Above and Beyond KM

A discussion of knowledge management that goes above and beyond technology.

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This publication contains my personal views and not necessarily those of my clients. Since I am a lawyer, I do need to tell you that this publication is not intended as legal advice or as an advertisement for legal services.
  • The speaker in this session is John Alber (Partner, Bryan Cave).

    [These are my notes from the International Legal Technology Association's 2012 Conference 2012. Since I'm publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I've made any editorial comments, I've shown those in brackets.]

    NOTES:

    • Law Firm KM is too detached from the Business. John Alber believes that KM is introverted, introspective and far too insulated from the business of the firm. To add insult to injury, he thinks that law firm knowledge managers have created and fostered this state of affairs by calling themselves something that is impenetrable for most people, and by never properly explaining what exactly they do every day and how their work benefits the firm in dollar and cents.
    • KM is a “felt” need. Law firms invest in knowledge management because they feel they ought to. However, when the rubber hits the road (e.g., during an economic downturn), KM headcount is sacrificed. John believes that well-managed businesses invest in functions that provide proven long-term value. He would argue that law firm KM has not always produced the evidence to prove their value.
    • Start by Renaming KM in a Manner that Declares a Better Intention. Start by understanding the function. What does it do? KM doesn’t just manage knowledge. It INCREASES knowledge. It helps us understand what we do best and how we can help clients. Good KM makes good decision-making by the firm almost automatic. Most importantly, good KM is profoundly connected to profitably. John believes that if you are profoundly connected to profitability, you will not be laid off during a recession because you are critical to the firm’s financial well-being.
    • The Accenture Example. John Alber suggests Accenture is very similar to a law firm. In fact, he says they do exactly what we do: they work with incredibly busy professionals, they deliver technology, they train, they manage knowledge. What’s Accenture’s tag line? High performance delivered.
    • Key things to notice about Accenture. From the beginning, INNOVATION was at the core of their efforts and they have repeatedly been willing to take extraordinary risks in order to innovate. With respect to training, they ran that function like a business: they cut the training budget in half, but had to show measurable improvement in training results without relying on “squishy” metrics like user satisfaction. Further, they had to achieve a quantifiable return on the investment in their training business. To achieve this, they focused on increasing customer value and managing relationships with senior leaders and sponsors
    • Six Decisions IT Employees Should Never Make. John recommends that we read this Harvard Business Review book. (For a preview, see this slide deck.) It helps readers differentiate between strategic decisions the business should make and the operational decisions IT should make on behalf of the business.
    • Applying the Lessons. Rather than teaching how to use specific applications, teach people to work in the most efficient way, which will happen to use specific applications in a recommended way. In other words, don’t provide a training session on MS Word. Rather, provide a training session on how to draft a legal document using key aspects of MS Word properly.
    • Ask the Right Questions. Don’t start by asking what everyone else is doing. Rather, start by asking top firm executives what the firm is trying to achieve in the fiscal year for which you are planning. Take their concrete objectives and bring your KM efforts to bear to help make those objectives a reality. He says that asking that question led his firm to investment significantly in systems to rationally support alternative fee arrangements and project management.
    1 Comment
  • The moderator is Tanisha Little (Senior Manager Knowledge Management, Morrison & Foerster), and the speakers are Rizzi (Directors, Knowledge Delivery, White & Case), and Michael Williams (Director of LIfecycle Information Management, eSentio Technologies).

    [These are my notes from the International Legal Technology Association's 2012 Conference 2012. Since I'm publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I've made any editorial comments, I've shown those in brackets.]

    NOTES:

    • Why Focus on Search Analytics?. To report on the positive behaviors, but also to understand the negative outcomes such as which lateral partner hasn’t been integrated, which lawyer is a confirmed luddite, etc. Michael Williams reminded us that the analytics help you understand how the search engine is being used and how it needs to be modified to be more useful.
    • Why should firms invest in analytics?. Ennio Rizzo pointed out that nothing works immediately, most systems need to mature. Analytics can help show trends and behavioral information that add credibility to your claims of success. Michael Williams says that enterprise search that is poorly implemented or poorly tended will result in a poor search experience. However, by using analytics, you can learn quickly about the user experience and how to improve it. This will avoid people turning away because they have been disappointed by their results. Therefore, analytics are a great way of protecting and exploiting your investment in an enterprise search system.
    • What are all the uses of analytics?. There are four key uses of analytics: utilization, demographics, stability of performance and user experience. Depending on where you are in your project, you can weight one more than the other or focus on one in particular.
    • What kinds of information should you be collecting?. Ennio Rizzo showed us some of the information they are collecting at White & Case. For example, they look at search penetration by practice group and title weekly to understand where they need to increase training or provide additional support. They look at who the top users are and then decide whether those people should be recruited as advisors to the enterprise search project. They also produce a heat map regularly to show how, where and when the search engine is used and whether they need to provide additional support. Finally, they can look at practices and industries that most interest specific individuals. This helps identify the expertise of those people. Ennio noted that enterprise search is a big, expensive investment by any firm, so information like this helps the firm improve its return on investment.
    • When to deploy analytics?. Ennio Rizzi strongly suggests that you shouldn’t go to production before you have the analytics in place. Michael Williams agrees that having the analytics ready helps the engineers understand the guts of the tool. He also believes that the analytics that come bundled with the tool are not sufficient. Therefore, most firms need to purchase an additional analytics tool from another vendor. White & Case was able to use easily available web parts to extract the data from the analytics native in Recommind and then presented it via SharePoint. Ennio acknowledged that while the native analytics measured tons of elements, the real art was to extract the relevant information and present in an actionable form. Michael Williams showed an eSentio/Recommind dashboard that could send an alert to the law firm knowledge management group letting them know when a lawyer has a failed search so the KM group can contact that lawyer and help with the search. While this may feel a little creepy or Big Brother-like, Ennio believed that most lawyers appreciated the assistance.
    • Dealing with Irrelevant Results. You should use analytics to help understand why we are getting back too many results or irrelevant results.
    • What should you do before you deploy?. Spend a huge amount of time educating firm leadership and KM champions on the pros and cons of the search engine as built. This will help them come on board and provide you and your project “air cover.” All of this is part of the change management exercise you will have to do when you bring a tool as powerful [and disruptive] as enterprise search to your firm.
    • Relevancy. Michael warned the audience not to fiddle with relevancy too much. If you are not careful, you can quite quickly degrade the search results. That said, judicious tweaking can be very helpful. Just be sure to proceed very carefully.
    • Analytics is all about trending. You can show a change in usage. As long as you can continue to show good trends, that should help to make your case with management. Ennio also suggested using the analytics to find out whether there are resources people are searching for, but don’t exist. The KM team can then approach the practice group and offer assistance to create the missing resource.
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  • The speakers for this session are John Alber (Partner, Bryan Cave), Jim Jones (Senior Fellow, Georgetown University Law Center and Principal, Legal Management Resources) and Michael Mills (CEO, Neota Logic).

    [These are my notes from the International Legal Technology Association's 2012 Conference 2012. Since I'm publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I've made any editorial comments, I've shown those in brackets.]

    NOTES:

    • What’s the Fundamental Change?.According to Jim Jones, in the last 4-5 years, the legal market has changed from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market. This means that while law firms used to be able to set the terms, today it’s the client that sets the terms. Further, there was a great deal of stability in the relationships between law firm and client. While law firms may struggle with this change, it’s reality. As part of this change, risk has shifted from the client to their law firms, especially through alternative fee arrangements. The breadth and depth of these changes are enormous. John Alber reminded us that we should learn our lessons from other industries that have undergone similarly deep changes. One example he gave was that of the trucking industry. He described them as having shifted from transportation companies to information companies with trucks.
    • Lawyers are being Disintermediated. Jim Jones noted that as escoteric legal information becomes widely available, lawyers lose their role as guardians of that information. Therefore, they can’t charge for the information or rely on its existence to solidify a client relationship. Similarly, other organizations are finding ways to provide services that formerly were the exclusive purview of lawyers. Michael Mills observed that these organizations are not only competitors, but co-creators of legal services. The problem is that law firms and law firm technology are really not designed to “play nicely with others.”
    • The Tipping Point. As far as Jim Jones is concerned, it’s hard to predict a tipping point because it is easier to identify in retrospect. Events build on each other and then suddenly there is enough change to reach a tipping point. Michael Mills says that lawyers, like all humans, are inertial. However, if look around you carefully, you can find enough examples of change that you can get a glimpse of the tipping point.
    • What’s the Challenge for Lawyers & Technologists?. Mills and Jones agreed that the key is to focus on those aspects of the practice of law that are most prized by lawyers. For example, many lawyers want to be free to practice law, to problem solve, to help clients. If technologists can find ways to make the real business of lawyering (counseling, problem-solving, strategizing) better and more enjoyable (despite the current drive to AFAs, project management, etc.), then they will have made a huge contribution.
    • Law Firms Are No Longer Monolithic. Law firms are becoming a collection of activities. And each of these activities have different requirements, risks and economic return. Accordingly, it’s important to tailor a matter so that the activities involved closely match the client’s expectations and those activities are priced in order to make them economical for the client AND the law firm. Further, there is a role for technologists to play. In addition to providing the basic platform technologies (e.g., email, word processing, etc.), technologists also need to provide specially-tailored tools that meet specific client needs.This a real opportunity for technologists.
    • Disaggregation of Services. Michael Mills warned the audience that just as clients have been disaggregating legal services and asking legal process outsourcers to provide services that formerly were provided solely by law firms, we should expect that technologists within law firms be prepared to outsource services to external providers if that makes more sense.
    • Advice to Young Lawyers & Technologists. Jim Jones said he is asked to advise lots of law students and he always tells them that this is a great time to enter the profession because the turmoil presents so many opportunities. Further, as lawyers get better at focsing on core, high-value legal services, they should find more professional satisfaction in their work. Michael Mills also encouraged young lawyers to be far more tech-savvy than they are. This means they need to know more than how to operate their smartphone or move their thumbs quickly while texting. Instead, they should get smarter about the technology that automates business processes and workflow, understand databases, etc. Finally, John Alber noted that technologists should look for ways to connect their work directly to the business. This means understanding what drives the business and how it operates. It may mean getting an MBA or some other business training. [To be honest business-savvy is critical for lawyers too.]
    1 Comment
  • Why IT doesn’t matter and KM matters even less to clients: how to align services with expectations. This title is what John Alber calls “”a sharp stick in the eye, which is the shortest path to the brain.” The speakers are Sally Gonzalez, Risa Schwartz and Felicity Badcock. They will focus on what clients want and then look at some case studies that delivered to clients.

    [These are my notes from the International Legal Technology Association's 2012 Conference 2012. Since I'm publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I've made any editorial comments, I've shown those in brackets.]

    NOTES:

    • KM Pre-2000. The original focus for KM was collecting intellectual capital and professional training. The main benefits were risk management and efficiency. From 2000-2007, law firm knowledge management shifted to knowledge about people and clients. The benefits were to enhance marketing and business development. (CRM systems were knowledge management systems, although not every law firm marketing department understood this.) After 2008, it shifted from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market for legal services. This has resulted in client demands for efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Clients are now demanding alternative fee arrangements, which shift the risk from the clients to their law firms. So now, while risk is still a driver for KM, it’s business risk (cost) rather than legal risk. In the current phase, knowledge managers are focused on legal project management and legal process improvement. The benefits of KM are now reduced costs, improved margins and increased profits.
    • KM:Commerciality and Organizational Structure. The threshold question is “what do clients want?” They want you to KNOW THEIR BUSINESS. Felicity Badcock showed the results of an Australian survey of buying patterns in the Australian legal market. In 2005, the biggest drivers were reliability and leading expertise. Since 2009, the top client concern is the business relevance of the legal advice outside counsel is offering.
    • Sector Teams. How do you address this driver of client buying? How does this get reflected within a firm? By restructuring operations to put the client at the center. At King & Wood Mallesons, KM now reports to the managing partner in charge of clients and markets. They have also tried to put the client at the center by organizing around industry sectors and also by legal practices. All clients are associated with sectors, as are KM efforts, professional development efforts, KPIs and business development. Since these sector teams were new creatures, not all the lawyers within the teams knew each other well. To facilitate communications and build relationships withint these new teams, the firm provided a social network to allow communication via status updates.
    • After Action Reviews. King & Wood Mallesons already has in place the practice of soliciting client feedback at the conclusion of a matter. They are now piloting a facilitated internal after action review. They are implementing a systematic method of interviewing members of the team to capture insights, report those insights and share them as knowledge assets fo the firm.
    • How to start the conversation with clients?. Risa Schwartz suggested that the law firm knowledge management personnel contact KM personnel at clients to jointly carry out a needs assessment. Risa says that once you ask the question you’ll find that the client is more than willing to share.
    1 Comment
  • Bruce MacEwen needs no introduction. He is known world wide for his incisive commentary on law firm economics, the business of law and law firm strategy. You can find his thought-provoking posts at Adam Smith, Esq.

    [These are my notes from the International Legal Technology Association's 2012 Conference 2012. Since I'm publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I've made any editorial comments, I've shown those in brackets.]

    NOTES:

    • What Does ROI Mean?. It depends on what approach you use: present discounted value (PDV), net present value (NPV), internal rate of return (IRR).
    • What’s the Problem With Them?. They are too easy to manipulate, we often forget what they are, they have a false precision to them and they don’t always tell us what we think they do.
    • How to manipulate ROI?. Smooth out the numbers, display them on a pretty graph, then print it on thick glossy paper — in color.
    • Why do we waste time on ROI?. Lawyers like evidence. Besides which, lawyers feel that asking about ROI is the responsible thing to do. Unfortunately, most of them do not have a grasp of basic economics and many are “allergic to numbers.” As a result, they aren’t always in the best position to understand the ROI implications. Nonetheless, if they ask for an ROI, they can’t later be faulted for failing to consider ROI.
    • False Precision. Since ROI is expressed numerically, it seems more concrete and reliable. Yet we forget that ROI by itself is meaningless without context. While the numbers remain, we all too often tend to forget the context. As a result, the sense of precision is fleeting at best.
    • There are Three Kinds of Investments. Investments that involve unknowns; investments that are one-of-a-kind events; investments that are structural and make other things possible. Few conventional projects involve complete unknowns. With one-of-a-kind events, no one can predict outcomes, so it’s very hard to talk sensibly about ROI. With structural investments (e.g., high speed rail), while the project itself may not always pay for itself, chances are that it will allow other positive returns to arise. (In his example, there has been a great deal of real estate development around rail lines or extra tall buildings near New York City express subway stops.)
    • If not ROI, then what’s a better way to analyze IT projects? First ask if the proposed project is plausible. Then, ask if it would make a difference. This second question introduces common sense into your deliberations. It forces you to consider your business context and the impact of the proposed project on the top line or bottom line. At the end of the day, the greater the positive impact on the top or bottom line, the better the project and the easier it should be to win support.
    1 Comment
  • At every ILTA conference the chief information officers of the 100 largest global law firms have a day-long meeting. This session provides a recap for those of us who were unable to attend the full day session.

    Speakers: Gareth Ash (CIO, Allen & Overy), Ash Banerjee (CIO, WilmerHale), Don Jaycox (CIO, DLA Piper), Andy Jurczyk (CIO, Seyfarth Shaw). Marcia Stein helped organize the G100 event.

    [These are my notes from the International Legal Technology Association's 2012 Conference 2012. Since I'm publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I've made any editorial comments, I've shown those in brackets.]

    NOTES:

    • Jim Jones Presentation. Jim Jones (from the Hildebrandt Institute) often is asked to provide a strategic industry perspective to managing partners. He came to the G100 session to share the information he is providing to firm management. Key points: 2012 could be tougher than 2009; the outlook for the next 2 years is not great. Jones reminded the CIOs that this is not just about economic pressures. There are other factors coming into play such as commoditization, enabling technologies, new service providers, globalization. The key is to understand that our economic model is fundamentally unstable. Law firms will not be able to rely on year over year rate increases in order to meet revenue goals. Further, demand for legal services has basically been flat since the market downturn. In Jones’ view, we are firmly in a buyer’s market. Therefore, clients are in a position to make demands on law firms. This means that law firms will have to compete for business on the basis of costs, efficiency and results rather than just on reputation.
    • Implications of Jim Jones’ Presentation. (1) Law firms need to be serious about operating as a business. This means they need to focus on efficiency and effectiveness, addressing productivity issues as soon as possible. (2) Will declines in law school enrollment make it more expensive to find and hire good associates?
    • How Technology can Transform Law Firms FAcing Changing Pricing Models. (1) multiple pricing and billing systems; (2) systems for tracking profitability on a matter basis; (3) user-friendly interfaces allowing partners to perform sensitivity analysis on different pricing strategies; (4) technical support to assist partners in analyzing and setting pricing options; (5) systems enabling fims to respond quickly and efficiently to competitive proposal requests.
    • Implications for the CIO. Technology will increasingly “commoditize” many areas of legal practice, including some complex and high value ones. This means that lawyers will change. Since information is increasingly becoming freely available, clients will pay a premium only for expertize and superior judgment.
    • Gartner Discussion. Data protection and security are key. Law firms need to gather and dig deeper into the data with analytics. There is an increasing push to outsourcing in order to control costs. However, that may limit career opportunities within the IT department. It also can mean that the IT department cannot respond as nimbly if they have to manage lots of external providers. On the flip side, having resources in the cloud can provide some flexibility. Just be sure that you don’t outsource any function that comprises your agility and ability to respond.
    • Data Security. A poll of the G100 CIOs revealed that relatively few had security specialists on their staff. All understood that in addition to technical controls, the key is to increase security awareness among attorneys. Several firms recommended data security training for lawyers based on resources from the SANS Institute entitled “Securing the Human.”
    • What do CIOs want to learn more about?. At the G100 session, they crowdsourced the following topics: (1) How are CIOs measured? What KPIs are used? (2) What are the risks of benchmarking? One big issue is that the benchmarking reports may not allocate the data exactly like your firm does. For example, do network costs show up in operational costs or in IT costs? You have to understand the benchmarking reports before you rely on them for your analysis and planning. (3) How to handle PWC/Citi Reports? Handle with care! It’s very important to key educating the partnership so they understand what contributes to cost and how new projects add value.
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  • After HP’s acquisition of Autonomy, there was much speculation regarding whether or not this change would be good or bad for the legal industry. Today Neil Araujo (CEO, AutonomyProtect) did more than just assure us things were headed in the right direction. He actually had something great to show us.

    [These are my notes from the International Legal Technology Association's 2012 Conference 2012. Since I'm publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I've made any editorial comments, I've shown those in brackets. In addition, since this was a vendor presentation, it will contain primarily promotional material. Analysis will follow as more people take a look at these new offerings.]

    NOTES:

    • Four Pillars of Autonomy ECM. Information capture and management; information workflow; information insight (IUS); and information governance (records managements, policy, security, compliance).
    • Four Trends Driving Autonomy’s Vision. (1) UX (user experience); (2) mobility; (3) Big Data; (4) Cloud — as a delivery mechanism and a platform for law firm engagement with its clients.
    • User Experience. There are several aspects of UX that Autonomy is focused on now: (1) High performance synch. (2) High performace search — they will enable biger searches. They discovered that 95% of searches are on document or author name so they are optimizing this popular search. (3) Integrated software & hardware solutions — this shows the beneefits of partnering with HP. With this technology, users can go to a multi-function printer to do a job — not just print or scan. For example, the user could go to the printer screen to select a document from the DMS and print it. Or, scan a document and send it directly to your personal document collection without travelling via email. (4) The new Compass product is a collaboration between HP Labs and Autonomy. It will be released in IUS 8.
    • HP Compass. This tool builds on IUS to provide navigation across people, communities/collections, and individual information assets. The relationships among these elements are created automatically by IUS and analytics, without any manual metadata coding by staff. In the example we saw, the user initiated a simple full text search and then moved through the results either by scrolling through the list of responsive documents or pivoting on the name of an author or major contributor and then from there to related communities, people or documents. Autonomy calls this social search, bringing some of the best aspects of consumer web search to the law firm.
    • Mobility. Autonomy now provides mobile security, the ability to edit or annotate documents (and have those edits synch up to the DMS immediately) and the ability to capture and store information on the go via your smartphone camera. The next worksite mobile app will use HP technology to clean up this smartphone picture to create something that looks more like a high-quality scan that can be uploaded as an image in worksite. They also have the ability to OCR it.
    • Big Data. Autonomy believes that Big Data for legal primarily involves unstructured data. There are significant challenges regarding how to manage these collections from a security and compliance perspective. The traditional approach was to secure the perimeter, but this is becoming increasingly difiicult to do. Therefore, Autonomy is focused on securing individual information assets inside and outside the firewall via the private cloud.
    • Policy-Driven Information Governance. It is impossible to manage, much less govern, content if you don’t know what you’ve got, don’t know what it is and don’t know what to do with it. Autonomy offers Control Point to help with visibility, understanding content and automating key governance processes. They can go through large content stores and apply compliance policy to it in an automated fashion.
    • Cloud. HP is very focused on the Cloud. HP Autonomy is offering a private cloud, as well as a cloud for a hotsite backup for disaster recovery.
    • Collaboration Through the Cloud. Autonomy offers a private cloud to share documents directly from WorkSite with clients. This provides a secure alternative to file -sharing or file-synchronization consumer apps such as Dropbox. The tool is called LinkSite. They have created new “Binders” that allow you to provide synching. They also allow you to move a large file to the private cloud with one-click, which then generates an audit trail provided by Autonomy. Secure Send and LinkSite are the new tools that Autonomy offers to accomplish all of this. Even better, all of this sharing and collaboration operates outside email.

    During this session, I was both drafting this blog post and sending out the occasional tweet. I was interested to receive some cautiously optimistic feedback from one skeptic in England who said that based on the tweets coming from Neil Araujo’s session, it sounded like Autonomy was headed in a better direction. If Autonomy makes a success of this new direction, that can only benefit their many law firm clients.

    1 Comment
  • The nominees are Thompson Coburn, Seyfarth Shaw and Pillsbury Winthrop.

    [These are my notes from the International Legal Technology Association's 2012 Conference 2012. Since I'm publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I've made any editorial comments, I've shown those in brackets.]

    NOTES:

    • Thompson Coburn File Manager. They used SharePoint 2010 to replace their legacy records management system, provide email management, create matter team sites for every matter, and create a DMS-ready interface. They also wanted to use FAST inside AND outside SharePoint. They moved over 4 million files, 3 million of which were email in their records system.
    • Seyfarth Shaw TeamSites. Their SharePoint focus is to support their market-leading Seyfarth Lean and project management efforts. This included comprehensive task management capabilities, self-serve provisiioning with limited IT or administrative involvement, and it needed to be “wickedly easy to use.” They built using SharePoint 2010, Telerik (he says it’s a great product), Microsoft .net and Recommind. They provide a list of maters with “stop light” reporting to show tasks are outstanding. They are able in this way to aggegate in one place each attorney’s data-specific information. They have one site of clients, one site for matters and one site for projects. While lots of webparts are available, they don’t display them fully until the user tries to use tha webpart to add content. This is how they limit webpart sprawl. Seyfarth launched Teamsites in four months. The work was done by a single developer. (Other law firms in the room want to hire him!)
    • Pillsbury Winthrop’s Pulse. This project started as an intranet redesign effort. 93% of their sites are dynamic, they used unique interface and design elements, and super-fast search. Finally, they were careful to orient the the sites so that they are personalized. To begin user engagement early, they invited the firm to help name the internet. Engagement was high — they received 1700 entries. Through metadata, they provide a personalized view to each user. In addition, the user can tailor the page. However, while a lawyer can hide information on the weather or stock market, but cannot hide their timekeeper dashboard. They consulted with eSentio to figure out how to make all their sites dynamic. This means that adding a webpart to one site adds it to all other sites, as necessary. Their user profiles marry and display information from PeopleSoft and SharePoint My Site. The profiles include presence information via Lync. Their Marketing Department provided excellent graphic design.
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  • Session Title: Beyond Extranets! What Clients Really Want.
    Speakers; Scott Rechtschaffen (CKO, Littler Mendelson), Lynn Simpson (Knowledge Manager & Six Sigma Master Black Belt, DuPont), Meredith Williams (Chief Knowledge Management Officer, Baker Donelson).
    [These are my notes from the International Legal Technology Association's 2012 Conference 2012. Since I'm publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I've made any editorial comments, I've shown those in brackets.]

    NOTES:
    As always, Meredith Williams and Scott Rechtschaffen made strong presentations of their innovative client facing offerings. (To see more details on their presentations, see my tweetstream or the general ILTA12 tweetstream.) And then, Lynn Simpson stood up and said that she was going to “throw a bomb” into the room. Her message was clear and concise:

    • We don’t want you to send us poorly targeted, irrelevant marketing or legal updates. We consider that material to be the equivalent of spam.
    • It’s great that you have all these interesting extranets, but we don’t want to have to go to each firm’s special environment to find the materials we need to work. We want our external clients to come to our environment — the place where we, the client, are most comfortable working.

    Lynn’s comments confirmed something I wrote about earlier regarding extranets and law firm client updates. That’s great. But I found myself wondering how many members of the audience were left puzzled at the seeming discrepancy between the two law firm success stories and the very different client experience. While I wasn’t able to put this question to the panel, that didn’t stop me from thinking further about this. Here are my preliminary conclusions

    • The DuPont Rule. A law firm would be wise to consider Lynn Simpson’s advice as the primary operating rule UNLESS your firm can fit into either the Baker Donelson exception or the Littler exception.
    • Baker Donelson Exception. If you can develop a product or service that so impresses your client that your client moves all of its business to you, then you become your client’s only external law firm and your extranet the only environment your client needs.
    • Littler Exception. If you are advising in an area in which the client desperately needs constant external advice, and you can provide an easy to use, accurate, tailored and timely resource, your extranet will become the go to place for your client.

    The bottom line is that a garden variety extranet will not impress your client or move you into the territory of one of the exceptions mentioned above. You and your firm will have to develop a very special offering to entice the client away from the client’s own environment. If you stopped to think about this, it makes perfect sense. So why do so many law firms continue to ignore the DuPont rule?

    4 Comments
  • Col. Scott Reid is the Chief Knowledge Officer of the US Army JAG Corps. The JAG has about 2,500 lawyers, plus almost an equal number of support staff, plus the same number again in the reserves. Their offices are in 21 countries.

    [These are my notes from the International Legal Technology Association's 2012 Conference 2012. Since I'm publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I've made any editorial comments, I've shown those in brackets.]

    NOTES:

    • Their Strategy for Enterprise Social Networking. They aimed to create the largest network possible, keeping in mind costs, intuitive usage, respect for the Department of Defense firewall. They had very senior support from the start. Their key knowledge management presence is on milBook, which is part of milSuite. It is built in Jive. They also have a blog function (using WordPress) and are working on Eureka, an idea generation/evaluation tool. The JAG presence on milBook is called JAG Connect.
    • Support/Administration. Each group in milBook is is hosted by a lawyer who is given specific responsibility for the role and community. They have over 15,000 individuals participating in 2660 communities. Approximately 20% of the members are contributors. (This is far better than the 90-9-1 participation rule.)
    • Gamification in milBook. They award points to contributors. You can win extra points for providing an answer that someone else finds helpful. This gamification has proven to be a very helpful way to motivate and reward participation.
    • More Like This. MilBook uses tags to find similar content and serves it up to the reader automatically.
    • Lessons Learned. (1) Have a strategic plan. (2) Have communities that reflect functions rather than just the organizational map. (3) Marketing is key to encourage participation. (4) Include a pilot to test bugs and to win senior support. (5) When considering how to motivate participation, consider Daniel Pink’s observations regarding autonomy, mastery and meaning. These are key intrinsic motivators. The gamification also helps, but it provides extrinsic motivation.

    [Scott, please review and let me know if my rapid transcription contains any errors. You and your colleagues have a terrific story. I want to be sure I reported it accurately. Thanks!]

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