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.
[Ed. Note: Please welcome guest blogger, Casandra M. Laskowski from FirebrandLib blog. Cas is a Reference Librarian and Lecturing Fellow at Duke University School of Law, and a total geek – so she fits in well here! I was happy that she reached out to talk about how UX design facilitates discrimination and inhibits legal tech from achieving ethical goals. – GL]
In 2015, Google faced a scandal with its image-tagging feature on its photo app. Despite promising to “work on long-term fixes,” Wired revealed earlier this year that the “fix” was to remove gorillas from its image recognition system, and the system remains blind to this day. This chain of events seems almost cliché at this point: software is released with a predictably offensive or impactful implementation, the company expresses shock and shame, and a hasty patch is made that fails to address the cause of the issue.
After some nine years on the Blogger platform, this week, 3 Geeks and a Law Blog has switched over to the LexBlog platform. We hope that you like the new look and feel of the blog.
There was a lot of work behind the scenes by the LexBlog staff and the members of 3 Geeks. Although I’m sure there may be a few tweaks that we’ll need to make as we discover what did and what didn’t migrate over, I think most of you should still be receiving email updates of new posts, and the RSS feed has been moved over to the new site, so there shouldn’t be any modifications on the readers’ side. Some of the new features makes it a little easier to subscribe by email (on the right-hand side), and you can easily share posts to social media through links at the bottom of the individual posts.
One of the top Competitive Intelligence (CI) professionals I know, and who is a contributor here on 3 Geeks, is teaching a two-day CI workshop in Chicago in May. I highly recommend that anyone serious about CI in the legal environment register for this event.
Zena Applebaum knows the ins and outs of Competitive Intelligence, and has been leading this field even before most of us had even heard of the CI concepts. This is the follow-up workshop from last year’s CI Foundations course, and will help guide CI professionals, and those wanting to learn more about law firm CI, on developing the skills, process, and purpose needed for effective Competitive Intelligence strategies.
More information on the CI Strategies & Analysis are listed below.
I don’t think I am telling anyone something new when I say that the relationship between legal information providers (vendors) and legal information professionals (law librarians) are at all-time lows. A once vibrant and symbiotic relationship has become one of simple buyer and seller. This has been somewhat of a slow burn evolution as vendor consolidation began in the late 1990s with the West Publishing transition into Thomson West (then eventually into Thomson Reuters), the acquisition of LexisNexis by Reed Elsevier, CCH and Aspen into Wolters Kluwer, and BNA absorbed into Bloomberg. On the librarian side, there is the seemingly reduced influence of law students on vendor products, much lower budgets from government law libraries, the “single provider” movement from law firms, and the idea that law firms are somehow still suffering from the great recession, despite most big firms posting sky-high record profits and breaking the $3 billion revenue barrier.
[Ed. Note: Please welcome guest blogger Michael Robak, Director of the Schoenecker Law Library, Associate Dean and Clinical Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas (Minneapolis) School of Law. Michael did want me to mention this quote about his enthusiasm in writing this post -“The biggest challenge after success is shutting up about it. (Criss Jami)” – GL ]
It is hard for me to be objective about the first official TECHSHOW Academic Track but, I think, it is fair to say that what transpired was an overwhelming success. And the best part – the Academic Track will be part of TECHSHOW2019–so we need to start planning!
Before I get into more detail about the Track, let me say, TECHSHOW2018 was in and of itself a smashing success.
This year saw a new venue with more space and with more attendees. Except for a small glitch with registration on Wednesday (which led to an open bar, so seriously, not a downside at all!), everything worked incredibly well. Co-Chairs Debbie Foster and Tom Mighell, and the TECHSHOW Board and ABA staff, are to be commended for their dedication and diligence in putting together such a terrific TECHSHOW.
But let me get back to the reason for the post, to let the world know the Academic Track was a complete and wonderful success at TECHSHOW2018. My gauge for declaring success has several measures.
|Q&A after screening of Blindspotting|
I am back in my Houston office this week after spending the past week in Austin attending the South By South West (SXSW) event. I have to admit that I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a conference more than I enjoyed SXSW. I’ve always resisted going because I always thought that it was just about the music, and I couldn’t imagine paying $900-$1300* for a music conference… especially since you could catch some of the bands playing non-SXSW clubs for free during the week. After attending, I have to admit that I was way too narrow on what SXSW is, and I think I’m going to go again next year because it is a total experience of education and experience.
|Photo by Kolleen Gladden on Unsplash|
[Ed. Note: Today’s post comes from guest blogger, Steve Nelson from The McCormick Group. – TB]
Financial results for law firms have been trickling in and, in a couple of weeks, The American Lawyer will publish its rankings of the 100 largest law firms in the U.S.As usual, firm management, partners and other legal professionals have a tendency to focus on one statistic—profits per partner—as the primary indicator of success or failure of a law firm. But as has been noted throughout the years, that number is the most susceptible to manipulation, mostly due to who is determined to be an equity partner. Less discussed are revenue per lawyer and profit margin, both of which are all available from the AmLaw data. Most observers will assert that those metrics are more reliable indicators of a particular firm’s health than profits per partner.There’s also a tendency for legal professionals to overlook several other factors that are raised in the financial reports. Here are a couple of other data points that should be assessed: Continue Reading It’s AmLaw Survey Time: Remember to Look Beyond the Numbers
Nothing You Can Say Can Cause Me To Retain You remains among the most important blog posts for understanding the corporate legal market. Mark Hermann, self-styled curmudgeon and then Chief Counsel – Litigation and Global Chief Compliance Officer at Aon, expertly expounds on why he is loath to add new law firms: he already has really good lawyers.
Hermann calculates a 95% probability that new lawyers would be worse than his curated incumbents. I’ll pile on. Even if we are comfortable that new lawyers would be as good as, and possibly better than, our existing lawyers, there is still a strong argument for sticking with known quantities. It is not merely that we know our incumbents. They know us. The ramp-up costs for onboarding new counsel are more than administrative (framework agreements, fee negotiations, data security audits, e-billing setup), they are substantive. Current counsel know our people, personalities, peccadilloes, preferences, procedures, and policies. New, even when it is better, comes at a cost.
[Ed. Note: Today’s post comes from guest blogger, Steve Nelson from The McCormick Group. Steve suggest the next generation of COOs will need different skills and perspectives to be successful. He is right. – TB]
A recent article in Bloomberg Big Law Business detailed the increasing sophistication of Chief Operating Officers at law firms, pointing out that many of the new COOs have managed corporate organizations, other major professional services firms, and large government agencies.
But the article misses an important factor in what law firm leaders need in today’s environment. Much has been written lately about the challenges that the AmLaw law firms are facing because of the increased scrutiny by clients and their own “chief operating officers”, as evidenced by the growth of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC). What has changed, particularly since the recession, has been a complete reevaluation of the “law firm engagement”. Clients have taken a much more comprehensive view of their outside counsel retention, not just in terms of billing rates and alternative fees, but in the way that their work is handled. This ranges from billing practices, composition of teams, and the reporting of even minor “event changes” that impacts the engagement as a whole.