Leadership Matters #ILTALead

Not a day goes by without yet another stark reminder that leadership matters. And, that good leadership is not as common as one might wish. For this reason, I am so grateful that the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) sets aside time and resources annually to develop leaders.

One of ILTA’s signature leadership programs is its Leadership NEW.0 conference. It is held every year in honor of the late Chief Warrant Officer 5 Sharon T. Swartworth, a beloved volunteer leader at ILTA. This conference brings together current and future leaders from law departments, law firms, and the US Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

At this year’s conference, we will be looking at a model of leadership that does not seem prevalent but should be: servant leadership. Originally articulated by Robert Greenleaf in 1970, the principles of servant leadership are a vivid contrast to some of the selfish power grabs and lack of integrity we see too often across organizations and society. For Greenleaf, a servant leader is driven by a desire to serve the greater good. That drive causes the leader to focus on the development, growth, and health of that leader’s team.

In his preface to the 25th anniversary edition of Greenleaf’s book, Steven Covey makes some strong assertions about what is wrong with traditional approaches to leadership and why we need servant leadership:

A low-trust culture that is characterized by high-control management, political posturing, protectionism, cynicism, and internal competition and adversarialism simply cannot compete with the speed, quality, and innovation of those organizations around the world that do empower people. It may be possible to buy someone’s hand and back, but not their heart, mind, and spirit. And in the competitive reality of today’s global marketplace, it will be only those organizations whose people not only willingly volunteer their tremendous creative talent, commitment, and loyalty, but whose organizations align their structures, systems, and management style to support the empowerment of their people that will survive and thrive as market leaders.
…the old rules of traditional, hierarchical, high-external-control, top-down management are being dismantled: they simply aren’t working any longer. They are being replaced by a new form of ‘control’ that the chaos theory proponents call the ‘strange attractors’ — a sense of vision the people are drawn to, and united in, that enables them to be driven by motivation inside them toward achieving a common purpose. This has changed the role of manager from one who drives results and motivation from the outside in, to one who is a servant-leader — one who seeks to draw out, inspire, and develop the best and highest within people from the inside out. The leader does this by engaging the entire team or organization in a process that creates a shared vision, which inspires each person to stretch and reach deeper within himself or herself, and to use everyone’s unique talents in whatever way is necessary to independently and interdependently achieve that shared vision. [emphasis added]

If you are in the Chicago area on Thursday, November 2, I invite you to join us for a day of learning how you can become the kind of leader who draws out, inspires, and develops the best and highest within people from the inside out.

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#ILTACON from the Bridal Suite

2016_ILTACON_logoPeople attend the International Legal Technology Association’s annual conference (ILTACON) for a variety of reasons. Whether you are looking for outstanding educational sessions, insightful conversations with your peers or informative encounters with leading technology vendors, ILTACON has it all.

In prior years, my strategy has been to attend as many educational sessions as possible so that I can drink from the amazing firehose of useful information provided at ILTACON. (I have then tweeted or blogged those sessions so the rest of you can benefit from those sessions as well.)

This year, however, I found that instead of sitting in the scheduled educational sessions, I was sitting in the Bridal Suite.

To set the record straight, I was not in the Bridal Suite for any reasons having to do with a wedding. Rather, the Bridal Suite was ILTACON TV’s studio and I was fortunate enough to be one of the interviewers. This meant that I had the privilege of participating in wide-ranging conversations with some of ILTA’s impressive thought leaders.

If time permits, I’ll be revisiting those interviews and blogging some of their key content. In the meantime, here are links to the interviews I conducted that are now available. (I’ll update this post as more interviews become available.) Plus, there is a bonus link so you can learn from the conversation between Todd Corham (CIO, Saul Ewing) and Jeffrey Brandt (CIO, Jackson Kelly).

John Alber (ILTA’s Futurist, formerly Strategic Innovation Partner at Bryan Cave):

ILTACON 2016 – ILTACON TV – John Alber from ILTA on Vimeo.

 

Katie DeBord (Strategic Innovation Partner, Bryan Cave) & Jay Hull (Strategic Innovation Partner, Davis Wright Tremaine):

ILTACON 2016 – ILTACON TV – Katie DeBord and Jay Hull from ILTA on Vimeo.

 

Michelle Mahoney, Executive Director, Innovation, King & Wood Mallesons):

ILTACON 2016 – ILTACON TV – Michelle Mahoney from ILTA on Vimeo.

 

Chris Emerson (Chief Practice Economics Officer, Bryan Cave):

ILTACON 2016 – ILTACON TV – Chris Emerson from ILTA on Vimeo.

 

Keith Lipman (President and Co-Founder, Prosperoware):

ILTACON 2016 – ILTACON TV – Keith Lipman from ILTA on Vimeo.

 

David Michel (Director of Technology Services, Broad and Cassel):

ILTACON 2016 – ILTACON TV – David Michel from ILTA on Vimeo.

 

Lida Pinkham (Technology Training Manager, Ice Miller):

ILTACON 2016 – ILTACON TV – Lida Pinkham from ILTA on Vimeo.

 

BONUS: An interview between Todd Corham (CIO, Saul Ewing) and Jeffrey Brandt (CIO, Jackson Kelly):

ILTACON 2016 – ILTACON TV – Jeffrey Brandt from ILTA on Vimeo.

 

 

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When Clients and Law Firms ACTUALLY Collaborate #ILTACON

2016_ILTACON_logoSession Title: A New Approach to Aligning the Objectives of Outside Counsel, In-House Legal, and Corporate Business

Session Description: The past few years have brought a lot of discussion about how to better align the interests of law departments and their outside counsel through alternative fee arrangements, but the discussions generally end there. What if there was an approach that aligned outside counsel and legal departments in their pursuit of better business outcomes that extended beyond pricing? How can the strength of that relationship help demonstrate the value that the legal department brings to the organization as a whole? Come hear a case study exploring how one legal department and its panel of law firms have partnered differently and how their holistic approach to solving legal problems has the power to transform the way the department delivers value to the business.

Speakers:

  • Chris EmersonDirector, Practice Economics Bryan Cave, LLP
  • Bryon KoepkeSVP, Chief Securities Counsel Avis Budget Group, Inc.
  • David A. RueffShareholder and Legal Project Management Officer, Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz

Session Slides: Available through the ILTACON website

[These are my notes from the International Legal Technology Association’s 2016 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:

  • The Avis Story.  They undertook a convergence effort to reduce their legal panel from 700 law firms to seven firms globally. The winning seven firms are guaranteed work, provided they maintain expected quality levels. In addition, these firms work within a “target” (or fixed) fee structure. This convergence provided several benefits for the Avis legal department and their related business clients:
    • reduced administrative burden
    • cost certainty
    • legal risk mitigation
    • increased efficiencies in legal services
    • improved business outcomes
  • The New Way in which Avis wanted to work with its panel firms:
    • focus Avis resources on tiers of work that were created based on business risk and complexity
    • foster collaboration between Avis and its panel firms, as well as among the panel firms themselves
    • provide incentives to panel firms to invest in innovations that result in better business outcomes for Avis
  • The Work. Avis did a wide-ranging risk assessment and then asked their panel firms to bid on the work. Avis identified 3 categories of work:
    • Cream — high-risk work that requires high levels of legal expertise
    • Core — moderate-risk work that requires moderate levels of legal expertise
    • Commodity — low-risk work that does not require much legal expertise
  • Activities in Preparation for RFP. Avis asked 130 law firms to complete a “pre-qualifer” (PQ) that was quite similar to a law school exam. The questions in the exam reflected the real issues Avis faces. Each question was multi-disciplinary.
    • Law firms had a tight timeframe (about 10 days) within which to respond. Plus Avis sent this challenge out during Spring Break, which put added pressure on the law firms. This was a way of gauging responsiveness.
    • Of the 130 firms invited, only 80 responded.
      • 50 firms did not respond. Some thought Avis was trying to get free legal advice. They were wrong; Avis already had the answers to the questions in the PQ.
      • Some of the firms that did not respond thought their relationship with Avis was so solid that they did not need to go through these hoops. They were wrong; they were eliminated from the Avis panel
    • Some of the firms provided responses that simply were wrong.
    • All firms were asked to tell Avis how they would staff these matters and what they would charge.
    • Avis also asked how they answered these questions, whom they involved?
  • The RFP. They invited 45 law firms to participate in the RFP. (This was 45 out of the 80 firms that responded to the PQ.) There were three areas of emphasis:
    • Legal expertise
    • Pricing
    • Universal Requirements (Operations) — focused on actual examples of innovations these firms had developed to better the firm or outside clients. According to Avis, they were looking for Jetsons firms (firms that were innovative on behalf of themselves and their clients), not Flintstones firms that are stuck in the Stone Age.
  • How did the Firms respond to the RFP?
    • They researched the business goals of Avis so they could align their responses better to Avis’ needs
    • They managed tight turnarounds on drafts of the RFP as they involved a wide range of firm personnel in the RFP process in a very short period of time
    • Bryan Cave took a divide-and-conquer approach. They put the legal questions in the hands of the lawyers and kept the Universal Requirements in the hands of the legal operations team. The Bryan Cave legal ops group had the expertise to discuss the range of technologies they had invested in (or were contemplating) to improve firm and client outcomes, as well as completed or contemplated process improvement efforts.
  • The Semi-finals. During the semi-finals, Avis invited 17 firms to meet with the company. Each firm was asked to bring four partners of their choice and their legal operations person. During the interviews, the partners expected to lead the conversation. Instead, Avis said they would review their slides later. Then Avis asked to begin the conversation with the most important person in the room — the legal operations person.  (Partner jaws dropped!) Avis started with legal ops because they were serious about understanding the technology and innovation potential of each firm.
  • The All-Star Team. Avis invited the final seven firms to a Summit at which they met with business and legal department leaders of Avis. At that meeting, Avis made it clear that the chosen firms were stars that now had to find ways to work together as if they were on an All-Stars Team. This meant not just solo excellence, but collaborative excellence as well.
  • The Legal Ops Bounce. Crucially, the legal ops folks from the law firms met with the legal ops folks from Avis. This combined client/firm legal ops group has unleashed powerful tools and methodologies for the benefit of Avis (and the panel). Further, the emphasis that Avis has placed on legal ops gave the law firm legal ops teams greater confidence and enthusiasm in the work they do.
  • Avis Success Factors. Panels are graded on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These KPIs are assessed on a matter-by-matter basis and, in the aggregate, feed quarterly and annual performance assessments. Here are the KPIs:
    • how well a Matter Assessment Form (MAF) was filled out. (The MAF helps the firm and Avis scope out a potential matter very quickly.)
    • submission of MAF in 3 days
    • the number of changes in scope requested per matter
    • the firm’s ability to accurately predict legal spend and outcome
    • the ability of the firm to avoid surprises to business units
    • how the firm uses technology to improve accountability and efficiency
    • value-adds the firm provides to the Avis engagement
  • How Baker Donelson revised its processes to meet the Avis KPIs:
    • They created an intranet Client Site that tracks the Avis engagement
    • They created workflow to ensure they can turn around an MAF within the required 3 days. This workflow is managed via their  Avis client site
    • They use budget and project monitoring tools internally so that they can notify Avis before something happens. This allows them to meet the critical KPI of avoiding surprises.
    • They created workflow to manage changes in scope and budget
    • They developed an external communication plan for the Avis engagement
      • monthly case management updates
      • quarterly reports to in-house counsel
      • annual reports
      • how to deal with emergency issues
    • They developed an internal communication plan for the Avis engagement
      • phase and task code requirements for matters
      • training regarding the initial budgeting, MAF and change processes
      • training regarding regular updates on budgets and contingent liability
      • training on and communication of Avis’s outside counsel guidelines
  • How Bryan Cave has invested to improve the Avis engagement:
    • they developed new internal processes and technologies
    • they trained attorney teams on this new way of working
    • they created and provided to the Avis legal department training on alternative fee arrangements (AFAs):
      • how law firms construct AFAs
      • the types of AFAs and their typical uses
      • how to frame AFA requests to obtain responses that support business objectives
    • they worked with the Avis legal department to build a dynamic technology platform that
      • facilitates the MAF process for Avis and for all panel firms
      • capture critical data points in structured format
      • leverage workflow tools to enforce operational standards
      • integrate with Avis’ e-billing system to automatically open matters
      • display actionable information to all users via flexible dashboards
      • provides dynamic authoring tools to create/update forms within minutes/hours rather than days/weeks
      • stores information in structured databases, but can generate documents in formats attorneys are used to reviewing (e.g, Word or PDF)
    • Who reviews, tests and suggests improvements to the technology?
      • Bryan Cave engineers, business analysts and other operational professionals do the initial work
      • Avis attorneys and legal ops professionals advise on integrating the panel’s technology with Avis’ e-billing, advanced workflow reporting and alerting, dashboard structure and key metrics
      • Baker Donelson (and other panel teams) provide recommendations on U/I enhancements and how to integrate the shared technology with the proprietary technology platforms of the panel firms — this eliminates duplication of effort and strengthens their shared common sources of record
  • The Collaboration is Growing.
    • Now panel firms share Avis work with each other if they believe this approach will benefit the client.
    • If Bryan Cave creates new technology, Baker Donelson  will do acceptance testing. When Baker needs automated data feeds, Bryan Cave provides it. Both firms confer with each other (and the other firms) to find solutions that benefit the client.
    • The collaboration among the panel firms has generated new ideas and approaches to matter intake and AFA construction
    • The technology used by the panel firms has improved because these firms now have a reason and the ability to share ideas as never before
  • Next Steps. Both Avis and its panel firms have ambitions for growing and improving their collaboration.
    • On Avis’ list of next steps: Creating metrics to measure and dashboards to communicate progress in key strategic areas of operations.
    • On the panel firms’ list of next steps: Creating metrics to measure and dashboards to communicate progress by the panel firms in helping Avis manage its legal issues.
  • Results. This collaboration has been an unqualified success for  Avis and for its panel firms.
    • Avis: Thanks to the collaboration, the Avis legal department has now established itself as a critical business partner of the larger organization. Through its pioneering work in this collaboration, the legal department has modeled better ways of managing liability and expenditures that can now be applied across the company. Further, the work of the legal department has become a source of competitive advantage for the company.
    • Panel firms: Their experience with Avis has demonstrated how non-attorney professionals can be critical to the selection of the firm for a legal panel, as well as the on-going relationships between the firm and its client. The panel firms now have clear confirmation that their investments in innovation, project management, and process improvement have enabled them to differentiate themselves in a competitive market. Finally, these firms now see the benefits of not only collaborating with the client but also with the other panel firms. The Avis collaboration has become a significant win-win situation for these firms.
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Law Department of the Year Nominees #ILTACON

2016_ILTACON_logoSession Description: And the nominees are…Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Prudential Financial, Inc. and RBC. Watch as the short list of nominees for ILTA’s 2016 Distinguished Peer Award for Innovative Law Department of the Year present their innovations. Attendees at this session will vote for their favorite, and the winner will be announced on Tuesday evening at the Awards Dinner.

Speakers:

  • Robert Bell, Assistant General Counsel and Legal Knowledge Officer at Royal Bank of Canada
  • Molly Perry, Chief Operating Officer, Office of the General Counsel at Hewlett-Packard
  • George Chiu (IT) and Brian Burlew (Legal Operations)

[These are my notes from the International Legal Technology Association’s 2016 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:

  • Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
    • RBC is the largest bank and the largest company in Canada.
    • Their CEO is a former programmer — he speaks digital.
    • Their General Counsel Group has several sub-groups, two of which are:
      • Their eDiscovery team has significantly improved turn-around on discovery work and savings.
      • Their external counsel group has meaningfully improved their monitoring and measurement of external counsel, leading to significant savings.
    • RBC Connect
      • RBC Connect is their social enterprise network, powered by Jive
        • early adopters of this social tool have experienced a dramatic reduction of email traffic
      • In April 2016, they logged 50.4K monthly users. This represents 2/3 of all potential users in the company.
      • The General Counsel Group has a vibrant presence on RBC Connect
        • they provide private and open communities so they can collaborate with their internal business clients
        • they provide  for a wide range of
      • They have a new role of “knowledge anchor” each of whom is a legal subject matter expert who works to promote key team knowledge and post it in relevant places (including their knowledge hubs).
      • They have a knowledge and meeting hub:
        • The knowledge hub contains key resources that may be hard to find in the DMS
          • Substantive Law Primers
          • Materials from preferred external law firms
        • The Meeting Hub stores meeting agenda and resources in a single place for each group that holds meetings
      • They use the search tools in RBC Connect to see the materials that their business clients use on a daily basis. This allows them to develop and enhance strategic relationships with their business partners.
      • They also create communities that involve both members of the legal department and the various business groups they serve
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise. They are focused on bringing legal work in-house because they have been able to generate substantial savings by doing so
    • Strategic Framework
      • Smart Solutions
        • MitraTech TeamConnect for matter management
          • Outside counsel have access to this
        • SalesForce for IP sales management
        • Project management for M&A transactions
        • Dealflow — extends their project management tool to other uses
        • they use HPE predictive analysis and coding in their discovery work
        • they use the HPE records tool and have created significant cost savings by digitizing ahead of schedule
        • Business clients have self-service access to create confidentiality agreements
      • Inside Game — tools & processes that help their team most efficient and effective so they can bring more of the work inside the legal department.
      • Game Changers
      • Talent Factory
    • They had a massive challenge when they had to use their resources to help manage an enormous corporate separation. This involved separating assets and allocating people
    • Their Innovation: Time reporting made simple — used by more than 650 professionals worldwide
      • During the corporate separation, they monitored their internal time reports. These data revealed that they were spending too much time on low-value contracts. Consequently, they implemented an internal time recording tool and protocol to continue creating and gathering time data.
      • They use business intelligence tool that shows external spend data, internal time data, and internal pro bono hours. The connections between internal time and external spend have been a “goldmine” of useful information.
        • Managers can generate the reports the need on a self-service basis
    • Contracting Metrics:
      • They handle virtually all their contracting in-house.
      • They are able to track  internal time spent on contract type, value and geography.
      • They now can see if their time is spent on the most important tasks. They have used these data to reduce time and expense
      • Managers have dashboards and can generate reports on a self-service basis
    • The Litigation “Inside Game”
      • They can correlate internal time to the time spent by external counsel. This helps them see where their use of external counsel is efficient and where they should increase staffing internally.
  • Prudential Financial.
    • They have a “solid and flexible platform” = MitraTech TeamConnect. It supports
      • Matter management
      • Spend management
      • Integration
      • Collaboration
    • It was originally intended for matter management and e-billing. Since then, they have built suites for several compliance groups. In addition, several operations groups are using TeamConnect’s workflow tools.
    • TeamConnect required very little staffing. They do some configuring (and a little customizing, as necessary). Both IT and the Legal Operations Group work together to support TeamConnect.
    • Internal and External Partnership
      • Internal
      • External
        • Mitratech — leader in Enterprise Legal Management (ELM)
    • Their Innovation: a very close and dynamic working relationship between legal operations and legal IT.
    • Any innovative technology is only as good as the people who design it and the people who use it.
    • Their work has been speedy and extremely cost-effective.
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Keynote: Measure Twice, Cut Once: Solving the Legal Profession’s Biggest Problems Together #ILTACON

2016_ILTACON_logoSession Description: Clients and law firms need to work together to solve the biggest problems facing them both, including the optimal overall data strategy for collection, hoarding, preservation, measurement and metrics; data we should collect today to help answer the questions of tomorrow; leveraging current technologies to improve data measurement and regularization and overall collaboration; measuring the performance of and determining fair value for legal work; how to create appropriate micro-incentives to further innovation; startup technologies being developed that are worthy of consideration; and where we’ll find the staff to manage it all. Together, we’ll measure twice, cut once and start solving legal’s biggest problems.

Speaker: Daniel Katz, Associate Professor of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law.  Dan is a scientist, technologist and law professor who applies an innovative polytechnic approach to teaching law, meshing litigation and transactional knowledge with emerging software and other efficiency-enhancing technologies to help prepare lawyers for today’s challenging legal job market. His forward-thinking ideas helped earn him acknowledgement among the Fastcase 50, which “recognizes 50 of the smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders in the law.” He was also named to the American Bar Association Journal‘s “Legal Rebels,” a prestigious group of change leaders in the legal profession. Professor Katz teaches civil procedure, e-discovery and entrepreneurial lawyering at Chicago-Kent and spearheads new initiatives to teach law students how to leverage technology and entrepreneurship in their future legal careers.

[These are my notes from the International Legal Technology Association’s 2016 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 build a more perfect supply chain.  This requires that we move more parts of legal practice from the “art” column to the “science” column. This, in turn, requires that we measure our work more rigorously.
  • Economics of the law.
    • What’s a lawyer’s value proposition? What do lawyers solve for? If you get too far from that value proposition, you become irrelevant.
    • the value proposition:
      • help people manage complexity
      • help people manage enterprise risk
    • Lawyers as Complexity Engineers: In the face of growing legal complexity, we have applied greater and greater numbers of human experts to solve problems. (We throw more and more labor at the problem.) This, in turn, creates a huge opportunity for disruption. Do we really need all these people? Can some of what they do be done by a machine. Better yet, can we remove some of the complexity?
    • Where are the large-scale complexity-filled opportunities in law? Banks! They do very complex transactions and need increasingly efficient ways to cope with the legal complexity of their transactions.
    • Paul Lippe’s insight on three types of lawyers:
      • Mediocre lawyers play whack-a-mole, seeing legal risk around every corner
      • Clever lawyers find solutions to those legal risks
      • Great lawyers help design systems that can balance risk and then price risk correctly.
    • Why do we have law firms?
      • Every client has to decide whether to make or buy.
        • Law firms help offset peak load by helping law departments from having to staff up when unusal issues arise.
        • Firms provide high value by providing expertise that is rarely used or hard to acquire
    • The problem of agency costs:
      • If I am the principal and hire an agent to act on my behalf, the agent often has more information than the principal. This creates agency cost. Therefore, this relationship is always slightly antagonistic.
  • Moving from Artisinal to Industrial.
    • Across many industries, we are moving things from the artisan column to the industrial column. This requires standardizing and measuring business processes. The result is reliable and repeatable.
    • This does not need to mean a loss of quality. We do not need to move from being Sal’s artisanal pizza to Dominos. We need to produce artisinal- quality pizza with the economies of industrial processes.
  • Creating a Data-Driven Enterprise.
    • Our understanding of our processes is imperfect. We rarely appreciate how complicated they really are. We rarely see how simple they really should be.
    • The first step is process mapping. When process mapping, don’t make it so granular that it turns into a #ridiculogram.
    • Don’t merely aim for understanding the average cost/effort. Focus on the variability. Understand what moves things out of the left tail and into the right tail.
    • Transparency is the glue that builds relationships. But in the legal industry, we hate transparency. If we want real change in the industry, the transparency has to work both ways. Both law firms and clients must share their data. Only then will we have a clearer understanding of actual opportunities and risks.
    • Data-driven outcomes = using data to underwrite legal risk.
    • Data-driven transactional work = using data to determine the value of particular negotiating and drafting approaches. If we don’t know how much risk is being avoided or created, how can we choose the right approach?
    • We need a better understanding of the actual drivers of risk. A mediocre lawyer sees risk everywhere. A great lawyer has the data to explain the actual risks.
    • Human are good at pattern detection. A high-frequency trader may take only 60 seconds to identify a pattern, but in that minute the arbitrage opportunity will disappear because computers are faster.
    • Predicting case outcomes using data. When it comes to forecasting, there are only 3 ways to predict: experts, crowdsourcing, and algorithms.
      • However, “experts” don’t really need to be expert in law in order to predict well. Take the example of Jacob Berlove, an actuary who lives in Queens, New York, who is one of the best predictors of supreme court case outcomes.
      • Yet there is something that can outperform a high-performing individual. A Human + a Machine always outperforms either a Human OR a Machine.
  • Legal Analytics & Machine Learning as a Service (MLaaS). Law is a relatively small vertical. And it has a great diversity of expertise. Therefore, it is unlikely that the big players such as IBM will focus on the legal vertical. However, we can take IBM’s general offerings such as Watson and conquer the last mile, which is to figure out how to adapt it to the legal industry.
  • Fin(Legal)Tech.
    • If you are offering alternative fee arrangements, you are self-insuring because you are assuming the risk. However, most firms do so without the necessary data or models. Crazy!
    • Fintech is about removing socially meaningless friction and then characterizing and pricing exotic risks. Once we understand the data under the legal system and use that data to characterize and price legal risk, we will create Fin(Legal)Tech.
  • Practical Steps You can Take:
    • Improve your early case assessment. Collect and understand the data your have in your firm regarding litigation cases. Then build a predictive model.
    • Improve your transactional predictions. Collect markups on every deal document. Understand what they are and why they are done. Then you can predict the next negotiating/drafting tactic of opposing counsel. And you can assess the costs of every move.
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Law Firm IT Whiplash

Head and Neck - Gray1194The Mayo Clinic staff describe whiplash as,

a neck injury that can occur during rear-end automobile collisions, when your head suddenly moves backward and then forward — similar to the motion of someone cracking a whip. These extreme motions push your neck muscles and ligaments beyond their normal range of motion.

Whiplash is what I experienced this weekend. The backward movement happened when I read early reviews of the newly released ILTA 2014 Technology Survey. The forward movement occurred when I read Riverview Law’s announcement of its new Software-as-a-Service offering entitled “In-House Solutions.”

Without a doubt, the ILTA survey is an enormous undertaking that provides a real service to the legal industry by shining a light on current IT practices among law firms. As Jobst Elster of Inside Legal reported, the survey results reflect the input of “454 law firms (33% of the ILTA membership representing more than 106,000 attorneys and 217,000 total users) responding to almost 200 questions about what technologies they are using to run their firms.”

Legal IT for the rest of us

While ILTA provides this incredible resource to the legal industry, it is not responsible for the data. That responsibility lies at the feet of law firm technologists and the senior partners of each firm who make the technology decisions. In reviewing the survey’s findings, Ron Friedmann of Prism Legal noted the following:

  • Social Networking and Collaboration Tools: “The results here disappoint but do not surprise.”
  • Legal Project Management and Budgeting: “The survey did not ask about  legal project management, pricing, or budgeting software. … As clients demand value and as more firms respond, demand for LPM, budgeting, and pricing software surely will grow. So I hope the survey will cover this area in the future.”
  • Contact Management and Marketing: “Corporate CMOs looking at these results, if they understood all the software listed, would undoubtedly chuckle.”
  • Predictive Coding / Computer-Assisted Review: “…I was surprised to see what I consider fairly low percents of larger law firms using what I thought was a well-established (if not universally accepted) technology and process.”
  • Document Assembly: “Less than half of responding firms report using any document assembly.”
  • Chargebacks to Clients: “Many firms continue charging for items that many clients likely consider overhead.”

There may be good news inside the survey, but the items noted by Ron Friedmann, Randi Mayes (ILTA’s executive director) and Jobst Elster suggest that, among survey respondents, law firm IT is constrained externally by client concerns about security and internally by partner concerns about cost.

Legal IT for the best of us

What’s behind the new Riverview Law product? According to their website, they are responding to a clear client need:

Having met our people and seen what we do, visiting General Counsel and In-house lawyers often ask whether we will license our technology. Whether we can help them design, implement and roll-out processes, workflows, and data analytics tailored to their in-house function. As one General Counsel commented “If I had your systems, if I could tailor your model to my function, it would help my team make quicker and better decisions.”

In the words of Karl Chapman, Riverview Law’s CEO,  they are “taking the Riverview Law model and enabling general counsels and legal teams internally to actually tailor it to suit their business.”  This means that corporate legal departments that purchase these tools get the benefit of the technology platform that gives Riverview Law a competive advantage in delivering managed legal services. Their SaaS customers can now use the Riverview expertise embodied in a collection of modules to

  • manage the flow of matters,
  • manage “new contract creation from start to finish via multi-channels (desktop, tablet, mobile)”, and
  • manage their processes and productivity through the analytics module that “provides detailed management information and business insight” to help GCs “preempt risk and reduce future cost.”

As Katy Robson, Riverview Law’s head of IT, observed: they have built these tools from the bottom-up, from the lawyer’s perspective and reflecting lawyer user requirements. Equally, they have built these tools from the top-down to ensure the tools provide the necessary data and analytical capability to run a legal business more efficiently.

 Treating whiplash

So what happens after you suffer from whiplash? According to the helpful Mayo Clinic staff:

Whiplash injuries can be mild or severe. Treatment typically begins with over-the-counter pain relievers and ice applied to the painful neck muscles. If pain persists, prescription medications and physical therapy may be helpful.

Most people recover from whiplash in just a few weeks, but some people may develop chronic pain after a whiplash injury.

While most people recover within a few weeks, I suspect the denizens of the legal industry will take much longer. However, all is not lost. Karl Chapman has kindly offered to license their technology to in-house counsel who do not use Riverview Law’s managed services. I wonder how other law firms will respond when their clients purchase Riverview Law’s In-House Solutions? The contrast between a client’s new software-enabled efficiency and their external counsel’s approach could be quite striking.

[Photo credit: Wikipedia]

 

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Promoting Your ILTA Session Through Social Media

Social Media Prism - Germany V2.0 Social media is now so much a part of our lives that it’s hard to remember a time when we didn’t have immediate access to the deep (and occasionally trivial) thoughts of people far and wide. With the ubiquity of social media comes the challenge of using it for good. To that end, the International Legal Technology Association hosted a webinar on July 17 for the speakers who will be presenting at ILTA’s upcoming annual conference in August. The focus of the webinar was twofold: (i) to provide an introduction to social media platforms that can help speakers promote their sessions and (ii) to offer some micro case studies that illustrate how social media can be useful in life generally and, in particular, in connection with the conference.

Rachelle Rennagel (conference co-chair) welcomed webinar attendees and then introduced JoAnna Forshee (@InsideLegal), who provided the introduction to social media. Next, Charles Christian (@ChristianUncut), David Hobbie (@KMHobbie) and Mary Abraham (@VMaryAbraham) presented the micro case studies. (For another summary of the webinar, I’d encourage you to check out the tweetstream using the hashtag #ILTA13.) Charles Christian gave webinar attendees a journalist’s perspective on social media and its best uses. He emphasized quite rightly that it’s important to keep the “social” in social media. This means engaging in conversation rather than in self-absorbed one-way broadcasts of opinion. David Hobbie provided a behind-the-scenes view of what he does to carry off the significant challenge of live-blogging conference sessions.  He reminded attendees that good blogging helps establish the writer as an effective communicator and can lead to speaking opportunities and career opportunities.

Social Media and Me

During my allotted time, I covered a variety of topics: the social media platforms I use, how they have been helpful, and how I’m intending to use social media in connection with the ILTA conference. I was glad to have this opportunity since social media has changed my professional life. While that may seem like an extravagant claim, it is absolutely accurate. Here are some examples of what I mean:

  • Blogging gives me an opportunity to read and write about the key issues relating to my work. In fact, because I’ve had to read widely in order to write, I sometimes joke that this blog has given me the equivalent of a graduate education in my field. Best of all, it didn’t require any student loans.
  • Twitter does several things. First, it is my news filter — bringing to me the headlines, articles and blog posts that I need to read to stay well-informed. For example, when Charles Christian has some breaking news about the legal industry, I find out about it through his tweets. Secondly, Twitter allows me to participate in online conversations regarding issues relating to my work. Since it is rare for a US law firm to have an army of people interested in knowledge management, I have used Twitter to connect with an online community of knowledge management experts around the world. They keep me up-to-date in my field and provide crowdsourced answers to my questions. Finally, Twitter is how I have found and recruited many terrific speakers for ILTA conferences and other conferences. It’s a goldmine of talent.
  • Google Plus sits somewhere between a blog and Twitter. It allows you to write more than 140 characters at a time, but isn’t as big an obligation as a personal blog. Best of all, it spawns lots of interesting conversations.
  • LinkedIn is my rolodex. It’s how I stay in touch with the folks I know and it lets me get in touch with the folks I’d like to know. I recently went through a job transition. LinkedIn has been vital in getting the word out to friends and colleagues around the world.

Social Media and the ILTA Conference

Given that I’m such an advocate of social media, how will I be using social media in connection with the conference? Here’s what I told the webinar’s attendees:

  • Since I have a blog, I’ll be using it to promote my sessions. (Now don’t you wish you had a blog too???) Seriously, I’ll likely also promote other sessions that strike my fancy. And how will I discover those other sessions? Primarily through word of mouth from trusted sources. I’ll also use the conference website to see what sessions are most interesting to me.
  • Before conference, I expect to be tweeting up a storm. So if you tweet about a conference-related issue and use the #ILTA13 hashtag, I’m liable to retweet your tweet to my network.
  • During conference, social media  becomes especially important. Over the last few years, I’ve developed the practice of live-blogging keynotes and conference sessions. This often means that I take notes during your session and then post a summary on my blog as soon as the session ends. Sometimes, it means that I’ll translate your pearls of wisdom into 140-character nuggets and tweet a constant stream of your brilliance as you speak during your session. Once this gets going, people around the world jump in and send their props to the speakers via Twitter, as well as their questions and comments. Suddenly, we have a conversation in the conference hall and with the Twittersphere simultaneously. So don’t be surprised if I raise my hand in your session and read a question or comment that has come in via Twitter from some other part of the world.
  • While I know this won’t happen to any of you, I have to confess that in dull sessions, sometimes the best (and only) action is in the Twitter back channel. People in the audience start venting there about the session and it can get pretty funny.
  • A word of warning: If you’re on a panel, be sure to monitor the tweet stream for your session. It will tell you if your audience is getting fractious or if your virtual audience has questions. These are good things to know.
  • Here’s a tip for when you’re attending someone else’s session: During the first 10 minutes of the session, pay attention to the tweet stream from other sessions. If your session proves to be not exactly what you hoped for, you can jump ship and go immediately to the session with the fabulous tweet stream.
  • Finally, during conference I also use Twitter and Google Plus to organize last minute meet-ups with other attendees — it really helps make the conference more social.

Social Media after the ILTA Conference

  • After conference, check out the blogs and Twitter to see the reaction of your audience to what you had to say during your session. There almost always are round-ups of the sessions that individual bloggers found most interesting.
  • One last thing: every year I hear from someone who tells me that they used my blog posts and tweet stream to prepare the report that their firm required in exchange for underwriting their trip to conference. Since this year’s conference is in Vegas, you may want to use social media resources to help you provide an especially detailed report just to prove that you really attended the educational sessions in the conference rooms rather than the ones on the casino floor.

[Photo Credit: Birgerking]

 

 

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Life After PowerPoint [#ILTA12]

Kudos to the International Legal Technology Association!  The organizers of the ILTA 2012 Conference are putting real effort into finding new ways of turning their already rich educational sessions into true interactive learning opportunities. That’s a big change from the presentation mode of three or four experts (with PowerPoint deck) that has been the standard fare at so many tech conferences. The new interactive sessions will begin and end with the participants.  Yes, participants, not audience.  The focus will be on ensuring that the participants engage in something useful during the session, and then leave with something actionable.

This is about a creative and pragmatic educational experience.

The challenges of these types of sessions should not be underestimated.  They take a lot of thought and planning on the part of the organizers. And they require very special moderating and listening skills on the part of the session facilitators. Above all, they depend upon attendees who are interested in being part of the learning rather than simply being on the receiving end of an information transfer. Admittedly, these sessions won’t be to everyone’s taste, and that’s just fine.  ILTA 2012 will also have sessions in the more traditional format.

For those of you who really believe in the power of PowerPoint to reach an audience,  I offer the following demonstration by Don McMillan entitled Life After Death by PowerPoint:

All joking aside, if you’re ready for life AFTER death by PowerPoint, be sure to look for the interactive sessions at ILTA 2012. And then, participate!

 

 

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Enterprise 2.0 at the State Department

It’s wise to creep out of our law firm silos from time to time to see how people in other walks of life approach knowledge management. Each time I venture out I inevitably discover that some of the challenges facing law firm knowledge management personnel are shared by our colleagues in other industries. Better still, when I make the effort to find out about KM in other spheres, I almost always learn something worthwhile.

Here’s a case in point. A recent report entitled “Revolution @State: The Spread of eDiplomacy” by Fergus Hanson provides a panoramic view of the US State Department’s eDiplomacy program:

The US State Department has become the world’s leading user of ediplomacy. Ediplomacy now employs over 150 full-time personnel working in 25 different ediplomacy nodes at Headquarters. More than 900 people use it at US missions abroad.

Ediplomacy is now used across eight different program areas at State: Knowledge Management, Public Diplomacy and Internet Freedom dominate in terms of staffing and resources. However, it is also being used for Information Management, Consular, Disaster Response, harnessing External Resources and Policy Planning.

In some areas ediplomacy is changing the way State does business. In Public Diplomacy, State now operates what is effectively a global media empire, reaching a larger direct audience than the paid circulation of the ten largest US dailies and employing an army of diplomat-journalists to feed its 600-plus platforms.

The external social media aspects of this are fascinating, but I’ll leave that for another day. Today I’d like to focus on knowledge management at the State Department. In reading the description of the KM challenges faced by the State Department, I realized that with a few small wording changes, the report could be discussing any major law firm.  For example, here are some of the challenges noted:

  • the Department’s principal asset is the knowledge held by individual employees
  • paper records are relatively easy to store, but hard to retrieve, share or pool
  • email is prevalent, but presents challenges regarding storage, retention, sharing and pooling beyond silos

The solution to these problems was a concerted effort to improve knowledge sharing.  In 2003, the Department approved a Knowledge Leadership Strategy that set the following goals:

  • use of online communities to share knowledge across organizational and geographic boundaries
  • better ways to find and contribute knowledge
  • better ways to find and share experience and expertise with colleagues
  • use of technology that made knowledge-sharing simple to do, so that it became part of the everyday workflow

To accomplish these goals, they developed four specific tools that are supported by the Knowledge Leadership Unit of the Office of eDiplomacy:

  • Corridor — an internal professional networking site designed to have the look and feel of FaceBook.  Built in 2011 using free software (BuddyPress), it now has nearly 7000 members and over 440 groups. Information contributed to member pages allows rapid searches for members with specific skills (e.g, language skills). Over time, those pages may well have more current biographical information, thereby allowing HR to augment its databases. Groups may be formed within Corridor for business/professional reasons or for reasons of personal interest. Corridor allows rapid messaging among members (often resulting in faster response times). Members can also share knowledge by sharing links to internal documents and materials on the Internet.
  • Communities@State — this program provides issue-specific blogs to over 70 active communities within the State Department. Since the start of the program in 2005, these communities have contributed “46,500 entries and over 5,600 comments that cover a broad range of areas from policy and management, to language and social interests” (e.g., leadership best practices, visa issues, and resources for people who bike to work). The discussions permit communication and collaboration across agencies and departments. Unlike Corridor Groups, the discussions within Communities tend to be detailed and are viewed as a more permanent resource (they are archived and searchable).
  • Diplopedia — the State Department’s internal wiki is designed to look like Wikipedia and is built using the same software (MediaWiki).  Created in 2006, Diplopedia has become “the central repository of State Department information.” It is a key “knowledge exchange and dissemination tool.” Its usage statistics as of October 2011 are impressive: “it had 14,519 articles, 4,698 registered users, 42,217 weekly page views and over 196,356 cumulative page edits.”
  • Search — the State Department implemented enterprise search in 2004. The search engine has since handled 65,792 search queries (as of the beginning of October 2011).

Moving from the world of diplomacy to the world of legal practice, what are some takeaways to consider?

  • Find Comes First.  If you look at the chronology, the Knowledge Leadership Unit started with Search (2004) and then create communities of practice (2005), a wiki (2006) and then, finally, a networking site (2011). This makes a lot of sense.  First make sure that people can find the information that exists. Then give them user-friendly platforms that make it easier to share information.
  • E2.0 Tools are Key. Enterprise search, blogs, wikis and social networking are all part of the Enterprise 2.0 suite of tools. The rapid adoption of these tools behind the State Department firewall is a testament to their usefulness. What’s interesting to me is that no mention was made of email strategy or document management systems. Email and documents are the mainstay of legal information management.  I’d like to know more about the role they play in the State Department and how the E2.0 tools they adopted augment or replace email and traditional document management.
  • Better KM Through E2.0. Based on this report, knowledge management activities at the State Department are primarily focused on using social media tools behind the firewall. While law firms have been using portals and intranets for some time, I wonder how robust their internal wiki, blogging and networking functions are?  Besides Freshfields’ impressive use of wiki technology, are there other firms that have adopted a knowledge sharing strategy heavily based on the use of social media tools?
  • Colleagues are People Too. In establishing the communities of practice and the networking site, the Knowledge Leadership Unit has enabled knowledge sharing for both business/professional purposes as well as personal purposes.  I’m not sure how many law firms have permitted this type of blending of the personal and professional outside of email.  Allowing people within the organization to know their colleagues as people with many interests and dimensions (as opposed to merely functional cogs on an org chart) helps build a sense of community within the organization. Why don’t more US law firms do this?

This August, the International Legal Technology Association’s annual conference will include a session on what we can learn from the US military and intelligence services about social media and knowledge management. After the foregoing glimpse of what’s happening in KM at the State Department, I’m eager to attend that ILTA2012 session to see what else I can learn from government about effective KM.

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Make KM Count in 2012

Changed priorities ahead Your New Year’s Eve celebration is a now a dim memory and, hopefully, you’ve fully recovered from the revelry. Now comes the hard part — putting plans in place to make 2012 a year in which knowledge management really counts in your organization. This is not just about creating a list of interesting projects and then tracking your progress on those projects. This is about ensuring you and your team are working on KM projects that really matter. Your challenge for 2012 is to make KM a real force multiplier in your law firm.

To recap, a force multiplier is something that helps the troops perform significantly better than they would without it. The key is that the improvement in performance should be substantial. And therein lies the rub. While lots of law firm knowledge management projects are worthy, too many result in incremental improvements in performance at best. In fact, a recent survey of senior large law firm KM personnel revealed that they were devoting far too much of their time and resources to projects that did not constitute true force multipliers. Based on their considerable experience, here is a list of the high-impact projects that in their estimation had a good chance of resulting in force multiplication:

  • Creating smarter systems, processes and workflows throughout the firm
  • Enterprise Search — ensuring that personnel can find what they need efficiently
  • Matter Profiling/Tracking
  • Providing a portal
  • Investing in design — to ensure your KM systems fit with how people work and do not cause unnecessary barriers to adoption
  • Promoting KM adoption practices / Training

And, here’s the list of the activities to which they currently devote considerable time and resources, but which they admitted were low-impact activities that had little chance of achieving force multiplication within their firms:

  • Arguing with IT over priorities and resources
  • Creating and maintaining content — legal models, practice guides, templates, etc.
  • Data transfer
  • Firm politics
  • Getting buy-in from lawyers and management
  • Intranet Management — this involves the daily tasks of editing pages (or chasing editors), ensuring content is maintained, etc.
  • Manually categorizing or profiling documents
  • Research/Search Requests (KM Concierge) — limited impact since you are helping only one person at a time
  • Responding to individual requests for assistance — limited impact since you are helping only one person at a time
  • Vendor demos

This suggests that if you want to make a real difference in 2012, you need to shift the bulk of your resources to projects that will deliver force multiplication.  But how do you actually move from aspiration to reality? Peter Bregman has a suggestion that can help you find your focus and then keep it throughout the year:

  1. Identify your primary areas of focus for this year.  Bregman suggests identifying five areas of focus, but allows that anything in the 3-7 range would be reasonable. But no more.
    • What’s an area of focus? It is not a specific project or strategy.  Rather, it is an area in which you wish to make a difference this year.  For example, improving the speed and efficacy of information searches within your organization. For our purposes, it should be an area in connection with which you want to achieve force multiplication.
  2. Then, using Bregman’s six box to do list (adapted as necessary to reflect your number of foci), label each box with the name of one of your areas of focus.  Label the remaining box “the other 5%.”  Next make multiple copies of this labeled to do list.
    • To create your annual focus tracker,  start with your list of current and projected projects for 2012. Transfer those projects to a copy of your labeled to do list, placing within each box the projects that will help you achieve force multiplication in that area of focus.  And what about “the other 5%” box?  Put here everything that has not been assigned to one of your areas of focus. The key to this system is that 95% of your time and effort should be spent on the areas of focus listed on this sheet, leaving “the other 5%” for the incidental projects that inevitable arise midstream.
    • To create your daily tracker, each work day take a look at the list of things you intended to undertake that day and then list within each box the tasks that relate to that area of focus.  Any task that does not relate to one of your areas of focus should be put in “the other 5%” box. Finally, schedule an appropriate amount of time that day to complete your priority items.
  3. At the end of each week and each month, use these sheets as a check on your progress:
    • How are you distributing your resources across the areas of focus?  Is any area under-served? Are you spending more than the allotted 5% of your time on projects that fall outside your areas of focus?
    • Are the actions you’ve taken clearly moving you towards your goal of achieving force multiplication?  If not, what needs to change?
    • Are you accomplishing the tasks you set out to do? If not, should you minimize your distractions or minimize your areas of focus?

Now, let’s apply this to the world of law firm knowledge management:

  1. Once you’ve identified your primary areas of focus, compare them to the lists provided above of high-impact and low-impact activities.  If you have not included these high-impact activities, why not? If you have included a low-impact activity as an area of focus (rather than as part of “the other 5%”), why did you do that? To be clear, the lists above are not prescriptive.  However, they do reflect a lot of experience.  To the extent your areas of focus differ, you need to ask yourself what about your firm puts it outside the norm of the firms reflected in those lists?
  2. Fill out the daily tracker for yourself and for your department.  Do your daily time expenditures reflect a commitment to the areas of focus or are you and your team easily distracted by the crisis of the day?
    • In the interest of fairness, we need to admit that when you are in the client-service business, urgent client needs take precedence over nearly everything else.  Ideally, the urgent needs can be accommodated in “the other 5%,” leaving you ample time to work towards force multiplication. If that’s not the case, give some thought as to why these emergencies arise.  If it is a result of poor planning within the firm, can this be addressed by better training?  Do you have the right systems in place to address most client requests in a reliable and predictable fashion? If not, how can you improve your systems. The bottom line is that if you are in a constant state of crisis without good planning and systems in place, it’s extremely difficult to pay attention to the daily tasks that will move you towards achieving force multiplication.
  3. On a weekly and monthly basis, take a look at your daily trackers.  What patterns are emerging?  Are you seeing signs of achieving force multiplication in your areas of focus?  If not, what needs to change?

There is no magic here.  It’s about finding your focus early, planning to achieve your goals, monitoring your progress, correcting your course as necessary, and then holding yourself and your team accountable for the results.

So there you have it — a plan for turning KM into a real force multiplier in your law firm, a plan for making KM count in 2012.  May the Force be with you!

This blog post was written originally for the knowledge management peer group of the International Legal Technology Association and can also be found on the ILTA KM Blog.  Thanks to Mary Panetta and David Hobbie for giving me the opportunity to write for that KM community.  Thanks also to Jeffrey Brandt, editor of Pinhawk Law Technology Daily Digest, who was the first to say “May the Force be with you” when he read my earlier posts on force multiplication.

[Photo Credit: Pete Reed]

 

 

 

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