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2013 KM White Paper Released

19 Jul


Post by David Hobbie, Goodwin Procter and Blogmaster, ILTA KM Blog

The 2013 KM White Paper “Knowledge Management:  Intelligent Business At Its Best” has been released! Organized by Mary Panetta of ILTA’s KM Peer Group Steering Committee, this annual publication has an in-depth look at a wide variety of traditional and cutting-edge knowledge management topics.

I was particularly impressed by the scope of topics in this issue. The articles collectively demonstrate KM’s centrality in addressing new legal business issues such as pricing, legal project management, and big data, as well as the vitality of new approaches to traditional knowledge management concerns such as precedents management, document automation, and portals.

In “KM Professionals: A Natural Fit for LPM,” Lisa Gianakos of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw & Pitman LLP, shares the results of some surveys of Legal Project Management initiatives and knowledge management professional in (mostly large) law firms. She found that the majority of the firms who responded to the survey (75%) had either formal or informal LPM programs, about the same amount as had KM programs. Where respondents had LPM and KM programs, KM was involved in LPM 59% of the time. Along with other analysis of LPM in law firms, she also shares many (anonymized) comments about how LPM programs got started and how KM interfaces with, supports, and sometimes manages LPM programs.

In “The Pricing Professional’s KM Toolkit,” Chris Emerson and Amy Wu of Bryan Cave LLP argue that professionals who are responsible for pricing and budgeting must understand a firm’s KM assets in order to excel at their work. (I have been making the same argument from the other side, that KM professionals have a tremendous amount to contribute to pricing and budgeting efforts.) The authors cover key KM resources, most notably matter experience databases, and how they can be leveraged specifically for pricing work. They also reveal another impressive Bryan Cave innovation, custom software which essentially uses a trainable probability-based software engine to greatly speed up the time required to analyze historical time entries and how they might fit into a phase-task coding framework, in similar fashion to predictive-coding eDiscovery software.

In “Big Data, Predictive Analytics and Social Consumerization: Big Hype or Big Opportunity,” KM Distinguished Peer Eric Hunter of Bradford & Barthel and Spherical Models argues that the legal industry needs to take a lesson from the social consumer companies’ use of predictive data analytics. He sees opportunities for improvements in data management, staffing, pricing, and client service. For instance, his firm uses data analytics to assess attorney performance for specific personal injury defense clients, taking into account factors such as the level of injury, doctor involved, and the like. They hope to move towards outcome prediction, both in terms of settlement payouts and litigation costs.

In “Another Look at Precedent Management“, Boston-area colleague Marybeth Corbett looks at precedent systems and Wilmer Hale’s efforts to incorporate some cutting-edge document drafting and assembly tools into its practice. I agree with you Marybeth that effective precedent systems are nothing to be ashamed of these days! She includes a useful set of key questions to ask about a precedent management blueprint.

In “Document Factories: Building Document Automation Tools,” Anthony Kikuta of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati LLP lays out criteria for selecting document assembly or automation in great detail. He addresses the range of features available in packages such as Contract Express, and spells out how to get the most out of your document assembly tools.

In “KM Standards In Practice,” KM PG Steering Committee member Andrew Baker and Dustin Robinson, of Seyfarth Shaw LLP, relay their experience with the document analytics tool “KM Standards,” summarizing it as a powerful but imperfect tool, the “Swiss Army Knife With A Slippery Handle” of precedent work. (Another firm’s experience with this technology was recently addressed in an ILTA webinar covered here.)  They see a very broad range of potential uses, but have focused on three; creating clause/precedent collections, client-specific content management, and benchmarking. They share valuable lessons about how to work with this tool to increase client value.

In “Using Design To Improve KM,” KM practitioners Andrea Alliston and April Brousseau of Stikeman Elliott and Tangledom consultant (and known design expert) Kate Simpson tell about out a “lawyer-centric design process” that in their “CLE Manager” case study significantly improved software development. They argue that the goal of the design process should be to convey to the IT designers a rich understanding of end user needs and tasks so that “at last we [speak] the same language.” KM practitioners are uniquely situated to be able to convey that understanding. Helpful charts contrast traditional software development with a design-centric approach.

In “Experience Matters at Dechert,” Kelly Breslin and Julie Ketover cover their firm’s development and incipient rollout of “DechertEXP,” an experience management system. They’ve effectively laid out the importance of tying together the many sources of information, collected at different points in the matter life-cycle, for complete experience coverage. A sidebar with “Top 10 Takeaways” has some succinct and doubtless hard-earned lessons.

Lastly, in “Creating an International Client-Facing Knowledge Website,” Jellienke Stamhuis of Ius Laboris and Richard Lister of Lewis Silkin LLP in England cover their successful efforts to launch Ius Laboris’ international client-facing KM portal addressing human resources (HR) issues. I was especially impressed with how far they advanced from where they started and by the personalization feature whereby counsel can select an HR issue and choose several countries, and receive a comparison of the laws on that issue in those countries.

The Evolving Outward-Facing Role of Knowledge Management (Part 2 of 2)

24 Jun

Guest Post by Corinn Jackson and Karen Sundermier, Littler Mendelson

In our previous post, we discussed how we see the KM role evolving from inward-facing support of practicing attorneys, to direct client services geared towards in-house attorneys.

Here, we consider how KM can successfully approach this changing role and answer the question we posited earlier: WDIHCW?  What do in-house counsel want?


In-house counsel are busy, intelligent, multi-tasking attorneys fielding questions from and advising many business units within their organization.  They want something at their fingertips that keeps them up-to-date on a wide range of areas of law.  Dependable publications from their outside counsel can serve as a first stop for in-house counsel when they have a general question about the law.  Whether these are large legal compendiums that cover multiple areas of the law in a variety of jurisdictions, or smaller more narrowly-focused guides, reliable publications of any variety can be an invaluable resource for in-house clients.

In this vein, publishing shorter online articles is a way for a KM department to provide in-house counsel with to-the-point summaries of legal developments, new cases, and new laws. In providing brief, timely legal publications, we should ask ourselves, WDIHCW?

Clients want the bottom line: “How does this affect my company?  What does it mean for our business?  Do I need to do anything?”  By their nature, online articles are not only timelier and less labor-intensive than more in-depth treatises, but they comprise a strategy any KM department—regardless of firm size or specialty—can employ to keep clients up to date on emerging legal developments.

Our ASAP articles, which are concise analyses of up-to-the minute legal developments by region, are distributed based on client-identified industry and legal areas of interest.  Likewise, Littler’s 11 different legal blogs on a variety of subjects allow clients to subscribe based on their specific area of concern.  For example, a large retail client that employs primarily hourly workers in a number of different states may be more interested in our Wage & Hour Counsel blog, while a smaller tech company might be more interested in our Workplace Privacy Counsel blog.

Subscription Expert Systems-GPS

In-house counsel are also looking for quick solutions to those “fires” they are called to put out.  Take the company with operations in several states that needs to know plant closing and layoff laws of six states immediately, lest they inadvertently break those rules by not providing enough notice of a major business restructuring happening in 61 days. While in-house counsel could call on the law firm attorney, who likely will draw on KM resources to answer the question, a KM department adds value (and pleases clients) when it offers topical legal research that in-house counsel can access from their desks, without picking up the phone and incurring a charge each time.  At Littler, we offer A Guide to Policies by State, or GPS, which is a subscription service that offers clients a continually updated database of select employment regulations for every jurisdiction in the country.  While some may argue it is not KM’s job to answer legal research questions, providing a technological platform to deliver research answers to clients is exactly what KM should be doing.  KM’s success comes when it can move outside the walls of the law firm and extend the invaluable service it has been providing to firm attorneys directly to firm clients.

Matter Management And More–Littler CaseSmart

A central goal for any successful KM department is to continually monitor new technological developments to employ cutting-edge platforms to deliver the resources necessary to most efficiently answer clients’ needs—sometimes before they know they have them.  Clients do not want to pay a law firm to continually reinvent the wheel.  One significant way that law firm attorneys can retread the same ground is processing employment charges (filed with an administrative agency) for the same client, a process which can in many ways be rote.

By developing a support system for employment charges filed with state and federal administrative agencies, which involves customized work-flow, assignment tracking, and document automation—we call it Littler CaseSmart—we have drastically streamlined the time it takes for our attorneys to respond to administrative charges.  Beyond merely streamlining the process for firm attorneys processing these charges, Littler CaseSmart provides a client dashboard showing the status of each charge and capable of creating customized reports based on the specific data the client is seeking, such as the regions where charges may be on the rise, whether certain supervisors are being repeatedly targeted, or how different state agencies may approach and resolve charges.  Clients may also monitor the dashboard to make efficiency determinations regarding how the work is being processed.  Indeed, such aggregation of data and resulting comprehensive view for in-house counsel is typically well beyond what companies have the means to create and maintain on their own.

Client Self-Help

Further value-add from KM can include automated documents, secure client extranets, customized e-newsletters, and web-based training programs to provide directly to clients.  One new platform Littler offers clients is the Healthcare Reform Advisor, a free, web-based, interactive online system that helps employers determine whether they are at risk of having to pay a penalty under the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) “pay or play” mandate and estimate what those penalties may be.  After employers complete the online evaluation, Littler’s Healthcare Reform Consulting Group offers a brief consultation to discuss the results and potential risks for penalties under the ACA.


Every KM department is different and the key to determining what components work best for your firm’s clients is to not only help provide traditional legal services, but to focus on applying the expertise of your attorneys delivered through the latest online technologies.

KM is moving beyond its original audience of firm attorneys and the corporate organization and now communicates directly with the purchasers of legal services.  KM can answer WDIHCW and respond to client needs in innovative ways that stretch far beyond the traditional attorney-client relationship.

Swartworth Leadership Development Seminar: The Judge Advocate General on What Leadership Means To Me

30 Aug

Post By David Hobbie, ILTA KM Blogmaster

Most of the reporting on the ILTA Conference 2012 has been made informally over on my Caselines blog and on Mary Abraham’s Above and Beyond KM blog as well. I thought to report on one session here, for a variety of reasons that will be evident.

Lt. Gen. Dana Chipman, the Judge Advocate General for the U.S. Army, spoke at ILTA on Tuesday August 26th as part of the Sharon Swartworth Leadership Development Seminar. He has a dry but effective speaking style, sprinkling personally relevant stories amongst more general points about leadership and communication.

Today his thoughts are down in Louisiana (his home state) and Hurricane Isaac.

He met Sharon Swartwood in 1991 when she was an administrative warrant officer, a “little ball of fire.” He greatly admired what she did for his office and his office’s systems, and he appreciates ILTA’s continued honoring of her memory.

The success of an organization depends on followers’ perceptions of the moral value of their leaders. Leadership has personal, organizational, and managerial dimensions.

Personal Leadership

How do you convey an organization’s challenges?

They have monthly publications, periodic speaking engagements, senior leader discussions, and other communications fora.

Effective communication begins with effective listening. He does a series of “iterative engagements” with key stakeholders and has a series of conversations. Listening, sleeping on the advice, and listening again will lead to better decisions when they have to be made.

His company commander gave him a practical lesson in communicating when, even after he had thrown a shrimp party for the commander, was called the next morning to attend to a vehicle maintenance task that had not been sufficiently addressed. In other words, Lt. Gen. Chipman’s commander let him know that personal appreciation for the shrimp and the party would not lower the organization’s standards.

Competence means you have studied to develop into a subject matter expert in your field. There should be increasing complexity in what you study as a professional. You have to stay fresh. He finds this particularly hard with respect to technology.

Scott Reid and his team are working to extend concepts, best practices, and tactics that make the JAG Corps more efficient and effective in the delivery of legal services through a JAG Corps enterprise social network (as he discussed at an ILTA panel on Monday, that I also participated in). Lt. Gen. Chipman understands that he has to understand KM in order to supervise those efforts effectively.

Competence involves “sharpening the saw”–staying fit, maintaining balance and family relationships, and the like.

Competence also requires having a personal philosophy of being a lifelong learner. Pass on inspiration you may have received from overcoming adversity to others who are or will be facing adversity.

Competence also requires self-reflection, the ability to laugh at yourself (his nickname is “the laughing general.”)

You can only have followers meet high standards when you set and meet high personal standards for yourself. Personal standards is “doing the right thing when no one is watching.”

There is no level at which “sacrificial leadership” does not apply. We want to maintain professional standards. Ambition is not a bad word. You should want to develop and seek out new challenges and opportunities.

Our current environment is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA). To survive we need to be agile.

Toxic leadership is not a popularity issue. A toxic leader will look good to upper leadership but treat peers and subordinates dismally. Toxic leaders can succeed for a long time. It can be effective for a short mission but wears out organizations over the long haul.

Chipman quotes Secretary Panetta– “It is the character and the standards that each of you bring to the battle that makes us strong. We can often be better than our word, but we can never be better than our actions.”

Our own firms have standards. Are they well known? Are they perceived in the marketplace?

As a leader, it can be about wanting to contribute in the way that you do best. Lt. Gen. highlighted George Marshall as someone who could have been Supreme Allied Commander but recognized that his skills would be better used in organizing the U.S. war effort in World War II.

Organizational Leadership

“Mission first, people always.” You need to ensure that your organization is always responsive, effective, and efficient.

Management Leadership

Good management requires having systems to gauge how effective your management is. Address the “task, purpose, [and desired] endstate.”

Managers look to develop their younger staff, grow the next generation.

Lt. Gen. Chipman told a story about a girl cutting her finger in a Disney restaurant or resort. They rushed her to the clinic, and on the way heard her complaining about not being able to finish her dessert and they “made magic happen.” When she got back, six desserts were lined up in her hotel room. Corporate commitment to “make magic” is enabled by management system where every employee will fix problems.

The more you rise, the more you can look externally. His Lieutenant Colonels can manage the JAG Corps, he needs to think about what his organization needs to be in relation to the national security picture and the like.

There is a role for email, and there is a role for personal contact. You have to get face-to-face to be effective in coaching the next generation of leaders.

Vision is about communicating a clear direction based on values. Goals are waystations on the way to achieving a vision.

General Casey would ask at the start of every meeting, “What are we trying to do here, where are we trying to get today?” He was getting at meeting the larger vision of the organization, not getting lost in the short-term goals.

Taking care of people means listening, advising, praising when warranted and correcting when needed.

Feedback to people you are mentoring and coaching is critical for their advancement.

There are so many misread emails. People take offense from emails very easily. Hard discussions should take place face to face.

Loyalty entails debating issues before a decision is made and afterwards executing the decision “as if it were your own.”

Each of us is here because we enjoy a chance to work with others and make a difference in our organizations. Recognize that there is a need for leadership. Informal networks can be just as critical as formal networks and heirarchy. Effective leadership is when you help your network develop the next generation of leaders.

ILTA Conference Session: Five Reasons Why Terms Like Practice Support, Knowledge Management, and Financial Services Miss the Point

23 Aug

Post By David Hobbie, ILTA KM Blogmaster

On Thursday August 30 at 2:00 in Maryland D, a provocative conference session will address why our legal technology careers must stay connected with our organizations’ business.

The formal description:

This provocative topic will motivate you to look to the horizon rather than at the ground in front of you. Talented people go to work every day without realizing what they are doing is pioneering new and very risky territory. “I manage knowledge” is an understatement, and what you say you are doing has a lot to do with whether you succeed. Let’s explore why the simple terms we use to describe our work completely miss the point. Hashtag #ACT3

Leading the discussion is John Alber, Strategic Technology Partner at Bryan Cave. Under his leadership Bryan Cave earned a 2011 Distinguished Peer Award in ILTA’s “Most Innovative Firm” category.

The thrust of the session is that, beginning with the names we choose for our efforts, we often tend to create “introverted” organizations that lack the connections with the core functions of our businesses. In particular, such organizations can be profoundly disconnected from revenue streams and profitability. It may be that we subconsciously want to be disconnected in this way. People can spend entire careers very contentedly in the farthest pastures of an organization having never had one significant digit’s impact on those metrics.

Is it a given that something like KM be so disconnected? No, and in some professional services organizations, IT and KM and the like have, from a revenue standpoint, not only outperformed the core functions, but have outlasted them (e.g., IBM’s PC manufacturing). The difference between THAT kind of KM and traditional KM is how much work the KMers are willing to do to assure connection with the core of the business. There are models for how to do that, but they are notable in the legal sector for their absence.

Starting a Knowledge Management Program at Your Firm

31 May

Join ILTA KM for a free webinar on Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 4 p.m. GMT/ 12 p.m. EST / 11:00 a.m. CST / 10:00 a.m. MST / 9:00 a.m. PST.

Three experienced knowledge management thought leaders will discuss how to start (or revitalize) a KM program at your law firm. They’ll explore reasons to start a KM program, how to learn about your firm and its personality, and what first steps to take.

There will also be a question and answer period. You can ask questions or make comments before and during the webinar using Twitter — just use the #StartingKM and/or #ILTAKM hashtag. Feel free to tweet our panelists directly: John Gillies (@JohnGillies), Jeffrey Rovner (@JeffRovner), Rachelle Rennagel (@Irshal). You may also tweet our moderator, Patrick DiDomenico (@LawyerKM).


John Gillies is the Director of Practice Support at Cassels Brock & Blackwell in Toronto. He collaborates with all firm members to enhance the culture of knowledge-sharing through building appropriate organizational and technical structures. John has spoken at numerous Canadian and American conferences and has published articles and blog postings on knowledge management and legal drafting issues. He can be reached at or on Twitter @JohnGillies.

Rachelle Rennagel is the Director of Legal Services at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler. She oversees the firm’s practice support, paralegal, library and managing clerk’s offices, and is responsible for the firm’s knowledge management initiatives. This role calls on her technology skills, and — as a former practicing attorney — she acts as an intermediary between the firm’s attorneys and its IT organization. Rachelle is currently ILTA’s Conference Vice President. She can be reached at or on Twitter @Irshal.

Jeff Rovner is the Managing Director for Information at O’Melveny & Myers LLP, where he directs all of the firm’s technology, information and knowledge management functions. In 2006, London’s “Citytech Magazine” included Jeff on its “Global Tech Leaders Top 100.” Jeff is a frequent speaker on the topics of information technology and knowledge management, and is currently teaching those subjects as an adjunct professor in the George Washington University Master’s Program in Law Firm Management. He can be reached at or on Twitter @JeffRovner.

Patrick DiDomenico is the Director of Knowledge Management at Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. in New York. He leads the firm’s efforts to help lawyers work more efficiently and effectively to create value for its clients. Patrick is a frequent speaker on knowledge management, social media and legal technology. He is a member of the ILTA Conference Committee and the ILTA Knowledge Management Peer Group Steering Committee. He can be reached at or on Twitter @LawyerKM.

REGISTER online here.

A Mutual Benefit Society: Knowledge Management and Professional Development

7 May

Mara Nickerson, Chief Knowledge Officer, Osler, Member of ILTA KM PG Steering Committee

At a recent Toronto legal knowledge management meeting, a panel of professional development professionals attended and discussed a number of ways PD and KM can and should work together. Since I have responsibility for both at my firm, I participated on the panel wearing both hats.

KM Resources and Approaches Can Enhance PD Programs

First, the firm’s KM resources (such as precedents or checklists) must be integrated with the related PD programs. A PD program is often a good impetus for updating these resources. One of the learning objectives of the PD program should be to raise awareness of the KM resources and how to find them.

KM  Can Help Identify Training Needs

In Canada, KM lawyers are proportionally more numerous than in the US, and are embedded in each of our practice groups. Our KM lawyers are very helpful in identifying training needs, and in smaller practice groups are responsible for organizing training sessions for their associates.  PD works with the KM lawyers to determine whether a topic should be addressed through a formal PD session or at a less formal practice group meeting.

KM Can Enhance Subject Matter Expertise Sharing

Live PD programs are an excellent way for subject matter experts to share tacit knowledge, information such as practice pointers and lessons learned that are not written down.  The firm’s expertise identification systems developed by KM might help the PD group identify possible speakers on specific topics.  Of course most PD professionals have learned that not all subject matter experts are good teachers but a PD program can also be used to highlight the expertise system.  [Ed.— Participation in request for information exchanges on email or internal social platforms that KM professionals should know about may indicate that the subject matter expert is willing to educate others about the subject.]

PD Content Can Enhance KM Resources

Most PD programs create new topical resources and such resources should be integrated with related KM resources. This could happen automatically through enterprise search.  But it is even better if the resources are more holistically tied together or integrated at the time they are developed rather than coming up as standalone artifacts.  KM topic guides, that aggregate key resources, legislation and other content on a particular topic, should include PD content.

PD Can Help KM Develop “Just-In-Time” Training Competencies and Topics

Many PD groups have gone beyond live programs and are focused on “just-in-time” training. This can be done through a variety of on-line tools – podcasts, interactive on-line presentations that can also be incorporated with KM resources.  KM and PD could work together to define the content the lawyers require and the best media in which to present it.  For instance, KM often develops substantive or procedural checklists, which are a great way to train junior lawyers on the steps necessary to execute transactions or specific court filings.  A 5 minute podcast from a subject matter expert is a better way to engage more senior lawyers in thinking about more complex issues.

PD and KM Can Both Leverage New Collaborative Technologies

And PD is also starting to leverage web 2.0 tools for learning purposes.  Any intranet-based online discussion forum has a learning component.  Wikis and discussion forums, and other social networking tools such as enterprise social networks, can be great approaches that empower practice groups to better learn about and share information on new legal and industry developments.

Please share in the comments any other ideas you might have on how PD and KM can leverage each other.

Webinar Report: Working with Vendors: From Cold Calls to Building a Relationship

7 Mar

Guest Post By Kathleen Hogan, Senior Counsel and Director of KM, BMO Financial Group

A recent ILTA webinar addressed an “elephant in the room” for law firm KM.  While we welcome and often rely on vendor expertise, we’re also not always thrilled about receiving cold calls, and nor are we always sure how to navigate these relationships. This post will cover the highlights of the webinar, which aired February 15, with speakers Perry Brock of Ventura Consulting, Joshua Fireman of Fireman and Co. and myself , and hosted by Mara Nickerson, CKO at Osler LLP (Mara is a member of the ILTA KM Peer Group Steering Committee).

We nicknamed the session “Vendors: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” for good reason. Perry (who, it should be noted, did the heavy lifting in creating the slides and throughout most of the session) identified five criteria (financial approach, executive involvement, project management, knowledge transfer, and issue management) that together characterize a relationship as staying on a basic vendor level, or evolving into a partner level. Vendors, for example, see revenue, where partners see opportunity, when looking at the financial approach to a deal. Partners will work collaboratively and proactively, while vendors are disinterested and reactive. We are glad to report that a poll of the audience showed that most firms view their vendors as partners rather than just “vendors”.

We talked about the three phases of onboarding vendors into our firms, from the “blind date” of a cold call or RFP, though “courtship” of evaluating expertise, capabilities and expectations, to “partnership” though contract, execution, and an ongoing symbiotic relationship.  To strengthen these relationships, we identified some best practices:  sharing information and priorities, being open about balancing commitment and competition, relying on vendors to support strategy, build partnerships for the long term, and understanding the vendors’ business. As always, negotiating a “win-win” agreement is best – supporting each other’s value proposition is key.

There may also be a tension within law firms of who “owns” a relationship. While KM might bring a product in the door and run a pilot, it’s IT/IS that will need to support and troubleshoot the product. The vendor should be comfortable with both; all stakeholders must openly discuss and tacitly agree on performance, initiatives, and expectations.

The session acknowledged the reality that vendors are often on the cutting edge of technology development, and KM can rely on vendors to learn about best practices, emerging practices, and even case law (e-discovery is a great example of this). Yet, KM has to balance using vendors as an information source with respecting their time and value. As well, as Mary Abraham noted in her blog, Above and Beyond KM, vendor demos often take up a lot of time with not much tangible value to show for them.

Polls taken during the webinar were telling. Most attendees field 3-5 cold calls a week, and some receive over ten! Clearly, cold call skills are a necessary tool for KMers! Our tips included screening calls and using “do not disturb” so you can be in control of your time and calls and not at the mercy of a cold calling vendor. If you do pick up the phone to find a cold call, let the caller speak for a few moments before simply saying no thank you, or perhaps arranging another time to speak. Always be honest. If you receive a message or email (or LinkedIn) solicitation, close the loop by replying courteously and with honest information.

Thanks to ILTA for the opportunity to develop this topic into a webinar for a wide audience.