What Blockchain Can Teach Legal About Service Models

John Alber believes that law firms are headed to extinction. Drawing from patterns in nature, he sees similar patterns in law firms. He is concerned that there are very few inflection points at which law firms can adapt sufficiently to lead change. He suggests that knowledge management professionals can find a path to useful change by learning from the example of blockchain.

  • John Alber, Practical Futurist, Intitute for the Future of Law Practice.
  • A detailed session description is at the end of this post.

[These are my notes from the 2018 Ark Group Conference: Knowledge Management in the Legal Profession.  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:

  • How serious is the Extinction possibility?
    • Looking at nature, we see that species die but sometimes leave behind elements that can give rise to new species. In the law, practices evolve and die. Sometimes they die but leave behind elements that can spawn a new practice. Often they die before they can be replaced by vibrant new practices. Without the option of adaptive practices, law firms will die.
    • Document review used to be the sole preserve of law firms. Now LPOs are taking over that business and there is no obvious substitute business for law firms.
    • A big clue about the potential for extinction — look for ways of doing things that have not materially changed for a long time. In Alber’s view, the legal industry’s approach to contracting is exactly this kind of extinction-ready practice.
  • Nick Szabo:
    • Nick Szabo is an earlier mover in blockchain. He is a computer scientist, legal scholar and cryptographer known for his research in digital contracts and digital currency. (ome believe that he is really Santoshi Nakamoto.)
    • He developed the concept of “smart contracts.” He has analyzed deeply what contracts are, how they work, and how they could optimally be digitized.
    • For him, building contracts on blockchain makes the most sense.
  • Benefits of Blockchain-like Tech for Contracting

    • Institutionless: it does not depend on whether we trust the institution (or law firm) involved. It exists viably separate from specific institutions.
    • Collective: moves away bespoke contracting to contracting by a collective consensus. This leads to less variability and more predictability in the contracting process.
    • Rules-based rather than words-based: this makes it easier to digitize the contracts.
    • Simple: we cannot digitize our contracts without first simplifying them.
  • Peter Drucker Wisdom:
    • “In a period of upheaval, such as the one we are living in, change is the norm. … But unless an organization sees that its task is to lead change, that organization … will not survive.”
    • Law firms are ignoring the fact that they need to lead change in the legal industry. They are too focused on the work of today so they seem to ignore the work of tomorrow.
  • How do we get the necessary skills?
    • Think about design-thinking differently. It is a super-skill to acquire.
      • Take a course, do some reading, get smarter about design-thinking.
    • In his view, design-thinking goes beyond the user interface, it goes beyond making things “pretty”.  Its true value is that it helps us understand more deeply the nature of the problem.
    • Once you have a better understanding of the problem, then work to gain influence in your firm so that you can share your understanding and move the firm toward sensible change.
  • KM Professionals Could be Influential
    • We are interdisciplinary so we have a broader view of the problems and possible solutions.
    • However, we need to move beyond thinking of ourselves experts in library sciences. Otherwise, we will not be able to make an impact on our firms.
    • We cannot afford to be passive.
  • Others are innovating while law firms are largely stagnating
    • There are lots of new legaltech vendors and new legal providers that are innovating technology and processes.
    • They are moving at a much faster pace than law firms are.

 

Session Description:

Blockchain is all the news now in legal. It is said to be transforming trust rela onships in everything from land tles to securities transactions. And smart contracts are the talk of the town. But shouldn’t blockchain also teach us something about what we missed along the way? How we record, transact and enforce agreements has been a constant almost since the inception of the common law. Yet we let the digital age be born and grow to maturity without ever considering that perhaps our paper?bound and extraordinarily inefficient service model for managing agreements might need changing. It took computer scientists to reimagine how to make agreements concerning digital assets. With the digital age exploding around us, what else about the law needs reimagining? Everything?

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Turning KM from a Cost Center to a Profit Generator

Mara Nickerson, Meredith Williams-Range, and Evan Shenkman discuss how law firm KM can generate business for law firms. (A more detailed session description is at the end of this post.)

  • Mara Nickerson: Chief Knowledge Officer, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
  • Evan J. Shenkman: Director of Knowledge Management Counsel and Research, Ogletree Deakins
  • Meredith Williams-Range: Chief Knowledge and Client Value Officer, Shearman & Sterling LLP

[These are my notes from the 2018 Ark Group Conference: Knowledge Management in the Legal Profession.  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:

  • Direct Revenue KM. This involves client-facing tools and services that generate review for the firm.
    • Oslers Subscription service for clients
      • Osler’s AccessPrivacy provides a knowledge hub on privacy matters. The information is organized by topic, mainained by a KM lawyer. Oslers lawyers consider this their own knowledge hub as well.  In addition to the knowledge hub, Oslers organizers a monthly call for subscribers. This allows clients to serve themselves on the easy issue
      • Lessons learned
        • focus on fee-sensitive practice areas
        • be clear upfront about the ROI
        • Be  honest about the total cost of ownership: the cost of development, the cost of maintenance, the cost of recruiting subscribers, etc. And be equally honest about the revenue potential, which may exceed the base subscription costs.
        • Solicit client input from the first stage and keep them involved in the development
    • Ogletree Deakins
      • Their subscription services:
        • Arbitration Agreement builder tool
        • OD Comply: a subscription suite of client services to stay on top of labor &employment law resources and services
        • EEO Advantage Program: an expert and efficient way of handling EEO claims, supported by dashboards
        • Learning Solutions: customized for clients
        • FMLA Edge: helps employers comply with the Family & Medical Leave Act
        • 1-9 Secure: helps clients with immigration matters
      • Lessons Learned:
        • follow the TurboTax model — may it easy to use without training
        • provides dashboards that are easy to read and act on
        • recruit a shareholder champion
        • who need full collaboration with attorneys — they need to be involved throughout the development process
        • you need to spend money to make money
        • be prepared to pull the plug if the product/service is not a success
    • Shearman
      • Don’t start a direct revenue project unless there is a clear market demand for that product/service.
      • Start by looking at where revenue is being lost — a place where there are slim margins and a lot of write-offs is a good candidate for a KM solution.
      • Their subscription Emerging Company Formation App will help increase margin by 10-11% simply by speeding up the process and increasing efficiency.
      • Their international stock benefits work involves high write-offs of associate time. It involves canvassing local counsel for updates in local law. They are using Neota Logic to substantially reduce the time and effort involved in gathering the updates. Then they make the results available through their subscription International Stock Benefits App.
      • The key is to make the product/service once and then sell it one thousand times.
      • Lessons Learned
        • Create the right culture that finds the opportunities and learns how evaluate those opportunities properly.
        • Create a rigorous application development process.
        • Upkeep and support are huge burdens. Partner with good technology providers as much as you can. Don’t assume the entire burden.
      • Market Evaluation Process:
        • Are you going after new market share? (Getting new business from new clients.)
        • Are you going after new wallet share? (Getting more business from existing clients.)
        • Find a way to track all the direct and indirect revenue you are generating
  • Indirect Revenue KM. The number one reason lawyers/law firms are left behind is because of lack of efficiency.

    • Everything we can do to improve efficiency increases client stickiness.
      • Enterprise search
      • High-quality model documents and templates
    • Shearman
      • offers a variety of online services that are loss leaders and intended to create client stickiness.
      • Shearman Merger Matrix — they created an internal application using Neota Logic. It speed up the process and increases revenue opportunities.
    • Ogletree
      • ODConnect: their intranet
      • ODSearch: enterprise search
      • OD Blueprint: their legal project management offering
      • Lessons Learned:
        • these services must be a collaborative effort among a variety of departments. It’s not a solo job for KM.
        • clients are interest in what’s behind the curtain — they want to know how their lawyers work more efficiently
        • attorneys are more willing to share than ever — even subject matter experts are more willing to share
        • cilents are increasingly expecting these tools to be free
    • Oslers
      • Osler Code Detect
        • this idea came from an associate. It analzes the open source code clients are using and identifies potential licensing issues.
          • this tool has generated new business for this innovative associate. (This associate often does hackathons.)
      • Oslers merger notification tool
      • Oslers helps clients map their own processes. The lawyers involved always leave with new business.
  • The staffing model is changing. Even the biggest firms are shifting work away from the billable hour model. So these firms are increasing their focus on efficiency. KM is critical to improving efficiency and reducing write-offs.
  • How to promote law firm KM
    • Get involved in the RFP process. Ensure that KM efficiencies are included in our RFPs.
    • Get involved in the pitch process. When your firm includes you in a client pitch, the firm is making a major statement about the importance of KM within the firm.

Session Description:

Many firms shortsightedly think of KM as a cost center, rather than a revenue generator. This discussion will illustrate different ways that firms have successfully turned the script by using KM to bring in meaningful firm business—both at the pitch stage, and as a revenue-generator with KM client-facing service offerings. Learn how these successes increase KM buy-in internally, help justify KM headcount, and illustrate that KM is a differentiator between firms that have it ? versus firms that do not.

For more information: see Ron Friedman’s post on this session.

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Redesigning Law Firm Knowledge Management #ArkKM

Jeffrey S. Rovner is Managing Director for Information, O’Melveny & Myers LLP. Today he is speaking about the next frontier for law firm knowledge management: truly successful adoption.

[These are my notes from the 2018 Ark Group Conference: Knowledge Management in the Legal Profession.  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:

  • Adoption is the Problem. The elephant in the room for knowledge management is low adoption. Although we offer great tools and services, why don’t our lawyers use them? It’s as if we can’t get through the last mile between our hopes for our wonderful new tools, on the one hand, and our user base, on the other hand.

 

  • Why does this happen???  Here are some of the perennial problems:
    • The Waterfall of Tears:
      • We introduce new tools / products / services via email, which not everyone reads.
      • We invite them to a training session, which few attend.
      • Those who attend do not remember everything they are taught.
      • Those who attend do not always decide that the new tool / product / service is worth the effort to make the change.
    • The 9X Problem: Whenever you are introducing a new technology, it needs to be a least 9 times better than the current tool. The new user is looking at the delta between their current approach and the effort required to adopt the the new approach.  Most new tools fail this test and so the user falls back on the old and comfortable way of working.
  • What can we learn from Online Shopping?
    • Shopping started out as a series of separate stores and storefronts.
    • Then some retailers such as Amazon focused on aggregration: offering as many products as possible. This required a very long tail that might satisfy customers.
    • Next, online retailers adopted nudging techniques that pushed forward recommendations and even extrapolated from searches done in your browser more generally. Some think this is creepy, but it remains a profitable approach.
  • What is the experience of law firms?
    • Most firms started by creating separate storefronts (e.g., Finance, HR, documents, calendar, practice groups, etc.)
    • Then they moved to aggregation via enterprise search.
    • At O’Melveney, they created a layer above the storefronts called Ommni that lets lawyers find what they need without having to figure out where that information originates. However, this is still a “pull” approach. The lawyer must go hunting.
  • 100% Adoption Requires Nudging.
    • To increase adoption, we need to push our efficiency tools.
    • Why?
      • There will also be some compelling new tool that does not fit nicely within our tidy aggregation approach. So it needs to be pushed.
      • The push approach can help us convey information rather than software. People want the information. They would rather remain oblivious to the new software. They want the results, not the means.
      • The push approach relieves users of the need to master new technology.
  • Omniscient. O’Melveny & Myers has created a new way of delivering information rather than merely software.
    • The first step is to identify “Moments” that are significant and require specific “Information” for success.
    • Next disaggregate that Information from its software source so that it can be bundled in a variety of ways to address the needs of a variety of moments.
    • Then, when a specific moment occurs, send the key information to the people involved — before they even request it.
    • Example: when a new matter opens, Omniscient can find and aggregate useful information such as which lawyers have the best experience and availability to staff the matter. Omniscient then sends this information to the staffing administrators by email.

Session Description:

Whether they have intended to do so or not, law firms have been conducting a 20?year longitudinal study to determine whether their lawyers can share knowledge effectively through software. The results are in, and they are decidedly mixed. That is especially unfortunate because today’s law firm business model increasingly depends on delivering the right information on to the right people at the right moment. The time has come to revisit our basic assumptions and design a better approach.

For more information: see Ron Friedman’s post on this session.

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Dan Linna: Preparing CIOs for the Law Firm of the Future #ILTACON

Session Description:

Disruptions in the legal industry are putting pressure on law firms to innovate and rethink how they deliver services in order to stay ahead. Learn about the people, processes, and technologies that law firms will need in the not-so-distant future and the measures and behaviors to put in place now to ensure your organization’s success.

Takeaways:

  • Futurist view of law firms and how they will deliver services.
  • Future role of the CIO.
  • People, processes and technologies that will be necessary for the law firm of the future.
  • Behaviors and measures to put in place now to prepare.

Speakers: xx

[These are my notes from the International Legal Technology Association’s 2018 Conference. I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, so 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 will your law firm be doing in 10 years?  This is the first question you need to answer. Then, ask if you are hiring the right people (and training them) to achieve that reality?
    • you will need lawyers with new skills
      • technologically able, process-focused
    • you will also need developers, data scientists, project managers
  • The market. Over the last 10 years, there has been an increase in demand for legal services. However, demand for law firm services has been flat. This is because in-house corporate counsel are keeping more work for themselves and they have become more strategic about how (and from whom) they purchase legal services.
  • New providers. There are a variety of legal service providers. And now, United Lex has merged its professionals with the lawyers of LeClairRyan. These new approach
  • Legal Departments Priorities.
    • controlling outside counsel costs
    • driving work to outside counsel that demonstrate value. (This leads to the erosion of pedigree when what really matters is performance.)
    • Key attributes of winning law firms
      • solutions focus
      • quality of work
      • legal expertise
      • responsiveness
      • cost-efficiency
      • outcome vs expectation
      • low hourly rates counts, but it is the least important of these factors
  • Performance and Quality Matter. Research by AdvanceLaw indicated that on average the AmLaw 21-200 outperform the AmLaw 20.
  • Threats to law firm business. (According to Altman Weil)
    • corporate law departments are in-sourcing legal work
    • client use of technology
    • alternative legal providers
    • alternative law firms
  • Why are so few law firms changing?
    • Partners resist most change effortts
    • Most partners are unaware of what they might do differently
    • We are not in enough economic pain to motivate more significant change
    • clients aren’t asking for it
    • we lack time or organizational capacity
    • our service delivery model is not broken so we’re not trying to fix it
    • other law firms like ours are not changing
  • Legal Services Innovation Index. Catalogs law firm innovation and then index the work done by individual law firms. For more information see: https://www.legaltechinnovation.com/
  • How do you innovate? You need to focus significantly upon sustaining innovation. It’s not just about disruptive innovation
  • Three Types of Innovation (CapGemini):
    • 70% = core innovation
    • 20% = adjacent innovation
    • 10% – transformational innovation
  • Biggest Issues CIOs face today
    • security management
    • aligning IT initiatives with business goals
    • improving IT operations/systems performance
    • cultivating the IT / business partnership
    • cost control/expense management
  • Hurdles to digital transformation (CapGemini)
    • Cultural issues
    • presence of archaic IT systems and applications
    • lack of digital skilss
    • lack of clear leadership vision
  • Law Firm CIOs
    • Must be a strategic leader in your organization
      • how do you manage change?
      • how do you get others to buy into your ideas?
      • how do you lead up, down, across?
    • How do you contribute to a culture of innovation
  • Knowing the business
    • Law firm CIOs must know their clients’ business
      • External clients?
      • Internal clients?
        • Have you spent time developing relationships and rapport with firm lawyers?
        • Have you spent time understanding how they work?
  • Start with technology
    • EVERYONE is a technology company
  • Legal Technology
    • Basic — MS Office, metadata, eDiscovery, cloud computing, case management
    • Intermediate — document automation, expert systems
    • Advanced — machine learning, AI
  • What is artificial intelligence in law (today)?
    • Rules-driven AI  — expert systems, robotic process automation
    • Machine learning — Walmart is using Legalmation (to ingest complaints, draft a response and discovery questions) before engaging outside counsel
  • Why is so much legal work unstructured?
    • lack of standards and best practices
    • lack of metrics, including for qality
    • Why does it matter? You cannot automate chaos!
  • Steve Harman: We need to move legal services from Art to Science. Lawyers need to change from Artisans to Engineers.
  • How to approach this?
    • Focus on Process
      • disaggregate legal work
      • then figure out who is best postioned to deliver that work
      • systematic reengineering of work processes results in over a 50% improvement in performance
  • Toyota’s Improvement Kata
    • get the direction of challenge
    • grasp the current condition
    • ndefine ext target condition
    • experiment / test
  • 21st-Century T-Shaped Lawyer — able to function with the following skills:
    • Business of law
    • process improvement
    • project management
    • knowledge management
    • metrics data analytics
    • technology
  • For information on LegalRnD, check out YouTube.
  • See the Institute for the Future of Law Practice
    • mostly focused on jobs in corporate legal departments
  • What are law firms doing now?
    • some conversations with clients re: budget
    • some conversations about project staffing
    • some management visits to key clients
    • only 20% conduct post-matter reviews with clients
  • Action Items:
    • ask yourself: what will our firm be doing in 10 years?
    • put the client at the center
    • commit to disciplined continuous improvement and innovation
    • become data-driven
    • create a data plan
    • collaborate with clients, vendors, and law schools
    • identify new products & service to provide value to clients
    • go to Gemba! Embrace empathy!
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Robotic Process Automation: What CIOs Need to Know #ILTACON18

Session Description: Robotic Process Automation (RPA) gives CIOs the chance to help their firms rethink its business model. Beyond the cost savings, automation offers high value in the form of improvement in process efficiency, cycle time, productivity, quality, scalability, and governance and regulatory compliance. The value is easy to understand but there are important things to know as you move to automation in order to get it right and achieve the expected value. This session gives perspective on the value, goals, and best practices of RPA.

Speakers:

[These are my notes from the International Legal Technology Association’s 2018 Conference. I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, so 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 is Robotic Process Automation?  Software that can be easily configured to do basic tasks across applications just as human workers do. RPA software is designed to reduce the burden of repetitive, simple tasks on employees. (Source: Investopedia)
  • It automates the actions of everyday users.
    • carry out repetitive processes within applications
    • configured by business users (no development or coding required!)
    • scalable workforce to meet variable demand — you can build more bots to satisfy increased workload, you can take them down when workloads decline
    • work within existing IT infrastructure — no integration required — just trigger a bot by emailing that specific bot (they each have their own email addresses at Seyfarth.)
  • What does RPA look like?
    • Every RPA implementation is different but there are common elements:
    • central management software for bots: blue prism, automation anywhere, UI path
    • Built for processes (time-consuming repetitive tasks)
    • Tackle time-consuming repetitive tasks
    • Bots do more than a macro/script — they can tackle an entire process
    • You get the most value when you deploy bots on an organization-wide basis. (You may want to start within a department first.)
    • You can create off-the-shelf bots or custom bots; you can layer bots on top of each other.
  • How do you identify and measure ROI?
    • Any high-volume, business-rules driven, repeatable process qualifies for automation
    • ROI factors
      • Processing time — start time/end time of a process
      • Productivity — length of time a human worker versus a bot takes to complete the task/process
      • Reduction of error rates — accuracy of bot output — neither bots nor humans are error-free but bots have a lower rate of error and can be stopped easily when they encounter trouble.
      • Redeployment — when bots can handle “reactive” processes, then the humans can focus on more proactive work
  • How is RPA different from AI. Automation technologies speed up or replace human decision making.
    • RPA and AI are on different ends of the continuum. RPA involves less complexity than AI.
      • On the RPA end = RPA and Rules Engine (where the rules are explicitly provided) — primarily works with structured data
      • On the AI end = machine learning (rules deduced by statistical techniques), natural language processing, deep learning, computer vision (using input from sensors) — primarily works with unstructured data
  • RPA is being used across all departments in all industries.
    • New business intake
    • Sending calendar reminders
    • Tax automation
    • IT asset management
    • Employee lifecycle (HR)
    • Finance/Accounting (help automate processes that transfer, aggregate, and report on data)
    • PDF creation for estate tax reporting purposes
  • Gillian Power: The inability of a bot to handles process ambiguity is an opportunity to clarify your process.
  • Seyfarth Shaw’s RPA experience.
    • Launched a RPA Center of Excellence. (This sits outside the IT department.)
    • They got the idea from seeing bots used in other industries and organizations
    • Deployed in Finance, Marketing, IT and Client-facing technology (e.g., extranet)
    • Utilized by various practice groups — initial proof of concept was in their immigration practice. They were able to convert a 25-minute human process into a 4-minute bot process.
  • Other things to consider
    • Security — the bots need credentials to get into your system so they are storing that information. What level of encryption protects this?
      • Be sure to work with your IT security team
    • On-going management, changes, staff, etc.
      • help the displaced humans shift to higher-value work
    • Negotiating strong agreements with vendor
      • work collaboratively with your IT department so you evaluate the new software and vendor in a systematic way
    • Protecting IP
    • Lessons learned
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Blockchain 101: It’s not just cryptocurrency #ILTACON18 #G009

Session Description: It’s the big buzzword now, but what are the basics that you need to understand to evaluate blockchain as a technology platform for you and your firm or department? Join us to learn about what blockchain is and why it matters. Learn why the importance of blockchain for the legal industry extends far beyond cryptocurrency. We will provide guidance about resources you can draw on to learn more about blockchain and to explore and develop your ideas for use cases.

Slides: [will be available after the conference]

Speakers:

[These are my notes from the International Legal Technology Association’s 2018 Conference. I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, so 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 is Blockchain?  It is another form of a network comprised of software, servers and databases. (It’s just a bunch of code.)
  • Decentralized.
    • no central location for information — this isn’t running on Amazon Web Services
    • network = thousands or millions of computers and databases and users
    • uses the computing power of all computers to transmit (=speed) and store information (=volume)
    • If any one computer goes down, the network does not. Each computer is a “node.”
  • Immutable.
    • Information in a blockchain cannot be altered (except in specific circumstances) = it’s NOT immutable
    • it serves a largely permanent digital record of information
    • digital identity verification and authorization tool
    • provides transaction authenticity and a trusted transaction records
  • Public or “permissionless” blockchain.
    • completely open allowing anyone to join and participat (rea, send transaction to and expect to see them if they are valid)
    • to participate, all you have to do is download the relevant software. All this software is opensource.
    • the security of the information tends to be greater in the public blockchain than in a private blockchain
  • Private/hybrids or “permissioned” blockchain.
    • each of these have their own rules of the road
    • these rules determine how immutable the records really are — what proportion of members must agree before a record may be edited.
    • the smaller the blockchain, the higher the likelihood that it might fail
  • Differences.
    • Privacy
    • Scalability
  • Use Cases in the Legal Industry.
    • smart contracts — these are a series of “if, then” statements that automatically trigger agreed actions without further human action
    • financial services
    • supply chain management
    • identity management
    • voting — blockchain can help ensure one person/one vote by time stamping a record of voting in an immutable form
    • data/asset registries
    • any situation that involves a lot of data, a lot of parties (that may not trust each other completely), the need for accurate records of each transaction
    • early uses in legal
      • internal contract automation
      • contract and deal negotiaon (and auto-updating)
      • calendaring
      • document authentication
      • client identifiy management
      • transaction recordkeeping
      • automated billing
      • service of process verification
  • Examples of Platforms in Legal.
    • OpenLaw (running off Ethereum platform). They are hoping to create a GitHub for contracts
    • The Agreements Network
    • Intergra’s Blockchain for the Global Legal Industry
  • Legal Working Group Examples
    • Wall Street Blockchain Alliance
    • Ethereum Enterprise Alliance
    • Chamber of Digital Commerce — Smart Contracts Alliance
  • Government spending on Blockchain
    • States are moving to use blockchain for government and recording
    • Federal government blockchain spending is set to rise for the third straight year
  • Challenges — this is still a very young technology. The Bitcoin Whitepaper came out in 2008.
    • interoperability
    • regulations
    • scalability
    • energy
    • security risks
    • investment decisions
  • Legal Industry Impact
    • Delaware blockchain initiative — law allows creation/maintenance of corporate records on blockchain
    • West Virginia pilot tested election voting by deployed military — they are using biometrics to validate identify
    • Vermont law approves blockchain data as court admissible
    • Illinois Blockchain initiative
      • medical credentialing process project
      • blockchain in government tracker
      • birth registration pilot project
    • Clients in the Logistics Industry are already pursuing blockchain (Blockchain in Transportation Alliance)
    • Store deal records on the blockchain (not on CDs or in bound volumes)
    • Typical legal functions and the vendors/technologies that use blockchain to support these functions
      • Document management system – -NetDocs, Integra Ledger
      • Document assembly — Thomson Reuters Contract Express, Integra Ledger
      • Document templates for smart contracts — OpenLaw, Ethereum
      • Contract management using smart contracts — Monax’s Agreements Network
      • Document execution, existence – -Basno, Blocksign
      • Notary services — SilentNotary, Ethereum
      • Service of Process — ServeManager
  • Groups working on legal industry opportunities
    • Global Legal Blockchain Consortium (Association of Legal Administrators)
      • ALA has developed the universal process billing codes
      • Standards of Alliance for the Legal Industry (SALI)
    • OpenLaw — they are creating learning tools to help any lawyer develop smart contracts
      • this is a Consensus Project
    • Accord Project
  • Top 10 Industries impacted by Blockchain
    • Banking (FinTech)
    • Healthcare (e.g., processing insurance claims)
    • Government
    • Real Estate
    • Legal
    • Security
    • Politics
    • Rentals and Ride Sharing
    • Charities and Aid Organizations
    • Education
  • What are the Big Four Doing?
    • Deloitte says that if your company is not already looking at Blockchain then you are planning to fail
    • PwC has developed an audit tool for blockchain
    • Accenture is viewed as the  third largest blockchain vendor behind IBM and Microsoft
  • What are the prospects? Gartner says by 2030, this will be a $3.1 trillion industry
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Lisa Bodell Keynote: Why is Change so Hard? #ILTACON

Session Title and Description: Kill the Company: End the Status Quo, Start an Innovation Revolution

What holds you back from better innovating, every day? In too many organizations, we’re stuck in the land of status quo. We’ve forgotten how to think differently, and lack the simple tools to solve problems creatively. The very structures put in place to help organizations grow are now holding us back. This keynote is an inspirational call to arms: to start a revolution in how we think and how we work.

Speaker: Lisa Bodell, Founder and CEO of futurethink

[These are my notes from the International Legal Technology Association’s 2018 Conference. I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, so 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:

  • How to detect change?  How do you keep your antennae up to detect signals of change so you can respond to possible, probable, and preferable scenarios.
  • What we say do and what we actually do are different. We can learn a lot from the gap. Wearables can track mood and actual activity. The challenge is to understand how this affects the customer and employee experience. Equally challenging: what concerns does this raise?
  • “The future is not who you ARE. The future is who you are BECOMING.”  If you are forward-looking you can influence the future rather than have it inflicted on you.
  • Partnerships are Key. Partner with the people who scare you the most. That partnership will force you into new ways of thinking and doing.
  • Practice Proactive Obsolescence. Palgrave Macmillan has set up a venture fund to invest in businesses that will put old-school publishing out of business. This means that they get in on the ground floor of their replacements.
  •  Why don’t we respond to change? Complexity & complacency. Most people spend the bulk of their days at work in meetings and doing email. (This is not inspiring.) It drives them to their to-do lists, it focuses them on the mundane.  Then they slide into complacency. These people cannot think about the future, they cannot think about change.
  • What do we value? What do we reward?
    • More vs Less
    • Doing vs Thinking
    • Internal vs External
  • “Thinking is a Daring Act.”  It requires alone time and quiet time.
    • The brain is an incredible organ. It starts working from the moment you wake up and doesn’t stop until you enter your office!
  • How open to change is your organization? Count how many times you can answer yes to the following questions:
    • People in our organization actively push the boundaries of what’s seemingly possible and apply critical thinking to all parts of our work
    • Our employees are comfortable asking provocative and sometimes unsettling questions to stretch thinking
    • When faced with challenges, our people can think on their feet and nimbly change direction
    • Our employees do not easily give up their ides when encountering adversity, and generally see them through
    • We’re constantly looking forward to the next 5-10 years, and actively seek solutions on how to stay ahead
    • We purposefully hire people with diverse backgrounds and create project teams with a variety of disciplines and experiences.
    • We look at what other industries adjacent or unrelated to ours are doing. We apply their best practices to our work.
    • We always encourage people to eliminate redundancies, rules, and processes that create complexity, so they can focus on more important work.
    • How many times could you answer Yes?
      • 1-2  = status quo
      • 3-5 = risk taker
      • 6-8 = change maker
  • Your job as a leader is to reduce the friction.  This means eliminating the hurdles (e.g., processes, assumptions, practices) that stop your team from doing great work.
  • The key is to ask killer QUESTIONS. In earlier times, the focus was on finding the right answer. However, today you can find the answer to any question. (Google has an answer to any questions.) The key is to ask the RIGHT question.
  • Kill Stupid Rules. Focus on your sphere of control. (But don’t touch rules that are in place to ensure regulatory compliance.) Ask your team: what two stupid rules we should eliminate? They will show you the things that get in their way and slow them down.
  • Empower Decision-Making. Be willing to let your team make decisions. Support the decisions they make. And then find useful things to do with your new-found free time.
  • How to fix your focus?
    • Ask yourself and your team to create a list of their Typical Tasks
    • Then ask them to strike out the things on that list that are a waste of time
    • Next, ask them to create a list of Desired Work. Then strategize with them on how to shift their focus to the work that actually expands opportunity for themselves and their organization.
  • Concrete ways to gain more time
    • Kill stupid meetings
    • change the frequency of meetings
    • NNTR = type “no need to respond” in the subject line or body of an email. This will reduce the number of unnecessary emails.
    • “Cut the crap committee” = this volunteer committee identifies things that can be eliminated so everyone can focus on the things that matter.
  • You can kill stupid rules. You can kill stupid meetings. You CANNOT kill stupid people.
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From KM Treadmills to KM Windmills and Beyond

A treadmill in a gym can do you a world of good. A KM treadmill, however, can put you in a world of hurt.

What’s a KM treadmill? That’s a question Chris Boyd (Senior Director of Professional Services at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati) and I addressed earlier this week during ILTA’s remarkable hybrid webinar session that linked simultaneous live meetings of ILTA members in eight cities: Boston, New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Toronto. In our presentation (which reprised our highly interactive session at ILTACON 2017), we identified the following characteristics of a KM treadmill:

  • it takes dedicated attention and effort to run the program
  • it stops when your attention and effort stop
  • it often involves a great deal of manual labor
  • it usually requires nagging
  • your KM team dreads it

Does this sound familiar? When researching KM treadmills in preparation for our session, we discovered that far too many “traditional” law firm KM projects were, in fact, pure treadmills. Is it any wonder many law firm KM professionals are frustrated?

So what works better? We have a few suggestions:

KM Windmills

KM Windmills are not dependent solely on the efforts of your KM team. Rather, they find and use existing “energy sources” within the firm that others create and maintain. What types of energy sources do they leverage?

  • existing processes (e.g., new business intake process, pitch preparation process, etc.)
  • existing roles (e.g., having secretaries maintain practice group content)
  • existing technology (e.g., using experience-tracking database to augment precedent and expertise location, enterprise search that leverages existing knowledge stores, etc.)

Because they rely on energy sources that are prized and supported by other parts of the business, these KM programs can share the burden of maintenance and support with those other parts of the business. Of course, the more valuable that energy source is to the business, the less likely it is that your overworked KM team will have to shoulder the laboring oar.

KM Infinite Energy Machines

Moving from a portfolio of KM projects that are primarily treadmills to one comprised mainly of windmills makes a great deal of sense. It allows your KM team to do more with less by collaborating with other successful teams and projects within the firm. If you have managed to achieve this, pat yourself on the back.

Nonetheless, I would be remiss if I didn’t hold out the possibility of something even better: the KM infinite energy generator.  Extrapolating from the Buttered Cat paradox, a KM infinite energy generator is a KM system or project that produces such useful results that its main beneficiaries (outside the KM team) feel compelled to use it more and contribute even more to its continued success. And, the bigger it grows and the more it is used, the better it gets. Twenty years ago, this would have sounded like pure science fiction. However, we are seeing with machine learning the reality of computerized systems that learn from their own processes and then improve those processes.

Sustainable KM

If you are prepared to think differently about your knowledge management efforts, consider developing a sustainable KM program. Just like we have sustainability management in other sectors to reduce damage to the environment, a KM sustainability program aims to optimize KM efforts so that they achieve the highest benefits with the lowest collateral damage possible. For those interested in learning more about this healthier approach to KM, see my earlier article, Sustainable KM (in Thomson Reuters’ Practice Innovations, July 2016).

But wait, there’s more

During both this week’s hybrid webinar and last summer’s ILTACON session, the best part was the table discussions during which attendees shared their treadmill frustrations and their remarkable windmill successes. We learned of some innovative ways law firm KM teams have found to harness the winds of their firms in order to make their KM programs more efficient. This was a reminder that the oldest and most effective way to share knowledge is through conversation. We’re delighted that these sessions provided the impetus for some really helpful knowledge exchange.

[Photo Credit: Rhododendrites]

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How KM Enables Innovation #KMWorld

KMWlogo_Stacked_Session Description: 

Most companies struggle to find ways to embed innovation into their business. This talk shares the journey of establishing a grassroots movement—a journey fueled by innovation, knowledge sharing, and learnings, and the critical success factors discovered along the way.

Speakers:

  • Wendy Woodson, Director, Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Kim Bullock, #innovation Catalyst, ExxonMobil

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2017 Conference. I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, so 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:

  • How They Approach Innovation.  There are multiple kinds of innovation — not just transformational, game-changing innovation. Instead, they use the following model [see Managing Your Innovation Portfolio]
    • Transformational Innovation
    • Adjacent Innovation — taking what you do well and moving into a new market
    • Core Innovation — improving your bread and butter functions — this area is ripe for smart KM
  • Brutal Truths:
    • Culture & Behaviors. These beliefs and behaviors are so deeply ingrained in the organization that they can be extremely difficult to identify and excavate, much less reform.
    • Politician & Magician. We are always selling (politician), we’re always performing (magician).
    • Art not Science. There is not a single best approach to innovation. The key is to find business problems worth solving and then working with the affected group to improve their situation. The speakers spoke about a project they did to reduce the burden of exception reporting from  70% of the avaialble time to 30% of available time. This translated into a significant improvement in the quality of life.
    • Warrior. We have to be very thick-skinned and ready to fight for attention, for support, for successful projects. KM often is considered a “nice to have” rather than a “need to have.”
  • Opportunity. For all of the brutal truths, the speakers believe that there is tremendous opportunity in KM for rewarding work.
  • Critical Success Factors.
    • External Network. Just as you create your internal network within your organization, intentionally create an external network that can be the source help, information, and commiseration.
    • Brutal Truths. Be honest about the Brutal Truths discussed above. And be very forthright about your projects and progress. And be very honest with your leadership. They need to know.
    • The Middle Matters. We usually tend to start by looking for support from senior champions or at the grassroots level. However, the middle managers are influencers who often are ignored. The speakers focused on the middle managers — they were explicit about exactly what they expected in terms of influencing up and influencing down.
    • Attention, Attraction, Adoption.
      • Attention — use standard marketing tactics to get their attention
      • Attraction — explain what you are offering and how you can help
      • Adoption — get down to brass tacks, find an issue you can work on with the business, get it done, and then repeat.
    • Tell the Story. Rather than just insisting that KM is good, collect and share the success stories. Capture them in an article, record videos. Both of these are more contagious that assertions by KM.
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Industry Leaders Conversation: Change, Culture, and Learning #KMWorld

KMWlogo_Stacked_Session Description:

Former head of KM with the BBC, Semple believes in conversations and leads our panel on a far-ranging discussion of change, culture and learning as we all aspire to an outbreak of common sense on our journey for knowledge sharing and creating sustainable, high-functioning organizations and communities.

Speakers:

  • Euan Semple, Director, Euan Semple Ltd
  • Jean-Claude Monney, Former Chief Knowledge Officer, Microsoft, Columbia University and Digital Transformation Coach
  • Kim Glover, Global Manager of Knowledge Management, TechnipFMC
  • Nancy Dixon, Principal Researcher, Common Knowledge Associates

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2017 Conference. I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, so 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 knowledge management?
    • at Microsoft Services, Jean-Claude Monney was given responsibility to get 100% of Microsoft knowledge to 100% of Microsoft’s customers, 100% of the time.
    • Best of the knowledge = relevant (in the context of the work) and trustworthy
    • For Nancy Dixon, knowledge management helps the organization learn better and faster.
  • What is the pedigree of knowledge?
    • if the knowledge comes from a person, is that person reliable/trustworthy?
    • if the knowledge comes from a document, is the source of the document reliable?
  • Knowledge management should focus on the issues that matter.
    • Nancy Dixon worries that KM focuses too much on the tactical (how to be more efficient) but misses the issues that can really bring down the organization, such as ethical issues.
    • General Motors once had a terrific KM group. However, they were unable to help the company prevent bankruptcy. What if there were a KM group at Volkswagon that could shed light on ethical issues? Would that have prevented the emissions control disaster? Would there have been a different outcome at Wells Fargo if there were a KM-organized forum for employees to express their concerns about business practices that did not align with the company’s mission statement?
  • Conversation is Consequential. 
    • Conversation is something you enter with the realization that you might be changed.
    • Conversation in an organization creates a culture — it is important to notice what is talked about AND what is not talked about.
    • An organization that wants the benefit of consequential conversation must first create an environment of psychological safety.
  • We Make Culture.
    • Culture is not just something that is something that is done to us. We make culture by everything we do (or do not do).
    • We learn culture in the first instance from our experiences with our direct managers.
  • How to Start a KM Program.
    • If you are lucky, the CEO comes in one day and says we need a KM program.
    • More likely, find business problems that KM can help solve.
    • When you are asked to “show them the money,” don’t assume the responsibility for the numbers. Instead, partner with the business first, find out what KPIs are important to them, and then figure out the value KM adds to achieve those KPIs.
    • Before you mention KM to anyone, collect stories of instances when one unit helped another unit (and how much money was solved). Then suggest to management that you create an organizational strategy out of this collaboration.
  • What’s Next for KM?
    • Monney:
      • We are experiencing a massive change due to digital augmented knowledge. The reality of AI and augmented reality is extraordinary. The key is to use AI to improve a human’s ability to make better decisions.
      • We need to figure out to digitally transform our business — or someone else will.
      • We need to develop empathy
      • We need to harness the source of knowledge — but what if the knowledge is the heads of contractors or people who do not want to be handcuffed to the organization.
    • Glover: As technology gets better and easier to use, KM professionals can go back to being “people people” rather than reluctant technologists.
    • Dixon: There is an erosion of cognitive authority. We have stopped trusting CEOs and other people in positions of authority. KM’s role is to make things more transparent so that we can operate without omniscient authority figures.
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