Monday, August 26, 2013

ILTA's Special Ops Track: Making Sure IT Matters and IT: The Catalyst

The "Special Ops" set of sessions at ILTA this year was a set of really great ideas (I suspect Mary Abraham's push for alternative formats is behind it, though praise is due to team coordinators Betsy Parker, Chris Hunt, Jim McCue, and Sean Power.).  Essentially these sessions were organized around unusual formats, like alternative reality, TED talks, or roundtables, and addressed a broad range of topics of interest to legal technologists. 

I participated Monday morning in the session titled "Making Sure IT Matters," (#spec1),  which featured a crowd-sourced list of five topics, and facilitated discussion on a single topic at each of five tables, culminating in presentations to the whole group on each smaller group's discussion.  At my table of fourteen or so people, all but one or two contributed to the discussion, which focused on how to make sure IT "gets it," that is, understands the business of law and also lawyer's work and needs.  The small group that organized the discussion will be developing a mind map and probably also some additional publications (like blog posts or articles) on the results of that effort, so I won't attempt to do so here. Regardless of that additional effort, I feel that the most impact occurred in the room at the time, when so many people had the opportunity to think about and participate in their own education and development. 

A later Special Ops session was titled IT:  The Catalyst #spec5, featuring four very different speakers addressing a very broad range of topics in one hour.  The format imitated that of the TED talks. 

Hat tips to Angela Dowd , Tim Golden , and Ben Wightwick for tweets that supplemented my notes as I drafted this post.
Bill Caraher-- Disruption, Risk and Opportunity 

The business model of the law firm is going to have to change. If they want to stand out, law firms are going to have to buy technology, build it, or partner with someone who can supply it.

The top technology spend in law firms is still SharePoint.  Many users don't use SharePoint.  He doesn't think this should be our focus.  He is skeptical about the value of portals and the social features in SharePoint 2013.   His current investment priority is security.

Typically we are not rewarded for taking risk, in fact the contrary.  Clients have started to look more seriously at firm capabilities.

Bring Your Own Device ("BYOD") seems harmless but has serious risks.  The total cost of BYOD is quite high.  Big banks have also become worried about outside counsel who BYOD, because their regulators prohibit them from BYOD.

Phil Schneidermeyer --  Culture and Diversity as Catalysts for Continuous Improvement 

Every conversation with a client of his executive recruiting firm starts with culture.  They are trying to get the fit right between recruits and companies. One challenge is, do you try to acheive a fit with the current culture or the target culture?  Is there any mention of the people side of what we've accomplished on our resumes?

Culture is a sense of what the organization is, its history, attitudes, beliefs, and the like.

Corporations with shared values and that are driven by purpose and values tend to outperform ones that don't. 

Training, onboarding, and orientation are critical for culture.  Corporate culture has risen as a risk that corporations are considering. 

Phil recommends that leaders should be role models for the culture; reward those demonstrating good behavior [And punish those who violate cultural norms?] Peers should weigh culture heavily in considering their own roles and opportunities.

Diversity encompasses gender, race, and generations.  Generational diversity can cause tension around technology and work ethics. 

A really good reason for diversity is that diverse customers are best served by a diverse team.  Robust conversation and effective planning and execution amongst your team  is enhanced by working with people who don't think like you do. 

Ryan McClead-- The Internet of Things

There are more things on the "internet of things" than there are people on the planet.  These things communicate well on their own but don't talk amongst themselves.

Several competing technologies may lead to uniform standards for things on the internet of things.

What is the internet of things?  In quantum physics two particles can be "entangled." When you spin one of the particles, the other one is spun (observed?) as well.  With the increase of devices that are on the internet, we're starting to see the internet and the physical world become entangled.  The internet of things allows for "spooky action at a distance."

He thinks the "Twine" device is the coolest thing on the internet.  It senses temperature, vibration, and light.  He can tie it into the "If Then Then That" service.  He could have his device turn off light bulbs or warn him if his houseplants are too hot.

These sensors will get cheaper, more powerful, and smaller.  At a certain point the physical world can turn into the interface for the network.  It might feel like other technologies that have become invisible, like motors. Things like Twine and the internet of things have the potential to make computing background.
Scott Rechtschaffen--"I Had This Great Idea For A Presentation"

As I tweeted out at the time I saw it, Scott's presentation was brilliant, but essentially impossible to blog. 

His main point was, the legal industry needs to move online.  Why would clients work with law firms that aren't online when they wouldn't work with a bank, airline, concert venue, or other business that wasn't online?  [In similar vein, Kingsley Martin later in the week made the pungent observation that, if an airline's website was like law firms' websites, it would have pictures of the pilots, descriptions of how great its aircraft were, and the like, but no way to buy a ticket.]

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Innovative Online Legal Products For Clients

This top-notch panel shared important lessons about ways to use to technology, not to simply improve attorney efficiency, but to actually change the way that law firms deliver legal services.

Formal Title: Should You Create Innovative Online Legal Products for Clients?


Expert systems, document automation and other online tools have come a long way, and innovative law schools and legal aid organizations are using them to provide “self-help” legal services. Given this explosion in legal technology, we’ll tackle a question looming for law firms: Is it time for firms to consider using innovative legal technologies to create online legal products and services for their clients?

See tweets at #kmpg4 .


·         Michael Mills - Neota Logic

·         Meredith L. Williams - Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz

·         Scott Rechtschaffen - Littler Mendelson, P.C.

·         Kingsley Martin - KIIAC LLC

Scott Rechtschaffen introduced the topic.

It's important to learn from failure. Littler attorneys sent 10-15 emails each day about "who knows these labor arbitrators." His group set up an (internal) database about them. It was not a good endeavor. It's best not to be guided by the attorneys. They wanted everything, not reviews of arbitrators of the arbitrations, complete with briefs. They didn't do anything, it required too much of the attorneys.

They later made a database of international employment lawyers. This one did get some use, but you had to remember where it was.

They then turned to Courtroom Insight. It creates a Yelp-like reviews for experts, judges, arbitrators, and mediators, all in one place. People who use it like it very much. Buying it created a lot less anxiety and stress.

They also have a database of 50-state comparisons with 50-60 surveys, which also includes a database of legislation and regulation. They charge clients for access to this. They've covered the cost 3x-4x.

I described the Littler CaseSmart system elsewhere.

The clients love the dashboard on the CaseSmart tool. It has a heat map, the type of charges, and the like. One client caught the impact of a minor policy issue that led to charges around the country through the

They also recently launched the Littler Healthcare Reform Advisor, a tool that runs an online questionnaire and indicates the potential penalties under Obamacare.
Buying off the shelf and adding the legal nuance

Meredith Williams showed dashboards where clients can drill in and see details about their matters. These dashboards wins over clients.

They will help map out the data collection processes for clients using their in-house eDiscovery experts.

They also have an "emerging company institute" extranet that startups are charged to access. They developed 30-40 documents that clients purchase from them and let them create documents via document assembly. They use Contract Express, the same document assembly my firm uses.

These systems stickiness with clients. A relationship partner left and the client stayed with the firm because the extranet had all the documentation they needed and used on the site.

If you try to create an app, use someone external. Baker provided an app with a quick guide to labor and employment law. They also provide compliance education at the staff level via an online service. They didn't want to have that compliance training for executives, since they wanted the attorneys in front of the executives talking to them in person.

Keeping It Simple

Martin--Simple and clear is the best way and is the hardest thing in the world.

Online client systems are the way forward. We may not get a seat at the table unless we start to produce revenue.

In our law firms we have collective experience resulting from millions of hours of experience.

His tool takes a pile of documents, decomposes them into clauses, and aggregates the clauses into one common outline. For example, in employment agreements, what clauses are required, what are optional, and which are frequent or common.

Simplification lessons also apply to the practice of law. We need to simplify and make clearer contracts and briefs that we produce.

A simplified, focused approach might put most frequent clauses up top.

He draws a lesson from Silicon Valley--"Get Going--Build something!"

Analyzing documents might start with clause elements. Organizing documents addresses document structure.

He's released a an app for a non-disclosure agreement. He completed it on the airplane ride to conference.

The content is HTML, library is JQuery Mobile, presentation by ThemeRoller (lets you drag colors around when you design).

What's out there?

Baker McKenzie has some great apps on global equity. Goodwin Procter has the Founder's Workbench. OMelveny has an FCPA app. Wilson Sonsini has a term sheet generator.

Pointer & Squirrel has an "eForeclose" site allowing clients to generate foreclosure papers.

At a lower end, on the Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP site you can start a collection case, upload documents and start the case.

This helps law firms be more efficient, because the client supplies a lot of the information lawyers need directly into the system.

How do we assess the viability of potential projects?

Leon Litigator corners you. He's assessed 2000 cases and determined 56 variables that determine the likelihood of success at trial.

His kid sister is a Google engineer who's already written the algorithm.

Always ask:

1. Is there a market for this? Who would purchase it?

2. Do we have any support in-house to build this?

3. Is there a product on-market that does something like this already?

Law firms are not product companies, and online services are products. They do spend time thinking about acquiring lateral partners. Michael Mills would start with what the business purpose is. It may be that revenue is critical.

It requires substantive infrastructure as well as technical. Online resources about substantive legal issues will decline if not maintained. Building a product is a major commitment. Will they invest the effort necessary to keep it up to date?

Martin--lawyers do want to monetize the experience that they have. The two pieces are expertise and software development.

Williams--they've had most success when they partnered with outside vendors who had the development expertise, they provided the “legal gloss.”

Incentives & Maintenance

You also need the incentive systems to align. Product building is different from the billable hour. Firms may not have the right structure to incentivize attorneys to contribute to online services.

Expanded revenue fund program. Meredith has a laundry list of projects, with lists of people who would do the work. They set up client-matter numbers for the projects, people bill their time.

They get 75% of the credit, so that they have an investment in the success. The "Developers" get a coupon from the firm, they get a percentage of the sale.

Once you start handing over services to your client, you develop a real responsibility. If you can't sustain it, it's better not starting at all.

Attorneys regularly churn out articles for potential clients. If they are willing to do that, shouldn't they be willing to give content to developers who can productize it?

A reputation for being innovative doesn't help. What helps is delivering value that helps clients in very specific areas. Helping lawyers gain business in particular areas, capturing some of the business development activities and redirecting that energy, is useful. It's more useful to clients because it's direct service.

Clients are coming to firms are asking for things at lower cost or for free. Online products are one way to do that.

Does it skew the analysis when a client asks you to develop an on-line service? Maybe, if it's a high-level client as a percentage of revenue.

Development of online products should be considered a part of the essential business of law firms. They are perceived as completely different worlds from traditional concerns like practice area development or opening offices.

The first stage involves some benefits to "first movers."

A second level is systems that create client "stickiness."

The third level is to move to revenue generating services. The big concern is how to scale. Each app currently used is focused on a very narrow area.

How do you take the Founder's Toolkit and move to licensing?

Michael has seen great examples of client stickiness developing from building excellent online services. It makes clients less portable.

"Our employees are so used to what you have, we don't want to replicate that somewhere else."

How do you assess a market?

Market research is an outside expertise for most lawyers, but there are people in firms who do that kind of work. You probably have good market research people. There are also services you can subscribe to.

The trick is how to estimate revenues or sales on something that hasn't been sold before. The business analysis looks for competitors.

They'll start small, offering something to a client and seeing the interest. You have to be willing to pull the plug.

The Shark Tank is a great way to hone your idea. Think of standing in front of the people who will pay for it. "Kawasaki, the art of the "

The questions Meredith gets are around the economics.

Who does it?

Williams--She brings together developers, IT Project Management people, a representative from the attorney group that's asking for it, and a knowledge management attorney. They may also bring the marketing team to the table. They keep the lawyer population to just a few people. Lawyers tend to add unnecessary bells and whistles.

Kingsley--He's been able to involve clients as well. Develop in an agile matter. Set parameters, a lot of things will take care of themselves. Set quality metrics for what you aim to do. For instance at Cassels they set a target for a level of plain English with a specific metric. It really hones the result.

Develop the "minimal sustainable product."

Mills--The front end of these systems are pretty simple. There are mock-up and prototyping tools that let you set up something, and start showing it to clients.

Insourced or Outsourced?

Williams--Do we have the expertise? They don't with app development.

Time constraints also come in. Internal resources may have significant internal demands already.

Mills--Most projects need aspects of both. The Contract Express tools, for instance, can't be reproduced by a law firm. Law firms are talking to clients all the time, and may be good at getting feedback from clients.

Which Idea? What if something that looks better comes along?

Martin--Kawasaki would say, set you milestones and stick to them.

Williams--Don't be distracted by the shiny object (like the dogs in "Up" distracted by squirrels). Think about what you might be losing in what you've already invested. The economics come into play. Look at it as a business decision, not a technical one.

Products and projects have constituencies.

How do you convince partners that they should invest in the future?

Martin--The business of law has one of the lowest budgets for research & development of any industry. What if law firms spent 0.25% of revenue on these new services?

He's tried to convince them that this is an extraordinary opportunity. You could take advantage of the growing tsunami. It's hard to pick the winners. He admits his pitch didn't work.

Mills--It is a year-to-year decision, and the way firms are organized financially. Firms do make huge decision like opening an office, these are small change by comparison.

Williams--It's easier today because they've had success with retaining and obtaining clients.

She scenarios out how it works. She spells out what will happen if we invest or if we don't. Boards are bottom-line driven.

Rechtschaffen--There's a false assumption that an hour spent on direct client service is more assured than an hour spent on product development. Each hour is speculative, albeit in different ways.

What's the future of online services? Will law firms be the providers of online legal services?

Williams--As long as a product is viable and has a legal spin, then we have an area we're going to firmly hold onto.

Martin--The future must involve the delivery of online legal services. Law firm websites will enable the delivery of legal services.

Buyers don't modify a market. They vote with their money, but they pick winners. A lot of this will be driven by vendors.

LexMachina is analyzing and creating data around all patent litigation.

Mills-Some publishers are starting to behave like lawyers. Users don't want search results any more, they want answers.

eDiscovery is an online service. It's managed in the cloud by people who for the most part work directly with clients. Why shouldn't the rest of legal services delivery follow?

Williams--If you aren't in this space, you need to be in this space. The biggest request from clients is for these type of services?

Martin--Online technology will disrupt the $260-270 billion market. Institutional VCs are showing some interest in changing the market.

Take technology you've used to create reputation or stickiness and move into products.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Storytelling To Transform Your KM Projects, Strategy and Culture

This was an outstanding session that provided dramatically (pun intended) better ways to motivate change, encourage adoption, and get things done that you want done. I especially appreciate the organizers bringing in an actual professional dramatist, it is always a breath of fresh air to hear from other areas of work or art.

Formal Description:

Masterful storytelling is transformative: It stimulates knowledge-sharing and growth within organizations. In the case of KM, it can build widespread, longstanding support by weaving your KM message and strategy into your firm's and each individual's stories. Interact with your colleagues as you learn about the elements of storytelling, techniques for developing a compelling story about your project, and how to use storytelling to promote a KM culture and obtain widespread buy-in.


·         Ginevra Saylor - Dentons Canada LLP
·         Tracey Erin Smith - Actor and Director, SoulOTheatre

See tweet stream at #kmpg2

Introduction to Storytelling

Ginevra Saylor introduced the subject of storytelling and provided some intriguing clues as to why it works so well to drive change and encourage adoption.

Senior lawyers mentor junior lawyers through war stories. "Where do you stand when you introduce an exhibit?" "Boy, the first time I was in Judge Carter's classroom."

Lawyers also use caselaw as stories. Every case is a fable. The moral of the story is the judge's decision. When lawyers use cases to persuade a judge they are using storytelling.

That part of our minds called "Broca's Brain" is activated when language is decoded for meaning. Storytelling also engages the other parts of the brain, so if the story involves food the sensory cortext is stimulated. The entire brain is activated by a story. That's why storytelling works so well to convey a message.

Audience members also synchronize with the storyteller, so that they have a similar experience to what the storyteller has. The storyteller can transfer her reaction to the listeners.

We've been storytelling for more than 27,000 years. We are hard-wired for storytelling.

Storytelling can ignite action, demonstrate value, and encourage change.

When storytelling for lawyers, don't tell them they're going to be transformed.

Storytelling works because that's how life-saving lessons were transmitted. We're hoping to learn something that will help us, gain something. A story feels like a break.

Tracey Smith

 There are three type of stories:

·         It Happened
·         We can make it happen
·         Don't let it happen (Red X / village idiot).

In an "It Happened" story, you need to get a handle on your characteristics. When you're talking to an audience who doesn't know you, you need to give them a sense of who you are.

Six Characteristics of A Good Story:

1. Relevance

What's the relevance to the audience?

2. Time & Place
The classic fairytale formulation "once upon a time in a land far away...." sets out time and place right away.

3. Set of Events / Characters

Joe walked down to the farm. He came back.


We are engaged by hearing characters interact.

5. Something Unexpected

An obstacle or villain.

6. Learnings / Redemption / Transformation

Something has to change / has to happen.

Another effective effective approach to storytelling is the "Hero's Journey" (also called Monomyth).

Ginevra was able to fit an enterprise search story into the Hero's Journey paradigm.

Storytelling Tips:

1) Put the audience at the center of the story; explain the feeling they will get when they move into the future. We don't want the convertible, we want the feeling that convertible will give us.

2) Highlight pain of the present and contrast it with the benefits of the future.

3) Have radical empathy for your audience.

Information Handlers

Who are KM folk? Those who have been the handlers of information have the following archetypes:

Pioneer: discovers and explores new territory, innovates
Detective: organizes information
Mediator: Patience, skill, reads people, brings people together
Networker: Forge alliances, make connections among vastly different groups of people
Storyteller: Explains vision in compelling manner and motivates to action
Student: studies the environment and assesses where change is needed
Visionary: Design and implement the future

It's important to boost your audience's confidence and important. If you're leading a group into the trenches you want a confident bunch.

Move your audience to action, try to move them emotionally.

Alternative Rocks! Non-traditional Approaches to LPM

Formal Description:

Do traditional “waterfall” (PMBOK) project management methods really work in legal, or are they too rigid for most legal projects and processes? Learn how some legal project management teams apply Agile/Scrum software development frameworks or other modified traditional methods for a more iterative and incremental approach to the management and delivery of litigation, AFAs or any other legal projects that can be mapped into phases.


·         Kim R. Craig - Seyfarth Shaw LLP
·         Andrew Terrett - Borden Ladner Gervais
·         David A Rueff - Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz
·         Suzanne Wood - Norton Rose Fulbright

See tweets at #info8.

These are my notes from an intriguing presentation about an area of effort that may differentiate law firms. The conversation emphasized lessons from the trenches. The panel included representatives from three of the most sophisticated LPM law firms and it was good to hear about their challenges and victories in implementing LPM. I wish that they had spent a little bit more time explaining concepts like scrum and waterfall to project management newbies.

Kim Craig

Lean Six-Sigma emphasizes the voice of the client.

Seyfarth started PMO in 2004 outside of IT. They did do some IT projects.

Using too much historical data to develop process maps can be problematic because the way we'll be doing things going forward is going to change.

They use "Task Map" which is a light overlay on Visio. They've mapped out the process of mapping out a process. They pull out a page that they've used before. They range from 8-60 pages. Attorneys get hung up on rolling over from page to page. They blow up one task and show how it's organized. Attorneys like educating them on what they do. She's learned a lot about law. Hearing attorneys talk about how they make decisions is really important.

These conversations are a major KM opportunity. KM needs to listen to, capture, and reuse the process mapping discussions.

We're all new at this. PM techniques that look nice and take a long time to develop may not work in legal. The first time she showed an attorney a SharePoint project chart it didn't work out well.

An email with bullets was much more effective than a full status report.

They used many types of applications and not any one coherent piece of technology to do PM.

Agile has self-managing teams, lets teams manage work. Scrum defines roles.

LPM needs to take core PM concepts and twist and turn them to apply to legal.

We don't know at the start of the engagement all the factors that come into play. You don't know in advance how aggressive opposing counsel might be or what you might discover in the documents.

The agile approach allows weekly planning meetings.

Agile is really a manner of thinking. You can adjust and be flexible.

Kim's team started out as a value add, but they are now billable (but without a billable requirement). They measure ROI on retained or new clients. Clients very rarely write off the LPM time. Clients usually have PM teams.

She's seen increased sophistication in RFP information requests around LPM.

Andrew Terrett

BLG borrowed from Seyfarth playbook, they have had an LPM office for two years. BLG has six offices and a very diverse set of attorneys and practices.

A lot of traditional PM makes a lot of sense in legal. It needs to be simpler. They are not writing things down in project plans. Lawyers have a high sense of urgency and want to "do, do, do" right away. You can turn a long project statement into one page.

Attorneys don't use Gantt charts. They do have deadlines and milestones.

Process maps enable bottom-up estimating instead of analogous or top-down estimating.

Process maps have been a great success, they elicit additional steps. Old habits die hard, that process mapping work has been done for a particular piece of work does not mean the matter team will actually leverage it in practice.

A process map is like a GPS. It gives you direction but you're going to use common sense and "keep driving when you cross the bridge" instead of turning into the river like the GPS suggests.

What matters is what works. Lawyers want the tools and approaches that will work for them. What that is may vary from industry to industry and client to client.

The big LPM challenge is change management. You're dealing with people who have been doing things a particular way for a long time.

David Rueff

Traditional project management workflow too cumbersome for attorneys to adopt. They spent three months designing a specialized workflow "BakerManage" that draws on waterfall project management, but is based on the way legal teams actually work. Clients can see the same information attorneys are using to manage the case.

They decided to develop a team of 10 project managers (paralegals, attorneys with PM certification, technologists). Process improvement and management is included.

Agile sets up regular times to revisit project schedule and plan. Not every two months, more like every two weeks.

The heart of the work is the tasks and processes. They worked with a health care litigator to develop a detailed process map. When the AFA request came in, they had already developed the ability to provide a detailed estimate within 48 hours.

BakerManage has a budgeting tool that reconciles with time with the budgeting system to show lawyers where they are against budget, and also provides email alerts. The system requires daily time entry. Checking the system every 30 days is not often enough.

Using a consistent set of codes allows cross-office matter comparison.

Lawyers need to have initial meetings where whole matter / case team is educated about budget and limits. Then they can operate as a self-managed team. It can't be business as usual. LPM type systems are a way of communicating with the team about what the client requirements are.

They use LPM on matters on fixed fee matters. The consistent communications with the client develops its own momentum. The LPM team doesn't bill to clients.

They have had client employees seconded to the law firm team to learn LPM.

Resource Availability

An audience member suggested that associate / resource availability is a real challenge for LPM.

Don't assume an associate only has an 8 hour day. Engineers have used critical path technique. That may be the next phase, but right now we're just trying to get lawyers to develop the plans at the time of budget development.

Identifying resource availability is a next step [my firm has developed "iStaff" software that could help with this, as associates identify their prospective level of availability.]

Clients are forcing kickoff meetings where they want whole team is identified up front.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bolstering KM Through User Experience Design

Formal Description: Exposure to good industrial design and Web design in our personal lives is now raising expectations within the industry. As a result, user experience (UX) design is becoming increasingly important and may be key to knowledge management endeavors. Get an overview of the discipline, and review featured case studies from a few firms that have made UX a priority within their KM efforts.


·         Stuart Barr, HighQ
·         Andrew Baker, Seyfarth Shaw
·         Tom Baldwin, Reed Smith
·         Patrick DiDomenico, Ogletree Deakins

These are my notes on an interesting session that talked about and in some cases showed some advance designs for law firm intranets and extranets.

Stuart Barr

[I had to miss the first few minutes of this presentation. One notable tweet on the subject from Rebecca Gebhardt said "UX is not UI. It is a user's perception of the product. Indeed in many ways it IS the product.].

The way people use things is changing. Desktop screens are only the start.

Macs, Androids and the like are changing the way people perceive design. Devices are exposing people to ways of interacting with technology that are more advanced. People have a better technology experience at home than at work.

IT can be easy, powerful and simple (Dion Hinchliffe).

Good design is now a key aspect of technology. We're trying to do more complex things with technology, but also need to keep it simple to use.

Aspects of the user experience may or may not be in the designer's control.

Make things simple by "bringing order to complexity." Don't add one more button. And don't design for the "edge cases."

An iterative design process is really key. See what mistakes users make and design to avoid those. Design combines science and art.

Design matters for adoption and engagement. Internally design helps staff efficiency and productivity, helping staff have nice experiences and do their jobs more quickly. Client expectations are getting higher.

Tom Baldwin

He's showing before and after of design. He recognizes that no one on his team had the proper skills, and therefore brought in a design expert.

He's moving to design standards based on the designer's work.

About a quarter of Reed Smith work is on a fixed fee basis, so accurate matter profile was critical. They wanted to get more completed matter profiles, and also increase ease of use. They also put in some gamification, which surprisingly turned out to motivate partners.

Their old matter profile system didn't allow for search of other matters, only allowed for one area of law, and had a very long form you had to scroll through.

The new one had a tabbed view showing people the process.

The "confidential matter" was a critical question that was often not answered before because it was at the end.

The questionnaire form breaks down questions by area and showed percentage complete. Questions were presented in one frame. Save and spellcheck options were not buried at the bottom of the form.

A visual representation of completeness was important.

He listed "Leading matter profilers" on the landing page of the matter portal.

This led him to think about other areas where a leaderboard approach might help.

They'll have a rollup score for things that reflect good corporate citizenship.

Tom indicated at the end that they are looking into programs like badgeville to further leverage attorneys' competitive nature, and will be integrating this with their enterprise social networks.

Andrew Baker

Their firm intranet has soothing colors, light blues and the like.

They went with usage patterns in thinking about the most important things. Every page has a way to provide feedback.

They ran a card-sorting exercise and met with people from every department and office, asking them to sort the cards representing 77 different pieces of content into piles that made sense.

Before they built anything, they created wireframes; these allowed to adjust the approach as they talked with attorneys and staff.

They used the "Balsamiq" tool for wireframing. It saved them a lot of time.

Looking back, Andrew feels that the graphics were a little too much, and that they also had a little bit too much information on each page. He's not sure about the value of the intranet.

[Ed--to give some sense of the visuals, I have to note that the Seyfarth intranet home page was much more content-heavy than the other two demonstrated.]

They've more recently rolled out a client extranet "SeyfarthLink."

They first tried to figure out how clients used the previous extranet. The clients are very focused on portfolio management or portfolio centricity. They created matter sites, client sites, and portfolio sites. Content can be collected and shared.

They are sharing live financial data on the client extranets.

He recommends Stephen Few's book on Information Dashboard Design.

Team pages can be really important, adding a human touch that encourages visitors to trust the site.

They didn't start with mobile, and think it may be difficult to go back and make it work on mobile.

A lot of the Seyfarth work has been client-facing. That has a very different value proposition.

Patrick DiDomenico

He's talking about SharePoint intranet evolution.

Back before structured sites, everything had to be right on the home page. They had a traditional intranet home page that had dozens and dozens of links and small font.

Neuroscientists from Princeton have established that clutter makes people anxious.

Focus is very important for getting your point across. Don't design so the user is confronted with a wall of words.

The new "OD Connect" has a persistent banner with key search and some buttons.

A news and announcements section is targeted to your own office and practice group. It only shows the selected article but conveys the headlines of the other.

A dashboard shows recent matters and also a financials preview.

He wanted to make it "magnetic," give people a motivation to come to the intranet.

OD Connect has customized view for secretaries allowing them quick access to their lawyers' matters and financials.

Associate view shows associate bonus targets, calculated for the individual. You can work with documents from the portal. A news tab shows news about OD and about its competitors.

Users can customize one of six feeds from a dropdown.

He is always asking, "What can we take away from the screen to let people focus?"

OD Connect allows people to select specific top-left navigation.

If you go too far away from what people are used to, they may get frustrated.

The "Find It" button opens a navigation menu on hover-over. The wins have been the Find IT button, search, and customized buttons.

How people feel about your brand is important. He wanted to make people feel connected to it.

The theme of pre-rollout communications was "making your life easier." They distributed nail puzzles and matchbooks.

When they can, they put buttons at top and bottom of the form.

Expectations have risen, designing for mobile is critical, and we need to simplify our tool.

[Ed.--I really liked the clean look and feel of OD Connect, and also the features that were customized to particular types of users like secretaries].

Design is even more important for client-facing work. It's appropriate to use design consultants in this type of work, because it doesn't rise to the level of an FTE.

It is important to have client-facing extranets have a consistent look and feel with other online properties.

Lawyers may not know what cognitive overload is. But if you relate some common consumer solutions to their problems, and show them visually, the leaders can understand the need better. Don't try to explain, show. Use Balsamiq to focus them on what's important and to move them away from what's not important. Running too much by higher ups can paralyze the process.

The project took about thirteen months but would have taken less if they hadn't been interrupted in the middle. He used PLA and Joshua Fireman, as well as a design/advertising firm.