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The Role of Intranets in the Hybrid Workspace

3 May

By Tom Baldwin

Intro:  In this blog post, we will learn what marketing and KM teams have done with their intranets to promote engagement and productivity across the organization in this ever changing environment.

Photo by Anna Nekrashevich on Pexels.com

The pandemic has revealed quite a lot about society, and certainly our little legal industry bubble is no exception.  At the onset there were many questions, periods of anxiety, and fear of the unknown.  However, we learned a few things:

  • Lawyers can, when pressed into action, work remotely and be effective for extended periods of time working outside of the physical office
  • Firms can achieve, if not exceed, their financial goals
  • Thanks to the work of many amazing IT professionals and vendors in our industry remote working, frankly, works

However, these revelations have resulted in some potentially unintended consequences:

  • The serendipitous water cooler & hallway chats are fewer and farther between, leaving members of firms more in the dark than ever and less informed about both the business of the firm and what’s happening in their colleagues personal lives
  • The long-standing tradition of organic knowledge transfer, learning and development of more junior lawyers by virtue of being in close proximity to their senior colleagues is now at risk
  • While lawyers have been more self-sufficient, working remotely has more brought to light the deficiencies in the way lawyer-facing software is designed and deployed
  • Culture can be compromised if communications and knowledge are not more thoughtfully managed
  • Lawyers and business professionals can feel a sense of disconnectedness if a firm continues to operate as it did pre-pandemic

Having worked on 60+ legal intranets, we’ve seen many firms seize the moment and realize that now is the time to put in place mechanisms to ensure these issues, and many others, can be addressed in a sustainable way – future proofing their firms’ remote work strategy.

While there are many things firms have done, we’re going to narrowly focus on the role a firm’s intranet can play, and what both Marketing and KM teams have done to promote engagement and productivity.

Let’s talk about engagement:

  • In lieu of water cooler conversations, many firms use their intranet’s prime real estate to highlight the firm’s victories and success via a “Hero banner”. *Pro tip*: Little nudges like automatically showing people’s faces that are tagged in the story drive more engagement and news contributions.
  • We saw firms mimic social media features that many people are now familiar with.
    • Similar to Instagram (in fact many firms called this feature “{insert.firm.name}Gram”), early on many firms asked people to send pictures of their family, pets, or home office setup. Some firms introduced a Picture of the Day, asking anyone at the firm to contribute pictures they wanted to share. One firm would drive engagement with specific topics, like “Post pictures of your kids on their first day of school.”
    • Like Twitter, in an effort to provide more routine communications for leadership, we’ve seen leading firms leverage a feature we like to call “Leadership Updates” where, in lieu of solely using email, the firm’s leadership can use a section of the intranet to communicate in a more frequent, pithy and colloquial way. This preserves the attention and gravitas of email from your leadership team, and gives them a platform for more frequent communication.
  • To stay current on the work of the firm, we’ve seen firms fold in feeds from their Foundation or Intapp Experience system to both highlight cases won and deals closed, and also to encourage lawyers to contribute to these systems.

On the knowledge management side, we could dedicate an entire post to how KM has leveraged their intranet to solve for some of the aforementioned challenges, but here are some highlights:

  • Lawyers have day jobs, it’s to practice law. Not attempt to learn the ins/outs of every piece of software they may ever need to use, nor remember the name and location of each system they are expected to master.  Being in the office they had a built-in ecosystem of support that, with a simple email or phone call, could scurry to their office and walk them through just about anything.  But working remotely now required more self-sufficiency.  To enable this new obligation on the lawyers, many intranets now act as the gateway to most of the tools a lawyer would need to use on a regular basis; a one-stop-shop for everything from the DMS, to financial dashboards, curated news feeds, matter budgeting information, legal research, custom links, even their stocks!
  • To help curate knowledge for the firm’s lawyers to leverage, we’re seeing more and more firms invest in creating knowledge banks/hubs that house the firm’s precedents, forms, checklists, and other know-how in an easily digestible format, readily accessible via the intranet
  • Firms haven’t stopped lateral hiring, but integration is harder when people aren’t in the office. One way firms are remotely onboarding and integrating laterals into the firm and vice versa is via power directory pages on the intranet.  To centralize and collect what they know about their lawyers, we’re seeing more and more firms invest in collecting rich data and surfacing it in an almost LinkedIn-style firm directory page on the intranet. 
  • People are spoiled by Google, and working remotely requires having an easy way for people to find things on their own. While no firm can replicate the power of Google in their intranet, we have seen many firms take advantage of a method we created called “Guided Search” in the early days of our intranet practice.  It lets users see results as they type, and pulls back results on the most common things people search for on the intranet in one single interface:
  • People, clients, matters, and content on the intranet

A note about Teams:

  • Your firm is likely already using Microsoft Teams to some degree. Beyond the out-of-the-box features of Teams, leading firms are looking to use Teams as an even more powerful Digital Workplace that can elegantly aggregate even more technology experiences for lawyers.
    • Speaking of Teams, if you’ve not looked at Microsoft Viva, you should. It has four modules that are integrated into Teams (Viva Learning, Viva Insights, Viva Topics and Viva Connections). It is an employee experience platform that brings together communications, knowledge, learning, resources, and insights in the flow of work.

#Firm
#KnowledgeManagementandSearch
#IntranetsandPortals
#ProfessionalDevelopment
#RemoteWorking

Press Release

9 Mar

Contact:

Kelly Harbour                                                                         Toby Brown

Goulston & Storrs PC                                                             Perkins Coie

+1.617.574.3508                                                                     +1.206.359.8028

kharbour@goulstonstorrs.com                                               tbrown@perkinscoie.com

RELEASE DATE:

MARCH 9, 2022

The SALI Alliance Releases Second Major Version of the
Legal Matter Specification Standard

NEW YORK (Mar. 9, 2022) – The Standards Advancement for the Legal Industry (SALI) Alliance is pleased to announce the official release of Legal Matter Specification Standard (LMSS)  2.0. This new, dramatically expanded version of the LMSS represents an important milestone for the industry just over two years after the issuance of the well-received LMSS 1.0. The taxonomy has expanded more than six-fold to almost 10,000 categories (essentially tags) that the legal market uses to describe its services in detail, and in a way that is comparable across organizations. Those ~10,000 tags can fuel legal pricing, AI, and data-science initiatives. 

“LMSS 2.0 is, quite simply, innovation in the legal industry at its finest. It is the culmination of countless hours generously volunteered by professionals in law firms, technology companies, service providers, educational institutions, and clients in different roles, pursuing the same vision,” notes Toby Brown, co-founder of The SALI Alliance and Chief Practice Management Officer at Perkins Coie. “A common language for the legal industry is powerful for all of these parties, from legal operations to business development, pricing, knowledge management, and overall law firm business operations. Standardized data is critical to all of these efforts.”

A significant portion of the expanded set of descriptors relate to litigation, including causes of action, document types, phases, and more, enabling robust definition and categorization of a wide variety of key aspects of disputes. Damien Riehl, Fastcase Vice President of Litigation Workflow and Analytics Content, also a former practicing lawyer and coder, drove the development of these components of the standard. In addition, Riehl led an effort to migrate the LMSS to a graph database (RDF/OWL) hosted by Stanford University’s WebProtege.

Many organizations are moving from relational databases (e.g., SQL) to graph databases (e.g., knowledge graphs, Neo4j) as a superior means of describing and managing how information is interrelated. A graph allows industry players to browse the data and also see how descriptors, data points and concepts relate to one another. But even if organizations are not (yet) using graph systems, their relational-database systems can still get the full benefit of SALI LMSS 2.0 and its richer, more-detailed descriptors and relationships.

“I was delighted to bring my experience as a lawyer and technologist to build out the standard, in substance, function, and presentation,” said Riehl. “The value of the standard is truly unlocked when you see how each attribute works in concert with others in a graph, and Stanford’s interface, WebProtege, demonstrates those relationships simply and elegantly.”

Beyond the move to a graph, key enhancements in LMSS 2.0 include Engagement Terms to define a matter’s business arrangement, Events to identify key milestones in a matter, hundreds of new state court codes, customization based on Canadian law, and mapping to other widely used industry standards, including UTBMS and PACER nature of suit.

The release of LMSS 2.0 follows increasing momentum and interest in the standard from parties across the legal industry ecosystem, including law firms, service providers, educational institutions, and in-house teams. Reference implementations reflect the diversity of interest, from early-adopter law firm Goulston & Storrs PC, to the Attorneys’ Liability Assurance Society (ALAS), to technology company Fastcase’s subsidiaries NextChapter and Docket Alarm.

Membership and endorsements are increasing at a rapid pace for The SALI Alliance as well. In 2021, new members and endorsers include the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC), Bond, Schoeneck & King, Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass LLP, Courtroom Insights, Fredrikson & Byron, NetDocuments, Ogletree Deakins, OpenText, Sheppard Mullin and Sidley Austin.

For more information, or for access to the standard, contact info@sali.org.

Technical Advances in LMSS 2.0

The rapid expansion of the standard necessitated the creation of unique identifiers for each of the nearly 10,000 nodes. Known as IRIs, these unique, machine-readable codes accomplish several objectives critical to the flexibility and scalability of the LMSS. The IRIs replace human-readable codes that were US-centric. Corporate Law, for example, was represented as “CORP” in LMSS 1.0. As more languages and country-specific nuances are incorporated into the LMSS, use of IRIs will allow for infinite permutations and eliminate concerns over translating the codes. “CORP,” for example, is meaningless in many of the worldwide languages expected to be represented in the LMSS over time.

The unique identifiers are also designed for greater efficiency in machine reading of the codes. As the SALI Alliance moves toward releasing an open application programming interface (API), and technology companies from Fastcase to Intapp are beginning to incorporate the standard into out-of-the-box products, the IRIs facilitate rapid integration of systems, including, ultimately, between law firms and clients.

About The SALI Alliance

The Standards Advancement for the Legal Industry (SALI) Alliance is an independent not-for-profit, member organization that was formally established on May 15, 2017, with the goal of producing standards for the legal industry to accelerate innovation and improve efficiency. The SALI Alliance includes a wide range of stakeholders including law firms, companies, service providers and legal industry associations. Its founding members are the Association of Legal Administrators, the International Legal Technology Association and the Legal Marketing Association. Learn more at www.sali.org.

Are you heading to NYC for #legalweek22? Are you local to NYC? Are you a SALI Alliance™ enthusiast or skeptic?! If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, Toby Brown, Damien Riehl, Ron Friedmann, James Hannigan and Kelly Harbour want to see you virtually or in person Wednesday, March 9, for the launch of the Legal Matter Specification Standard 2.0!

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6905248603439267841

KM’S Role In The Lawyer Lifecycle

1 Mar

By Adam Dedynski 

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

The steady stream of new joiners and leavers at law firms has turned into a torrent. As we move into the next phase of living with Covid-19, plans for career reassessment that had been put on hold are being reactivated and there is a marked increase in activity in the employment market. This blog seeks to provide practical examples of ways KM teams can add value at each stage of the lawyer lifecycle from onboarding, through refresher sessions after career breaks and at exit from the business to mitigate knowledge loss.  

ONBOARDING

When thinking about what your onboarding content or processes should be, you could focus on the KM team structure (who’s who and what the team does), or the services and technology the team is responsible for. When structuring your onboarding content, consider:

  • Timing. If there is a formal HR-driven induction process that KM slots into, you might not have a choice as to when to time the KM induction. It’s tempting to schedule it when new joiners arrive and before they get swamped with work but it may be better to wait a week or two so they have context for the information you deliver;
  • How much detail. New joiners receive a lot of information so your content should be high-level but think also about adapting or tailoring it for different scenarios (for example, a presentation to a particular office should include reference to any regional resources or people). However, an in-depth training session about a piece of KM technology on someone’s second day is unlikely to be impactful (but do think about when the best time is to schedule that follow-up);
  • Clarity. When providing a snapshot of KM make it clear and engaging through the use of visuals and applied case studies/stories, follow a logical sequence, and consider doing something interactive;
  • Who. Someone with a birdseye view of KM should be involved in delivering your content but including high-level content lends itself well to sharing the inductions workload amongst your KM team;
  • What/why. Explain what knowledge means at the firm and why it’s important (someone could be brand new to KM or have come from another firm with a different approach);
  • Expectations. Flag how people can get involved and what the firm expects of them (such as sharing knowledge, using a chargeable knowledge code to get credit for KM work or following certain processes). Doing this from the outset helps embed a positive knowledge culture;
  • Client-facing KM. Talk about any client-facing activities that KM plays a role in (such as delivery of client bulletins on hot topics, client training or extranet portals). There can be a misconception that KM is only internally-focused and talking about client-facing KM work will resonate with your lawyers;
  • Accessible. Make sure that your content is easily available either on an intranet home page or linked to anything HR has in place. Think also about how different offices and jurisdictions access content; and
  • Feedback. You can’t improve on what you deliver unless you find out from your new joiners what went well and what didn’t, so send a survey or make some calls when they’ve settled in to find out whether you hit the right mark.

You can present your content in many different ways, depending on your firm culture, systems and processes. Approaches you could take include:

  • Create an internal brochure, handbook or intranet page (setting out what the team does and the different KM services or technology);
  • Deliver regular live presentations (taking into account different time zones and variations in levels of knowledge resources in different offices or practices, if relevant);
  • Pre-record content (this can be particularly effective if your team doesn’t have the capacity to deliver regular live presentations or if your firm has a large geographic spread);
  • Send a welcome email or joining pack highlighting key information (look into automating this process so it doesn’t become too burdensome);
  • Align with any existing processes that HR has in place (there might be a lateral hire introduction programme, for example); and
  • Because people learn differently and continuously, consider delivering content in various formats such as podcasts, bitesize infomercials or blogs, or create a learning series.

WELCOME BACK

It is increasingly important to support lawyers returning from periods away from the firm (such as parental leave, client secondments or other long-term absence). It helps them settle back into the firm more quickly and confidently and supports them to get up to speed on legal developments that they may have missed. Designing processes for welcoming extended leave returners requires close collaboration with HR colleagues so notifications of lawyers going on leave and arrangements for staying in touch (if appropriate) can be handled sensitively. These ideas can help support a leave returner:

  • If they want to stay in the loop, hard copies of current awareness bulletins could be delivered to their home address to save them checking work emails;
  • Email alerts from library e-services may be paused to make their inbox more manageable;
  • You can create a template returner induction document to record firm news, key new processes/technologies, links to recordings of firmwide training and links to new practice notes and precedents. This can be kept up to date by the central KM team and be downloaded and added to with practice specific resources by knowledge lawyers in the returner’s team highlighting key cases/legislative changes, etc.;
  • Make sure returners are invited to upcoming client BD events and that new team organograms are shared so staffing changes during their period of leave can be easily digested; and
  • Diarise a re-induction session when HR notify the team of a return date and use any “keep in touch” days before the official return date to give a refresher on key systems, run through the returner’s pack and potentially get the returner involved in know how projects to keep them busy with useful work before their client work commences.

EXIT

Energy and effort is well spent in creating and enabling a positive culture of knowledge sharing throughout the career of your lawyers. However, when a lawyer does leave the firm, it is worth thinking about the KM angles to the exit process because it can be a good time to harvest knowledge before they leave (whether that be documents or feedback about KM services you have offered them during their time with the firm). It is important to try to mitigate the “partial amnesia” your organisation will suffer if knowledge leaks out with leavers unimpeded. It can feel like a backward step in your KM efforts to have to reinvent the wheel, re-solve problems you already tackled or, at worst, suffer negligence claims if things on client engagements fall between cracks.

In general, KM teams are pretty good at storing and retaining knowledge that has been written down. Tacit knowledge, however, is way trickier to capture and potentially even more sorely missed when a lawyer leaves a firm. Techniques such as holding “fishbowl conversations”, “an audience with…” training sessions, mentoring of replacements, and KM exit interviews can all be deployed to try to tap into the tactics and negotiating acumen in the heads of more senior lawyers.

Coming up with a consistent global process can be challenging in international firms due to notice periods varying and leaving dates shifting. That said, when lawyers start to scale back new client work they may have spare time to devote to KM activities and partners who are due to retire may wish to play a role in creating a legacy collection or database.

Partner with HR and find out how KM teams can leverage or slot into existing exit processes. For example, to tailor emails that are sent to exiting lawyers outlining tasks they need to complete, to include sharing knowledge with the relevant knowledge lawyer, to give back library books, to participate in matter debriefs, and to include an information governance reminder on taking confidential forms and templates with them. On partner retirements, it is useful to tap into BD client succession processes.

CONCLUSION

Firms have always been keen to emphasise that their people are their greatest asset and in this volatile talent marketplace it is more important than ever that they do all they can to attract and retain their best people. KM teams can play a vital role in this effort through the support and structure they can offer throughout the lawyer lifecycle. During the Covid-19 pandemic, KM teams have also proved the important role they play in firms’ responses to changing circumstances and getting involved in helping to onboard and retain talent and preventing knowledge loss is just another way to show our value.

FURTHER READING    

See these ILTA blogs and webinars:

Best Way to Onboard Lateral and New Associates with KM Resources (Blog – 5 Jan 2022)

KM for Newbies (Blog – 27 Jan 2020)

Onboarding and Training New Knowledge Management Professionals (Webinar – 23 May 2019)

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Jenni Tellyn is a knowledge management and learning consultant with 3Kites Consulting Ltd. She works with law firms to provide independent advice, strategic direction and project leadership for a wide range of knowledge management projects.

Adam Dedynski is a knowledge and development professional support lawyer at White & Case.

#KnowledgeManagementandSearch
#PracticeManagementandPracticeSupport
#Firm
#GlobalPerspective

Knowledge Management Round-Up for 2021: Groundhog Day

14 Jan

By Gwyneth McAlpine

Photo by Aaron J Hill on Pexels.com

Many of you know that each year, I post a round-up of Knowledge Management (KM) programming produced by the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA).  My goal is to collect the KM-related content and, in cataloging it, reflect on the themes of the past year.  You can find past years’ editions here: 2020201920182017 and 2016.  Keep reading for this year’s version. 

Because KM-related interests can be very broad, there is some editorial discretion in compiling this list.  I focus on content targeted to a KM audience, produced by members of the KM community and/or a sprinkling of other topics that seems to be relevant to KM (or me) right now.  I do include Marketing Technology content, mostly because I know that through ILTA, it is often produced in tandem with KM colleagues, but also because this is a key area for KM to stay informed about.  My editorial discretion does mean that you probably want to visit the ILTA archives for more, particularly if your scope of KM responsibility includes adjacent functions like Information Governance or E-Discovery.  Be sure to sign in for access to the whole library.  If you attended ILTACON, ILTA’s annual conference in August, you will have even more recordings available to you.  They are omitted below because of their limited access. 

In creating this year’s round-up, I looked back at last year’s.  The tone conveyed confidence that the worst was behind us and hope for a pandemic-free, return-to-normal year.  Well, I’ve learned my lesson and will not be predicting what 2022 will bring.  But I can tell you about themes from 2021, derived from the content produced:

  • Roles are changing. There is a lot of content on evolving roles, upskilling, team collaboration and getting to know fresh voices in our community.  To me this reflects trends we are seeing more broadly.  The pandemic accelerated new ways of working and new priorities, resulting in a rapid evolution in roles and responsibilities. In tandem, the job market is going bonkers, creating new opportunities and, for some, new colleagues.  Many of us are focused more than ever on the people aspects of our roles, and there is much food for thought below to support that.
  • Podcasts continue to be popular. Nearly one-third of the listings below are podcasts! If you, like me, have lapsed on those regular walks around the neighborhood, make a resolution to load your mobile device with podcasts and restart those walks.  Podcasts are short and conversational, perfect for a lunchtime outing.  I’ve included duration so you can create a playlist of appropriate length,
  • Crossover topics reign. Each year, I find it harder to categorize the content because there is so much interweaving of topics.  The author or presenter may touch on strategy, innovation, skills, specific software and user adoption in a single contribution.  KM sees opportunity everywhere, which is reflected in this year’s offerings.  Thus, the categories below are simply loose guides.

AI and Automation

Cross-Team Collaboration

Data Mining & Analytics

Experience Management

Innovation

Marketing Technology

Product Development

Professional Development / Changing Roles

Series: Fresh Voices of Legal Tech

Strategy

Tech Tools & Adoption

Be safe, wash your hands, wear a mask, and take care of each other.  The KM community is indeed a community.  Let’s continue to learn from, and lean on, each other.  Here’s to 2022!

#KnowledgeManagementandSearch
#MarketingandBusinessDevelopment
#Firm

Changing World, Changing Role – The Rise of the Tech-Savvy Marketer – Part Three

17 Dec

By Rachel Shields Williams

Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com

Marketing technologists have always been persuading law firms to change, like moving from a Rolodex to a CRM, a printed brochure to a website, and the list goes on. In the last year, the message has not changed, but the audience has become more receptive to the message. So now that lawyers are listening and more motivated than ever before to participate in client-focused technology, what skills need to be honed to leverage this extraordinary level of attention and engagement from stakeholders?

Change Management
Today’s world is changing so fast, and we need to not only change with it but bring other people along. Marketing technologists need to address and understand what needs to change while 1) not overwhelming people’s capacity to change, and 2) keeping people motivated while the change is taking place. Change is hard, and it takes a lot of energy; our role in the process is to help remind people of the “why” and keep them engaged.

Imagination
There is no easy button for the client service questions we are trying to solve in today’s business world. Marketing technologists need to look beyond what something “does” and think creatively about alternative use cases and share with their business partners “wouldn’t it be great if” ideas. They also need to reimagine processes and roles. Sometimes we don’t need to purchase a new tool; sometimes we need to change the process and who does what in that process. Even something as simple as cleaning data, so the technology works more efficiently and accurately, can make a difference.

Intellectual Curiosity
Yesterday’s solution is not necessarily the best tool for the problem today, and as a marketing technologist, you must be willing to challenge your past decisions. Be curious about the “why” behind the problem and about the world around you. New tools, solutions, and ideas abound in the legal technology space, so attend conferences (virtual or in-person) and meet with the business partners – hearing what they are doing and how they are helping other companies may inspire the next solution.

People Management
It’s not necessary to have an official management role to manage people, and the majority of projects will require us to work with stakeholders outside of our department. The modern marketing technologist will need to work within matrixed teams and lead people who don’t report to them, or even work on their direct team or department. Marketing technologists will also need to manage up to help leaders advocate for resources and communicate the technology’s “why” and “how”. If you are managing a team, remember their success is your success. Great teams don’t just happen; it takes intentional time, energy, and adjustments to create high-performing teams.

#Firm
#MarketingandBusinessDevelopment
#KnowledgeManagementandSearch

Business Efficiency Tools We Can’t Live Without Post-Covid

17 Dec

By Tara Patterson

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

To say priorities have shifted greatly over the past year and a half is an understatement. Many of us have been tasked with developing and implementing tools and processes allowing for more remote collaboration. Requests have grown in complexity with even quicker turnaround times expected – mainly because we have learned through this pandemic that our workforce is adaptable. To accommodate this progression, we now have technological solutions in our (virtual) tool belts that are indispensable.

You literally cannot be efficient if you cannot communicate. If you recall from our 2020 KM Survey, there was an incredible uptick in collaboration tools. Obviously, no firm can function right now without a video conferencing tool and Zoom seems to be the system of choice (harkening back to our survey were 66% of respondents noted Zoom as their preferred software). In 2019, most firms had limited users/licenses with Zoom, WebEx, and other similar video conferencing. Now, most staff and lawyers have an individual accounts forgoing telephone conferencing solutions and landlines. How seamlessly we went from hurried calls on a dial-up phone and having to send emails to view the same materials to “hopping on a quick” video chat to share screens, collaborate on updates in real-time. Pre-pandemic, some firms were only starting to integrate VoIP solutions. Today, Zoom is such an integral part of our day-to-day it has entered our lexicon as a generic term to encompass any video call.

Also in popularity is Microsoft Teams. And no wonder. It slices, it dices, it minces. Well, not really, but it is the technological epitome of collaboration. It centralizes discussions (rescuing us from never-ending email chains), collates notes, documents, and project updates (to name a few) into an easily accessible channel with customizable alerts for each team member. Further enhancing connectivity, it has a chat feature (fully searchable) and is another source for video calling and full telephony (assumingly, one already integrated with all firm users of Microsoft products). It has taken project team productivity to a new level.  Remote work is the norm, online collaboration is a necessity.

The need to automate is ever pressing. So, it is not shocking the increased usage of document automation tools. Document automation significantly improves organization and control over work. It drastically reduces paper use and the need for printing and reduces the time needed to fill, share and store documents – all tasks made more complex virtually. HotDocs, Contract Express and Formstack have become common software over the past year. Firms are developing teams focused on creating automated documents for both internal and external use. These roles barely existed pre-pandemic. Now, firms are struggling to find experienced staffers to handle the increase of document automation requests.

One reason we cannot live without these tools now is how it fits better into our new work-life balance. The tools mentioned are all mobile-friendly. Beyond where we physically work, the way we work has changed, too. Business and personal lives are intermixed. We are not just working from our home office on a laptop. We are tackling tasks on our digital devices while taking out kids to soccer, visiting a public park for fresh air and mental clarity or doing curbside pick-up on groceries since 1 pm was the only timeslot left for the day. The need to access firm resources from mobile devices is the new norm. Only a few short years ago, firms were trying to limit mobile access for security purposes. The need for continual and instantaneous connectively along with increases in mobile security now have firms prioritizing mobile solutions. Lawyers regularly ask if the technological solutions we provide can be accessed from their phones.

This is a small sampling of business efficiency tools firms are utilizing. The adoption of innovative technologies will continue to evolve. Go-to solutions today many become back-burner and no longer back pocket. What are some of the more unique technologies your firms have been using? Do you see the list of must-have tools changing as we move to hybrid environments? Let’s continue the discussion in our ILTA Community pages. It has been an interesting year, so sharing what we are using helps us all be even quicker to adapt and assist our law firms in the continuous drive for efficiency and improvement in productivity.

Product Jobs Are Next

17 Dec

By Jason Dirkx

Photo by lilartsy on Pexels.com

Several years ago, I was on the ILTACON Conference Committee and was responsible for assembling a panel on “jobs in new law.”  At the time there was a lot going on around KM roles, some innovation stuff and a rise in e-discovery.  About five years later, contrast this with a recent post of mine on Twitter that stemmed from a discussion on client-facing KM.  Long thread short, I’m convinced the next winners in legal are going to be those that secure the product talent.

Let me unpack that…it’s no secret that I have an interest in productized legal services.  Even so, the stars seem to be aligned for a significant uptick in productization in the near term.  If that uptick comes to fruition, it will come from product professionals with skill sets that are mostly absent from law firms today.  However, the pervasiveness of these positions generally combined with the current skilled labor shortages seems to be setting the stage for a run on product talent in legal where there will indeed be winners and losers.

Products are so hot right now

Productization (or packaging) of legal services is by no means a new concept. In fact, Richard Susskind was outlining the benefits of packaging as early as The End of Lawyers? in 2008.  With the obligatory Susskind reference out of the way, I can now turn to the factors that are coalescing to make the time right for productization.  First and foremost, there is mounting evidence that law firms are actually engaging in this activity.  On top of that, there are increasing financial incentives that should increase the attention on these opportunities.  Moreover, there are attorney mental health and well being challenges that could shift interest in the product direction.  All of these factors make for fertile soil in which to sow some legal products.

One of the leading indicators I’ve experienced that productization among law firms is increasing is that there is mounting evidence of firms actually doing it.  In my direct experience, I recently left a job where I was working for about 7 years helping to productize legal services via ComplianceHR. Additionally, Simmons and Simmons in the UK has been productizing their services for years with a substantial portfolio of products at this point. While these are only two examples, I was pleasantly surprised at Ark group’s KM Legal in October of this year to see how many firms were touting some form of productized legal service; there was even an entire panel on the topic with @Scott Rechtschaffen@Nicole Bradick@Scott Bailey and @Ed Walters all touting productization projects.  Also, recently Nicola Shaver made the observation on Twitter that many of those that created self-intro videos for the Skills Showcase in January were looking forward to client-facing KM projects (which are basically just a form of productization).  To add yet more fuel to this fire, Jasmine Gavigan, creator of vrtu, a platform for productizing services, particularly legal services, recently posted a how-to video on getting started with creating legal service products.  These are just a few of many examples.  As the profile of these projects increase, you will continue to see more and more packaging projects out of law firms.  And it’s not just that this evidence alone points to an acceleration, but also that the evidence itself will generate even more activity.  As many of you know, law firms are generally loathe to risk first movement on novel practice innovations.  However, the mounting evidence means that it will be increasingly “safer” for firms to experiment with these innovations (along with increasing competitive pressure to do so).

In addition to the sheer fact that law firms are increasingly engaging in productization, there are more and clearer financial incentives aligning to further fund productization in legal.  Rudy De Felice, CEO of Keesal Propulsion Labs, gave a keynote at KM Legal spelling out the myriad factors aligning to increase funding in the legal technology startup space.  Now this space is much broader than productized legal services.  However, it will most certainly include packages services and, moreover, Rudy identified “Self-help legal services”, which is almost entirely products/packaging, as one of the 5 likely hot spots for legal tech investing in the near future.  So how does all of this increased funding help law firms?  Well, as far as I can see, it doesn’t.  However, what it does do is increase the activity in this space, particularly by startups that could challenge portions of law firm business through productized services.  In other words, this increases the pressure that if law firms don’t take on this work, someone else will; it serves as a stick driving more productization.

If increased competition is the stick, improved quality of life is the carrot.  There is a real and current crisis among attorneys’ mental well-being and quality of life. Some of the factors cited are the pressure to bill a large number of hours and the lack of autonomy, particularly to pursue novel business opportunities.  The current billable hour model can resemble a hamster wheel for attorneys.  You can futz with the margins by raising billing rates, improving realization and looking more diligently at staffing and leverage, but the fundamental model requires the continuous creation of billable hours.  The current pace is unsustainable and clearly unhealthy.  One way to relieve this pressure is to diversify the lines of business in which a law firm realizes revenue.  A product line of business would leverage existing attorney expertise, likely meet unmet legal needs of clients and create an additional line of revenue that would reduce the pressure for the entire firm revenue to come from attorney hours.  This should reduce reliance on high billable hour targets and unsustainable attorney pace.  

Where do products come from?

If this impending product-ocalypse (productathon? product-geddon? I dunno, comment if you have better names) comes to fruition, then law firms will need product talent up and down the business side of the firm.  Law firms generally don’t employ people with product skills now and almost all of the folks they do employ are geared toward a service business.  For example, most law firm marketing professionals are accustomed to selling their lawyers’ services.  This typically means assembling RFPs with profiles of all of their attorneys with their accomplishments, accolades and historical wins.  However, product marketing is a different beast entirely; it requires telling a compelling story about why this widget that we have is the widget that you need.  It requires a deep understanding of the customers’ business processes and how the widget will streamline, change or generally make those processes better.  It often requires metrics and case studies to prove that point.  And then there’s sales…products have to be sold and law firms don’t really sell. Period. Full stop.  Sure, adept lawyers generate business relationships, but true sales is so much deeper and more nuanced than what lawyers typically engage in.  And these are just the start, there are engineers, architects, designers, product support and on.

Now I can hear all of my fellow legal innovation people starting to murmur “What about all of those fancy client innovation projects that are winning awards? Aren’t those products? And people built those…why not just utilize that?”  I understand why you would think that, but they are two distinct activities.  Client innovation projects are often packaging without the product discipline.  Most client innovation projects start with a single client need (often a “tent-pole” firm client) and are kicked off as a way to strengthen that relationship (the stickiness factor).  These projects are usually developed collaboratively with the client and the attorney and reflect that client’s idiosyncrasies; it’s their business processes, their preferences, the data points they use.  Conversely, the decision to develop a product is a bet.  It’s a bet that there is a broad market need and the widget you’re making solves that need.  Product development eschews idiosyncrasies in favor of consistency.  It strives to identify patterns and commonality amongst the market players and to create something that will be adopted by the masses.  Doing this involves market research, prospective client interviews, frequent feedback, etc. Now sure, you could take a single client product and attempt to make a product out of it.  But unless you started with a product mindset, it is going to involve a lot of rework and a highly inefficient and likely unsustainable method for getting to a viable product.  You need professionals that are looking for and thinking about product opportunities from the outset.

Ok, so what? All of the law firms will just start hiring product professionals when they’re ready, right?  Well, there are a few issues there.  First, it’s not clear to me that firms will understand out of the gate that they need product professionals.  Law firms have a history of inventing terminology unique to the industry (a form of legal exceptionalism).  If firms make forays down this path, they may find themselves behind the eight ball when the product-athalon (seriously, I need help naming this) begins.  Even if law firms decide they need product talent, product professionals are employed broadly across all sorts of industries.  They will have to compete with the broader market for talent.  On top of that, if you haven’t yet heard, there’s a skilled labor shortage which makes being a new entrant into this labor market particularly challenging.

At this point, it probably sounds like I’m outlining a losing scenario for firms.  I’m not.  If you’ve read any of my prior articles, I think productization of legal services is a HUGE opportunity for firms for all of the reasons above amongst many others.  However, this won’t be a trend that all firms will be able to fully get on board with as it will be limited by the talent available.  So the winners in this next trend in legal services, the Legal Product 500 (okay, I’ll stop), will be the ones who are able to identify early on the need for product talent, hire up that talent and incorporate them into their business as revenue generators.

Knowledge Management As Educators

23 Apr
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Adam Dedynski, Knowledge Management Project Manager, Reed Smith

This blog is part of our “Foundations of Knowledge Management” and “The Evolving Role of Education” series.

Knowledge Management (KM) professionals can play a vital, and often varied, role when it comes to delivering formal learning. KM lawyers create and deliver training on legal topics, law librarians provide legal research or database training, and innovation and KM managers provide training on technology or processes. How this is shaped and delivered is always evolving, particularly with the move toward remote working. This blog outlines some of those trends and ideas for delivering engaging education.

Planning

Spending time planning and structuring learning from the outset is important. Engage with your lawyers or business services professionals about what they want to learn about and how. You could send a survey, speak to key individuals, or set up a ‘training ideas’ portal. For legal training you could create a series based on legal procedures or stages in a transaction (although think about the levels of experience as the needs of a junior and senior lawyer will often be different). At Reed Smith our innovation training series focuses on themes (such as data and design thinking). Consider, however, if formal learning is the most appropriate method as a lot of learning is best gained through hands on experience.

KM crosses paths with many teams, such as IT, Marketing and Learning & Development (L&D) so collaborate if a topic lends itself (electronic signatures is a good example as it’s a blend of law, technology and process). If you have an L&D department it is particularly worth engaging with them as they can offer advice on strategy, planning, presenting, technology platforms, and potentially share administrative duties.

Speaker engagement

People at all levels can deliver training, however, you do need someone who has the right experience and skills to engage with an audience (be that virtual or in-person). If there are people outside of KM that know a lot about a particular piece of technology or area of law then you could ask them to lead a session (for example, a senior lawyer talking about one of their high-profile or complex matters).

Sometimes you may not have the in-house experience or people with the right skills to deliver training. Therefore, think about how external speakers could play a role (often at no cost). Ask barristers (if you are in the UK) or experts to present about a topic, or ask vendors to demonstrate how best to use their technology. If budget allows, then paying for external speakers can be more effective and cost-efficient.

It is time-consuming to deliver consistent and good quality training even if you have a large and well-supported KM team. You should be upfront about the time commitment and clear about what you would like your speaker to deliver.

Delivery

Time is a critical factor at play in law firms so striking the right balance is important. Legal training in particular can take a long time if the topic is complex or new, therefore, think about breaking it down. Committing to a thirty or fifteen minute session rather than an hour may be more realistic or appealing for attendees. Try a few different approaches and analyse feedback or metrics.

There are many ways to make your training interactive or engaging, you could include a quiz or gaming element, or if the session is over a video platform think about using the functionality on offer such as break-out rooms, polls, or live annotation. Recording sessions allows for more flexibility as do podcasts, which are becoming an increasingly popular way of learning. Workshops or boot camps can also be an impactful way for people to learn and network but don’t underestimate the time and effort it can take to create and deliver them.

If you are organising or delivering a live session give plenty of notice and send reminders. Think carefully about the time or day (take into account time zones or national holidays if it is cross-border). If training virtually, ensure that you and/or the speakers are familiar with the technology platform and offer support, guidance or a demo in advance. That said, at some stage everyone experiences technical issues or last minute changes (such as a speaker cancellation) so be prepared for anything!

While this blog focuses on delivering in-person or virtual training, KM professionals play a role in creating precedents, best practice guides, databases etc., which are another essential component of educating people. See our previous blogs for further details.*

Conclusion

With the increase in remote working everyone has been forced to quickly adapt their approach to learning. Now is a great time to assess what worked well and what the future might look like.

Additional Resources to Review: KM for newbies Legal KM in a Time of Coronavirus: Back to BasicsPrecedent Collections

Changing World, Changing Role – The Rise of the Tech-Savvy Marketer (Part 1 – Junior Marketers)

5 Feb

By Rosa Colon, Marketing Technology Manager, Lowenstein Sandler LLP

Photo by Gabriel Santos Fotografia on Pexels.com

Introduction to Upcoming Two-Part Blog Series:
Those entering the marketing profession were taught that developing their talents in creative writing and data analysis would set them on a successful career path. But the savvy among us knows that adapting to the technological changes in how we apply those skills is critical in today’s world. Proficiency in design software along with managing social media accounts and developing strong SEO tactics are becoming the new norms in a marketer’s toolbox. Marketers today must engage in and demonstrate continuous learning.

This two-part series explores the technological know-how needed during the early stage of a junior marketer’s career and than will move into the more advanced skills essential for experienced marketers to grow their personal brand.

Part 1 – Junior Marketers

Life can turn on a dime. There’s been no greater example of this in our lifetime than the experience of this past year. Our lives have been in a seemingly endless spin. Not only have we been faced with an unimaginable health crisis but we also had to quickly pivot in every aspect—work and home. As 2020 progressed, it came as no surprise that technology had taken an even greater foothold across the board in our organizations.

For marketing technologists especially, the past year provided a unique opportunity for our roles within our firms. An opportunity to flex our MarTech muscles. Where previously we might have been mostly in the shadows implementing various tools and platforms; working across departments, managing service providers and integrations, losing sleep over delayed projects / potential blackouts / privacy concerns / advocating for centralized data warehouses with advanced visualization capabilities—the pandemic has placed a spotlight on us, the tools we manage, our roles and our distinct set of skills.

As we begin to emerge from the ashes of the dumpster fire of a year that 2020 was, it’s clearer now more than ever that the role of the marketing technologist is destined for its own dedicated seat at the leadership table and a necessary, integral part of our respective organizations and firms.

No doubt the world is changing at break-neck speeds which means that our roles as marketers and technologists are rapidly evolving, as well. Too often I hear stories of organizations focusing on a specific platform or tool solving all their respective “problems.” From my perspective, being a truly tech-savvy marketer does not rely on any one solution or technology but rather means consistently developing and building upon key fundamental skills and leveraging emerging technologies at each step to solve specific needs and anticipate future use cases.

With that being said, what skills should marketers (especially junior marketers) be nurturing today to ensure they are well prepared for this inevitable leadership role of marketing technologists? I think it’s important to go back to basics and consider the soft and hard skills needed to be agile and adaptable in these roles. Certainly not an exhaustive list however here are 5 fundamental skills every junior marketer and technophile should develop.

Interpersonal communication skills and emotional intelligence
Evaluating, implementing, and managing emerging technologies requires effective communication skills—written, non-verbal, and verbal. Day-to-day you are dealing with vendors, colleagues across departments and your clients. Efficiently providing solutions and tools to your organization means successfully exchanging information with other people. I added emotional intelligence as well because I think it’s incredibly important to understand your clients (in-house and externally) and challenges they face. Leading these conversations with empathy helps everyone and can also help you advocate and persuade, as needed.

Project management skills
Often overlooked, I think project management skills are another key foundational trait of the marketing technologist of tomorrow. Marketing projects can be complex with aggressive deadlines and limited budgets. They require meticulous planning, execution, and performance monitoring. Having a strong knowledge of project management techniques is essential to overall project success.

Strategic decision making skills
Marketing projects, in my personal opinion, should always consider an organization’s long-term strategic and business development goals. It’s extremely easy as a junior marketing technologist to focus on the issue at hand and neglect the bigger picture. Especially if you are not privy to conversations above your pay-grade, so-to-speak. Asking questions is a great and effective way to obtain clarity on projects. That allows you to discern the request and proceed with the best approach. 

Data analysis and manipulation
A marketing technologists’ world is full of data and gaining access to data is only getting easier albeit more difficult to wrangle. Learning and implementing methods of effectively collecting, organizing, and analyzing data is essential to the role. With extremely powerful data visualization tools becoming more and more popular, I fear junior marketers will also miss out on a key rite of passage—learning (and loving) programs like Microsoft Excel.

Development architecture, frameworks and UX design
Implementing a MarTech stack means working with service providers and across departments as stated earlier, most often IT. While it’s not necessary for marketing technologists to be formally trained in these areas, it is necessary to have a general understanding. These groups also have a language of their own. Educating yourself on the language and concepts for web and application development architecture, frameworks, and user experience (UX) design is key to ensuring your MarTech success.

“Luck is the residue of opportunity and design.” – Branch Rickey
I once read that a marketing technologist is a “part doer, and part conductor of an orchestra.” That resonated with me because the visual was so powerful. As a marketing technology manager, I do feel like I’m conducting an orchestral masterpiece!

As awful as this past year has been, I’m hopeful and I do think that marketing technologists have been provided a lucky hand. If we’re intentional and purposeful in the skills we develop, the conversations we take part in, and the strategies we influence we can help elevate not only our organizations but our roles as well.

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Knowledge Management Round-Up for 2020: A Bright Spot in a Cruddy Year

8 Jan

Knowledge Management Round-Up for 2020: A Bright Spot in a Cruddy Year

By Gwyneth McAlpine, Director of Knowledge Management Services, Perkins Coie

2020 was rough, and we’re moving on.  But on the bright side, ILTA members created another treasure trove of useful content on knowledge management (KM) topics, the quality of which was particularly good this year.  In case you were distracted at some point in 2020 (and who wasn’t?) and missed some of this excellent material, I have cataloged it below. It can be hard to filter the many recordings and articles produced by ILTA each year to only KM topics.  I generally look for works produced by KM contributors for a KM audience, plus a sprinkling of topics that are interesting to me. 

The range of topics was a little narrower this year than in years past, which I think reflects some convergence in priorities and focus among KMers.  Perhaps also we have also operationalized some aspects of the discipline that we do not need as much peer sharing around those issues.  Or maybe we didn’t have a lot of mental bandwidth beyond our very highest priorities and trickiest business problems.  In any case, if you are looking to explore more about a subject that is not well represented this year, the round-ups from 201920182017 and 2016 will lead you to additional content.  Or search the ILTA archives, particularly for areas that are KM-adjacent.

Here are some themes that struck me as I built this catalog:

  • If 2020 has a winner, it’s podcasts. Easy to produce just the right amount at the right time, easy to take on a walk or fit in between Zoom meetings, they seem to be the perfect medium for learning and staying connected in 2020.  It’s like having a KM friend in your earbuds when you’re stuck at home. 
  • We love innovation. We cannot get enough of innovation. KMers are leading many of the innovation initiatives at their organizations, and it’s clear there is a desire to connect with like-minded colleagues to share ideas and practicalities beyond the hype.
  • 2020 was unusual in that we collectively experienced the same thing at the same time. You can see this general trend (with some exceptions, of course) if you look at the content in chronological order.  We started off the year with enthusiasm for new business problems that KM could solve, then had a sudden and urgent need to share how we were handling the pandemic response.  Things got quiet briefly as KMers were heads down in critical response roles for their firms.  As the workload began to even out, content picked up again with deeper insights into changes brought about by the pandemic, as well as a return to ongoing themes.  We hit another quiet period post-ILTA>On and as we suffered through the 6-month wall  We emerged reenergized, and the focus appears to be back to business-as-usual.

Logistical Notes:
Some of the content is only available to ILTA members, and ILTA>ON session recordings are only available to members who registered for the conference.  Be sure to log in to your ILTA account before clicking on links.  I’ve provided alternate links where the content was posted to additional platforms (e.g. Podbean and the ILTA KM blog).  With the increase in podcasts and micro-learning this year, which can vary widely in length, I included approximate duration in the description.

As in the past, I did not include titles or organizations for the contributors.  There are a lot of new names in the mix.  You can generally find biographical information at the link, or just dive in.  Take a chance that you will learn something new from someone new to you.

Adoption and Outreach:

Applications:

Artificial Intelligence:

Series: AI Meets KM:

Automation and Workflow:

Corporate and Client Collaboration:

Data Analytics:

Design Thinking:

Electronic Signatures:

Experience Management / Marketing Collaboration:

Information Governance / MS Teams:

Innovation:

Series: Global Legal Innovators:

KM Foundations:

Series: Foundations of KM:

Management / People:

Series: Emerging Roles in Legal:

Pandemic-Inspired:

Enjoy reading, viewing or listening to these contributions.  There are so many reasons to look forward to 2021, including another year of new content and peer sharing.  May 2021 treat you exceptionally well!

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