It is long believed that the key to real estate
purchases is location, location location. And while I am not in the business of
flipping houses, it seems to me and my limited HGTV understanding of the world,
that location is pretty important when buying property. 


Recently, there have been a dearth of posts here and
elsewhere relating to changing nature of the legal market, none of which are
surprising or nor have any of the changes occurred in a vacuum. We’ve watched
the incremental change for years and perhaps now we are just reaching the
tipping point for all things legal client service delivery, AI, matter planning
& pricing, LPO, LPM and so forth. The neighbourhood is changing and we’ve
lost sight of the ideal location. 

It is not surprising that we can’t see what’s right in
front of us.  Equal to the talk of the
changing legal landscape, is talk of the information overload and how to bring
one in line to assist with the other. For example I’ve posted about the need
for better EI, UI, UX and the implementation of “design thinking” in
solving legal problems or the problems of legal service delivery. I am a huge
proponent of all these concepts. I really am, what I do, is fundamentally about
wading through reams of data to paint a pretty picture. Without empathizing
with the client and presenting my insights in a visually persuasive format, I
have nothing.  There is a lot of
discussion around data and data source integrity, around choosing the right
databases, cutting through clutter and using video or layered graphics to tell
the story. For a while now, I have been bothered by the disconnect by what
firms think they need to do, what clients say they want and what those of us
tasked with making it happen on the business side of law can actually
accomplish.   We need to bridge the gap.  For me that means we need more, better,
clearer context. 
When we teach information literacy in firms to help
our clients navigate our information warehouses from the library, KM, business
development, etc. we share what’s available, what sources have been vetted and
what process are used to share and archive. 
Rarely do we indicate how the information is used or connected to other
sources of intelligence within the firm. 
When we talk CRM strategy for example, we talk about the need to share
contacts for marketing lists not for relationship intelligence and building a
unified approach to client service.  We
talk about what tool to select, how to use the tools, refine workflows, clean
and maintain the date but rarely touch on the why. And when we implicitly know
the why, we make the assumption that everyone understands the task at hand as
fully as we do. The why part of the equation is strategic; part of a bigger
whole that not everyone will have access to or understand, but that’s the
“location” or the context we should strive to own within our

When I look at the list of “must
have topics
” at the upcoming AALL meeting for example the topics are
very important, practical, and necessary but majority of the topics tactical
and process driven.  Same could be said
when I look at the upcoming LMA conference offerings.
This makes sense, it is easier to teach someone how to do something than to
have a philosophical and often culturally sensitive conversation around the
why. Teaching context is not something we can do easily, it’s like showing your
work when you do a math problem. Sometimes you can draft a number sentence but
most of the time it just makes overt sense that 2+2 = 4, don’t make me explain
it, just take the answer as it is, and consider the task complete.  I haven’t completely worked it out yet, but solving
for and teaching context is a mash-up of design thinking,
Gail Fairhurst’s concepts of framing
against a backdrop of law firm cultural hegemony and the limited agency of
allied professionals to turn context into action (though you could draw
parallels to other industries as well). As I spend what’s left of my morning
wading through my daily tasks, I will strive to find the context in each task
as it relates to whole, and I encourage you to do the same.