SharePoint Collaboration [LegalTech 2011]

SharePoint Collaboration Across Your Team. Panelists: Meredith L. Williams (Director of Knowledge Mangement at Baker, Donelson) and Steve Fletcher (Chief Information Officer at Parker Poe).

[These are my notes from LegalTech NY 2011.  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.]


  • Agenda — Best practices for leveraging SharePoint across your firm; serving clients and adding firm value; what they’ve learned NOT to do; design and development option.
  • Using SharePoint for Practice & Industry Teams — Baker Donelson is using SharePoint 2007, but are moving to SP 2010. They have 30 practice & industry teams. Each team appoints knowledge management lawyers who assist with KM projects, including maintaining the resources for the SharePoint site. (Each team has a SharePoint site. The sites are different, depending on the needs of the relevant team.) The sites provide acess to a bank of standard form documents, sample work product search (via West KM), sample clause & defined term search, and practice guides.
  • Cross-Department & Practice Group Teams — While not every Parker Poe practice group was interested in building and maintaining an SP site, several teams have found SP sites to be powerful tools. (Teams are multidisciplinary groups focused on a particular issue (e.g., health care reform, green buildings, etc.)
  • Efficiency Tools — Baker Donelson uses Deal Builder/ Contract Express to put together document drafting packages, They have also created expertise location tools that allow lawyers to identify their own expertise and locate other experts. They also have created a training platform that provides training materials (including podcasts, slides, case law, practice guides, additional resources) to lawyers within the firm and direct to clients. These materials are created and maintained by the lawyers themselves.
  • Staffing — Baker Donelson does not have a large dedicated SP staff. Instead, the small KM group teams with the three web developers in the It department to create materials that can be maintained by the lawyers themselves. One of these web developers is entirely dedicated to creating and maintaining key SP workflow. Parker Poe’s SP deployment was their first experience of portala. To begin, they created a cross-department team to create and the SP site. This team included IT, Marketing and the Library. Marketing helped with the look and feel and planned the formal launch of the portal. They worked with XMLaw to plan and carry out the initial deployment. Parker Poe now has a dedicated SP administrator
  • Information Governance — the Baker Donelson KM team is responsible for governance. All materials are housed in their original silos to ensure security, ethical walls, and accessibility for legal holds.
  • Client-Facing Sites — Parker Poe started with their Resort Hospitality team site. The site includes tips for clients, info on new Portal resources, industry news and events, information on new client matters, they included links to 10, 000 documents in an iManage folder. Once they heard that lawyers in the team were showing it to clients and getting rave reviews, they created a related client-facing site that provides information on a location-specific basis. For example, a location-specific site includes information on local resources, weather, news, legislation, local contacts, documents relating to that location. They gave HubbardOne XMLaw OneView Extranet 60 days to create the client-facing site.
  • Client-Team Sites — Baker Donelson has automated workflow whereby the moment a new matter is opened, that triggers the creation of an internal SP site that includes every piece of information they have relating to the client and matter. Sample content: client contact information (drawn from Interaction), working with Monitor Suite; they provide a live feed of public information showing the practice trends of that client. The client-facing view of the client service team site shows: a real-time view of the matter calendar; information on external experts involved in the case; Baker Donelson created a litigation hold management system for the client and mapped the client’s data workflow (each node on the map is linked to a wiki that is populated by Baker Donelson lawyers, thereby creating transparency into matter documents).
  • Management Dashboard — Baker Donelson has created a dashboard to provide an overview on top clients and top prospective clients.
  • Legal Project Management — Baker Donelson is using their SP portal to help run their LPM effort. They have a project management office to run their administrative projects AND a Legal Project Management Office that helps manage legal matter. They created a template that helps generate a project site that integrates models, samples, budget information (including actuals) using the Budget Manager tool,
  • External Toolkits — Baker Donelson has created toolkits for clients: Board of Directors toolkit, IPO toolkit. Among the resources, they provide access to model and sample documents, as well detailed legislative resources. Many of the resources are populated by wikis maintained directly by lawyers within the firm. These are built in basic SP (like the internal sites) and are sold to clients on a subscription basis.
  • Lessons Learned — Assemble the right cross-departmental team to plan, deploy and maintain the portal; create diverse test groups and use them; test before release and then test again; don’t force adoption — pull them in with relevant information that’s quick and easy to find; identify your authoritative source of data (e.g., Active Directory) and make sure the data is clean and reliable; make sure the content is refreshed frequently — especially on the home page; start with critical low-hanging fruit to drive traffic and usage (e.g., HR data and financial data)
  • Design & Development — interview users and create pilot groups to guide the design process. They in turn will become portal advocates. Many users are now looking for more personalized interfaces — this presents new design challenges. It is also a departure from the cookie cutter SP sites many firms provided before.
  • Metrics — Be sure to monitor everything down to individual links. It’s important to know what is being used, when it is used and by whom.

Internalizing & Off Shoring Information Management

Lessons Learned from Internalizing and Off Shoring the Management of Information [Internalizing means moving information management responsibilities inside your in-house legal department. Off shoring means using vendors who handle the work outside the US. While this session was primarily focused on eDiscovery and document review, the lessons are useful if you are rethinking how to handle information management more generally for your law firm or law department.]


  • Theresa Beaumont, Global Policy on eDiscovery, Google
  • Cathy Hasenzahl, Assistant GC (Document Review), JPMorgan Chase
  • Stacie Neeter, Huron Consulting Group (Moderator)

[These are my notes from LegalTech NY 2011.  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.]


  • Discussion Topics — (1) steps to manage information after the program is in place; (2) how an internalizing or off shoring program affects staff; (3) what works and what doesn’t with respect to reducing costs?
  • Off Shoring — What should you consider first? Be sure to vet the process of the vendor — how do they manage confidential information, who is on the project team, what is their work process, how do they ensure quality? Ask for customized reports from the vendor so that you don’t have to struggle to determine if your cost/risk/benefit balance is appropriate. If possible, go to India to meet the team and inspect the facility. Alternatively, be sure that the vendor’s senior project management team meets you in person here.
  • Internalizing — What should you consider first? Take a close look at some prior cases with a variety of vendors to get a good handle on the process and cost. Understand the extent to which your external law firm has brought efficiencies to the process. To help keep internal staff engaged, collect metrics that show progress (or lack of progress).
  • How to Ensure Quality of Off Shored Work? JPMorgan Chase has senior attorneys who review the work of the vendor. They regular sample and test work product during the course of the project. They also provide a sample set to outside counsel as a means of calibrating the review. In addition, make sure you understand exactly what the vendor does to ensure high quality work product. (Thus far, they have found the quality to be excellent.) Make yourself a key part of the vendor’s team and process. Be available for questions from the team. Don’t just “throw documents over the wall” and then wait for the final work product.
  • Ensuring the Quality of the Internal Review Team — compare the results of the internal group against the results of closed cases. In addition, try to keep external counsel engaged. They can help assess quality and provide guidance.
  • What’s the Business Case for Using Internal Review, External Review or a Hybrid? Theresa Beaumont believes that most companies use a hybrid model where some of the data is reviewed internally and some externally (either by vendors or outside counsel). She did not think there were many (or any) vendors who could do it all. The decision to use internal versus external resources is situation specific — it depends on time, effort and cost constraints.
  • Role of Outside Counsel — Be sure you know the major players among the vendors and what technologies are most effective. Clients look to their counsel for advice. Equally, clients have a greater level of comfort working with law firms that are conversant with the process and how to adapt to the client’s preferred way of working.
  • Establishing Cost Savings — Metrics are key. If you are able, assign an analyst on your team to scrutinize the vendor reports to ensure the cost savings are materializing as promised. To the extent necessary, ask the vendor to customize reports to make this easier for your team.
  • Budgeting for Individual Matters — JPMorgan Chase has developed a spreadsheet that allows them to track the costs of each matter. This helps them balance costs against probable risk and encourages them to respond in a proportional matter. Some companies use a cost dashboard so that in-house counsel have a quick overview of each matter.
  • Have a Plan B — be sure you understand the possible contingencies related to your off shore or internal program and have a Plan B to handle each contingency should it occur. You should assume that you will need Plan B.
  • Optimal Vendor Relationships — the most important factor is TRUST. The vendor should communicate clearly and well. This is particularly true when problems arise. In the event of a mistake, the vendor should communicate promptly both with respect to what happened and how they are going to fix it. In addition, it is important that vendors are clear about their limitations so that the client understands when additional resources will be necessary. Other key factors are TRANSPARENCY with respect to the bills and clear ACCOUNTABILITY for delivering services as promised. Of course, all of these relationship factors apply to outside counsel!

Efficiencies for Your Bottom Line

Efficiencies for Your Bottom Line: Five Steps to Reducing Costs in the Next 6 Months


  • Joy Saphia, Huron (Moderator)
  • Mary Pape, Director of Global Complex Litigation, Dell
  • Gary Nelson, Medtronic
  • Ellen Rosenthal, Chief Counsel, Pfizer Legal Alliance
  • Lani Miller, Litigation Department, Bank of America

[These are my notes from LegalTech NY 2011.  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.]


  • Dell — they have created a system of online auctions in which tasks are unbundled and put out for bid by outside counsel. This is particularly useful for non-litigation work. (They also use it for class action administrators and eDiscovery service providers.) In addition, it allows Dell departments to have access to a wider range of counsel at better price points than they could negotiate by themselves. The psychology of the auction often encourages service providers to offer better rates.
  • Medtronic — they hired Huron to help them create a system for managing costs. They have formed a network of preferred providers that includes the outside counsel with whom they regularly work.
  • Pfizer Legal Alliance — Pfizer sets flat ANNUAL fees with 18 preferred law firms. These tend to be firms with multiple high quality practice areas. The Alliance system allows these firms to grow their relationship with Pfizer in a natural way. This Alliance accounts for 75% of Pfizer’s legal work. (They don’t include certain local counsel work.) Each firm receives 1/12 of their annual fee each month, regardless of actual costs. This means that Pfizer lawyers are relieved of the burden of reviewing and approving monthly bills. At the end of the year, there is a bonus process to reward superior performance. The Alliance system includes narrative feedback and opportunities to evaluate the teamwork between client and counsel, as well as the quality of the work product. This is a 360 degree process — Pfizer lawyers rate each of the firms; each firm rates Pfizer and each other to assess quality of work and quality of collaboration. The Pfizer Legal Alliance is jointly governed by Pfizer lawyers and outside counsel.
  • Bank of America — is moving from 100s of firms to just 30 to handle defensive litigation. (They haven’t included corporate/transactional work yet.) They also have put in place some alternative fee arrangements with their outside counsel.
  • 1st Step to Reducing Costs: Identify who does the work — Who is doing the work? Should it be done internally or externally> Who should be doing the work?
  • 2nd Step: Assign (and pay for) external matters based on the value of the work
  • 3rd Step: For work sent outside, unbundle tasks and reasssign as appropriate.
  • 4th Step: Find the Right Firm — the right law firm staffing leads to the right rates.
  • 5th Step: Leverage Your Experience & Data — Use what you’ve learned to negotiate rates an evaluate alternative arrangements such as fixed fees
  • Managing Outside Counsel — improper management can lead to unnecessary costs. Dell stays closely involved with their matters — they often attend depositions and hearings. Bank of America has created a database of subject matter experts across the country. These are the outside counsel they rely on. Most of Bank of America’s high volume low risk cases are handled on a fixed fee basis by 13 of the their 30 preferred firms. This caps the costs for the Bank and encourages firms to improve efficiencies.
  • Firms Don’t Always Behave Rationally — Pfizer anticipated that their law firms would revise their internal processes immediately to accommodate the new flat fees. Instead, many retained their hourly billing mentality and processes, and then came back to Pfizer when the law firm exceeded its budget. Pfizer said that meeting the budget was the responsibility of the law firm. Further, while Pfizer may recommend use of its preferred providers, it ultimately is the choice of the law firm since hiring excessively expensive service providers will cut into the law firm’s margins.
  • Flexible Fixed Fees — Pfizer builds some flexibility into its fixed fee arrangements to take account of fluctuations in case load. If a firm ends up handling more work than expected, the fixed fee will be adjusted accordingly.
  • Unbundling Services — Dell has unbundled eDiscovery, document review, research work, appellate work. With respect to research, for example, Dell may give research to a particular subject matter expert even though that expert’s firm is not handling the entire the matter.
  • eBilling Data — Initially Medtronic used eBilling as an invoice processing machine. Over time, they have learned to use the eBilling system for data mining. They can now determine law firm staffing efficiency, whether the work is dispersed too widely, etc. This allows Medtronic to have a productive conversation with outside counsel to help improve efficiency and reduce costs.
  • How Pfizer Sets Annual Fees — Pfizer uses a combination of a bottoms approach (asking each Pfizer practice group to say what they expect to spend in the following year) plus a top-down approach whereby Pfizer determines at a strategic level which firms it wants to encourage by giving them more work. In addition, they are in regular conversation with their outside counsel.

I had to ask the panel: Given how much time and effort in-house lawyers spend monitoring and arguing about outside counsel bills, why wouldn’t every company’s legal department want to follow the Pfizer approach? After some slightly rueful laughter on the part of the panel (and audience), one panelist said they felt they needed more eBilling data before they would feel confident enough to move to a fixed annual fee system. At this point Ellen Rosenthal of Pfizer interjected and said that while they had some financial data before starting the program, it really began on the strength of a strategic and pragmatic decision on the part of their General Counsel who was convinced that the hourly billing system was not working for Pfizer and that they needed a better way. In other words, the main prerequisite for this is COURAGE.

What’s the proof of the system? After Pfizer and Wyeth merged, the workload of the combined in-house legal department was much larger than that of the Pfizer lawyers pre-merger. Despite this, their legal expenditures have declined by 15%.


Tech Conferences Struggle With Technology

When will tech conferences master technology? If recent experience is any guide, it appears that providing adequate WiFi access at tech conferences is as challenging as finding a cure for cancer. Is it just me, or does this strike the rest of you as strange and supremely ironic?

At February’s LegalTech 2009 NY conference, there were persistent problems with the WiFi.  In that case, it wasn’t made available in all sessions initially.  For those of us in the Web 2.0 track, sessions without reliable WiFi were frustrating to say the least.  And then this week we saw another WiFi problem at, of all places, the E2.0 Conference.  The tweet stream on this subject has been funny and at times rather sad.

First, elation:

elsuaRT @VMaryAbraham: @elsua Wifi Works!!! Perhaps you died and went to heaven? 😉 #e2conf < Yes, I did! & tables available, too! Impressed!

VMaryAbraham @elsua So glad the organizers understand the value of Wifi. Wish all tech conferences got this. Enjoy! #e2conf

elsua@VMaryAbraham Yeah, I know what you mean, Mary; last year it wasn’t a pretty experience, but so far, this year, it ROCKS!! (So far 😉 )

Then reality sets in:

VMaryAbraham RT @VMaryAbraham: @elsua @elsuacon I’ve found the solution to the wifi problem: Stay at home and watch the livestream! #e2conf

elsua@VMaryAbraham LOL! I am actually thinking you may have luckier with us struggling to get a connect working, while you guys watch it live! 😀

KMHobbie@VMaryAbraham so you have *more* access to #e20conf info sitting in NY than I do here in the room?? *grump*

carlfrappaolo RT @KMHobbie: @VMaryAbraham so you have *more* access to #e20conf info sitting in NY than I do here in the room?? *grump* FUNNY

e2conf RT @VMaryAbraham: @carlfrappaolo While I’m sorry I’m not able to meet all of you at #e2conf, I’m loving not having to fight for WiFi. (ha)

vanderwalIcon_lock@VMaryAbraham LOL! Yes, I keep looking on the ground for WiFi as it drops so much.

VMaryAbraham @dberlind Best of all, the WiFi in my home is GREAT! Too bad we can’t say the same for the Waterfront Westin. #e2conf

elsuacon #e2conf My energy levels are running on a deep low after several unsuccessful attempts to get decent wi-fi connectivity working :-///

elsuacon Suspecting #e2conf hasn’t been trending in Twitter during this time due to the yo-yo effect of the wifi connection; still working in patches

elsuacon PRT @leebryant: wifi down all session, but fantastic presentation from IDEO about their tools – massive congrats to @thoughtfarmer #e20conf

VMaryAbraham Condolences! RT @benkepes: It is very hard to live blog an event with no WiFi – frustrated at #e2conf

benkepes@VMaryAbraham even worse to be sitting in the hotel lobby trying decide between attending or connectivity….

VMaryAbraham @benkepes Forget connectivity. Attend the conference. Your pen and paper still work. Right? #e2conf

So help me out here.  What makes this technology so difficult for the organizers of tech conferences?  Is WiFi intrinsically difficult, or do all of us in the Web 2.0/tech space need to start practicing what we preach?

[Photo Credit:  Goldberg]