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Practice Law and Operate Law Firms More Efficiently

Last Build Date: Wed, 26 Oct 2016 13:49:23 +0000


Practice Engineering: KM for the 21st Century (#ArkKM Live)

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 13:49:23 +0000

This is a live post from the 12th Annual Ark Knowledge Management (KM) conference. (PDF of Agenda). I publish as a session ends so please forgive any typos or misunderstandings of meaning. This session is the keynote, Practice Engineering: KM for the 21st Century, byMichael Mills, Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer, Neota Logic. The session description appears at the end of the post. Session Report Goal: create a grand unified theory of knowledge management. The elephant in the room is the ever looming move to fixed fees – with the market for 3 decades. Law firm in the past – and still today – are very simple places. Lawyers work with assistants It is still like the medival workshop with masters + apprentices, a very artisinal approach. This model prevails today. To the extent it is not the real model of law firms everywhere, it is the mental model of most practicing laywers. But it is the wrong mental model. Michael says he is often accused of wanting to replace lawyers with robots (via expert systems). But that is not the goal of automation. The goal is to create more efficient, fully integrated systems. But lawyers and law firm managers do not think of their work or businesses as systems. But taking that mindset would have many advantages. Engineering problems – like law problems – are under=defined. The task is to arrive at a good solution. What does this mean for lawyers? One way to think about what lawyers and firms do, which is: Information Execution Advice So the system needs to deliver all three of these. The most sustainable is advice; the most susceptible to replacement is at the top. Information was once the sole province of law firms, like Latin in the Church, only the priests understood. Today, information is readily available from multiple sources. Execution remains hard. Law firms are good at getting things done. Clients still prize law firms getting things done, even if they don’t always readily acknowledge this. Execution involves people, processes, project managent, documents, and collaboration and control. Advice includes experience, expertise, judgement. It’s knowing the law and being able to analyze and apply. For transactions, it means creating a structure, strategy, documents, and negotiation. In litigation, it means strategy, arguments, pleadings, and advocacy. This is hardest to disrupt. But even in the most bespoke and complex work, there are many elements of routine work. Systems engineering extends beyond the core work of delivering advice. There is the element of service delivery – how the client experiences dealing with the law firm. Michael likens it to how Apple designed the iPhone box to open with precisely a certain feel and swish. “Being a good wine maker is harder than being a good lawyer”.  Good wine makers now use opitcal sorting with artificial intelligence to sort the grapes. They use machine learning to select the best / right grapes. Law firms face many selection issues – hiring, which matters to accept, what price to charge, how to staff a matter, and what processes to use. So law firms are, in fact, complex systems. This is the domain of legal operations professionals. There is much opportunity to apply technology. At the same time that firms are engineering themselves, clients are going through a similar process, especially with the rise of corporate legal operations professionals (e.g., ACC LDO group and CLOC). The diagramm below maps law firm processes / elements with corresponding ones in law department operations. Law firms have an opportunity to improve their organizational functioning and systems engineering. Law firms have too many separate centers – practices and departments. A modern firm needs an engineering perspective. Such organizations have individuals with the responsibility and authority, not to deliver, but to make sure the delivery systems are informed by the best principles of systems engineering. One firm came up with a consensus-driven but firmwide approach / framework to cond[...]

My Big Unanswered Legal Tech Question

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 22:57:52 +0000

Shortly after ILTACon (the International Legal Technology Association annual meeting, August 2016), the editors of Legal IT Today asked a deceptively simple question: “Going into ILTACON 2016, or while in an ILTACON session, or now that you’re starting to process everything coming out of ILTACON, what’s the single biggest question you want answered?” My question was published in Legal IT Today, Issue 15. (Page 37 of in pdf.) My answer, with some framing comments, appears below.. You will also find questions by D. Casey Flaherty (Founder and Principal / Procertas), John Alber (Futurist / ILTA), and Joy Heath Rush (Vice President of Client Development (Law Firms) / Litéra). As usual, Legal IT Today has a series of great articles. — The question seems simple but it forced me to think about the legal market. To set the stage for my question, let’s stipulate that: 1. Law firms face increasing pressure to deliver more value to clients; and 2. A key component of delivering more value is improving lawyer efficiency with technology. Reflecting on ILTACON 2016, I was struck by the recent rise of legal tech startups and new classes of software. The formerly semi-arid legal tech landscape has become verdant with AI and many other new technologies. Some are broad in application, some narrow; some hyped, some understated. I see huge value in many. But abundance raises its own issues. I worry that lawyers and law firms will turn to tech to solve process and culture problems (“magic button syndrome”). And I worry that a focus on the new can divert management attention from training lawyers to use legacy software effectively. So, finally, my question… “If a firm wants to maximize efficiency and really take advantage of what the market has to offer, what software would it license and what training and adoption planning would it put in place for both new and legacy software? And do we need a reference model, by practice, for software selection and for training and adoption planning? We should not let a new product flood distract us from defining real requirements, selecting software and services that meet those requirements, and planning the change management to ensure adoption.  

The post My Big Unanswered Legal Tech Question appeared first on Prism Legal.

Will All Lawyers Work for the Big 4 by 2026?

Sun, 02 Oct 2016 18:22:30 +0000

In September, as a panelist at the College of Law Practice Management 2016 Futures Conference (PDF of agenda), I addressed the question “Will All Lawyers Work for the Big 4 by 2026?”. (The conference used the term mega accountants but it’s hard to imagine in 10 years that term will mean anything other than the current Big 4.) That question was one of four in the session “What types of entities will provide legal services?”:   The outline of my five minute answer is below. At the end, I provide additional links to conference coverage from Attorney at Work.   Will All Lawyers Work for Mega Accountants by 2026? The short answer: no The longer answer: a higher percent of lawyers and staff will work for Big 4 than do now, perhaps much higher Characteristics of the Big 4 that explain why they will gain share from Big Law Multidisciplinary Clients want and like multi-disciplinary approaches to business problems and many “legal problems” are really business problems Business problems take teams to solve, teams that consist of multiple areas of subject matter expertise Is there a “non-accountant”? The Big 4 have a less powerful caste system so they can more readily tap multiple professionals and areas of expertise More cost-effective and more willing to invest and innovate Decades of audit price pressure taught the Big 4 how to deliver at lower cost This includes investing in tech, process improvement, project management, and knowledge management (KM) Higher investment in training, tools, process, and KM means more efficient “industrial delivery”, which means high quality output at lower cost A significant portion of Big Law work is more routine than many lawyers think. Routine work is at risk of shifting to Big 4.  “Factory” and “industrial” remain dirty words to lawyers – less so or not so to Big 4 Clients already are shifting how they work: back in-house, to alternate providers, and to the Big 4 As the Big 4 expand, they will remain another – but a very attractive other – option for lower cost delivery Deeper relationships with and ability to gain legal business via access to the entire corporate C-suite Big 4 work hard to have deep executive relationships across the corporate C-suite For example, Deloitte has a CFO Roundtable for thought leadership… it’s building out a comparable program for Chief Legal Officers (CLO) With access to the COO, CEO, CFO, CLO, the Big 4 are institutionally advantaged in business development versus Big Law, which has access only to the CLO typically The Big 4 have institutionalized client relationships, which means lateral mobility of their partners has less impact on their business thant it does in Big Law Regulatory barriers likely to decline The bar regulations as applicable to high-end, business-to-business (B2B) work tend, over time, to accommodate corporate interests Over a decade span, we should expect rule changes that favor Big 4 In any event, who will have the cash to take on the Big 4 for unauthorized practice of law (UPL) or other ethical charges? Why we will still have large law firms, especially blue chip ones Change in legal continues to happen very slowly For all those who forecast disruption, I say, “show me the data” and “if the economic crisis of 2008-10 did not disrupt, why will other events do so?” That gives Big Law a very long tail So we are looking at evolution, not rapid or abrupt change In my view – and this is a guess based on current behavior rather than on data – general counsels will still want the “insurance” of brand name law firms for truly bet the company and extremely high-stakes matters The biggest impact of the Big 4 likely will be on the middle of the Am Law 200 Assuming brand still matters in 2026 for bet the company, the firms with the most blue chip  reputations will prosper (e.g., Cravath, Wachtell, Latham, Allen & Overy, King & Wood Mallesons (KWM), Oslers) The value p[...]

Corporate Security Practices: Can Verizon Handle Yahoo?

Sun, 25 Sep 2016 22:38:12 +0000

This post describes a specific situation I encountered with Verizon but has some general implications for how individuals should remember to protect their own personal digital security. And how companies should protect customer data. I start with what prompted me to think about security. I have a an iPhone 7, which like all others, is brand new. This weekend I used mine traveling from DC to NYC and back by train. LTE service dropped regularly and failed automatically to re-connect. This sometimes happened on my prior iPhone but is chronic on the 7. For every LTE drop, I had to go in and out of airplane mode to get LTE back. A coda on this problem is at the end I had little spare time in NYC so raised this issue with Verizon via the one remaining asynchronous channel, social media, @VZWSupport. Other support channels are synchronous, so more time consuming. When I posed the problem to VZWSupport, it asked for my “Mobile Number Account PIN”, an access code for Verizon voice support. I was unhappy. I pointed out – as I did in a June 2015 interaction – that while I am not a security expert, asking for passwords is a bad practice. Indeed, many companies routinely say “We never ask for passwords”. Having my PIN in plain text on a shared Twitter account strikes me as risky. A bad employee might troll direct messages to seek personal information for nefarious purposes. The lesson for everyone is to remain hyper vigilant in remembering security hygiene. Don’t assume big companies follow best practices. In my opinion, Verizon Wireless engages in a bad security practice. The lesson for Verizon and Yahoo investors is to consider, if my assessment above is correct, does this signal deeper Verizon security practice problems. And, if so, can Verizon address the massive Yahoo data breach. Having just had to change my Yahoo password and delete security questions and now seeing Verizon ask for a password, I have doubts. Coda: Had @VZWSupport been properly informed, they would not have needed to access my account. It turns out LTE dropping is a known iPhone 7 issue, explained in this Reddit discussion. Moreover, when I I connected with Verizon by phone and chat, they knew about the issue. So I draw two other lessons: (1) search the web before seeking help from a big company and (2) beware that social media teams may exist more to make nice than to provide real help.

The post Corporate Security Practices: Can Verizon Handle Yahoo? appeared first on Prism Legal.

Delivering what clients want + getting paid for it (Live from #COLPM Futures)

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 15:28:32 +0000

This is a live blog post from the College of Law Practice Management 2016 Futures Conference (link to PDF of agenda). As a live post, please forgive any typos or misunderstandings of meaning. This session is How will we better deliver what clients want, and get paid for it? The session will address four question: Will the billable hour finally be dead? Are lawyers going to get better at getting things done? What will client service look like? What will clients want and need? The panelists, each of whom will take the lead role in answering a question, followed by co-panelist comments, are, in respective order: Kevin Bielawski Director of Legal Project Management & Strategic Pricing Husch Blackwell LLP Tom Baldwin Partner Fireman & Company Nathaniel Slavin Partner and Founder Wicker Park Group Connie Brenton Chief of Staff and Director of Legal Operation Will the billable hour finally be dead (in 2026)? Kevin Bielawski takes the lead in a 5 minute opener… What event will signal the death? Will we ever see the final bill with billable hours? And when that happens, who will eulogize it? It will not be dead by 2026. Several drivers, including from both client and firms, will keep it alive. On law firm side, entire financial model depends on billable hours – changing that will be a big effort. On client side, they regularly defer on alternative fee arrangement (AFA) to hours – they are often more comfortable with billable hours. Also, clients have become dependent on billable hours for their metrics (even if this may not be the best approach to measuring what should be measured). Nat: older partners are still vested in the current model and the junior ones, who are more open-minded about alternatives – but are also less wed to their firms. Tom: I was at one firm that did away with billable hour targets. But it killed revenue and the firm had to re-institute the targets. If we can’t take associate focus off of billable hours, how will we do it for partners. I’ve seen partners with $30M book of biz who took grief from management for only billing 1100 hours. So the psychology is deeply embedded. Connie: As client, I disagree. Don’t assume we buy only from law firms. We buy from managed legal services and tech providers. So, to law firms, “go ahead, bill by the hour”, it will have decreasing impact on us. Also, don’t assume clients don’t know how much work should cost. For all but high-touch work (less than 20%), we know what it should cost. So for a relatively small percent of work, we will have to continue to work with the billable hour. We have a “wizard” that we run timekeeper rates, against which we benchmark to database and our own portfolio, and it allows us to choose the fair price and most cost-effective firms. We now offer fixed fees to firms, which often accept. We have engaged Elevate Services to review bills and inform us what a fair rate is. We use this to negotiate rates down. We are moving entire categories of work to new systems, so the change to fixed fees will happen in one fell swoop. So by 2026, 80% of billable hours will be gone. Are lawyers going to get better at getting things done? Tom Baldwin: Let’s look at blueprint for working more efficiently, then predict. Firms have a hard time segmenting work into bins. Too many partners think of their work as high stakes when most of it is really routine. We need to segment high stakes, run the company, and routine work, by practice. Firms must analyze hot spots in these segments where the firm is not making a profit (or has bad realization). Once you identify those areas, you can process map the work to inject technology, knowledge management, or other cost-reducing strategies. For this to happen though, there are some key predicates: Partners most be motivated, which means tying their compensation to profits, not billable hours. Absent change in partner [...]

Litigation Finance – How It Works at Bentham

Sun, 11 Sep 2016 20:48:11 +0000

I recently spoke with Dave Kerstein, an Investment Manager and Legal Counsel at Bentham IMF to learn more about litigation finance. Before sharing what I learned, some background… Background: My Long Interest in Applying Financial Concepts to Law Combining finance and litigation has long interested me. If financial types got involved, I thought they would help clients value cases and drive practice efficiency, including more use of technology. I suggested this in my 2003 American Lawyer article, A Marketplace Trial. My 2007 blog post, Collateralized Legal Obligations, discussed “measuring and predicting risk and bundling pending suits” to “create a portfolio investment”. I also noted that such investments would offer risk not correlated to other instruments, a big factor cited in Litigation Funding Moves Into Mainstream, Wall Street Journal, 5 August 2016. But I missed litigation financing. Shortly after learning about it, I read the 2010 Rand Corporation’s Alternative Litigation Financing in the United States study. None of the many articles I’ve read since explain exactly how it works from an investor perspective. Hence my discussion with Dave. About Bentham Bentham’s parent company, IMF Bentham, based in Australia, pioneered commercial litigation finance 15 years ago. Australia was a good place to start because it had an adverse costs / “losers pay” legal system, and contingency fees were not then permitted. Bentham’s founders saw that those restrictions left many meritorious claims on the table. When the company started financing cases, some challenges were made to its legality. The Australian High Court ultimately ruled that funding was not only legal and permitted, but that it was beneficial to the judicial system because it helped provide access to justice and leveled the playing field for litigants. Today, the company is ASX traded and funds a high percent of all funded cases in Australia. Bentham raises capital from its equity holders and from public bond offerings, as well as from returns on its successful investments. Bentham began operating in the US when it opened in NYC in 2011. Today, it also has US offices in SF and LA and plans more in other major US legal markets. Bentham recently opened an office in Toronto, and it funds cases throughout Asia through its Australian offices. The company has funded over 180 cases to completion and returned funds in about 90% of them, amounting to over $1.7B. About 63% of those returns were paid to claimants, with the rest split between Bentham and counsel. Bentham has been financially successful, with an approximate 2.8x return on its invested capital over its 15-year life. The average time to maturity of a case is 2.5 years. The internal rate of return (IRR) is almost 80%. All of Bentham’s US investment managers have at least 15 years of litigation and trial experience, as does Dave, who spent most of his career as a Gibson Dunn litigator. How Bentham Litigation Financing Works – Single Cases Bentham funds a variety of commercial litigation, from breach of contract to patent. It usually commits between $1M and $10M for individual cases. This funding can be used to cover attorney’s fees, out of pocket costs of litigation, as well as operating capital or living expenses of claimants. Bentham also funds law firms directly if they bundle a “portfolio” of three or more contingent cases. All of Bentham’s funding is “non-recourse” except to the litigation proceeds: Bentham only receives a return if the case is successful, i.e., it results in a collected settlement or judgment. When clients lose, Bentham earns nothing and loses its capital. Dave reports that Bentham strives for fairness and believes claimants in funded cases should receive the majority of litigation proceeds. Bentham structures investments so that that is the most likely outcome. Bentham targets cl[...]

ILTA Recap – Spot Video Interviews and Blog Posts

Mon, 05 Sep 2016 19:44:47 +0000

Last week I attended ILTACon, the 2016 conference of the International Legal Technology Association. Here is a recap of my activities for the week. The first section has links to the three sessions I attended and live blogged. The second has a pictorial summary of the session on the blockchain that I moderated. The third has a link to a podcast discussion with Eric Laughlin of Thomson Reuters on AI and the blockchain. And the fourth has embedded spot video interviews of legal tech thought leaders; each video is less than 140 seconds, the maximum video length Twitter supports.   Live Blog Posts from Sessions I Attended Reinventing Traditional Support Staff Roles in a Buyer’s Market Panelists: Florinda Baldridge of Norton Rose Fulbright, Scott M. Cohen of Winston & Strawn, Rachelle Rennagel of Pillsbury,Katrina Jasaitis of Mayer Brown Finding a Needle in a Haystack with 21st C. Expertise Systems Panelists: Kate Cain of Sidley Austin, Marybeth Corbett of WilmerHale, Julie Bozzell of Hogan Lovells, and Joshua Fireman of Fireman & Company. The Future of Legal KM Panelists: Rob Saccone (Partner Nexlaw Partners LLC), Patrick DiDomenico (CKO, Ogletree Deakins), and Sam Nickless (COO, Gilbert & Tobin)   Summary of Blockchain Session I Moderated I moderated a session on the blockchain, When Will Blockchains and Smart Contracts Be Important in Legal. Here is the pictorial summary, courtesy of ILTA:   Podcast with Eric Laughlin of Thomson Reuters Eric Laughlin, Managing Director, Corporate Segment, Thomson Reuters and I spoke for about 10 minutes in a recorded podcast about AI and the blockchain published by TR Legal Current.     Spot Interviews I Conducted Noah Waisberg, co-founder and CEO of Kira Systems #ILTACon spot interview with @nwaisb of @KiraSystems, winner of the ILTA vendor thought leader award — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) September 1, 2016   Dan Hauck, co-founder and CEO of ThreadKM #ILTACon spot interview with @Dan_Hauck of @ThreadKM, winner of innovative solution provider of the year — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) September 1, 2016   Ed Walters, Co-Founder and CEO of Fastcase #ILTACon spot interview with @EJWalters of @fastcase — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) September 1, 2016 Michael Callier and Andy Peterson of DWT DeNovo #ILTACon spot interview with Michael Callier + @designbuildlgl of @dwtdenovo — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) August 31, 2016   Sam Nickless, COO of Australian law firm Gilbert & Tobin #ILTACon spot interview with @samnickless of @gtlaw — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) August 31, 2016   Monica Bay, Fellow at Stanford CodeX and former publisher, Legal Technology News #ILTACon spot interview with @MonicaBay of @CodeXStanford — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) August 29, 2016   Michael Mills, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Neota Logic #ILTACon spot interview with CEO @michaelmillsny of @NeotaLogic — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) August 29, 2016   Frank Levy, Prof Emeritus of Economics, MIT, who is studying + has published on legal AI #ILTACon spot interview W Frank Levy, Prof Emeritus of Economics, MIT, who is studying + has published on legal #AI — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) August 29, 2016 Peter Wallqvist, CEO of RAVN Search #ILTACon spot interview with CEO Peter Wallqvist of @RavnSearch — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) August 28, 2016  

The post ILTA Recap – Spot Video Interviews and Blog Posts appeared first on Prism Legal.

Reinventing Traditional Support Staff Roles in a Buyer’s Market (#ILTACon Live)

Thu, 01 Sep 2016 18:30:02 +0000

This is a live blog post from ILTACon, the 2016 conference of the International Legal Technology Association. This session, #ILTA158, is Reinventing Traditional Support Staff Roles in a Buyer’s Market (#ILTACon Live) with panelists Florinda Baldridge of Norton Rose Fulbright, Scott M. Cohen of Winston & Strawn, Rachelle Rennagel of Pillsbury, Katrina Jasaitis of Mayer Brown. A session description appears at the end of this post. I wrote this post while the session took place and published as it ended. So please forgive any typos or mistakes of understanding. As a live post, please forgive any typos or misunderstandings of meaning.   Discussion Since the economic crash of 2010, law firms find themselves in a more competitive market. It’s now a buyers’ market, not a sellers’ market. This has led to tech initiatives and process improvement. But these only get firms part of the way. As important are new roles and organizations to deliver support. The year 2008 led to very significant changes. In spite of the pain, it’s a good thing. It’s great that clients challenge firms to add value and be more efficient. Florinda got an email back then called “efficiencies”. The managing partner communicated to staff client demands to be more efficient. Also, clients increasingly use legal service providers instead of lawyers, for example LPO or accounting firms. Clients have also more transparency as well as value. This has driven alternative fee arrangements, budgets (and sticking to them), and the rise of professionals for pricing, budgeting, and project managers. The billable hour creates challenges but it is far from dead. ∂ These pressures mean support staff need to reinvent themselves. In a show of hands, more than half the audience have moved into new roles (RF: not clear over what time period though). Those who don’t reinvent themselves are at risk for their firms replacing them. Economics are not the only drivers of this – so too is the rise of tech. One panelist took responsibility for paralegals to help re-invent them and re-tool them. She built a 25-module training program to help. This was only moderately successful. The paralegals, in 2011, were not very willing to change. Even after pointing out to them that partners they were working for would retire in near future, they were not that motivated, From 2011, the number of paralegals fell from 25 to 3. Two of the three who remained embraced the training and third moved to an LPM role. But reinvention of yourself is not easy. There is much fear and intimidation. Some embrace change but many resist and fear change (and skilling up). One aid to  reinvent is to look at your core skills and determine how they can be applied in different or new ways. Also, look to identify new or unmet needs and volunteer to start an initiative to address. Panelists says that firms will embrace those who offer to make improvements. But some lawyers may resist the change, especially if it is a lawyer who has re-tooled him or herself. More law firms are now hiring people who focus on the business of the practice. (And the clients are hiring directors of operations as well.) “Clients care about how the sausage is made. They want to know how firms run their businesses.” This drives firms to improve operations. To support this, many firms have developed new operational metrics. One firm did this and shared with a consultant, which came back with process maps to show firm where improvement opportunities lay. One panelists cites example from past of distributed library in a big firm. It found that reference librarians spent way too much time on technical services such as intake and shelving of books and not enough on research. Process maps, metrics, and analysis helped uncover this and make improvements. Technology underl[...]

Finding a Needle in a Haystack with 21st C. Expertise Systems

Wed, 31 Aug 2016 14:00:41 +0000

This is a live blog post from ILTACon, the 2016 conference of the International Legal Technology Association. This session is the Finding a Needle in a Haystack with 21st Century Expertise Systems with panelists with Kate Cain of Sidley Austin, Marybeth Corbett of WilmerHale, Julie Bozzell of Hogan Lovells, and Joshua Fireman of Fireman & Company. A session description appears at the end of this post. I wrote this post while the session took place and published as it ended. So please forgive any typos or mistakes of understanding. As a live post, please forgive any typos or misunderstandings of meaning. Panel Discussion We find ourselves using 19th century processes with 20th century technology to solve 21st century problems. Terminology: expertise, experience, skills… is there a difference? One point of view: Expertise is people focused; it’s what they know and their skills. Expertise is what the organization knows and relates to matters. Skills go more to defined, universally recognized skills. Is there anything objective here? One POV: combination of objective and subjective. Sidley uses Foundation to capture its experience. To determine expertise requires making some inferences, for example, finding who has experience in a particular jurisdiction. Doing that requires knowing how many matters and hours lawyers have worked on matters. But number of hours is not always the right indicator because the small number of partner hours may count for more than many hours of an associate. So expertise location means finding the right lawyers to tackle a client problem. Drivers for each firm… Hogan Lovells: Previously, firm had several ways for lawyers to self-identify experience, and primarily in the US. With lawyers coming and going, finding the expertise, especially on a global basis, was very hard. The firm wanted to find a more systematic way to locate expertise. Firm management to ask for a better solution. Joshua: Hogan Lovells is obvioulsy large so the problem is clear. But we have observed that even smaller firms, say 150 lawyers, can have this problem. WilmerHale: The firm has worked on this area for a long time. The firm reached a tipping point when it realized it needed more info on matters and what they were about. Responding to pitches and having to price matters made the need for expertise critical. So many threads came together to address expertise location more systematically and on a firm-wide basis. Joshua: In the past, expertise location was about finding colleagues to do work. Now, it’s a business driver. Sidley: When I started about 5 years ago, the firm thought of that as “marketing database” and a marketing problem. And from my own experience, I know that marketing and BD has much to gain from expertise location. But it won’t work as marketing only – it must touch every step of the entire client lifecycle. That means from prospect, to winning the business (including pricing), to staffing the matter, to finding lawyers in the future, to league tables. What really got management attention was staffing the matter as a big driver. Joshua: so this is not just about selecting a product and rolling out. There are a lot of requirements, data prep, and adoption issues. So let’s look at use cases to help understand this in more detail. WilmerHale: You have to understand the problem to solve before looking for solutions. Everyone at firm will say “I need to know about our work”. But you have to understand what that means – how much detail do stakeholders need. The answer will drive vendor evaluation and selection. Sidley: When setting up a system, don’t ask lawyer what fields they want. You will end up with way too many requests. So you have to focus on scenarios that really occur. You can’t just say R[...]

The Future of Legal KM (Live from #IlTACon)

Mon, 29 Aug 2016 17:59:19 +0000

This is a live blog post from ILTACon, the 2016 conference of the International Legal Technology Association. This session is the Future of Legal KM with panelists Rob Saccone (Partner Nexlaw Partners LLC), Patrick DiDomenico (CKO, Ogletree Deakins), and Sam Nickless (COO, Gilbert & Tobin). Steve Lastres, Director of Library & Knowledge Management, of Debevoise moderates. The session description appears at the end of this post. I wrote this post while the session took place and published as it ended. So please forgive any typos or mistakes of understanding. What is the Current State of KM? – Patrick DiDomenico “The future is now – some of the future is already here.” Ogletree KM is about improving the business and practice of the firm. That should be the goal of all support functions in a law firm. If you do not move the business forward, you hurt the firm. At Ogletree, KM tries to improve the knowledge sharing culture. The firm is open and pre-disposed to sharing, which is a big benefit to enable KM. So the KM team builds on that culture with access to information such as Intranets. This may be obvious but it’s important to keep sight of the bigger picture and goal. The firm broadcasts the message to clients. The firm’s client pledge includes using technology and KM to better serve clients. What is Driving Change in KM? Rob Saccone All firms have felt pressure post 2010 recession. The buyer-seller dynamic for legal services has changed significantly. There is more competition and choices for clients,, who face much pressure to reduce costs. That cost pressure has flowed through to law firms. The market has changed permanently. These changes affect KM – it’s an ingredient to help law firms do more with less. But the KM is fragmented across firms. Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen KM function inherit more functions from elsewhere in the firm. For example, LPM, process improvement, and library are often now under KM. Why are these under KM? The reason is that KM leaders are best suited to managed these functions. There is no other good fit in the firm. But reporting lines vary widely by firm. The traditional KM work has not changed very much. The change is inheriting more functions and being more focused on client service. But the broader scope varies widely. A lot of KM professionals have to make it up as they go. Sam adds: clients want to see KM in more detail, how it works, and who is running it. Specific client needs drive KM. Patrick adds: Tom Baldwin once said that the financial collapse of 2008 was the best thing that ever happened to legal KM. The combination of economics and client demand has driven KM demand and capabilities. Rob asks if KM now is different post vs. pre-recession…. Patrick says the scope has broadened. We also see a renewed interest in people. Ogletree has grown from 1 PSL to 4. Firms now recognize the need for more support and lawyers to focus on content development. But less than one third of hands go up in room responding to how many have seen KM become more client focused at their firms. Patrick: Ogletree has seen double digit increases in the number of RFPs, even from existing clients. This leads to more collaboration between marketing (client services) and KM. It’s important now to answer RFP questions in more than a “check the box” manner. The same changes are driving more firms to develop products such as technology services or packaged AFA arrangements. Oz Benamram asks if RFPs involve clients or procurement? Answer: both. Changes in outside counsel guidelines and more RFPs suggest that clients – whether GC or procurement – are more serious about how they select law firms. Steve: “It takes a village to complete RFPs” Marketing, IT[...]