Dec 21 5:50pm Electronic Discovery RSS Feed | JD Supra Law News
In Arrowhead Capital Fin. Ltd. v. Seven Arts Entertainment, Inc. 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126545 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 16, 2016), District Judge Katherine Polk Failla imposed significant sanctions upon both the Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) and the lawyer...By: Farrell Fritz, P.C.
Dec 20 3:33pm BeyondRecognition
As the year winds down I’ve taken a look back over the 40+ posts I’ve done so far this year to see which had the highest readership. Apparently quite a few people thought the top-viewed posts were useful so I thought I’d provide a summary of them for anyone who might have missed them earlier: […] The post Most Viewed Posts of 2016 appeared first on BeyondRecognition.
Dec 20 2:57pm Electronic Discovery RSS Feed | JD Supra Law News
Everyone has cracked a smile at a meme at least once while scrolling through their social media stream. Memes allow us to capture a shared sentiment held by a group or community in a short form that’s easily passed along to someone else. They’re the...By: Exterro, Inc.
Dec 19 9:39pm Electronic Discovery RSS Feed | JD Supra Law News
First Am. Title Ins. Co. v. Northwest Title Ins. Agency, No. 2:15-cv-00229 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118377 (D. Utah Aug. 31, 2016). The court denied the majority of sanctions a party sought for spoliation of evidence where it could not demonstrate...By: Zapproved Inc.
Dec 19 9:00pm @ComplexD
But as serious as these [recent] incidents are individually and collectively, none effectively illustrates the potential catastrophic consequences that cyber incidents can have when they transcend individual institutions, and affect our markets and financial systems. The post Protecting Financial Cyberspace appeared first on @ComplexD.
Dec 19 7:05pm CloudNine
No cost EDA Reporting Service from CloudNine provides attorneys with early and valuable information to help shape investigation and litigation strategy. The post Attorney eDiscovery Planning Accelerated with No Cost Early Data Assessment Reporting Service appeared first on CloudNine.
Dec 18 2:17pm Prism Legal
The legal market has much room for improvement – we likely all agree on that. But we don’t all agree on exactly how the legal market should be improved. I have therefore long been intrigued by AdvanceLaw, a group of over 150 corporate general counsel with a common vision for how to improve the legal market. While well-known among general counsel, many law firms are less familiar with AdvanceLaw. So I was pleased to have an opportunity to interview Firoz Dattu, its co-founder and CEO. Ron: What is AdvanceLaw? Firoz: AdvanceLaw is a response to the fact that the legal market is opaque. We’re a general counsel project to increase transparency in the legal market and provide greater quality assurance when retaining new firms. We currently consist of 150 general counsel and their in-house teams. Why did you start AdvanceLaw? In collaboration with 20 large company GCs, we started AdvanceLaw to make it much easier to find top lawyers who would have a major incentive to excel on quality and all aspects of client service. We also wanted to help GCs find those law firms that were truly innovative. Just as important, and this may be because of my background in economics and law, I really wanted to make the legal market perform better for both clients and firms. A market can’t thrive and offer good outcomes for anyone if credible performance information doesn’t flow. What do you do day to day? We help in-house lawyers identify top outside counsel, and give those outside counsel an incentive to excel: they earn more work from our entire GC group through our performance feedback system. Operationally, we work closely with our in-house law departments to understand their specific legal needs. They often have a need to look for new firms, for example: When incumbent firms disappoint They’re expanding into a new business line or country A large transaction or litigation arises They want to create a law firm panel As an extension of their teams, we find strong outside counsel candidates. On a more reactive basis, the in-house counsel call us up with specific needs that come up: they need tax counsel in Italy, they have litigation in Florida, they have an M&A deal in the US and Singapore, you name it. In those situations, we find lawyers and teams who are a good fit. But we also work proactively with our in-house legal teams, identifying portfolios of work they want to migrate to a law firm that really gets it, and is more likely to excel on client service delivery and results. Additionally, and this is a big piece of what we do, we administer our performance feedback mechanism. This is what gives in-house counsel assurance that they’re getting great lawyers and firms, and also what inspires top performance from the lawyers retained. How does the feedback system work? How do in-house counsel rate firms or lawyers? And how do you share ratings? In-house counsel provide feedback on specific lawyers quarterly and at the close of a matter. We ask about expertise, quality of work, responsiveness, and efficiency. We also receive qualitative comments in writing. So if you call us with a Prop 65 litigation in California or a wage and hour class action or a national IP litigation, we can look at the evaluations of lawyers who’ve done that work for AdvanceLaw general counsel and make recommendations on that basis. We also publish a comprehensive report annually to our GCs and in-house counsel that provides scores and feedback by firm, type of legal work, and region/geography. We also list lawyers who have performed exceptionally well. Why do GCs use AdvanceLaw rather than source their own legal services? Probably the most basic answer is that we make it really easy to get the right counsel for the work. We do most of the leg work, we know who can do what, and we can quickly come back to an in-house lawyer with specific options to choose from. For them it’s a piece of cake. But there’s also a strong assurance aspect when identifying new counsel. Whether finding someone with expertise in a specific legal area or industry, a top lawyer in a certain geography, or a lawyer or team that’s simply better at delivering quality legal service than what they’re currently experiencing. This is because we’re pooling multiple clients’ experiences. As the general counsel of a Fortune 500 company said at one of our GC sessions, “The standard shouldn’t be that you never get fired for hi...
Dec 15 2:45pm BeyondRecognition
Electronic calendar items in Outlook or similar programs are often not carried forward into e-discovery review and management systems. If you’re not routinely seeing or analyzing calendar items, you might ask yourself if you could be missing important facts about your cases, e.g.: Who knew what and when Who was talking with whom Why some […] The post Missing Calendar Items? Might be Missing the E-Discovery Boat appeared first on BeyondRecognition.
Dec 13 9:40am Prism Legal
The session Contracts and Big Data Analytics is the opening for a DC-area IACCM contract management event; it covers how BT manages contracts and extracts provisions with AI. The presenter is Paul Branch, Head of Deal Assurance at BT Americas. This is a live post; please forgive typos or misunderstandings of meaning. Big Data is the next big thing in contract management. If it delivers as promised, it will transform how and what contract managers do. BT has looked at how best to manage commitments. BT has introduced automation to extract provisions and tag them to support improve customer alignment. This can be hard because complex agreements ma have 1000s of provisions. Tools are required to manage rights and obligations. Excel simply will not do given the volume and complexity. BT is using artificial intelligence (AI), specifically natural language processing and machine learning to extract provisions into a contract lifecycle management system. The business objective is to manage rights and obligations, both owed to company and owed to counter parties. There are three steps to accomplish this: Extract provisions. Ten years ago, Excel was the only tool. It was tedious and prone to error. But even though, it was hugely useful to identify who needed to do what. At that time, extraction occurred after the contract was signed Now, with new tools, provisions are extracted as contracts are negotiated. Some terms may be encoded for easier extraction. By itself, extraction has zero benefit. You need the next two steps to obtain value. Allocate ownership of provisions to business owners. With a list of obligations, you need to decide who will perform each one. Most of the obligations do not fall to the contracting team. Obligations must be fulfilled by engineering, lawyers, marketing, and many other teams in the organization. They should all be held accountable to fulfill the obligations. With intelligent disaggregation and then aggregating logically, e.g., by ownership, organizations can matter manage meeting obligations. Some discussion about what terms to extract, including from MSA versus SOW. The key is to extract the relevant provisions, irrespective of the documents in which they sit. Allocation of ownership should occur before signing the contract. That ensures the organization’s ability to deliver Track fulfillment This is hallmark of high-functioning organizations. If there is jeopardy in meeting obligations, this must be flagged and managed Handling this appropriately helps overcome common pitfalls of contract management: insufficient focus on governance and poor handover from the deal time to the implementation team. BT uses Corridor software sitting on top of MS Sharepoint. Categories in the contract lifecycle management (CLM) software includes obligation category, priority, scope, status, and timeframe. This is a sample CLM screen: The hardest part of contract management is getting provisions into the tool. Also very difficult is getting everyone using the CLM tool. A key back-end challenge is managing permissions so that the right people see the right provisions but not everyone sees everything. BT tracks provisions by obligation category (time-bound, triggered, unbound), priority (critical, proactive, reactive), and scope (contracting entity, counter party, shared). It tracks metadata such as due date, timeframe audit evidence, clause path, assigned to, and clause type. Allocation of ownership drives from category, scheduled and “service tower” (job function). Obligation status has a workflow to track assignment (assignment request, acceptance, declined), status (on-track, in-jeopardy, past due), and closure (submitted, closed). BT contract management is integrated into Salesforce.com. Data are piped into global data warehouse. Contracts are also pushed into a document management system. A separate system manages contract commitments and governance. A knowledge management (KM) program captures and reuses the best practices and lessons learned. Sounds like there is a separate KM repository that has capability to push out certain information. Implementation hurdles are getting it done and change management. Precursor is having accurate obligation (provision) extraction. Technology helps with extraction but gets no where near Six Sigma accuracy. Separately, you need a CLM tool; Excel does not suffice. There are literally 100s of CLM vendors now and many are inexpensive.
Dec 9 7:10pm e-Discovery Team ®
Editors: Jason R. Baron, Ralph C. Losey, Michael Berman Foreword: Judge Andrew Peck About the Book (an excerpt from Jason Baron’s Introduction) Each of the three editors of this volume graduated law school in 1980, which has meant that we have been firsthand witnesses to the transformation of legal practice and especially discovery practice during the past […]...
Dec 9 11:00am The Kennedy-Mighell Report
Most internet savvy attorneys use search engines to supplement their law practice resources. In this episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, hosts Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell discuss how search engines have changed over time, semantic and voice search, and the impact mobile search has had on search engines in general. In the second segment of the podcast, Dennis and Tom discuss their favorite gadgets to give as gifts this holiday season in their 2016 tech toy list. As always, stay tuned for Parting Shots, that one tip, website, or observation that you can use the second the podcast ends. Special thanks to our sponsor, ServeNow.
Dec 6 10:47am Next Gen eDiscovery Law & Tech Blog
At X1, an essential component of our mission is to develop and support exceptional technology for collecting electronic evidence to meet eDiscovery, investigative and compliance requirements. It is also our goal to keep you abreast of important developments in the … Continue reading →...
Dec 4 3:01pm Prism Legal
Should law firms fear losing clients? Many do already but just how much should they worry? The 2016 Altman Weil CLO Survey provides insight. The report opens with worrying data: 53\% of law departments say they shifted a portfolio of work worth $50,000 or more because of a client service issue; 41\% switched to another firm in pursuit of lower fees; and 30\% moved their work to a firm that was more effective in managing matters. (page iii) Answers to the 2016 bonus question illuminate client motivation and size the risk. Here are responses to the question, “Which of the following statements best reflects your law department’s position changing the way your outside counsel deliver legal services? (Choose one.)”: By my read, 70\% of clients are a flight risk. In my view, only questions 2 and 4 do not represent risk of switching behavior (flight): “We are generally satisfied” at 17.4\% and “We asked for change and got it” at 13.4\%. That’s about 30\%. The rest the answers represent the mindset of clients willing to switch firms. What can law firm leaders do to minimize the risk of losing clients? The survey cites actions such as better client service, better legal expertise, lower fees, and managing matters more efficiently. (See page 13.) Many of my blog posts explain how lawyers can practice law more efficiently. I close with further detail about flight risk: when law firms lose business, they lose mainly to competitors or clients. Many commentators, however, say alternative providers (non-law-firms) will eat law firms’ lunches. I don’t see it in the data: the chart below shows, for the last five years, the allocation of law department spending on alternate providers, law firms, and law departments. The share of non-firm vendors since 2011 averages 6.5\% with little change. If alternative providers were growing rapidly relative to law firms, we would see this percentage increasing. The post Should Law Firms Fear Losing Clients? (Altman Weil 2016 CLO Survey) appeared first on Prism Legal.
Dec 2 8:12am General Digital
It’s a safe guess that over a million words have been written on the subject of managing change. A quick look on Amazon.com reveals over 2700 books from the terms. But a search of the same site for “change efficiency” shows only 459 books on the subject. But efficiency of making changes is clearly something that [...]...
Nov 27 11:59pm Prism Legal
The legal market has been on the march in the last few days, despite the the long US Thanksgiving weekend. I highlight here, in two related groups, a few news items of note… Law Firm Business Services Staffing May Be Up For Grabs The Lawyer magazine has a long and interesting report, UK 200 Business Services 2016: Key findings (28 Nov 2016). It describes the potential impact of rapidly changing legal technology and its impact not on the practice of law (AI is already old hat) but on law firm staffing. At the same time that tech may take jobs, many firms continue to seeks savings via labor cost arbitrage, the latest example being Dentons launches new shared services hub in Poland, will lay off about 25 in UK (ABA Journal, 22 Nov 2016). And business process outsourcing – another way to move jobs out of law firms – continues apace. Law Firm Business Development: Is Marketing Department Outsourcing The New Black? (LawVision blog, 21 Nov 2016) reports the ” trend is that all non-strategic functions, Marketing Communications or otherwise, are being considered as potential outsourcing targets.” (On 15 Nov 2016, LawVision and nSource announced a strategic alliance for marketing and BD outsourcing.) The staff remaining at law firms main offices may well have more work flexibility. Allen & Overy “changes market perception” with tech budget rise (The Lawyer, 25 Nov 2016) reports that A&O IT spending is 5\% higher for 2016-17 over the prior year. This is driven in part to “support a more flexible and mobile workforce”. Legal Service Delivery Shows Signs of Morphing US labor and employment law firm Jackson Lewis has launched a data analytics group “to tackle new and non-law projects for its employer clients.” This Law Firm Is Betting on Data (Big Law Business, 23 Nov 2016) also reports examples of the team’s work, including damage assessments. Pillsbury has partnered with cybersecurity experts FireEye and Thomson Reuters Legal Managed Services to offer what the firm calls “a ‘one-stop shop’ for cybersecurity risk assessments and compliance”. (See Pillsbury’s Equation: Biglaw + alt.law = Modern Cybersecurity Solution, Above the Law, 23 Nov 2016) High volume work in Big Law continues to automate and augment with technology. Legal Futures (22 Nov 2016) reports that LISA (Legal Intelligence Support Assistant), powered by Neota Logic, will assist in drafting NDAs and could soon have other uses. Separately, AI Start-up ‘Legit’ to Disrupt Patent World, Secures Seedcamp Funding (Artificial Lawyer, 25 Nov 2016) reports that first round funder SeedCamp has invested in start-up Legit Patents, which “has developed a new way of approaching the patent filing process using AI technology that will reduce the need for initial input from patent lawyers and greatly reduce the cost and time of making a provisional filing.” On the consumer side, LegalZoom in the UK launched Legacy, a website and mobile app for wills. (See LegalZoom launches ‘digital will’ in first UK product roll-out, Legal Futures, 28 Nov 2016) Last week seemed particularly eventful for a week that, at least in the US, is normally quiet on the business and legal news front. The post Legal Market on the March appeared first on Prism Legal.
Nov 22 2:26pm Prism Legal
I’ve been thinking lately about why there is so much hype recently among lawyers and legal market commentators about artificial intelligence (AI). I was not ready to put hands to keyboard for a full explanation, so on Sunday I recorded a short video on Twitter stating my preliminary views. It’s always hard to predict reactions to a single Tweet. This video generated a lot of discussion on Twitter and at least one direct reply blog post. I capture here some of that that commentary. By the way, I don’t rehearse my videos and I don’t have notes when I record them. So if you “hear me thinking”, that’s because I am. My Initial Tweet I raise the question of why the legal AI hype. My musings on the legal market hype about artificial intelligence (AI). ISO help to understand that hype. pic.twitter.com/p1aymC71xF — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) November 20, 2016 Blog Posts Ryan McClead, who coined argued about a year ago that we should talk about “Augmented. Human Intelligence.” (see here), a view I cite regularly, wrote a 3 Geeks blog post, Why All the AI Hype in Legal? – A Response to Ron Friedmann, to share his views. He says the hype is not restricted to legal, it’s everywhere. Furthermore, we have shifting expectations says Ryan: we keep adjusting our expectation of AI so that it constantly recedes to the future. He cites Google search, Siri, and Alexa of things we take for granted today, that we don’t think of AI, that would have counted as AI not long ago. In sum, AI is always just beyond the horizon. Just on the other side of the next technological breakthrough. It’s always something just slightly better than what we can do right now. And he closes with a warning I have conveyed to others: don’t let the promise of magic to come interfere with taking advantage of tools readily available now. Via Twitter, Brightflag cites its recent blog post, AI and the Law: Hype vs Reality, in response. It makes points similar to Ryan’s and mine. A Video Tweet Response @ronfriedmann Rise in hype generally, decreasing skepticism towards technology, high expectations not yet matched by available AI products. pic.twitter.com/K38ZvxUoKV — Mike Bean (@mikedbean) November 22, 2016 Key points: – General rise in hype and we follow people with similar interests, which creates an echo chamber – Comparing to rise of PC… there was no way we could discuss like we can today. You recorded a video Sunday, now I’m recording a video response. That was not possible until recently – Decline in skepticism toward technology generally. Before the PC, computers were in big rooms with scientists to run them. Now, we all carry super computers in our pockets. We all believe will AI happen – eventually. People believe we will have huge capabilities in the future – Tools to actually put AI into real practice are very limited today, so all we can really do is talk about it. Other Twitter Responses In reverse chronology, here is a selection of Twitter and blog post responses. @ronfriedmann <~ what he said. — LexFuturus (@LexFuturus) November 20, 2016 .@ronfriedmann Look to incentives? Hyping AI in law creates demand for prognosticators/arm-wavers, and low-tech lawyers are easy targets. — Dr. Peter Macmillan (@pjmcls) November 20, 2016 @ronfriedmann Related question: What \%age of lawyers talking AI could explain AI? — Mike Whelan (@mikewhelanjr) November 21, 2016 @ronfriedmann Fear? It sells newspapers to say lawyers will end up redundant. That’s not to say AI won’t shake things up. — Robert Kerr (@robkerrlawyer) November 21, 2016 thx @NatalieP\_Impact; @ronfriedmann I think AI buzz has to do with end running traditional delivery of legal services: lawyer replacement — Tom Martin (@lawdroid1) November 21, 2016 @ronfriedmann is the hype more simply because we live and work in an overhyped society? — Mark Ross (@MarkRossLPO) November 21, 2016 @ronfriedmann Great qu! Wld it be too simplistic to suggest social media and the need for content and ‘column inches’ have driven the hype? — Katherine Thomas (@kthomconsulting) November 22, 2016 @ronfriedmann I would suggest that AI offers chance to change firm model rather than day to day practice of law. Smaller base to pyramid? — Martin J Bragg (@MartinJBragg) November 22, 2016 @ronfriedmann we’ve had decades of...
Nov 22 12:33pm The Kennedy-Mighell Report
Identifying the necessary changes to improve your law firm can be difficult. It can be even more challenging implementing those improvements and transitioning your company's culture toward a new direction. In this episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, hosts Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell discuss the importance of change management and how these techniques can help attorneys improve their law practice. In the second segment of the podcast, Dennis and Tom discuss the rise of contract automation and whether or not a contract system can be fully automated. As always, stay tuned for Parting Shots, that one tip, website, or observation that you can use the second the podcast ends. Special thanks to our sponsor, ServeNow.
Nov 11 4:56pm The Kennedy-Mighell Report
When discussing legal technology many attorneys perceive their cyber security risk as low and easily manageable. In this episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, hosts Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell discuss the recently distributed denial of services attacks that disrupted hundreds of websites, what makes you vulnerable to these attacks, and how lawyers can better defend themselves. In the second segment of the podcast, Dennis and Tom discuss an artificial intelligence concept known as “human in the middle” and how AI will augment the future practice of law. As always, stay tuned for Parting Shots, that one tip, website, or observation that you can use the second the podcast ends. Special thanks to our sponsor, ServeNow.
Nov 8 12:41pm Prism Legal
Client facing KM (knowledge management) and AI (artificial intelligence) have been topics of conversation at conferences and in articles for years. I revisited this topic when in a recent presentation at the International Bar Association Annual meeting in Washington, DC. My slides are below and the post closes with a list of large firms offering online legal services. My presentation starts by examining what clients want, which is solutions, not just information. To think about how to do this, I use a framework developed by Richard Susskind. I then relate online services to internal KM. Given the recent hype about AI – and because AI drives some online legal services – I take a detour into an overview of AI, noting that for online services, expert systems are really the main AI tool so far. (For AI context, one slide illustrates other uses of AI in legal.) With the stage set, the presentation exams types of client facing systems and technologies to support them. That leads to a discussion of the challenges of building these systems. Challenges notwithstanding, some 40 firms in Australia, Canada, the UK, and US do offer services. So that leads to why and what the opportunities and costs to do so. I then reach some conclusions. Be sure to scroll to the last slide for the bonus conclusions! The post Client Facing KM and AI: Opportunities and Challenges appeared first on Prism Legal.
Oct 27 11:31am Prism Legal
This is a live post from the 12th Annual Ark Knowledge Management (KM) conference. (PDF of Agenda). I publish as a session ends so please forgive any typos or misunderstandings of meaning. This session is Data Security is Required. KM is Demanded. AI is Here: Armageddon or Utopia?. Peter Kaomea, CIO of Sullivan & Cromwell presents. The session description appears at the end of the post. Session Report Powerful forces are now coming together: KM, AI, and information security. Info sec may be the biggest driver though given cybersecurity issues. Definitions.. KM is the process of creating, sharing, using, and managing the knowledge and info of an organization. Info sec is process to maintain confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data. AI is computers performing learning and decision making. Peter does a fab job using the Police song to describe how each line in the song relates to current security considerations… Xbox will watch your moves; bonds you break = unfriending; night you stay = Google calendar; every word = Siri or Echo; watching you = Samsung TV; move you make = smart watches; smile you make = vision systems coupled with machine learning; watching you = >5B video cameras. — Recent major security breaches: Panama papers and Yahoo. Integrity + Injections: hackers inject payment order, false orders… hackers watch email re transactions and toward, inject email with payment order to wrong account (theft). Availability: ransomeware, recent DDOS attach against Dyn. — Clients now wanted law firms to limit access to documents and dat. Firm used Kira to extract clauses from client security documents. They have multiple ways of saying limit access but impact is all similar. Clients increasingly also ask firms to purge data at the end of a matter or some other time specific. — How can we reconcile info sec requirements and need to share (KM). How can we leverage security investments to help KM? Security incident and event management (SIEM) systems track everything that goes on in an organization’s systems. These look for anamolous behaviors and flags them for action (by a person). Even in encyrpted systems, someone always has the keys. These individuals are often targeted. Even without the keys, hackers can monitor cloud system traffic and draw certain inferences, even without seeing the data. “Enclave” is a rapidly emerging concept in security. It means pulling really sensitive data off of online systems and isolating it. Some of the security systems contribute to KM. By watching access and considering permissions and use cases, it is possible to tailor search results.. AI and KM… you can use machines to watch user behavior, for example, ratio of sent to received email or local versus remote access. This can support both security (anamoly detection) and KM requirements. Tapping public data re entities can help with analytics At the intersection of KM, Info Sec, and AI… Auto clear security… lawyer about to work on a matter, the back end can tap multiple sources and validate need for access (instead of calling aroun0 Auto sanitize… entity extraction from documents helps sanitize for re-use. But context may still give away too much Auto taxonomies… Auto purge… use rules and/or behavior to determine when a document can be purged Consider which side of firewall… analyze in- and out-coming traffic and assess value relative to risk Behavioral analytics…. to manage risk Session Description Data Security is Required. KM is Demanded. AI is Here: Armageddon or Utopia? When undeniable forces collide, the result can be massive destruction, or unimaginable power and beauty. Today, our clients require the highest quality of work product leveraging the composite capability of our respective firms – the KM promise of the last 20 years. Hacks like the Panamanian Papers illustrate the awesome responsibility entrusted in us to protect client and firm confidences. As if this weren’t enough, Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Analytics are coming of age… How can we harness these forces to have it all? Peter Kaomea, Chief Information Officer, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP The post Data Security Required. KM Demanded. AI Here: Armageddon or Utopia appeared first on Prism Legal.
Oct 26 9:49am Prism Legal
This is a live post from the 12th Annual Ark Knowledge Management (KM) conference. (PDF of Agenda). I publish as a session ends so please forgive any typos or misunderstandings of meaning. This session is the keynote, Practice Engineering: KM for the 21st Century, byMichael Mills, Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer, Neota Logic. The session description appears at the end of the post. Session Report Goal: create a grand unified theory of knowledge management. The elephant in the room is the ever looming move to fixed fees – with the market for 3 decades. Law firm in the past – and still today – are very simple places. Lawyers work with assistants It is still like the medival workshop with masters + apprentices, a very artisinal approach. This model prevails today. To the extent it is not the real model of law firms everywhere, it is the mental model of most practicing laywers. But it is the wrong mental model. Michael says he is often accused of wanting to replace lawyers with robots (via expert systems). But that is not the goal of automation. The goal is to create more efficient, fully integrated systems. But lawyers and law firm managers do not think of their work or businesses as systems. But taking that mindset would have many advantages. Engineering problems – like law problems – are under=defined. The task is to arrive at a good solution. What does this mean for lawyers? One way to think about what lawyers and firms do, which is: Information Execution Advice So the system needs to deliver all three of these. The most sustainable is advice; the most susceptible to replacement is at the top. Information was once the sole province of law firms, like Latin in the Church, only the priests understood. Today, information is readily available from multiple sources. Execution remains hard. Law firms are good at getting things done. Clients still prize law firms getting things done, even if they don’t always readily acknowledge this. Execution involves people, processes, project managent, documents, and collaboration and control. Advice includes experience, expertise, judgement. It’s knowing the law and being able to analyze and apply. For transactions, it means creating a structure, strategy, documents, and negotiation. In litigation, it means strategy, arguments, pleadings, and advocacy. This is hardest to disrupt. But even in the most bespoke and complex work, there are many elements of routine work. Systems engineering extends beyond the core work of delivering advice. There is the element of service delivery – how the client experiences dealing with the law firm. Michael likens it to how Apple designed the iPhone box to open with precisely a certain feel and swish. “Being a good wine maker is harder than being a good lawyer”. Good wine makers now use opitcal sorting with artificial intelligence to sort the grapes. They use machine learning to select the best / right grapes. Law firms face many selection issues – hiring, which matters to accept, what price to charge, how to staff a matter, and what processes to use. So law firms are, in fact, complex systems. This is the domain of legal operations professionals. There is much opportunity to apply technology. At the same time that firms are engineering themselves, clients are going through a similar process, especially with the rise of corporate legal operations professionals (e.g., ACC LDO group and CLOC). The diagramm below maps law firm processes / elements with corresponding ones in law department operations. Law firms have an opportunity to improve their organizational functioning and systems engineering. Law firms have too many separate centers – practices and departments. A modern firm needs an engineering perspective. Such organizations have individuals with the responsibility and authority, not to deliver, but to make sure the delivery systems are informed by the best principles of systems engineering. One firm came up with a consensus-driven but firmwide approach / framework to conduct ligitation. Truly bespoke mean starting with a blank sheet of paper. Lawyers, however, rarely do this. They almost always start with prior work product or precedents. Many firms have actually routinized elements of work, for example, with document assembly. Other firms have undertaken formal process mapping and improvement. Other firms have adopted formal (legal) project management. Others have de...
Oct 21 5:43pm The Kennedy-Mighell Report
Many attorneys and law firms are turning toward digital content creation to better market their companies and connect with potential clients. One type of content that is increasing in popularity among legal practitioners is podcasting. In this episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, hosts Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell discuss their nine years together creating podcasts, the benefits podcasting can provide to your legal career, and a few tips for attorneys interested in creating their own podcasts. In the second segment of the podcast, Dennis and Tom discuss drones and how this technology might affect the practice of law. As always, stay tuned for Parting Shots, that one tip, website, or observation that you can use the second the podcast ends. Special thanks to our sponsor, ServeNow.
Oct 17 6:57pm Prism Legal
Shortly after ILTACon (the International Legal Technology Association annual meeting, August 2016), the editors of Legal IT Today asked a deceptively simple question: “Going into ILTACON 2016, or while in an ILTACON session, or now that you’re starting to process everything coming out of ILTACON, what’s the single biggest question you want answered?” My question was published in Legal IT Today, Issue 15. (Page 37 of in pdf.) My answer, with some framing comments, appears below.. You will also find questions by D. Casey Flaherty (Founder and Principal / Procertas), John Alber (Futurist / ILTA), and Joy Heath Rush (Vice President of Client Development (Law Firms) / Litéra). As usual, Legal IT Today has a series of great articles. — The question seems simple but it forced me to think about the legal market. To set the stage for my question, let’s stipulate that: 1. Law firms face increasing pressure to deliver more value to clients; and 2. A key component of delivering more value is improving lawyer efficiency with technology. Reflecting on ILTACON 2016, I was struck by the recent rise of legal tech startups and new classes of software. The formerly semi-arid legal tech landscape has become verdant with AI and many other new technologies. Some are broad in application, some narrow; some hyped, some understated. I see huge value in many. But abundance raises its own issues. I worry that lawyers and law firms will turn to tech to solve process and culture problems (“magic button syndrome”). And I worry that a focus on the new can divert management attention from training lawyers to use legacy software effectively. So, finally, my question… “If a firm wants to maximize efficiency and really take advantage of what the market has to offer, what software would it license and what training and adoption planning would it put in place for both new and legacy software? And do we need a reference model, by practice, for software selection and for training and adoption planning? We should not let a new product flood distract us from defining real requirements, selecting software and services that meet those requirements, and planning the change management to ensure adoption. The post My Big Unanswered Legal Tech Question appeared first on Prism Legal.
Oct 11 4:55pm The Kennedy-Mighell Report
Ensuring that your law firm’s technology is functional, secure, and up to date requires tech savvy and constant vigilance. One of the toughest decisions, and a fairly common one, is whether you should upgrade your firm’s existing operating system to a newer one. In this episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, hosts Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell discuss popular operating systems and the risks and benefits of upgrading your software. In the second segment of the podcast, Dennis and Tom discuss how Twitter has evolved over time and the recent rumors that Twitter will be acquired. As always, stay tuned for Parting Shots, that one tip, website, or observation that you can use the second the podcast ends. Special thanks to our sponsor, ServeNow.
Oct 7 12:36pm e-Discovery Insights
On the heels of being awarded a tombstone for completing my three-year term on the Council, I was re-elected to a second term. This is unprecedented (probably because prior officers had the good sense not to run again! My co-officer, Mark Ressa, was also re-elected. The unanimous view from our colleagues: Gluttons for punishment. With … Continue reading Re-Elected to a Second, Three-Year Term on the Council of State Bar Sections →...
Oct 2 2:22pm Prism Legal
In September, as a panelist at the College of Law Practice Management 2016 Futures Conference (PDF of agenda), I addressed the question “Will All Lawyers Work for the Big 4 by 2016?”. (The conference used the term mega accountants but it’s hard to imagine in 10 years that will mean anything other than the Big 4 of today.) This one of four questions in the session “What types of entities will provide legal services?” Each of four panelists addressed each question for about five minutes and we had a robust conversation around each. The outline of my five minute answer is below; at the end, I provide additional links to conference coverage, courtesy of Attorney at Work. Will All Lawyers Work for Mega Accountants by 2016? The short answer: no The longer answer: a higher share of lawyers and staff will work for Big 4 than do now, perhaps much higher Why the Big 4 will grow Multidisciplinary Clients want and like multi-disciplinary approaches to business problems and many “legal problems” are really business problems Business problems take teams to solve, teams that consistent of multiple areas of subject matter expertise. Is there a “non-accountant”? The Big 4 have a less powerful caste system so they can more readily tap multiple professionals and areas of expertise. More cost-effective and more willing to invest and innovate Decades of audit price pressure taught the Big 4 how to deliver at lower cost This includes investing in tech, process improvement, project management, and KM Higher investment in training, tools, process, and KM means better “industrial delivery”, which means high quality output at lower cost A significant portion of Big Law work is more routine than many lawyers think. That work is at risk of shifting to Big 4. “Factory” and “Industrial” remain dirty words to lawyers – less so or not so to Big 4 Clients already are shifting how they work: back in-house, to alternate providers, and to the Big 4. As the Big 4 expand, they will be yet another – but a very attractive other – option for lower cost delivery Deeper relationships with and ability to gain legal business via access to the entire corporate C-suite Big 4 work hard to have deep executive relationships across the corporate C-suite For example, Deloitte has a CFO Roundtable for thought leadership… it’s building out comparable program for CLO With access to COO, CEO, CFO, CLO, Big 4 are institutionally advantaged in business development And Big 4 already have institutionalized client relationships, which means lateral mobility of their partners does not have much impact on their business Regulatory barriers likely to decline The bar regs as applicable to high-end B2B work tend, over time, to accommodate corporate interests Over a decade span, we should expect rule changes that favor Big 4 In any event, who will have the cash to take on the Big 4 for UPL charges? Why we will still have large law firms, especially blue chip ones Change in legal continues to happen very slowly For all those who forecast disruption, I say, “show me the data” and “if the economic crisis of 2008-10 did not disrupt, why will other events do so?” That just means evolution In my view – and this is a guess based on current behavior rather than on data – general counsels will still want the “insurance” of brand name law firms for truly bet the company matters The biggest impact of the Big 4 likely will be on the middle of the Am Law 200 Assuming brand still matters in 2026 for bet the company, the firms with the most blue chip reputations will prosper (e.g., Cravath, Wachtell, Latham, Allen & Overy, KWM Mallesons, Oslers) The value players – mainly the specialized labor & employment large firms today – will likely still have a strong market position because they have already differentiated But firms stuck in the middle – without strong reputation in narrowly focused legal niches and without a very strong low-cost value propistion – will find they lose share to Big 4 Conclusion There will be more lawyers and allied professionals working for Big 4 in 2026 But there will still be law firms hiring lawyers and staff For additional conference coverage see Attorney at Work: Overheard at the 2016 Futures Conference by the Editors The Future of Client Service by Nathaniel Slavin, The Wicker Park Group Will Alternative Busine...
Sep 25 6:38pm Prism Legal
This post describes a specific situation I encountered with Verizon but has some general implications for how individuals should remember to protect their own personal digital security. And how companies should protect customer data. I start with what prompted me to think about security. I have a an iPhone 7, which like all others, is brand new. This weekend I used mine traveling from DC to NYC and back by train. LTE service dropped regularly and failed automatically to re-connect. This sometimes happened on my prior iPhone but is chronic on the 7. For every LTE drop, I had to go in and out of airplane mode to get LTE back. A coda on this problem is at the end I had little spare time in NYC so raised this issue with Verizon via the one remaining asynchronous channel, social media, @VZWSupport. Other support channels are synchronous, so more time consuming. When I posed the problem to VZWSupport, it asked for my “Mobile Number Account PIN”, an access code for Verizon voice support. I was unhappy. I pointed out – as I did in a June 2015 interaction – that while I am not a security expert, asking for passwords is a bad practice. Indeed, many companies routinely say “We never ask for passwords”. Having my PIN in plain text on a shared Twitter account strikes me as risky. A bad employee might troll direct messages to seek personal information for nefarious purposes. The lesson for everyone is to remain hyper vigilant in remembering security hygiene. Don’t assume big companies follow best practices. In my opinion, Verizon Wireless engages in a bad security practice. The lesson for Verizon and Yahoo investors is to consider, if my assessment above is correct, does this signal deeper Verizon security practice problems. And, if so, can Verizon address the massive Yahoo data breach. Having just had to change my Yahoo password and delete security questions and now seeing Verizon ask for a password, I have doubts. Coda: Had @VZWSupport been properly informed, they would not have needed to access my account. It turns out LTE dropping is a known iPhone 7 issue, explained in this Reddit discussion. Moreover, when I I connected with Verizon by phone and chat, they knew about the issue. So I draw two other lessons: (1) search the web before seeking help from a big company and (2) beware that social media teams may exist more to make nice than to provide real help. The post Corporate Security Practices: Can Verizon Handle Yahoo? appeared first on Prism Legal.
Sep 16 1:39pm The Kennedy-Mighell Report
As firms build and grow it can be hard to accurately gauge how your business stacks up against similarly sized competitors. Furthermore, with the rapid pace of technological advancements it can be challenging to stay on top of current marketplace trends for even the largest firms. In this episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, hosts Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell discuss the ILTA/InsideLegal Technology Purchasing and ABA LTRC Tech surveys, what they say about current tech trends, and how law firms can use this information to gain an advantage in the marketplace. In the second segment of the podcast, Dennis and Tom discuss Blockchain technology, smart contracting, and how this technology can help law firms build trust and increase security. As always, stay tuned for Parting Shots, that one tip, website, or observation that you can use the second the podcast ends. Special thanks to our sponsor, ServeNow.
Sep 16 11:28am Prism Legal
This is a live blog post from the College of Law Practice Management 2016 Futures Conference (link to PDF of agenda). As a live post, please forgive any typos or misunderstandings of meaning. This session is How will we better deliver what clients want, and get paid for it? The session will address four question: Will the billable hour finally be dead? Are lawyers going to get better at getting things done? What will client service look like? What will clients want and need? The panelists, each of whom will take the lead role in answering a question, followed by co-panelist comments, are, in respective order: Kevin Bielawski Director of Legal Project Management & Strategic Pricing Husch Blackwell LLP Tom Baldwin Partner Fireman & Company Nathaniel Slavin Partner and Founder Wicker Park Group Connie Brenton Chief of Staff and Director of Legal Operation Will the billable hour finally be dead (in 2026)? Kevin Bielawski takes the lead in a 5 minute opener… What event will signal the death? Will we ever see the final bill with billable hours? And when that happens, who will eulogize it? It will not be dead by 2026. Several drivers, including from both client and firms, will keep it alive. On law firm side, entire financial model depends on billable hours – changing that will be a big effort. On client side, they regularly defer on alternative fee arrangement (AFA) to hours – they are often more comfortable with billable hours. Also, clients have become dependent on billable hours for their metrics (even if this may not be the best approach to measuring what should be measured). Nat: older partners are still vested in the current model and the junior ones, who are more open-minded about alternatives – but are also less wed to their firms. Tom: I was at one firm that did away with billable hour targets. But it killed revenue and the firm had to re-institute the targets. If we can’t take associate focus off of billable hours, how will we do it for partners. I’ve seen partners with $30M book of biz who took grief from management for only billing 1100 hours. So the psychology is deeply embedded. Connie: As client, I disagree. Don’t assume we buy only from law firms. We buy from managed legal services and tech providers. So, to law firms, “go ahead, bill by the hour”, it will have decreasing impact on us. Also, don’t assume clients don’t know how much work should cost. For all but high-touch work (less than 20\%), we know what it should cost. So for a relatively small percent of work, we will have to continue to work with the billable hour. We have a “wizard” that we run timekeeper rates, against which we benchmark to database and our own portfolio, and it allows us to choose the fair price and most cost-effective firms. We now offer fixed fees to firms, which often accept. We have engaged Elevate Services to review bills and inform us what a fair rate is. We use this to negotiate rates down. We are moving entire categories of work to new systems, so the change to fixed fees will happen in one fell swoop. So by 2026, 80\% of billable hours will be gone. Are lawyers going to get better at getting things done? Tom Baldwin: Let’s look at blueprint for working more efficiently, then predict. Firms have a hard time segmenting work into bins. Too many partners think of their work as high stakes when most of it is really routine. We need to segment high stakes, run the company, and routine work, by practice. Firms must analyze hot spots in these segments where the firm is not making a profit (or has bad realization). Once you identify those areas, you can process map the work to inject technology, knowledge management, or other cost-reducing strategies. For this to happen though, there are some key predicates: Partners most be motivated, which means tying their compensation to profits, not billable hours. Absent change in partner comp, we will continue to see only incremental change. Firms still do not reward efficiency, even though clients have the upper hand now. The data bear this out – AFA growth has stabilized. So my prediction: lawyers will get better at how they work but it will be incremental. No evidence of broad sweeping changes. Connie: law firms are very good at getting things done. But not efficiently. We are moving to organization that get good results efficiently. We are doing this quietly. Article recently...
Sep 11 4:48pm Prism Legal
I recently spoke with Dave Kerstein, an Investment Manager and Legal Counsel at Bentham IMF to learn more about litigation finance. Before sharing what I learned, some background… Background: My Long Interest in Applying Financial Concepts to Law Combining finance and litigation has long interested me. If financial types got involved, I thought they would help clients value cases and drive practice efficiency, including more use of technology. I suggested this in my 2003 American Lawyer article, A Marketplace Trial. My 2007 blog post, Collateralized Legal Obligations, discussed “measuring and predicting risk and bundling pending suits” to “create a portfolio investment”. I also noted that such investments would offer risk not correlated to other instruments, a big factor cited in Litigation Funding Moves Into Mainstream, Wall Street Journal, 5 August 2016. But I missed litigation financing. Shortly after learning about it, I read the 2010 Rand Corporation’s Alternative Litigation Financing in the United States study. None of the many articles I’ve read since explain exactly how it works from an investor perspective. Hence my discussion with Dave. About Bentham Bentham’s parent company, IMF Bentham, based in Australia, pioneered commercial litigation finance 15 years ago. Australia was a good place to start because it had an adverse costs / “losers pay” legal system, and contingency fees were not then permitted. Bentham’s founders saw that those restrictions left many meritorious claims on the table. When the company started financing cases, some challenges were made to its legality. The Australian High Court ultimately ruled that funding was not only legal and permitted, but that it was beneficial to the judicial system because it helped provide access to justice and leveled the playing field for litigants. Today, the company is ASX traded and funds a high percent of all funded cases in Australia. Bentham raises capital from its equity holders and from public bond offerings, as well as from returns on its successful investments. Bentham began operating in the US when it opened in NYC in 2011. Today, it also has US offices in SF and LA and plans more in other major US legal markets. Bentham recently opened an office in Toronto, and it funds cases throughout Asia through its Australian offices. The company has funded over 180 cases to completion and returned funds in about 90\% of them, amounting to over $1.7B. About 63\% of those returns were paid to claimants, with the rest split between Bentham and counsel. Bentham has been financially successful, with an approximate 2.8x return on its invested capital over its 15-year life. The average time to maturity of a case is 2.5 years. The internal rate of return (IRR) is almost 80\%. All of Bentham’s US investment managers have at least 15 years of litigation and trial experience, as does Dave, who spent most of his career as a Gibson Dunn litigator. How Bentham Litigation Financing Works – Single Cases Bentham funds a variety of commercial litigation, from breach of contract to patent. It usually commits between $1M and $10M for individual cases. This funding can be used to cover attorney’s fees, out of pocket costs of litigation, as well as operating capital or living expenses of claimants. Bentham also funds law firms directly if they bundle a “portfolio” of three or more contingent cases. All of Bentham’s funding is “non-recourse” except to the litigation proceeds: Bentham only receives a return if the case is successful, i.e., it results in a collected settlement or judgment. When clients lose, Bentham earns nothing and loses its capital. Dave reports that Bentham strives for fairness and believes claimants in funded cases should receive the majority of litigation proceeds. Bentham structures investments so that that is the most likely outcome. Bentham targets claims worth at least $10M. It analyzes a proposed case to determine whether the realistic value is at least 8-10x the amount of funds Bentham is asked to commit in the transaction. Bentham aims to return about 3x to 4x on each investment. Though all Bentham’s funding is “bespoke”, in single cases, it prefers a 50/50 investment. In this model, Bentham commits to fund 50\% of a capped lawyer fee budget. The lawyers commit to fund the other 50\% (and anything over the cap). Ideally (but not necessarily), the client funds out of po...
Sep 5 3:44pm Prism Legal
Last week I attended ILTACon, the 2016 conference of the International Legal Technology Association. Here is a recap of my activities for the week. The first section has links to the three sessions I attended and live blogged. The second has a pictorial summary of the session on the blockchain that I moderated. The third has a link to a podcast discussion with Eric Laughlin of Thomson Reuters on AI and the blockchain. And the fourth has embedded spot video interviews of legal tech thought leaders; each video is less than 140 seconds, the maximum video length Twitter supports. Live Blog Posts from Sessions I Attended Reinventing Traditional Support Staff Roles in a Buyer’s Market Panelists: Florinda Baldridge of Norton Rose Fulbright, Scott M. Cohen of Winston & Strawn, Rachelle Rennagel of Pillsbury,Katrina Jasaitis of Mayer Brown Finding a Needle in a Haystack with 21st C. Expertise Systems Panelists: Kate Cain of Sidley Austin, Marybeth Corbett of WilmerHale, Julie Bozzell of Hogan Lovells, and Joshua Fireman of Fireman & Company. The Future of Legal KM Panelists: Rob Saccone (Partner Nexlaw Partners LLC), Patrick DiDomenico (CKO, Ogletree Deakins), and Sam Nickless (COO, Gilbert & Tobin) Summary of Blockchain Session I Moderated I moderated a session on the blockchain, When Will Blockchains and Smart Contracts Be Important in Legal. Here is the pictorial summary, courtesy of ILTA: Podcast with Eric Laughlin of Thomson Reuters Eric Laughlin, Managing Director, Corporate Segment, Thomson Reuters and I spoke for about 10 minutes in a recorded podcast about AI and the blockchain published by TR Legal Current. Spot Interviews I Conducted Noah Waisberg, co-founder and CEO of Kira Systems #ILTACon spot interview with @nwaisb of @KiraSystems, winner of the ILTA vendor thought leader award pic.twitter.com/kIECiPYIVR — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) September 1, 2016 Dan Hauck, co-founder and CEO of ThreadKM #ILTACon spot interview with @Dan\_Hauck of @ThreadKM, winner of innovative solution provider of the year pic.twitter.com/qdyZeAJqAD — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) September 1, 2016 Ed Walters, Co-Founder and CEO of Fastcase #ILTACon spot interview with @EJWalters of @fastcase pic.twitter.com/reG718720Z — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) September 1, 2016 Michael Callier and Andy Peterson of DWT DeNovo #ILTACon spot interview with Michael Callier + @designbuildlgl of @dwtdenovo pic.twitter.com/WXuo04Nhr3 — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) August 31, 2016 Sam Nickless, COO of Australian law firm Gilbert & Tobin #ILTACon spot interview with @samnickless of @gtlaw pic.twitter.com/hzUxsCyAxV — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) August 31, 2016 Monica Bay, Fellow at Stanford CodeX and former publisher, Legal Technology News #ILTACon spot interview with @MonicaBay of @CodeXStanford pic.twitter.com/GRLAwUM1Zl — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) August 29, 2016 Michael Mills, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Neota Logic #ILTACon spot interview with CEO @michaelmillsny of @NeotaLogic pic.twitter.com/RB9LVhDy7K — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) August 29, 2016 Frank Levy, Prof Emeritus of Economics, MIT, who is studying + has published on legal AI #ILTACon spot interview W Frank Levy, Prof Emeritus of Economics, MIT, who is studying + has published on legal #AI pic.twitter.com/Q8GnXZTyCB — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) August 29, 2016 Peter Wallqvist, CEO of RAVN Search #ILTACon spot interview with CEO Peter Wallqvist of @RavnSearch pic.twitter.com/BCykCi1l90 — ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) August 28, 2016 The post ILTA Recap – Spot Video Interviews and Blog Posts appeared first on Prism Legal.
Sep 1 2:30pm Prism Legal
This is a live blog post from ILTACon, the 2016 conference of the International Legal Technology Association. This session, #ILTA158, is Reinventing Traditional Support Staff Roles in a Buyer’s Market (#ILTACon Live) with panelists Florinda Baldridge of Norton Rose Fulbright, Scott M. Cohen of Winston & Strawn, Rachelle Rennagel of Pillsbury, Katrina Jasaitis of Mayer Brown. A session description appears at the end of this post. I wrote this post while the session took place and published as it ended. So please forgive any typos or mistakes of understanding. As a live post, please forgive any typos or misunderstandings of meaning. Discussion Since the economic crash of 2010, law firms find themselves in a more competitive market. It’s now a buyers’ market, not a sellers’ market. This has led to tech initiatives and process improvement. But these only get firms part of the way. As important are new roles and organizations to deliver support. The year 2008 led to very significant changes. In spite of the pain, it’s a good thing. It’s great that clients challenge firms to add value and be more efficient. Florinda got an email back then called “efficiencies”. The managing partner communicated to staff client demands to be more efficient. Also, clients increasingly use legal service providers instead of lawyers, for example LPO or accounting firms. Clients have also more transparency as well as value. This has driven alternative fee arrangements, budgets (and sticking to them), and the rise of professionals for pricing, budgeting, and project managers. The billable hour creates challenges but it is far from dead. ∂ These pressures mean support staff need to reinvent themselves. In a show of hands, more than half the audience have moved into new roles (RF: not clear over what time period though). Those who don’t reinvent themselves are at risk for their firms replacing them. Economics are not the only drivers of this – so too is the rise of tech. One panelist took responsibility for paralegals to help re-invent them and re-tool them. She built a 25-module training program to help. This was only moderately successful. The paralegals, in 2011, were not very willing to change. Even after pointing out to them that partners they were working for would retire in near future, they were not that motivated, From 2011, the number of paralegals fell from 25 to 3. Two of the three who remained embraced the training and third moved to an LPM role. But reinvention of yourself is not easy. There is much fear and intimidation. Some embrace change but many resist and fear change (and skilling up). One aid to reinvent is to look at your core skills and determine how they can be applied in different or new ways. Also, look to identify new or unmet needs and volunteer to start an initiative to address. Panelists says that firms will embrace those who offer to make improvements. But some lawyers may resist the change, especially if it is a lawyer who has re-tooled him or herself. More law firms are now hiring people who focus on the business of the practice. (And the clients are hiring directors of operations as well.) “Clients care about how the sausage is made. They want to know how firms run their businesses.” This drives firms to improve operations. To support this, many firms have developed new operational metrics. One firm did this and shared with a consultant, which came back with process maps to show firm where improvement opportunities lay. One panelists cites example from past of distributed library in a big firm. It found that reference librarians spent way too much time on technical services such as intake and shelving of books and not enough on research. Process maps, metrics, and analysis helped uncover this and make improvements. Technology underlies much of the above. It can force change. For example, third parties are using tech to collect, aggregate, and analyze law firm data and reporting to clients, which can then assess law firm relative efficiency. In discovery, computer assisted review has dramatically changed how reviews are conducted and how many lawyers are needed. Law firm operations are adopting new technology, for example, a Tableau-powered partner financial dashboard. A related issues is when firm should insource, outsource, or open a low cost service center. In show of hands, not one goes up in answer to ‘h...
Aug 31 10:00am Prism Legal
This is a live blog post from ILTACon, the 2016 conference of the International Legal Technology Association. This session is the Finding a Needle in a Haystack with 21st Century Expertise Systems with panelists with Kate Cain of Sidley Austin, Marybeth Corbett of WilmerHale, Julie Bozzell of Hogan Lovells, and Joshua Fireman of Fireman & Company. A session description appears at the end of this post. I wrote this post while the session took place and published as it ended. So please forgive any typos or mistakes of understanding. As a live post, please forgive any typos or misunderstandings of meaning. Panel Discussion We find ourselves using 19th century processes with 20th century technology to solve 21st century problems. Terminology: expertise, experience, skills… is there a difference? One point of view: Expertise is people focused; it’s what they know and their skills. Expertise is what the organization knows and relates to matters. Skills go more to defined, universally recognized skills. Is there anything objective here? One POV: combination of objective and subjective. Sidley uses Foundation to capture its experience. To determine expertise requires making some inferences, for example, finding who has experience in a particular jurisdiction. Doing that requires knowing how many matters and hours lawyers have worked on matters. But number of hours is not always the right indicator because the small number of partner hours may count for more than many hours of an associate. So expertise location means finding the right lawyers to tackle a client problem. Drivers for each firm… Hogan Lovells: Previously, firm had several ways for lawyers to self-identify experience, and primarily in the US. With lawyers coming and going, finding the expertise, especially on a global basis, was very hard. The firm wanted to find a more systematic way to locate expertise. Firm management to ask for a better solution. Joshua: Hogan Lovells is obvioulsy large so the problem is clear. But we have observed that even smaller firms, say 150 lawyers, can have this problem. WilmerHale: The firm has worked on this area for a long time. The firm reached a tipping point when it realized it needed more info on matters and what they were about. Responding to pitches and having to price matters made the need for expertise critical. So many threads came together to address expertise location more systematically and on a firm-wide basis. Joshua: In the past, expertise location was about finding colleagues to do work. Now, it’s a business driver. Sidley: When I started about 5 years ago, the firm thought of that as “marketing database” and a marketing problem. And from my own experience, I know that marketing and BD has much to gain from expertise location. But it won’t work as marketing only – it must touch every step of the entire client lifecycle. That means from prospect, to winning the business (including pricing), to staffing the matter, to finding lawyers in the future, to league tables. What really got management attention was staffing the matter as a big driver. Joshua: so this is not just about selecting a product and rolling out. There are a lot of requirements, data prep, and adoption issues. So let’s look at use cases to help understand this in more detail. WilmerHale: You have to understand the problem to solve before looking for solutions. Everyone at firm will say “I need to know about our work”. But you have to understand what that means – how much detail do stakeholders need. The answer will drive vendor evaluation and selection. Sidley: When setting up a system, don’t ask lawyer what fields they want. You will end up with way too many requests. So you have to focus on scenarios that really occur. You can’t just say “let’s search”. You need to know how you will use data – that will drive what you will collect. It has to be balanced though by cost of data acquisition. Key advice: you have to start somewhere. By mapping out final destination, which may be four years out, you can decide where best to start. Joshua: Defining use cases and scenarios means knowing inputs, outputs, and actors. What are touch points in the firm that affect information flows. Where can you tap those flow? And information you collect from the process may require different presentation lawyers for different purposes, for example, addre...
Aug 29 1:59pm Prism Legal
This is a live blog post from ILTACon, the 2016 conference of the International Legal Technology Association. This session is the Future of Legal KM with panelists Rob Saccone (Partner Nexlaw Partners LLC), Patrick DiDomenico (CKO, Ogletree Deakins), and Sam Nickless (COO, Gilbert & Tobin). Steve Lastres, Director of Library & Knowledge Management, of Debevoise moderates. The session description appears at the end of this post. I wrote this post while the session took place and published as it ended. So please forgive any typos or mistakes of understanding. What is the Current State of KM? – Patrick DiDomenico “The future is now – some of the future is already here.” Ogletree KM is about improving the business and practice of the firm. That should be the goal of all support functions in a law firm. If you do not move the business forward, you hurt the firm. At Ogletree, KM tries to improve the knowledge sharing culture. The firm is open and pre-disposed to sharing, which is a big benefit to enable KM. So the KM team builds on that culture with access to information such as Intranets. This may be obvious but it’s important to keep sight of the bigger picture and goal. The firm broadcasts the message to clients. The firm’s client pledge includes using technology and KM to better serve clients. What is Driving Change in KM? Rob Saccone All firms have felt pressure post 2010 recession. The buyer-seller dynamic for legal services has changed significantly. There is more competition and choices for clients,, who face much pressure to reduce costs. That cost pressure has flowed through to law firms. The market has changed permanently. These changes affect KM – it’s an ingredient to help law firms do more with less. But the KM is fragmented across firms. Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen KM function inherit more functions from elsewhere in the firm. For example, LPM, process improvement, and library are often now under KM. Why are these under KM? The reason is that KM leaders are best suited to managed these functions. There is no other good fit in the firm. But reporting lines vary widely by firm. The traditional KM work has not changed very much. The change is inheriting more functions and being more focused on client service. But the broader scope varies widely. A lot of KM professionals have to make it up as they go. Sam adds: clients want to see KM in more detail, how it works, and who is running it. Specific client needs drive KM. Patrick adds: Tom Baldwin once said that the financial collapse of 2008 was the best thing that ever happened to legal KM. The combination of economics and client demand has driven KM demand and capabilities. Rob asks if KM now is different post vs. pre-recession…. Patrick says the scope has broadened. We also see a renewed interest in people. Ogletree has grown from 1 PSL to 4. Firms now recognize the need for more support and lawyers to focus on content development. But less than one third of hands go up in room responding to how many have seen KM become more client focused at their firms. Patrick: Ogletree has seen double digit increases in the number of RFPs, even from existing clients. This leads to more collaboration between marketing (client services) and KM. It’s important now to answer RFP questions in more than a “check the box” manner. The same changes are driving more firms to develop products such as technology services or packaged AFA arrangements. Oz Benamram asks if RFPs involve clients or procurement? Answer: both. Changes in outside counsel guidelines and more RFPs suggest that clients – whether GC or procurement – are more serious about how they select law firms. Steve: “It takes a village to complete RFPs” Marketing, IT, KM, lawyers, and others. Having a workflow to respond is key. The Role of the KM Professional – Sam Nickless Sam brings the COO perspective, with KM just one of many functions reporting to him. For me, KM professionals are the ultimate utility players. They can fill gaps. As new opportunities and tech arrive, gaps open up, and KM folks are the ones best at filling the gap. I think of the term “designer” when I think of KM. With emphasis on design thinking now applying to customer experience (and not just products), I see KM professionals playing that role. For example, if we have new tech helping how we deliver due dilige...
Aug 27 2:23pm Prism Legal
The blockchain is hot. On Tuesday, I will moderate a session on it at ILTCon – more below. This morning, I flipped through Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. I was excited to see the Opening Remarks section, a commentary and op-ed style weekly piece. This Is Your Company on Blockchain is a medium-length discussion of the potential disruptive effect of blockchain technology. Though many mainstream media articles on blockchain have appeared, most articles still lead with a blockchain definition: It mashes up cryptography and peer-to-peer networking to create what amounts to a shared database of transactions and other information—which can be open to all, controlled by no one. It’s not just for securely recording payments in crypto-coinage; a blockchain can handle complex transactions, even entire contracts. It notes that that “believers say blockchain could reduce the need for businesses to organize as companies”. Wow. That’s the first time I hear that argument and it sounds more dystopian than utopian to me. Yet it builds from the value of blockchain and why so many financial institutions and other organizations are piloting it today. The “blockchain is far less cumbersome than the trust-creating infrastructure that it partially replaces.” The technology is pretty hard to understand. The implications are potentially profound. That’s why I’m excited to moderate a session on the blockchain on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 11am, at ILTACon, the 2016 conference of the International Legal Technology Association. The session, When Will Blockchains and Smart Contracts Be Important in Legal (#061), has three panelists: Rohit Talwar (CEO Fast Future), Joe Dewey (partner Holland & Knight), and Tori Adams (Data Scientist, Booz Allen Hamilton). I’ve appended the session description below. I’ve asked the panelists to cover a range of issues. Each will speak for about 15 minutes, which leaves 45 minutes for audience participation and panelist discussion. Some of my questions are below. Given the complexity of the topic and the many issues, we may not get to them all. I welcome suggestions for additional questions, either here or at the session. Questions about the Blockchain ILTA this year hosts several sessions about AI. It’s true that AI has had a huge amount of press coverage. And many articles say AI will be very disruptive. Blockchain too has its share of press. Any views on which will have more impact – AI or blockchain – and why? Thinking about the web – early days and now – and comparing it to blockchain… is it helpful to think about what may be a key commonality: disintermediation, transparency, and access? The web allowed everyone to publish and therefore everyone to consume content in new ways. Blockchain creates more transparency and more access. Is this a helpful way of thinking about blockchain? If it’s right, can we draw implications? If not, is there a better mental model? If the blockchain really is as revolutionary as the web, what will it mean for everyday consumers in a decade or two out? The web, aided by smartphones, has really changed how we spend our time, engage in transactions, and consume information. Social media, e-commerce, news feeds, video streaming… it’s a new world. If blockchain becomes pervasive, will the differences in how the world works be as obvious to typical consumers? Or will it be more behind the scenes? What is the low hanging fruit? That is, what area(s) of law do you think will be the first to be impacted by blockchain technology and how? We’re approaching or past the one year anniversary of pervasive blockchain hype. Does any major company you know of have a blockchain-based application being used in the wild yet? Does secure digital identity matter to blockchain? That is, does it depend on being able reliably to identify individuals. What is the single biggest hurdle/hinderance to the adoption of blockchain technology in the legal industry? If someone wants to keep up on major developments – say every couple of months – what are good sources to consult? So, if we’re talking disruption, can we see far enough into the future to guess at a disruption to the blockchain? By way of example, some argue that mobile apps are disrupting the World Wide Web. Or that dark content disrupts the web. What about quantum computing? Either as a way to decrypt or a...
Aug 26 12:33pm The Kennedy-Mighell Report
In this episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, hosts Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell discuss their dreams for future tech innovations, the ways technology is currently failing us, and the strong reactions consumers are having to the rumors that the new iPhone 7 will not have a traditional headphone jack. Dennis shares that the catalyst for this show topic was a recent experience with aggressive drivers that made him recall a traffic accident he was in. The recklessness of the drivers and the distraction that resulted in his crash made him think that perhaps the world needs driverless vehicle technology more than ever before. Tom further emphasizes this sentiment by referencing several recent stories of individuals who, while driving, experienced heart attacks or other medical emergencies and utilized driverless car technology to safely and expediently reach the hospital. He states that humanity has to get use to the idea that computers can do things as well as, if not better than we can, and driving might be one of the last places that this occurs. Both hosts provide their wish lists of tech innovations that could improve their everyday lives, including intelligent voice recognition software that understands the context of spoken requests and a dashboard that provides sophisticated multi-platform social media management. They end the first segment with their thoughts on how these advancements could greatly benefit lawyers. In the second segment of the podcast, Dennis and Tom explore why consumers are having such a negative reaction to the rumors that Apple’s iPhone 7 will not come with a headphone jack. Dennis remarks that traditional tech is disappearing faster than ever before and wonders if this is another sign of our technological future that society will have to get use to. Tom thinks that consumers are concerned about their previous tech investments, like top quality headphones, becoming obsolete and reminds us all that technology always changes and that you can either accept that evolution or give up the technology altogether. They both speculate how removing the headphone jack and utilizing the lightning port could potentially innovate the headphone as a platform. As always, stay tuned for Parting Shots, that one tip, website, or observation you can use the second the podcast ends. Special thanks to our sponsor, ServeNow.
Aug 21 3:41pm Prism Legal
Introduction to Blockchain Interview on Its impact on Practice and Firms Both the legal and mainstream media have written many articles about the Blockchain. So I thought readers will appreciate hearing from three lawyers whose practices focus on it. I’ve asked them to explain what the blockchain is and its impact on law practice, business, and law firm management. Three partners in three firms have kindly agreed to participate in this discussion: Josias “Joe” N. Dewey | Holland & Knight LLP Dax Hansen | Perkins Coie LLP Scott Farrell | 范睿 Partner | 合伙人 King & Wood Mallesons [For those who would like to learn more and will attend ILTACon, I will moderate the session When Will Blockchains and Smart Contracts Be Important in Legal on Tuesday, 30 Aug 2016. Joe Dewey, an interviewee here, is a panelist. (Session #ILTA061)] My first question asks each person to provide a self-intro… Questions and Answers about Blockchain Impacts Let’s start with quick introductions – tell me in a few sentences what your Blockchain practice looks like and how many of your colleagues focus on it. Dewey: I have practiced transactional law for over 18 years with a particular speciality in finance transactions. Computer programming has been a hobby of mine since I was eight years old. At the intersection of law and blockchain technology, there is a need for legal professionals who understand both substantive areas of the law and the technical workings of blockchain protocols. So my blockchain practice is focused on designing blockchain-based tools for clients, especially finance clients who can greatly increase efficiencies with it, and advising clients on how blockchain technology could help them (and also where there is more hype than reality). A year ago, the only colleagues who even knew what the blockchain was were focused solely on the money transmitter and associated licensing issues. That is now shifting with professionals in different areas looking at the technology from different angles (e.g., corporate lawyers looking at difference between conventional corporations and corporate finance versus decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs)). Intellectual property rights in this area is another angle that is starting to attract interest. I expect the number of lawyers in my firm who touch upon blockchain technology to grow exponentially over the next year or so. Farrell: My practice comes at this from a different perspective. For the last 20 years I have worked in financial markets and financial systems, including derivatives and capital markets. Since the global financial crisis this has developed a focus in working with financial market infrastructure – such as exchanges, clearing houses, trade repositories and payment systems. My practice in centralised financial market infrastructure has adjusted to also include decentralised financial market infrastructure as it has grown into an alternative way to connect participants in the global financial markets. We work for incumbent financial institutions, market infrastructure providers as well as new entrants and regulators and governments in this area. Including those in our other offices around the globe, I would estimate that there is more than a few dozen of us currently who have a focus on this area, including its use with smart contracts. This will grow as more of our clients move their focus into this field. Hansen: Simply stated, my practice focuses on the intersection of technology and money. For the last dozen years, I’ve chaired Perkins Coie’s fintech industry practice group, helping tech companies, retailers, video game companies and wireless companies launch new products and services and navigate the domestic and international financial systems. Having published on legal requirements applicable to “traditional” virtual currencies in the video game and retail sectors, in 2011 pioneers in the Bitcoin and other decentralized virtual currency space asked me to help “keep them out of jail” and build businesses around this new technology. From 2011 until the Bitcoin industry’s watershed conference in San Jose in May 2013, we worked in the trenches with the early pioneers and industry associations dealing with decentralized infrastructure development and early subpoenas and law enforcement inquiries. That was an intense time! I was so rapidly deputizing ne...
Aug 10 10:30pm Prism Legal
HighQ, a UK-based software company serving the legal market, recently initiated a conversation about SmarltLaw. It started with a website earlier this year. This month, the company released a short e-book that asked 15 experts to answer the question “What do you believe lawyers and law firms need to do to prepare for the future of legal services?” I reproduce here an edited version of my answer. I also provide short background on HighQ and a list of the other contributing experts. My View on How Firms Must Prepare for the Future I’m a big proponent of dismantling the caste system so that lawyers work effectively with other professionals, both in their own firm and in other organizations. Doing away with castes will lead to better quality output by informing legal answers with essential disciplines such as marketing, IT , accounting, consulting, engineering, science, and statistics. Many lawyers present to the world as “masters of the universe”, with all the answers to every question. In fact, however, they don’t have answers to many questions. At least not good and complete answers. To zealously represent clients, the primary ethical mandate, lawyers must consider with whom they work and how. And then work with those other professional as equals. The caste system is not the only shibboleth that needs tearing down. So too does the lawyer mindset that “I deliver the right answer to my clients and that’s all I need to do”. Of course they must provide the right answer. But clients today want both more and less. Clients want less in the sense that they need outside counsel who understand the client’s risk tolerance and scope the legal work accordingly. Today, many lawyers do more law than clients need or want. And client want more in the sense of empathy and better service delivery. Empathy means a true understanding of pressures on the client. Better service delivery means, for example, lawyers who return phone calls and emails, who deliver to expected turnaround time, and who budget accurately and deliver to budget. Better service delivery also means higher value. This requires reducing effort and cost (improving efficiency) with knowledge management, process improvement, and specialized practice technologies. About HighQ HighQ describes itself as a “suite of cloud-based software products combine cutting-edge technology with enterprise grade security, all wrapped up in a consumer-style interface, to help businesses collaborate, communicate and securely share information.” List of Other Experts Who Answered the Question The HighQ SmartLaw e-book also includes answers from other thought leaders: Caroline Ferguson – Living Lawyers Ivan Rasic – LegalTrek Lindsay Griffiths – International Lawyers Network D Casey Flaherty – Procertas Jordan Furlong – Law21 Michelle Mahoney – King & Wood Mallesons Ari Kaplan – Lawcountability Susan Hackett – Legal Executive Leadership George Beaton – beaton Ben Wightwick – HighQ Jeremy Hopkins – Clerkingwell Consulting V Mary Abraham – Broadli, Above and Beyond KM Ryan McClead – HighQ, 3 Geeks and a Law blog The post How Law Firms Should Prepare for the Future of Legal Services (HighQ SmartLaw Book Contribution) appeared first on Prism Legal.
Aug 4 11:00am The Kennedy-Mighell Report
In this episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, hosts Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell discuss whether it is beneficial to take a break from technology and if increased tracking of consumers through their technology is inevitable. Dennis and Tom were both recently on vacation and during this time of seclusion Dennis started to rethink his relationship with technology. His decreased use of email and sporadic access to social media led him to question if a controlled break from technology was beneficial in simplifying one's approach to tech use. Tom stayed much more connected during his vacation and came to the conclusion that he doesn’t want to take a break from technology. Leveraging the maps, apps, and entertaining content tech provides, in his opinion, helps him to supplement the activities that he likes to do. They both encourage anyone feeling overwhelmed by tech to take an audit of their use and find ways to be more efficient and remove unsustainable habits. They end the segment with an analysis of how a complete break from technology can affect a lawyer’s practice and their relationship with their clients. In the second segment of the podcast, Dennis and Tom take a look at the concept of tracking consumers through their technology and whether or not the growth of this trend is inevitable. Dennis admits that he is wary to enable tracking on his devices and that this caution is also why he doesn’t use social media often when he travels. However, he also recognizes that the services he relies upon like browser searches and mobile applications would be greatly improved if he enabled more tracking. Tom does feel that tracking is inevitable but also emphasizes that transparency over what is collected and control over how much you share is incredibly important to him. They both analyze what this complex social contract might look like as tracking capabilities and the categories that are tracked continue to increase. As always, stay tuned for Parting Shots, that one tip, website, or observation you can use the second the podcast ends. Special thanks to our sponsor, ServeNow.
Jul 31 7:09pm Prism Legal
In this century we have seen dramatic changes in the legal market. From a period of plenty, we moved to one of seeming scarcity. Many commentators suggest that the legal market has been, is being, or will be disrupted. I have a different point of view: if the 2007-10 economic crisis did not “disrupt” the legal market, I am not sure what would. And anyone claiming disruption must look at how lawyers practice. When I do so, I see incremental and, in my view, minor changes. Probably the biggest changes in the last three decades were the advent of PCs and then the Internet – both over 20 years old. These tools, while hugely important, have not fundamentally changed the mechanics of law practice. So I expect the future will reflect a continuation of trends we can see clearly today. I present here my take on where firms need to head if they want to succeed, starting with what should motivate change. Law Firms Face Continuing Pressure to Change Clients increasingly push law firms to deliver better value. They are also taking steps to reduce cost, including bringing more work in-house, using alternative service providers such as managed document review companies and legal process outsourcers (LPO), and shifting work to smaller firms and boutiques from large firms. We also see signs that technology will replace some lawyer work. These trends translate to flat demand and tremendous price pressure. To prosper, firms must adjust how they practice and how they run their businesses. Legal Project Management (LPM), Pricing, and Profitability Clients no longer allow law firms to “do whatever it takes” and “leave no stone unturned”. Today, clients make risk-adjusted decisions about how vigorously to purse legal matters. Law firms must tune-in to these client expectations. For each matter, partners must have clear discussions about its scope before beginning work. They must then set budgets or fixed fees and, once work is underway, monitor performance against budgets. Budgeting and delivering within budgets or fixed fees are necessary new skills – whether matters are priced hourly or under alternative fee arrangements. These pressures will lead to related changes. Across matters, firm management must consider profitability by matter, practice, client, and partner. To meet this need and support individual matters, firms now deploy software and staff to support pricing, budgeting, profitability analysis, and project management. We will see continued growth in the number of pricing and legal project management professionals. As more partners understand the new mandate to manage costs and profits, they will use software to help. A new class of pricing and legal project management software is now displacing older systems that only accountants loved. As lawyers and firms deploy more professionals and better software, they will learn what drives profitability. That will lead to changes in how lawyers work, specifically in staffing and use of technology… Lawyer Staffing Delivering value while maintaining profits requires some combination of more leverage and deploying lower cost lawyers. Some firms will leverage up. A handful of top end firms can maintain and increase profitability by driving the traditional partner and associate model, building the base of the pyramid bigger. Yet that model will not work for many firms. Instead, many will need to de-leverage, at least with traditional associates. Instead, they will need to hire staff attorneys – non-partner track lawyers – at lower compensation than associates. To compete more effectively with alternative service providers, some firms place cadres of lower-paid lawyers in low cost service centers (e.g., in Kansas City, Dayton, and Tampa in the US and Belfast or Manchester in the UK). Lawyers Will Use More Core and Practice Technologies Technology will also help firms deliver more value by automating routine tasks, even in high-stake matters. I predict this reluctantly because tech uptake has been so slow to date. For example, document assembly is little used today even though it has been available since the 1980s. But relentless economic pressure likely will force change. Moreover, many new tools do not require the upfront investment that document assembly does. Examples of new, efficiency enhancing practice technologies include predictive coding for eDiscovery, due-diligence enhancers, and deal management packages. Some observers suggest that machine learning...
Jul 18 9:15pm Prism Legal
FLEX by Fenwick is Fenwick & West LPP‘s 90-lawyer-strong interim in-house counsel business that “is the only service backed by an AmLaw 100 firm that provides custom solutions for interim in-house legal needs.” I have long followed alternative lawyer staffing models so was pleased to learn more about FLEX from Carole Coplan, its General Manager. Background: The Rise of High-End Secondment and Interim In-House Counsel Services for Law Departments Before reporting on FLEX, some background is helpful. Since the 2008-10 economic crisis, clients have demanded more value from law firms. They have moved work from firms to alternatives such as legal process outsourcers (LPO), legal tech providers, lawyer staffing services, high-end lawyer secondments, and interim in-house counsel. Staffing means short-term, relatively undifferentiated lawyers; secondment and high-end interim in-house counsel mean experienced and specialized lawyers whom clients typically retain for high-value legal services and longer time periods. Axiom Law has the biggest share of mind in the secondment and interim in-house counsel market. Started around 2001, it grew rapidly in 2009 and beyond when GCs sought to reduce costs. It has many competitors including, in the UK and Australia, some law firms: I have long wondered why more US law firms have not developed such services. I had moment of excitement in 2011 when I first learned about Fenwick & West LLP’s FLEX service in 2011 (see Tweet image) but was surprised that no firms followed. My next surprise was when I recently read (Thomson Reuters blog) that FLEX had grown to 90 lawyers, I knew the time had come to learn more. And that’s when I reached out to FLEX and was introduced to Carole… What FLEX Does FLEX provides in-house attorney solutions for high-growth companies. Most clients utilize FLEX for its bench of commercial transactions attorneys, though many engagements are for support for M&A, employment law, litigation or regulatory work (e.g., privacy). FLEX attorneys have both law firm and in-house experience with at least 5-6 years of experience in one subject area to former public and private company GC’s with 20-25 or more years of experience. All are highly vetted with strong credentials and are interviewed and tested to make sure they have the experience and advising skills necessary for in-house work. FLEX offers companies a variety of plans including quarterly blocks of 60, 90, or 120 hours; part-time lawyers for 2 to 4 days per week; and full-time for a negotiated time period. The internal FLEX team includes seven full-time staff. Carole is a former GC and the team’s three client managers, recruiting manager and head of marketing are also lawyers. FLEX Fit with Fenwick Fenwick started FLEX for strategic reasons, not simply to generate revenue. Management saw that clients and prospects had legal needs that Fenwick’s full-service core offering could not always meet at the right price point. Fenwick started FLEX when it saw that venture-backed clients needed an in-house attorney to handle commercial transactions and other routine legal needs once the client reached a certain point in its growth cycle. With service at a different value point, FLEX can start a relationship where one does not exist or deepen an existing one. The firm has extensive experience with early stage companies and so has a strong sense of what type of lawyering and lawyering economics clients need at different stages of growth and financing. Today, FLEX’s clients include venture-backed private companies, as well as large publicly traded companies. How FLEX Works FLEX lawyers are W-2 employees of Fenwick but are a different bench of attorneys than Fenwick. They are deployed with clients as consultants and at a much lower cost structure. They are covered by the firm’s malpractice insurance and they receive PTO benefits, as well as insurance benefits if they work a minimum of 20 hours/week, which some do. FLEX does not guarantee its lawyers work nor are they paid if they do not work. They are free to work for competitors such as Axiom or Paragon. The lawyers are not required to make a minimum commitment. Some do not want to work anywhere close to the 20-hour threshold for benefits but others do work full time. FLEX clients and attorneys must clear the firm’s usual conflict checking process. But a FLEX lawyers̵...
Jul 15 6:10pm e-Discovery Insights
Another conference, another post! We’re over ten weeks out from the State Bar of California’s 89th Annual Meeting. Bookmark this link to stay up-to-date about hotels, registration, events and programs. I know what you’re thinking: Where’s my usual sneak peek at the latest info? Well, here’s info on my program, presented with my LPMT colleague, Jeff … Continue reading CALBAR 89TH ANNUAL MEETING: SEPTEMBER 29 – OCTOBER 2, 2016 – SAN DIEGO →...
Jul 12 7:41pm Prism Legal
A recent article about aircraft production observed that automation requires starting from scratch. Wow. It made me wonder if that’s so for law firms?. Airplane Makers Automate to Meet Surging Demand in the Wall Street Journal (9 July 2016) reports that Boeing and Airbus “are digging deep into the technology toolbox to deliver what they have promised will be an unprecedented boost in airliner production.” They are deploying robots, drones, and powered exoskeletons to produce jets faster. One line jumped out: “Starting from scratch turns out to be easier than adapting the new automation to existing facilities.” Might this also be true for large law firms? They rely on lawyers and generic computers to produce legal work. Surely re-tooling this cannot be as complex as for jet factories. To answer this, remember that the legal market notion of productivity – hours worked per year per lawyer – is exactly wrong. Everywhere else, productivity means output per unit of time. Measuring jets produced per month and person-hours required per jet is easy. But how do we quantify legal output? I don’t know, so we have to work from anecdotes and impressions. I see more automation in Big Law boutique spin-offs and in New Law than I do in large firms. If true, big firms that want to automate more should be able to do so? After all, they don’t have the equivalent of Boeing’s factories and installed machinery. The only installed base or law firms is lawyers. And the business model, which is the real constraint. Boutiques and New Law, unlike Big Law, work under fixed fees so they can deploy automation profitability. Large law firms could, as a matter of production means, easily adopt the same tools as New Law. A business model to maximize hours stymies such efforts. Happily, I see signs of change. More large law firms now take automation seriously. Several have spun-up R&D initiatives. Others have deployed contract analytics software to accelerate due diligence. Some invest more in knowledge management, which increases output per hour by enabling lawyers to work faster to produce the same outputs. While law firms don’t face the aggressive delivery schedules of airframe makers, they do need to deliver more and better client value. To automate, they do not need to re-build from scratch. The main required ingredient is client pressure. If GCs keep pushing for value, pay attention to production means, and choose firms based on real productivity – and publicly say why – then large firms will be motivated to automate. Embed from Getty Images The post Do Large Law Firms Have to Start from Scratch to Automate? appeared first on Prism Legal.
Jun 22 8:32pm Prism Legal
The legal media has lately had a mania for tech headlines. Many commentators claim that tech, especially artificial intelligence (AI), will do something to Big Law. I disagree. Tech more likely will do something in it: incremental change. I start with the case against disruption, then look at four headline-grabbing technologies: AI, Bots, Big Data, and Blockchain. The Case Against Disruption By the late 1980s, a few law firms had most of their lawyers using PCs. The market did not reward these early adopters. Nor did it punish late adopters. The same pattern played out for email, the Internet, and social media. Tech did disrupt legal secretaries. But that took an economic crisis and 15 years. Tech has enabled change – for example, the rise of boutiques and clients using alternative providers – but that has not disrupted lawyers or law firms. An even bigger event than tech – the 2008-10 economic crisis – also failed to disrupt Big Law, notwithstanding widespread lay-offs and a few dissolutions. In the aftermath, Big Law faces price pressure and more competition but not disruption. Even with tech, with price pressure, and with clients bringing more work in-house, Big Law prospers as reported by recent Am Law 100 and Altman Weil surveys. With this history, I just don’t see how the new technologies today will be any different than the past. Artificial Intelligene (AI) AI screams loudest in Big Law. For example, the news in May of BakerHosteteler going public with using ROSS Intelligence (based on IBM Watson) generated many “Robot Lawyer” stories. Hyperbolic headlines notwithstanding, the impact of AI is limited to four fairly narrow realms. Machine learning improves contract analytics and powers predictive coding in eDiscovery. The latter says a lot about legal. I saw long ago, from the document review trenches, that machines usually perform better than big teams of humans. Persuading both lawyers and the courts of that, however, has been a decade-plus effort that continues. Expert systems deliver interactive legal advice for specific legal questions. Several large law firms have recently announced such systems. Building and maintaining them requires much expert lawyer time, which remains an economic disincentive. I worked for a legal expert system company in the late 1990s. It’s taken 15+ years for a few commercial systems to emerge. Machine learning for answering questions of legal classification. For more on this, see my prior post, Machine Learning (AI) to Answer to Legal Questions: Blue J Legal. It can answer legal questions but, like expert systems, building them seems a big investment. So the business model remains an open question. Watson benefits from IBM’s PR prowess. My Watson blog posts explain my skepticism in detail. Even ROSS Intelligence talks more about augmentation than replacement. AI disruption proponents should read the scholarly and empirically-based paper, Can Robots Be Lawyers? (Remus and Levy, 30 Dec 2015, SSRN). It concludes the employment impact of AI on lawyers will remain limited for the foreseeable future. In sum, the case of AI doing something to the legal market is hard to see. And even feeling its impact in via incremental change in legal is taking time, just as prior technologies did. Bots Bots have been in the news. They are automated systems that do tasks for consumers, often initiated by text messages. Bots may replace multiple apps on mobile devices. In China, many transactions already take place via bots. A recent TechCrunch headline, Facebook says 10K+ developers are building chatbots…, suggests the level of interest. In legal, Microsoft Assistant General Counsel Dennis Garcia recently wrote that bots could help law departments. (‘Chat Bots’ Provide Opportunity to the Legal Profession, Bloomberg Big Law Business, 28 April 2016). I love the idea but legal bots depend on AI to work. So they are hardly a basis to disrupt the legal market. Furthermore, The Humans Hiding Behind the Chatbots (Bloomberg Tech) points out that many bots are, in fact, powered more by people than machines. Right now, it’s not clear when bots will even do anything in Big Law. Big Data and Data Science Big Data was hyped in 2014 and 2015. I believe it holds more immediate promise for lawyers than AI. Firms can use it to analyze costs, forecast potential mat...
Jun 13 11:29am Prism Legal
With artificial intelligence headlines appearing daily, making sense of it is hard. I doubt it will disrupt Big Law but believe it can create significant practice efficiencies. To get beyond the hype, it’s helpful to look at specific AI applications. So I was pleased to talk twice in June with Blue J Legal CEO and co-founder, Ben Alarie, about his company’s machine learning software (a type of AI) that answers legal questions. I’ll start with some background on Ben and a bit about the company, then describe the technology, and close with with some business model and general comments. The Company and Co-Founders Ben holds the Osler Chair in Business Law at the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto. He and two of his co-founders are law professors. I asked bluntly how a bunch of law profs could run a successful business. Whoops, my legal academy views flashed neon. Ben said his law prof co-founders all have data science experience and business acumen, plus a fourth co-founder is a senior enterprise software architect with years of experience, including at IBM. My skepticism was further allayed on learning that Blue J has about 20 employees. That includes five full-time developers, about a dozen legal researchers, and the firm’s co-founders. Customers include Oslers, PwC, KPMG, and Deloitte. The company has not taken traditional VC money but does have funding from several investors, including one of the Big Four accounting firms, the Canadian Tax Foundation, and the Business Development Bank of Canada (part of the Canadian government). Ben reports that the company has deferred a number of requests to invest and that that a Series A round could come soon. The Technology and Offering Blue J Legal uses ML and a rules engine to answer legal classification problems. Examples include whether a worker is an employee or contractor, a person is a Canadian resident for tax purposes, or spending is a current expense or capital expenditure for tax purposes. The system ingests case law (or comparable agency rulings) as the basis for determining classifications. A combination of data scientists and legal researchers work with the material to formulate questions to ask users. Users answers those questions in natural language. The system returns a confidence level for the answer and explains in several nicely written paragraphs how and why the system reached its proposed classification. It also displays the five most relevant cases. Users can click through to see the full-text of those cases and/or view additional relevant cases. The system does not yet highlight sections of the returned cases that contribute to the answer. That apparently is a pretty difficult ML challenge. Ben did say, however, that future releases would provide visual clustering of cases and/or more metadata about each case in the best answer set. The user interface is simple and answers read like they are written by a lawyer. The simple UI and fast answers belies a lot of data science and legal research that underlies the system. The path to answers is interesting. The legal researchers construct various answer elements, which include various phrases, sentences and paragraphs. The machine learning evaluates the user’s facts using the ingested case law to identify the substantively correct classification and the system’s confidence. Then, the rule engine combines the user’s inputs, the ML outputs, and the pre-written answer segments to assemble a nicely written, complete answer. Ben said that answers for some of the classifiers exceed 98\% out-of-sample accuracy (and noted that lawyers still have a duty to confirm the answer). I asked what numerator and denominator yielded this percentage. Ben explained that it is an ML-derived measure so there is no actual fraction. He explained it as the percent of instances the system would be correct with the specific facts as entered by the user, based on out-of-sample testing of the underlying ML models. To achieve such high confidence, I wondered how many cases Blue J might need to ingest. I was thinking in the hundreds if not more. Ben suggests the mid to high-double digits (meaning 50 to 100) are often enough for reasonably high confidence. That surprised me and I look forward to further field experience to confirm this. The company does not sell the software as an engine. A legal organization could not turn it loose on content and have it work. Rather, systems must be se...
Jun 10 3:49pm The Kennedy-Mighell Report
Attorneys handle and process huge quantities of data each year. As data becomes more digital it will become even more important for legal professionals to have good, regimented email tidiness, or what we're calling email hygiene. What are some data management best practices and how can lawyers maintain good inbox cleanliness? In this episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, hosts Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell provide guidance principles to help lawyers improve their email hygiene. Tom challenges lawyers to identify how they perceive their emails, either as simple communications or possible business records, and encourages them to adopt an email retention policy. He emphasizes that keeping emails forever can be a liability, specifically if you are sued, and talks about the risks, costs, and productivity problems that can develop as a result of excess clutter. Tom and Dennis also analyze two types of email management styles; filing and piling, and explore practical ways to more efficiently search and manage their data for each style. They both end the first segment with application suggestions to help attorneys manage the clutter and helpful habits to keep the disorder at bay. In the second half of the podcast, Dennis and Tom talk about what you can do to get rid of your old cords, adapters, and other miscellaneous computer parts. Tom admits that he has major cord clutter in his garage and that he replaces these types of items immediately if he can’t find them. Dennis shares his system of storage and identification for assorted computer parts and encourages others to donate old tech gear to charity. As always, stay tuned for Parting Shots, that one tip, website, or observation you can use the second the podcast ends. Special thanks to our sponsor, ServeNow.
Jun 1 2:49pm The Kennedy-Mighell Report
More than 50 percent of internet searches today is not done by humans but rather by bots. What exactly are bots and how can industry professionals use them to improve the practice of law? In this episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell discuss bots and how attorneys can utilize them to improve their everyday lives. Tom explains that bots, short for web or internet robots, are applications that run automated software or scripts over the internet. This software can do relatively simple things but much faster than any human can. Dennis talks about search engines employing specific bots, known as spiders or crawlers, that read website pages and other information to create entries for their indexes. Both hosts then discuss cutting edge uses for bots like Microsoft’s Tay, an artificial intelligence chatterbot created for Twitter, and how attorneys can use simple bots for everyday tasks like creating stand-up meetings, checking deposition schedules, or aggregating case information. They then close the first half of the show by analyzing the use of customer service bots by lawyers and Tom provides some of his concerns that clients may be misled by not understanding when the bot interaction stops and the human interaction begins. In the second half of the podcast, Dennis and Tom reflect on their time at ABA TECHSHOW 2016. Dennis shares that he thinks the most interesting things that happen at conferences occur at dinners, in the halls, and at events like LexBlog and The ABA Journal’s Beer for Bloggers event. Tom views TECHSHOW as a great educational service to lawyers, providing them with resources that matter, and reveals that he would like to attend more panels than he was able to attend at this year’s conference. As always, stay tuned for Parting Shots, that one tip, website, or observation you can use the second the podcast ends. Special thanks to our sponsor, ServeNow.
May 30 7:18pm Prism Legal
Altman Weil’s recently released 2016 Law Firms in Transition survey is good reading for all law firm management. For me, the questions it raises are the number of non-partner track lawyers and who’s managing Big Law alternative staffing? The survey found that a “majority of firms are practicing basic labor arbitrage – shifting work to less costly lawyers. More than half of all law firms are utilizing part-time lawyers (59\%) and contract lawyers (56\%) to meet demand as needed. Three quarters of firms with 250 or more lawyers are using part-time and contract lawyers.” A report table provides more detail: Wide spread use of non-partner track lawyers in Big Law (beyond for document review) strikes me as relatively new. To confirm this impression, I reviewed past surveys. Altman Weil first asked this question in 2014. Answers from 2014 are roughly the same. Though the incidence has not changed, I think it says something this question first appeared only in 2014. To understand what these data tell us, I compared staffing to another report finding: “The only efficiency tactics that break the 50\% mark among all law firms are knowledge management (54\%) and use of technology tools to replace some human resources (52\%). Techniques that really challenge the way work has been done traditionally, like legal project management or reengineering of work processes, are less likely to have been adopted, especially in smaller firms.” (Emphasis added.) We see evidence of the rise of KM, LPM, and pricing in the growing numbers of Chief Knowledge Officers and Chief Practice Officers titles and in numerous events focused on these topics. Alternative staffing, like KM and LPM, do not “really challenge the way work has been done traditionally“. On that basis, its high incidence is not surprising. But if alternative lawyer staff are as prevalent as the survey suggests, why don’t we see the rise of senior staff and events focusing on it? More fundamentally, who in Big Law decides how many the firm should have and how they are managed? Earlier this year, I poked around the web and reached out to several contacts to explore this question. I only found a bit of information. My guess is that use of non-partner track lawyers is widespread but not deep. That is, many firms may have a handful, but few have big ranks of non-partner track lawyers or systematic programs. Is my guess correct or am I missing something? If I’m not missing anything, then will we soon see increasing numbers of such lawyers and a more visible infrastructure to manage them? The post Who’s Managing Big Law Alternative Staffing? appeared first on Prism Legal.
May 18 3:56pm Prism Legal
This is a live post from P3, the Practice Innovation Conference. This session is What are the Managing Partner, Practice Group Leader and COO Thinking?. I have appended the session description and speaker bio at the end of this post. [I post this as a session ends so please forgive any typos or my misunderstandings of what speakers said.] Opening Remarks Dentons. Pricing and LPM are continuing to evolve. We now legal is behind other professional service firms. The group here is on the leading edge. It’s important to think about management supports you. Akin Gump. Law firms are slow to change – that’s no secret. Management has to figure out how to facilitate the changes. Staffing model has to change. We hear a lot about secretarial is the tip of iceberg. What’s happening behind the scenes is more interesting. With flat demand, firms have to manage costs. Firms are keeping an eye on occupancy (space) and ratio of staff to lawyers. Pricing and LPM are, of course, on the radar. Baker & McKenzie. When a 30-year growth cycle is interrupted, reacting is hard. We are changing how lawyers behave and how they deliver legal services. At the center is client. We have many unanswered questions because there is no precedent in legal for pricing or project management [until the last few years]. Q: People in emerging roles of pricing and project management need a broad set of skills. From your perspetives, what are the most important ones and why? Akin Gump. Communication is key, whether with a partner or a client. Flexibility in that communication is essential. And establishing credibility eary in the tenure. This requires a firm grasp on the underlying subject matter. You have to know the numbers and the case. The lawyers will depose you, whether a deal or litigation. Need high level of trust and gravitas. Need good skills to get yes. Start with low hanging fruit and move out from there. Dentons. Remember that lawyer clients are two standard deviations away from population. For example, they are not comfortable with numbers. We go in and say we have all this experience – and then say we have no idea how much it costs? That creates tension. So we have to unlock the analytics, dive into the data. Access the intelligence that exists in our systems but needs bringing together. On top, you need acumen to interpret. You need to understand the firm, the partners, and the clients. Be able to say no in a loving and gentle way. Be able to get to yes with a client, with a partner at your side. Be able to listen, understand client’s real expectations, and then craft a solution. Baker & McKenzie. You need to be able to engage with clients – lawyers, procurement, and finance – and the partners. Need to speak the language of finance. Be able to talk intelligently about risk allocation. Talk to data analytics with peers who talk this language every day [finance] and with lawyers who are less fluent. So communication is key. Remember, a lot of what you do is new; so don’t underestimate importance of intellectual curiosity: can we do the work better? Toby sums up: communication, understand data, intellectual curiosity Q: Where does pricing fit in the organization – marketing, KM, finance, other? Is it a good fit or what are the pros and cons of where it sits. Baker & McKenzie. Organization varies by region. Right now, a lot of it is in marketing. We want it at front-end and early in engagement. But a lot of overlap with finance. I am more skeptical about centralizing it; I’m thinking it needs to be pushed down to practice. This is partly because of big differences between liitgation and transactions. We need some firm guidelines, but decentralize will prove more valuable. Dentons. Teams. Report to CFO. Work with practice support. Partner involved in pricing. Finance crunches data. Practice support contributes to solutions. The structural approaches will continue to evolve. And it likely will not align on a single structure across firms. We need partnership thinking to evolve (eg, don’t flip out that procurement pros also buy toilet paper). Wherever the pricing and LPM folks sit, they need to be able to access leadership. Akin Gump. My Chief Practice Officer (Toby) reported to me. With Toby’s departure, I need to look at the structure. But even without departures, still need to re-visit organization over time as the market and firms change. The two d...
May 18 11:31am e-Discovery Insights
Would you believe I just saw for the first time that Legaltech is early this year? Yep, it’s June 13-14 at the Embarcadero Center Hyatt Regency. Follow the link for the latest info and to download a copy of the event catalog.
May 18 10:20am Prism Legal
This is a live post from P3, the Practice Innovation Conference. This session is Data Visualization for Law Firms. I have appended the session description and speaker bio at the end of this post. [I post this as a session ends so please forgive any typos or of my misunderstandings of what speakers said.] Data visualization is about communicating information clearly and efficiently. The world is generating huge amounts of data. Many businesses are deep into analytics and visualization. But the legal market is just now taking baby steps. It’s very hard to read tables of numbers but very easy to read graphs. [RF: It has long driven me nuts that most in the legal market still create complex – including 2 decimals in numbers – instead of graphs.] Note the table and charts below: Goals of visualization New insight Communication breakthroughs Change behavior Goodwin Procter… “Forum Experience” [by the firm’s KM team]. The problem to be solved was better access to finding the experience of the firm’s attorneys. Marketing had been capturing useful data for years. But producing “slices” of the data was a nightmare – took too much time and was hard to read. From tables, the KM team led the firm to a US map display for the firm’s real estate experience. Users can click through a state to see more detailed information. In addition to a geo view, other features allow easy drill-down by property type. For client industry, the visualization is an area square [RF: called a Merimeko in some circles]. Bryan Cave… Focused on client facing data viz. Enable the client to understand the legal spend situation more quickly. Use a map to show a client spend by geography. For another slice, the firm created a 2×2 matrix of complexity versus risk with circles to show spend by region. Separately, Bryan Cave used a histogram with a Gamma Fit to predict how long a portfolio of matters will last. Also using tables with check marks as part of a KPI. Allens Matkins marketing department shared data on effectiveness of email marketing. Produce interactive graphics that allow quick re-sort and drill down. Data informs, for example, that the subject line wording drives which email blasts are most opened. Also track impact of PR and press mentions with visualization. Used ContactNet (relationship) to map relationship between firms and clients. Bryan Cave on using data viz to help partners understand how to improve their profitability. This required moving partners from a focus on revenue to a focus on profit. The firm started with fairly complex spreadsheets that less than 10\% of partners liked. By converting from tables to spider charts, more partners understood how to improve their profitability: But these “octagons” (spider charts) still did not appeal to all lawyers. So the firm used Rosetta – which automatically turns data into narratives. Now, the firm can generate narratives, customized to each partner. I ask if any of the firms have turned the tools to client data for substantive legal analysis, prevention, insight.. Not yet there. Did not capture most of the Q&A but it revolved around tools. Several firms use Tableau but expense of it noted. Other using Microsoft Power BI. Data Visualization for Law Firms Speakers: Christopher Ende, Managing Director of Pricing & Project Management, Goodwin Procter LLP; Rebecca Holdredge, Manager of Practice Economics Group, Bryan Cave; and, Adam Stock, Chief Marketing and Client Services Officer, Allen Matkins With the wealth of data that we can now collect on clients and prospects, we need new tools to understand the patterns and relationships in our increasingly information-based businesses. Data visualization (sometimes called DataViz) is the art and science of displaying (often) large amounts of information to enable the viewer to gain insights that would not otherwise be apparent through numerical displays and spreadsheets. Data visualization takes advantage of human visual perception and cognition. For example, a human can distinguish differences in line length, shape orientation, and color (hue) readily without significant processing effort whereas, it may require significant time and effort to identify the number of times the digit “5” appears in a series of numbers. Imagine having simple displays that show: the strength of your client relations...
May 17 12:15pm Prism Legal
This is a live post from P3, the Practice Innovation Conference. This session is The Science of Data in Support of Pricing. I have appended the session description and speaker bio at the end of this post. [I post this as a session ends so please forgive any typos or of my misunderstandings of what speakers said.] Issues with Quantity and Quality of Data. Dechert: The technology is only as good as the data that drives it. A challenge is getting lawyers to enter data that supports pricing. Also, we have to collect data from multiple systems. In some systems, data may not be correct. “We are still far away from having universal technology” Simpson: We have a lot of data. The challenge is analyzing it and put it in a form I can use. I’ve given up on task codes – it’s bad data. It’s hard to know how to use the big volume of data we have. Progress in Data? Mayer Brown: The way we deliver today is very different today than it was 5 years ago, for example, different resources (eg, lower cost) and deployed technology such as document assembly and reengineered our processed. Because of all the changes, historic data has limited value. To support pricing, we developed a matter classification system for matter type, industry, area of law, and distinct matter characteristics. This is in a system rolled out one year ago. Previously, it was very manual and not systematic to collect these data. Using SharePoint to collect information on fee arranagement; that gets written to finance system. This supports fee analytics and improves the quality and quantity of data. Case Study of a Matter Where Process Improvement Had a Direct Impact on Pricing Dechert: We do perform case studies in our department and offer to marketing. We recently had a leading global asset management company with a class action matter. They came to us seeking a discount. The firm looked at similar matters, especially the mix of phases and tasks and timekeepers. Using these data, firm was able to estimate the cost. That was basis of offering a fixed fee, spread evenly over five months. Offered weekly reporting. This allowed the firm to avoid discount, maintaining the firms profitability, and offered the client value and certainty. Follow-up Q: what has been the impact on other matters of doing the above? It has caused internal (partner) and client repeat business. Mayer Brown: PPP case study (private public partnership). Legal fees are often public record, so these matters tend to be price sensitive (and because government is involved). Using matter classification described above, the firm found 25 matters with similar attributes. We analyzed that data, examined the processes to do the work, looked at at data down to timekeeper and task to determine if it was the right mix. This led to creating a type of pricing menu of fixed fees and other structures. Partners had several major “aha moments” in going through this analysis. For example, partners saw the need to re-allocate tasks to other timekeepers or just not do certain tasks. This allowed the firm to address the clients’ needs, especially predictability. We were much better positioned to articulate value to the client with this approach. Follow-up Q: was the firm doing this transparently, sharing analysis with client. No, that was less the goal. It was more focused on articulating value. Simpson: we find it helpful to be very transparent about approach to pricing, having partner and client in the room, going through detailed assumptions and phases. We won a very large deal because we were more transparent (including profit margins) than competitors. Client had questions but was persuaded by the analysis, data, and transparency. Dechert: we are transparent on rates, phases, and hours but don’t share profit information. Simpson: One client was consistently writing off 15 to 20\% of bills. To counter this, firm set up access for client to time billed, in real time. Client was very appreciative. Firm was able to monitor access and saw only a couple of accesses. When client asked for discount, firm countered that client had access to hours and could have said something mid-stream. That dramatically reduced the discount requested. The firm did not try a push approach (sending clients reports regularly) because that would not have worked culturally. Dechert: We do a lot of extensive fee reporting to clients, with charts and graphs. It keeps the clie...
May 16 1:43pm e-Discovery Insights
Wow…I haven’t posted in two months. Why not? Well, the bulk of my *spare* time has been occupied with something called “Deunification“. This isn’t actually a word, by the way (as your spellchecker will probably tell you), it’s what the State Bar of California – and the legislature – have adopted to describe the prospect … Continue reading Doing the Splits! →...
May 13 1:22pm The Kennedy-Mighell Report
Virtual reality is one of the most intriguing and highly anticipated technological advancements on the horizon. With companies like Facebook spending billions of dollars to invest in such tech, could there be applications for VR within the legal profession? How could immersion in virtual worlds improve the practice of law? In this episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell discuss virtual reality, the current tech on the market, and how this tech could be used in the courtroom. Tom and Dennis first provide a definition of what virtual reality is (mainly using technology to create a simulated three dimensional world that you can interact with) and explain how this technology differs from augmented reality. They both then take a look at early forms of the technology, such as Epcot Theme Park’s centrifugal motion simulator Mission: Space, and compare those experiences with current tech options like The Oculis Rift and the HTC Vive. Tom and Dennis end the first half of the show with an analysis of the best use of virtual reality for lawyers, courtroom applications, and common concerns about this technology. In the second half of the podcast, Dennis and Tom talk about their tips to follow when using public wifi. Dennis reveals his dislike for airplane wifi and gives his suggestions, such as tethering your phone to create a wifi hotspot and using a virtual private network, to make using these services more enjoyable. Tom also gives his advice on things you should never do, like personal banking, when using public wifi. As always, stay tuned for Parting Shots, that one tip, website, or observation you can use the second the podcast ends.
May 11 8:37pm Prism Legal
Large law firms continue to open low cost service centers. That’s barely newsworthy after so many US and UK firms have done so. Firms with low cost centers in the US include Hogan Lovells, Littler, DLA Piper, Sedgwick, Kaye Scholer, White & Case, Pillsbury, and Wilmer Hale. From the outside, it seems the savings always come from labor cost and occupancy. “Lift and shift” I’d say from my outsourcing days – transfer the work as is, just have lower cost people do it. That leaves money on the table. Process improvement can yield big savings over and above labor cost arbitrage. A function that might have, say 40 people, given the right process improvement, might only need 25 or 30. A ‘Difficult Day’ at DLA Piper as Firm Plots 200 Layoffs (Bloomberg Big Law Business, 11 May 2016) reports a 200-person lay-off at DLA Piper (UK). Those positions will shift to Warsaw. Newsworthy here is the COO going on record about process improvement. Andrew Darwin says the moves “tie into a modernization plan and were implemented with consultation from McKinsey & Co… We are a little embarrassed by the fact that we are still pushing paper around the world. It hasn’t been a priority before.” He mentions the example of shifting to digital CVs from paper in recruitment. I assume that McKinsey identified many other process improvements. One should not need the most prestigious consulting firm to advise on leaving paper behind. Most law firms still face largely flat demand. So they likely will continue to seek cost cuts. I expect to read about more low cost centers in the future. Perhaps firms that announce low cost centers in the future – and even ones that have already have them – can take a cue from DLA. Why stop with lower cost labor when process improvement adds significantly to savings? And if firms improve their processes, perhaps they can keep more of their existing staff in place. The post The Next Step in Large Law Firm Low Cost Service Centers appeared first on Prism Legal.
Apr 24 5:17pm Prism Legal
Mainstream media regularly reports on big changes in many markets. Two juxtaposed articles on the front page (below) of the Business & Tech section of the Wall Street Journal (21 April 2016) got me thinking about change in Big Law. The top-most article, “Market Shifts Slam Tech Old Guard“, describes the revenue challenges that EMC, IBM, and Intel and other established tech companies face because of the rise of cloud and mobile computing. Okay, you say, that’s the tech industry, we expect it to change rapidly. So next consider the article below it, “Retailers Bolt Aging Mall for More Luxurious Digs“. It reports that major retailers now close stores in lesser malls and focus on fewer in just high-end ones. The transition reflects an over-malled US, shifting consumer tastes, and the rise of e-commerce. And inside the section,”Flat Soda Consumption Hits Coke” reminds us of the decline of soda sales. The conclusion? Changing tastes and tech affect most markets. The rate of change in large law firms and corporate law departments (Big Law), however, seems much slower than in tech, retailing, and beverages. Satisfaction with the status quo cannot explain this: in-house clients of law departments often avoid their lawyers and law departments regularly complain about large firms. Big Law change may be slower but it is happening. Surveys, conference talks, and my own work suggest that law firm management now recognizes the need to change. That recognition has led to: New Types of Professionals. Many firms have hired pricing professionals, legal projects managers, and other professionals that did not exist a decade ago. Lower Cost Delivery Options. Large and prestigious firms offering lower cost service options. For example, both Paul Hastings and McDermott Will now have lower cost teams to service corporate transactions. New R&D Units. I recently assembled a list of large firms with R&D initiatives; doing so was impossible until recently. More Client Online Services. My list of these has multiple recent new entries. Frenzy Over Legal AI. A spate of articles about artificial intelligence (A) in the law and “robot lawyers” gives testament to interest in the topic. We also have serious thinking about and advice for guiding change. My current favorite is Remaking Law Firms: Why and How by Dr. George Beaton and Dr. Imme Kaschner (published by the ABA). I am currently reading the book (March 2016) and regularly read updates to the Remaking Law Firms website. (Book review coming soon.) The good news is that we see more real change than just a few years ago. But keep in mind two cautions. First, don’t confuse the appearance of change with actual change, check-the-box solutions with real ones.. For example, some firms have pricing professionals but have done little to change how they deliver legal work. Without delivery changes, pricing folks can only move numbers around. And second, beware of magic wands. A focus on AI can distract from more practical and immediately productive steps. For example, I had three unrelated conversations last week about document authoring tools (i.e., MS Word add-ins that help with formatting, numbering, and ensuring contract term consistency). That is one example of a mature yet under-penetrated productivity-enhancing class of software. Change in Big Law takes hard work and investment. Don’t let promises of a dramatically different future (e.g., robot lawyers) distract from incremental improvements today. The former may take a long time, a major investment, and fail. The latter takes only blocking and tackling. It’s not easy, it’s not disruptive, and it’s not necessarily even marketing-worthy. But it’s sure to yield benefits soon. This is not to ignore the case for dramatic change. Firms or law departments that manage genuine, deep change will gain many benefits. Smart organizations will at least run experiments on bigger changes while attending to incremental improvement. The post Should We Settle for Incremental Change in Big Law? appeared first on Prism Legal.
Apr 12 1:20pm Prism Legal
A Deloitte February 2016 report, Developing legal talent: Stepping into the future law firm, suggests that by 2025, UK law firms will need a broader skill mix to remain successful. I agree but take issue with Deloitte on how to manage that mix. The report finds that firms will have to “demonstrate strategic value to differentiate… from their competition through efficiency, expertise and service quality.” That expertise, Deloitte says, may include technology, pricing, relationship management, and product development. I agree. Law firms already employ finance experts, data scientists, IT specialists, and other internal and client-facing professionals. I disagree, however, with Deloitte’s view on how to manage them. Deloitte believes firms will have less incentive to develop and retain “non-traditional” employees and will likely access them via “transient” means such as “through partnership arrangements or contractor models”. Deloitte does not make clear its case for transient. In my view, there is a stronger case to treat lawyers as the transient and other professionals as permanent. I say that because of the current and likely future dynamics of the labor market for each category of professionals. The lawyer market is transient now and likely to remain so. A robust temp lawyer market – from staffing companies to online market places – already lets firms easily flex the number of lawyers actively working on matters. Furthermore, lawyers are already demonstrably very transient: lateral moves occur daily. That we have so many temp services and laterals suggests the market already sees lawyers are fairly fungible. And with an ongoing lawyer oversupply, recruitment is not that hard. So continuing to flex lawyer counts will be easy. Not so for other professionals. Law firms struggle now to find legal project managers and pricing professionals. Trends today suggest demand will continue to outstrip supply. Separately, much-coveted experts such as data scientists and cyber-professionals will have plentiful job options across industries for years to come. So finding and keeping these professionals will be harder than doing so for lawyers. That suggests law firms should work hard to entice other professionals to stay as permanent and long term employees. Furthermore, the fungibility of other professionals is unproven. We know that lawyers can easily move within and across firms. Is the same true for other professionals? Perhaps but arguably, law firms will extract more value by keeping them long term. As permanent employees, other professionals can develop deeper working relationships with lawyers and clients plus learn more about the law. That will add value for both clients and firms. Finally, if success requires an expertise mix, why favor lawyers over other experts? I would expect this conclusion from caste-system-minded lawyers who love saying “non-lawyers”. The surprise is that a Big 4 so concludes. The post The Future of Legal Talent – Not Lawyers? appeared first on Prism Legal.
Apr 8 12:51am Prism Legal
In this age, service delivery and user experience drive customer choice. Products and services must work: easy and pleasant to use. How many large law firms think about all the details of their clients’ experiences and achieve that standard? I wonder if even the ones that regularly survey clients dive deeply into the details of the client experience. Why my wonder? Because of my experience this week staying at the Hilton Palmer House Chicago for two nights. It’s amazing how many bad experiences and poor design I encountered in a 36 hour stay. Details below. In-house counsel have told me that they have time and bandwidth to fight only so many battles with law firms. I wonder, if they stepped back and reflected on their service experience with large firms, if they would come up with a comparably long list of service failures. For clients that do, do they eventually just switch? In some ways, hotels are like large law firms. Both are big, complex operations, that rely on many different people to deliver the complete bundle of service. Coordinating that bundle and getting everything right is hard. I would love to hear from experts in client surveys to understand if some or many law firms get to granular details of client experience. And if they do, how do firms fix the issues. Oh, as for me and Hilton… though I have Gold status with Hilton, my preference now is to avoid Hiltons unless the case is compelling – no comparable property near a client. I would rather forego Gold privileges, even at a dollar cost, for an experience that works. Are your firm’s clients having a reaction similar to mine? Would you even know if they were? Or might they just be walking away? # # # INVENTORY of SERVICE DELIVERY FAULTS in 36 HOURS at the HILTON PALMER HOUSE, CHICAGO On entering the room I noticed I had a message. Not a sentence I can say very often anymore. It was a VERY long message explaining that locks were being changed that week. My lock had already been changed. So why couldn’t someone figure that out and not subject me to said message? One of two windows in my room had a broken latch so did not seal properly. The wind was howling that night so it was noisy and drafty. I called guest services to report this and request the engineer bring duct tape as a temporary fix. It should not take an hour for the engineer to arrive. I sat at the desk and noticed a hotel-provided tablet device with hotel information. It was my first time seeing one. As best as I could tell, this was the tablet version of the usual loose leaf binder of hotel information. Always curious about new toys and design, I tried using it. I quickly noticed that the fitness center had a long description – but did not list the floor, arguably the most important factoid. After a bit more inspection, I came to view the device as irritating, flashing advertising. Turning it off was not easy and it came back on at seemingly random times. I sat there thinking, this can’t have been cheap to supply and why bother when it does so little useful? And why distract me and take up space, other than in an obvious use of MY desk space for YOUR advertising. With the outdoor temperature in the 40s (F), I turned the thermostat up. As soon as I did, the blower stopped. As best as I could tell, only the air conditioning was on. The thermostat had no obvious way to select heat instead of AC. So forget about warming up. So morning temperatures are in the 30s and only AC is available. And that’s because? Although I have apps for all my airlines and have tried digital boarding passes, I have concluded paper is more reliable, faster, and less subject to breakage. So I went to print my boarding pass. The printer for the computer I chose was in a fault mode. So I went to a separate bank with a separate printer. The computer I use there froze. I had to interrupt a front desk clerk for help (no one else around). The requested call to let me know it was fixed came 45 minutes later. (In the mean time, I found my boarding pass sitting by the printer – someone had apparently fixed the fault.) Then came check-out. Surely, I thought, the dedicated in-room tablet would allow that. Silly me. So I call Zip CheckOut. (I established on a prior visit that the HIlton app does not support checking out.) The Zip recording references reviewing my Folio, which I had not received. So I could not just press the confirmation key. So I talk...
Mar 27 4:32pm Prism Legal
My June 2015 blog post Law Firm R&D Initiatives Grow – Time for a League Table? recapped recent large law firm research and development announcements. It asked if the time had come for a Big Law R&D league table. That time has now arrived. Early last week I published a R&D in Big Law, which lists publicized R&D initiatives in large law firms. I crowdsourced additions and corrections. By week-end, I added a couple of law firms and added a second list for firms with incubators partnerships for R&D. I welcome suggestions for additions and corrections (contact me or leave a comment). My list necessarily involves line drawing. Many large law firms have innovated in ways not formally designated R&D. Examples include AI, Big Data, legal project management (LPM), and knowledge management (KM). By focusing on formally announced R&D initiatives, I establishe a reasonably bright inclusion line. Typical league tables rank law firms. And I would love to find a way to rank the success of law firm R&D. Even with data, ranking results would be hard. And I suspect data will be hard to obtain. So for now, simply tracking formal R&D initiatives will have to suffice. Firms may publicize R&D successes but likely not failures. That’s too bad. As the ILTA “Failure Party” sessions illustrated, we learn as much if not more from failure as success. And in the world of R&D, failure occurs on the road to success. “If things are not failing you are not innovating enough” said Elon Musk, perhaps America’s best-known living inventor. The post Tracking Law Firm R&D Initiatives appeared first on Prism Legal.