For many years working in the realm of law firms I have been described as a Non – a non lawyer. It is a rather strange predicament to define yourself and your skills based on what you are not, rather than what you are. I remember when my husband first graduated from university and wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life, he took a series of jobs to try things out only to come to the conclusion a year later that he learned what he didn’t want to do. So he went back to school, twice, in pursuit of being a something. I on the other hand, graduated from grad school and shortly thereafter started on my almost two decade journey of being a Non.
Over the weekend, I had a nice conversation with some of my peers in other law firm departments (Marketing, IT, and other administration leaders), about the American Association of Law Libraries’ (AALL) letter to Lexis, asking that Lexis cease their current sales requirement of tying Lexis Advance to non-related materials, including Law360, Lex Machina, print material, and other products. I think my colleague, Jean O’Grady did a great job covering this topic in her blog post, so I won’t re-hash the specifics of the letter. However, it is definitely an issue which those outside the law firm libraries should take notice, and be very concerned. This is something that affects the entire law firm, not just the law librarians.
Sometimes the change you seek causes problems you didn’t foresee. That’s not all that surprising for those of us who deal with change on a consistent basis, but it does still catch some of us off-guard when it happens.
I am writing this blog post on the plane as I fly back to Toronto from Halifax, having just spent the last three days at the CALL/ACBD annual conference. The conference was fantastic, highlights for me included an opening session with Jordan Furlong who suggested we are entering an era of Legal Intelligence – a topic near and dear to my heart, a stellar lunch keynote from Janet Maybee on the wrongful conviction of Pilot Francis Mackey in respect to the 1917 Halifax explosion, and of course a meet up with fellow 3 Geeks blogger Greg Lambert. I think my colleagues from Thomson Reuters Canada showed him just how the vendor client relationship can actually be quite strong and positive. But all of that pales in comparison to the many great one-on-one conversations that I was able to have with people about the state of the industry, the position of law librarianship, the influence of legal tech – AI, Machine Learning, predictive analytics and what the (very exciting) future holds for all of us.
Recently, I’ve encountered something that I’ve found unsettling. Compromising seems to be something that we equate with failure. In fact, people would rather watch something fail – even things they say they value – rather than take ownership of the change needed to make it succeed. I couldn’t understand why the current environment seems to promote and all-or-nothing approach in how we deal with other people, the management of processes, or the allocation of resources. I brought this up with a group of my peers, and I got a very insightful response from one person in the group.
[Ed. Note: Please welcome guest blogger, Colin Lachance, CEO of Compass/vLex Canada. – GL]
At no fewer than four conferences this lovely month of May, I will be speaking about artificial intelligence in law. Each event has a different focus (regulation, impact, libraries, family law), but as my comments in each will spring from my personal framework for considering issues, opportunities and implications, I thought it might help me to advance that framework for your feedback.
I saw a post on Knowledge Jolt With Jack, discussing a book called Making Work Visible: Exposing Time Theft to Optimize Work & Flow, by Dominica DeGrandis. DeGrandis identifies five time-theft “thieves:”
- Too much work-in-process.
- Unknown dependencies.
- Unplanned work
- Conflicting priorities.
- Neglected work
The past couple of weeks have been a travel fest for me. Trips to Chicago, New Orleans, Nashville, and Washington, DC. All in support of my year as the President of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL). In those trips I represented the members of AALL as leader of the Executive Board, representative for a peer organization, visitor to a law library chapter, and finally, as a voice of our profession to the United States Congress. It was my first time testifying before a Congressional subcommittee, and it may very well be the last opportunity I get to sit in a conference room at the US Capitol and ask Congress to appropriately fund law library functions on the federal level.
After (more than) numerous times of trashing on task codes in pricing presentations, a few people prodded me into doing something about it. In those presentations on pricing, the topic of task codes would always come up. I suggested that maybe task codes aren’t the place to start when focusing on pricing, budgeting, etc. Instead we would start by setting standards for the type of work being performed. In other words, you should understand what type of matter is involved before you worry about task or other segments of work under that level.
I had the opportunity to speak at the CodeX, FutureLaw Conference at Stanford Law School last week. Its my second time attending, and I continue to be impressed with the diversity of topics, professions and people who participate. One of the presentations to catch my attention was conducted by Professor Daniel Linna, from Michigan State University. Professor Linna is the Director of LegalRnD, the Center for Legal Services Innovation, and gave a presentation showcasing an index he has developed to measure legal innovation in law firms and universities. The measurement of innovation adoption is challenging. Casey Flaherty established test criteria to grade lawyer’s mastery of technology, and Jeff Ward at Duke Law has spoken at the AALL conference about innovation levels students reach as they progress in law school. I think even Professor Linna will be the first to say his index is version 1.0, and there is much room for further development (OK, he did say that actually), but the point is all these people are trying to tackle the measurement and data presentation challenge.