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

Awards & Recognition

Subscribe to Above and Beyond KM

Subscribe in a reader

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Facebook

Disclaimer

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.
  • If Dominos Ran Your Law Firm

    Pizza Call me a bad parent, but every so often I relent and let my child order a pizza from Dominos. To be clear, it isn’t because Dominos offers the tastiest pizza in the neighborhood.  (They don’t.)  And it isn’t because they promise to deliver in under 30 minutes. (They don’t.) The reason we order from Dominos is because my kid gets a kick out of the Dominos Tracker (registered trademark).

    For those of you who haven’t experienced this wonder of modern technology, let me explain. The tracker is an online display that lets the customer follow along as their pizza is moved through the critical stages of pizza making:

    • order placed
    • prep
    • bake
    • quality check
    • delivery

    The tracker opens a small window into the operations of a vendor, allowing the customer to participate vicariously as their order is fulfilled. You see the pizza moving down the assembly line and you know the moment it’s placed in the hands of the person who will deliver it to your door. (That’s when you get your money ready.)

    Now imagine what would happen if Dominos ran your law firm and set up a Dominos Matter Tracker? For each matter the client could check online to see at a glance the progress the firm had made to date and how much work remained to be done:

    • new matter intake formalities
    • staffing
    • background research & precedent gathering
    • retaining local counsel
    • drafting
    • negotiating
    • revising drafts
    • signing
    • preparation for closing
    • closing
    • post-closing clean-up
    • billing
    • collections

    Several years ago I wrote two posts on law firm transparency and asked if your firm was ready to open its kimono a little so that your clients could understand better what you do in exchange for the fees you charge. One early example of this is Mallesons Connect:

    On the subject of transparency, Mallesons in Australia has blazed a new trail with Mallesons Connect.  As described by Gerard Neiditsch, this new extranet application gives clients real-time information regarding lawyer activity, progress against project goals, and fees incurred.   It also provides information on billing history and outstanding invoices.  In the process, Mallesons learned that this transparency can have unexpected benefits.  Besides keeping everyone accountable, Mallesons discovered that once their law department clients saw the invoice information, they were able to expedite payments.

    Now that nearly four years have elapsed since those posts, has your thinking on transparency changed? Are you better prepared for it? If not, what are you waiting for?

    Dominos delivers. What about you?

    ****************************

    In the interest of fuller disclosure, here are some posts that provide further details on the experiences some customers have had with the Dominos Tracker:

    [Photo Credit: Matt Chan]

    Published on February 11, 2013 · Filed under: Law Firms;
    12 Comments
  • Rebecca Gebhardt

    Absolutely love this comparison!
    When I moved to the US a year ago I was in a hotel and on night 3 was tired enough to order Dominos (rather than go out), and was thus introduced to the tracker (I ordered online). I was so amazed I was texting my brother – at the time in Portland, OR – throughout as the process went on.

    So simple and yet so helpful.
    We at Linex are looking to add more client interaction to feature requests or fixes by clients – and that’s for issues which are mostly dealt with within 24 hours. A tracker for law firms is a brilliant idea and I think would give huge amounts of added value.

  • Sarah Clark Kavanagh

    My family also loves the Tracker and without making the connection, I’ve “baked” a similar feature into our Quatrove Request Tracking and Knowledge Base software as well as Topaz. The first area we are showing the process is research requests to the Library Team (Quatrove) but will soon be including other processes as well.

    Thanks for helping me make the connection!

  • Mike Lowe

    Interesting post, Mary! “Pizza trackers” are in use and quite sophisticated in other professional services, like management consulting. For law firms to catch up, they need to do two things (at least): 1. make an actual commitment to building the capability to track and report matter progress; 2. incorporate the cost into their billing and sell clients on the value. Clients need to understand that the benefits and risk reduction are worth the cost.

  • http://aboveandbeyondkm.com VMaryAbraham

    Thanks, Mike. It sounds like there is quite a bit of work to be done on both the client and firm side. I wonder why it’s so hard for the legal industry to embrace practices that have been adopted by other industries? What makes legal so resistant?

    - Mary

  • http://aboveandbeyondkm.com VMaryAbraham

    Sarah -

    I’m glad to hear that you’ve already figured this out and are acting on it. The more positive examples clients and law firms have, the less threatening the concept will be.

    - Mary

  • http://aboveandbeyondkm.com VMaryAbraham

    Thanks so much, Rebecca. It sounds like you and your colleagues at Linex are well on your way to bringing this new level of transparency and accountability to your clients. Please keep me posted — I’d love to learn more about your progress with this.

    - Mary

  • http://AboveandBeyondKM.com VMaryAbraham

    Thanks so much, Rebecca. It sounds like you and your colleagues at Linex are well on your way to bringing this new level of transparency and accountability to your clients. Please keep me posted — I’d love to learn more about your progress with this.

    - Mary

  • http://AboveandBeyondKM.com VMaryAbraham

    Sarah -

    I’m glad to hear that you’ve already figured this out and are acting on it. The more positive examples clients and law firms have, the less threatening the concept will be.

    - Mary

  • http://AboveandBeyondKM.com VMaryAbraham

    Thanks, Mike. It sounds like there is quite a bit of work to be done on both the client and firm side. I wonder why it’s so hard for the legal industry to embrace practices that have been adopted by other industries? What makes legal so resistant?

    - Mary

  • legaltruth

    I can think of a few reasons.

    1) Common Law.
    Lawyers are trained in the common law system of legal practice, which basically looks at past legal decisions and establishes that as the basis for what the current legal decision should be. There are only a few courts that take liberties to interpret the law beyond what others have already established, such as the US Supreme Court. It is a very backwards looking operation so either those who think in those terms are drawn to it or those who are accustomed to forward looking might just succumb to it in order to be successful in legal matters.

    2) Mitigation of Legal Risk
    Lawyers feel that part of their duty to the client is to mitigate the legal risk exposure. I believe due to the time intensity in which lawyers devote to the practice of law this type of behavior transcends beyond the case and into how they run their businesses. This results into extreme risk aversion.

    3) Independence of the Law
    For some reason the legal community proclaims independence as one of the pillars of its practice. Which in my view is a fallacy, business itself is interdependence. But they feel that only lawyers can understand the nuances of the law so only they should govern it and practice it. It reminds me of the argument of the civilized society vs. the primitives. Its a perpetuated cycle of intellectual propaganda. A law degree, passing of the bar, nor taking an oath does not mean you are fit to practice the law nor know the law. The law changes all the time. Examining results overtime is a much better indicator as to whether someone is fit to practice.

    4) Humanities Focus
    For those who have a slant towards science likely want to go to medical school. Those who understand numbers and business typically want to go to Business School. Those who enjoy writing and forming persuasive thesis have been the ones to pursue law school. Business concepts don’t really appeal to this group and they might intentionally make it less business focused so as dissuade business minded individuals from taking over their industry like they have to so many others. A good example would be when the accountants tried to expand their services in providing legal services and tried to set up associations with lawyers. In the US lawyers are banned from joining any association the is operated by a non-lawyer, in which the association is based on the lawyer providing legal services.

    Lawyers are extremely defensive and backwards looking rather than competitive and forward looking. Clearly there are some exceptions, but from my experience and analysis of their professional history this seems to be the norm.

  • http://www.jaynenavarre.com Jayne Navarre

    Here’s my experience with an inexpensive cloud based solution that works for project management really well. I recently worked with a design team that used a cloud based service called Freshbooks (freshbooks.com). It made our web project much more efficient, even better because we were all on the same page despite working on different coasts. It may not be practical for larger law firms, but works great for solo, small and even mid-size firms. I promise it will add value to the client relationship – it did for us. Basically it is an instrument for project management. A hybrid accounting, time keeping and communications tool that allows outlining a project, documenting and discussing progress with the team and the client, time capture, check lists, assigning tasks, sharing files, images, etc. and invoicing, accounting, and payment processing. It interfaces with PayPal and other payment options. What’s really cool is that you can set it up so the client gets notified by email when certain steps are complete or messages, invoices, etc. await them, and they can log in to view the project, ask questions, comment. All this is captured and becomes a complete record of the project. No guessing. You can get a free 30 trial to check it out.

  • Pingback: If Southwest Airlines Ran Your Law Firm | Above and Beyond KM