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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).

Speakers:

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 jgillies@casselsbrock.com 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 rrennagel@pbwt.com 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 jrovner@omm.com 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 patrick.didomenico@ogletreedeakins.com 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.

I’ve Got You Under My (Thin) Skin: Personality and Motivation in Lawyers

9 Feb

Post By David Hobbie,  ILTA KM PG Steering Committee Member and Blogmaster

At a meeting of legal knowledge managers I recently heard a presentation by Mark Sirkin, a consultant and expert in personality profiling, and, specifically, the personality profiles of lawyers as distinct from the general population.  He raised some intriguing points about those differences, which could potentially be harnessed by all those seeking to improve knowledge sharing and seeking behaviors inside law firms, or who are attempting to manage other types of change in lawyer-occupied organizations.  By contrast to much other speculation about lawyer personality that may take place at law firm administrative or technical conferences,  Dr. Sirkin’s thoughts were backed up by multiple extensive personality surveys, formal academic studies.

By way of full disclosure, I should note that I am a lawyer and may share some of the personality traits and motivations identified herein.

Why Emotions Are Important

It may seem that working with highly intellectual and intelligent professionals such as lawyers would not be assisted with a rich understanding of emotions or motivations.  Nothing could be further from the truth. For one thing, our efforts to communicate with lawyers are enriched by an appreciation that, as Dr. Alfred Mehrabian pointed out, 93% of communication is process (emotional and unconscious) and 7% is content.  Some of the most important communication happens very fast and on an emotional level.

Emotions are also critical to our ability to work together (collaborate). Emotions evolved to help us survive by working together.  Emotions are signals that provide us data about people (and sometimes situations).

Species Of Emotions

Emotions come in five flavors: Drives, Emotions, Basic Motives, Personality, and Complex Motives.  Drives are Darwinian concerns such as hunger, thirst, and reproduction.  Emotions are hard-wired, but expression is socially constrained.  Personality in turn has five traits that can be measured and observed.  Complex Motives combine personality, emotions, and the social situation, and are particularly significant for knowledge management and technology adoption.

Contrary to some lawyer’s perceptions of their own skills, there is very little correlation between emotional quotient (EQ) and intelligence quotient (IQ).  Lawyers can think that if they understand one thing they understand all things, but this is certainly not true with EQ.

The skills of understanding your own internal emotional state and recognizing that of others (i.e., externally directed) are highly correlated.

Challenges Of Working With Lawyers

Lawyers have a *lower* emotional quotient than the average population.

Based on multiple studies, lawyers are higher in skepticism, autonomy, urgency, and pessimism than the general population.  Lawyers are also higher in information-seeking; specifically, they enjoy learning more than the general population (not surprising given they all survived three years of law school.)

Lawyers are also lower in sociability and resilience.  In other words, they are “thin-skinned” (his words, not mine).

Some of this may be innate (people with these traits are attracted to the profession and do well in it) and some learned.  Dr. Sirkin noted that teams are not broadly used in law school (especially contrasted with business school).  The compensation system is individualized and competitive, and doesn’t reward cooperation.

Many lawyers are naturally adversarial.  In the group formation process they may get stuck in the “storming” stage of high conflict (Dr. Sirkin was referring to Tuckman’s four stages of group development of forming, storming, norming, and performing).

Generational differences around information handling and socialization complicate any overview of lawyers’ reaction to change and technological change.

The “PRICE” model posits that people are motivated in their workplace decisions by seeking Predictability (certainty), Rank, Independence, Connection, and Equity.  The desire for Rank is potentially in conflict with that for Equity, and the desire for Independence is potentially in conflict with that for Connection.

Dr. Sirkin suggested that of these motives, lawyers tend to value and are motivated by a desire for Independence or autonomy.  Many, even practice area leaders, do not want to lead others, but they don’t want others to tell them what to do.

Good leaders try to maximize all elements of motivation.  Pushing one at the expense of the others create an imbalanced organization.  Low levels of motivation hurt firms.  Signs include dissatisfaction, disengagement, defections, and ultimately dissolution.

Everyone can get better at emotional intelligence through coaching and practice.  Working with motivations can be improved through awareness of inherent tensions between different motivations.

Leadership in part is shown by taking care of other people.  Flat organizations don’t really exist, as natural leaders will emerge.

You might need to know the personality profile of the individual lawyer you are dealing with to know what their motivations might be. A specific person’s personality can predict the best motivators.

KM Professional Tips

Match the payoff with motivation.  If rank is the key motivation, a new tool will “help you beat / stay on top of the competition.”  If connection, the tool may “help your group stay connected and share information.”

Find friendly early adopters.  The named leader is not always the right person to try something new.  Groups can have multiple leaders.

When in doubt, maximize the PRICE motivations.

All I Needed To Know About KM I Learned From Watching “Doctor Who”

25 Jan

Guest Post By Jeffrey Brandt, Consultant, Editor of Pinhawk’s Law Technology Daily Digest and Community of Practice Manager, Clearspire

A few months back, I got involved in a Twitter conversation on knowledge management. I don’t recall exactly how it started but a reference was made to Doctor Who, and then I discovered that several of my followers are Whovians.

If you aren’t familiar with Doctor Who, it’s rather hard to summarize quickly. It is a  British science fiction show that started in 1963 (and is still continuing!) about an alien who travels through time and space in a time machine called the TARDIS, that resembles a police call box from the outside but is mysteriously much larger inside.   It has its own cult following, complete with fans that know way too much about the show. The central character, The Doctor, has been played by eleven different actors, with the convenient conceit being that he is immortal and occasionally “regenerates.””   The best of The Doctors, the Fourth, was played by Tom Baker (1974-1981). Various (human and nonhuman) companions join The Doctor in his travels across the universe fighting the forces of evil. It has the distinction of being listed in Guinness World Records as the world’s longest-running science fiction television show.

You can read more about Doctor Who at BBC sites (both the UK and the US sites), on Wikipedia or the fan-based TARDIS Index wiki.

After thinking about it a bit, and reflecting on the various tweets, I decided that some important lessons about KM could be learned from watching Doctor Who.

  • The new Doctor is actually very old.

While formal recognition of KM as a scientific discipline began in the early 1990s, managing knowledge could be traced back to the mid 1600s and the earliest of apprenticeships. Like The Doctor, organizations have been managing knowledge for quite some time, each new program slightly different than the last.

  • Some changes are necessary.

While his face, his voice, his clothes and even his personality changes every so often, he’s still the same Doctor at heart.  Knowledge management has changed over time, with new tools and new approaches, but it has always been the same at the core. KM initiatives have to evolve and adapt to the changing times and the business landscape or they become stagnant, ineffective and die. And few KM programs, once they die, can regenerate like The Doctor.

  • In order to get people to do what you want, sometimes you have to offer them a jelly baby.

Collaboration and sharing for its own sake is sometimes not enough incentive for some people. Meeting people half way, offering some personal rewards and incentives, and in general, being nice, goes quite a long way.

  • Get along well with the Brigadier.

The Third Doctor spent much of his time on Earth and cultivated a great relationship with military leader Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart.  It is always a good idea to have good working relationships with people in authority – partners, managing partners, and practice heads.

  • The Doctor was always helping someone out of a jam.

Throughout much of the series, The Doctor had little control of the TARDIS, often materializing at random spots in time and space. But wherever the planet, whoever the people, there was some sort of crisis. KM helps organizations effectively deal with difficult situations. A great KM program is indispensable in times of crisis. Your job:  identify specific solutions that KM can offer to manage the “challenges” in your firm.

  • KM can do more than it appears.

When you do it right, like the TARDIS, KM is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. It’s not just the data repositories or retrieval abilities or collaboration tools, it’s the totality of the collection working together that makes it larger than the sum of individual parts.

  • The TARDIS always looks like a London Police Box.

With a nonfunctional chameleon circuit, the TARDIS never really blended in with the environments it visited. KM programs need to be a bit more discriminating than The Doctor, who never tried very hard to fix that circuit. The look and feel of our technology tools should not be taken for granted. A mishmash of UIs and buried functionality will severely hamper your progress. If you need a more current time continuum example when it comes to software – look to Apple.

  • Keep your sonic screwdriver handy.

There is very little The Doctor couldn’t do with his trusty sonic screwdriver. Think of it as an almost magical, high-tech, space age multi-tool. It would be nice if we had an equivalent tool to use in KM, but we don’t. The lesson here is that we have no sonic
screwdrivers, no magic tool that does almost everything we need.

So while we may not have our own a K-9 unit (a robotic dog), a sonic screwdriver or a TARDIS, we do have the vast knowledge The Doctor, in all his incarnations, has shared with us. While the path forward for KM may be difficult, we must strive to continue to educate our lawyers and fight for cultural change. At least we can all be glad we aren’t fighting Daleks, The Master, Sontarans, or Cybermen.

What other Whovian KM lessons can we learn?

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What Makes ILTA Social? Sharing At Conference And Implications For Knowledge Work

22 Dec

Post By David Hobbie, ILTA KM Blogmaster and Member of the KM PG Steering Committee

One of my favorite aspects of the annual ILTA conference is the willingness of peers to share information with each other.  The learning imparted in the many educational sessions is truly amazing, and while people are in general perhaps more restrained in this era of bloggers and instant dissemination of key points via Twitter,  I have heard presenters remarking  on several occasions that they have shared more than they perhaps intended in advance.  Thinking about why that is so made me realize that ILTA leadership and the collective efforts of its dedicated members have figured out a number of ways to make ILTA conference attendees social.  In other words, conference is a community where social connections, collaboration, and knowledge-sharing among members is valued and encouraged.

Without being too Kumbaya about it, legal enterprises, which at their core sell knowledge and advice, could benefit from comparable sharing and trust inside the enterprise, between lawyers.  Greater willingness to share experience, and perhaps even participate in knowledge-generating activities, could greatly enhance many a legal KM program.

So how does ILTA do it?  I don’t think there’s any one thing ILTA does that does not occur in other places, but I’ve identified here a few distinct approaches that have an impact.

Badges

Dale Carnegie‘s advice on making friends and influencing people include the point that “a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”  A name badge is an easy and obvious method of enabling people to get to know and say each others’ names.  Saying someone’s name makes them feel significant and valued, albeit in a small way.

At ILTA badges have at least seven functions.  The picture above is, obviously,  my somewhat abused ILTA badge from the 2011 conference.  It has my name.  It has room for “bling” (the next social approach); ribbons are typically attached at the bottom of the badge; and it lists my title, employer, and location, allowing for affiliations and connections to be uncovered (and for e-discovery vendors to mistakenly believe that I can help them somehow).  Functionally, it allows conference workers to make sure that you are appropriately accessing the sessions and services to which you are entitled, and by virtue of the database-linked bar code it also serves in the vendor hall as the modern replacement for dropping a business card in a glass bowl.  Finally, it’s where you store meal and, yes, drink tickets.

What can we do to use the concept of badges in knowledge work?  Today’s online knowledge and information systems have badges in the form of intranet people profiles.  In more advanced collaboration systems, such as wikis, blogs, and internal social networks, every piece of activity is tagged to the person, usually with a hyperlink to some kind of profile where you can learn more about the person.  In any knowledge-based information system, being able to “pivot” on a person and uncover both contact information and more about what that person has done is absolutely critical.

Bling

“Bling” is the little circles and other pieces of cloth backed by sticky material stuck on a badge or the badge’s straps (though my daughter charmingly has absconded with a KM badge and has it on one of her dresses).  Bling indicates  interest and affiliation with subject areas like knowledge management (the keys), social media (a little twittery bird), information management, and so forth.  When I was in the ILTones chorus, we had a little piano bling too.

Bling in theory shows interests and skills.  In practice, however, it is also really fun to share and trade, and provide an opportunity for people in leadership roles to do a little something for people they meet.

Doing even apparently trivial favors for someone is a great way to build trust and enhance knowledge-sharing.  What favors can you do?   How can you have your lawyers build trust with each other?

And, what bling is on your profile?  How do lawyers share their interests and expertise in your organization?

Ribbons

The ribbons attached to the bottom of a badge typically identify something about person’s relationship with ILTA.  They are color-coded, and let you tell at a glance whether someone is a first-time attendee, a speaker, a peer group leader, or conference chair.  To some degree, ribbons are a status indication, but they also provide an opportunity to start a conversation (“How are you finding your first conference, newbie?”).  Ribbons are also a way for ILTA to provide recognition for various kinds of volunteer activities.

How do you recognize participation in your organization’s knowledge-sharing efforts and culture?

Appreciation

ILTA is a peer-driven organization.  It wouldn’t survive if it didn’t do a good job recognizing and showing appreciation for its members, who do much of the work that actually leads to conference.

Part of the appreciation is expressed through consistent messaging at formal events such as conference opening and closing sessions.  I’ve noticed that ILTA Executive Director Randi Mayes always singles out the ILTA members who support the JAG Corps and the courts, as they serve the public good as well as benefiting conference.

More recently, ILTA has established a formal recognition program, the Distinguished Peer Awards, which culminates in a black-tie dinner and Oscar-style awards presentation (admittedly, without a live orchestra, awkward thank-you speeches, or closeup shots of tearful runners-up).  I was honored to be on a short list for the KM Distinguished Peer Award this past year, and was thrilled at the opportunity to be recognized for my work, as I know all the nominees and award-winners were.

Appreciation is especially important for people working in the legal industry.  Lawyers by nature are not well-versed in working with others (see What Makes Lawyers So Challenging?), and as less sociable perfectionists are not always best at expressing appreciation or providing effective feedback.  Providing consistent, formal appreciation and recognition for our KM workers and champions can keep the KM team strong.

Affiliations

ILTA enables connection through surfacing affiliations any number of ways at conference. There are regional meetings, receptions by peer group, CIO meetups, meetings for social media fans, different arrangements at meals, ways for new attendees to meet, etc. etc. Each different slice brings you in contact with a different set of peers and new opportunities for connection.

This rich approach to sets of groups contrasts with the relatively simple formal structures seen in law firms. An attorney will typically major in one practice area and have a minor in another, but type of work is only one (albeit admittedly very important one) of the potential affiliation slices. What other affiliations can you leverage or encourage at your organization?

Conclusion

I am brought back to Larry Prusak’s wise admonishments in the Forward to “The New Edge In Knowledge” (reviewed here):

  • “Although technology surely has its place, working with knowledge is primarily a human activity needing human organization and understanding.
  • Knowledge in organizations is profoundly social and best managed in groups, networks, communities, and practices.”

People will share more where there are rich and varied opportunities to uncover and connect over shared interests and affiliations, do each other  favors, and recognize and reward team member contributions.  Extensive peer connection and structures that support communities also provide a vital support for our challenging knowledge work and for optimally functioning organizations.

 

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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.

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Knowledge Management Sessions At ILTA Conference

17 Aug

Post By ILTA KM PG Member David Hobbie

As announced in some detail on the main ILTA blog. the conference schedule and detailed session agenda are available.  There is also a session overview that lets you compare what’s happening at the same time (so you can agonize over which of  two excellent sessions with great speakers you should choose.)  The main conference site also has such goodies as an #ilta11 twitter stream, information about the venue, and so forth.  I would be remiss if I did not mention the excellent mobile app, available for iPhone, iPad, and whatnot (yes I have an Apple bias when it comes to mobile technology).

(By the way, in ILTA-speak, one simply omits the “ILTA” in “ILTA Conference,” along with the definite article–it’s assumed that you must be talking about the conference, with this years’ taking place in Nashville, Tennessee from August 21-26.  This is an ILTA blog, so I’m going to follow that practice.)

The theme this year is “Rev-Elation,” which, leaving aside the odd spelling, definitely invokes the high energy and insight that I’ve come to associate with conference.

Conference has both a “formal” KM track (which means those 6 sessions managed by the ILTA KM PG) and  many other sessions that may be of interest to knowledge management professionals or that even cover topics in what I consider “core” KM, such as enterprise search.

This post will briefly describe and map out the six sessions on the formal KM track, in chronological order as they appear at conference (two on Monday August 22 and four on Wednesday August 24).  You may want to “follow” the hashtag comprised of the session “codes”, e.g., #kmpg1.

1. KMPG1, Advances In Document Assembly–Monday at 11 AM,  “Canal C”

This session will address new technologies and advances in this area, which in the past has been reserved for niche legal practice areas such as trusts and estates.  They’ll cover strengths and weaknesses of different vendors and approaches.

Speakers include Peter Krakaur of Orrick, Ayelette Robinson of Littler Mendelssohn, Michael Tominna of DLA Piper, and Yvonne Willis of Pilsbury, Winthrop, Shaw & Pittman LLP.

2.  KMPG2, “Social Networking In The Legal Industry,” Monday at 1 PM, “Canal C”

Speakers are Beau Mersereau, Director of Applications, Development, and Support at Fish & Richardson, Katrina Dittmer, Practice Support Manager at Baker Daniels, and me, David Hobbie, Litigation Knowledge Manager at Goodwin Procter LLP.

“Law firms, like virtually every other business today, are discovering the benefits of social networking collaboration. Learn about the use of collaborative tools such as wikis, blogs and discussion forums, and networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.”

Amen.  Heads up for attendees–this session will focus largely on internal application of social media tools, not on the (potentially significant) marketing aspects of external-facing law firm social media activity.

3. KMPG3, “It Takes A Village To Deliver Effective AFAs,” Wednesday at 9:15 AM, “Delta C”

“Learn how KM professionals and key players from finance, IT, professional development, legal project management, records and other areas can collaborate to help law firms implement successful AFAs.”

Tom Baldwin, Toby BrownPamela Woldow headline  the outstanding panel.

4.  KMPG4, “How KM Supports Innovative Service Delivery,” Wednesday at 11:30 AM, “Delta C”

“KM isn’t just precedents anymore. Hear how some true innovators in the field have tied sustainable KM processes and tools to specific legal services in ways that show clear increases in value delivered to clients.”

Howard Nichols of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey; Scott Rechtschaffen of Littler Mendelson, P.C., and Brynn Wiswall, Baker Donelson.

5.  KMPG5, “Creating an Optimal KM Strategy,” Wednesday at 1:30 PM, “Delta C”

"A sound KM strategy is essential to success. Whether you are just starting a KM program or you've been at it for years, you'll take away insight into how your colleagues have formulated or refreshed their KM strategies to optimal levels, and what did and didn't work."
Legal KM guru Sally Gonzalez of HBR Consulting joins Steven Lastres of Debevoise & Plimpton and ILTA KM blog contributor John Gillies of Cassels Brock in this panel moderated by Patrick DiDominico.
6.  KMPG6, "KM Helps Meet the ACC Value Challenge," Wednesday at 3:30 PM, "Delta C"
"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."

I'm moderating this session, the last of the track, which I previously posted about.  Panelists include  Mary Panetta of Crowell & Moring, Jeffrey Brandt of Clearspire, and Thomas Wisinski of Haynes Boone.
I look forward to seeing many ILTAns there! 






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Training One-on-One At Cassels Brock

15 Jun

Guest Post by Practice Support Lawyer Kathleen Hogan at Cassels Brock & Blackwell

One of the most successful initiatives undertaken in our Practice Support department at Cassels Brock (composed of John Gillies and me) has been the one-on-one training sessions we offer directly to lawyers. This post will describe this ongoing initiative, and the ensuing “wins” and “fails.”

Simply teaching tips is only part of our success. We also learn about individual lawyers and their practices, improve our profile across the firm, and create goodwill by helping resolve issues we would never otherwise have heard of.

Group training, onboarding, and other training techniques have some success, but are not tailored to an individual lawyer. This is one of the keys to our success – we can speak individually to lawyers and learn from them while teaching. We don’t teach what they don’t want to know or don’t care about, and skip over what they already know. We ensure that we’re teaching useful tips efficiently on a lawyer-centric basis.

We’ve done three separate one-on-one initiatives. The first focused on e-mail management, Outlook tips, and related time-management tips.

WIN: Many of the individual tips were hugely successful for the lawyers. They learned several easy functions in Outlook, thus improving leverage. We, in turn, learned a lot about individual practices we used in refining our e-mail filing policies.
FAIL:  We learned not to try to cram ten or more tips, plus a short lecture on time-management, into one session.

The second round was aimed at adoption of our enterprise search engine. We had a launch party to create interest and awareness and did overviews during group training sessions. Our search rate metrics, however, went up as we did one-on-one training (and have stayed up!).

WIN: As you leave, repeat your top tip. Mine was, “If you remember nothing else about this training, remember to put phrases in quotes when you search.”
FAIL: Some lawyers simply refused training, saying they relied on their assistants to find everything for them. I suggest brainstorming potential refusals and preparing script with scenarios (“What if you’re working late and your assistant isn’t here?”).

The third initiative was teaching a smorgasbord of new or improved functionalities that were available across the firm resulting from a major upgrade of the firm’s technology infrastructure, completed in 2010. We chose to highlight the most important functions and tools (in other words, those we thought were easy to learn and/or increased efficiency the most).

WIN: Communicating the importance of the upgrade and demonstrating the stability and usability of the new platform. We made sure to praise IT’s work, so lawyers would understand that department’s value. In turn, IT appreciated our support.
POSSIBLE FAIL: We had to be careful to avoid training fatigue. Lawyers had already been required to attend training on the new system, and we didn’t want to annoy them with more training on anything they’d seen before.

From these experiences, I can share the following tips:

  • Prepare an attractive “leave-behind” document. Keep it short and simple, and provide screen shots. As you speak with a lawyer, point to the relevant sections on this document.
  • Prepare a way to track who you’ve seen. You’d think you remember, but after a dozen training sessions, it becomes difficult!
  • Start by simply dropping by. Have a friendly script that makes refusing you difficult. “Hi, Paul. Let’s take a quick five minutes to show you how to use the new search tool,” not “Do you have five minutes for some training?” If they refuse, have your Blackberry at the ready, pick a date, and send an Outlook invite immediately.
  • Lawyers will often jump up and offer their seat to a trainer. To this, I always say “Oh no, you’re going to do the work!” Stand beside their chair. Have a pen with you so it’s easier to point out a detail onscreen, rather than looming into their personal space. They will retain more by doing it themselves.
  • Start off with a quick explanation of the tool or item to be taught, and ask them what they do now. “This search tool is a fast and accurate way to search for all our client-matter documents. What do you do now to find something you need?”
    • This approach both “sells” the tool and elicits excellent lawyer-centric information – terrific KM data. As we get to understand how each lawyers works, and over time, we knit that information together and leverage it in other projects.
  • Show the right things. Make a list of the top items to train. What are the three (five? ten?) things you think everyone should know? Teach these around the firm before moving on to new items.
  • Before you leave, ask: “Is there anything I can help you with? Is there anything not working on your computer?” Get answers to their questions, and get IT to fix whatever is not working, even if it has nothing to do with what you trained on, and even though it’s not your job. Facilitating resolutions to problems will engender a generous amount of good will.

In case you’re wondering, our most popular tip (as measured in expressions of surprise and delight), is the Outlook functionality of dragging an e-mail into Calendar or Tasks to turn it into an appointment or a task. Many of the most tech-savvy lawyers don’t know this one, and everyone loves it!

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