Knowing Value: The Rise of the Law Firm Chief Knowledge Officer

Reposted from the October 2017 issue of Practice Innovations with permission from Jean O’Grady, Senior Director of Research, Information & Knowledge Management Services at DLA Piper. Her blog is available at https://www.deweybstrategic.com/.

This past July, The American Lawyer published its first rebranded annual Survey of Law Firm Knowledge Management, Library, and Research Professionals. It focused on the rise of the chief knowledge officer (CKO). The main article is titled, “Law Librarian? Try Chief Knowledge Officer.” Another article is called, “From Providing Data to Providing Insight.” Both articles focused on the emergence of information professionals as CKOs.

Knowledge professionals assess a complex ecosystem of emerging tools that offer artificial intelligence and analytics. The market is full of new products that offer law firms “magic bullet” solutions which promise to deliver a competitive advantage, streamlined workflow, or game-changing insights. They are on the front line of a workflow-and-intelligence revolution, and bring their experience and expertise to the challenge of marrying external and internal content with algorithms and curated data. New knowledge and intelligence responsibilities include competitive intelligence, legal project management, lateral partner due diligence, pricing, and pitching, as well as the development of client facing solutions. Traditional responsibilities include knowledge database management, portal development, and enterprise search.

If law firms expect to thrive in this hyper-competitive legal market, the person responsible for matching products and data to business problems should have a seat at the strategy table. The American Lawyer article suggests the obvious conclusion: those firms without a CKO will be at a disadvantage.  Continue reading

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A Legal Research Perspective: Artificial Intelligence Hype Leads to Authentic Conversations in Law Firms

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By Scott D. Bailey, Global Director of Research Services at Squire Patton Boggs LLP

Everywhere we look we see the AI robots. The cover of the New Yorker recently depicted an android giving a handout to a jobless human on the street; the new film Blade Runner 2049 revives the confusion between man and machine; and now all over the legal industry media, the future involves AI taking over at least part of a venerable profession once entirely occupied by humans. The buzz is deafening.

Thinking that law firms are perfect and worthy enterprises composed of intelligent human life doing complex and creative work into perpetuity is one thing, believing that machine learning or AI technologies could displace the human lawyer, law firm administrators, or legal research specialists entirely is quite another. Most experts fall in the middle and believe that “AI-style” technology (or software) is likely to transform the practice of law in areas where systematic applications can save time and increase accuracy, making room for higher level, higher value work. Regardless of the level of buy-in to the AI hype, the investigation of what AI means to you and your firm is a worthwhile conversation to have, and one that will yield authentic collaboration and genuine human insight if handled correctly. The questions we seek to answer about our business operations as a firm are in many respects more important than the answers for the future of the legal industry. Now that we have these first generation AI tools available to us, what do we hope to accomplish? What will our future ideal “legal Alexa” answer? What “why” do we start with?  Continue reading

Will a Robot Take My Job? Study Predicts Increased Demand for Lawyers and Librarians Through 2030

Reposted with permission from Jean O’Grady at Dewey B Strategic 

I am an optimist by nature and I have remained skeptical of  dark forecasts which predict the future based on one dominant trend  (AI comes to mind) while ignoring multiple factors that are likely to moderate or change an expected trajectory.  Imagine my surprise and delight to read about a  recent study on the future of work that predicted that both lawyers and librarians are two of the careers  which are expected to experience increased demand through 2030. The Future of Skills” Employment in 2030 was produced as the result of a collaboration by Pearson – the educational publisher, NESTA-  a global innovation foundation and the Oxford Martin School.

The report even highlights the surprising inclusion that  librarians are listed in the high growth professions: Although traditional libraries have evolved ” we’ll still need people: librarians, to help us navigate information both old and new. But like many occupations, the skills profile of a librarian is likely to shift substantially in the years ahead.” Continue reading

The Role of the Knowledge Manager in an AI World

Reposted with permission from Nick Milton at Knoco stories

How will the development of Artificial Intelligence affect the role of the Knowledge Manager? 

There is a lot of discussion on Artificial Intelligence as part of Knowledge Management, and the use of powerful computing to replace the reliance on experts. As discussed here, the expert, in a rule-based scenario, is seldom better than a smart computer, and the computers are closing the gap that remains. Is there still a role for KM and the Knowledge manager as the computers get smarter?

Take the vision below, from an IBM Watson TV commercial.

Here the company expert, Jack, is on holiday and is replaced by Watson, who can give advice just as good as Jack’s, and in some cases, in Jack’s own words. Engineers using Watson can “access 30 years of experience in seconds” according to the commercial, which is exactly what we are seeking for in KM. Knowledge which used to live only in the expert engineer’s head is now available to all at the point of need. Knowledge, through the application of AI, has become common property, easily accessed.

The benefits of this use of AI are considerable (please note that I am not, in this post, addressing the use of AI to search for correlations and patterns in big datasets; I am looking more at the retrieval of actionable advice).

What AI is doing here is automating the supply chain for knowledge, and removing the bottleneck which the expert previous represented. It represents some of the automated augmentation of knowledge work that will help increase the productivity of the knowledge worker, and help up meet Drucker’s “50-fold productivity increase” challenge.

As a result, the knowledge workers get quicker access to better knowledge, the organisation is protected against the loss of experts and the risk of problems onsite, and more can be done with fewer people.

It is probably inevitable that the number of knowledge workers will decrease as this sort of AI-related augmentation is used more and more. Think for example of the reduction in support-centre staff as the use of AI chatbots and technology such as Watson is used to answer customer queries, rather relying on human staff drawing on a Knowledge Base platform.

But what about the knowledge managers? Will they still have a job in the new world?

Yes, they definitely will. Continue reading

The 21st Century Law Library: Focus on Service

Reposted with permission from Jamie J. Baker at The Ginger (Law) Librarian

As we continue to talk about the ABA’s watering down of law library standards, as well as the impending squeeze from artificial intelligence, Law Librarian Dan Odenwald reminds us to focus on the fundamental service tenet of our profession.

In a recent AALL Spectrum article titled “Transforming Customer Service in the Post-Digital Law Library,” Odenwald notes that [w]e may be a long way from the day when artificial intelligence discerns legislative intent for us, or drones drop deskbooks at our doors, but we ought to contemplate that future and the critical role that customer service will continue to occupy in it.

He further articulates rules for law library customer service in the post-digital age:

1. Stop Selling Yesterday’s Fish: Next-generation legal research platforms, linked data and Watson long ago replaced the perfunctory, will-you-pull-a-statute-for-me duties of law librarians.

2. Anticipate Needs Before They Arise: As the practice of law transforms, so too do the needs of our customers.

3. Make Doing Business with You Remarkable: Every interaction between the library and its customers could fall on a graph of one to 10.

4. Make Others Look Good: How often do we as librarians thank our patrons or recognize their good work?

5. Join the Team … in Every Sense: Embedded librarianship is by now a familiar concept, and the benefits of weaving the library into the broader parent organization are well documented.

6. Help Manage the Disruption of Change: With the ever-expanding burden of mastering change—ironically enough perpetrated on patrons by digital technologies—librarians are uniquely well situated to address those challenges for constituents.

7. Embrace Technology — and Know its Limitations: Law librarians in particular have a long history of adapting technological advances to their purposes, including electronic research itself.

8. Always Evangelize the WIIFM (What’s in it for me?): The importance of marketing your library can barely be overstated

9. Do More With Less — Automate, Outsource, and Offload: Excelling in customer service involves choices, namely, deciding what you’re going to do and what you’re not going to do.

10. Assess. Iterate. Improve: If you’re not already creating mechanisms by which to measure, weigh, and evaluate the results of your labors, then how will you know if you’re succeeding?

These are all wonderful points that also comport with a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education titled “What the 21st-Century Library Looks Like.” As noted, [n]ow, with information always a few taps away, libraries have had to carve out a new niche. They’ve done so by pivoting away from books and toward supporting students.

As a student-service component, librarians are broadly spending less time with collections and more time teaching students how to do research and use digital tools.

It’s clear that our path forward is by going back to the basic, high-level service tenet of the profession.