Wednesday, February 4, 2009

LegalTech Report: Online Networks and the Twitter Backchannel


Robert Ambrogi, Journalist


John Lipsey, Vice President, Corporate Counsel Services, LexisNexis
Vanessa DiMauro, CEO & President, Leader Networks
Eugene M. Weitz, Corporate Counsel, Alcatel-Lucent
Olivier Antoine, Counsel, Crowell & Moring

My overall impression is that, not surprisingly, lawyers and firms are way behind the rest of the business world in terms of knowledge, comfort, and implementation of the new forms of social networking, as through LinkedIn, Legal OnRamp, or other similar platforms.

I had a vivid conversation after the session with Niki Black, a social-web-savvy food-loving attorney from Rochester NY. As was also apparent from her Twitter stream, she relayed to me she was unpleasantly surprised at the limited understanding and resistance to social networking displayed at the session. She may have had this reaction in part due to audience questions such as “What about conflicts”? and “What about attorney-client privilege?”

Other posts on this panel come from LawyerKM, Kelly Talcott, John Lipsey (podcast included),

I've collected my notes on this interesting panel organized by speaker; below that is a brief discussion of the "back channel" that arose on Twitter.

Bob Ambrogi

If you just looked at this conference, the hottest topic in technology looks like e-discovery. But outside of LegalTech, social media is an important topic. Even companies without a formal policy have employees using social media.

Of companies that have adopted it, 2/3 see improved customer satisfaction, and 2 in 5 can associate increase in sales with adoption of social media.

Only 2% of lawyers think that social media is a valuable tool for client development. Bob thinks this low percentage is due to a misunderstanding, as social media can include client recommendations, alumni relationships, publishing, and more.

Vanessa DiMauro (wikipedia LinkedIn)

Vanessa comes from the Enterprise 2.0 / academic & corporate space rather than the legal side.

She asked, what does social networking mean in the business context?

There have been many new tools emerge—it’s been the “Wild West.” We have had an opportunity to measure it effectively, and can start to move away from the tools towards the values that it can deliver.

There are different rules of engagement on social media sites.

Social and professional networks appear similar, but have very different purposes. With social networks you might want to share pictures or connect with former classmates. With professional networks the goals are to “evangelize your thought leadership” or perhaps make collective decisions. With both you want to make meaningful connections. With both you care about what kind of club you’re joining (remember the Marx brothers-- "I wouldn't want to be a member of a club that would have me as a member.").

Yet some of the same social rules we already live by apply equally in the online world. If we know someone personally we may be more comfortable reaching out to them. Space out interactions. Give three times per “ask.” Don’t wait to reach out to your LinkedIn connections until you need them.

Vanessa thinks there are opportunities to find the best of breed from other industries, that have already addressed social media. There is a road map and set of best practices around the most effective use of social media adaptable to the legal industry.

John Lipsey

He is developing “Connected” for Martindale Hubbell (I’m calling it MH Connected but that is not its brand name), a social networking site to be released later this quarter.

His core stakeholders are corporate counsel. How do we get beyond the “tip of the pyramid”? How can we tailor social media to their existing needs?

Key elements of social and professional networking include group and individual discussions (blogs and wikis) and relationship connection / identification. (I would add status updates).

What are the opportunities to provide more value to lawyers in social media? What do lawyers want? He thinks authentication and validation are really important. It may not matter so much that someone on Facebook is who they say they are. But it really does matter where attorney advice or referrals may be at stake.

For instance, you can’t be anonymous on MH Connected because that would destroy the trust model.

Every network in the world is looking for a critical mass. MH Connected is trying to identify relationships using their existing information such as working for same firm, being on a published opinion, or graduating law school together. MH Connected is trying to make it easier to get people together by suggesting people they may know (LinkedIn and Facebook already do this, through formal groups based on education or employment, and by allowing creation of groups by users interested in a particular topic or united in some other way).

Can social networking help in-house counsel manage “preferred provider” programs?

You can’t build this out for the early adopters. It has to help lawyers in everyday practice, including authentication, trust and so forth. What are the technologies that will engage your practitioners?

Conflict or attorney-client privilege risk can be addressed through thinking, what kind of group am I addressing? What is the audience?

John has a decent grasp of social networking principles, and some interesting ideas for what may connect lawyers in particular. It remains to be seen if the previously ossified Martindale Hubbell will truly be able to become a useful and valuable destination for lawyers.

Olivier Antoine

Social networking brings key information for inside and outside counsel. The new value being generated is the new type of information, such as who is connected to who, who has recently looked at your profile, and so forth.

Law firms are conservative environments and are very slow to adopt new ways of doing things, as is required to some extent for social networking.

Understanding who knows who can be important for the substance of the work he does (he defends companies accused of price-fixing, which entails understanding all of the information being shared between parties about prices).

Olivier recently noticed that a number of firm lawyers had linked to a lawyers at a firm being acquired just a few weeks before the deal was announced. Social networks make it easier to share information; the type of risk and precautionary steps are may be the same, but the magnitude of the risk greater.

Social media adoption is unavoidable. It has to be addressed.

Eugene Weitz

He compartmentalizes his business and personal connections. In either case, what is the value compared with the amount of time required?

Alcatel Lucent is a “global law division” of over 200 people, all over the world. As part of their knowledge management program, they are trying to figure out better ways to communicate.

In-house counsel have to stay current on the law and have to know the business. Martindale Hubbell and LinkedIn offer ways to communicate with the outside world. He’s also with a NJ counsel organization that is all about in-house lawyers talking to each other.

They choose to have discussions only with certain people. He doesn’t want a direct sales pitch from outside counsel, but he does want discussion and information sharing.

He works in the field of IT. He wants to know what the market is in outsourcing or other trends. If social media can help inside counsel understand law, benchmarking, and communicate, it will have a place.

Eugene expects that there will be substantive legal content on MH Connected in the same way that there is content on law firm web sites. The difference is that it will be collected and shared in one space.

I was surprised there was no mention of Legal OnRamp, which purports to provide similar functionality in terms of sharing online content. Doug Cornelius, who has previously posted twice on that platform, came through on Twitter however.

Live Discussion

John thinks that the value proposition might vary greatly between in-house and outside counsel. Eugene identified what in-house counsel want. Outside counsel want to attract people to them and build business through demonstrating expertise.

Bob said that beginners should look at LinkedIn simply as an online directory of professionals. You need to be in many different places to be visible as part of a high profile.

We’re getting to the point where the social media tools can be matched to the particular business or strategic goal.

Twitter Discussion

Mary Abraham has posted on how interesting the "back channel" of Twitter discussion became. At one point she relayed live a tweeted question from Doug (who was in Boston). I agree with her that it provided a whole new perspective, hitherto unavailable, of an audience's reaction to a session. It's a step up from blogging in terms of immediacy, but a step down in terms of thoughtful analysis.

You can see most of the posts on this session by searching Twitter for #LTNY and networking.

Obviously these are not my posts, but I thought it would provide readers some insight into the audience reaction to see some of the spicy comments on Twitter that arose during the session.
  • GabeAcevedo #LTNY online networking panel. This is not what I expected. Must either leave/kill self soon as possible.
  • nicolecaccamo: And that "safe" networking would exclude us non-lawyers presumably - missing out on a lot of value/connections #LTNY
  • CherylMcKinnon: #ltny John Lipsey - authentication and validation needed for safe professional networking
  • brucecarton: Uh oh, bloggers getting restless. RT @GabeAcevedo #LTNY networking panel. Martindale mentioned now 10 times in martindale sponsored panel.
  • dougcornelius: @VMaryAbraham #LTNY Social networking is about community. You want to hang with your friends. Are your friends in that site? Connected?
  • dougcornelius: @kdtalcott "Best Practices in Online Networking"? But Legal OnRamp is already doing what MH Connected wants to do #ltny
  • CherylMcKinnon: #ltny John Lipsey - authentication and validation needed for safe professional networking [This post was "retweeted" or rebroadcast within a few seconds by two others]
  • kevinokeefe: Session re online networking & social media has had 25% of audience leave. Turned exciting topic into something boring. #LTNY

Monday, February 2, 2009

LegalTech: KM from a Client Services Perspective

  • The importance of client service in retaining clients and growing the practice
  • Growth of KM approaches from internally focused needs to effectively playing a role in serving client

Meredith Williams, Director of Knowledge Management, Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz

Todd Mattson, Director of Practice Systems & Services, Covington & Burling LLP

Attendance has been thinning out somewhat since the heavily-attended morning session.

Todd Mattson

Practice Systems groups comprised of library, paralegals, and litigation support teams. He sought to define KM with reference to improving firm performance.

Example #1--Policy Advice for Large Pharma Company

There were many different types of documents, many different firm offices involved, and many different client participants. The client was driving need for organization.

They developed an extranet that lets everyone track projects, documents and deliverables. The view looks like a basic browsable folder tree, although some of the items are projects rather than documents.

Example #2--Coalition Representation & Management

These coalitions are comprised of 8-22 U.S. and international companies (say, a trade or manufacturing group). They need both substantive and procedural documentation.

Example #3--Digital Case File Sites

Most of these are digital repositories for pleadings and other case materials. They expanded to include patent background data.

Lessons Learned

They focus on the matter and the practical needs/wants of the clients. They don't charge for the actual web site, but the work is done for a particular matter and so is billable.

Meredith Williams

What are the internal activities that drive client acquisition?
How do KM activities affect the bottom line?
How do we promote and market these activities inside and outside the firm?

Focus moved from better information sharing to efficiency and then to marketing and business development. KM is very much integrated with the marketing team.

What can we build that the client will see and appreciate? What KM can we sell as a commodity?

West KM is integrated into their enterprise search (Microsoft's?).

For a practice group, ask what will help them service the client better? Work product and feeds of external resources such as docket/case alerts. They have a direct integration with Courtlink, based on say type of law.

They have a personalized "My Site" that graphically displays the attorney's lists of matters and most recently modified documents.

Baker has industry and client service teams. Industry teams can start to identify opportunities in new types of work. They pull in large amounts of information from West Monitor. West Monitor serves up business news and analysis organized around particular industries.

They have client and matter intranet sites. Some client sites can be shared with the client. Client sites show financial information, documents, and emails. Matter sites show .pdf copies of actual bills (not difficult to do, great reward).

"Advanced" client sites bring in information from West Monitor. Dashboards show news items, stock price information, and so forth. Some have blogs. (The client does not see the blogs). She had a big success with a client who moved business to the firm after seeing the externally facing client site. Client productions and interrogatory responses are going to be searcheable.

The KM group offers clients CLE on West KM and Westlaw.

She's integrated KM with the "four pillars" of the firm's business plan. Meets with practice and industry teams every quarter. Asks them what their needs are, KM figures out "how" and delivers.

Keys to Success
  • Serve as many groups as possible
  • Communicate with administration about successes
  • Brand everything that you can
Questioning brought out that some clients of both firms have asked to post documents to the client's extranet or database.

LegalTech report--KM from a Practicing Attorney Perspective

  • High value KM approaches
  • KM tool evolution
  • How KM helps attorneys practice more effectively

Scott Rechtschaffen, Managing Shareholder, Littler Mendelson

Rachelle Rennagel, Chief Knowledge Officer, Sheppard Mullin

This session conflicted with most of the "What is Twitter and How Can I Use It" session. LawyerKM and Mary Abraham deserted me for there, so I'm staying on the bridge.

Rachelle Rennagel

Rachelle wanted to present some thoughts and techniques that she's used to further KM at Sheppard Mullin. She provided some excellent strategy and tactics but did not go into much detail about the pieces of her particular projects.

What can we do given the reality of the economy?

Rachelle also provides litigation support and supervises e-discovery.

As CKO she does not "know everything" but she supports lawyers and other operational gruops. She "helps speak the geek" for the lawyers and "speak the lawyer" for the geek.

She has four mantras:

  • Make firm-wide knowledge more accessible
  • Train, train, train
  • Cultural sensitivity and generational leverage
  • Serve the law firm client by increasing efficiency and profitability

Work within existing firm processes. Gradually erode less efficient processes.

Two primary KM opportunities are supporting alternative billing arrangements, and attorney prospecting/opportunity management. "This is the year of client development."

KM can supply the answer to the question, "How do we make sure that we are making money under alternative arrangements?"

In this economy it is getting easier to find people to contribute to formal knowledge-sharing programs.

Sheppard Mullin is using client dashboards to push data to lawyers about clients and prospective clients.

There remain aspects of their current software (e.g., Sharepoint) that they haven't fully leveraged.

She gets on partner meeting schedules and presents on a topic they care about; she meets with the executive committee. She also does one-on-one meetings with lawyers to get them to understand email risks.

Rachelle thinks this is also a good time to be addressing risk management technology like records management, email management, and litigation holds. Attorneys use email to store advice to clients and more.

She is working with their electronic librarian to create an internal RSS feed for their lawyers.

They are working on "ShMutter" (Shepard Mullin internal Twitter).

Workflow is an amazing effective process. How do we automate new hire or matter intake processes? Spending time keying in the same information multiple times in the HR process is not efficient. She also works on contract management.

Rachelle appears to be taking the approach, be useful and helpful where she can, regardless of how close or far that activity is to traditional knowledge management activities. More power to her for that.

Scott Rechtschaffen

From my perspective, for a U.S. firm of its size, Littler has an unusually large and succesful knowledge management team. This may be due in part to their focus on labor & employment work, in which "traditional" KM organization and knowledge-gathering efforts may be more succesful. Their team's success is also no doubt due to the energy and acuity of the team leader.

Scott said that Littler attorneys are "scattered" throughout many offices in many states. They have 9 dedicated KM attorneys, including an attorney elevated to the partnership through the KM track. He does not expect hires to be tech-savvy.

He works most closely on IT/Web Development, client relations/marketing, and professional development. Clients are increasingly wanting to see depth of content as a way of establishing expertise.

Their KM attorneys are:

  • Trainers
  • KM concierge
  • KM evangalists

In the concierge role, if an attorney is too busy to find something, or don't know how, the KM group does. One attorney is assigned as gatekeeper. They tracks number of attorney inquiries (3,000 last year).

Small low-hanging fruit can advance the case that KM should be a part of the operations (management?) of a law firm.

One example is an arbitrator database and an international lawyer database. Who knows X arbitrator in St. Louis?

They are using customized software to manage class action discovery (interviews) and generate interview templates. DealBuilder is being used to generate case-specific information off of a standardized form.

Littler Mendelson has a large subscription-based client-facing KM project on a number of employment law toics; it includes action items. It works because clients know it's reliable, they aren't paying by the hour, and clients can brand it themselves. The KM group also publishes hard-copy and CD on international employment and labor law (and also guides to particular states). They put out about 15,000 pages of content all told. Their class action practice just published a book. It's a great tool for the practice. He would like to eventually move some of these to a wiki. They also do "ASAP" client alerts. There are four firm-sponsored blogs.

Littler Mendelson was an early contributor to Legal On-Ramp. KM attorneys act as mediators and engagers, alerting attorneys to particular on-line conversations relevant to their practice.

LM has an alumni site. It is interactive--they run MCLE programs for alumni through this site.

KM can help enable quick and accurate responses to client inquiries.

Attorneys want to find people with particular expertise. As firm grows it's harder to know who is the resident firm expert on particular topics.

Their matter page / team site (built on Sharepoint 2007) integrates RSS feeds. Partners wanted a box to identify the objective / strategy of the matter in a few sentences. It also shows the (sharepoint) task lists, a piece of functionality I've been investigating.

Their document management search integrates Recommind and West KM. The people / expertise search integrates DMS documents, bios, narrative time entries, and industry information from Elite.

They will be requiring that any event with 20+ attorneys to be listed on a firm-wide calendar.

Scott's grasp of metrics and results show that he has no difficulty in proving value to his partners and his firm.

Blogging at LegalTech--A Different Environment

Last year I remember a distinct lack of blogging resources. There were no power strips, and connectivity was also a problem. Last year's blogging breakfast was a highlight, however, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow's as well.

This year is quite different. As promised, there were *ahem* free passes, blogger tables, and powerstrips. Wifi must be purchased, but there are a few plugin connections available (at least in my session).

There are also more of us. Just at my table was Securities Docket guru Bruce Carton, LawyerKM, and Mary Abraham.

So, my thanks to LegalTech, Monica Bay (allegedly behind this warm welcome,) and Jill Windwer, VP of Digital Products at

LegalTech KM Session--"How Integration Drives KM"

KM1: How Integration Drives KM

  • Early approaches to KM
  • Individual, highly customized systems
  • Commercial applications
  • Benefits of powerful combined approaches

Tom Baldwin, Chief Knowledge Officer, Reed Smith

Preston McKenzie, Vice President and General Manager, Business of Law @ West (Thomson Reuters).


It's a full room here the first KM session at New York Legal Tech (for Twitter followers, #LTNY not #NYLT as I earlier thought, plus #KM).

Oz Benamram, of White & Case, introduced the session. He is on the conference committee; his goal was to make presentations here more interesting and less vendor-focused. Tomorrow's Web 2.0 session is also relevant to KM.

Preston's Talk

Preston runs Thomson Reuters/West's "business of law" functions, in the client development / client-facing KM space. Products he deals with include Hubbard One, Contact Networks, West Monitor.

Productivity is a key interest because smart firms must "do more with less." He analogized driver behavior with gas at $4/gallon to what law firms have to do in operations, litigation, and lawyer support.

Law firms face three different levels of complexity; information is more complex and spread across systems, law firm organizations are more complicated geography and structure, and the markets are more complicated (diverse).

Westlaw is trying to make available the strength of relationship assessment of, say, people at your firm with a particular judge. This leverages your firm's unique information. West is (appropriately) trying to have an open architecture, allowing integration for instance with Sharepoint. They recognize that we will have more uses of integrative information than they can imagine.

They are putting together all of the desktop software applications such as LiveNote, West KM, and so forth into one package. Large software implementation are rarer if they happen at all.

Preston discussed West KM. Smart firms are thinking about capabilities rather than products. This allows you to integrate best-of-breed aspects of a product's capabilities. For instance, Westlaw can be leveraged in the online research service, through an intranet portal, and through an application like Microsoft Word. The real value of West KM is its combination of converting documents into HTML, full-text search ability, keysearch classification, and citation extraction (linking) and validation. They are breaking out pieces of functionality, for instance, for use with another search or a document management system.

An example is leveraging West KM in Microsoft's Sharepoint search. This turns the West KM classification scheme into metadata that Sharepoint can display. The categories are not just a one-way feed. Another example showed integration of West KM with Recommind's MindServer Legal; for instance, a document preview in a search result shows the West KM validation and hyperlinking of a case citation.

Tom Baldwin

Tom is one of the KM leaders, having joined Reed Smith from Sheppard Mullin in 2008. Tom is a self-avowed "slogger" rather than a blogger since he hasn't posted since September.

What does 2009 hold for KM programs?

We need to do more with less. Drive your "ATV" through more "Awareness" "Training" and "Visibility." Driving awareness of your firm's capabilities would make life better. Yet lawyers won't go to a classroom any more.

We need to demonstrate value and show how we're helping "the cause."

How can we make KM systems be viewed as "vital" to the firm's processes?

Find your "Al Gore"--a project sponsor, someone who embraces the new ideas/application.

When you get positive feedback, get the attorney to send it to your boss. Try to gain trust of lawyers to get into a client-facing role and leverage any positive feedback you get (one example was use of to help a client address their HR surveys).

We need to hide the fact that there is more technology and less time for training.

Tom has previously been out front in his leveraging Sharepoint as a law firm portal and information access point, and it looks like he has done it again at Reed Smith. This intranet is called "ouRSpace" (RS="Reed Smith"). It requires XMLaw, Recommind, and Sharepoint to work together. It rolled out recently.

There is one navigation bar, with pictures for applications.

Sharepoint and ouRSpace lets you dynamically drive content to lawyers and staff depending on office, role, and title.

One fancy trick is an interactive time zone "slider" that lights up the slice of a world map and highlights the Reed Smith office(s) in that time zone.

The ouRSpace "digital file" search scope includes documents from the document management system, intranet content, and West KM, with the docs from West KM always coming up higher. The search directly leverages the metadata in West KM such as case and statutory citations, and exposes the case validation and linking features of West KM in an HTML view of the results.

Person profile exposes education, direct reports, roles, and billing rates. The search for "German" worked to find people who speak German.

Home news pulls in headlines from U.S. and international versions of the Wall Street Journal.

They are trying to pull in video. Professional quality videography is not cheap or easy to coordinate. They are doing it cheaply using conference equipment and Silverlight. They are doing videos for office managing partners and other leaders.

They lock down the "all users" email address. Instead they have a set of blogs, which use the content-targeting feature to limit the audience to those in a particular office or practice. Blogs are a great way to engage people with a steady stream of communications.

The users' home pages has a "library" tab that knows your practice area and provides links or resources specific to that area. Its "stats" tab shows timekeeper information such as billable hours worked, hours billed, and utilization percentage, again, with the amount of information varying by role.

The Office ouRSpace pages have a chat feature through a "Collaborate" tab. Each practice area has a template, with little custom content (primarily news). Each practice area page displays financial information for that practice, top clients, know-how, library, and collaboration. They started from persona development, through requirements gathering (interviewed 120 people at all levels and every geographical area).

I don't know if I would do everything as Tom has done at Reed Smith, but pulling this amount of information and displaying it in a fairly user-friendly way is an impressive achievement. Adding value indeed.