“Do You Miss Me Yet?” – Reestablishing the Corporate Librarians

Editor’s note:  This post was re-posted with permission from 3 Geeks and a Law Blog

By Greg Lambert, ‎Chief Knowledge Services Officer at Jackson Walker and President of the American Association of Law Libraries

It almost never fails when I run into someone I used to work with. The conversation starts with “Hey… how’s the law library world? It’s gotta be tough with all those books being online now.” (The implication being “aren’t you worried about becoming irrelevant?”) I reply with “Yeah, that makes it a whole lot more difficult to manage with all that information in a dozen different places than it did when it was a book in the library.” I’m not sure who they think is managing the information which is usually behind a very expensive paywall. I would guess they either think that it is managed directly by the vendor, or worse, that the Information Technology department is now the de facto library managers.

One of the benefits I get from being the current President of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) is that I get to go to different types of meetings and engage with legal professionals who are not law librarians. These are law professors, recruiters, marketers, technology/security professionals, legal administrators, in-house counsel, and others in the legal industry. One of the questions that I’ve heard, especially from in-house and corporate lawyers is the fact that they need help managing their legal information. When I ask if they have a librarian or some type of specialized legal information professional, the answer is typically “no.” When I prod further, I find that many corporations downsized or eliminated their corporate library staff during the Great Recession period. I don’t think that is a surprise to many of us. Corporate libraries were devastated at the beginning of this decade. I think that is coming back to haunt some corporations. Continue reading

ILTA Releases New Knowledge Management White Paper

The International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) just released a new white paper on Knowledge Management: From Practical to Conceptual. The paper highlights survey results related to firms’ KM structure and reporting chain; firms’ KM strategy, processes, and activities; resources allocated to KM; and future plans. ILTA’s commentary mentions that one of the biggest shifts seen in the survey’s 10 years has been in the reporting structure for KM: “The person to whom KM staff reports continues to shift from a senior legal person to a senior administrator…The primary discipline that reports directly to or are part of KM are Library (50%), Innovation and Research and Development (39%), Research (33%), and Business and Competitive Intelligence (30%), with Legal Project Management, IT, Records Management, and Professional Development and Training also ranking fairly high.”

Some 2016 areas of focus highlighted include implementing or upgrading an intranet or portal, developing a KM strategy and developing models and precedents, promotion of the KM program, and innovation. ILTA reports that, based on survey results, “more organizations appear to be delving into designing custom applications to address specific clients’ needs,” and that there’s a near unanimous sentiment among respondents that KM’s “role and importance will continue to grow,” with a shift toward “machine learning and artificial intelligence, process improvement, and pricing and legal project management.”

The survey results are followed by some in-depth articles on particular topics of interest.
Oz Benamram and Kathy Skinner of White & Case LLP co-authored a section, “Are You Your Vendor’s Captive: How To Optimize Your Research Dollars,” that delves into the changing landscape of legal research tools and discusses the research tools and services optimization project they undertook at their firm. Oz is White & Case’s first Chief Knowledge Officer, and Kathy, an AALL and PLLIP member, is the Director of Research and Information Services. Their discussion offers a detailed look at the steps in their optimization process, which included communication of their vision to all affected parties, both internal and external, and an extensive assessment of the firm’s research tools and services. An ongoing effort, the optimization project is being used to market “library services more proactively, monitor product usage, provide just-in-time training, and more fluidly navigate the wide array of product options to assure access to the best information at the lowest cost.”

Other articles in the white paper focus on expertise location, developing a document assembly platform, innovation in the KM and legal information landscape, and how to
successfully offer training and introduce innovations so they’re accepted and welcomed by attorneys.

The 10 Technologies That Most Drive Law Firm Effectiveness, According to New Survey

Editor’s note:  The post below, The 10 Technologies That Most Drive Law Firm Effectiveness, According to New Survey, was reposted with permission from Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites.

Key points:

Analytics and business intelligence was ranked second for the question, “Which technology concepts have the potential to drive the most efficiency?” with 60% of respondents indicating that analytics and BI could lead to greater efficiency.  Aderant’s discussion of the question indicates that mining law firm data could drive better strategic planning, process improvement, and a more agile firm.  According to the Aderant survey, “Driving greater operational efficiency is one of the greatest challenges facing law firms – but respondents indicated it is also one of the greatest opportunities.  Automating manual tasks – as in work flow and task flow tools – was the top choice. This was closely followed by analytics and business intelligence (BI) tools aimed at driving better decisions. Law firms possess “massive amounts of potentially useful data” that goes un-examined according to open-ended comments.  This is the sort of thinking that is aimed squarely at mining data to drive profitable and competitive pricing, process improvement and law firm agility – the ability to react to change without causing systemic stress.” Knowledge managers and information professionals are equipped with the right skill sets to step in and assist with data mining efforts, and many are already doing so.

Forty seven percent of respondents said yes to the survey questions “Are you collaborating with different staff in the law firm?”  Aderant’s comments on this question reference the marketing and technology departments, but not knowledge or research services specifically, and information professionals have much to offer in an increasingly competitive legal environment.  As mentioned above, they can assist with organizing and mining internal data and can also uncover relevant external data and information that can lead to better-informed attorneys and potential business opportunities.

“The preponderance of attention placed on how the legal business has changed tends to focus on external factors such as client demands and competition. However, this survey surfaced the notion that external changes have prompted changes inside the law firms too. Almost half of all respondents (47%) said the people with whom they routinely work with inside a law firm is different than it was five years ago. Open-ended responses suggest the front office – lawyers and other timekeepers – are becoming more tightly integrated with the back office including finance, accounting, marketing and technology departments.”


The 10 Technologies That Most Drive Law Firm Effectiveness, According to New Survey (reposted with permission from Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites) 

A survey released yesterday on the business of law and legal technology finds that competition for legal services remains high, demand remains relatively flat, and law firms are feeling pressure to lower prices and enhance operational efficiency. But what caught my eye in the survey was the question, “Which technologies provide law firms with the greatest overall effectiveness?”

The 2017 Aderant Business of Law and Legal Technology Survey, conducted by Aderant, a provider of business management software for lawyers, surveyed 112 respondents in U.S. firms, most of whom are in financial, accounting or C-suite roles. Most of the respondents said that the performance of their firm this year is about the same as last year, and that the top challenges they face are:

  1. Pricing pressure.
  2. Improving operational efficiency.
  3. Winning new business.
  4. Growing more business from existing customers.
  5. Improving law firm agility and adaptability.

So if a firm is striving to control prices and improve operational efficiency, technology has to be a major part of the answer. But which technology?

As I already noted, that was the question put to the respondents. Their top 10:

  1. Document management, 66%.
  2. Financial/ERP, 52%.
  3. Business intelligence, 49%.
  4. Matter pricing and planning, 47%.
  5. Case management, 47%.
  6. Project management, 37%.
  7. CRM, 33%.
  8. Document assembly, 26%.
  9. E-discovery, 23%.
  10. Other, 4%.

Continue reading

2017 PLLIP Summit: Navigating the Critical Nexus of Knowledge and Legal Technology

By Jennifer Stephens, Technology Services Librarian at Haynes and Boone, LLP, in Dallas, TX. Jennifer was one of the recipients of a PLLIP Summit Grant.

This year’s PLLIP Summit was co-chaired by Alicia Pappas and Jeremy Sullivan, who said that the genesis of this program was their interest in demonstrating the technological proficiency of law librarians and information professionals, and their ability to work with emerging technologies.

Keynote address
Professor Gabriel Teninbaum, Suffolk University Law School

Professor Teninbaum spoke on the direction of legal technology and how law librarians and information professionals can help shape IT. He gave examples of how law firms and legal departments have innovated and turned projects into workflow improvements and marketing wins.

Examples he used included:

  • Using big data to forecast when HR policies could lead to litigation.
  • Partnering with clients to test new technology on existing matters.
  • Breaking down contract review into steps to find process improvements.
  • Developing a Yelp for hiring law firms.
  • Creating interactive guides on how to launch a startup (example from WilmerHale).

All of these led to new work and “marketing cred.”

Teninbaum concluded his presentation by listing his four strategies for staying ahead:

  • Stay educated – take advantage of free or low cost education, and then apply it.teninbaum
  • Re-imagine rules to improve service – ex: Limited License Legal Technician program in Washington state allows non-lawyers to practice in limited spheres to allow low-cost legal services.
  • Create something new – find a problem and create a solution to solve the problem.
  • Prepare for the future – ex: When Casey Flaherty was at Kia Motors, he saw that law firm associates were spending too much time manually crafting documents, which prompted    him to create a legal assessment tool to measure proficiency with Microsoft Office.

Continue reading

AALL: The Other Legal Tech Conference

Editor’s Note: Reposted from the LawSites blog with author’s permission.

By Robert Ambrogi, a lawyer and consultant who has been writing and speaking about the Internet, social media and legal technology for nearly 20 years

People often ask me which are the best legal technology conferences to attend. As I pointed out in a column last year at Above the Law, three conferences form a triumvirate of national legal tech conferences that draw the most attention and biggest headcounts: ILTACON, which is just around the corner, Aug. 13-17, in Las Vegas; Legaltech New York, which is Jan. 30 to Feb. 1, 2018; and ABA Techshow, which this year is March 7-10, 2018, in Chicago.

But just because those are the biggest doesn’t mean they’re the best. As with so many other things, what’s best for you depends on your focus and interests. A conference I’ve repeatedly recommended is the Clio Cloud Conference, which I’ve called one of the best legal technology conferences I’ve ever attended. Another I’ve recommended, particularly for smaller-firm lawyers, is Avvo’s Lawyernomics, where the focus is on marketing and biz dev.

Now I have another to add to my list of recommended legal tech conferences: the annual conference of the American Association of Law Libraries. In fact, I’d put it among those at the top of the list.

I’ve just returned from this year’s AALL conference in Austin. I’ve attended this conference off and on going back as far as 1994. I’ve even spoken there on occasion. It’s always been a highly informative, substantive and enjoyable conference. But this year it struck me just how much this has become one of the leading legal technology conferences. Continue reading