Monday, February 2, 2009

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.


Doug Cornelius said...

David -

It sounds like Tom Baldwin once again set the standard for a law firm intranet; and set it high.

I hope you got some good ideas to bring back.

Unknown said...

I work with Preston and he has been very thoughtful about what law firm marketing and business development needs are today and tomorrow. He gets out and really talks with at least a dozen firms each month, so he is in a good position to have a broad view.

And about Tom, I remember a few years ago someone commenting (sniping?) that "He sure speaks at a lot of events." Well, he has a lot to talk about. Tom really pushes the envelope for law firm KM. Sometimes he is so far out front that some of his projects can hurt, stall or fail, but his overall success rate is spectacular, and he does it without a huge budget. He is far enough in front that he gets breaks from vendors because he is an early adopter, so his implementations usually cost less than they do for the mass market that follows later.
(this isn't just idle flattery - this is well deserved flattery)