Friday, August 28, 2009

Wikis at ILTA 2009 Part 2, SmartSpace Integrates Wikis Into Leading Document Management System Platform


PBWorks is a tool squarely in the Enterprise 2.0 space. SmartSpace attempts to merge the traditional core document management system functionality of legal market leader iManage (Interwoven) with an enterprise wiki, or actually, thousands of wikis. To understand this tool you have to understand a little bit about how iManage's "matter centric collaboration" or MCC system works.

iManage Background

With MCC each legal matter or practice area is automatically assigned a "workspace" that contains iManage folders. These iManage folders function something like a Windows explorer folder, but are located essentially within the application (webparts allow folders or workspaces to be displayed in portals, however). To assign a matter number or other characteristic to a document or email, it is placed in a folder in a workspace. At the "workspace level" proper, however, no information is displayed and no documents can be located. Workspaces, like folders, can be associated with metadata like client / matter numbers, legal service codes, and practice areas.

Baker Robbins has leveraged the curious opportunity created by the "blank" workspace to create and display a workspace-specific wiki. As with any wiki, new pages can be linked and created on the workspace wiki. The home wiki page is currently somewhat "structured," such that documents in iManage can be added as part of a "briefing" at the top of the home wiki page.

Technically I understand that the SmartSpace wiki is hosted on a separate server and is displayed within iManage dynamically based on the workspace information (this suggests that it would not be challenging to show the SmartSpace alone on a portal, say in conjunction with one of the many Matter Pages intranet systems or in an extranet).

Document Management System Collaboration??

I think it is really interesting that a top consultant has figured out a way to add a matter-specific collaborative tool right into the main-line document management system. Providing attorneys and staff the ability to interact with and add context to the key set of documents they work with could very significantly enhance their ability to find and leverage work product, and also could provides an easy way for wiki knowledge-sharing and collaboration to be embedded in the normal attorney / staff workflow.

Suggestions For Improvement

The product was first discussed (released?) in June (2009) so, not surprisingly, I see a few ways that the current SmartSpace approach could be improved to make them more of a collaboration and communications platform.

1) Notifications (Signals)

Notification of changes is core wiki functionality, in my opinion, because it provides a signal of changes and allows the wiki to serve as a communications platform instead of simply an on-line database.

I did not see notifications built into SmartSpace. It should be easy to sign up for notifications of changes to the SmartSpace (and perhaps also the documents in the workspaces?). Notifications work best if the user can select the notification frequency, whether immediately, daily, or weekly digest formats.

In addition, the type of notifications provided can be really important. As noted by my former colleague in "Sharepoint Wiki Disaster," Sharepoint 2007 (a/k/a MOSS) provides the latest version of the page "entire," without a redline or indication of changes. This has limited (though not eliminated) the utility of those wikis.

Notifications are typically provided by email, or, in fully Enterprise-2.0-compatable organizations, through an RSS feed.

2) Ease of Editing

A wiki is supposed to be easy to edit. The edit button should be large, friendly, and inviting. That encourages people to start the editing process. Lowering the barriers to authorship enhances the opportunities for attorneys and staff to add value to the workspace wikis.

3) Structured vs. Unstructured Wiki Pages

Currently SmartSpaces allows users to right click on a document anywhere in iManage and add a document to a "briefing" section on the home page of a workspace wiki. I understand and applaud making it easy to add documents to these wikis.

I am concerned however that limiting where the documents go when they are added will dramatically reduce the opportunity for users to provide context to the documents through organizing and formating the page and set of pages to on which the document is linked. It is the ability of users to control and add to the context and organization of wikis that make them superior, from a knowledge management context, to traditional document databases.

One way to improve the flexibility would be to let users choose from a list which page on the wiki to add in the link. Another would be to have the right-click create the full link, complete with text, for addition into any place on the wiki. A third way would be to have the right-click simply identify and copy a unique URL for the document (this is clunkier).

4) Search

Another concern is search. An organization with enterprise search could readily search both the iManage system and any related wiki. Without federated search, however, the documents themselves and the context for the documents and the text provided by the SmartSpace wiki would need to be searched separately, which is problematic. And search within SmartSpace might be limited to that workspace wiki, or extended to all of the wikis.

5) Security

A separate system would need to map and abide by the same security settings found in the iManage workspaces. For instance, it should not be possible to even view the name of a workspace wiki if only certain people in the firm are allowed to access the matter (the names themselves can constitute information that needs to be kept from everyone except those on the matter team).


Despite these concerns, I am very intrigued by the concept of adding matter-specific wikis into the law firm environment. I have been looking for a wiki package that would allow automatic generation of wikis based on matter opening, and this system certainly fits that need. It remains to be seen if this system can meet enough other needs to rise to the level of a truly useful and adoptable tool.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wikis at ILTA 2009, Part 1, Bracewell & Giuliani Litigation Knowledge Base

Wikis (a significant interest of mine) came up in three largely unrelated contexts at the ILTA conference this year.

One law firm, Bracewell and Giuliani, is using an externally-hosted wikis provided by PBWorks for "core" knowledge management and retrieval in the litigation group at one of their offices. I attended an Enterprise 2.0 session on this on Monday as part of the Enterprise 2.0 track (more details below).

Second, I had a preview of an iManage-reliant technology called "SmartSpace" in developement by Baker Robbins that integrates wikis with iManage's matter workspaces (details in the second part). Increasing people's ability to easily add context through a wiki or other interactive tool like tagging has great potential to change the way that people work with and relate to the document management system. (Disclaimer: my firm has employed Baker Robbins from time to time).

Third, at a knowledge-management track session on Creative Adoption Techniques, I learned that another law firm is using Sharepoint wikis to store practice-area related information. I did not obtain any significant details about this and so have little to add to this tidbit. Wikis are clearly beginning to make some inroads for limited purposes even at firms not noted for Enterprise 2.0 adoption.

Bracewell & Giuliani -- Wikis as Litigation Work Product Research and Knowledge Sharing Tool

Bracewell's project was an outstanding example of leveraging the power of Web 2.0 / Enterprise 2.0 tools to enhance a group's sharing and alerting of valuable core knowledge, for one litigation practice.


The New York office of this firm has less than 30 litigators, yet they had difficulty finding legal research that had been previously carried out at that office. They did not have a work-product retrieval tool like West KM(TM) or Lexis(TM) Search Advantage. They did have an enterprise search tool but it was providing them with "too much information."

They were using a set of centrally-located research binders, but they were hard to maintain and keep current.

One of their attorneys heard that the U.S. State Department is using wiki technology to share and collaborate across the globe (through Diplopedia), and they have since investigated and adopted wikis as the primary way of storing and retrieving valuable work product (in that office).

They commented that if you can’t share the research it’s not efficient and makes the next attorney reinvent the wheel.

Tool, Form, and Adoption Techniques

They chose PBWorks as an easy-to-use externally hosted platform into which they could load the documents and create a browseable view of resources (PBWorks is the first E20 vendor to really focus on the legal market with its PBWorks Legal).

The B & G wiki focused on what NY litigators wanted. Their wiki covers areas such as substantive law of New York (the example they showed was contract law); civil procedure; and information about judges and courts (for instance, filing practices in particular New York Supreme Court offices). Each topic page enhances browsing by linking to related procedures, areas of law, and court information. Search on the wiki also works quite well because of the targeted nature of the content.

Their adoption approach leveraged attorneys' competitive nature. They set up a substantial reward for the most (real) new entries over a certain period of time. In 3 months they went from a handful of entries to hundreds of entries, with an especially numerous clump of entries on the (near-holiday) night the contest closed. They are now able to find valuable precedent through searching, or, just as often, browsing the wiki.


They believe that an average successful search saves around 2 hours in fruitless searching or reinvention of work product. Theor wiki has resulted in more efficient service and cheaper client bills (happier clients).

The three attorneys who led the effort suspected that if a critical mass of information is built up, the information pool would reach at a certain point reach “critical mass” and be self-sustaining. As it turns out, the wiki has succeeded in terms of the number of users. Partners now will say “check the wiki first" or “just go to the wiki.” Partners have to answer for high bills and so they are driving use.

An additional goal is also to eventually provide the information on-line to answer questions, say, about liquidated and consequential damages under New York law from other Bracewell & Giuliani offices.

They find it much easier to post small bits of information on the wiki than to draft a formal research memo on a given subject. Attorneys can easily cut and paste an email into the wiki.

One paralegal was able to find a form for accepting assignment of a case to a mostly retired New York state judge on 30 seconds on the wiki, where it had taken two hours on the internet.


Users get redlined changes of updates to wiki. This provides a way to educate all of them to keep up on new developments in the law.

Other Uses

While the litigation group's wiki was solely for internal use, they believe that the external hosting makes sharing the project wiki with the client a potential use for transactional work.

Reaction and Conclusion

At my firm we use West KM to retrieve previous examples of substantive legal research, and that tool works quite well for that purpose. We also use a collection of Sharepoint and Interaction lists and systems to track information about judges and courts. I am working on a Sharepoint wiki focused on federal civil procedure but Sharepoint's notifications limitations make it an inappropriate tool to serve as a tool for updating my department about developments in the law. And my systems don't currently provide an easy way for attorneys to capture knowledge contained in email or to contribute small bits of higher-level knowledge, such as the procedures and practices of a particular judge.

Litigation knowledge managers, practice support lawyers, and people with similar responsibilities inside law firms should look at the benefits that a substantive litigation wiki can provide their groups, and draw from this firm's experience with selection, adoption, and success.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

ILTA 09 Panel--Technologies That Will Disrupt Traditional Legal Practice

This was an excellent session that provided a good list with lightly described examples of disruptive technologies and three more in-depth case studies from two of the more technologically sophisticated firms.

I am putting up these notes with fairly minimal review as I am presenting on matter management in an hour.

What is disruption?

Susskind recommends "The Innovator's Dilemma"; Christianson. Technologies that come and challenge the way that business works. What are the implications of disruption for market leaders? Often they dismiss these technologies when they first appear. Sometimes the innovators end up challenging the market leaders. For instance, Kodak ignored digital cameras and for a while were able to argue that film was better. They lost market but now are invested in digitial photography as well.

For Whom is it Disruptive?

For innovators, disruptive technology can lead to competitive advantage. Most law firms are far more afraid of being left behind than they are of leading the pack.

It's hard to motivate lawyers. It's more persuasive to say that other firms are doing this.

He's surprised by the persistance of the billable hour. He offered to pay his 12-year old daughter by the hour for a chore and she smiled and said "Well I'll take my time then." (You really have to say this out loud with a Scottish accent to get the full effect).

About 50% of general counsel are still comfortable with it.

Ten Disruptive Technologies

The legal world does change slowly. It will take 5-10 years.

1. Automated document assembly.

A lot of work is still hand-crafted. There us a fair amount in small shops with commoditized work. Automation has changed only a few sophisticated practices (European bond market).

Making them available on-line changes the ball game. You can go from a production level of several hundred to several thousand.

The automatic assembly of documents is disruptive because it takes the lawyers out of the business of producing documents.

2. Relentless Connectivity

We'll never be less connected than we are today. 24/7 availability is scary for senior lawyers. You need to put in place systems to have someone be responsive or accessible. Email is not going anywhere. "The calls on our time electronically are increasing."

3. The Electronic Legal Marketplace

We know we can auction services on-line. Clients can more quickly find out what services are available at what price. The idea that clients can find out about the availability of resources outside those of the law firm is fundamentally disruptive. Can a corporation find out that a law firm in Ohio has a week's worth of resources to throw at a due diligence project.

4. e-Learning

The romantic vision of bespoke services draws people to the law but does not reflect the current practice of law. How should we be training them?

There are simulation and learning techniques that afford a far more realistic view of legal practice. A lawsuit simulation might include a large filing the night before a scheduled oral argument that attempts to totally change the argument (which happens in practice but not moot court).

5. Online Legal Guidance

Current websites are fairly crude but still provide some information. There's great potential to provide legal services to a much broader pool of people, cheaply.

6. Legal Open-Sourcing

This will be more directed at citizens than at corporations. If people are networked together they can offer each other much in a community spirit. We'll start to see people coming together who have similar problems.

7. Closed Legal Communities

By and large there aren't many truly new problems. Big London banks collaborated to force law firms to deliver their legal know-how in a portal. Clients are also starting to come together.

8. Workflow and Project Management

We need to systematize and organize our project better. Rigorously apply well-tested techniques to project management. It is laughable to think that a lawyer can become a project manager by at most attending a 3-day training course.

Project management in principle and practice reduces the time and cost in providing legal services.

Project management becomes more necessary with multi-sourcing. Chunking up projects is a separate type of challenging task and needs to be managed.

Global tax compliance efforts are underway at large accounting firms. It's worth hundreds of millions. Accenture won it by saying that it was a complex project that needed a strong management instead of tax expertise (that was subcontracted out).

Are law firms ready to implement and train on project management? No, not currently.

9. Embedded Legal Knowledge

Rules are embedded in systems like computer Solitaire.

Self-monitoring and self-assessing legal systems will reduce need for lawyerly attention.

10. Online Dispute Resolution

He asks, "are courts a service or a place?" Cybersettle uses "double-blind bidding system." to resolve dispute. Over 30 days you negotiate until you're within 10%. The State of New York (?) has resolved hundreds of personal injury suits through such a system. Moneyclaimonline is a UK based dispute resolution.


You know there are other ways to deliver legal services. The economy has catalyzed the uptake of new ways. There are radical new ways of delivering legal services that will be enabled by technology.


John Alber of Bryan Cave then addressed an online service his firm provides in the trade/export restrictions area.

Automating Low End Legal Advice

A good opportunity has:
  • a recurring legal problem (import/export restrictions),
  • perceived value/cost disconnect where paying for solving the same type of problem every day
  • high-energy practice group accustomed to tight publishing deadlines
The goal is to solve common problems and answer the "easy" questions. Clarifications provided at no additional cost. Typical pricing is an hourly fee.

Legal Advice for Clients: Import/Export Tool

They set up a client-facing decision tree tool for a client who needed information about import/export restrictions. Clients like it. They obtained all of the trade business for the first client. The service was completely repriced. They use it as a training toool.

Workflow for Due Diligence

They also applied technology to wireless spectrum sales. Radio station sales are very expensive, especially the due diligence.

They developed an automated workflow that walked 50 contract lawyers through a set of review steps and captures the information at issue. It has a significant reporting feature to track work. You can use Sharepoint workflow (it is not technically complicated). They put the people in large rooms and ran the paper flow through them.

The result is that the cost per unit of due diligence roughly by 2/3 and deal turn time is measured in months not weeks. Client's deal process is changed and they can do deals they could not have before. It's a real competitive advantage.


Gerard Neiditsch of Australia addressed "Mallesons Connect."

Mallesons did not want to provide "black box" services where what is happening with the matter teams is hidden from their clients. They are trying to provide greater client access to information about the work.

Clients most wanted financial information, project progress, and alerts.

They were also interested in current awareness and client training.

The security model is quite challenging. Making correspondence securely available to the client is critical.

They'll be introducing these "Dashboards" later this year.

At the top it lists the total and active matters (a number) and the number of unpaid invoices. Sometimes bills aren't paid because the general counsel doesn't know they are paid.

All links are active. Hovering over matter gives matter summary of financials. A person's availability (live!) is shown next to their name. Drill-downs also available.

a Search page provides access to drill down into projects through guided / faceted navigation (number of projects by category, location, partner responsible, etc.)

Financial information is shown in friendly form including "Aged debtors", 10 most recent invoices with a link to unpaid invoices, project estimates and which are over/under/near/ or no estimate. Making this visible makes project management start to happen inside the firm.

This was a very sophisticated approach to exposing client information, focusing on the information they expressed they wanted.

The project has seen pretty good adoption by clients. Using web 2.0 tool sets that are very rapid to fix makes it possible to change the technology.

In the questions session, Susskind makes the point that you shouldn't base your decisions on having one reluctant client. If even half or three-quarters of clients want one of these then it is still probably worth it.

Rachelle Rennegal asked how Bryan Cave established pricing for the export tool. They now have sophisticated pricing tools. At first they took a guess at the economics and left the pricing flexible. The initial goal was to generate more high-end premium counseling business and break even on the software tool.

Susskind said that the skill and talent in chunking up the projects and planning outsourcing is significant.

Richard Susskind on "The End of Lawyering"

Legal innovator and passionate speaker Richard Susskind spoke in a "super session" this morning at ILTA. He is also spoke on a panel titled "Technologies That Will Disrupt Traditional Legal Practice."

His point of view is "radically different" from that of other lawyers.

Post revised September 11 to link to later post and fix a typo or two.

The Future
Black & Decker doesn't sell power tools. It sells something customers use to make holes in the wall.
Lawyers deliver 1:1 consultative services now. But what is the real value we bring? For what are we paid?
"We exist to turn knowledge into value." We bring insight to bear on customer's problems.
By avoiding discussing the means of service delivery in defining what lawyers do, you open yourself up to new methods of providing service.
You bring knowledge and experience to the situtation. Methods of capturing and sharing knowledge are therefore critical. KM has had pockets of success but has not changed the whole profession.
He finds that general counsel "don't want dispute resolution, we want dispute avoidance." They want a fence at the top of a cliff instead of the ambulance at the bottom.
Knowledge capture and management and legal risk management are really important.
Automation v. Innovation
Automation is systemetizing some aspect of your work. Applying technology to preexisting processes is automation. The most dramatic impact of technology is where it has allowed you to do things that previously weren't possible. We're just warming up in legal technology.
We have to look at ways in which IT can change the way we do things.
The ATM is an example of an innovation. It was a very different way of delivering that service.
Our challenge is to change the way legal services are delivered.
The Client's Three-Part Dilemma
In-house lawyers have been asked to reduce internal head-count and external spend as well at a time when compliance pressures and changes in the law are raising the complexity of their challenges.
Clients Want More For Less
It is simply not the case that clients will be going back to the old ways, at least with respect to "shareholders at a board meeting."
How Can This Be Done?
Susskind belives that the two paths to providing more for less are the efficiency strategy and the collaborative strategy.
Efficiency Strategy
He believes that routine and repetitive legal work can be done differently. It doesn't need expensive lawyers.
In 1996 he said that email would be the primary way of communicating in law firms.
"Bespoke" services are those customized and tailored to the particular situation just as a spoke suit is tailored to the wearer.
Lawyers project the idea that most problems are bespoke. But clients come to you because you've faced similar problems before.
There are five levels on the path to commoditisation.
Bespoke / Standard / Systematised / Packaged / Commoditised.
Pckaging is a radical step. Packaging is the delivery of a system that lets the client come in and produce the solution or document required themselves.
Another example is the term sheet generator by Wilson Sonsini and Allen Overy.
Deloitte's tax practice lets their clients come in and use their tax system on a licensed basis. "We exist to turn knowledge into volume." Not the way we learned to practice but clients will go for it. Deloitte has 70 of top 100 clients using their tax software.
There is a red line in his diagram before commoditisation. The costs of commoditised work rapidly drop towards zero. The marginal costs of delivery are reduced as you move towards commoditisation. There are huge opportunities in the standardization level.
No decent firm is not standardizing.
Work can be "chunked up"
The clients want to move towards commoditisation because it enhances certainty of cost. Some clients want certainty of cost even more than lower cost.
Standardization can be of very high quality.
He's predicting a fundamental move of the amount of work towards commoditisation.
Collaborative Strategy
You can divide litigation into different chunks. It's hard to argue that a law firm is uniquely qualified to source all of them.
There are many ways of sourcing the work:
  • Multi-sourcing
  • in-sourcing
  • de-lawyering
  • relocating
  • offshoring
  • outsourcing
  • sub-contracting
  • co-sourcing
  • leasing
  • home-sourcing
  • open-sourcing
  • computerising
  • no-sourcing
Rio Tinto is requiring external counsel to work with *their* junior lawyers and is not paying for junior lawyers at firms. Axiom in the Netherlands is providing services at a 40-50% discount to typical costs as compared to 10-15% of most efficiency or cost-cutting approaches.
He recommends Ray Kurzweil, "The Singularity is Here." We have an exponential curve in technology. Kurzweil claims we are in the "knee" of the curve.
By 2050 the average desktop machine has more processing power than all of humanity.
Web 2.0 and Disruption
Technology is now changing the way we relate and work. We've seen this most in social networking.
We're no longer passive recipients of news. We're now participants. He knows general counsel who are on Twitter. Half of the people in most firms are on Facebook (just not the partners).
A hundred thousand doctors on-line, sharing knowledge in a cross of Facebook and Wikipedia. Clients and in-house lawyers are sharing costs in a similar way. These resources (Legal OnRamp?) may become the first place in-house lawyers go.
There are dispute resolution mechanisms on eBay. Why won't they spread?
Outsourcing different kinds of work to English-speaking India or South Africa may be a real challenge to Western law firms.
85% of their external spend is fixed fee. When they negotiated the deal the external lawyers wanted to start attending meetings that involved legal risk. Cisco said that was what they wanted--to have the lawyers participate in managing risk and avoiding the disputes.
What is the profitability model?
Huge amounts of lawyers' work can be done more cheaply and effectively.
We can be confident that some lawyers are going to be adopting the new ways of doing business.
In this room, there are significant advances in technology that would already change the practice of law. These are just not evenly distributed yet.
"The best way to predict the future is to invent it." It's up to lawyers to fashion their own future. The message today is to legal technologists. We typically support existing strategy. But now information technology can change the very business model that underpins law firms.
We live in a time of flux and pressure for law firms. Technologists can help our firms adapt. "Our time has now come."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

iManage and Information Governance Strategy

I'm republishing this post after some glitches with my blogging account. Apologies for any double hits on RSS feeds etc.

This session (moderated by Keith Lipman) featured Laura Bandrowsky of Duane Morris and Elizabeth Ellis (head of KM at Canadian firm Torys). It was very useful to hear the experiences of firms that have adopted matter-centric email filing (using iManage's document management system) for some time and are moving to the next stage of information governance, beyond "just" the client file.

Duane Morris has a very "locked down" approach to information governance where they prohibit USB drives, CD-ROMs, and export of .pst files. Torys is much more open.
Records management, risk management, and maintaining integrity of documents are concerns for client documents. Duane Morris locks down the folder structure.

For legal or administrative departments there is more flexibility.

Torys' motto is "a place for everything and everything in its place." The place is by default the document management system. Everything should be in the document management system.

Explaining the strategy is not sufficient to obtain adoption. It requires telling stories about successes and failures of strategies.

ESI should be managed outside the document management system.

The initial focus of their matter-centric filing systems was the client file. Then Torys turned its attention to the administrative system. Everyone in the firm can currently create workspaces although this may be changing.

Firm workspaces are organized by practice area or department. People have personal workspaces as well. Liz doesn't believe that personal documents should go on a personal drive because it's a good habit to file everything into the document management system. Look at the documents you have in your firm and have workspaces to go with them.

One practice area had a six-page description of how to manage their workspaces. This was probably not effective.

At one of these firms a document that was practically speaking inaccessible on an "H" drive (and had to be retyped) led to a strong message from a leading partner to his colleagues about putting documents in the document management system.

There was a useful story that encouraged people to put documents in the right place.
Duane Morris created artificial matter numbers for the practice areas and associated a "type of law" with each.

The more unique metadata you have about your workspaces, the easier it is to show them in Sharepoint. It should be easy to find all workspaces for a given practice area.

Keith asked "Where is the future of email archiving and maintaining complete client files?"

Laura wants to have a system that recognizes that a particular email is from a client and flag it for later review to make sure that it is filed in the DMS.

Liz says "managing email gives me a big headache." Think of different scenarios and events that you may have to deal with. Why are you trying to manage the email? No one has really figured this out.

You have to anticipate litigation against the firm. You have to anticipate the client asking for the file. Look at your personal email management. Can you find an email sent 10 years ago?

We are still not in a position to enforce a policy of filing email in the document management system. Don't just focus on client-matter email as there is a lot of other email that is really important.

The send-and-file utility and hammering home the lawyer's fiduciary obligation to preserve the client file are both important to adoption.

Duane Morris has become very collaborative with many cross-office matters. They are filing 18-24,000 emails a day. They have a trigger on a certain email archive size over which the partner gets a called in which the message about preparing for litigation is delivered.

It's better to make email management implementation prospective only rather than asking attorneys to file everything going back. The message was "if you want to go back and file you can."

Have they advocated for human support for email filing?

At Duane Morris the biggest need for that is in the lateral partner / attorney context. Duane Morris assigned people to help with the transition. They ran a provisioning program with preexisting matter/client workspaces, or in "to be filed" workspaces so that they could identify important email from their old firm.

At Torys there is no objection to administrative staff having access to email inbox. But then how are you managing confidential communications? The translation to electronic has meant a loss of some context and the assistants has less idea what is happening with the file.

How do we train lawyers to file correspondence? Laura says we need a shortcut key for inserting client / matter tag into subject line.

Keith believes that all lawyers are risk-averse.

Does the rate of subpoenas and litigation hold implementations effect governance? Yes, if information is not well organized and you have to look in multiple locations (file share, custodian's .pst files, DMS). One firm estimated that they were spending 30 hours of IT cost *per hold* at roughly $100/ hour. There is a similar cost when lawyer or client leaves the firm. A well-organized collection will take 80% less time. Some firms are up to 2 subpoenas a week.

File Shares

Inventory shared drives to see what doesn't go away. The inventory is partly for a business continuity perspective (it is not backed up the same way as the DMS). Is the initial reason for including that information in the DMS still valid?


How do you manage information that could be useful for KM purposes or KM collections? Enhanced privacy concerns may require people to remove names from KM collections.

Massachusetts law is driving privacy compliance at Torys as it appears to be the strictest available. You have to assess where all of your information is stored (which is a good exercise in any event).


Paper files are much smaller but still should be stored offsite at the end of a matter. There is increasing digitization.

Exposing Email in a Portal

I asked if in the panelists' experience exposing matter email in portals or some other way had helpd increase adoption of email filing. Liz said that it's all about "how many clicks."

People like being in Outlook and the ability to batch-move email is very important. The email folder synching with the workspace is really important because lawyers are really comfortable in Outlook. Keith said that in implementations he has seen portal exposure has not significantly increased filing.

Monday, August 24, 2009

ILTA 09 Session on Extranets

Rachelle Rennagel of Sheppard Mullin and Keith Lipman of Interwoven presented on different approaches to law firm extranets.

The session usefully focused on the three main use cases for extranets and also on factors and options that firms should focus on when considering implementing extranets. Keith Lipman was refreshingly clear of any apparent bias or pitch in his discussion of various approaches he has seen applied.

They identified three primary uses for extranets:

1) Client Extranet

The extent of client information might vary depending on the importance of that client relationship.

2) Matter Extranet

This is the most common type of extranet.

The two most popular matter extranets are those for due diligence and litigation.

In due diligence you are asking multiple people within the client or opposing side of the deal to check off that they have reviewed sets of documents.

Litigation extranets are typically about “give me a status.” Client wants to know for each case or matter what is the next thing to be done. With complexity of litigation these extranets are going to be more important and more complex.

A matter dashboard might include all matter-related documents, matter contacts, calendaring, tasking, and reminders, matter status updates, daily digests, and billing information.

Rachelle does not believe that extranets will work if you try to use them for document review. Use a custom-built web-based tool for that. There is an expectation from the lawyers (that has to be adddressed) that they can go to one place for the matter information and the e-discovery.

3) Knowledge Management Extranet

A rarer and potentially very effective form of extranet is for knowledge sharing. Clients may ask attorneys to publish specific types of information. Attorneys may provide "black letter" legal advice on common questions, online CLE or other training programs for law department staff, or knowledge management tools that generate a useful document (like Wilson Sonsini's term sheet generator).

Client-focused KM resources can be a driver for the brand and show off a firm's expertise, as when attorney-generated forms or procedural information is shared with the client.

One possible next step in this approach is to provide clients access to internal library resources, a firm’s news feeds, or other in-house databases.

Full implementation of effective extranets can generate a tighter client relationship and positions the firm as an extension of the general counsel’s office. Are you offering commodity work?

Concerns around Extranets:


This must be the most important consideration.
How granular can you get? Can it be user-specific? Document level? Does your extranet expose who else is using or has access?

Hire black hats every few years to make sure that your system is secure.


Who is managing the passwords? What happens when an attorney or client loses a password?

In-house v. ASP

This concerns whether the governing application is custom-built or provided by a vendor. Options for the latter include applications hosted by the vendor or applications hosted on a firm's own servers.

For smaller firms both presenters recommended the ASP model.

Infrastructure Requirements

The speed of page load can really matter. Look at factors that affect that. When it takes 4-5 seconds to load that’s a problem (users are used to Google).

Extranet management--Decentralized vs. centralized

Like most firms, Sheppard Mullen has IT resource constraints. Paralegals, secretaries, and junior associates manage the content and help set up various extranets. They can’t have a one-person bottleneck because it’s a matter of client service. A poll in the room established that most other firms do centralize extranet management (although I would expect that

Most extranet managers take pride in their extranet work and can also increase their interaction with a client, perhaps at a peer level.

Firms can have a centralized approach where an extranet is set up on request, or can automate extranet creation in parallel with the matter creation process.

General Considerations

Keep in mind Records and Risk Management Policies—align extranet management with records retention policies. Tell attorneys that sometimes they need to take it down. Have discussion with records people about length of time something should stay up. Addressing archiving means that you need to be aware of the export and import features of the extranet.

Test search engine extensively. How responsive. When maxed out. How long does it take to search all extranets.

Potential for integration with firm systems. Separating firm systems from extranets make it more challenging to add information to the extranet. Sheppard Mullin tracks in iManage when documents are exported to an extranet. Willing to take risk because of the burdens of

Can or should clients post documents to the firm extranet? At Sheppard Mullin clients can put up single documents but typically not a whole directory.

Keith believes that some clients use the same library for both draft & final documents, while some use a library for final documents only. The choice of extranet publishing model depends on attorney security concerns.

An extranet needs the metadata, audit trails, and security structure of document management systems. A right-click “Publish” that follows the firms business rules might make sense. Publishing to an extranet is comparable (DBH-but better!) than sending a long email

Can extranets be customized as firm or client-branded?

How are notifications structured? Daily digest? By matter? Can a firm person administer them? Email comes into play in reminders.

Rachelle reported that a client uses the firm's extranet as a contract management tool. They tie renewal of contracts into extranet notification system. (Their provider custom-built this feature for them).

A “Practice Template” is a set of features as set up for a real estate or other business deal or litigation. Can be a huge time-saver. Might be able to start with matter-specific template. How different do you want it?

Value-add or billable service? Most people don’t bill (poll in the room). Hosted deal rooms are really expensive. Is it possible to charge back to client? Per gig or storage fee?

If it’s free people don’t value it as much. Can you have a nominal one-time fee?

Vendors include

  • AMS Legal
  • WorkSite Web (iManage)

  • Sharepoint
  • eRoom
  • (I would add PBWorks as well)

Frame extranets in terms of the specific client. Firms might treat extranets as a checkbox on RFPs or as a central focus of the way that they manage client relationships.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

ILTA Keynote Coming Up and Sunday Social Networking "Tweetup"

Tom Koulopoulos, Founder of Delphi Group, is providing the Keynote Address tomorrow morning at the International Legal Technology Association 2009 conference, this year held in the balmy National Resort south of Washington DC along the Potomac.

Tom attended the social networking / "tweetup" event this afternoon. He seems very interested in Enterprise 2.0 and business and technology innovation and I am looking forward to his talk.

The social networking discussion that I heard at that event (I didn't get to the start) largely revolved around attorney's reaction to social networking or social media tools and processes, in particular, around attorney's concerns about the ethical and proper professional use of these tools as reflected in social media policies. Some bar associations are more restrictive than others around their attorney's use of these tools.

My belief is that these types of concerns tend to be greatly ameliorated as people get more familiar with these tools. Yes, the same types of communications that were improper or unethical if made by letter, phone, or email can be made via blog, LinkedIn, Twitter, Sharepoint wiki, or any number of other social media and Enterpise 2.0 tools. And some typical uses, such as LinkedIn recommendations or identifying oneself as an "expert" in a given type of law, may continue to be prohibited to lawyers under ethical guidelines, while remaining acceptable and appropriate for most other inhabitants of these realms.

But it should be the substance of the communication (such as one that makes the recipient reasonably believe the attorney is representing them on a legal issue when that is not the case) that is problematic, not the channel in which it appears.

A participant mentioned at the meeting that interesting examples of social media policies have been developed by IBM, the New York Times, and Intel. See also ILTA's own page on social networking, Doug Cornelius' posts on "Top Ten Mistakes Lawyers Make With Social Media" and Blogging/ Social Media Policy For a Law Firm, and the Legal Blog Watch on the Wall Street Journal's policy. There will be a session devoted to this topic on Wednesday at 1:30 (at the same time I am speaking, unfortunately) at which V. Mary Abraham, Mary Hoskins and Honora Wade are speaking.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

ILTA Conference 2009; Enterprise 2.0 and Matter Management (presentations)

I will be presenting again at the International Legal Technology Association Conference, this year held just outside of Washington DC at the Gaylord National Resort & Conference Center, August 23-27. ILTA is without peer because it is peer-organized, not vendor-dominated, and covers such an incredibly broad range of technology, leadership, strategy, and knowledge management issues. I'm really looking forward to it.

There is a fancy (if non-interactive) program guide that has all the details. A less-green .pdf is also available (don't print all 231 pages you tree-killer).

Enteprise 2.0

The first and most prominent session where I'm presenting is titled "Enterprise 2.0: What It Is and Why You Should Care," which accurately suggests that we'll be sprinting over the whole scope of Enterprise 2.0, from social collaborative software to mashups to cloud computing, in one hour and half session on Monday morning August 24 at 10:30 AM in "Maryland A" among the "Chesapeake Conference Rooms."

I'm presenting with Kevin O'Keefe, of leading law blog vendor Lexblog, veteran blogger himself and a social networking expert (on Twitter as kevinokeefe).

The E20 presentation proper is already up on the ilta conference site; the final version may be slightly different.

We're trying to highlight the origin of Enterprise 2.0 as a reaction or followup to the massive success of Web 2.0 technologies and businesses. I'll review some of the characteristics of Web 2.0 that led to this success and show how some of these same capabilities for creating, sharing, and alerting people to new knowledge can have tremendous value for law firms as business and knowledge enterprises.

We'll drill down into Enterprise 2.0 broken down into three areas; social collaborative platforms such as wikis, blogs, and social networking; mashups, which at ILTA are represented by sessions leveraging Sharepoint; and cloud computing.

It's great to be part of an introduction to these ideas, especially where most of the individual topics I have to essentially gloss over will be covered in depth in subsequent targeted sessions. I could (and have) spent an hour talking just about wikis, for instance, but the folks at Bracewell will be addressing their experience with PBWorks in depth along with Minter Ellison on their modifications to Sharepoint wikis at 2:30 on Monday.

Matter Management

I'll also be presenting on matter management on a panel with Kathrine Cain of Winston & Strawn and Lisa Kellar Gianakos of Reed Smith Wednesday 8/26 at 1:30 PM in "National Harbor 2 & 3." Essentially we'll be talking about ways to capture, search through, and report on matter information.

I'll be focusing on matter reporting (my firm has spent some effort in developing a sophisticated albeit complicated tool for reporting on matter information). I'm looking forward to hearing from Kathrine about how they have leveraged matter information and more for their experience search and from Lisa about their experience with exposing matter information in dashboards (a lot more attractive and accessible than the reports I work with!).