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.

Continue Reading Nothing You Can Say On Diversity

[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.

Continue Reading The Law Firm COO of the Future

A Watched Pot

I invented a new tech product for the corporate legal market. I have no qualms labeling it “the ultimate disruptive game changer.” I hope you are sitting down for this.The Magic Money Machine™ is a proprietary IoT cryptocurrency platform that leverages blockchain technology and deep-learning algorithms to reduce friction in the legal supply chain. Inside and outside counsel need only to both plug in the MMM (sadly, my branding team tells me that M&M, 3M, and M3 all seem to be taken). That’s it. No learning curve. No changed behavior. No implementation dip. No risk. Also I am giving it away free. I charge only for shipping and handling (order now and get a second one at no additional charge).

If both sides have the MMM plugged in, the corporate client’s costs will be reduced by 25%, and the law firm’s profits will increase by 25%. A win-win from mutually beneficial collaboration, a truly beautiful thing.

So here’s the question: how long will it take MMM to reach market saturation?

Continue Reading My legal tech invention: the Magic Money Machine

Well, I had a fun shopping experience that I thought I would share–Amazon’s Treasure Truck. It is kind of internet-y and social media-y thing I can chat about.

It is yet another POS that Amazon is owning.

Basically, you sign up for text messages through Amazon to be notified when their treasure truck is in your area with a hot sale item. You then reserve the item, select pre-set pick up location, then pick it up at the appointed time. The oddest thing: no money changes hands.

Amazon Treasure Truck: yet another POS that turns shopping into a scavenger hunt

(Photo courtesy of Amazon)

Continue Reading Amazon Treasure Truck: yet another POS that turns shopping into a scavenger hunt

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting New York City during LegalWeek and enjoying the frigid 19 degree weather that comes with visiting New York at the end of January. LegalWeek itself is typically made of of legal technology folks and lots of e-discovery vendors, most of whom are outside my normal circle of friends and colleagues. Luckily for me, there is a group of Knowledge Management leaders attends a little informal gathering and we talk and bounce ideas off of one another. During the introductions phase, I saw a trend in titles among my librarian peers. Out of the total of about 75-80 people in attendance, 15-20 people there that I knew were managers, directors, and chiefs over their law libraries. So, about 25% of the attendees were law librarians. However, only one actually had the term “library” or “librarian” in their title. I didn’t find it all that surprising, but it was something that stuck in my mind and made me contemplate once more what others think of when they hear that someone is a librarian.

Let me start this conversation by modifying something I wrote when I said that “the library is not about the space.” Librarians are not restricted to a librarian title. Creative librarians bring value well beyond what is stereo-typically thought of in regards to what a librarian does. As in many industries, as librarians move up the ladder, we expand our responsibilities and skills in a way that breaks down the walls of what people think librarians do. As a result, we take on new roles and titles that may or may not have the word librarian in it. It doesn’t mean that the librarian profession is somehow devalued, in fact, I would say that it is the opposite. Librarians are breaking barriers and advancing into positions which a decade or two ago would have been unobtainable. Continue Reading A Librarian By Any Other Name…

First, an unqualified endorsement:

Ken Adams’s A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, Fourth Edition is essential for every professional involved in the contracting process from negotiation and drafting to interpretation and litigation. MSCD has no peer in explaining what contracts do and how they should be constructed. The breadth, depth, and clarity are astounding. As is the usability. This is a well-organized reference containing pinpoint guidance on clause types, word usage, and formatting.

If we truly believe that we should do the best we can until we know better, then do better, we have a professional obligation to grapple with, and then make use of, the expert guidance MSCD provides. When light is offered, complacency is no excuse to continue in the dark. MSCD shines a bright light on how to best solve for complexities of contracting in pursuit of business objectives.

Anyone interested in contracts should also read Ken’s blog.

Had to get that out of the way because it is deserved and standard book reviews are not my MO.

“An unqualified endorsement” in both the sense that it is without reservation and that the person making it (me) lacks the appropriate qualifications. Reading Ken triggers my almost debilitating impostor syndrome. I’ve battled the affliction since I commenced my legal career with the observation: Clients are paying how much per hour for me? To do this? Really? Something is very wrong here.

Continue Reading How much of lawyering is being a copy-and-paste monkey?

By Lisa Salazar (@Lihsa)

A UK study, Elastic Generation: The Female Edit, offers some refreshing insight into a woman’s perspective on advertising.

Conducted by J Walter Thompson Intelligence, 248 UK women aged 53-72 were surveyed. For comparison,  276 UK men were surveyed, as well.

When women push back on patronizing and stereotypes in marketing and advertising

Marketing to women

Identifying this group of females as the “elastic generation”, the report comes to this pivotal conclusion:

The two words women choose to describe advertising aimed at them? ‘Patronising’ and ‘stereotyped’. As a result, 72% say they pay no heed to advertising. Nine out of ten say they would just like to be treated as a person, not a stereotype. Elastic Generation, p. 3.

I would surmise that this general feeling floats all the way across the pond.

Continue Reading When women push back on stereotypes in marketing and advertising

Yes. You read the title correctly. Sometimes, it takes not getting your Whopper in a timely fashion to understand a complex topic like Net Neutrality.

The repeal of Net Neutrality was something that many of us fought to prevent, and denounced when the FCC went against public comment and repealed in December. Yet there are some (including my own junior Texas Senator, Ted Cruz) who still don’t understand what that repeal allows internet providers to do with the information and content on the Internet.

The Internet is so important to us that it is the only time I can think of when attorneys will actually get up from their desks, leave their offices, and walk around the halls aimlessly. Not even a fire alarm has that power! Even worse than it’s affect on attorneys, you should see the panic in the eyes of my children if the Internet even slows down at my house. Pure terror!

Thanks to someone at the Burger King Corporation for putting together this short video showing how the same rules apply to how fast you get your whopper. My favorite part is when the manager gives the customer the bag, and tells him that he has to wait 42 seconds before he can place the Whopper into the bag. Oh, the look on the customer’s face.

Enjoy… hopefully your ISP hasn’t slowed down your access to YouTube so the video doesn’t buffer.

Earlier this month, we were debating how to approach a client problem. There were two differing points of view, both had merit and either could be right. Either would get us to the finish line, solve the problem, score the run – insert your analogy of choice. But each position also had its drawbacks. Someone wisely said to me “its not a zero sum game”

I realize it is not dissimilar to the recent white paper published by TR Canada put out to the market about Building vs Buying a KM Solution. Which, was one of the first thought leadership pieces for TR Legal Canada that I have been involved in since I started working here, having left the law firm. As it happens, I also had a conversation today with a new employee – a customer solutions success consultant who has come to TR after working in consulting, start up and technology environments. He mentioned to me that he notices the legal industry is changing, and it is all very exciting.

As I reflect on all three of these interactions I realize that all too often we look for dichotomy to measure success. What’s happening in the market is exciting, and there is lots of change but we also know there is a great deal of resistance as well. Just last week, we learned that The Old Boys Network Is As Strong As Ever — Study Finds Male Clients Prefer Male Attorneys, so any strides we may have made in the arena of diversity are tempered and every step forward can feel like two steps backwards. It is not a zero sum game.

We know law firms are inefficient, and while some firms have adopted and use AFAs, the hourly rate still prevails though of course every buyer of legal services would like to see a lesser hourly rate. We know firms are closing their libraries as a result of expensive lease rates in downtown buildings and a perception that everything is online now. But firms do need legal research resources and people need a quiet and collaborative space to read and connect. Shutting libraries negates that opportunity. As people, we are wired as Billy Joel suggests to go to extremes. We see progress only in the face of disruption or complete change. We don’t like to be in the middle where some things are working but others are not – we want it all, and we want it all to be efficient, properly priced and still market savvy and smart.

As I write this, and notwithstanding my wish for 2018, I can’t help but wonder if this changing legal market thing does not need to be a zero sum game. We are waiting for the moment we can say the legal market how now changed. But like the Big Bang, I am not sure that moment will ever come in a way any of us will see or recognize. Neither Lexpert nor American Lawyer is going to print a headline that reads: The Evolution is Complete – Law firms run like businesses as of X Date, X Year.

We won’t see an effective end to the partnership model, or the complete death of hourly billing, any more than we will see robot AI enabled lawyers doing all the commodity work while business and legally trained lawyers are doing the bespoke transactional and bet-the-company litigation work on an annualized flat fee basis. No, I think the change that is upon this industry is more grey – it’s happening in fits and starts, it’s suited to some practices and not others, it jives with the way some lawyers work but not others. And ultimately, I think that’s ok because it’s not an industry but a profession that needs to change. The legal profession is a profession that is deeply rooted in public service but has become something much different over the course of the last century or so. I think it may also take that long for us to really see its next iteration.

I am not suggesting that we should stop trying to make it better – I certainly won’t – but I also think we need to be patient. We need to see what is working, celebrate those achievements and use those small scale wins as fuel for the next fire. Maybe the answer is take out the “but”, replacing it with an “and” so that we don’t look at things in a zero sum way. We need to think about the hourly rate and some alternatives, partnership models and other kinds of firms – the same can be true of diversity, legal research tools, efficiency plays and any of the ways in which the legal industry must change. This makes it very difficult to provide service to an industry that is changing – to help firms weather the change while also maintaining the practices that are not changing. You have to be innovative, while also being traditional and the one size fits all model really doesn’t work. In this non zero sum game, we all have to be more creative with the way we approach our markets and our clients, regardless of which side of the legal services delivery fence we make our gardens.

Change is hard, change is slow but it is happening and that is no zero by any calculation. 

By Lisa Salazar (@Lihsa)

I’ve wanted to compare generated photo books for a while now. I can now cross this off of my bucket list.

What I mean by “generated” is that the platform will perform an initial import, or selection from your batch of photos on your phone.

Today, I compare Google Photos Book and ReSnap, comparing platforms, pricing, editing and layouts.

Who did it better: Google Photo Books or ReSnap?

Google Photos Book

If you have a Google account, you have a Google Photos account. To take full advantage of Google Photos, my phone automatically backs up my photos so they are automatically saved to my little slice of the Google cloud.

Google Photos Book
Google Photos Book

Make sure that you adjust your camera settings so photos are taken at their highest resolution.  If you are planning on printing photos from your phone, this is critical.

Once home, I went to my Google Photo account and began assembling my book. A minimum of 20 photos must be selected, and a maximum of 100.

Google Photo Book – Pros

  • Generation: easy to pick multiple photos
  • Editing interface: Fast, simple GUI
  • Pricing: affordable

Google Photo Book – Cons

  • Photo source: photos are lifted straight from your camera roll. So if you like to enhance photos with any filters or editing, these won’t be available unless you do quite a bit of finagling.
  • Editing: Limited editing capabilities. Text captions are only available on the cover. Filtering is not available.
  • Page layout: Layouts are limited to one photo per page, then 3 size options on the page. 
  • Sizing: softcovers are 7″ square; hardcovers 9″ square.
  • Covers: Front cover can be customized. The back cover can not and bears the Google Photos logo.

Google Photo Book – Pricing

A softcover book with 20 images is $9.99, with additional pages at $.35 each. A hardcover book with 20 images is $19.99, with additional pages at $.65 each. The softcover book is 7 inches, square; the hardcover book is 9 inches square.

ReSnap

ReSnap Photo Book
ReSnap Photo Book

ReSnap can pull your photos from your Facebook or Instagram account. You can also directly upload photos from your computer or phone.

A minimum of 24 photos and maximum of 600 photos (!) can be selected.

ReSnap – Pros

  • Generation: the generation is superb, allowing for a smart selection by the GUI or a manual selection by you. The smart selection will auto-generate a complete layout, automatically determining which photos get a full page and which photos are laid out together. The auto-generation is fully editable to swap, add or delete photos.
  • Photo source: uploads filtered Instagram or Facebook photos (but not both, together) and not just from your camera roll.
  • Editing: Limited editing capabilities. It is better than Google Photos in that text captions can be added to the photos. However, the font selection is limited. Photos can also be moved about but cannot be transformed. There are no filtering capabilities.
  • Layout: Multiple options for layout on the page, holding 1 – 5 photos per page. Layouts can be adjusted to multiple variations and sizes customized.
  • Sizing options: there are three sizing options at portrait (A4, A5), landscape (A4, A5) and square (21, 14). 
  • Covers: Can customize the front and back cover. The ReSnap logo can be removed for an additional $9.95 charge.
  • Share-able: all of your books can also be shared virtually.

ReSnap – Cons

  • Filtering: No filtering capabilities. What you upload is what is displayed in the book.
  • Pricing: this is a higher-end book and it shows in the pricing.

ReSnap Pricing

Pricing is based upon the size of the book, a small (6″ x 6″) 24-photo book starts at $26.95–a large (8″ x 8″) 24-photo book bumps up to $39. The book pricing then bumps up in increments of 20 pages. So, a 40-page book starts at $34.95, a 60-page book starts at $42.95, an 80-page book at $52.95 and 100-page book at $63.95. 
As you can imagine, these books can get expensive and pricing will ramp up as photos and pages are added. You can also opt for high glossy paper for an additional $16.95.

Which is it: Google Photos or ReSnap?

Google Photos Book - interior
Google Photo Book – interior

If you want to put together a quick collection of photos for documentation journaling purposes, Google Photos is the way to  go. Overall, the Google Photo Book is easy to use but rather simplistic with very little editing abilities. 

Last November, I went to Italy, passing through France on the way.  I took hundreds of photos on my phone, then went home and created a Google Photo Book for about $40. Because I couldn’t add text captions, I’m going to take a pen to it to add notes; otherwise, I’ll forget where I was when I took the photo.
If you enjoy fiddling with Instagram filters or creating stories about your photo collections, then ReSnap is the way to go. ReSnap’s interface is very easy to use and I love the smart generating. Editing was fun but I would have liked a little more flexibility with the font sizing and selection.
With ReSnap, I imported my 2017 Facebook photos. I enjoyed fiddling with photos and playing with the layout. All in all, I had just over 80 photos. With the promo code, my hardback book cost $90. 
In the end, I recommend ReSnap as it has the most flexibility in capabilities and pricing.

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