The Future of Search #ILTAG31 #ILTACON

Session Description:

What does the future hold for search in law firms? How far will legal knowledge management push the search envelope beyond documents, matters and expertise? Further than you think! Let’s explore the future of search, including integrating search-enabled applications, broadening the search scope available to the mobile professional, incorporating artificial intelligence, enhanced visualization and the use of predictive analytics, and the use of machine-generated metadata  to improve search results. See how search can fulfill its promise of making your lawyers more effective and firm-client relationships more collaborative.

Takeaways:
Identify possible search functions
Visualize the future of search in your law firm
Learn how you can prepare for the future of search
Hear Case Studies from two law firms to improve search

Speakers:

  • Doug Freeman, Knowledge Systems Manager, White & Case
  • Peter Wallqvist, VP of Strategy, iManage/RAVN
  • Todd J. Friedlich, Senior Manager of KM Technology and Innovation, Ropes & Gray
  • Glenn LaForce, VP of Knowledge Management, Aderant

[These are my notes from the International Legal Technology Association’s 2017 Conference. I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, so they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]

NOTES:

  • Drive User Adoption.
    • Maximize points of contact — Don’t put search under a separate tab. Instead, put a search box on every page of the intranet, on the laptop, on their desktop, on their Citrix desktop
    • Reduce user “click” – Enable type ahead so users don’t have to type too much
    • Understand Adoption Stats — look at content usage (are the lawyers looking for legal documents or specific tools?). Plus tie in other data sources. For example, combine financial stats with your user stats to see if there is a correlation between high users and profitability.
    • User adoption — is the “document” the primary container of knowledge? Lawyers and professionals don’t think only in “documents”. There are other containers of knowledge that are natural for users. So deconstruct documents into their constituent parts, such as clauses. Focus first on the business problem they are trying to solve in their search.
  • Provide an Intuitive Search Experience.
    • On the web, search seems intuitive. Unfortunately, it is too often a completely different experience inside the enterprise.
    • To improve the search experience, move from keyword counts to contextual understanding to determine relevance. Google did this by using hyperlinks to validate relevance. Because you may not have hyperlinks within the firm, you will need to bring other internal and external data to bear. (White & Case uses internal and external (from vendors) data to help determine relevance.)
    • Make it easier to find your content by increasing the refinement options beyond those provided by the system that is the source of your data. Ropes & Gray merges data from a variety of sources to provide more ways to refine/filter their search results.
    • Leverage search intent to provide customized refinement options/weighted results. For example, increase the weight of rankings based on the identity of the searcher.
  • Provide a More Complete Set of Information.
    • How to bring in more external sources to augment search results? Earlier, the only way was to use federated search. Then some external vendors (e.g., Practical Law Company) allowed firms to index PLC content, which drove much higher levels of PLC use. Now some external data sources are allowing firms to index on premises subsets of their vendor content (e.g., treatises).
    • When bringing in vendor data, also bring in snippets that allow the user to preview the content.
    • These techniques really drive higher levels of usage of vendor content.
  • Lowering the Cost of Custom Search-Based Applications.
    • A search platform is in the unique position of being a universal portal/repository of information. It can show data from disparate systems in a single interface.
    • New search systems should have a flexible API to enable creative uses of their search tool.
    • Repurpose existing system: For example, can you repurpose the custom macros or javascript you have already developed?
    • As vendors provide more flexible APIs, it will be possible to combine/recombine those APIs without a developer
    • Ropes & Gray is prototyping tools for non-developers/power users:
      • Data Dictionary and Custom Aggregation Tool to allow joining of data by end/power users
      • RAD tools such as SharePoint/ Nintext so power users can create workflow-enabled, dynamic forms to power search.
    • The more you can lowering these barriers, the more you lower the cost of development by enabling work by non-developers.
  • Trends for the Next Five Years.
    • Chat bots — for example, Do Not Pay is a chat bot for fighting tickets. It guides the user through a process online. Can we extend this to other operations? It allows the computer to figure out what you are looking for and then deliver it to you. It allows you to “go on a journey” just like you do when you speak with a person.
    • Cloud — if you have applications in the cloud, how can you access and index them efficiently in your on prem system? But going beyond this, should search be a cloud service? (Where the document is on prem but its text is “represented” and indexed/searched in the cloud.)
      • Search will have to “follow the data” where it lives. Then we will need appropriate policies/governance so clients are confident about security and confidentiality.
      • One day, clients may ask to search their documents on your system by using your index.
    • Time and Billing — use AI to determine key characteristics of time records, then use those results to enrich search. In the next five years, there will be a convergence between AI and search.
  • Security and Rights Management.
    • This has been a perennial challenge for search.
    • A proper enterprise search engine should respect your security rules. But the humans in charge need to specify those security rules for the search engine.
    • GDPR is an incredibly onerous data protection law that is coming into force in Europe. Now it is a criminal offense to expose data that should not be accessible. On the other hand, a properly-implemented search engine that respects security rules should help address this problem.
    • When a firm is required to lock content down on a need-to-know basis, you can still derive value from search because sometimes the metadata exposed by the search engine is as important (or more important) that the underlying hidden document.
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Are We Organizing the Right Stuff?

As a self-confessed pack rat, I’ve had a morbid fascination for folks who preach and practice the virtues of minimalism and a clutter-free existence.  Call it a form of self-abuse, but I just can’t help reading their propaganda.  And then, I come every workday to a business that never has a shortage of stuff to organize.  No matter how much we try to move away from the old KM 1.0 chores of building, organizing, maintaining and searching data repositories, the reality is that as long as we work in a document-intensive business, law firm knowledge management will always include a significant portion of KM 1.0 work. Vendors promise silver bullets in the form of super search and auto-profiling to help us manage all this data, but even still we hear stories of people spending hours searching fruitlessly.

Recently Kathleen Hogan reported that studies show that managers and executives spend 6 weeks each year just looking for stuff. My initial reaction was what a waste of time! Can’t they get a better search engine? And then, I had a radical thought — what if we really aren’t supposed to save and organize all this stuff? What if there really is too much to organize effectively? What if there’s no reasonable way to stay on top of it all? Are our taxonomies and search engines designed to cope comfortably with our exploding data collections? What if they can’t?

If you take a look at all the anti-clutter propaganda I’ve been saving for a rainy day, you’ll soon discover that the first step to organizing stuff is — get rid of what you don’t need.  By so doing, you reduce the amount of material you actually have to organize and maintain.  I know we think we need to organize all the data in our firms, but do we really?  Does it all matter?  Does it all need to be saved and organized for posterity?  Or, is some of it truly ephemeral?

Greg Lambert suggests that law firms have been saving all this stuff for all the wrong reasons:

There are certain things we should legally and/or ethically keep for a specific period of time. But, most of the data that we handle does not fall under these requirements. In fact, I’d wager that 90% of the emails, electronic documents, or paper documents we keep, we do because we are implementing the “CYA” rule.

Folks who drink the super search kool-aid will say that the cost of saving and searching data is becoming increasingly trivial, so why spend any time at all trying to weed the collection?  Rather, save it all and then try Filtering on the Way Out.  On the other hand, look at the search engine so many of us envy — Google.  It indexes and searches enormous amounts of data, but even Google doesn’t try to do it all.  Google doesn’t tackle the Deep Web.

So why are we trying to do it all?

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For information on searching the Deep Web:

From my deep stores of anti-clutter information:

[Photo Credit:  Jason Rust]

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