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

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/

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.

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

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