Not all Data Scientists wear lab coats to work. Intapp’s Jennifer Roberts wears a cape!

On the latest episode of The Geek in Review, Marlene and Greg dive into the wonderfully geeky world of data science and its application within law firms and the legal industry. Jennifer Roberts, Manager, Strategic Research at Intapp, discusses exactly what it means to be a data scientist, and why law firms are leveraging them to help run their legal operations. When it comes to “the business of law,” Roberts says this is where the results of data science steps in and shows its value. Data science can help answer questions like, “how can we predict the price of legal services?” “How can we predict the scope of a matter?” “How can we help with legal project management?” And even “how can we predict what a client’s needs are?” Or, “what will these clients buy from us in the future?” Data science and analytics help uncover the facts that not all lawyers and not all legal matters are totally unique. Roberts also helps us answer those naysayers who claim that they do not have enough data, or that they have Filthy Data™. Jennifer brings us some fantastic insights on how law firms are leveraging internal and external data sets to help with the practice of law, and the business of law.

Listen on mobile platforms:  Apple Podcasts LogoApple PodcastsOvercast LogoOvercastSpotify LogoSpotify
We finish our LegalWeek question of “how are you changing the legal industry” with our final four responses. This week we hear from:

Michael BoggiaLoopup
Damian JealHubshare
Kevin O’KeefeLexBlog
Martin GouletWolters Kluwer

Information Inspirations

For anyone following the happenings (and large fines resulting from) the EU’s GDPR, Marlene thinks perhaps this is something that may make its way across the pond. In a recent Corporate Counsel magazine article entitled, “Cisco’s Chief Legal Officer Expresses Support for American Version of GDPR” (subscription needed), Mark Chandler of Cisco supports the need for more regulation on privacy. We are already seeing versions pop up at the state level … we’re looking at you, California. But, it might take federal regulations to help clarify how we protect privacy online.

Continue Reading Episode 28: Jennifer Roberts – Data Science Superhero

This post originally appeared on the LexisNexis UK Future of Law Blog under the title Stealing the market: The degree that now has infinite value.

Image [cc] – doozle

On 17 October I saw Daniel B. Rodriguez, Dean of the Northwestern University School of Law, speak at the ARK Knowledge Management in the Legal Profession conference.  His presentation explained how some of the challenges that we are experiencing in law firms have trickled down to the law schools, and he gave some examples of how they are adjusting their approach and curricula to better prepare their students for the “new normal”.  One of the solutions he described was partnering with other schools to provide joint degrees. Since the economic downturn, Northwestern has reduced the number of traditional JD-only students, but has increased the size of their JD/MBA dual degree program. He also expressed an interest in partnering with a medical school to develop a JD/MD curriculum, and he made a passing mention of possibly doing something with “the humanities”.

I wholeheartedly applaud the joint degree approach. In my opinion, there is a severe lack of basic business understanding among lawyers. The fact that the phrase “not all revenue is profitable” often requires a lengthy explanation is a good indication that attorneys need more business training.  The JD/MD seems a little less immediately applicable, except of course to medical and health care law, but anything that gets attorneys to see how other people think is probably a good thing.  Which brings me to “the humanities”.  As a former music major, I can say the JD/MFA in vocal performance, or piano pedagogy, will probably have limited application; however, there is joint degree program that I believe could provide infinite value to attorneys, firms, and clients: a JD/MA in Design.

In BigLaw, the phrase “Who else is doing this?” is so common a response to any new idea, that it has officially become cliché.  We have a tendency to focus heavily on what our competitors are doing. Unfortunately, we only perceive other BigLaw firms as our direct competitors.  We benchmark our businesses against similarly sized firms that think, act, and are run, very much like we are.  Meanwhile, there are a number of firms, and non-firms, providing legal services that are so far beneath our radar that they might as well be underground and they are beginning to get traction with our client base.  Unless we are careful, they will eat away at that base from the bottom, until we are fighting over the last scraps of global legal work that these smaller firms can’t handle.  But of course, by that point, they’ll be able to handle the big global work too.
There are numerous precedents for this kind of race to the top of the ladder, while an unexpected or unrecognized competitor dismantles the ladder from the bottom up.  Most famously in the US airline industry, where traditional airlines bench-marked exclusively against each other while low cost airlines like Southwest and JetBlue stole their market from the bottom.  

Incidentally, the epithet “low cost airline” is a bit of a misnomer.  While these companies do indeed offer lower priced tickets than traditional airlines, they have stolen much of the market by out-designing their predecessors. They designed new customer experiences, and new business models, while the old guard was focused on what all of other big airlines were doing.  Frankly, these “low cost” airlines have a better product that many consumers prefer, and they happen to deliver it at a much better price. And today, there are only two US airlines bigger than Southwest. They are the last two standing after a series of bankruptcies and mergers.

I think BigLaw faces a similar fate – not tomorrow, or next week, or next year, but that future is out there waiting for us – unless we begin to design new legal products, new customer experiences, and new business models that make those products and experiences profitable. We need to fight for the bottom and the middle of the market, if we hope to continue to provide our premium services at the top. I would probably start by hiring people with joint JD and design degrees, or even, maybe just the design degrees.

I have spent the last two days at the ARK Knowledge Management in the Legal Profession conference in Midtown Manhattan.  It was a very good conference, as usual.  I very much enjoyed listening to and meeting with many brilliant and fascinating people to talk about KM in legal.  However, after this conference I have come to one inescapable conclusion.  Knowledge Management does not exist in the Legal Profession.

Now, before everyone I met tears up my business card, un-invites me from their LinkedIn network, and crosses me off their holiday party lists, let me clarify.  KM clearly exists, but I am no longer sure that it is A thing. The sessions were all over the map, touching on nearly every aspect of the practice of law.  We had a couple of master classes on the “new normal” business environment, we had an introduction to Lean, a CIO roundtable, discussions about change management and practice innovation, and a talk about what’s happening in law schools and how what we do affects them and vice versa.  There were a couple of people yammering on about Social Networking, some freak was showing slides of dissected brains, and this one guy was completely obsessed with pricing.  (It was like, ALL he could talk about. Leverage this. Utilization that. I was like, “Dude, enough already, go get your own conference!”)

I am pretty sure the words “forms and precedents” were only uttered once, in passing, on the first day, but I’m a little deaf and they may have actually said “worms for presidents”. (Although, that makes even less sense now that I’ve actually written it down, than it did in my head.) My point is, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find anything in the legal profession that you can point to and say with any certainty, “THAT is NOT, in any way, shape, or form, KM related.”

I was reminded of the old story/myth/parable of a philosophy professor standing in front of his class with a large glass jar.  He fills the jar with golf balls and asks the class if the jar is full.  When they all agree it is, he pulls out a bag of pebbles or marbles and dumps them in the jar too.  He asks again, the students again agree it is now full, and he pulls out a bag of sand and repeats the process. After the students declare the jar finally, absolutely, 100% full, he opens a couple of beers and pours them in the jar. His point is something about filling up your life in the right order.  Maybe you should focus on golf balls, before beer?  (Questionable philosophy at best.)   But if we imagine the jar is a law firm and the golf balls are all of the people in the firm and the things that they do, then KM is the marbles, the sand, and the beer.  KM is expanding, branching out, and filling up all of the empty spaces in firms.  I think my new definition for Legal KM might be, “All of the things for which responsibility is not otherwise immediately clear, plus all the things that marketing doesn’t want to do.”

Which brings me to an open question for my fellow KMers: If you were building a taxonomy for your firm, would you put Marbles, Sand, and Beer beneath Knowledge Management, or would they each be their own top level categories?

I had the honor and pleasure of sitting between Mary Abraham and John Gillies at the ARK KM Conference in New York City over the last two days.  Mary and John are two of the most prolific and talented live tweeters on the planet. They attend conferences and tweet nearly every word coming from the speaker micro-seconds after they have been spoken.  In the last few years, I have gotten an education in KM through twitter by following the tweets of Mary and John and countless others.  I have been able to attend many conferences across the planet that I could never have afforded to attend in person, by simply following the Twitter hashtag associated with the conference.  It was a real treat to see Mary and John in action.  Although, having participated remotely so often, I discovered I have developed a kind of Twitter myopia. I sat in the room and listened to some really terrific presentations, but I didn’t believe a word they said until I read it in a tweet.

On the first day of the conference, I was seated at a table with Mary on my left, John on my right, and David Hobbie (a prolific tweeter in his own right) on the other side of John.  I tweeted the following and David and Mary responded.


Let this be a lesson to lazy kids everywhere:  If you’re going to mooch off the hard work of others, never ever brag about it!

A few notes about this Tweet Stream:

I have edited the stream quite a bit.  I flipped it, it is now in chronological order from top to bottom. I removed a lot of redundancies.  I removed all straight retweets that added nothing to the original or simply said “Agreed” or “Interesting”. Where I kept a retweet, I removed the original quoted text and indented the retweet beneath the tweet it was referring to.  I removed the conference hashtag, except where it was used in reference to the conference itself, or if the hashtag was being commented upon.  I kept the back and forth peripheral conversations only when, in my opinion, it added something to the content being presented.  Needless to say, I cut a lot and I was probably inconsistent throughout, so don’t hold me to anything I just said.  I think what remains is a pretty good set of notes from a terrific group of note takers and some really wonderful presentations. 

I have copied the Title, Description, and Presenters from the Agenda and entered them into the Tweet Stream in the appropriate places.

Our own Toby Brown gave the Keynote on Wednesday, but this stream picks up after his keynote with the first Client Panel.  Toby’s ongoing series of blog posts “The Economics of Law and the Future of Legal KM” is a distillation of the Keynote he gave on day one. 

The conference began with a mutiny of sorts.  After Toby’s keynote the official hashtag of the conference was announced as #ARKKM2012.  We pick up our stream, already in progress…

UPDATE: David reminds me in the comments that he and Mary were live blogging summaries of many of the ARK KM presentations on their respective blogs: