The past week I had the pleasure of presenting at the 13th Annual Ark Conference Competitive Intelligence in the Modern Law Firm. I am totally blown away that this one day conference is in its 13th year and still going strong. The quality of the presentations was outstanding. There were new and different speakers and sponsors (thanks to Legal Monitor and LAC Group) and all around it was a fantastic day. I am buoyed by the energy in the room, the passion for the profession and the commitment to the industry despite all of its many challenges.
Some of the key messages coming out of the conference (with my own commentary) were:
- Embrace data, data is everywhere and has transformative powers for competitive intelligence as well as for firms in general.
- Due Diligence and CI are similar, you can increase your awareness of both in the firm if you measure twice and cut once. Do the work once and share broadly across the firm about clients, and prospects for a variety of reasons, proactively and reactively.
- Inter-operability in this new data savvy world is critical. Get your systems talking to one another, find a Platform. Whether using AI, or data visualization getting Intel into the hands of decision makers is crucial to success. Capture attention, go on a charm offensive (HT to @CISteph for that great turn of phrase).
For my part, I cannot stress how much I truly believe now is the time for CI to shine in firms and push long standing conservative cultures forward. I’ve been doing this for close to 20 years and I have never felt more like CI in firms has finally matured in process, structure and delivery. CI as mix of art and science, data and HUMINT, and CI has the opportunity to sit at the centre of everything firms are doing in support of the practice and business of law as well as the culture shifts that are happening. CI can help firms plan and respond to all three of the major pressures in firms, from bottom up pressure of new associates with different priorities that the traditional law firm model, the top down client pricing pressures and technology assaulting firms from the sides, CI can ease the pressure by anticipating for the future, avoid surprises and providing a strategic way forward. As firms strive to be more balanced, more focused on wellness and diversity, CI should the centralized function to collaborate on data, gather HUMINT and implement technology that makes organizations coordinated, efficient, balanced, motivated and competitive. And course, CI can bring the human element to bear as Data Doesn’t Make Decisions. CI can and should be part of the cultural changes in firms that is paving the way for the firm and the industry of the future.
The Return of FREE PACER!!
Can Congress Regulate Algorithms used in judicial processes?
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Makerspaces are becoming very popular in libraries, and today we talk with two librarians who are ready to bring the collaborative thinking and working spaces into the law school library environment. Ashley Matthews is at George Mason’s Antonin Scalia Law School, and Sharon Bradley is at the University of Georgia School of Law. Both believe there is a great benefit in carving out spaces within the law school library to allow students and faculty the ability to tinker and experiment with their creative sides, and potentially come up with the next big idea in the legal market.
Matthews recently wrote an article on makerspaces entitled “Teaching Students to ‘Tech Like a Lawyer’.” While some of us may see ‘tech like a lawyer’ as a way to stop technology, Matthews and Bradley think that the law school library environment can be the perfect place to teach law students the analytical skills they’ll need in their practice to truly understand how a legal issue can benefit from technology, and how to issue spot, reason, analyze, and resolve legal issues more effectively with technology.
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The Dangers of Categorical Thinking
The human mind is build to categorize the things we see and do in the world. It just helps us make sense of the world, whether it’s the fight or flight between seeing a stick and a snake, or the business decisions we make in selecting the perfect candidate out of a pool of ten qualified applicants. We group the hard skills and the soft skills. In this Harvard Business Review article, the authors warns not to be so caught up in the larger categorical picture, and lose sight of the details and nuances that really make the difference in the end. Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 53 – Makerspaces in Law Schools with Ashley Matthews and Sharon Bradley
Our fellow 3 Geeks’ contributor, Zena Applebaum is leading the upcoming Competitive Intelligence program in Chicago on Friday, October 18, 2019. The American Association of Law Libraries is holding this CI Foundations Course entitled, Superior Intelligence = Strategic Decision Making.
In this course you will learn to be the person who defines, gathers, analyzes, and distributes intelligence about products, customers, and competitors at your organization. You will also better understand how to establish and maintain a strategic competitive intelligence (CI) function–from development to implementation.
WHO SHOULD ATTEND
Law librarians and legal information professionals seeking to learn how to build a competitive intelligence strategy at their organization (including firm, academic, government, and other organizations).
Early-bird pricing is available until September 20. So, register today!!
[Ed. Note: Please welcome guest blogger, Sam Harden, from vLex. – GL]
I used to watch a lot of Star Trek TNG – every episode it seemed like some super complicated futuristic technology was an instant solution to an intractable problem the crew was facing. Can’t find the cloaked Romulan ship? Modulate the tachyon pulse beam transmorgifier! I didn’t know this at the time, but things like that had become so common in the series that the script writers wouldn’t even bother coming up with the technical jargon when they were writing the script:
“It became the solution to so many plot lines and so many stories,” ST:TNG writer, Ron Moore said. “It was so mechanical that we had science consultants who would just come up with the words for us and we’d just write ‘tech’ in the script. You know, Picard would say ‘Commander La Forge, tech the tech to the warp drive.’
I’ll come back to this concept of ‘teching the tech’ in a moment, but first let me lay some context. vLex has me doing free consulting sessions with anyone who wants them. So far I’ve done a good number of interviews – all legal professionals, either practicing law or working in the legal sphere in some capacity. Continue Reading Don’t Obsess Over the Details… Just ‘Tech the Tech!’
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What Does Your Family Think You Do??
Come on men… it’s 2019!!
Andre Davison was literally a sixteen year old student when he began his career in law firm libraries. Now the Research Technology Manager at Blank Rome’s Houston office, Andre has taken a leadership role both within his firm with technology and diversity programs, and has been rewarded for his efforts with multiple awards. Andre was awarded his firm’s Nathaniel R. Jones Diversity Award for his diversity efforts, and he was the American Association of Law Libraries’ Innovation Tournament winner for his Seamless Access to Secondary Sources (SASS) which enabled lawyers and others at his firm to dive into the portions of research materials directly, and without having to worry about usernames, passwords, or client numbers. Previous TGIR interviewee, David Whelan, has a great summary of his experiences as a judge for the AALL Innovation Tournament.
Andre’s work expands past his award winning efforts at his firm, and he has taken on leadership roles on the local level with the Houston Area Law Libraries (HALL) as the current President. The local chapters are a wealth of professional development, and local community efforts which he says brings a family-like environment to him and his peers.
How does your family describe what you do?
Speaking of family, we share stories of how our families describe to others what we do for work. As might be expected, it doesn’t always match the reality of the situation. Greg thinks that it might have been easier on his family if he worked at Walmart. We’d love to get more stories to put on the show of what it is that your family members think you do. Leave us a voicemail at 713-487-7270 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your story!
How Should Law Schools Adjust for Gen Z?
Welcome to the 50th Episode of the Geek in Review!!
American Lawyer Media Reporter, Dylan Jackson, joins us this week to discuss two of his recent articles which focused on the mental health of law firm staff, as well as the persistent caste system which still exists in the large law firm environment. Jackson talked with a number of people within law firms regarding how firms view the mental health of staffers, what firms are doing (or not doing) to address the issues, as well as how firms value their staff’s contribution to the success of the firm. While the days of having a chair tossed at you by a partner might have faded in the past couple of decades, the stress placed on staff to handle more work, and to take on much more strategic missions for the law firm has significantly increased over the past ten years. Jackson found that it is still difficult for even the most senior of staff to get a seat at the table within the law firm, and that old barriers still exist to separate lawyers from the professional staff. In the end, these professionals need to be recognized for their contribution, and they want to be treated with respect.
The Dark Side of Personality Tests
Many law firms are conducting personality assessments on their lawyers and staff. The idea is that if we better understood each other’s personalities, we can communicate better. Author Quinisha Jackson-Wright points out in a New York Times piece a significant flaw in personality tests when other use it to “fix” the other person, rather than adapt their own behavior. It’s important that workers don’t feel like they are being “outed” by being a certain personality type. (Plus some extra reading) Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 50 – ALM’s Dylan Jackson on the Issues of Mental Health and Overall Value of Law Firm Staff