Law Firm Innovation—Erasing Boundaries

Reposted with permission from AALL Spectrum, Volume 27, Number 1 (September/October 2022), pgs 14-16.

By Katherine M. Lowry, Director of Practice Services & Head of Incubaker, BakerHostetler

Reimagining the way legal services are provided at BakerHostetler.

If necessity is the mother of invention, then technology is a clear call to action for law firms to innovate. Innovation can take many forms. Here, let’s compare the distinction between optimizing processes inside of law firms and the rise of captive (in-house) alternative legal services providers (ALSPs)— often dubbed New Law. The latter is defined as the building of new legal service delivery models that provide a high degree of client value through process redesign, leveraged technology, and better use of data.

BakerHostetler’s Formation of IncuBaker™

My captive ALSP experience stems from co-founding IncuBaker as a legal tech research and development (R&D) team in 2015. By 2018, it evolved into a thriving legal tech consulting team—a captive ALSP. In the early stages, years before forming the team, we gathered data across a variety of industries and identified the tangible impact of emerging technology as an impending tidal wave of change headed straight for the legal industry. As we sought opportunities to engage with and evaluate technology vendors, we quickly identified a common theme: the importance of machine learning and using algorithms to predict outcomes across areas like research, contracts, client churn, and business development initiatives. Exploring solutions built on machine learning and building tactical expertise was key to us. We wanted to provide substantive and factual evidence on how technology was shaping the legal landscape. We aimed to be the voice of reason in the market—not simply another publicity-seeking company.

“Today, we are at the crest of the wave of erasing boundaries and approaching service delivery in unique ways. It is the ability to see things differently and not succumb to limitations of the status quo.”

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Susan Ryan at Seyfarth Shaw Mentioned in the AmLaw Litigation Daily

A recent AmLaw Litigation Daily article titled, “With California DAs Suing ADA Law Firms, a Broad National Dip in New Federal Filings,” references a Seyfarth Shaw blog post Susan Ryan co-authored with attorneys at the firm. See the full blog post here. “2022 ADA Title III Mid-Year Federal Lawsuit Filings Drop 22% Compared to 2021

Fastcase 50 Honorees Include 4 American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Members     

Congratulations to the four American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) members below who were named to the Fastcase 50 Class of 2022. Lindsey Carpino and Clanitra Stewart Nejdl are also members of the Private Law Librarians and Information Professionals (PLLIP) Special Interest Section.  Lindsey teamed up with Annie Mentkowski on the “Review-It” legal tech tool that won the 2021 AALL Innovation Showcase Awards in three categories.

Jean O’Grady, another AALL and PLLIP member, wrote about the Fastcase 50 class on her Dewey B. Strategic blog, https://www.deweybstrategic.com/2022/07/fastcase-50-announced-congratulations-to-class-of-2022.html.  Bob Ambrogi wrote about Lindsey and Annie’s Review-It tool on his LawSites blog in August 2021, https://www.lawnext.com/2021/08/one-project-sweeps-first-ever-aall-innovation-showcase-despite-my-participation.html.

Thanks to Fastcase for recognizing the efforts and achievements of these four dedicated individuals, and for Fastcase’s continual support of the law librarian and information professional community.

View the full Fastcase 50 Class of 2022: https://www.fastcase.com/fastcase50/

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How Law Firms Succeeded During the Pandemic

Reposted with permission from AALL Spectrum, Volume 26, Number 6 (July/August 2022), pgs 18-20.

By John DiGilio, Firmwide Director of Library Services, Sidley Austin LLP

Communicate meaningfully, set boundaries, celebrate successes, and be empathetic.

For most of us in the law firm library world, the response to the pandemic felt a like a fire drill that we have been preparing for our entire careers. We have long talked about electronic resources, serving clients at a distance, virtual learning, and so much more. Conference after conference and through innumerable articles, we have been lamenting the slow pace of change among firms when it comes to fully embracing these possibilities. Yet wise was the person who said that necessity is the mother of invention. All that hesitation ended abruptly when the world went into lockdown under the rapid spread of COVID-19. Not only did we successfully make that transition from office to remote, but we did so almost overnight. Rising to the challenge, however, came at a price. Staff reported being overwhelmed. Some even burned out. Currently, we are in the midst of a chaotic job market and what is being dubbed “The Great Resignation.” As a manager, I knew from day one that a big part of my job was going to be making sure that my team had the space, flexibility, and respect necessary to not only pull off a successful transition, but to do so in good health and good spirits.

Communicate Meaningfully

We knew immediately that electronic communication was going to be one of the keys to successfully move from in-office to remote working. But even when we were in the office, one of the biggest issues we faced was the ever-growing glut of emails, texts, and instant messages we were already receiving. “Email overload,” for example, was already a very real and pressing problem. Now that communicating was no longer as simple as walking down the hall to talk to colleagues and co-workers, we expected this issue would compound itself exponentially—and it did. Within weeks of going remote, we were all using at least three virtual meeting platforms and two instant messaging programs in addition to what we already had on both our computers and smartphones as well as tablets. We were wired for speed and confusion!

For my team, I made the decision that while anyone was free to make use of any of the tools being offered by the firm, there would be certain base expectations. Everyone was asked to stick to one of each of these communication platforms. This way we could easily see who was available, everyone was guaranteed to see important messages and announcements, and we did not have to do a lot of jumping between applications to connect with our colleagues. This helped reduce some of the communication fatigue that was evident early on. Everyone was also asked to attend one monthly all-department meeting in which the various service directors talked about projects completed and those underway.

I also decided to encourage a meaningful approach to virtual meetings. I knew we would be adding a good number of online social events to make up for our lack of in-person gatherings, so I wanted again to make sure that heaping those on top of an already busy schedule of administrative and work-focused meetings did not overwhelm our staff. We needed to reduce unnecessary meetings, or what I call “meetings for meetings’ sake,” and ensure that the ones we were scheduling were kept tight and efficient. Everything of importance would be recorded to take pressure off those with conflicts, pressing projects, or who were not even on the clock at the time of the meeting. Not only did I preach this gospel of efficiency, but I also had to lead by example. Entire schedules were rethought and redone. But it was worth it. With remote working likely here to stay, this practice is going to serve us well going forward.

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Experience at AALL’s Course: Competitive Intelligence Strategies & Analysis

By Allison C. Reeve Davis, Senior Library Manager, Littler Mendelson, P.C. and Caren Luckie, Research Attorney, Jackson Walker LLP

Allison and Caren were both awardees of the PLLIP-SIS grant to attend the course and in this post share their experiences and “a-ha” moments.

On May 16-17, 2022, several legal information professionals gathered in Chicago for an immersive course on Competitive Intelligence (CI) in law firms. The small group of 11 comprised individuals from law firms of various size and included librarians and CI researchers alike. Facilitators Ben Brighoff (Foley & Lardner, L.L.P.) and Lynne Kilgore (Baker Botts, L.L.P.), along with additional speaker Nathalie Noel (Jenner & Block), led the group through several CI strategies, team development, stakeholder buy-in, working collaboratively with other departments, and other considerations. Attendees took away ideas and made connections with each other creating a larger network of colleagues working in this space. We have already seen members of the group reaching out with questions and sharing ideas.

Organizers of the course kept the attendee list intentionally small. This created an open environment in which all were encouraged to share their experiences, expertise, and ask questions in a welcoming environment. Learning that individuals came from various levels of experience or diverse groups of research settings lessened any intimidation of being in a room with only high-level experts. Quickly, the group felt comfortable asking questions and sharing their goals for further CI development on their home teams. We learned that many of us face the same problems, and that we were all searching for the right (or better) resources to help us provide enhanced competitive intelligence to our firms.

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