KM,
  2. what drives change in KM,
  3. the role of KM professionals, and
  4. the role of technology in KM.

We also hope that the audience will have questions, and perhaps, some answers. The official session description reads:

“Knowledge management (KM) in law firms has been a key component to the successful delivery of client services. Thanks to recent advances in better analytics, less expensive start-up costs and a focus on empowering the next generation of workforce, KM of the future is shining bright. As law firms move quickly to address new client-first imperatives, they are leveraging knowledge management to support smarter answers, improved decisions and better outcomes. What does the future hold for legal KM? Come find out what’s next!”

I’m not sure the exclamation point is warranted, but we will do our best to live up to the hype.

I’m reluctant to make any predictions about the future of KM because in the worst case scenario, I’ll be completely wrong. In the best, we’ll all shrug and say, “Well, that was obvious.”

KM’s changing roles

One topic related to the future of KM that came up in our presentation preparation, and in my personal experience, is the changing role of KM professionals. But it’s not just the changing roles; it’s the ability and willingness to change. I believe that one reason for the longevity and resiliency of KM over the years – and the promise of the future – is the nature of the people who are drawn to the field. KM professionals are an innovative and entrepreneurial bunch. They seek out new and better ways to do things. They are not satisfied with the status quo. They seek constant improvement. As entrepreneurs, they search for change, respond to it, and exploit it as an opportunity. This is a fundamental reason that the future of KM is so bright.

Just one example of many that we will discuss in the ILTACON panel is the changing role of law firm librarians. Now, I know that this can be a touchy topic, especially among librarians, so, please understand that this is just my personal perspective. That said, when I talk to KM leaders at other law firms, I’m starting to see a trend. The trend is not to eliminate librarians or to minimize their value. To the contrary, the trend is to refine their roles to maximize the value that they bring.

In my 10+ years in legal KM (at three different law firms), librarians have always been an important part of the KM department. It’s a natural fit. But it was not until a relatively recent deep-dive analysis of librarians’ actual activities that I realized how much of a fit it is.

For example, take reference librarians, who primarily (though not exclusively) conduct legal research. One of their main activities, helping attorneys find information using third party resources, is really the “flip side of the coin” of what many professional support lawyers do – helping attorneys find information using firm-facing, internal resources. For my firm, it made sense to consolidate the reference librarians with the professional support lawyers under one manager. We similarly consolidated the library technical services staff with the KM firm solutions staff under a different manager. As this new consolidated structure matures (we’re only about eight months in), we are finding great benefits. The tighter bond between the previously-separated groups is creating more efficient workflows and increased collaboration. Lines of communication have opened, and our customers (the firm’s attorneys) are better served. I expect additional benefits in the months and years to come.

Clients’ role in driving change

There are many more areas of change ahead in the future of legal KM. The most significant driver of that change is client demand. It’s probably safe to assume that the legal industry will survive (and thrive) for quite some time in ways that are at least vaguely similar to its current form. That does not mean, however, that there will not be changes in what clients expect from their lawyers. We don’t need a crystal ball to know that clients will likely continue to demand more for less when it comes to legal services. For years, lawyers have heard the cries from clients demanding greater value for their legal spend. These cries are not likely to stop and will probably grow more intense.

Clients also continue to demand pricing options, such as fixed or guaranteed pricing. If a matter is based on a fixed price, the only way for a lawyer to make a profit is to spend less money executing the work than the lawyer received to complete it. KM’s role in ensuring that matters are handled efficiently can help ensure profitability on those matters. In fact, no greater direct relationship between increased efficiency and increased profits exists than when a matter is guaranteed to be completed at a fixed cost. If KM efforts can help a lawyer complete a matter in 10 hours that would otherwise have taken 20, then the profit margin more than doubles (assuming a profit margin was built into the 20-hour budget). Each minute saved as a result of the efficiencies gained from KM is pure profit.

KM’s bright future

This is another key reason that the future of KM is bright. The primary purpose of KM is to improve the efficiency with which lawyers do their work and deliver legal services to their clients while maintaining or increasing quality. Greater efficiency means more for less, and this means happier clients. But some might say that efficiency has its limits; you can only squeeze so much waste out of a process or activity before it reaches peak efficiency. That’s true, and that’s when the shift in focus must go from efficiency (doing things right) to effectiveness (doing the right things). As Peter Drucker noted, “There is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency, something that should not be done at all.”

So, in some ways, the future is not as much about finding a better solution to a problem as it is about eliminating the need to solve the problem in the first place. However, with new ways of doing things comes the opportunity to make the new ways we do them more efficient. There is always room for improvement, and KM can help.

I hope to see many of you at ILTACON. Please consider attending “The Future of Legal KM” panel. And as a thank you for reading this far, if you would like a PDF copy of “The Future of Knowledge Management in the Legal Profession,” which is Chapter 11 of my book, Knowledge Management for Lawyers, send me an email with “future of KM” in the subject line. Free, of course. No strings, no spam.

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ILTACON 2016 For KMers

4 Aug

ILTACON 2016 LogoBy David Hobbie, 2016 Team Coordinator, Information Management Track, ILTACON 2016, and Senior Manager, Knowledge Management (Litigation), Goodwin.

The ILTACON 2016 conference promises to be a great learning opportunity for KMers and people interested in how to use technology to improve the practice of law. I’ve recently written about the great slate of educational sessions that are potentially of interest to legal knowledge management practitioners, and I encourage to take a look at that post and also download the Conference App (you’ll also need to have registered for conference and to have received an email with your password).

The legal knowledge management community is small but collegial. In addition to the educational sessions, ILTACON 2016 will have two in-person social gatherings for KMers and friends of KMers.

The first is the Knowledge Management Community of Interest meetup, Sunday August 28, 2016, from 4:00 PM until 5:30 PM in National Harbor 3, sponsored by iManage. This is your first chance to see peers you know, meet those you don’t, and have some beverages and light snacks.  We might have a brief conversation about what’s hot and what’s not among KM practitioners, and also hear some viola music.

The second is the annual KM reception, Tuesday August 30 starting at 4:30 PM (immediately following the last educational session of the day), in the beautiful Cherry Blossom Foyer. Sponsorship by Closing Folders is greatly appreciated. While I can’t promise you that I will sing this time, I can promise you another great opportunity to see your peers, have some beverages, and enjoy each others’ company.

Hope to see you there!

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.

ILTA Webinar On Enterprise Search For Smaller Firms

20 Mar

Post by ILTA KM Blogmaster David Hobbie

A webinar in one week will address a cheap and effective approach to enterprise search, the “killer app” of legal knowledge management. ILTA KM surveys and my own experience confirms that this remarkable tool is moving “down-market,” i.e., to smaller firms.

Title:  Kick-Starting KM with Quick-Start Search

Date & Time:  Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at  7:00 p.m. GMT / 2:00 p.m. EDT / 1:00 p.m. CDT/
12:00 p.m. MDT / 11:00 a.m. PDT.

REGISTER online here; no cost for ILTA members

Formal Description:
KM is no longer the purview of large firms. KM can be a competitive tool, and smaller firms want in! But how can a smaller firm, without significant KM resources, kick-start a KM program and score a major win with the firm’s attorneys?

Smaller firms looking to take advantage of the benefits of KM can use enterprise search as the centerpiece of their KM strategy. You could be up and running fairly quickly, and see a high return on your investment. Your attorneys will love it, and you’ll establish enough “credit” to push for other KM initiatives.

Advancements in KM technology point to closer collaboration between CIOs and KM professionals. Come hear Lowenstein’s CIO, Christopher Zegers, and KM Director, Kitty Schweyer, discuss their unique approach to KM in a smaller firm and how they kick-started their KM program with the implementation of a popular enterprise search solution.”

Speakers:

Shy Alter is the founder of ii3, where he provides vision and direction to both ii3 and ii3’s clients. Shy also regularly works with ii3’s teams to develop practical solutions to complex knowledge and information management challenges. He helps his clients address their highly competitive and continually changing business environment. Shy is a KM pioneer who speaks regularly on the strategic impact of knowledge management and is recognized as a thought leader in this area. Contact him at salter@ii3.com.

Kathlyn Schweyer has 17 years of experience in the information and knowledge management field. Kitty is currently the Director of Knowledge and Research Services at Lowenstein Sandler and is in charge of the firm’s knowledge activities. Previously, she served as the manager of competitive intelligence at White & Case in New York and as the library manager at Goodwin Procter in Boston, where she was heavily involved in their knowledge management initiatives. Contact her at kschweyer@lowenstein.com.

Christopher Zegers has been solving problems for law firms since 1997. From bringing the Internet to desktops and bringing desktops to iPads, he has guided attorneys through the endless technical changes required to keep firms competitive. Chris has built out new offices and data centers, and has introduced knowledge management and practice support departments to law firms that traditionally grouped these services with IT. He is currently the Chief Information Officer for Lowenstein Sandler. Contact him at czegers@lowenstein.com.

Questions?  Contact Kristy Costello at kristina@iltanet.org or (512) 795-4674

Ark Conference Pass Winner

5 Oct

Post By David Hobbie, ILTA KM Blogmaster

The ILTA KM Steering Committee and the Ark Conference are pleased to announce that the raffle for a free pass to the October 2012 Ark Knowledge Management In the Legal Profession Conference has been won by Lori D. Martin, Director of Library and Research Services at Bradley Arant Boult and Cummings LLP in their Birmingham, Alabama office.

Congratulations Lori!

Recap; ILTA Conference KM Sessions and Session Resources

4 Oct

Post by Chris Boyd, KM Steering Committee VP

I hope many of you made it to the ILTA’s recent “AC2DC” conference in Washington, D.C. and were able to attend some of the KM track sessions.  For anyone who wasn’t able to make it, or who was there and wants to revisit some of the sessions, ILTA has posted audio recordings from the sessions along with downloadable presentations and handouts.  The KM recordings and materials are listed below (unfortunately we cannot provide direct links); please note that they are for ILTA members and that you’ll need to log into ILTA’s website to access them.  Special thanks to Patrick DiDomenico, the conference liaison on the ILTA KM peer group steering committee, who was a key player in making these sessions happen.

  1. Beyond Extranets! What Clients Really Want.  Meredith Williams of Baker Donelson and Scott Rechtschaffen of Littler Mendelson presented their innovative client-facing KM resources, and Lynn Simpson of DuPont discussed what her company’s legal department would like to see in law firm KM.  The panel also provided a handout titled “Some Ideas On What Clients Want From KM At Law Firms”.
  2. Social Networking in the Enterprise.  David Hobbie of Goodwin Procter explained how to prepare a business case for social networking in the enterprise.  Ann Hemming of Thomas Eggar described her firm’s use of Yammer, and Scott Reid of the U.S. Judge Advocate General’s Corps presented the MilBook and JagConnect resources.  The JAG Corps later won ILTA’s Law Department of the Year award in part based on Col. Reid’s work in this area.  David also posted his slides on “Building a Business Case for Enterprise Social Networks”.
  3. Using Your DMS for Knowledge Management.  April Brousseau of Stikeman Elliott, consultant Rick Krzyminski, Chris Boyd of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and Eric Hunter of Bradford & Barthel explained how their firms used document management systems to support KM resources. The panel also provided a handout with a matrix on ways to use a DMS for KM.
  4. New Benefits and Unexpected Pitfalls of Enterprise Search.  Phil Bryce of White & Case, John Gillies of Cassels Brock, and Sarah Stephens of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan presented their firms’ enterprise search implementations, along with lessons learned and next steps.  The slides from White & Case, Cassells Brock, and Sutherland Asbill & Brennan provide good visuals to accompany the recording.
  5. Data Warehouses, Dashboards and Data Integration: Delivering Actionable Business Intelligence.  Gina Lynch and Tracy Elmblad of Bingham McCutchen and Steve Lewis of Fried Frank demonstrated their firm’s intranets, focusing particularly on the dashboard-like features in them.  Gina, Tracy and Steve also described the design and rollout processes they used to revamp their intranets.
  6. AFAs + LPM + BPI = Opportunities for KM.  Michael Williams of eSentio, Rob Lipstein of Crowell & Moring, and Andrew Baker of Seyfarth Shaw discussed clients’ increasing interest in alternative fee arrangements (AFAs) and how firms are using KM to support legal project management (LPM) and business process improvement (BPI) to deliver effectively and efficiently on AFA matters.

Many other sessions, of course, addressed enterprise search, social networking, and other KM topics; the well-received sessions listed here were those organized by the KM peer group.

We’ve already started to plan for next year’s conference, so if there are specific KM topics you’d like to see addressed, please contact me or one of the other members of the KM peer group steering committee.  We’d love to hear from you!

Opening on KM PG Steering Committee

6 Aug

Post By ILTA KM Steering Committee VP Chris Boyd

The 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, conduct an annual survey, 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 Toronto, and because we collaborate with local KM groups and each have an assigned regional ILTA group to work with, we will give preference to applicants from Canada overall and Toronto specifically, but that is a preference rather than a firm requirement.  There are many benefits to participating in the steering committee, including meeting and collaborating with peers in different organizations, influencing the direction of ILTA’s KM programming agenda, and helping to grow the international legal KM community.

You can find more information about the responsibilities of, and qualifications for, steering committee members here, along with a link to the online application.  If you’re qualified and interested, we encourage you to apply.  Please also feel free to contact me at cboyd@wsgr.com or 650-354-4195 if you have any questions.