Spotlight on Innovation in Law Firm Knowledge Management

pic3766Marlene Gebauer, Director of Knowledge Solutions at Greenberg Traurig, LLP, works to foster innovative solutions and to encourage adoption of new tools and services. She took some time to discuss knowledge management and innovation and challenges faced by the legal industry in these areas.

What is your role at your law firm?

I am the Director of Knowledge Solutions and oversee global Knowledge Management (including R&D on new tools and services), Research and Intelligence, Licensing and Contract Negotiation, Outreach and Education, and Library teams. I am also a leader in our firm-wide innovation initiative team.  The team consists of attorneys, executive management and select department directors and is charged with popularizing adoption of innovative solutions and promoting a culture of innovation as part of the normal course of business at the firm.

What do you believe is the value you and your department bring to your firm?

First and foremost, I think we are a cohesive department and function as such. Although our Knowledge Solutions teams don’t always overlap in work performed, we make it a priority to keep department members informed of what other teams are doing and to cross train, so we can best serve our clients. Our teams’ connections to other firm departments and practice groups allow us to share updates on activities and projects going on throughout the firm and to ensure alignment. Any special initiatives are always a cross-team effort—someone handles project management/logistics, someone tackles outreach materials and education, and someone focuses on metrics and analysis. This process strengthens relationships and builds knowledge within the department and ultimately results in more successful initiatives.

I work with an amazing group of people.  We are a mixed bag—attorneys, technicians, analysts, and data professionals—which strengthens the knowledge base of the department and broadens our scope.   Members of our department bring inspiration, perspiration, creativity, business insight, problem solving and relationship building to the table. They love to learn new things and share them with the people around them. We encourage this and give people opportunities for development–and encourage them to seek out their own opportunities and professional networks. Our team members are flexible, resourceful and compassionate. We encourage everyone to be leaders, regardless of title. Continue reading

Our “Small” Project with a Big Impact: Littler’s Knowledge Desk, A Case Study

Innovations in Legal KM Cover
By Cynthia L. Brown, Director Research Services at Littler Mendelson P.C..

This is a chapter from ARK Group’s new book Innovations in Legal KM and has been posted with permission from ARK Group. 

Littler’s library, a division of the greater KM department, bridges information needs and answers through its one-stop-shop for all KM and library research inquiries and needs via the Knowledge Desk. The Knowledge Desk is available to all Littler attorneys and staff for any legal research, traditional library resources, KM requests or questions concerning our legal training group Littler Learning Group (LLG). Via the Knowledge Desk, attorneys are connected to subject matter experts, a vast collection of databases, print materials, practice groups, internal work product and proprietary data collections, through which our team can search efficiently to locate exact information.

We had distinct goals when creating the Knowledge Desk:

  1. Centralize the gathering of attorney’s questions;
  2. Use library, KM, and LLG more efficiently;
  3. Create time for higher level projects and innovation;
  4. Better serve our attorneys.

Our first step was to determine what types of questions were separately coming to the library, KM and LLG, and who was answering these questions. We reverse-engineered the services we were providing to our attorneys and staff. The team reviewed years of emails, and sifted through mountains of data collected in our ticket-tracking system. We discovered that questions were being sent to KM that should have been sent to the library, and high-level KM attorneys were gathering documents that could have been provided by a library assistant. We were doing the wrong work with the wrong people.  Continue reading

Law Firms & Technology – 6 Vital Questions to Ask Your Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics Vendors

business-2089533_640

By June Hsiao Liebert, Firmwide Director of Library and Research Services at Sidley Austin LLP

New artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics products are flooding the legal information space, and they claim to do everything from predicting the outcome of a case to writing briefs.  What do you really know about these products and how they work?  How do you separate the valuable products from the junk?  As the global director of library and research services at a large law firm and a former law school CIO, my team and I are constantly finding and evaluating legal information tools that can improve the work that our firm does.

Many of the newest information tools employ a mysterious algorithm that magically spits out results.  Users are expected to trust that the vendor is providing results that are reliable, accurate and unbiased.  Blindly trusting a third party, however, is a risky move for any law firm.

The vendors may not be willing to release details about the algorithms they are using, but you can evaluate the data that goes into the algorithms to begin with.  I am also a former database programmer, so the concept of “garbage in, garbage out” is ingrained in me.  We need to understand what is going into these magical algorithms in order to evaluate what is coming out.  Continue reading

The “2018 State of Corporate Law Departments” Report: Modern Law Departments Taking More Proactive Stance

Reposted with permission from the Legal Executive Institute’s LEI Blog

Today’s modern corporate law department has taken a more proactive position within its organization, seeking not to be seen (as it too often was in the past) as a cost-center or — worse yet — the department of “No!” that kept other department’s business initiatives from moving forward.

Instead, today’s corporate law department is working to add value to their organization, whether through innovation and improved efficiency or by developing collaborative partnerships that will benefit the organization and offer better outcomes.

In the inaugural annual report on corporate law departments from Thomson Reuters and Acritas, successful modern corporate law departments are seen today as those that embrace innovation, are data- and metrics-driven, and work collaboratively with outside counsel and other parties to create optimal results. The report analyzed data and research from Thomson Reuters Legal Tracker, Acritas and the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC).

The report — the “2018 State of Corporate Law Departments” (available for free download below) — also notes that corporate law departments are reporting more satisfaction with the value they see generated by their outside counsel.

The average satisfaction rating given to outside counsel based on value has increased 9% over the last five years and showed improvements across all areas of legal service delivery, according to the report. Not surprisingly, the report also notes that corporate law departments identified controlling outside counsel costs as their number-one priority.

The report also examines how corporate law departments are seeking to leverage technology, focus on innovation and instill a greater sense of discipline to the business operations of the department — so it’s not surprising that half of corporate law departments now have dedicated legal operations roles.

Overall, it’s a change within corporate law departments that is a result of the dramatic shifts the legal industry has witnessed over the past decade. Corporate law departments are now the empowered buyers of legal services and are finding many more opportunities to flex that muscle, whether being more cost-conscious with their traditional outside counsel, or by looking to alternative legal service providers for some of their legal needs. At the same time, however, corporate law departments are also under pressure from their own organizations as companies seek to control their own costs. This has led directly to law departments bringing more work in-house and embracing technology and process improvement to give their organizations better results.

“Corporate legal departments are adjusting to deal with dynamic businesses and shifting legal landscapes,” said Chris Maguire, managing director of the U.S. Corporate segment of Thomson Reuters. “Increasingly, they are looking to leverage technology to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and better manage risk and compliance.”

Download your free copy of the report at http://legalexecutiveinstitute.com/2018-corporate-law-departments-report/

KM, AI & Client Engagement: The Changing Role of Law Firm Librarians, Part 2

Reposted with permission from Gregg Wirth of the Legal Executive Institute’s LEI Blog

By Gregg Wirth, a financial journalist and the Content Manager of the Legal Executive Institute’s LEI Blog.
law firm librariansThe role of the law firm librarian has undergone dramatic change as technology, artificial intelligence and other innovations have allowed some information service professionals to reinvent the job. This has brought these professionals into areas of knowledge management, strategy, business development, client engagement and legal process improvement that are changing the way they approach their role within the firm.Katherine Lowry, Director of Practice Services at BakerHostetler, is one such innovative soul. (Eight years ago, Lowry shifted her career to report to the CIO and broadened the context of her services around technology, information, and driving greater value in services delivered by her team.) Lowry recently discussed with Legal Executive Institute how her role at the firm has evolved; and in Part 2 of our interview, she discusses her involvement in the firm’s business development and client engagement strategies, and the firm’s newest initiative, IncuBaker.

Legal Executive Institute: Previously, you spoke about how your role at the firm has evolved into one that, in turn, has allowed you to transform other aspects of the firm. Has this evolution changed how the firm interacts with its clients or how it identifies new business development opportunities for your practice groups?

Katherine Lowry: It’s changed in a couple of significant ways. Originally, it was Bob [BakerHostetler’s longtime CIO Bob Craig] and myself identifying, and bringing awareness to our Partners on the impact of technology to the legal practice. This included monitoring new legal start-ups and developing a framework to analyze our research in a tool created by my team called the Legal Nexus of Forces.


 This engagement process with our attorneys and clients helped us see that there was value in our research and ideation around improving our services using technology.


The evolution of where we’re at now is transforming this process. About a year or two ago, I was asked to go out to a client pitch. Since then, I’ve been to several of them. And it’s become more of a corollary to what I’m trying to do here at the firm — to bring what I am doing internally out to clients. For example, today, we have years’ worth of research and product studies that allow us to engage with clients frequently in collaborative ways through team calls or providing CLEs to communicate the advancement of technologies and how they change the landscape of our firm and the entire legal industry.

During the collaboration discussions at the table and the client pitches, it has been really helpful to have someone like me there to ask, “What kind of technology do you use? How do you use data?” It is a great compliment and pairing to our attorneys who are focused on delivering the best legal services to our clients, and I’ve had a lot of success at our client pitches in that regard.

After one pitch, we ended up receiving an invitation to return to complete a CLE program for a client. It was just the relationship partner, myself and Bob, and the client gave us one hour — we ended up staying for two because they had so many questions. It really hit home that clients found value in our research and identification of technology-driven solutions.

K-Lowry

Katherine Lowry, Director of Practice Services at BakerHostetler

Legal Executive Institute: So, was it this process that then led the firm to create IncuBaker?

Katherine Lowry: In a way it was. This engagement process with our attorneys and clients helped us see that there was value in our research and ideation around improving our services using technology. We worked with our Policy group to form IncuBaker, a more formalized Innovation team. One that is founded on research, awareness, collaboration across our attorneys and clients to deliver new opportunities. The future of IncuBaker in 2018 will continue to focus on machine learning, DLT/Blockchain Technology, and analytics. We want to explore with the clients how they’re using these technologies in their business and how it can improve our relationship.

That’s why we got into IncuBaker. We’re really trying to transform the dialog around certain technologies, not just internally, which is of course very important, but with our clients as well. We know that things like machine learning or distributed ledger technology are going to be some very disruptive technologies, especially for the legal industry. Previously, there was really not a path in place to decide how the firm would examine and use these technologies and help clients navigate these areas.

To really make a difference, we need to understand how these technologies can impact the firm, then collaborate with our clients and figure out what that ultimate impact is there too. I feel that’s what IncuBaker can offer — it can make sure that we have good communication back and forth for the businesses and the other administrative departments to understand how the firm can utilize these and other technologies.

We need to ask these questions now. What do these technologies mean? Does this mean we can offer a new line of service? Are we structurally set up to be able to have and apply machine learning?

Legal Executive Institute: Does that take a lot of internal coordination?

Katherine Lowry: I would say, overall, it’s a top-down approach, and we’re making sure to work appropriately with the group chairs, asking them to provide attorney liaisons to participate in studies and conduct proof of concepts to determine what technology will provide the greatest amount of value. As far as administration departments, it’s really about collaborating with them and casting a vision of what’s possible together.

That’s where the engagement with the client, I think, is going to get even more valuable as we progress. The undertone is technology, but it’s really about understanding. “What are their business issues? What are they trying to solve?” From there, we feel at Baker, we’ll have great intelligence to figure out what we should focus on to support them and to provide even better service to them.

And I think we’re having a lot of success so far with that.