[Image (CC) nhanusek]

We love looking at new products and hearing about products from our peers. This week we decided to try to urge some peers to chime in on the Elephant Post and let us know of some products they’ve been looking at, and though we should as well. We have a few, but I know there are a lot of new products out there, so if you didn’t get a chance to add it, feel free to put it in the comments (and I might even go ahead and add it to the main section if warranted!)

Enjoy this week’s Elephant Post, and don’t forget to look at next week’s question listed below. We want to get your perspective on those Social Media Consultants and see what you think about hiring them to help create your firm’s social media strategies. I’m really looking forward to seeing the different perspectives on this one!

John Gillies
KM lawyer

While we are essentially still in early days with the product, I can see that Kiiac is very effective in (a) taking a mass of documents of a particular type and identifying whether they have been drafted in a consistent manner, (b) producing a template document that can be used as a firm precedent, (c) reviewing the various ways that particular clauses have been drafted across the data set, (d) benchmarking specific documents against the template, and (e) keeping precedents “green.”

Assuming that you have been careful in the steps leading up to creating your template, the benchmarking tool can be of particular benefit when reviewing the first draft of an agreement. (Precedents are fine for half of the engagements where your firm is preparing the first draft, but of marginal utility if you are on the receiving end, because of the variability in how agreements are put together.)

The most important aspect, though, at least in my view, is how it can help lawyers focus on the need for organizational clarity when drafting. By aggregating the firm’s work product, it enables you to analyze the firm’s end product in a way that would be unattainable otherwise.

Steven B. Levy
Author, teacher, consultant
The Off Switch

When you’re in a meeting, turn off the Blackberry, turn off EMail, even turn off your computer unless you’re really, really taking notes on it. When you’re with family, turn off your electronic tether.

Life not only will go on… but you’ll be a part of it once again.

Toby Brown
Lexis Search Advantage Matter Experience

Analysis KM IS the future.  And since I have previously mentioned Kingsley Martin’s KIIAC product on this topic numerous times, I thought I would point out the Lexis Search Advantage Matter Experience (LSA ME) system on the Elephant.  For some time the LSA product has been moving in a KM analysis direction, being able to analyze and determine document types.  This year Lexis rolled out the Matter Experience module of LSA.  The LSA ME system (in addition to having a laborious long name) takes the analysis concept a step further.  One of the biggest challenges for implementing AFAs is understanding the cost of services being provided.  To address this challenge, LSA ME analyzes time entries and documents and then provides valuable meta data about these BLOBs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BLOB).

First – The system can determine matter types.  Traditionally the most popular matter type used by firms is something like “General Representation.”  When needing to analyze current and past matters for billing and cost knowledge, this lack of useful matter-type data is quite problematic.  Knowing which matters are “Single Plaintiff Employment Litigation” is a huge step in getting your arms around billing knowledge.

Second – LSA ME analyzes time entries and programatically codes them with whatever task code schema you chose.  With this metadata in place, you can begin to understand your billing knowledge with increasing levels of detail.  You will begin to see fees (a.k.a. your cost of production) by stage and task.  With this knowledge, a firm’s ability to price and maintain margins jumps.

Will this new meta data be perfect?  Of course not. More importantly it will be consistent.  In a perfect world we might expect humans to actually input this data when opening and maintaining matters.  But humans are notoriously inconsistent when it comes to data entry.  Computers are not.

LSA ME is a good example of emerging Analysis KM.   Check it out.

Online Marketer

Okay, I don’t really like it. Nor do I need it. Truly.

I just thought it was hilariously appealing and allowed me to pay attention to a sector of lawyers with whom I usually do not engage: the criminal defense attorney.

LawyerUp is an android app–seriously, they developed the Android app before they developed either an iPhone or Blackberry app–that allows subscribers to literally have a lawyer at their fingertips in the event they are arrested.

You can get a family plan for $9.95 a month. Bear in mind that I am not sure how they define “family”.  Individual plans are also available.

LawyerUp is based in Connecticut and Rhode Island, so legal aid is limited to these states.

Lawyers and subscribers are pre-screened so that when you are in the clink and make your one phone call, you hit the app and LawyerUp dispatches an attorney to start working for you within 15 minutes.

So. Question: does a push of an app qualify as one phone call? Or can you still call your mom too?

Scott Preston
IT Guy

I really believe it is time for law firms to start embracing social communities in a much more fluid way.  Yammer is a very simple product that allows a firm to have a private social community based on the firm’s domain name.  You can share info within your  own organization which is very useful, but Yammer also has the concept of communities that allow individuals outside of the law firm’s domain to also participate in a dialogue.  Yammer also has an ability to integrate twitter within the product simply by including the #yam tag any tweets will also show up in your yammer dialogues.

Greg Lambert
Library/Records Guy

We were having dinner with the Advologix guys last night and to watch how this company has grown to integrate Practice Management Software into law firms, big and small, and into company legal groups has been something to see. Built on the Salesforce.com platform, this cloud-based Practice Management tool is fast, scalable, and is a great resource for everything from time entry and billing, contact and client relationship management, client intake, calendaring, workflow automation, and much more.

Definitely worth a look if you are wanting to better manage your firm’s business processes, and don’t want to overload your IT staff or computer network.

Next Week’s Elephant Post

Would You Hire a Social Media Consultant (AKA “Guru”) to Advise Your Firm on SM Strategies? Why or Why Not??

I think this question pretty much stands on its own. Law firms are slowly realizing that there is “opportunity” in the social media realm, but as with many things, they just don’t know where to start, and they usually don’t believe that their existing staff has the expertise to advise them properly. Thus, enter the Social Media Guru Consultant. Some love ’em, some  hate ’em, but they seem to be doing a pretty good job of getting hired to come in and advise firms on social media policies and procedures.

So, would you hire one? Why or Why Not?? (I’m looking forward to seeing both sides of this debate.)