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

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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This question was posted to the PLLIP MyCommunities page on January 26, 2022.

Remote!

  • Remote forever. The flexibility paired with increased productivity makes up for loss of in-person comradery and mentoring. While admittedly I’m a bit Zoom-weary, especially by Friday. I did visit the office a week ago, and the fluorescent lighting was so enervating and hurtful to my eyes…no way I will go back unless by command.

  • Remote is right for me because I am allistic and ADHD and I have sensory processing challenges that create an energy drain when I have to work in an office. I am much more efficient and effective if I don’t have to expend energy unnecessarily on dealing with crowds, public transportation, traffic or driving, just to get to the beginning of my work day. Particularly when nothing I do requires me to be there in person, as evidenced by the fact that I’ve been working from home for the last 2 years without incident, it seems particularly insensitive to waste two hours of my day on moving from one location where I could do all of my work to another location where I can also do work but under much worse circumstances. For those wondering why it takes a two hour round trip to get to work, note that I would need a wealthy partner (or for Joe Biden to forgive all of my student loans) if I wanted to live on a librarians salary, in a one-bedroom apartment, closer than 30-60 minutes from the office. I am also excellent at creating and maintaining deep connections with people who I interact with online. This is also generally true of many other non-neurotypicals who, like me have difficulty processing verbal communication. It’s not impossible, it’s just a huge drain of my energy that could be better used for something else. A well written email is always going to be easier for me to understand than someone talking their words at me into the air. For me, working from home is a dream come true because now I can manage my energy levels better and avoid autistic burnout which takes a long time to recover from and demands complete rest in a room with no other people, no noise, and no light. In short, I take fewer sick days and I feel more positive towards my employer when I am allowed to work from home.
  • My preference is to stay remote.  I have a long commute and mostly take public transportation.  During the pandemic transportation service had been reduced, and currently it remains reduced for lack of drivers. If I go into the office, my time is  limited because of the reduced bus schedule, or I need to drive (which I prefer not to be on the roads with crazed, high speed, reckless drivers). Our team is very busy.  Being at home I have plenty of work.  I also have the flexibility to stay online and work late if I need to. Though being in the office is nice seeing people, I also find I get less research work completed when I go into the office.
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This question was posted to the PLLIP MyCommunities page on September 16, 2021. 

We’re Open!

  • We opened up on September 3.  Before that secretaries were coming in 2 days a week.  Associates are encouraged to be in the office, some partners are not coming very much.  I, the librarian, have been coming in 1 day a week for the last 16 months and I can continue with that schedule.  We are a firm of about 30 attorneys.  Most of the large firms in the area are not back in full time.
  • We have been asked to be in the office at least 2 days a week since July 6.  They had expected to change that to 3 days per week after Labor Day, but we’re still on 2 days a week because of the increase in cases.  This isn’t a hard mandate (I don’t know if they’re checking), and we’re not required to select the days and stick to a schedule.
  • Our offices are open, and we are welcome to work in the office if we want to, or need to, but we’re not currently required to be in the office.   There are no incentives for coming in, but they were rewarding those of us who are in with lunches or special afternoon snacks.  I think the lunch ordering became problematic, because that has stopped.  But, they did issue gift cards to local food places as a thank you for those who have been coming in. Nothing has been said about when we would be re-opening, or what the options would be once we do.
  • The office reopened after the July 4th holiday with a hybrid schedule.  They request 3 days on site and 2 days remote per week. This change is supposed to be permanent going forward.  They also relaxed the dress code so that we can wear jeans every day, and have been bringing in free lunch on Wednesdays. As far as I can tell it is working well.  The office is quiet and half full any given day, which is good for social distancing.  They’ve recently asked that we wear masks in hallways and common areas, but not at our desks, due to the unfortunate continuing wave here in the state.
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