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Last Build Date: Sun, 25 Sep 2016 22:45:51 +0000

 



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 comp, we will continue to see only incremental change. Firms still do not reward e[...]



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 claims worth at least $10M. It analyzes a proposed case to determine whether the rea[...]



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 pic.twitter.com/kIECiPYIVR — 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 pic.twitter.com/qdyZeAJqAD — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) September 1, 2016   Ed Walters, Co-Founder and CEO of Fastcase #ILTACon spot interview with @EJWalters of @fastcase pic.twitter.com/reG718720Z — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) September 1, 2016 Michael Callier and Andy Peterson of DWT DeNovo #ILTACon spot interview with Michael Callier + @designbuildlgl of @dwtdenovo pic.twitter.com/WXuo04Nhr3 — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) August 31, 2016   Sam Nickless, COO of Australian law firm Gilbert & Tobin #ILTACon spot interview with @samnickless of @gtlaw pic.twitter.com/hzUxsCyAxV — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) August 31, 2016   Monica Bay, Fellow at Stanford CodeX and former publisher, Legal Technology News #ILTACon spot interview with @MonicaBay of @CodeXStanford pic.twitter.com/GRLAwUM1Zl — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) August 29, 2016   Michael Mills, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Neota Logic #ILTACon spot interview with CEO @michaelmillsny of @NeotaLogic pic.twitter.com/RB9LVhDy7K — 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 pic.twitter.com/Q8GnXZTyCB — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) August 29, 2016 Peter Wallqvist, CEO of RAVN Search #ILTACon spot interview with CEO Peter Wallqvist of @RavnSearch pic.twitter.com/BCykCi1l90 — 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 underlies much of the above. It can force change. For example, third parties are using t[...]



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 “let’s search”. You need to know how you will use data – that [...]



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, KM, lawyers, and others. Having a workflow to respond is key. The Role of the KM[...]



Questions about the Blockchain (for #ILTACon panel)

Sat, 27 Aug 2016 18:23:42 +0000

The blockchain is hot. On Tuesday, I will moderate a session on it at ILTCon – more below. This morning, I flipped through Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. I was excited to see the Opening Remarks section, a commentary and op-ed style weekly piece. This Is Your Company on Blockchain is a medium-length discussion of the potential disruptive effect of blockchain technology. Though many mainstream media articles on blockchain have appeared, most articles still lead with a  blockchain definition: It mashes up cryptography and peer-to-peer networking to create what amounts to a shared database of transactions and other information—which can be open to all, controlled by no one. It’s not just for securely recording payments in crypto-coinage; a blockchain can handle complex transactions, even entire contracts. It notes that that “believers say blockchain could reduce the need for businesses to organize as companies”. Wow. That’s the first time I hear that argument and it sounds more dystopian than utopian to me. Yet it builds from the value of blockchain and why so many financial institutions and other organizations are piloting it today. The “blockchain is far less cumbersome than the trust-creating infrastructure that it partially replaces.” The technology is pretty hard to understand. The implications are potentially profound. That’s why I’m excited to moderate a session on the blockchain on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 11am, at ILTACon, the 2016 conference of the International Legal Technology Association. The session, When Will Blockchains and Smart Contracts Be Important in Legal (#061), has three panelists: Rohit Talwar (CEO Fast Future), Joe Dewey (partner Holland & Knight), and Tori Adams (Data Scientist, Booz Allen Hamilton). I’ve appended the session description below. I’ve asked the panelists to cover a range of issues. Each will speak for about 15 minutes, which leaves 45 minutes for audience participation and panelist discussion. Some of my questions are below. Given the complexity of the topic and the many issues, we may not get to them all. I welcome suggestions for additional questions, either here or at the session. Questions about the Blockchain ILTA this year hosts several sessions about AI. It’s true that AI has had a huge amount of press coverage. And many articles say AI will be very disruptive. Blockchain too has its share of press.  Any views on which will have more impact – AI or blockchain – and why? Thinking about the web – early days and now – and comparing it to blockchain… is it helpful to think about what may be a key commonality: disintermediation, transparency, and access?  The web allowed everyone to publish and therefore everyone to consume content in new ways.  Blockchain creates more transparency and more access.  Is this a helpful way of thinking about blockchain? If it’s right, can we draw implications? If not, is there a better mental model? If the blockchain really is as revolutionary as the web, what will it mean for everyday consumers in a decade or two out? The web, aided by smartphones, has really changed how we spend our time, engage in transactions, and consume information. Social media, e-commerce, news feeds, video streaming… it’s a new world. If blockchain becomes pervasive, will the differences in how the world works be as obvious to typical consumers? Or will it be more behind the scenes? What is the low hanging fruit? That is, what area(s) of law do you think will be the first to be impacted by blockchain technology and how? We’re approaching or past the one year anniversary of pervasive blockchain hype. Does any major company you know of have a blockchain-based application being used in the wild yet? Does secure digital identity matter to blockchain? That is, does i[...]



Blockchain – Will It Affect Your Practice or Firm?

Sun, 21 Aug 2016 19:41:38 +0000

Introduction to Blockchain Interview on Its impact on Practice and Firms Both the legal and mainstream media have written many articles about the Blockchain. So I thought readers will appreciate hearing from three lawyers whose practices focus on it.  I’ve asked them to explain what the blockchain is and its impact on law practice, business, and law firm management. Three partners in three firms have kindly agreed to participate in this discussion: Josias “Joe” N. Dewey | Holland & Knight LLP Dax Hansen | Perkins Coie LLP Scott Farrell | 范睿  Partner | 合伙人 King & Wood Mallesons [For those who would like to learn more and will attend ILTACon, I will moderate the session When Will Blockchains and Smart Contracts Be Important in Legal on Tuesday, 30 Aug 2016. Joe Dewey, an interviewee here, is a panelist. (Session #ILTA061)] My first question asks each person to provide a self-intro… Questions and Answers about Blockchain Impacts Let’s start with quick introductions – tell me in a few sentences what your Blockchain practice looks like and how many of your colleagues focus on it.   Dewey:  I have practiced transactional law for over 18 years with a particular speciality in finance transactions.  Computer programming has been a hobby of mine since I was eight years old.  At the intersection of law and blockchain technology, there is a need for legal professionals who understand both substantive areas of the law and the technical workings of blockchain protocols.  So my blockchain practice is focused on designing blockchain-based tools for clients, especially finance clients who can greatly increase efficiencies with it, and advising clients on how blockchain technology could help them (and also where there is more hype than reality).  A year ago, the only colleagues who even knew what the blockchain was were focused solely on the money transmitter and associated licensing issues.  That is now shifting with professionals in different areas looking at the technology from different angles (e.g., corporate lawyers looking at difference between conventional corporations and corporate finance versus decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs)).  Intellectual property rights in this area is another angle that is starting to attract interest.  I expect the number of lawyers in my firm who touch upon blockchain technology to grow exponentially over the next year or so. Farrell:  My practice comes at this from a different perspective.  For the last 20 years I have worked in financial markets and financial systems, including derivatives and capital markets.  Since the global financial crisis this has developed a focus in working with financial market infrastructure – such as exchanges, clearing houses, trade repositories and payment systems.  My practice in centralised financial market infrastructure has adjusted to also include decentralised financial market infrastructure as it has grown into an alternative way to connect participants in the global financial markets.  We work for incumbent financial institutions, market infrastructure providers as well as new entrants and regulators and governments in this area.  Including those in our other offices around the globe, I would estimate that there is more than a few dozen of us currently who have a focus on this area, including its use with smart contracts.  This will grow as more of our clients move their focus into this field. Hansen:  Simply stated, my practice focuses on the intersection of technology and money.  For the last dozen years, I’ve chaired Perkins Coie’s fintech industry practice group, helping tech companies, retailers, video game companies and wireless companies launch new products and services and navigate the domestic and international financial systems.  Having p[...]



How Law Firms Should Prepare for the Future of Legal Services (HighQ SmartLaw Book Contribution)

Thu, 11 Aug 2016 02:30:07 +0000

HighQ, a UK-based software company serving the legal market, recently initiated  a conversation about SmarltLaw. It started with a website earlier this year. This month, the company released a short e-book that asked 15 experts to answer the question “What do you believe lawyers and law firms need to do to prepare for the future of legal services?” I reproduce here an edited version of my answer. I also provide short background on HighQ and a list of the other contributing experts. My View on How Firms Must Prepare for the Future I’m a big proponent of dismantling the caste system so that lawyers work effectively with other professionals, both in their own firm and in other organizations. Doing away with castes will lead to better quality output by informing legal answers with essential disciplines such as marketing, IT , accounting, consulting, engineering, science, and statistics. Many lawyers present to the world as “masters of the universe”, with all the answers to every question. In fact, however, they don’t have answers to many questions. At least not good and complete answers. To zealously represent clients, the primary ethical mandate, lawyers must consider with whom they work and how. And then work with those other professional as equals. The caste system is not the only shibboleth that needs tearing down. So too does the lawyer mindset that “I deliver the right answer to my clients and that’s all I need to do”. Of course they must provide the right answer. But clients today want both more and less. Clients want less in the sense that they need outside counsel who understand the client’s risk tolerance and scope the legal work accordingly. Today, many lawyers do more law than clients need or want. And client want more in the sense of empathy and better service delivery. Empathy means a true understanding of pressures on the client. Better service delivery means, for example, lawyers who return phone calls and emails, who deliver to expected turnaround time, and who budget accurately and deliver to budget. Better service delivery also means higher value. This requires reducing effort and cost (improving efficiency) with  knowledge management, process improvement, and specialized practice technologies. About HighQ HighQ describes itself as a “suite of cloud-based software products combine cutting-edge technology with enterprise grade security, all wrapped up in a consumer-style interface, to help businesses collaborate, communicate and securely share information.” List of Other Experts Who Answered the Question The HighQ SmartLaw e-book also includes answers from other thought leaders: Caroline Ferguson – Living Lawyers Ivan Rasic – LegalTrek Lindsay Griffiths – International Lawyers Network D Casey Flaherty – Procertas Jordan Furlong – Law21 Michelle Mahoney – King & Wood Mallesons Ari Kaplan – Lawcountability Susan Hackett – Legal Executive Leadership George Beaton – beaton Ben Wightwick – HighQ Jeremy Hopkins – Clerkingwell Consulting V Mary Abraham – Broadli, Above and Beyond KM Ryan McClead – HighQ, 3 Geeks and a Law blog  

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