Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Competition, Collaboration, and Innovative Service Delivery

This is my second post from the Ark Conference in New York.  This was a very interesting session that focused, as some sessions at the ILTA conference focused, on client-facing KM and understanding the KM and business landscape in law departments.

These are my notes on another good session at the Ark Conference in New York.

Risa Schwartz

Risa is a KM luminary who has been in KM both in-house and in law firms.  The firms need to know what's going on inside client's legal departments so that we can offer things that they need.   Offer what they need in a preservable and reusable manner.  She's providing an overview of the law department landscape.


Most firms have document management systems, but most legal departments do not.  Typically there will be 15-20 different repositories.  Documents are on CDs, on individual servers (she heard of a "Jessica drive" that was under Jessica's desk and contained "trademark.") Law departments don't have search.

Case Management Tools

Documents for cases are often in email.  They may not have matter management, or have only implemented case & matter management for billing purposes.

People & Training

You need to know how training is done.  Is it available 24/7 or is it in too small/too big chunks?  Are they preserving training in a reusable and searcheable way?

If you start asking clients about these issues you can start offering services.

Volunteer to ask. You can send someone to the client and conduct a needs assessment.  Sit in on trainings or even run them.

Understand Client's Business

(down to the level of lines of business)

Clients need business-specific training.  Not a generic copyright session, a copyright session about a particular side of the business.

What can KM do?

Show them what you have developed.  We have extraordinary products and offerings.  If you could hook the client into what you've developed, that would be great. 

They are hungry for litigation information.  New hires need to know about making uniform arguments based on arguments in previous comparable cases.  Offer an extranet or canned report where client can get metrics with outcomes, people, case information.

People finders & referrals can be a big things at law firms. If you can't provide access formally, you can set up an email-based referral system "do you know someone who can do X" and provide replies.

Kathleen Hogan

She started in KM in 2008 and then was asked to join the KM function at Bank of Montreal.

Her bank is one of the "big five."  It's been in China for more than 100 years.  The banks look at themselves like a reflection of the public.

Her group "LCCG" has 650 people, about 125 lawyers in many jurisdictions.  Training is therefore complicated.

Her bank as a whole has 45,000 people.  An employee's supervisor could be three interrelated people.

She thinks a lot about stock price and about quarter ends / year ends.  Public company cycles generate activity.

Huge institutions make law firms look nimble.  How do you roll out Office 2010 across 45K people, hundreds of branches?


The answers to the "what is KM" question often give short shrift to professional development.
In Ontario you have to get 12 hours of credit annual.  She looks after staff in 6 (soon to be 8) jurisdictions.  She relies on outside counsel to come to her and tell her what she can do.

Law firms do a good job providing CLEs at their firms.

She prefers to have law firms come to her, sometimes its just fine to provide exactly the same program internally.  More often these programs need to be  tailored to the bank.

It's hard for her to balance US & Canadian law.  Sometimes in a webinar global or cross-border issues need to be addressed, though counsel is hesitant.

She's been able to show a savings of at least $100,000 by bringing in law firms to present CLEs.

Legal Training For The Business

Law department lawyers go out to their business and train on best practices, for instance, on legal holds.  The business people enjoy talking to lawyers.

Don't provide training directly to the business line without involving the law department.

Technology Training 

Office 2010 rollout just happened.  It would have been helpful to get tip sheets, have our trainers come in, give best practices.  KM people should volunteer to come in.

Julie Lin and Kathleen co-wrote an ILTA paper about productivity and how law firms can help.   How can you help?  Law departments are behind on KM issues.

Risa mentioned that webex and other technologies can be used to record a quick training.

Ellen Rosenthal

Pfizer has an integrated alliance with 19 law firms that provides a platform for knowledge management.  It includes Ropes & Gray, White & Case, Skadden, and other.  The goal is for it to operate a single group.  A stable group of lawyers partner with Pfizer and with each other in support of Pfizer.   There have only been two changes to the group.

All financial arrangements are under a flat fee, with the goal of removing the competition for hours.

Underlying principles are collaboration, training & development, long-term partnerships, and a new mindset.

Training includes monthly programs (2-4 hours at Pfizer),  usually run by a law firm associate with an in-house person.  Other firms might even ask for a particularly impressive associate from another firm to be on their team.

Training also includes secondment and reverse secondment.

They give twice-yearly numerical and quantitative feedback.

Basic knowledge management can enhance communications within the alliance.

Their KM approach is very low-tech and focuses on sharing best practices.  For instance, last week she brought together the whole litigation and patent cases (inside and outside) and went through a products problem scenario, and came up with five lessons learned from the exercise that were real things they could be doing better.

How can they do continuous quality improvement?  Replicate best practices so that they are used throughout.  They've talked about doing post-mortems on matters that includes efficiency assessments, because it is in the law firms' interests to be more efficient.

Quarterly litigation strategy meetings sit almost as an appellate panel and hear about strategy on four or five cases at a time.

They'll make a given lawyer responsible for a given product, so that (for instance) the implications of interrogatory or document request responses can be understood and managed.

They are having the conversations but they are not doing a great job capturing the conversations.  They can't get people to use the online system.

An audience member noted that client-specific KM systems have been built and no one has come.

Risa responded that the mark of a successful product is adoption, and that you have to involve all the stakeholders in in-house projects in the same way as we do internally.  Ask how people do their job.  Get the tool to match the way people do their jobs in the same way.

Paul Lippe says that KM should provide material improvement to productivity.

Lawyers are struggling with change and with new ways of doing business.

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