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.

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