3/9/12

And the Answer Is...

Ed Walters and I had a little fun on Twitter this morning when Ed tweeted this week's answer key. Being the rather smart-alecky person I am, I filled in the "questions" just for fun. Kind of like the old Johnny Carson routine of Carnac the Magnificent.

So, I thought we'd have a little fun and post an answer key of our own. We'll let you pick one or more and give us the corresponding question.

Answer Key:
A1:    2% this year.

A2:    4th Quarter of 2015.

A3:    The New Westlaw

A4:    Microsoft Office, Flash, and Google+

A5:    Apocalyptic Coding

A6:    Stockholm School of Law

A7:    Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Sears, and Target

A8:    Scheduled to premier at SXSW in 2013

A9:    Social Media Guru

A10:  3 Geeks and a Law Blog
Put on your thinking caps… turn up your sarcasm… and give us some questions to go with these answers!

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The Rise of Third Party Litigation Funding - Part 2

Image [cc] Images of Money
In Part 1 of this series we looked at what litigation funding is and why clients might really like it. In Part 2, we examine the source of this funding and how it might impact law firms.
Who is funding these claims and why?
This is a classic ‘follow-the-money’ situation. In our example from part one, the Litigation Funding Company (LFC) doubles their money. Hedge funds and other institutional investors are attracted to these types of investments. And they can spread their risk based on volume. If they fund ten deals like this where five pay the full number, three pay half and two go bust, the LFC still makes 30% on their money. Where else can they get this kind of return? And over time, they will get better and better at valuing risk in litigation, further driving up returns.
Many of the founders of these LFCs are former lawyers, with some coming from investment banking and hedge funds. Two of the LFCs, Juridica and Burford, are publicly traded, having raised millions in the financial markets.
Much like e-discovery in the 90’s, the LFC market is a bit of the wild-west right now. Beyond a lack of known rules (more on that later), most LFCs are privately held, so the terms of agreements are not well known and likely vary quite a bit. I understand some agreements include payouts of a multiple of the investment (e.g. 3 times the investment) instead of a portion of the claim. In these scenarios, I understand the LFC is typically paid first.
Bumps in the Road
In addition to valuing risk up front, LFCs will need to monitor risk over time. If one deal was valued at $10m up-front, but $500k of legal fees into the case the value drops to $1m, the LFC may chose to discontinue their funding. One might react badly to this reality, but if you think about it, that is probably what the client would do in the same circumstance. Well, at least the client would if they only saw value in the settlement amount and had no other concerns about the case. An example of other concerns includes setting precedence for future litigation against the same defendant. But even then, the client has the option of self-funding the case going forward.
Impact on Firms
At first blush, law firms may engage in the Dance-of-Joy at the development of litigation funding since this means more work in the market. In reality it may well mean more pressure on fees and higher expectations for success. Firms may now have another party involved in evaluating their fees. And this one cares a lot more about the financial aspects of the case. Meanwhile, firms remain beholden to the wishes of the client in matters of case management. With the client not paying, one possible outcome may be clients making Cadillac-level requests while the LFC is only wanting to make Chevrolet-level payments.
As well, firms who used to have an up-side with contingency fees may see those diminish. These firms will now be competing with LFCs, who will probably be much better at valuing cases and managing risk. So perhaps this is good-bye to big contingency fees and hello to more fee pressure.
In the final segment of this three part series, we will consider the size of this market and where this trend might lead.

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3/8/12

Yes, and

There is a principle in improvisational theater called "yes, and." It is the idea that when two people are interacting, and one of them presents a new offer or idea, the other person should both accept the offer (that's the "yes" part) and enhance the offer by expanding on it (that's the "and" part). For example, one person might start a scene with "Funny bumping into you at the party last night." The offer here is the idea that both people were at the same party last night.

Consider the effect of these two possible responses from the second person: (#1) "I wasn't at the party last night"; and (#2) "Yeah, that was a great party; I didn't know you were into rave music." Response #1 negates the offer, de-rails the scene that the first person created, and even makes the first person look bad by belittling his or her offer. Response #2 accepts the offer, and builds on it (which affirms it even more), making both characters look good and solidifying the scene's direction for the audience.

This "yes, and" technique is very powerful in non-theatrical scenarios as well. A few months ago I saw a billboard for a local university. The slogan read: "Do well. But do good." The "no, but" model here makes me feel like doing well is a bad thing, but I can compensate for it by doing good. The billboard would be so much more effective if it read "Do well. And do good." The "yes, and" version makes both halves of the slogan positive and worthy of my pursuit.

Consider how this can play out in your work life. When a colleague proposes an idea (aka makes an offer) that you dislike, rather than jumping into a "no, but" reply, give the gift of "yes, and" -- take a moment to consider how you can accept the offer and even expand on it in a way that makes you both look good.

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Modern Management Tips: Introduction to the Stockholm School

Image [cc] noii
The 3 Geeks welcomes back our guest blogger who brought us the thought-provoking post "The Infinite Viscocity of Managerial Brain Droppings." As with the previous post, we offered to post on condition of keeping the author anonymous - again, for what some may deem obvious reasons. We think you will enjoy this one, too!

Strong leadership is the single most important quality that is missing in corporate America today.  That’s why, from time to time, I like to bring you new leadership tips and management techniques that I think could help to rebuild our economy, and build our corporations into models of good governance for the rest of the world.

Today’s management technique, pioneered by Bjorn Nordlundson-Ludfisk of the Swedish Institute, is the Stockholm School of Management (SSM).  It is based largely on the psychological syndrome of the same name.  As part of his research, Dr. Nordlundson-Ludfisk came to realize that the syndrome that causes nearly a third of hostages to experience sympathetic feelings towards their captors, could easily be exploited by those in corporate management to gain control of an unruly mob of employees.  Stockholm Syndrome, also known as Capture Bonding, is generally the accidental outcome of an hostile imprisonment, however, using Nordlundson-Ludfisk’s techniques, you can replicate the results of a violent hostage standoff without ever stepping from behind your desk!

I've reprinted my own translation of an excerpt from Nordlundson-Ludfisk’s research below:
1. Announce Your Presence and Take Control of the Environment. In a hostage situation, this step usually entails firing a weapon at the ceiling and screaming for everyone to get on the floor with their hands on the back of their heads while you send your henchmen around to lock the doors.  While this action would most likely work just fine in a corporate environment, many companies now have rules against firearms in the workplace and we find that a more passive-aggressive approach can be just as effective.  For example, a simple, well-timed memo indicating that “many exciting changes will be taking place in the near future”, often has the same panic-inducing effect and is much less physically dangerous.
2. Make Your Demands. Typically, hostage takers make their demands known to the authorities who have surrounded the theater of operations, however, in an interesting twist, within the corporate environment these demands are made not to outside authorities, but to the hostages/employees themselves.  This has the effect of empowering the employee’s sense of self determination, while simultaneously destroying their ego, an important step in activating the syndrome in certain individuals.  
(Best practices include beginning your list with completely outrageous, if not logically impossible, demands.  This has the effect of ‘anchoring’ the demands, so that any that come after the first few seem downright reasonable and are sure to garner a few supporters.  Examples in hostage taking include; helicopters, gassed-up jumbo jets, or a date with Angelina Jolie.  In a corporate scenario, these initial demands lean more toward “being more aggressively assertive while continuing to run all really important decisions up the ladder.”)
3. Shoot a Hostage or Two. It’s sad, but most hostage negotiations will turn sour at some point and you will need to eliminate a few hostages in order to assure the authorities that you are indeed serious about your demands.  The corporate application is significantly more humane.  We recommend selecting a few of the most troublesome employees, those who have openly questioned your authority, pointed out your logical fallacies, or have the support of a large contingent of fellow employees and fire them without warning.  This will both eliminate strong-willed individuals and cause any seditiously-minded folks to seriously rethink their position.
4. Step Back and Wait for Stockholm Syndrome to Kick In. This is the most difficult step for young hostage takers/corporate managers to learn.  Too often, they get antsy and become desperate to make something happen, but if you’ve executed the first three steps correctly, then it’s only a matter of time before nearly a third of your workforce begins to appreciate your strong arm tactics, welcome your parental guidance, and pray for your continued good health, wealth, and prosperity.
The genius of the Stockholm School of Management is that once you achieve 30% of your workforce obeying your every command, then you simply begin again at step one by issuing a memo announcing that “many exciting changes will be taking place in the near future.”   The appearance of the second memo will cause at least half of the non-obeying employees to quit on the spot, bringing your Unquestioning Employee Obedience Rate to at least 50%.  Repeating the SSM technique a few more times will ensure total compliance with your every whim.

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3/7/12

The Rise of Third Party Litigation Funding - Part 1

Image [cc] Flood
This three part series will examine the emerging trend for third party litigation funding. In this first segment, we describe what it is and why clients will find it interesting.
What is it?
Settlements from law suits are assets. There – I said it. And once something is recognized as an asset it can be bought, sold, traded and even collateralized.
Litigation Funding is an emerging, growing market that recognizes the asset-nature of settlements – a.k.a. claims. I say ‘emerging’ even though litigation funding in some shape has been around for a while. The classic personal injury, contingency fee firms are examples of this type of funding. Only in these cases, the law firms themselves are the funding sources.
What is actually new and emerging is investment in commercial claims. This is particularly the case in the US, where this has effectively been around for only a few years.
How Does it Work?
A client has a claim against another party. The claim is valued at some number, say $10m. The Litigation Funding Company (LFC) agrees to pay the legal costs for pursing the claim, up to $1m. If the settlement is obtained, the LFC receives a portion of the settlement, much like a contingency fee.
Simple enough? Yet this method creates some ‘issues’ for law firms. Primarily, law firms now have a third party in the mix, with a vested interested in the outcome of the case. It’s easy to say the firm must keep the client’s best interest first, but some times the client may defer to the LFC or even require their input on case decisions, especially when it comes to the settlement. The LFC will have expertise in valuing claims to the point the client will rely on their expertise and judgment. And the law firm will be in an odd spot, taking directions from not-the-client.
Why will clients do this?
In our example above, let’s say the LFC takes a 20% stake in the settlement. Why would a client give up $2m from their claim? For the same reason they would on any other asset. They basically convert the asset into cash – in this case $1m. So instead of spending $1m to get $10m, they spend nothing, shift the risk to the LFC and still potentially come out with $8m. Even if the company has the $1m to spend, they may likely prefer to spend it investing in their core business instead of lawsuits.
Of course with higher risks, the LFC will want larger portions of the settlement. But even then, the clients are shifting risk and keeping their cash for investing in their own business.
In Part 2 we will look at the funders, some challenges presented by this trend and explore the impact on law firms.

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3/5/12

Could BNA Content Integration with Bloomberg Law Be a Match Made in Heaven for Your Law Firm?


[I want to thank Cheryl Niemeier, Director of Library Services at Bose McKinney & Evans LLP, for offering to guest blog on the Bloomberg/BNA Integration and Pricing.]

I recently had the pleasure of meeting my new Bloomberg Law Representative to discuss current BNA subscription options with regard to the integration of those services into the Bloomberg Law platform, and also got a demo of the BLAW app, which I’m told very closely mirrors the newest online Web interface for BLAW. While BNA content has yet to be incorporated (full integration expected by year end with BNA Health and Labor content migrating first) into the BLAW interface, I came away from my meeting guardedly optimistic that the integration and pricing options are generally palatable for the librarian and at least a small win for the end user whose content world will significantly expand should their firm choose to move to the BLAW platform.

The BLAW pricing options fall into two buckets outlined below, both of which offer access to all content, and require ids and passwords for each user. The platform provides all-inclusive access with no libraries to choose or out-of- plan charges for specialized content. (Please note: BNA customers do not have to migrate to BLAW, BNA direct will continue to be supported, and pricing options for it will remain in place.)

Option 1 (Firm-wide with access for all attorneys and support personnel for all BNA/BLAW integrated content):

  • Pricing is based on the number of U.S. based attorneys.
  • 5 year pricing schedule is provided with ability to opt out every two years.
  • The pricing schedule begins at a reduced rate (based upon a ratio of those who will receive immediate value and those who will do so over time).
  • Incremental increases each year will ultimately move all attorneys to the standard $450/user/month cost by the 5th year
  • For those firms that adopt early (before July 1st), Bloomberg will base the starting ratio at the minimum entry point.

Option 2 (Individual per-user access to all BNA/BLAW integrated content):

  • 2 year subscriptions only
  • $450/user/month in 1st year
  • Nominal bi-annual increases

A look at the pros and cons of the BLAW pricing options raises a nearly equal number of both.

On one hand, several disadvantages arise with the BLAW content and pricing model, but these might not necessarily be deal breakers. Firstly, per user pricing may create roadblocks to determining the cost of the research for client billing purposes, although Bloomberg indicates they will work with customers wishing to devise a method to recover the cost via client billing. Secondly, annual incremental firm-wide pricing increases could be rather steep and by year five for some firms would likely far exceed what a firm might pay for a Westlaw or Lexis flat-rate contract, and thus could be a hard-sell to firm management. Thirdly, inflexibility in the all or nothing content leads to the argument that you end up paying for content that may never be used, which it turn creates an unyielding pricing model. Fourthly, while Bloomberg Law offers a great deal of public company information it is sorely lacking content about private companies and for finding people, thus a firm would need to have that content in their Lexis or Westlaw contract, or utilize low cost one off public records vendors, such as TLOxp (www.tlo.com) which provides low cost searches with no monthly service fees. Finally, while early adopters receive an incentive break in the cost for the first few years ultimately all firm-wide subscribers end up at the $450/user/month in the 5th year.

On the other hand, advantages to the content and pricing models also exist. Firstly, transparency in pricing – no more wondering what the Jones’ law firm is paying - everyone ultimately ends up paying the same in year 5 of the firm-wide deal or out of the gate in the individual per user per month deal. Secondly, the per user monthly pricing model in both deals may actually be a better fit for the growing trends of not billing and clients not paying for online research, and any retail cost that Westlaw or Lexis applies to a search or getting a document etc. is arbitrary anyway as are their negotiated special offers. Thirdly, perhaps the fact that each user gets access to everything including cases, BNA reports, court dockets, Legislation/Regulation Watch, and other specialized transactional practice products such as Dealmaker could also be advantageous as it opens a whole new world of information which in turn may actually help the researcher get to their answer quicker. Fourthly, library staff and/or practice groups might benefit from the BLAW select per user price compared to their current BNA direct firm-wide spend on a cost comparison basis and as a result those users get the benefit of the aforementioned content gains. Fifthly, the BLAW platform offers a great deal of customization for alerts, news, dockets, and other content as well as collaboration tools for sharing and annotating your research much like similar features on WestlawNext and Lexis Advance. Finally, getting all new content developed by BLAW no additional cost and the ability to opt out of the deal every 2 years, both of which are generally not the case with other vendors, are also positive aspects of the firm-wide pricing model.

In large part, determining if the pros outweigh the cons of switching to BNA/Bloomberg Law or vice versa will be dependent on a firm’s current BNA spend compared to cost of same on BLAW, plus savings realized from not renewing or reducing content in Lexis or Westlaw contracts, coupled with cancellation of other print and online subscriptions (i.e. PACER, CCH, RIA, Fastcase etc.) that overlap with BLAW content.

So get your calculators out because in the final analysis, number crunching and possibly whittling or cutting of current subscriptions will be the only way to truly determine if the marriage of BNA/Bloomberg Law content will be a match made in heaven for your law firm, and actually end up either saving your firm money, costing more or be an almost break even proposition.

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Take Two Unrelated Things… Now Smash Them Together

When I was in law school, some of my favorite classes where titled "Law and _____." The blank was filled with things like "Economics" or "Religion" or "Psychology" or "Order." The idea of taking two different concepts and seeing how they affected each other was absolutely fascinating to me. While each idea stood on its own, putting "Law" in front of the other concept made you take a different look at it, and in the end helped you better understand them both. In a time when it seems that we are all pushed into "specializing" in our professional lives, sometimes we need to step back and challenge ourselves to bring in something unusual to our routines to break our tunnel vision, and in the end, make ourselves better.

Over the past weekend, I saw something that reminded me of this idea. My youngest daughter (pictured above, top row, second from the left) competed in an Odyssey of the Mind competition and reminded me of how taking two or more unrelated ideas and making them work together, and create something that is better than its individual parts.

The Odyssey of the Mind competition was special because it asked students to do two very different things:
  1. Perform a task involving something you've engineered (my daughter's task was to create a vehicle that someone could ride back and forth across a gym floor.)
  2. Tell a story and make the vehicle change emotions as you are telling the story (the vehicle had to go from happy to sad and then from envious to in love.)
Here's the part of the description I love:
The emphases will be on the technical risk-taking and creativity of the vehicle's engineering for travel and change of emotional appearance.
The kids had to come up with all the ideas on their own (I made the mistake of attempting to explain how a broken piece of the vehicle could be fixed, and before I could say anything the kids all started "shushing" me and telling me not to say anything because they could be disqualified… I took my cue and left the room at that point.) The process they took was pretty ingenious… they used a clear plastic dung beetle head and rigged up a mouth on a stick that they could manipulate to make it smile or frown. Same with the eyes to go from happy to sad. My favorite was when they threw in a green glow stick to represent being envious. All of this while telling a story of how a dung beetle fell in love with a can of RAID spray that was wearing an Elvis wig (I'm still confused about the Elvis reference… but, I'm perfectly fine with the love story.) Long story short… they won their division and get to travel to the State Competition, which is only about 5 miles away this year.

The thing that struck me most, however, wasn't the actual eight minutes of competition that the students performed. What struck me was the excitement in the hallway as all of the different groups were preparing for the competition. The Principal of the school made a great comment to us as she looked up and down the hallway. "This is how school should be conducted everyday." Meaning that instead of the traditional method of drilling for state sanctioned standardized testing, the kids should be challenged to think for themselves and apply what they are learning in ways beyond traditional test taking skills.

Here's the reaction from the students when they heard they won their division (suggestion: turn your speakers down, cause it gets loud!!)



Now, you may think that only the winners screamed this loud. Not true. The schools that placed sixth in the competition screamed just as loud… actually I think the school that sat right behind me actually screamed a bit louder.

The whole thing just reminds me of how I get inspired when I bring in non-traditional concepts into my daily routine in a law firm. Applying IT concepts in a library project, or suggesting to others how a project they are working on would be better by adding something completely outside their normal ideas. Too often we get bogged down in hashing out the same old ideas and talking to others that think exactly as we do. From time to time get out of the "group think" and take a chance to see if you can find someone that can suggest throwing in a proverbial green glow stick into your project. You may not find yourself screaming down the aisle to accept your award, but you may find yourself feeling something that you haven't felt in your profession in a while… a sense of excitement.

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3/2/12

The Infinite Viscosity of Managerial Brain Droppings

Image [cc] Pierre-Olivier
The 3 Geeks welcomes guest post of many varieties. This one, from a colleague at another firm, really got our attention. It is funny, witty and engaging, and it carries a compelling message. We offered to post on condition of keeping the author anonymous - for what some may deem obvious reasons. In any event, we think you will enjoy this one.
C'est la vie!
Sometimes I get words or phrases that pop into my head for no particular reason and they just sit there, staring at me, expectantly, like hungry orphans begging to be used in a sentence. Usually such a phrase would hang out and taunt me, until I would suddenly drop them into conversation in the lunchroom or at a bar. That almost never went well, in the former location my conversant would assume I had been drinking and in the latter they would assume I was drunk. But for this rare occasion, the phrase in question ended up as the title to this guest blog post – graciously published by the 3 Geeks. The phrase came to me fully formed in the middle of a marathon conference call the other day and it would not leave me alone. I wrote it on a legal pad, but that apparently was not enough because it just kept haunting me. So I put it at the top of a word document in 18 point type and began to write.
What does the Infinite Viscosity of Managerial Brain Droppings mean? I know what infinite means, and I kind of understand viscosity, thanks to a basic physics course in high school and that old oil commercial. Managerial is self-explanatory, but Brain Droppings was a George Carlin book from the mid-90s and while I loved Carlin’s stand-up, I’m pretty sure I never read his book.
I think the phrase has something to do with the ability of a person in charge to muck up an engine of innovation, creativity, or progress with a single off-hand comment about an almost entirely irrelevant subject. Now, to be fair, this is not a failing of management. Typically, management is blissfully unaware of the chaos they’ve caused amongst the drone workers in the bowels of the organization. Persons in charge have no idea that their every utterance is pounced upon by the unwashed masses like manna from heaven. They don’t realize that each syllable is parsed and dissected to tease every last drop of nuance and meaning from its grammatical marrow. A single guttural “ha!” from the right mouth at the wrong time can send a project into months of revisions and way over budget without anyone on the project team realizing that the manager just finally understood the “knock knock” joke his 5 year old daughter told him the night before and hadn’t actually listened to a word of the presentation they had given.
Thankfully, there is a very simple solution to this particular problem. All it takes is one brave soul to stand up and loudly inquire, “WTF are you talking about!? And as a follow-up… Do you have any &*!#$* idea what is going on at all? I mean really, DO YOU!?” But no one ever does that. Instead we schedule meetings. Meetings to determine the take-aways from the meeting we just finished, before we head to the next meeting to discuss our plans for diminishing the average number of meetings we currently hold. And the cycle continues…
I beg of you. If you are a worker drone, please ignore all brain droppings from management. It encourages them to think and it only slows the rest of us down.

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3/1/12

Lexis Litigation Lists Lag on LeapDay

When I woke up yesterday, my $2.00 alarm clock told me it was February 29, 2012. There were lots of blog posts about Leap Day and how it affected court filings and whatnot, but I really just thought of it as just another day in the law firm biz… However, by the end of the day, I realized that it had one significant impact on my projects, and that one of those would need to be pushed back in March.

While trying to run a Litigant Strategic Profile from LexisNexis' CourtLink system, we kept noticing that the reports simply wouldn't run. We contacted Lexis in the morning to see what the issue was and they told us that they would investigate the issue and return our call as soon as they figured out what was causing it, or when they got it corrected. Morning turned to afternoon, and finally we heard back from them with a surprising answer. Turns out that the Litigant Strategic Profiles couldn't understand February 29th, and therefore the reports simply wouldn't run. The solution was to not run the reports until March 1st, when the system would be back to normal.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? My two-dollar alarm clock can handle leap day, and Lexis's system cannot?? I thought the days of Y2K were twelve years in the past. Plus, it isn't like this day just… pardon the pun… leaped out of no where. We all know that years divisible by four bring us Presidential Elections, the Summer Olympics, and Leap Day!!

We checked this morning and the system is back to normal. I asked around and did find that others had the problem, but where told it was a "systems" issue and not related to Leap Day. So, maybe the tech guy we talked to was wrong (or didn't get the memo to Ix-nay on the Eapday-lay.) If it was a Leap Day issue, then Lexis has 1459 more days to look into this and make sure that it works in 2016. That will be a Monday, and I will expect everything to work!! If not, let me know the week before and I'll schedule a three-day weekend.



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2/28/12

Sympathy For The Attorney


At work I happily drink from the single cup coffee machine in the pantry, but that’s not coffee so much as a speedy caffeine delivery mechanism. On the weekends, when I have time to make coffee, I Make Coffee.  I put the kettle on to boil, then I pour a half a cup or so – I never measure – of whole roasted beans into my coffee mill, like the one in the picture to the right.  I turn on the radio to listen to the weekend news and begin to grind my coffee by hand.  The mill slowly crushes the beans which slide down the sides of the cup and fill the jar below.  If I’ve timed it right, I finish grinding the beans just as the water in the kettle comes to a boil.  I pour the contents of the mill jar into my gold filter and place the drip filter holder on my favorite coffee mug.  I slowly pour the hot, but no longer boiling!, water over the grounds making sure to maintain the appropriate level of water at all times.  If I do all of this just right, I end up with a cup of my own personal brand of sludge that fully caffeinates and satisfies.

This process is slow.  This process is labor intensive.  And I love it!  Yes, it marks me as a full-fledged coffee snob.  And most other people don’t even like my coffee, which makes it all the better.  You can argue until you are blue in the face that this ritual is a waste of time, that I would be much more productive if I threw a couple of scoops of store ground coffee into an automatic drip maker and set the timer to wake me up on Saturday morning.  And while intellectually I understand the words you are saying, I can’t imagine ever giving up my mill and drip filter.  Because it’s not really about the coffee, it’s about the process.  The addiction is to the anticipation of the reward as much as it is to the reward itself. 

I bring this up because in IT we often make excuses for why attorneys are so averse to changing their process.  “They’re stodgy and set in their ways.”  “They’re luddites who would rather do it the long way, than use the more productive technology.”  “They just don’t want to learn anything new.”  There are undoubtedly attorneys who fit those descriptions, but I wonder if we’ve been thinking about it the wrong way around.  It’s not that they’re stuck in their habits, it’s that they really like the way they do things.  And I don’t just mean, they’re comfortable doing it the way they always have, but maybe they actually derive pleasure from the process of practicing law.  When I waltz in with a great new product that I think will make their life so much easier, they hear “I’m going to destroy your process” and they react just as I would if you said, “I’m giving you a brand new single cup coffee machine for home!”  I don’t want a push button solution for my Saturday morning coffee, but a more efficient hand mill, a better quality filter, or a high performance kettle might be a welcome addition to my current process, making me more efficient without destroying the ritual that I have evolved over years of practice.

Maybe what I’m suggesting is just a semantically different way of looking at the issue.  And maybe all attorneys got their JDs to please their overbearing mothers, actually loathe the practice of law, and secretly long to be baristas.  But as I’ve seen one attorney after another reject terrific new products that I feel would greatly enhance their practice with minimal disruption to their process, I reflect on my Saturday morning coffee ritual.  What seems a “minimal disruption” to someone who doesn’t fully understand my process, might be an unconscionable alteration of the ritual to me.

On the other hand, if I go into a coffee shop and it takes them 25 minutes to get me a cup of coffee, and they charge me $50 because their process was labor intensive.  I don’t care how good the coffee is, I will probably not return to that store anytime soon.

Just thinking out loud.

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2/27/12

My Bizarre SWAG From The Texas Supreme Court Journal: "Trust God"

I am no stranger to receiving strange gifts in the mail from publishers. I once got a box full of used horse shoes in a Thomson Reuters box. However, the gift I just received this morning may be a bit stranger than even the horse shoes. In my renewal notice (actually, it was the third renewal notice) from the Texas Supreme Court Journal, there was a pen tucked into the envelope. On one side of the Pen it says, "DEO CREDE" and on the other side it says "TRUST GOD."

I double-checked the address again, and sure enough, it has come from the Texas Supreme Court Journal and is addressed to my office.

Now, I'm not one to criticize anyone's religious beliefs, but this type of gift does seem to be a bit strange coming from something that (at least on the surface) looks like a State Government entity. A bit of researching, however, shows that the publisher is actually 303 Enterprises LLP out of Georgetown, Texas.



I'm going to chalk this one up to someone accidentally placing a pen in an envelope, sealing it, and not noticing that there was a big bulge in the envelope when it was sealed. Either that, or someone is praying for my soul, and asking God to lead me down the righteous path, which includes sending in my renewal payment for this year's subscription.

Anyone else think of a good reason to put a "TRUST GOD" pen in with my renewal notice???


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2/23/12

How Do You Get Creative?

There's a significant focus in the legal industry these days to get creative when it comes to designing a better legal business and a better legal practice. Leaders recognize that imitating their peers' solutions may keep them in the game, but won't help them win. Everyone is trying to come up with something new, something different, something wow. And in the legal world where caution and realism abound, the starting point for any new idea should be as un-cautious and un-realistic as possible. Plenty of people will chip in to trim a bold idea into a realistic one, so you might as well start big. That way there's plenty left over after you're done trimming.

So I'm wondering: How do you get your mind out of the daily grind and into a world of new? What tools or tricks do you use to stretch your mental muscles? In short, how do you get creative?

One of my off-the-beaten-path sources of inspiration comes from Good Morning Silicon Valley, a daily email newsletter sharing all the juicy gossip in 'the valley,' from news about companies like Google and Apple to sneak peeks into new start-ups that are beginning to change the marketplace. The coolest part of this newsletter, though, is it's Off Topic section at the end, with links to creative, wild, and fascinating stories, images, and news. Today's links included a story about public art that's revitalizing downtown Detroit, a science report on how sleep evolved from two chunks to one, and a video of how 5 people with snowshoes and 3 hours to spare created a masterpiece.

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Doing the ABA TECHSHOW Thing

Recently Jason Wilson (of guest post fame) posted about his decision to attend TECHSHOW this year. He focused on the low e-discovery factor as a good reason to attend. I agree with him and echo the sentiment of feeling overwhelmed by e-discovery hype. Beyond that benefit, there are many other reasons to attend this year, not the least of which are the two sessions I will be presenting:
Yes, It’s Really Time for Value Billing
Jennifer Ellis will be co-presenting with me on this AFA topic. My intent at this session will be to impart nuts-and-bolts, practical advice on ‘How to” do AFAs. As a front-line law firm pricing guy I see all kinds of interesting AFA stuff every day. Some times I think my job changes daily. So I will share insights on how firms and lawyers can get their arms around this interesting and exciting topic. AFAs are truly driving change within the practice. So this should be a fun and educational session.
Day-to-Day Encryption
Scott Preston, Recovering CIO, will be co-presenting with me for this tech session. OK – on the surface encryption may sound exceedingly boring. Securing client (and firm) data is an old and noble duty of lawyers. But when you peel back the layers, this topic approaches the same dynamic changes as seen in the AFA world. Securing information is very much a moving target. So the day-to-day aspects of this challenge are constantly shifting. Just this week someone sent me an article on third party encryption of cloud-based data.
Finally – just ahead of TECHSHOW is the LexThink.1 program. This event gives presenters 6 minutes (sound like a familiar time segment?) to present on One Big Idea. Matt Homann puts this program together and it is always fun to attend. The presentation format also includes 20 slides that automatically progress at 18 second intervals. Topics and speakers are chosen by popular vote.
If you are so inclined, you can vote for my session. But you need to do so by midnight February 24th. Speaking of deadlines, February 24th is also the early bird registration deadline for TECHSHOW. If you plan on attending – and I suggest you do – make sure you sign-up now and take advantage of up to $200 in savings.
Hope to see you there!

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2/21/12

ACC Brings the Future to its Members or The ACC KIIAC System Goes Live

My recent series on Staying Relevant suggested bar associations as a potential source of innovation and change in the industry. On the heels of that suggestion, the bar association of clients (a.k.a. the ACC) is announcing their new Contract Advisor system, developed in partnership with KIIAC.
Most readers know the 3 Geeks are fans of KIIAC as a next-generation KM tool. Well Kingsley has really out-done himself with this partnership. This new member benefit basically brings the full power of analysis KM right in to the hands of ACC members. Starting today, members will have access to ten document templates, which are contracts and agreements that in-house counsel would use on a regular basis. Kingsley has taken volumes of sample documents for each document type, analyzed them and made standardized versions available. Not only that, members can view alternative clauses within each document, enabling them to custom build documents, utilizing any clause components they chose. Finally, members can take documents they have received and compare them against the standard document types to see if any clauses are missing or highly variable from the standard.
As I understand it, new document types will be added over time, increasing the value of the service.
This is truly a next-generation, change-enabling member benefit. This is a quantum leap ahead of how things are currently being done. These are not forms being occasionally updated by someone you don’t know. This is dynamic content based on a wealth of knowledge that evolves as it is used.
Normally I would say check it out, but you need to belong to ACC for that to happen. So maybe I should say, join the ACC. Or maybe talk to your bar association and get them to follow suit.
Well done ACC and KIIAC.

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2/20/12

The Marketing Cyclone--Is Your Law Firm Caught Up in the Whirl?

I read an interesting article in the AMA's interview with David Edelman of McKinsey and Co. about moving away from the concept of the marketing model as a funnel.



Because of the new nature of marketing due to online commerce, Edelman proposes an alternative marketing model that they call the "Consumer Decision Journey."



Working much like a clock, and beginning at 9 p.m., he suggests that customers:

  1. Consider
  2. Evaluate
  3. Purchase
  4. Post-purchase experience
  5. And, if it is a successful experience, they will begin a loyalty loop; if not, they will begin the "consider" stage again.
Well, I couldn't help but think that if you considered this model in 3-D, it looks a lot like a cyclone. And the less you are considered, the more chaotic your marketing efforts must be.

So how does this model apply to as professional services providers and, specifically, law firms?

Yes, lawyers are not bought online. But, believe me, I know from first-hand experience, they are looked at online. And in this day and age, I can certainly tell you who a firm's best marketers are just by looking at their web site.

Think of a law firm's point of purchase to be when that firm is given an RFP. Then think about the post-purchase experience as how the potential clients react, respond, evaluate to the law firm's response.

If a law firm is doing it right, they are in the Loyalty Loop and they are causing some serious damage in the courtrooms/boardrooms.

If not; well, all hell just broke lose.

Like Toto heard, "we're not in Kansas anymore."

Are you listening?



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Flattening Content: Why Legal Publishers Will Shun Customization

Image [cc] HorsePunchKid
[Guest Post from Jason Wilson, VP at Jones McClure Publishing, and blogger at rethinck.]

On her blog, Dewey B. Strategic, Jean O’Grady took direct aim at large legal publishers—Thomson Reuters, Reed Elsevier, Bloomberg, and Wolters Kluwer—and urged them to customize their database offerings at the practice-group level rather than taking a firm-wide approach to content access. She cautions that the approach—trying to be all things to all practice groups—will only lead to misery. To survive the “sole provider wars,” she says one must be willing to be flexible.

I understand her point, but it isn’t modern. Flexibility isn’t where data is headed, whether you’re a large legal publisher or a small one. Flexibility is actually just another word for siloed data.

Think of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets compared to the universe of Harry Potter writings, including fan fiction), and data isn’t supposed to be siloed any longer. All of the current thinking about the matter suggests so.

Think of Jeff Jonas’ “data finds the data” line? Siloed data makes discoverability too difficult, and we (legal researchers) don’t like difficult.

Think of WestlawNext as an example. The whole point to the system is to pour everything into one container so you can find it all; no assumption can be made that any one thing will answer your question, so the system must search it all and show it to you.

In fact, the publishers can argue that they themselves don’t know the relevancy of all data within their possession, so it only seems logical to display it all, with facets, of course, and excellent algorithms to parse the data. Lexis is headed in this direction as well, although taking an entirely different approach with HPCC. I can’t say that Bloomberg or Wolters Kluwer is, but they may be.

But let’s draw this down a bit and focus on analytical content, which is what I think O’Grady’s post was driving at.
“There are lawyers who conjure apocalyptic consequences at the thought of losing their favorite resource. I suspect that this is generational characteristic.
Older lawyers who started out conducting legal research in print treatises and then moved online tend to have a stronger sense of a legal publisher’s brand and the reputation of specific products which I don’t see in the post-Google generation of lawyers.”
Her observation here, I think, is meant to scare publishers into customization. A sort of, “hey, if you think your analytical brand is sacred, think again, because the post-Google generation doesn’t care.” But if this is what she means to do, I think it misses the mark.

Legal publishing is counting on the post-Google generation of lawyers to free the market place of selling individual titles, jurisdictional packages, product groups, and the like. The lawyers aren’t after Chisum on Patents. They’re after “the answer,” which in their world can only come from everything (or at least a lot of different resources). Large legal publishing is moving in the direction of becoming the Comcasts, U-Verses, and Direct TVs of the world. You will be offered packages of programming, which will include things you watch and things you don’t (how else to do you fund indie titles?).

You will choose a sole provider, and it may be by region or firm size, but it will happen because the differentiator will be what I call “The Triple A's”:

  • the applications
  • the algorithms, and 
  • the answer
That’s how legal publishing is going to compete for the next decade or so, because right now, there are no Hulus, Netflixes, or Google TVs that are capable of competing with them. There are no alternative channels, unless you actually start talking about how the small legal publishers (the Ganns, James Publishings, Jones McClures, and the like) do compete, and how firms should utilize them.

I look at the web now, and all the interests divvying up the properties and not letting anyone else in: Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, to name a few. These aren’t companies who want to share, or if they do, it will be on their terms and the price will be steep. There is no reason to think the legal publishing market will be any different.  And why should it be? If Thomson Reuters believes it can build a better sandbox for you to play in, then it will take the risk because the upside is enormous. And it did. The post-Google generation seems to agree with the decision as well. Whether they are willing to pay for it post-graduation is, however,  a different question.

All of this sounds bad for the consumer, but I would actually argue that it isn’t, at least if it is implemented properly. Flattening analytical content and charging a single monthly or yearly rate will actually be better for the consumer in a few important ways. First, you’ll be exposed to more content and more possible answers to your questions than if you were buying by the slice. The system is designed to avoid your ignorance of sources. Sure, you may be really smart and know which one you want, but not everyone is you, and in O’Grady’s post-Google generation scenario, the lawyers don’t know or don’t care to. Second, publishers will recognize that “data” means up-to-date data, and editorial processes will evolve to make sure the content is accurate at the time you look at it. Print titles and most electronic titles don’t reflect this temporal correctness now, but they will, and it will be more than colored flags or stop signs by cases; it will be an accurate answer. Finally, publishers will recognize that a key feature of digital content is the ability to add material because there are no longer restrictions—what we used to call book bindings and PPI (pages per inch)—to limit growth of the content. And we can do this without an additional cost to the end user. Everything is geared toward more and better answers, which is really just a way of saying we want to make you feel smarter, sooner.

I wish I had a suggestion for how you might approach the future, but I don’t. The next three years are going to be ugly, particularly as large legal publishing tries to figure out how to satisfy you and the great unwashed (i.e., non-legal) masses. But that’s a subject for another post.


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2/17/12

Law Firms: Will You Be gTLD into Spending $185K on a 300-page Application?


Yessirree. A 300-page application and $185,000 will buy you your very own "dot-brand".

What am I talking about? The latest craze in domain names--new generic top-level domains (gTLD). So companies like Nike and Coca Cola can now own .nike, .coke, and all of their permutations.

So of course I think to myself, what crazy law firm is going buy .law or .lawfirm? Well, they aren't of course.

According to Lisa's Rule of Legal Technology, most law firms do not engage in any new technology until it has been implemented in Corporate America for at least 5 years.

I predict the first buyers will be someone like Thomson or Lexis. They will likely buy their own brands but may make a bid for these more generic terms.

Okay, so setting aside the immediate issue of purchasing one of the new gTLDs, let's look at some potential legal issues.

Who exactly decides who gets what gTLD? An organization called The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)--an international non-profit organization created in 1998 to create policy on the Internet's unique identifiers. According to their articles of incorporation, filed in California, ICANN shall
operate for the benefit of the Internet community as a whole, carrying out its activities in conformity with relevant principles of international law and applicable international conventions and local law
Well. Hmm. Call me suspicious, but let's say an entity decides to buy ".twinkle" who decides who gets it? ICANN.

So what if 3 people want to buy ".twinkle": a twinkle maker, a composer of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and someone who has social networking site named "twinkle.com"?

According to ICANN, the trademark owner trumps a non-trademark owner; an open network will win over a private one; and a distributor of twinkle sites to geo-specific twinkle sites will win over a private twinkle site.

So in my scenario, I anticipate a good, hard fight. And don't get me started on potential antitrust and cyber-squatting issues!

HA! And this world will never be free of us lawyers. NEVER, I say!

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2/16/12

Bore me,no more! - Why A PK is the answer...

Image [cc] mastermaq
Yesterday, the Special Libraries Association, Competitive Intelligence Division hosted a free webinar on how to give a Pecha Kucha (PK) presentation. The webinar, sponsored by AuroraWDC, was entitled: Pecha Kucha: Learning the PK Presentation Method to Maximize PowerPoint Effectiveness and can be viewed here for those that missed it.

The presentations are all related in some way to competitive intelligence, but the real message is in the medium - I couldn't resist the need to invoke Marshall McLuhan and get some Canadian content in this post. The basis of the PK presentation, is 20 slides in 20 seconds, heavy on the images and light on the text. The idea is that you can say all you need to say about a given topic in roughly 6 minutes and 40 seconds. It is a quick, fun and entertaining way to present a topic.

The PK, or other similar formats like Ignite are a great way to avoid the traditional death by Powerpoint presentations.

As a panelist in yesterday's webinar (my first PK presentation ever, by the way), here a few tips in how to put a PK together:
  1. first and foremost, have fun with it; 
  2. choose a topic you know something about so it will be easy for you to chat about it; 
  3. keep a script, but don't be wedded to it; 
  4. find a series of images you would like to look at; and 
  5. tell a story, have a beginning, a middle and an end in the
  6. 40 Lawyers as we well know, are busy people.
They like to get their information in quick easily digestible pieces, sound bites and bullet points. The PK format does exactly that. It is an ideal format for delivering client current awareness, or even for associate/articling student training. I think it is a brilliant format and one I will certainly use going forward.

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Is Your Law Firm Pinterest-ed?

There has been a ton of buzz on the latest social web site, Pinterest, and a number of folks have been asking me if this is a viable site for law firm marketing.

I say "yes".

After studying the site and reading Jessica Roy's "5 News Organizations To Follow On Pinterest"on MediaBistro.com, I think law firms--particularly large law firms--are in a prime position to take advantage of the site.


Here the basic features of Pinterest:
  1. Pins: any image or video can be pinned and descriptions can be added. For law firms, one way to use this feature would be to post images of your attorneys.
  2. Boards: virtual pin boards are collections of pins. 
  3. Following: you can follow the boards. For law firms, follow your clients, law schools, bar associations and legal periodicals.
  4. Repinning: the equivalent of retweeting or recommending, capture your firm's mentions on others' boards under your own. I could foresee this happening if a bar association posts a video of one of our lawyers' speaking or receiving an award.
  5. Likes: similar to "liking" on Facebook, there is no capture on your virtual pinboard, just a notification that you recognized the posting. Again, if a colleague, client or recruit has an image that has achieved a success, it is an easy way to acknowledge them.
Are you ready to get started? Here are a few ideas to get you going:
  1. Showcase your task-force teams
  2. Put together a collection of case study stats and infographs
  3. Create a virtual pinboard of your offices, scenic views, amenities and art.
Have some other ones? Let us know in the comments below.

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2/15/12

The Broken Twig Analogy

In my recent series on Staying Relevant, I coined a new phrase: Precedence is a legal philosophy, not a business model. The thrust of this phrase is that lawyering skills are better aimed at practicing law instead of running a business. In recent conversations this same thought was being discussed around a different problem.
I occasionally will rib Greg about ‘running lists.’ He receives requests like this all the time at his firm. One of my golden rules is beware the request to run a list. Lawyers seem to think they need to find completely defensible high-ground before they make any decisions. This is manifest in the list request. Before they start calling clients to talk about fees, they need one more list of clients, industries, fees, fee types, realization rates, leverage, …. You get the idea. Often in these situations, these lawyers never pick up the phone and call the clients. Instead they keep requesting lists until the reason for running the lists becomes moot.
Now – this behavior on its own represents lawyers being lawyers instead of business owners. Admittedly you do need reasonable information before making business decisions, but you will never find the high-ground lawyers crave. But the subject of this post is actually about an extension of the ‘running lists’ model of business development.
Recently a colleague at another firm had run yet another list and shared it with a law firm partner. The partner, in typical fashion, found an anomaly on the list. It was one record that didn’t make sense to him. “Why is this on the list?” was his response. “If this record is on the list, then the entire list must be flawed in some way and entirely suspect.”
Spotting flaws and exploiting them is a basic lawyer skill. It is how they attack both litigation and deal terms. Lawyers who are good at this skill are usually the successful ones in court and at the deal table.
However … in the list world, firms will always have anomalies for two reasons. One – you want to be over-inclusive in creating lists many times to make sure the high-value records are not missed. And, two – law firm data sucks. The old days of an endless flow of work encouraged very poor data capture habits. Therefore all firms suffer from severe GIGO syndrome (garbage in – garbage out).
So – here comes the analogy – finding a suspect record on one of these lists and dubbing the list worthless is like spotting a broken twig on a tree branch and declaring the tree dead.
My advice to lawyers running firms and building books of business: Look past the broken twig. Find the healthiest branches of the tree and focus your energy there. Instead of trying to eliminate risk, focus your business energy on opportunities with the highest ROI. Stop focusing on the trivial outliers.
Socrates may have made a great lawyer, but I wouldn’t want him running my firm.

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2/14/12

Antagonism is a Two-Way Street


Image [cc] noluck

[We are very happy to have Guest-Blogger, Jeffrey Brandt, who gives us the CIO perspective on the relationship between Law Firm Libraries and Law Firm CIO's.]

After my highlight of his post “The Law Firm Library & CIO Relationship” in the PinHawk Technology Digest Greg, was kind enough to reach out and ask me to write a guest post rebuttal.  Who can refuse an offer to guest post on 3 Geeks?

Greg said a few things in his post that I took exception to. First he said that "It isn't that CIOs are purposely antagonistic toward the library...."  Then he said that the CIO’s approach to dealing with the library (and other law firm administrative units) is "Lead, Follow or Get the Hell Out of the Way."  I would like to think that those descriptors describe very few of my fellow CIOs.

It is only natural that Greg would be biased from the librarian point of view.  As a veteran CIO I suppose it is quite safe to say my bias is from the opposite direction.  But I was also one of the first CIOs to have the law library report to me in the early 1990s, and as such, maybe I have a special affinity for the library.  What I said in my brief highlight was that Greg had missed something - the part about the library being antagonistic toward IT.

I first want to say that I have been very fortunate in my CIO roles to work with some very great librarians in my 25+ years in legal.  They’re smart, professional and I’d work with all of them again in a heartbeat.  And since I am sure Greg will make some comment on who holds the power, I want to note that I’ve worked with librarians as peers, almost/semi peers and as direct reports.  A good relationship isn’t a function of direct reporting.

I can recall the days when many librarians wanted little to do with electronics.  When the library began to report to me, I was shocked by how little was known about the new CD-ROM and online technologies.  I would think and say, “How can you not be interested in these things that will fundamentally change the way you work?”  Over generalizing some, I could say they were a very insular group, their only care and concerns were for the books and the center-of-the-firm, showcase space.

I can still recall a rather hostile crowd of librarians at the beginning of a presentation I gave for the AALL way back in 1995, and the many librarians who warmed up during the presentation and came up to talk to me and ask me questions.  Greg’s point, “there are many firms out there, big and mid-sized, where the library leadership simply doesn't have a good relationship with their CIO” rings an old bell with me.  But I would have thought we would have progressed a bit further in 16 years.

I always appreciated my relationship with the librarian.  The last thing I want them to do is remain insular.  In my last role, one of the first things I did was bring the librarian into my weekly meetings with my IT and eDiscovery reports.  I have worked with the librarians at my firms to successfully launch KM programs, to improve the document management systems, and to help consult on various aspect of information management.

There is a lot more in common between IT and the library than you might think.  Let me take just two examples.

Let’s take the library itself.  A showcase place that, rightly so, librarians take a lot of pride in.  The physical books being purchased are lessening, losing out to on-line research.  Many administrations want to reclaim the space and repurpose it for non-library uses.  On the IT side, how many firms still have computer rooms?  Many of those showcase computing facilities have been placed in secondary space in secondary cities or completely outsourced to a co-lo provider.

What about billings?  It used to be that some libraries turned a small profit.  At a minimum, hard-working librarians were able to make sure billable revenue covered the non-billable research that was conducted. Most all of that has vanished as clients today refuse to pay for any electronic research.  On the IT side it was telephone charges.  Complex billing and cost recovery systems used to be the norm, capturing every phone call made and placing them on bills.  One of the first things clients refused to pay was telephone charges, and many firms were forced to take it as pure overhead.

Too many librarians remain insular today.  They do their “library thing” and not much more than that.  But this is not 1995.  Not even 2005.  No group can remain insular and isolated.  Improved process and technology have pulled all the groups closer together.  Look at the evolution of finance and records.  A few librarians have stepped out to work with knowledge management teams, marketing and other areas of the firm.  More need to do this.

Greg says CIOs are interested in Security/Privacy, Mobile Technology and a whole laundry list of other things.  That is true, those certainly are topics that a CIO needs to be interested in.  Some, I might argue, should consume more of the IT Directors time, not the CIOs.  But I think a good CIO is really all about advocacy, enablement and forwarding the business strategies.  That advocacy and enablement is across all practices - administrative and legal.

Greg’s views and mine converge when he talks about engagement and education.  But again, it should be a two-way street.  As librarians you need to be aware of what changes are happening around you.  So if you’ve got a CIO who is antagonistic (purposefully or not) toward the library and are not sure how to proceed, send him or her to me and we’ll talk.  The library, the librarians and the services you provide are too important to waste in a hostile relationship - whoever’s fault it might be.

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2/13/12

And Now We Have Staff Cuts in the Legal Services Market

Image [cc] publik16
As the former access to justice / pro bono guy for Utah, I have a long term view on issues surrounding legal services for the poor. So it is with sadness and a bit of frustration I write this post.
Funding for access to justice generally comes from a handful of sources. The first is federal funding - with some state funding mixed in here and there, the second is from IOLTA (Interest On Lawyers' Trust Accounts), the third is from foundations and the fourth is from individuals, primarily those in the legal market.
If any one of these sources is compromised, then competition for the other sources greatly increases. One source already greatly reduced has been IOLTA, since interest rates have been pushed very low by the Fed over the past 5 or so years as an economic stimulus tactic. Foundations suffered a bit from low rates and the downturn as well. So legal services for the poor was already in a struggle for survival.
And now the coup de grace - Congress cuts legal services funding by 14%. The WSJ reports that cuts will result in predicted losses of 1,226 people for legal services agencies.
The usual thinking from politicians is that the legal profession bears the responsibility of serving the legal needs of the poor. So the answer is more pro bono hours. Unfortunately, pro bono hours have also suffered at the hands of the downturn.
I suppose if one searches, they can find a logic to the legal services segment suffering with the rest of the legal market. The problem with that thinking is that the ranks of the poor are swelling now. So it's not a lack of demand driving a reduction in supply.
In the end I am not sure where to take this post. I could appeal to a sense of justice to get people invigorated to take action. But given the dire situation, I am not sure where one would point such enthusiasm.
Thoughts?

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