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?

Share

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.

Share

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.

Share

Artificial Intelligence Use Cases for Law Firms #ArkKM

Title: Artificial Intelligence: Use Cases in Law Firms

Session Description: Artificial intelligence is in mainstream and legal media headlines daily – and often with much hype. What’s real and what’s not? And what exactly is AI anyway? And are law firms really using it? Today, there are as many questions about AI as there are headlines. In this session, we will answer some of the key questions. These law firm use cases will illustrate what problems they are trying to solve and/or what benefits they create with AI. As well, the corresponding software providers will also explain how their products work and fit into the broader AI picture. Attendees of this session will also hear what it takes to create a working AI system, who might use it, how to encourage adoption, and where AI is likely headed within law firms.

Speakers:

  • Jonathan Talbot, Director, IT Enterprise Systems, DLA Piper LLP,
  • Marlene Gebauer, Director of Knowledge Solutions, Greenberg Traurig,
  • Steve Obenski, CMO, Kira Systems,
  • Ryan McClead, VP, Client Engagement & Strategy, Neota Logic
  • Moderator: Ron Friedmann, Partner, Fireman & Company

[These are my notes from the 2016 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:

  • What led the law firms on the panel to AI?
    • At Greenberg Traurig, they were looking for ways to automate processes and become more efficient. They wanted to adopt new technologies that would provide greater capability. This led them to Neota Logic.
    • At DLA Piper, their due diligence group wanted to improve and automate their due diligence process. This led them to Kira Systems.
      • They are using this across several practice groups.
      • Clients are outsourcing due diligence work to DLA Piper. This is an expanded source of business for the firm. (They support this with their low-cost service centers.)
    • At Norton Rose Fulbright, Ryan McLead used the platform as a prototyping tool. He could automate a process and show his internal clients a prototype in just a handful of days.
  • What’s Kira Systems?
    • It is a machine learning tool for taking unstructured content in contracts, and then structuring it in order to expedite document review.
    • Their platform ingests contracts, OCRs them, analyzes them, does entity extraction, and then enables reporting.
    • Some firms are using Kira to digest and analyze outside counsel guidelines.
    • Kira encourages potential clients to compare the results of their own due diligence processes against the results from using Kira Systems.
  • What’s Neota Logic?
    • It is a platform upon which you can build algorithmic expert systems = knowledge builders. It is engine that produces repeatable, reliable and consistent results. It makes your knowledge exponentially scalable. It is no longer trapped in one head.
    • It can do risk analysis.
    • Some law firms use the platform for document automation — although they are not a document assembly tool.
  • This is not magic! Humans need to put in the time and effort to create the models.
    • Plus, both tools aim to provide some transparency regarding how they operate and make decisions. They are trying to dispel the anxiety of the “blackbox.”
    • Who should be allowed to train these systems?
      • Each firm needs to make this choice carefully. Do not simply give this job to the most junior person (on the theory that they are young and therefore must be the most tech-savvy???). It is wise to have an internal vetting process.
    • The person who builds the expert system often becomes the expert.
  • What are the related human issues?
    • Help them understand the extent to which this new tool might (or might not) make them redundant.
    • Help them understand the extent to which the tools augment what they do, allowing them to do more value-added work. “Kira does not practice law. YOU practice law.”
    • Give them sensible incentives to participate.
  • These tools leverage good process
    • This means that you need to know and understand your processes.
    • This also means that you need to ensure that your processes are smart ones. (Don’t automate a faulty process!)
  • Key Lessons Learned
    • If you understand the lawyers’ process, it is not hard to show the value of automation. And they will get it.
    • Even the most entrepreneurial law firms are VERY conservative.
Share

KM, Artificial Intelligence and Information Security #ArkKM

Title: Data Security is Required. KM is Demanded. AI is Here: Armageddon or Utopia?

Speaker: Peter Kaomea, Chief Information Officer, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

[These are my notes from the 2016 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:

  • “When powerful forces collide, you can get either great devastation or great beauty.”  Here are the big forces that are coalescing now:
    • Knowledge Management
    • Artificial Intelligence
    • Information Security — this one is top of the agenda now because of cybersecurity concerns.
  • The PERFECT song to describe the degree to which our lives are surveilled or disclosed is “Every Breath You Take” by the Police.  (See video below)
    • Peter Kaomea then did a fantastic “dramatic reading” of the lyrics of the song to show how all the behaviors described in the songs are now being done by technology. We ARE being watched and analyzed with every breath we take.
  • Security Challenges:
    • Hackers are more sophisticated. There is a group that monitors mergers & acquisitions transactions and then “injects” itself into the email traffic.
    • Hackers inject themselves into transactions in order to redirect payment into their own accounts.
    • Ransomware — now even on smartphones (which contain a great deal of sensitive personal information)
  • Pressures: Clients want additional protections on their information
    • Client external law firm guidelines contain a huge number of restrictions on the way data about them can be stored and used.
    • Law firms have to change their behavior to comply with these guidelines.
  • Perfect Storm Approaching
    • The hardware, software and data handling tools are reaching the point where enormous and dangerous security breaches will be regular events.
      • By 2025, you will be able to buy the computing power of a human brain for approximately $1000.
      • By 2045, you will be able to buy the computing power of all human brains for approximately $1000.
  • How can KM help Security?
    • Help information services people manage the client data security contracts they are required to sign.
    • Focus on how to protect information even as we are trying to share it.
    • Purging information once you have finished using it.
      • The less you have, the less you have to protect
    • Put super-sensitive information in an “Enclave” — offline repository that requires the user to go a physical place to retrieve it in person (an updated version of using microfiche)
  • Thinking about using Security to improve precision AND recall.
    • There is a mathematical way to calculate how to achieve precision and recall. For example, removing unnecessary data makes it easier to find the useful data
    • This is a nice way of switching perspective: don’t see information security concerns as a handicap for KM, see them as enablers/opportunities.
  • How can KM and AI work together?
    • Profiling content
    • Profiling users — e.g., what’s the ratio of send to receive? Has that behavior changed? What could that change indicate?
    • Automating taxonomy creation
    • Automating knowledge workflows
  • How do Information Security and AI work together?
    • Anomaly detection programs watch the traffic over the system. Is there a spike in traffic that correlates to the work day in Russia or China? Could it indicate possible infiltration?
  • “Too big to know”
    • What happens when you join data sets that have never before been joined? This can turn up valuable insights. It can also expose information that was considered hidden/secure.
  • How should you converge KM, AI and Info Security?
    • Entity extraction can be helpful to understand your content. Can you also automatically delete those entities to achieve quick document sanitation?
    • Can you use auto-classification so that fewer people need to handle sensitive materials?
    • Can you use auto-purging processes to strengthen security?
    • If you are watching activity anyway, can you create behavioral analytics and then use those insights?
    • Can you use these three areas of expertise to improve access to justice?

 

Share

Rebooting KM with Purposeful Collaboration #ArkKM

Title: Rebooting KM with Purposeful Collaboration, Silo-Busters, and Ambient Knowledge

Speaker: Stuart Barr, Chief Strategy Office, HighQ

Session Description: Traditional KM has focused on accumulating and organizing knowledge that you know people need and trying to make sure it’s available when they need it. But what about what is known but not documented? Or the knowledge trapped in silos that are completely unstructured and inaccessible? In this session, Stuart Barr will explore how to break down traditional barriers to knowledge sharing, capture knowledge as people get their work done and automate knowledge extraction to drive new insight from your historical data.

[These are my notes from the 2016 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:

  • Traditional Approaches to KM
    • Collecting knowledge
    • Connecting that knowledge to people
    • Tying that knowledge to the organization’s productivity systems
    • Automating knowledge systems
  • Challenges to Traditional Approaches to KM
    • They usually are manual processes
    • They are siloed — both the repositories are siloed and the processes are siloed
    • They often are concentrated on “known knowns” — mainly the obvious knowledge is “hunted down and captured.”
    • People are not always motivated to contribute
    • You need to connect the knowledge to people more effectively
      • connect with experts
      • enable people so they can ask their questions in the open — this openness spreads knowledge and emboldens people to ask the questions they might have been afraid of asking.
    • We are stuck in very old ways of work = Ineffective Collaboration
      • Email is a massive “Black Hole” of knowledge. It is where knowledge goes to die.
      • Most firms have not found a way to collaborate. They do not realize that email was not designed for true collaboration.
  • Why is Social Collaboration Useful?
    • Assuming it is implemented correctly, it can provide a “peripheral vision” or “ambient awareness” of what is happening within an organization. This makes a knowledge worker much more plugged in and effective.
    • It provides passive access to information (e.g., the activity stream, group conversations, etc.)
    • It also enables active collaboration (e.g., shared workspaces)
    • It helps people share information actively, for example, by @ mentioning someone to draw their attention to an issue or to specific content.
  • Digital Transformation can drive KM. That said, KM should be at the heart of your digital transformation strategy. When done properly, digital transformation changes the way people connect, communicate and work.
  • What comes next?
    • Analyzing the data that are captured through your knowledge tools and social collaboration tools.
    • Coupled with machine learning, you can understand what content is important. In fact, you could provide digital assistants that can help knowledge workers find the content they need.
  • Conclusion
    • We need to keep doing traditional KM
    • But we also need to use more social ways of
    • We need to connect our systems of record to our systems of engagement
    • Collect and analyze the data about our work behaviors so we can make our systems and processes better
    • Use machine learning & AI to take these insights and enable digital assistance at the point of need
  • Audience Discussion:
    • How social collaboration helps strengthen law firm information security:
      • Meredith Williams (CKO, Baker Donnelson) noted that phishing is one of the biggest information security vulnerabilities for law firms. Often the dangerous emails masquerade as internal emails. (She estimated that 20% of emails are purely internal.) If you move those internal conversations into a social platform, you reduce the number of emails that can be used for phishing schemes.
Share

Integrating KM into Practice Management #ArkKM

Session Title and Description: The Evolution of Practice Innovation:
Are We Successfully Integrating and Embedding KM within Practice Management Systems?
Law firms continue to re-examine traditional approaches to the practice of law, and along the way many have implemented a wide range of changes that enable firms to deliver client services more efficiently. These innovations touch virtually every aspect of our practice and the way our firms are run. Clearly, KM has not been left behind or subsumed into other support functions. However KM must continue to evolve in step with demands that are reshaping the business of law and redefining service delivery models. This discussion will seek to characterize the foundation of a true practice management platform, as well as the ever- changing issues and challenges that KM is trying to navigate. Is KM the cornerstone of a “post-silo” law firm strategy? Or is practice innovation squarely focused on “Business Intelligence” and financial data points, while missing the context in which KM solutions can be deployed?

Speakers:

Toby Brown, Chief Practice Officer, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
Keith Lipman, President, Prosperoware

[These are my notes from the 2015 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:

  • What is practice management? Managing matters to achieve client satisfaction and firm profitability.
  • What is the goal? Revenue and Profits!!!  How do we do this? By lowering the cost of delivering services to clients. The answer is not just buying cheaper pencils. It means you need to push work down to the lowest-cost resource within the firm. You need become more efficient in the way you work.
  • What’s the strategy?
    • Few law firm partners are empowered to understand their own contribution to revenue and profits.
    • Far too many law firm partners experience “pro forma surprise.” They do not really know what their matters have generated in terms of maximum billable suntil they see the pro forma. If their team has not billed as much as expected, then their maximum billables are down.
    • You need to know your firm’s profit margin. And you need a clear methodology for achieving that profit margin. Profit measure must be clear, simple and understandably
  • State of the Legal Market: Hyper-competition and flat demand. Corporate Counsel have bigger budgets, but not spending on law firms.
    • Now outside counsel are just a vendor to be handled by the client’s procurement office. In Toby Brown’s words, we are just another toilet paper vendor. This leads to more RFP processes to try to standardize the process for purchasing legal services.
    • Corporate legal departments are growing. They are both controlling the spend and spending differently. In fact, they are moving legal work in-house.
  • How can KM Participate?
    • To quote Kingsley Martin, think about every KM project and ask how far from the bottom line.
    • Consider yourself the provider of “Knowledge Services” rather than a “knowledge manager.”
    • Help lawyers see that increasing their own mastery of KM tools will help them become more efficient.
    • An obvious place for KM concerns “the numbers.” This means providing information and context for numbers such as the cost of a matter: what goes into that cost, what are the variables, etc?
    • Toby estimates that only 10% of law firms actually measure true profitability rather than some proxy for profitability. When the audience was polled, most did not know if their own firms actually measured true profitability rather than some proxy for profitability.
    • Become the best friend of the pricing person in your firm. They will know where the pain points are and which partner is really in pain.
    • There is a great opportunity for KM to help manage outside counsel guidelines and then track performance against those guidelines. At a minimum, read these guidelines to get an early look at emerging trends (e.g., clients are less willing to pay for online legal research).
  • 2016 is going to be really hard
    • The M&A cycle is coming to an end.
    • There is no major litigation wave on the horizon
    • The prospect of significant bankruptcy work is poor.
  • KM needs to be front and center in making 2016 more tolerable (and even successful) for law firms.
Share

Build a “KM Rapid Response Team” #ArkKM

Session Title and Description: Firm Mergers – How to Build a “KM Rapid Response Team”

When key groups join law firms, or when firm mergers occur, KM is often left standing on the sidelines. Finance, IT, Records, (etc) all spring into action—but what about Knowledge Management? Shouldn’t KM really be the ‘keeper of the playbook’ and able to ‘prep a program’ that can be triggered on a moment’s notice (see: cross-office training and team-building, professional development, experience capture and dissemination, systems integration, exposure of laterals to firm expertise and leadership)? This discussion will explore how firms can leverage KM to support rapid change initiatives in relation to mergers and acqui- sitions. How does a firm’s value proposition change following a merger? And who’s job is it to disseminate, redefine, and characterize the breadth of expertise at the firm? What tools and methodologies can be employed to help integrate new practices and/or resources—while maintaining a common sense of identity or culture?

Speakers:

Silvia LeBlanc, Director of Knowledge Management, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
Vishal Agnihotri, Chief Knowledge Officer, Akerman LLP
Ginevra Saylor, National Director, Knowledge Management, Dentons Canada LLP

[These are my notes from the 2015 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:

  • KM has the benefit of broader perspective.  KM tends to operate across silos. It works with a variety of people and functions within the firm. This gives KM professionals diverse knowledge and the ability to connect the dots. This also makes KM the perfect group to create the law firm merger playbook or new hire onboarding resources.
  • Why involve KM? When the firm is in merger mode, the firm will call in marketing, finance, etc. They don’t think to call in KM. However, the KM department is one of the support functions that thinks about business problems the same way
  • Communication. Marketing is extremely good at external communication. KM needs to be just as good at internal communications. Focus on the concerns and anxieties of the people who are on the receiving end of change. If the people in the firm are unhappy or anxious, they cannot deliver great service to clients.
  • Getting a seat at the table.  Bully your way to a seat at the table. Then justify your place at the table by solving problems and getting things done.
Share

KM’s Role in Leading Innovation & Managing Change in Law Firms #ArkKM

Session Title and Description: KM’s Role in Leading Innovation & Managing Change in Law Firms

Innovation and change management are processes, not projects. And in today’s law firm setting, there is demand for both but great sensitivity around how much change the organization can endure at one time. This next case study will explore the theory and process behind successful innovation as well as how to make change stick—transforming best intentions into best practices—sharing examples concerning the role of KM in innovation and change projects at White & Case.

Speakers:

Alicia Hardy, Director of Professional Support, White & Case (UK) Oz Benamram, Chief Knowledge Officer, White & Case

[These are my notes from the 2015 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 they innovate.
    • Innovation is about accelerating the cycle at which small experiments fail.
    • Turning successes into processes by normalizing them and then scaling them up for wider adoption across the firm.
  • Innovation in law firms is hard.
    • Innovation is often the result of a big crisis. However Big Law does not feel that it is in crisis. So the drive to innovate diminishes.
    • Lawyers and law firms are risk averse.
    • Lawyers and law firms are not tolerant of failure.
  • KM should become the R&D function inside law firms.
  • Managing Change.
    • Focus on the emotional and psychological reactions. A tone-deaf approach to change management will amplify natural human emotions of fear and anxiety.
    • Be aware of dangerous assumptions such as one way is better than another.
    • The stages of acceptance of change are not dissimilar to those in Elisabeth Kubler Ross’ study of the five stages of death and grieving. So be aware of this inevitable journey for every one of your internal clients when you propose a change in the way they work.
  • Kotter’s 8 steps to change
    • (See the wikipedia summary)
    • the burning platform = a sense of urgency
    • pull together the guiding team
    • develop a shared vision and strategy for the proposed change
    • plan at the very beginning for good communication to enable understanding and buy in
    • empower others to act
    • produce short-term wins
    • don’t let up — persistence pays
    • create a new culture — this is about anchoring the new way of being/behaving so people cannot backside
  • Lessons from case studies.
    • Communication is key. People will resist that which they do not understand.
    • Be flexible. Your original plan will  inevitably have to be adapted to special or local conditions. Be open to this — within reason.
    • There is no change without casualties. So be strategic when you pick your casualties (i.e., when you decide who will pay the price for change).
    • When there is real risk attached to project, create a cushion. For example, when you are making dramatic change to the work environment (e.g.,  the DMS), allow people to work in either the new version of the DMS or the old version for a transition period.
    • Because people do not read email, they tried alternative forms of communication. Their most successful method of communication turned out to be sending everyone a postcard.
  • Conclusions:
    • Understand the problem.
    • Adapt the solution to fit your firm.
    • Have a plan, but be prepared to change if..
    • Communication is key. Communicate and promote at every opportunity.
    • Prepare to play the long game. Then everything is possible!
Share

Why Change Management Strategy Places KM at the Forefront #ArkKM

Session Title and Description: Why Change Management Strategy Places KM at the Forefront

The Intersection of KM, Innovation and Change Management at FMC Technologies At its most basic level, knowledge management is about connecting and collecting. Connecting people so that they can share what they know, and collecting critical knowledge for reuse. When based on achieving business outcomes and done strategically, both connecting and collecting accelerate the rate of knowledge transfer – and therefore the rate of change, the diffusion of innovations, the ability for organizations to learn from their experiences and evolve. Knowledge management underpins the “learning organization”, for which one definition is: “an organization that acquires knowledge and innovates fast enough to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing environment.” There’s a process at FMC Technologies for capturing and leveraging collective knowledge. It is an organizational capability that harnesses synergies between KM, quality, communications, change management and other process improvement initiatives. This talk will illustrate how the company utilizes knowledge management strategies and tools to accelerate collaboration, support innovation and manage change, resulting in cost savings and continuous improvement.

Speaker: Kim Glover, Manager of Knowledge Management, FMC Technologies

[These are my notes from the 2015 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:

  • KM Depends on Culture. The core values of the organization set the stage for (or against) knowledge management. Key core values are quality, safety and innovation.
  • Quality. Instead of talking about change, talk about being a learning organization. That focus on effective learning will drive higher quality across the board.
  • Collaborative Environment.
    • Agile/adaptive
    • Efficiency
    • Diverse/Equal
    • Safe — create a “safe-to-fail” environment
    • Accessibility/reciprocity/trust – “You know trust exists when the pronoun ‘we’ is used more often than ‘I’.”
  • A Map for more innovative collaboration and knowledge management:
    • collaboration
    • facilitation
    • learning
    • knowledge architecture
    • knowledge capture
  • Their KM toolbox.
    • Wikis
    • Facilitated collaboration
    • Advanced search and auto-categorization
    • Datamining services — this can provide data and surface trends
    • Surveys
    • Events — including KM events (wikithons) and events regarding corporate values such as safety.
    • Discussion Forum — it allows for up-to-the moment conversations by people at the frontline, which then fuels new learning/teaching opportunities and possible changes in procedures and documented knowledge.
  • 70-20-10 Model of Learning. 
    • 10% of learning happens in formal training sessions.
    • 20% of learning comes through social or informal interactions.
    • 70% of training is experiential and happens on the job.
  • How to support change with KM.
    • Your KM team should perform as internal consultants. Help your internal clients identify their business problems and potential solutions
    • Embed KM in the flow of work.
    • Think big, but execute isn bite-size pieces.
    • Try things!
    • Cultivate favorite internal customers.
    • Be humble and let happy customers sing your praises.
    • Listen. Listen. Listen.Then Listen again. Learn what your internal customers want/think/feel.
    • Tie everything you to do business outcomes.
    • Connect with other departments. Empower them with KM.
    • Repeat your mantra/message again and again. But use plain language. Market internally until your internal customers start using your words to describe your services and impact.
    • Bring diversity to your program and your outlook.
    • It takes both a top-down and bottom-up approach to achieve good KM.
Share