4/8/15

C Is For….

When I started in law firm competitive intelligence (CI), there were few of us doing it and making any headway at the time.  Over time, lots of people have tried to do legal CI, Librarians, marketing folks, even seasoned CI professionals from other industries have tried their hand at it, but eventually walked away.  There are certain nuances to working in a law firm outside of the practice of law, which I won't get into here, but which extend to the practice of CI in law firms as well.  Over the years, I have been asked what works, how can law firm CI be a success, and I have written or spoken about various aspects. I've explained as many other before me did, that CI is not only about monitoring competitors, but about the competitive landscape (Blue Ocean strategy anyone?) and the markets in which law firms operate.  We've talk about changing the C in CI from competitive to collaborative, and encouraging a breaking down of the various silos that exist in law firm administration in order to successfully manage a CI program. And I still believe that collaboration is fundamental to CI success. But there is more. 

We've also seen CI in law firms morph into or cross the line into BI and MI, I think my title actually changed to market intelligence or marketing intelligence once too for a brief while to prove the point.  But whether the title is CI, BI, or MI, the end result is the same. Intelligence is about cutting through the vast amounts of clutter or data to produce insights and analytics to drive business. Whether we are talking about structured (quantitative) or unstructured (qualitative) data, the role of the intelligence practitioner is to help the firm avoid surprises, make actionable recommendations and inform decision making.  But still, I would argue there is more. There has always been something more to legal CI. Something that sets legal CI apart, something that may well be a part of other industry CI functions, but from what I have seen, read and experienced of late, should be the cornerstone of legal CI, something that I have been unknowingly practicing for years but have only recently begun to articulate. Legal CI is client intelligence, or CRM plus. 
 
Since the economic collapse in 2008, and the subsequent recovery, the legal industry has changed and clients are largely driving that change.  Law firms know this and have thus turned to keeping better tabs on their clients. Last week, I sat through the launch of the Acritas Canadian Brand Index and while the results were interesting, more interesting to me was the increased expectation of clients, that firms know their business.  Clients want to work with firms who know their business. What does knowing a business mean?  I think it means understanding the client's market, their business issues, their liabilities, their risks and their successes. Knowing the client is about having a grasp on the client's business that goes beyond the most recent press release issued or its website home page. Knowing a client is about making the client feel like you work at their place of business every day. "Business Savvy" is a 25% driver of law firm recommendations from General Counsels interviewed by Acritas. Furthermore, when GCs were asked about what additional skills they would like to see the lawyers they work with on a day to day basis have additional training or development in –the top answer was ‘understanding the client’s business'.  That, to me, is where CI comes into play (client intelligence, that is). The role of CI in law firms is to help lawyers understand their clients business so that the lawyers and firm as a whole can serve to their clients in a proactive and advisory manner.  Knowing the client's business - the successes, the failures and everything in between will be a reflection on the lawyer's business savvy and will then have a snowball effect that will impact a firm's own position and ability to be and stay competitive. 

So while I may not be changing my business cards anytime soon I have started to think of the C in my title as Client rather than Competitive.  It seems to be the most compelling and competitive way forward. 

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4/7/15

"…You Can Do Anything With An Amazing Research Librarian" — No Kidding!

Image [cc] Ana C.
It seems that Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr. is not a fan of law reviews. Back in 2011, Roberts joked that he found law reviews irrelevant, and found no need to know why there was any influence on 18th century Bulgaria by philosopher Immanuel Kant. In fact he went further and said "I would have to think very hard" in order to recall any recent law review articles he read, or found useful.

Ouch.

Let's admit it, most of us outside the ivy covered walls of Academia rarely rush to the library to grab the latest law review before our peers in order to have a competitive advantage. To be fair, however, law reviews are kind of like archives. Most of the time, you never need anything from the archives, but when that need arises, you sure are glad it is there. Whether law reviews are relevant, or useful, or readable is beside the point here. What is interesting is that Roberts' comment was actually about a real law review article, written by George Washington University Law Professor Orin Kerr. And, as any good writer will attest, always take advantage of the opportunity to turn one piece of writing into two pieces of writing.

Kerr is publishing an answer to Roberts' comments in an upcoming law review article in The Green Bag. I'm actually looking forward to reading that one from this unconventional law review. One side note for The Green Bag…  please update that awful looking website. Just because your law review was created in 1997, doesn't mean your website needs to look like it was created that same year.

Sorry. Got off topic.

Kerr got the idea of writing the response to Roberts when he was named a scholar-in-residence at the Law Library of Congress in 2012. In an interview to the National Law Journal (h/t to Rich Leiter), Kerr mentioned that the staff at the Library of Congress was amazing, stating that "They can find anything." That without the help of the Library research staff, specifically Peter Roudik, the article couldn't have been written. Then came the quote that I'm printing out, framing, and hanging on my office wall:
"The lesson of the article is that you can do anything with an amazing research librarian."
As happy as I am to see this quote, I have to really as Orin Kerr one thing, "you're just now figuring that out??" I bet there are some folks back at George Washington that would love to introduce you to the research librarians at the law library. Helping you find the obscure text from 1859 is something that many of us do on a regular basis. In addition, we can probably get it to you overnight (or within hours), without costing you a fortune. Law Librarians, and Researchers have connections, and those connections have connections. I hope for Kerr's sake that he's located the law library researchers back at GW when he got back from the Library of Congress.

So let this be a lesson to all of the Professors out there writing the next great Law Review Article. Go find the law library and introduce yourself to the research staff. Tell them what you're working on, and make them a part of the team. They probably won't be able to make your article any more appealing to Chief Justice Roberts, but they will definitely help you thoroughly research the topic.

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3/31/15

Amazon's New "Dash Button" and "Home Services"

Some of the products you can order through Amazon's Dash Button
Okay... I'm not sure if I'm amazed or a bit petrified of two of the new services that Amazon just launched this week. Probably a bit of both.

First up, Amazon's Dash Button (only by invitation at this time.) Running low on household items like detergent, toilet paper, beauty supplies, soda, or pantry items?? No problem. Press a button, and your order is placed through Amazon. You get a verification on your phone, just in case your teenager put in an order for 12 cases of Mac and Cheese.

Here's Amazon's explanation of how it works:
Dash Button is simple to set up. Use the Amazon app on your smartphone to easily connect to your home Wi-Fi network and select the product you want to reorder with Dash Button. Once connected, a single press automatically places your order. Amazon sends an order alert to your phone, so it's easy to cancel if you change your mind. Unless you elect otherwise, Dash Button responds only to your first press until your order is delivered.
Sounds really easy.




Next up, Amazon's Home Services. An "Angie's List" type of reviewed services like plumbing, landscaping, yoga lessons, computer repair, etc., with the twist of being able to call in an expert right from Amazon. You can even get "Goat Grazing" in some areas. My twisted mind immediately went to the thought of how soon Amazon will put "Legal Services" on this list. Need a will? Click the button on your phone and a lawyer will call you. Actually, that sounds really easy.

Here's Amazon's explanation of its Home Services:

Shop for services
It's as easy as 1-2-3:
 Add the service to your cart.
 Tell us when works for you.
 Only pay when the job is complete.



Coming Soon... a Lawyer is delivered to your door via an Amazon Drone?

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3/12/15

Hsu Untied: Interviewing Lawyers About Their Side-Hobbies

via Maya Hsu
My former colleague, Richard Hsu, is at it again. You may remember Richard, and his talented daughter, Maya, from my posts about his One Page Blog, and HsuTube blogs, and the really interesting videos he and Maya produced. I talked with Richard this week and caught up on what he's up to these days. His new site, Hsu Untied, is Richard's dive into the audio medium where he records podcasts of lawyers and special guests about their hobbies outside of their daily legal grind. Although Maya is now almost 16 and no longer interested in helping her Dad make topics like "Assignment in a Change Control" actually interesting, she did produce the artwork for the logo on the new site.

Hsu Untied gives Richard a chance to sit down and talk with interesting people about their interesting hobbies. In some cases, the hobbies are now their full-time jobs. When I was talking to Richard, I could really hear the enthusiasm in his voice of how much he enjoyed this new endeavor. For those of us that blog, or podcast, or other types of social media productions, we don't do it for the fame, or the money, or the business it drives to our 'real jobs,' we do it because it is a lot of fun.

For Richard, he told me that he has always wanted "to be an interviewer like Charlie Rose or a Terry Gross" and this allows him to do so, as he calls it, "on a micro scale." Currently he has around 36 podcasts up and running on his site, but has almost twice that many recorded and ready for production. Because he's interviewing based on outside interests, there's no rush for the recordings to go out, so he compiling and releasing them over time.

When he started out, Richard thought he'd be lucky to interview a handful of people. As of this week, however, he is approaching his 100th interview, and it doesn't look like he's slowing down. In fact, while talking with him, I immediately thought of a good friend of mine that he should interview, and I have since connected them for a future interview. Richard also mentioned that he gets a few attorneys to contact him directly for interviews, but that his librarian in his office keeps him informed of potential interviewees. Once again, what would lawyers do without a good librarian to keep them up to speed??

So far, Richard has covered a wide range of hobbies including skydiving, mountain climbing, oil painting, magic, astronomy, opera singing, winemaking, boxing, chess and ballet and others. In addition, he has interviewed some Special Guests who left the legal profession to become things like a best-selling author, Editor of the NYTimes Crossword Puzzles, the drummer for Train, and a Professional Poker Player. That's a pretty good list of very interesting people, and there are so many more lined up in the future.

I asked Richard how long he thought he would keep doing these interviews, and he said that he plans to keep doing it as long as he's having fun. Well... let's hope he continues to have fun for a long time.


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3/5/15

Bloomberg BNA Launches Big Law Business Community Website

Toby Brown and I got a sneak peek yesterday at Bloomberg BNA's new Big Law Business community site, and we liked what we saw. We all know that Big Law is big business, but there are very few resources out there from vendors that cover current stories and trends of the business side of a large law firm, and even fewer that promote a community to comment and contribute. Most of us have relied upon bloggers to fill the gap, but a resource like this coming from Bloomberg Law is a welcome new addition.

The site is free to access, but content contribution will be limited to those of us that work within large law firms (AmLaw200), in-house counsel, thought leaders within the industry, and vendors within the industry that want to contribute useful content to the community through articles, white papers, videos, and other (non-commercial) type content.

BBNA's David Peikin gave us the tour and said that "[T]he community enables legal executives to share best practices leveraging the insight and wisdom of those in similar roles at other firms and supports peer-to-peer engagement with focused, role-based content areas for managing partners, in-house counsel, technologists and marketers."

There are no walled communities within the site, so everyone can see all the content regardless of what type of role you play within your firm.

The site is now open, so go check it out and see if this is a community you'd like to join. Bloomberg BNA's press release on the Big Law Business site is below.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
David Peikin
703.341.5900
dpeikin@bna.com

BLOOMBERG BNA LAUNCHES BIG LAW BUSINESS, 
COMMUNITY WEBSITE FOCUSED ON THE BUSINESS OF LAW

Arlington, Va. (March 5, 2015) — Bloomberg BNA today announced the launch of Big Law Business, a first-of-its-kind online community that helps law firm executives and in-house counsel be even more successful in addressing opportunities and challenges created by accelerated disruption in the legal market related to the business of law.  Big Law Business enables legal executives to learn how to better manage day-to-day business, finance and technology issues while also sharing best practices.

Big Law Business helps legal executives and professional managers better serve their internal and external clients through access to a wealth of targeted content — perspectives, news and insight, data, and resources — created by Bloomberg BNA editors and thought leaders in the legal market.  The community also supports peer-to-peer engagement in focused, role-based content areas for managing partners, in-house counsel, technologists and marketers and also will offer related online and offline programs.

“Big Law Business provides access to a wealth of robust content, including timely news on the business of law from our dedicated editorial staff and the rich data and in-depth analysis the market has come to rely on from Bloomberg BNA and Bloomberg Law,” said Scott Mozarsky, President, Cross Platform Businesses, Bloomberg BNA.  “Big Law Business features articles, podcasts, videos and white papers, enabling legal executives to stay on top of the latest trends affecting the business of law.  And the community will provide visitors ample opportunities to engage with those in similar roles at law firms and corporations and benefit from shared insights and wisdom.”

You can follow Big Law Business on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About Bloomberg BNA
Bloomberg BNA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bloomberg, is a leading source of legal, regulatory, and business information for professionals. Its network of more than 2,500 reporters, correspondents, and leading practitioners delivers expert analysis, news, practice tools, and guidance — the information that matters most to professionals. Bloomberg BNA's authoritative coverage spans a full range of legal practice areas, including tax & accounting, labor & employment, intellectual property, banking & securities, employee benefits, health care, privacy & data security, human resources, and environment, health & safety.

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