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

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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

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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.

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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.

The Library – An Indispensable Resource for the Entire Law Firm

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By Diana Koppang, Director of Research & Competitive Intelligence at Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP

I manage the library at a mid-sized (150 attorneys) single office firm, and Bloomberg Law recently invited me to speak at a luncheon for Chicago-area private law firm librarians. The suggested topic was changes I’ve been observing in the private law world.  I decided to skip over AI trends, legal analytics (a favorite topic of mine), and other tech innovations. Instead, I spoke on how libraries are integrating and interweaving themselves within their firms. A panel I coordinated for the American Association of Law Libraries covered similar ground, entitled “The Linchpin Librarian: Becoming an Indispensable and Integrated Resource in Your Organization.”

The key to becoming a “linchpin” at your firm is understanding the needs of not just the attorneys – but also paralegals, support staff, and perhaps most importantly, the other administrative departments.

When Adam Sidoti, my Bloomberg Law account manager, asked what was “new and exciting” in the library at Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg, I described the library’s expanded role in the new business intake process.  Moving beyond our standard due diligence research, the library had helped create checklists of what should be researched and how results should be presented to the attorneys, as well as what research databases were needed for these tasks. My team looked at it from the perspective of how data collected at the onset would be beneficial to the competitive intelligence reports we later produce. Further down the road, the data initially collected could also be utilized for the statistics our finance and marketing teams need to understand the firm’s strengths.  Again, being a “linchpin” requires understanding the firm’s needs, especially the micro and macro strategic goals.

When Adam asked what duties the library was giving up to handle its new responsibilities, I gave a little laugh and said, “None that I’m aware of.”  However, I realized that’s not entirely true. As we sign more firm-wide contracts and draw focus away from cost recovery, we’re able to empower the firm’s support staff with research tools and training, which does lighten the library’s research load somewhat. For instance, we recently provided finance department staff with access and training for Bloomberg Law dockets and for Lexis Public Records (the Diligence product) so they can conduct research on unresponsive clients.

Librarians are sometimes tempted not to relinquish our tools and tasks so we can ensure our value. We think holding on to these tools is the way to be indispensable. That only breeds resentment between departments, as if we’re hiding or locking down the tools that would help others be more efficient at their jobs. In graduate school, we were taught to be the proud gatekeepers of our institution’s knowledge and information resources.  Unfortunately, the term “gatekeeper” has taken on some negative connotations, implying that we’re not a welcoming access point, but rather, a locked gate. The library continues to be the go-to administrative department for more complex searches or larger research projects, and this ensures our importance. But, through cooperation and resource-sharing, we’re also allowing the firm to derive greater value from our research contracts, and we’re demonstrating our active willingness to support the entire firm. Continue reading

Law Library Budgets & Staffing On the Rise

The 2017 AALL Biennial Salary Survey & Organizational Characteristics Survey shows that budgets and staffing for law libraries are on the rise, according to an article in the January/February issue of AALL Spectrum.

Some key figures/takeaways from the survey results include:

  • More than half, 270, of the 502 responses were from law firm/corporate libraries.
  • Budget information was provided by 366 law firm/corporate, government, and law school libraries. When compared with law school and government law libraries, law firm/corporate law libraries had larger budgets on average ($1,577,734). But law firm/corporate libraries “allocated only 25 percent of their information budget in 2017 to hard copy information” (p. 39).
  • Law firm/corporate library budgets were 10 percent higher than in the 2015 survey.
  • Staffing totals for all libraries show that the “the average number of total staff for all libraries increased from 9.23 in 2015 to 10.32 in 2017” (p. 40).
  • On average, firms had a ratio of 1 professional for every 42.99 attorneys.
  • For billable hours in 2016, the ranges were from “a low of 300 hours for law firm/corporate law libraries with 41-90 attorneys to a high of 4,206 hours for those with 451 or more attorneys”  (p. 40).

More statistics are available in the AALL Spectrum article Budgets & Staffing for Law Libraries are on the Rise, starting on page 40 of the magazine. The complete Salary Survey is available here to AALL members only.