AALL Annual Meeting Session Recap: Powered by AI, Built in the Law Library

By Kristen M. Hallows, Bricker & Eckler LLP

Fastcase CEO Ed Walters has had enough with the magic and the unicorns and the hype surrounding artificial intelligence, or AI.  He urged attendees at the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) session, “Powered by AI, Built in the Law Library,” to think of AI like pivot tables in Excel:  they’re just tools.  They’re not magic, but they can be to those who don’t understand them.

He began by sharing a few hilarious examples of the limitations of AI.  Is it a Shar-Pei, or is it soft serve?  AI doesn’t know!  It can’t differentiate between the two.  And, whatever you do, don’t expect appealing names for paint colors from AI.  Stoner Blue might seem appropriate for your teenager’s room, but can you imagine taking home a color sample by the name of Bank Butt?  How about a light brown named Turdly?

So, AI is good at some things and not good at others.  When it works, we stop calling it AI.  You may not identify it as such, but AI is “baked into” some very common tools law firms and libraries probably use every day, such as spellcheck and Google Translate.

Ed refers to the first wave of AI, where we are currently, as “read only” AI.  What’s coming is the second wave, which he calls “read/write” AI.  It’s a much cooler phase in which we get to go from consumer AI to maker AI.  Maker AI presents a new suite of tools that information professionals can use to provide more customized and actionable information to attorneys and firm administrators.  Whereas traditional legal research services offer the same data to all users, maker AI lets information professionals create their own datasets and extract results unique to them.  These results can provide insights to help structure alternative fee arrangements or to help inform litigation strategy or settlement decisions.

Take the Fastcase AI Sandbox.  The AI Sandbox was designed to empower people.  It’s a set of secure servers with datasets and metadata from Fastcase, coupled with an extensive suite of AI tools.  Law firms or law schools can combine the Fastcase data with in-house data.  Once you have your desired dataset, you can query it and get results out.  For example, you can load a set of judicial opinions and get personality insights out–a judge’s preferences or tendencies.  Using Docket Alarm’s new tool, you can create your own analytics on a subset of documents, such as mandamus petitions in Texas.  Upload your own data and crunch it!  And you can build your own apps with Neota Logic, rules-driven software with built-in decision tree logic.

Legal information professionals can drive this new read/write AI.  Law librarians can build things with AI now, not just create reports, and some librarians are already doing it.  Continue reading

Tune In to The Geek in Review (and Geek Out with 2 Legal Information Professionals)

Earlier this week, we highlighted Saskia Mehlhorn, who will be presenting at three AALL sessions.  Today, we’re highlighting two other very active private law librarians and information professionals who will be taking part in this year’s AALL Annual Meeting—Marlene Gebauer, Director of Knowledge Solutions at Greenberg Traurig LLP, and Greg Lambert, Chief Knowledge Services Officer at Jackson Walker, and outgoing AALL president.

Greg started the popular and long-running 3 Geeks and a Law Blog about ten years ago with Toby Brown and Lisa Sophia Salazar, and he and Marlene Gebauer recently launched an accompanying podcast, The Geek in Review. Their first episode featured competitive intelligence guru Zena Applebaum, who offered insights on life as a “non” (as in non-lawyer, or even non-librarian) at a law firm.

Next, Greg and Marlene delved into Casetext’s development and vision with Casetext founder Pablo Arredondo. They also discussed the market for legal information startups generally, the next wave of legal tech, and the role librarians play in vetting new offerings.  Cas Laskowski of Duke Law School, and of the Firebrand Lib blog, was interviewed for their third airing.  The interview with Cas was a follow-up to her April blog post about impact-conscious design models.

Most recently, Marlene hosted former lawyer and knowledge management professional Ayelette Robinson, who now has a career in acting and production.  Marlene and Ayelette discussed how acting, voice-over and/or improv training can benefit professionals generally, and the importance of being yourself in your professional interactions.

You can listen to the podcast on Anchor, anchor.fm/geekinreview, or on iTunes, itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-geek-in-review.

Episode 1:  Living the “Non” Life in Law Firms

Episode 2:  Being a Legal Information Startup

Episode 3:  Let’s Discuss Impact-Conscious Design

Episode 4:  Understanding How to Place the Focus on Others

You can also follow Greg and Marlene on Twitter:
Greg Lambert (@glambert) and Marlene Gebauer (@gebauerm)

At the conference, Greg will participate in a TED-style format session, “TEDAALL: Library Leaders Share Their Ethics Stories and Challenges.”  Library leaders will give short TED-style presentations discussing important ethical issues in library research, technology, human resources, data management, and other services.

Marlene will be participating in The Tech-Savvy Law Librarian, an event hosted by Above the Law and the Evolve the Law community that is taking place Sunday evening at SPARK Baltimore. David Lat, founder and managing editor of Above the Law, and Dean Sonderegger, Vice President and General Manager for Legal Markets and Innovation at Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S., will discuss “How Can Law Librarians Drive the Future of Law Practice.”  Their conversation will be followed by two-minute elevator pitches from legal tech innovators, followed by four minutes of Q&A from David and Marlene. Innovators pitching will include CasetextCourtroom Insight, and SimplyAgree.

We Want Your Knowledge! Modern Law Firm Libraries Take an Innovative Approach to Managing and Delivering Knowledge

With the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) 2018 Annual Meeting starting at the end of this week, we wanted to highlight some of the private law librarians and information professionals who will present at the conference.

Saskia Mehlhorn, Director of Knowledge Management and Library Services, U.S., at Norton Rose Fulbright, is committed to uncovering and extracting knowledge at her firm and making it accessible. Saskia discussed her team’s role recently with Gregg Wirth of Thomson Reuters’ Legal Executive Institute and highlighted how law firm libraries of today have moved beyond traditional print and electronic resource management, and into the content and knowledge management business.

According to Saskia, “Knowledge originates from a law firm’s internal experience and work. Also, you have what’s contained in documents, what’s been written about in presentations and other similar products. Those things will always be a part of any law firm, because lawyers – and the legal profession in general – are based upon the written word. In the last few years, US law firms have reevaluated knowledge management and realized the opportunities it presents.”  The Legal Executive Institute article (part 1 and part 2) focuses on the collaboration and innovation needed for successful utilization of the various forms of knowledge intrinsic to a global law firm.

Saskia, who is the incoming Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect for AALL’s Private Law Librarians and Information Professionals (PLLIP) group, was also recently profiled in the association’s AALL Spectrum.  In that profile, she elaborates on how librarians’ roles and knowledge management are evolving with technology advancements.  She also discusses the time-saving role a chatbot can play in the delivery of library services. Below is an excerpt, reposted with permission, from AALL Spectrum, Volume 22, Number 6 (July/August 2018), pgs. 34-36.

“Why is a comprehensive knowledge management system important for firms?

Any law firm, whether it is a solo practitioner or a 4,000-lawyer global firm, has within its systems a tremendous amount of collective knowledge. So instead of asking why it’s important, we should ask, “Why not make use of that knowledge?”

A comprehensive system is a key to the holy grail. All knowledge that has been accumulated is readily available for retrieval and allows law firms to work efficiently and consistently at a high level for their clients.

How has knowledge management changed over the years and how do you anticipate it will continue to change?

Knowledge management hasn’t really changed all that much. When we think of knowledge, it’s really to communicate past experiences—we transcribe them, preserve them, and then make them available. That is how we still handle it today. In the past, it was oftentimes all about the books. Someone would go to a book shelf, grab a book, get the knowledge out of the book, and move on. Now we aren’t constrained to use only the printed format, because everything is also available online, which makes it easier to retrieve the knowledge. As we move forward, we won’t be solely relying on the ability to retrieve knowledge and make results come back faster. In the future, we will be able to use systems that combine knowledge that is available in any given repository with ideas, thoughts, and concepts, whether they are articles or seminars, so you are better able to find a solution to whatever problems arise.”

You are presenting a program at the 2018 AALL Annual Meeting on building a chatbot. What do you find most exciting about its potential? Any challenges or surprises?

I’m most excited about the use of chatbots when it comes to carrying out tasks that are critical but also very time-consuming. In my department, we are currently working on a chatbot that could replace the reference interview. The reference interview is something that is necessary—oftentimes because people don’t necessarily know what they want and they need you to guide them through the process—but it’s a time-consuming process. As we move forward with exploring this chatbot technology, we will develop a number of solutions that allow us to transfer time-consuming tasks to a chatbot, so that the information professional who works behind the chatbot can work on more intricate issues at hand.

The biggest challenge I have come across is actually finding the time to work on the chatbot. While there is a lot of potential and time-saving capability with the creation of this chatbot, it takes quite some time to concentrate on it to make the project successful. The hardest part is freeing up available time: We have so many requests to respond to throughout the normal workday, that finding additional time to create a time-saving chatbot is time-consuming in and of itself.”

Saskia will be presenting on both knowledge management and chatbots at the upcoming AALL Annual Meeting, which will take place in Baltimore from July 13-17, 2018.

Give Me Your Knowledge!

Speakers: Saskia Mehlhorn (Norton Rose Fulbright), Connie Crosby (Crosby Group Consulting)

One of the major issues in any organization is the danger of knowledge walking out the door every time someone leaves, whether due to job changes, retirement, or other reasons. Over the past decades, many organizations have undergone hardware and software system changes. One area, however, is often overlooked-the knowledge that exists in people’s heads and was never put on paper, the so-called, “tacit knowledge.” This program will define tacit knowledge and explore at least three methods to extract and deliver tacit knowledge to future users.

From Concept to Deliverable: Build Your Own Law Library Chatbot

SpeakersSaskia Mehlhorn (Norton Rose Fulbright), Robert Brammer (Law Library of Congress)

In October 2017, the Law Library of Congress attached a chatbot to its Facebook page. This chatbot connects patrons to research guides, foreign law reports, and primary sources of law that are available on the Law Library of Congress blog, In Custodia Legis, and its website, Law.gov. This presentation will discuss the application of AI to law, what a chatbot is, how a chatbot can be used by law libraries, how to build a chatbot that requires no programming knowledge, mistakes to avoid when building a chatbot, how to maintain a chatbot so it is responsive to patrons’ needs, and methods to evaluate a chatbot’s performance.

Law Firm Information Professional Elected to the AALL Executive Board

Congratulations to Jean O’Grady, Director of Research & Knowledge Services at DLA Piper on her election to Board member of the 2017-2018 American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Executive Board.

As a blogger for Dewey B Strategic Jean has always championed the roles of private law firm information professionals and she has been active for many years in AALL and the Private Law Libraries and Information Professionals-Special Interest Section of AALL. We are proud of her and know she will be a great spokesperson on the Board for law firm librarians and all law librarians and legal information professionals.

More on ILTACON 2016—Social Collaboration Tools as an E-mail Alternative

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Emily Florio’s post on attending ILTACON mentioned some of the private law librarians and information professionals that presented.  Katherine Lowry, Director of Practice Services at BakerHostetler, participated as a panelist for the session, “The Social Collaboration Tools Making a Meal Out of Email”.  The session focused on social collaboration tools, such as Slack, ThreadKM, Yammer, and Beezy, that law firms are using to facilitate collaboration and to help stem the endless stream of e-mail messages.

Katherine contributed to the panel by discussing BakerHostetler’s use of Yammer, and described the roll-out and adoption process.  According to Katherine, “[I]t was a great panel filled with a diverse set of products supporting social networks in the legal industry”, and she’s happy to see “social networks gaining even more momentum”.  She recommended the recap of the presentation written by Sameena Kluck, a Strategic Account Executive for Thomson Reuters and Westlaw.

The session’s moderator was Patrick DiDomenico, Chief Knowledge Officer at Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart.  Other panelists included Ginevra Saylor, National Director of Knowledge Management at Dentons; Raul Taveras, Manager of Litigation Technology Solutions at Fish & Richardson P.C., and Cindy Thurston Bare, Director of Knowledge Management at Orrick.