When Gerry Oginski wrote a post entitled “You’re Not a Law Firm; You’re a Marketing Firm That Happens to Sell Legal Services,” he hit a nerve with a number of people. Judging by the comments that were left on Oginski’s post, I’d say that you either believe that, or you think it is the dumbest statement ever made. We gave everyone a chance to chime in and say what they think the true nature of what a law firm does besides sell legal services.
Thanks to the responders this week (with Thanksgiving in the mix, we waited until Monday to post the answers… plus, I was on vacation and didn’t want to disturb the great time I was having in Colorado!)

This also brings the Elephant Post series to an end. With around 70 total posts, we’ve heard from a lot of you on many different issues. We may bring back the Elephant from time to time when we have an important question that we would like to ask and get many perspectives on. The best thing about the Elephant Posts hasn’t been the questions we’ve asked, but rather the answers we got back from all of you. Thanks for all of you that have shared your perspectives over the past 18 months.

UPS Attorney*
You’re Not A Law Firm; You’re A Counseling Operation That Sells Legal Services

Let me kick this off with an example of what UPS did when confronted with how to look at what they do in a different way, and as a result, make themselves better. If you have watched a UPS commercial in the past 5 or so years, you’ll notice that they call themselves a “Logistics” company rather than a delivery company. By focusing on the logistics of what it takes to move something from point A to point B in a way that enables companies to become “just in time” operations, then UPS becomes an integral part of that process.   Perhaps one of the things that a law firm could look at is its “Counseling” function and focus on remember that by being more pro-active in the upfront counseling clients on how to stay out of potential litigation traps, then we become a more valuable part of our client’s operations. Therefore, I think that we are not law firms, but rather we are “counselors” that sell legal services to those that we have established relationships with.
*I’m not really an attorney with UPS

Steven B. Levy
Author of Legal Project Management
You’re Not A Law Firm; You’re A Business Support Organization That Sells Legal Services

Clients by and large have business problems disguised as legal problems. They’re looking for ways to sell more of their products and improve their profit and revenue streams. How can you help? Talk to them in their language and see the problems through their eyes.

Image [cc] University of Denver

We wrote last week about a suggestion made at the AALL Futures Summit on improving ways for newbies (and introverts) to better socialize while at conferences. Some thought that the current methods were adequate and that the introverts and new members should suck it up and adjust to the way we do it. Others thought that a change was in order and whether it was Speed Networking, or some type of small group social activity, the old way of networking through the reception environment just doesn’t cut it in this day and age. I do have to say that I’ve been known to open up the conversation with a variation of the Animal House line of “Hi, I’m Greg Lambert, House President, damn glad to meet you.” (see Anonymous below) However, not everyone is as cool at social gatherings as I am… that is cool, right?? So, we asked for your perspective and experience on how you overcome the obstacles of meeting new people at conferences. My favorite is probably the Karaoke Night social… but, not everyone has the ability to hit those Maria Carey high notes like I can, so there may be other suggestions below that work for you.

As we are winding down the Elephant Post Series, we are going to start looking back on some of our old posts (good and bad) and bringing back some of the issues we think were not answered fully, or that we’d like to just bring back because they were so good. However, next week’s question is based on a recent blog post that suggested that law firms aren’t primarily sellers of legal services, but rather they are marketing machines that just happen to sell legal services. We want to know if you think you could sell that idea (or insert your department in that statement) to the partnership at a law firm. Is it a brilliant idea, or one that sounds invented by a marketing team? We look forward to seeing what you have to say.

Thanks to everyone that contributed. I enjoyed reading them… I think you will too.

Vicki
Library Director

While I love my core group of peers, I try to identify people in the crowd from my less core group of peers (for lack of a better phrase).  They are usually talking with people that I don’t know yet so I just sort of walk over and say hi.  More often than not, a round of introductions usually takes place.  Another thing I do is seek out someone who isn’t talking with anyone.  I do this because I am long with experience and feel it is part of my mentoring duties and I love learning from our newly minted colleagues who have wonderful ideas.

Sarah Glassmeyer
Director of Content Development, CALI

Honestly, if I had my way, I would just hide in my hotel room the entire time at conferences and never talk to anyone ever, only emerging to attend programs.   BUT, if I *must* be social…  For me, I’ve found that Internet/Social media has made it a lot easier to get to know people before a conference.  Pre-gaming, if you will.  Even if it’s not someone I’ve interacted with, maybe I’m FB friends with them or see them on twitter or even see them post on law-lib and I have some idea of what they’re about and that makes it easier to talk to them.  And, conversely, my own strong web presence has made me familiar enough to some people that they just come up and start talking to me, which is sort of nice because I’m also pretty lazy and meeting new people does take some effort.   I’m pretty happy with my core-group of people, although everyone’s pretty busy and it’s hard to get to see each other.  However, despite my introversion, I’m always happy to meet new people.  Caucuses/SIS meetings have been the most effective way for me to find people that I share interests with.  It would never occur to me to start talking to someone sitting next to me in a program and I usually end up just staring at anyone who tries that tactic with me.   If you want to actively attract people, a few years ago Jason Eiseman and I made badge ribbons to hand out to people as an ice breaker, and that was surprisingly effective.  Although as the first year we did it they said “Cool Kids” and that was perhaps misinterpreted by some as being snobby.   So be careful you don’t have anything that makes you sound like a stuck-up jerk, because apparently some first impressions stick.

Anonymous
Librarian

If you are familiar with the movie “Animal House,” then you’ll understand my philosophy towards socializing at conferences.  I take the Eric “Otter” Stratton approach of, “Hi, Eric Stratton, Rush chairman, damn glad to meet you.”  Obviously is not what I say verbatim, rather it’s the channeling of that character that gives me the confidence to function in these social-professional situations.  I’m not like this in my “normal” non-conference life.  This practice has resulted in people I meet becoming friends and/or professional acquaintances.  What’s the point of going to a conference with so many colleagues, if you aren’t going to get to know any of them? (Toga! Toga! Toga!)

Ken Hirsh
Academic Law Library Director and Geek

Of course, to begin with I invite everyone to join me at Karaoke night during the AALL conference, one of several I regularly attend.  But beyond that, I am a firm believer in the lyrics of the traditional song, “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.”  I enjoy both hanging out with familiar friends and meeting new ones, especially younger members of our professions.  I find I always learn something useful from members of both groups, and it is a boost to self-esteem to have them listen intently to something I want to say.

Joyce Brafford
The New Person in my Department

The fist thing I do is figure out where the people I want to know will be (particular CLE, meeting, etc) then I find a reason why I need to be there, too. Once there, I try to find a person I know to make an introduction for me. From there, I start making introductions to people around us. I ask about background and professional interest. I then use that info when introducing others. I look like I am in the know, while expanding my network. Afterwords, I follow up on Twitter, LinkedIn, G+, or where ever they are located. If appropriate, I mention then in my social networking feed.

Toby Brown
AFA

I utilize a modified random sniper technique. Giving it this name makes it sound sophisticated. What it really means is I watch for interesting people at seminars and conferences . And once I find one, I make a point of connecting with them. I have good friends who use more of a shot-gun approach – talking with many people, building out a volume of relationships. Although this can be effective, I prefer getting to know people a bit better. Especially those that make me think.  It’s actually how I meet Geek #1. So it must work.

Next Elephant Post

You’re Not a Law Firm; You’re A _______ That Sells Legal Services. True or False?

When Gerry Oginski wrote a post entitled “You’re Not a Law Firm; You’re a Marketing Firm That Happens to Sell Legal Services,” he hit a nerve with a number of people. Now, you can go read that post (go ahead, we’ll wait for you to come back), but quite frankly, I’m sure that you’ve already decided that either this quote hits the nail on the head, or the hammer must have hit Oginski’s head right before he wrote it. So, let’s think about this for a minute and determine just how influential we think we are on the administrative side of the law firm. If we had to go tell the partners of our law firm, could you sell this idea that although we are a law firm that sells legal services, if we were just a bit better in _____ it would make us a better firm — sell it as in “if you were better with marketing/research/fee negotiation/IT/KM/etc…, you’d make more money at the end of the year.”

Let us know if the partnership actually thought of itself as a __________ that sells legal services, could that actually make for a better and more profitable firm? Let us know if you think that could be the case.

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Image [cc] National Zoo

I wanted to start out this post by announcing that we are putting the Elephant Posts to sleep at the end of the year, and that we will spend the last five posts (in December) as a remembrance to the mighty Elephant that entertained and informed us for the 15 months. Mostly because it has become too hard for me to think of interesting questions to ask such a broad audience, and the fact that it is just a lot of work to pull all of this together week after week. The Elephant has been a lot of fun, but hopefully, just like Seinfeld, we’ll leave with most of you wishing we’d have run just a few more episodes.

Now, on to this week’s question of the new items that you are bringing into your budget for 2012.

We actually only got a couple of answers, but I think that they were quality answers, and that it might spur the rest of you to see what we were actually going for when we asked the question. So… if these answers cause you to got “ohhhh… that’s what they meant…” then please feel free to add what you’re adding to your budget in 2012 in the comments.

When you’ve finished that, scroll on down to next week’s question (2nd from the last final EP Q) and let us know what you do when you’re at conferences to include people into your social circles, or how you interact with those that you don’t know well, and build new relationships.

anonymous
Librarian
Hoovers Reporting Feature

We do not have another resource that can quickly gather company data based on various selection criteria, including by geographic location (down to the granular “town” level), $$$$ profits, number of employees, etc…

Marian the Law Librarian
Librarian
Bloomberglaw and Fastcase

I’m looking forward to the docket power in the few Bloomberglaw seats I’ve requested.  I’m also asking for Fastcase for the whole firm so that all of my offices get the same access that bar members in the home office’s state receive, as well as providing access for staff.

Next Week’s Elephant Post:

How Do You “Socialize” At Conferences?

Conferences can be a lot like High School social events where the “popular” kids only hang out with other popular kids, and the “geeks” hang out with other geeks. How do you approach a group of people, or an individual at a conference and socialize with them? Do you continue to build relationships, or are you happy with your core group of peers that you hang with each year?

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Image [cc] James UK

One of the questions that you may hear at a conference is “What would you do if you could start your department from scratch?” Well, this week’s Elephant Post question simply asks that same question. If you could re-brand your department or profession, what would you call it? Would it help remove the stereotypes that are associated with your existing profession? Would you even change the name at all??

Last week, this question came up at the ARK Group KM conference in New York. Although this time it focused on the issue of “Should we even call it KM??” However, many professions ask this same question of themselves. In fact, Librarians even went as far as actually adopting (or attempting to adopt) new names for themselves such as “Information Professional” or calling the Library the “Information Research Center.”

We have a few responses, but I think the question may have been a little tricky for many folks to wrap their heads around. That’s okay… maybe once you see the answers below (especially the AWESOME one that turns the Library and KM departments into a “KILLER Group” you’ll think of a few things to place in the comments section.

Next week we ask what “New” things are you looking to bring in next year. It’s budget season for many of us, so let us know what you’ve fought to bring in for the 2012 fiscal year (even if it’s on your “wish list” at this point.)

Steven B. Levy
Author, Speaker, Trainer, Consultant
Matter Management

Legal Project Management still has a limited connotation. Too many folks still confuse it with project administration, or think it’s a high-process endeavor, or don’t realize that it includes virtually all of the non-substantive work a lawyer and legal team do, including people management, communication, profitability, and, yes, project management.  It is the management of the entire matter.   Trouble is, of course, that ‘matter management’ is already taken! Somehow, MTWE, ‘managing the whole enchilada,’ doesn’t have the right ring to it either.

Greg Lambert
Library/Records Guy
Knowledge, Information, Law Library, and Enterprise Resources Group

I would call it KILLER Group for short! (just because I love that acronym!)  I’m actually still a little disappointed that many of the KM projects that started in Library Services got spun off and into their own departments. I thought that it would have been a lot smarter to keep those two important information resources (internal knowledge and external information) together.   The two groups (separately) think too narrowly on the overall mission they provide to their firms. This is definitely something that I believe where the sum of the two individual parts is greater that their individual pieces. Information wants to be shared… knowledge wants to be built upon… new pieces of data wants to be found and placed in its most effective place.  Would this be a KILLER Group?? hmmm???

Toby Brown
AFA
Strategy and Innovation

Although AFAs and pricing are cutting edge concepts, what I do is really focused on strategies for growing the business and as a corollary, the systems and processes need to get there.  Absent a defined strategy for a firm, most efforts are shots in the dark at moving targets.   The real challenge would be getting a firm to see the light of this idea.

Scott Preston
Information Technology
Knowledge Infrastructure Systems Support

The label Information Technology (IT), like Knowledge Management and Library Services, says nothing about what IT really does. IT is traditionally an infrastructure support department. IT has the responsibility to understand business needs and to provide infrastructure support (systems that facilitate meeting business needs).

I believe Knowledge Infrastructure Systems Support (KISS) better describes what IT does and does a better job of communicating what is to be expected from this group. Best of all, the KISS acronym should remind technologists of their first rule of operation – Keep It Simple Stupid.

Next Elephant Post:

What are the “New” Things In Your Budget This Year?? 

For most of us, it is Budget Season!! That means we’ve all pulled out our pens, pencils, spreadsheets, and calculators to determine what we’re keeping and what we’re ditching. It is also that sweet time of year when we get to put new things in our budget (usually after cutting something of equal or greater value.) After three years of cut, cut, cut, there is talk that some people are actually looking to add in new things for 2012. So, we thought we’d be nosey and see what kinds of new items are on the agenda for 2012. Are there any new and cool products you’re looking at (even if it is on your “wish list” at this point)??

Image [cc]  JaseMan

The comment I hear a lot when the words “technology” and “legal industry” are mentioned in the same sentence (besides a quick chuckle) is that we tend to be five years behind the rest of the world. I obviously can’t see you, but go ahead and raise your hand if you are still running Windows XP at work… how about Office 2003… Internet Explorer 7 or 8… If you’ve had to confiscate a Partner’s computer because he illegally put a copy of WordPerfect 4.1 on his firm laptop… Okay, everyone put down your hands.

Just because the legal industry is slow to change when it comes to new technologies, doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few that sneak through. We asked for your perspective on what technologies you think are innovative and have made it into the law firm environment. Although we didn’t get a lot of responses, we did get some thoughtful ones. Perhaps there are some additional products out there that you don’t see listed below… if so, put it in the comments and I may even place it back into to main post in order to make it more visible for readers that find this post later.

Next week’s Elephant Post (see below) is a question that Toby and I came up with while attending the ARK conference on Knowledge Management. It deals with a scenario where you could re-brand your Industry/Profession, what would you call it, and how would it be positioned to be ready for the future. So, read through this week’s, comment on any additional tech you like, and then go ahead and fill out the convenient form for next week’s question.

Steven B. Levy
Author, speaker, trainer, consultant….
OneNote

I’m sure others will cover the more obvious answers, from Legal Project Management to easier timekeeping to advances in e-discovery.   OneNote is included in every copy of Office 2007 and 2010 (and if you’re still on an older version of Office, stop reading and fix that *now*). It’s an off-center but highly effective place to keep all of your notes — client meetings, discussions, strategy sessions (even those where you’re the only attendee), etc. You can even record meetings (or depositions) and annotate as you go, so that when you click the annotation the recording plays in synch with it.  It does take a bit of experimenting to figure it out — not how to use it, which is super-easy, but *why* to use it.  It can also be set to automatically back itself up online, and even to synchronize notebooks automatically between multiple computers.  And you can with one click share a page with someone else in your firm so you can collaborate on the fly, in effect giving you a shared whiteboard.  There is a free alternative called EverNote which isn’t quite as powerful or elegant but works well for those who aren’t Office users.

John Gillies
KM lawyer
Kiiac

This is the tool that finally enables us to analyze a representative set of a particular document type to discover the most commonly encountered structure to the document, the clauses that should be included as the core clauses, the deal-type or matter-specific clauses, and the unnecessary ones. This provides invaluable assistance in not just creating but maintaining precedents. Further, it has a built-in document assembly tool. And finally, it enables a benchmarking comparison of a first draft received from opposing counsel against the template, which is not feasible when comparing their draft to your firm’s precedent.

Stephanie Kimbro
Lawyer, Author, Tech Evangelist
Web Advisors/Calculators

The addition of web calculators and advisors to the law firm website serves a number of different purposes that benefits the firm and the prospective client. These online tools are forms of unbundled legal services and can be provided for free or for a charge. There are child support calculators, term sheet generators, fee calculators that firms will create and embed on their websites. This increases the SEO for their site and also invites leads to the site to engage with the tool. Some of these tools will have document assembly or automation systems integrated into them so that the prospective client is able to input their data on their own and then has the option of taking that information, whether it’s a calculated number or a legal form, and proceeding on their own or turning to the firm for either full service representation or for additional unbundled legal assistance. A large number of these folks use the tools and realize the value of the attorney and that they need that additional assistance and a prospective lead is converted into a paying client. These tools can be used by private practitioners and law firm and by the legal services industry to assist pro se litigants through the justice system.   A2J Author is a great example of the application of a web advisory in the legal services industry.  In private practice, Lee Rosen of Rosen Divorce Law Firm’s, child support calculator or Wilson Sonsini’s term sheet generator are good examples. Also, take a look at FairOutcomes.com which is a fair buy-sell online tool that uses game theory and could have many interesting applications for unbundling use within the legal industry. I think we will also see more ODR tools developing for use by practitioners. These are all forms of unbundling and as the profession becomes more commoditized, we will see innovative tools being developed that facilitate delivery of limited scope services online.

Katie Sunstrom
Lawyer
web based collaboration tools

We have clients that are constantly on the go.  Web based apps such as google docs, dropbox, Basecampdropbox.  I have not used it with clients because I’m concerned about security but I’ve used it extensively in event planning and sponsorship tracking, etc.

Next Elephant Post Question:

If you could re-brand your profession/industry, what would you call it? How would you position it for the future?

Think about when someone asks you what you do, and how you define your profession. I’m a “Law Librarian.” I’m a “Knowledge Manager.” “I’m a Lawyer.” “I’m a technologist.” So on and so forth.

Once you say this, do you think that the person asking the question has suddenly place you in a box and has made many assumptions on what you do? Do you think that what they are thinking is actually what you do, or is it a narrow (or perhaps wrong) definition of what you actually do to bring value to your profession, your industry, and to your specific work environment?

I sat in at the ARK conference on Knowledge Management and listened to many of the same stories that I’ve heard for years in Law Library conferences. “Should we re-brand ourselves?” “Should we call ourselves something else in order to better define the value we bring?” “Are clients refusing to pay for our services because they have a false perception of what we actually do?”

I’m guessing that Librarians and Knowledge Management leaders aren’t the only ones that feel limited by the stereotypes that surround our professions. Therefore, we want to hear from you on what you would do if you could re-brand your profession or industry. What would you call it? Would you keep it the same? How would you advertise your skills and the value that you and your peers bring to the table?

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Image [cc] welsh.simon

Telecommuting still seems to be a taboo term around many offices. Most of the people I’ve talked to this week about the question of telecommuting seem to think that the whole issue revolves around the fact that many of our bosses still believe that if they can’t see you, then you’re probably not working. Of course, then we all point our that there are times where we actually don’t “see” our supervisors for days or weeks (or until our annual review is needing our signature.)

Now, there are some that simply cannot telecommute in their jobs because they have to be face to face with the customer, or there are physical duties in their job that can’t be faxed, telephoned, or fixed over an broadband Internet connection. That being said, there are still a number of jobs that can be accomplished remotely, and having to drive into an office building downtown is really a waste of resources when you actually think about it.

Enjoy the discussion, and if there is something that you find wasn’t covered, then comment on your thoughts of telecommuting.

Next week’s Elephant Post is listed below, and we turn to the issue of innovative technologies within law firms (no, that’s not an oxymoron.) When you’re finished looking over this week’s answers, jump on down and let us know  about any innovative tech that you have implemented or seen in the legal industry.

BigFirm Librarian
Reference Librarian

Policy! Staff is not supposed to work from anywhere but the office. I could actually do much of my job remotely by using the official remote desktop application. Since much of the heavily used collection is available electronically, we receive the majority of our requests through email, and we can forward our phones to our cell phones, there isn’t a good compelling reason not to allow us to work remotely when circumstances do prevent us from being in the office.

Virginia
Librarian

As a public law librarian it would be hard to telecommute. I can check and answer my work email from home. One day they might set up a webcam and Skype and I could answer reference questions from home. I guess I couldn’t were my pjs though.

Judy Jetson
Librarian

There are two large challenges to telecommuting — the traditional idea of “face-time”, especially when imposed by a boss/supervisor and the need to be “fair” to co-workers that would not be able to get work done from home. In other words, those that want to telecommute are frequently prevented from doing so not because they cannot get work done from home (after all, if the faculty are not in the building all the time, why should we be?) but because of the need to check up on everyone. Boo.

Brenna Louzin
Manager of Legal and Business Development Research Services

Even though the majority of our reference requests and research projects come in via email or by phone, we still have a physical reference desk. This desk sits by a very busy hallway and just off the elevator lobby. So, I guess one problem with telecommuting is that we would “not be seen”. Does that mean because we would be out of sight we would be totally out of mind?

Karen Lasnick
Librarian

I have a long commute through a fair amount of traffic and would like to telecommute at least two days a week.  I am allowed to work from home under special circumstances now and again and it works great – most people don’t even realize I’m not in the office.  The only hurdle, as far as I can tell, are the powers that be.  I’ve been told that the attorneys have a greater comfort level when I am actually present in the office.

Laurie
Lawyer

Attitudes.  Attitude covers two aspects of this in a law office.  The first is the face-to-face attitude.  In other words, if I don’t see you at your desk you are not working.  This is a hard one to overcome because many managers tend to rely on this as an indicator of work, especially in a field where the person assigned will simply hand over a document after a certain period of time.  If we could just get past this, then telecommuting would likely take off.  And the attitude about technology in law offices.  Some law firms are well into the modern era, but many are not.  This has to do with a large number of techno-phobe attorneys.  I am afraid there is little to anything that can be done about this.  Much as the desktops for document creation people waited out the typewriter folks, we of social media and cloud computing will have to wait out the desktop folks.

Maria
law librarian

It’s not possible for me – we are open to the public and are a solo library and so I must be here.

Sarah Mauldin
Librarian

I would love to telecommute, and basically did for two weeks from my vacation in England.  However, I work in a firm with a two person library staff and someone has to be here to see the deer in the headlights expressions and offer help that attorneys and staff might not think to ask for.  Also, I know I’d have a hard time keeping focused if I worked from home, so it’s not really an option for me, even if it was a possibility.

Jane
Librarian

The biggest hurdle is that they want to see me sitting at my desk 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year.  The second biggest hurdle is that I have a Mac at home, and not at work, and no one has figured out how to cross platforms so that I can have full access to my work desktop from home.  Perhaps someone here can recommend something.  Please!

BetterNotSay
IT Systems Analyst

For the last 14 years, starting when dial-up and forwarding our office phone to our home or cell phone was the best option, I have been able to telework 3 days a week, alternating days with other members of our team.  With broadband and VoIP now, there is no way anyone can tell whether I’m down the hall or a long commute away.  My work is at least 75% solo back-end development and implementation, and 95% on the computer or phone.  Because we so appreciated having this option, we accepted inferior and even degrading work conditions at the office without complaint, came in on our teleworking days without question whenever face time was more appropriate, regularly worked the hours we would have been commuting doing productive work, resolved to stay when other employment opportunities arose (retention for teleworkers 100% for over a decade), and tried our best not to cause any drama that would put this option at risk.

Because we were at home, we hardly ever used any sick days – we didn’t have to worry about being contagious and you don’t necessarily have to feel good if you don’t need to deal with going into the office.   We were able to schedule most of our meetings and “team time” during our in-office days.  4 of us shared an office space built for 2, saving the firm real costs. In the entire time, there was never a complaint from attorneys or teams about us not being available or responsive or getting our jobs done.  Recently, we went through some firm management changes and the new management is not comfortable with the concept, so last month it was taken away without a thought of what life choices we may have made based on our teleworking (moving further away, taking classes or choosing doctors, etc. close to home instead of near the office, etc.).

Now, having to dedicate 3 hours a day to the commute, it is pretty much impossible to put in much or consistent extra work, morale is awful, we are going to need to call in sick more often (partly because we will get sick more often due to exposure we didn’t have before), and we are all much more open to changing employers.  We share an office so we are constantly battling each others noises, visitors, ad hoc meetings, phone conferences & webinars, etc.  Not a productive situation.  Teleworking is not for everyone for sure; the home situation and personality of the employee has to be conducive to focusing on work when it is expected.  Exempt status or some kind of sign-in/lock-out process for non-exempt is probably necessary for labor law. We were all exempt.  In my situation, I was mostly glad to have the 2 days in-office to feel/stay connected with others, but I was so much more productive on my projects on the days working from home.

Law Firm Librarian
Librarian

I have thought sometimes it would be nice to work at home on set days just so that I could finish certain back-end tasks (budget, invoices, catalog) in specific time frames! On the other hand, I also might find it difficult to focus on such tasks outside of an office environment – it would take discipline. Meanwhile, this is a one person library and I find it necessary to make sure I can help people when they walk in or call me with questions about any of our print material. We will probably always have print and electronic resources; however, I think if we were to move to completely online resources – I would still need to be a presence here for those who prefer seeing staff around the office. Our firm did try telecommuting for one person in another department a few years ago; however, she abused the privilege too often by handling non-firm work on the specific days and times she had indicated would be “firm time” (she had a growing photography business on the side). This firm will most likely not allow staff telecommuting again for a looong time due to that experience.

DharmaGirl
Project Manager

I work for a global law firm and support our clients, both internal and external, around the world.  I very, very rarely meet face to face with anyone, working as I do in the typical globally distributed environment.  My home office is well equipped, my Internet connection is fast and stable, and I can meet needs at any hour.    All that positive stuff aside, the biggest, and only, hurdle to telecommuting is manager unwillingness to allow it.  So I spend up to two and a half hours commuting (while I could be working), sitting in an uncomfortable office with a mind numbingly slow Internet connection on a network that has the usual stability issues.  It’s not efficient, but it satisfies an outdated and unfair HR requirement.  It’s also really expensive for me, since I live in a city where transit, tolls and parking are astronomically high.  Why not allow it?  The results are measurable and the benefits are, too.

David Selden
Law Librarian

I see the main hurdle to overcome for telecommuting is the sense of community created by in-person interactions.  It is hard to replace the value of communicating in person.  Having said this, some of my staff and volunteers & myself have been able to enjoy both the environmental and personal benefits of occasional telecommuting.

Scott Preston
Technology Alchemist

The biggest hurdle to telecommuting is a lack of understanding about the benefits to not only the organization, but to the environment and employee satisfaction.    Telecommuting is limited only by an organizations ability to understand the benefits.  Much like social media, the benefits of telecommuting are lost on many Human Resource professionals.  Stuck in a time when “building a network” meant meeting with people face to face, it is difficult for many in management to understand the benefits of telecommuting and how the workforce has changed.

PGAVIN
NET Engineer

It would be a great idea now that we have remote access and several help desk that could easily go to the data center if a need to put “hands-on” is needed.  It would help so I wouldn’t have to drop child off at daycare then run to work (1 hr), then return home (1 hr) and pick child up.  2 hours out of my day, and I’m less than 10mi away from my work, and less than 3 miles away from day care.  Traffic is horrendous!

Next Elephant Post:

Can You Name a Truly Innovative Technology the Legal Profession Has or Is Adopting?

One of the most common phrases I hear when the discussion turns to law firm technology is “whatever everyone else was doing five years ago, law firms are just now implementing.” That may be true for some things (can you say, records retention policies??), but there are some intriguing technologies out there that some firm are using to handle information ranging from ediscovery projects to financial interfaces to project management… and pretty much anything in between.

Think of the technologies that you have brought into your firm, or technologies that you’ve seen marketed to law firms that you think are truly innovative and make (or could make) a difference in the way we practice law or maintain the administrative side of the legal industry.

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Image [cc] Cindy Funk

Last week we all held hands around the virtual campfire and sang a round of Kumbayas about what traits we think make for better lawyers, librarians, IT, KM, marketers, and so on. This week, we drop hands and start pointing out the traits that don’t necessarily make for great workers in our individual professions. (I bet many of you now wish you would have contributed now, don’t you??)

One of the traits that you hear about librarians is that we “love books.” Although that might be true, you really don’t have to love books to be a librarian. In fact, put down on your application that the reason you want to work in the library is because “you love to read books” and you will find your application is quickly placed in the “reject” stack. This may be a narrow view of “love,” but that’s okay, after all, we are just giving our opinions here, and the more narrow or broad the interpretation, the more that someone reading this is going to disagree with you. In my opinion, that’s when the fun begins!

Thanks to everyone that contributed to this week’s Elephant Post. We’ll do it all over again next week, so scroll down to the bottom of this post and take a look at next week’s question on “Telecommuting… Great Idea, Or Greatest Idea??”

Steven B. Levy
Author of Legal Project Management
Author, consultant, speaker
Prudence/Discretion: being careful about one’s choices; not taking undue risks 

All projects — indeed, all useful work in the business world — involves risk. While there are a few professions in which the absolute minimization of risk is essential, such as aircraft design,  most businesses and projects, and the legal world itself, revolve around finding a good balance between risk and reward. To take no risk is to gain no reward.

Catherine Deane
Law Librarian
Kindness: doing favors and good deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them

While much of Librarianship entails taking care of people, a recent blog post reminded me that actually experiencing empathy can lead to burn out.    Librarians are professionals, it is our job to take care of people and we need to do it whether or not we feel kind. It is not a favor or a good deed when I teach someone to use a resource or track down information, it is my job. Remembering this will keep you humble when people are raving about you, it will also remind you that you are selling your expertise for whatever your salary works out to per hour.   This also means that when it is time for me to knock off at the end of the day and get to the business of taking care of myself, I am not going to stay at the library and continue working out of kindness, I am going to be kind to myself and go do my laundry or hit the gym. Sometimes, the kindest think you can do is to take care of yourself and be a bit selfish so that in the long run, you can continue to do your job well.

Meredith Casteel
Research Librarian
Modesty: letting one’s victories speak for themselves; not seeking the spotlights 

If we remain too modest, we will no longer be employed.  Sing your (and your team’s) praises loud and proud when you have the opportunity!

Meredith Casteel 
Research Librarian
Curiosity: taking an interest in experience for its own sake; finding things fascinating 

Oops, I answered the first time without reading the full question.  Too much curiosity can be a problem because it leads to too many balls in the air, too many pots on the stove, too many projects for hours in the day.

Chuck Rothman 
Cyberologist
Prudence/Discretion: being careful about one’s choices; not taking undue risks

I think all 24 traits are important, but when I rank them, prudence is at the bottom. Risk-taking is part of evolution. If the first arboreal hadn’t climbed down from the tree, we would be here now pondering these questions. Whether a risk is undue or not depends to a large part on whether the risk paid off (i.e. a lot of times, you just can’t tell if a risk is undue or not until it’s too late). As such, of all the traits, prudence is the one that might hold someone back. Of course, lack of prudence needs to be tempered by one of the other traits, wisdom.

Laura Suttell
Find me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ 
Librarian
Self-control: regulating what one feels and does; being self-disciplined

I chose self-control because the other traits are more important to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Toby Brown
AFA
Appreciation of beauty: noticing and appreciating all kinds of beauty and excellence

This was hard – since a broad range of traits has so much value these days. So I picked beauty.  But then maybe its time for the capable ones to take over – and let the attractive people take a break for a while.

Where’s Thorstein Veblen when you need him?

Next Elephant Post

What is the Biggest Hurdle to Telecommuting in Your Workplace?

It’s the year 2011… weren’t we supposed to achieve Telecommuting, and Flying Cars by now? (I’d settle for Personal Jet Packs if the Flying Cars idea is too 2051.) While I hear of anecdotal stories of how some people are allowed to telecommute to work, it just doesn’t seem to have caught on like many of us thought it would 10 years ago. In fact, I remember back in 1998 when I worked at the University of Oklahoma (as a mainframe monkey) and we connected a 28K modem to the mainframe and I could “remote in” and conduct an entire backup of the library catalog from the comfort of my living room, using my own phone and a 486 laptop. In the 14 years hence, everything has sped up and moved forward, with the exception of  telecommuting.

Perhaps you are one of the few that have the ability to telecommute. Perhaps you are an anti-telecommuter. Share with us your ideas or experiences of what telecommuting means to you, and how it could be a better (or even a worse) way of conducting business. Is telecommuting viable in 2011 in the legal industry? Are you allowed to telecommute (more than the occasional “I’m sick, but working from home” days)? Do you think you would be more productive if you did? Less productive?? Would you want your employees to telecommute, or do you like seeing their smiling faces each day? Let us know where you stand.

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Image (cc) boskizzi

I love this question and the the contributions we received this week. The answers were as diverse as the 24 defined traits. Some of the contributors cheated a little and named off more than one, but that’s okay. Steven Levy’s answer that it is wise not to limit the world to a 24-cornered box of traits. However, since we had a handy list of 24-traits, we thought that was enough for at least an good Elephant Post question.

Although my personal favorite was “Curiosity,” there are many traits that I look at on this list of twenty-four that make for interesting conversation when it comes to the personalities you work with day in and day out. Enjoy the discussion, add a comment or two of your own if you think someone missed an important trait, and then take a look at next week’s Elephant Post where we turn this question upside down and ask what trait would be the biggest hindrance in your profession.

Peg LaFrance
Librarian
Citizenship: working well as a member of a group or team; being loyal to the group

These are tough choices. I really wanted a combination of grit and citizenship. I am known as a person who rolls up her sleeves and does what needs to be done even if it isn’t really part of my job.  But, this morning, I told a vendor that I really value a sense of humor and competence, but I’d take a competence over humor if I had to.  Perhaps a healthy sense of the absurd would be the best trait to have in a law firm.

Jennifer Ekblaw
Librarian
Social intelligence: being aware of motives and feelings of other people and oneself

Librarians create very useful services for their users/patrons, but sometimes they are underutilized because the marketing of these services does not resonate with the target audience.  Therefore, it is crucial that librarians understand the motives and needs of users in order to demonstrate how services satisfy those needs.

Steven B. Levy, author of Legal Project Management
Author, consultant, teacher
Wisdom: being able to provide good advice to others

Wisdom: the ability to see that dividing the world into 24 overlapping traits is ridiculous.

Gene Hamilton
Helper of Technology Helpers (HelpDesk Supervisor)
Open-mindedness: examining things from all sides and not jumping to conclusions

Forced to choose one, I’ll take open-mindedness. There are lots of places where this also blends with list items “curiosity” and “grit”. In the tech support world, we’re constantly faced with integrating what we know well (technology) with what we generally know less well (application to law practice).  Way too many times we jump in quickly with a solution, often to be reminded that they haven’t fully expressed their problem yet! We need to *want* to poke around (curiosity), need to be determined to poke around until we get the right answer (grit), and we need to be able to accept the right answer when we see it, even if it doesn’t agree with what we wanted the answer to be (open-mindedness).  There are lots of other good candidates, and I certainly think that anyone who wants to be great at what they do had better demonstrate well the majority of items on the list.  As an analogy, I have often said that HelpDesk answers need to be technically correct, timely, and genuinely helpful (gets into aspects of attitude as well as searching out the whole problem). Missing any one of those three significantly reduces the value of the response.

Bob Wells
Manager
Self-control: regulating what one feels and does; being self-disciplined

Running a mandatory bar puts one in the gunsights of disgruntled members, legislators, citizens and others.  You are often the face of the organization, so you have to gauge all of the political winds and potential consequences without revealing your personal beliefs.  And you have to move the organization forward without letting up.

Amy Bowser-Rollins
Litigation Support Guru
Love of learning: mastering new skills and topics on one’s own or in school

Technology is constantly changing and it has a direct impact on the role of litigation support so we need to attempt to keep up as best we can.  Others on the legal team rely on litigation support to know the latest trends and technologies in litigation support and electronic discovery in general.

Scott Preston
Technology Alchemist
Curiosity: taking an interest in experience for its own sake; finding things fascinating

It is difficult to pick one trait as most important, but I believe curiosity is the trait that has served me best in my career as a legal technologist.  My curiosity for the impact that technology has on our world has been at the center of my career.  Curiosity is the trait that keeps us searching for a better way.  A trait that isn’t listed but should be (IMHO) is perseverance.  Perseverance is the trait that came to mind when I first though about the question.  In the legal  space you must be able to press forward even when you know that change is slow and adoption is slower than change.  Another trait that is very important (and also not listed) is humility.  Working with a lot of type A personalities can be very challenging and a good dose of humility will serve you well.

Ayelette Robinson
Knowledge Management
Social intelligence: being aware of motives and feelings of other people and oneself

Kudos on a fun and challenging question, Greg. While of course it’s difficult to pick “the” most important trait here, since several are keys for success, the one on the list that stands out for me is social intelligence. Not because in and of itself it’s more necessary than the others, but because — among the required traits — it’s perhaps the one that’s least obvious. And yet, if you don’t understand where other team members are coming from (and whether where they’re coming from is the same as or different from where you’re coming from), an otherwise successful project can fail.

Sarah Glassmeyer
Director of Content Development, CALI
Hope: expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it

Unless my liberal arts education is failing me, I do believe that the one thing left after Pandora opened the infamous box and unleashed chaos and evil into the world was “hope.”  And it’s for good reason that the myth writers included this fact.  Hope gives you the courage to try new things and keep plugging away through failure because even though things may seem bleak, crazy and scary – and lets face it, things sort of do for both the legal and information professions currently –  you at least have the belief that one day they can and will get better. Otherwise, why bother?  I couldn’t continue to do what I do if I thought I was only contributing to a broken system.  Why would anyone, really?  I mean, you could, but it would just make you bitter and crazy.  Which perhaps explains some of the people I’ve met along the way in my career.  🙂  Hope is a reason for getting out of bed in the morning besides a mortgage and student loans.   It turns a job into a profession.

Meg Hayden
Librarian
Hope: expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it

Without hope, many of the other traits lose their meaning. Hope is what makes work fun, makes you enjoy the journey, kill yourself to learn something new, rejoice with others when something works, serve the public with kindness and compassion, explore possibilities, laugh off your errors, and just feel part of the greater good.

Karen Sawatzky
Librarian
Curiosity: taking an interest in experience for its own sake; finding things fascinating

In order to find the hidden ways to help your clients, it’s important to be genuinely interested in them. Being curious about their business as well as their personal lives gives me insights in performing the “magic” that I do. It helps me with ideas about how to align myself with their goals. And gives me an excuse for reading 3 Geeks regularly 😉

Lena
Librarian
Grit: finishing what one starts; completing something despite obstacles; a combination of persistence and resilience.

Since I am not one to be beholded to artificial boundaries (like “pick one”), I am picking Grit, Social Intelligence, Creativity and Leadership.    Grit:  Work, like life, will throw you obstacles.  You have to have perseverence to get where you want to go.  Don’t stop swimming, even if you have to tread water once in a while. Social Intelligence: You have to understand what motivates yourself and others before you can make intelligence decisions and know how to best implement your ideas and inspire others. Creativity:  This is how you build a better mousetrap.  Being a problem solver is a highly valued skill.  Don’t just complain-offer a solution. Leadership: This may not apply to everyone, but if you are responsible for a team, if they succeed, you succeed.  Making your team successful is your job.

Andrea Cannavina
Legal Virtual Assistant
Integrity: speaking the truth and presenting oneself sincerely and genuinely

Without integrity there can be no trust.

Janet Smith
Legal Assistant
Integrity: speaking the truth and presenting oneself sincerely and genuinely

They are all important!  Striving together as a team, striving towards implementing all of these traits will bring change and growth to any Firm or business.  Mastering these skills in a working environment benefits all.  Will everyone like you if you attempt to master all of these traits? No, of course not.  But, will you like yourself and do well at your job, be noticed and appreciated by your employer, the executive committees, others, who make the Firm/Company run and stay in business?  Yes, and the true reward for being diligent in giving your work your best effort by utilizing these traits, is in your heart, not in your paycheck.  Paychecks, bonus, rewards – all good, but happiness comes from the rewards of mastering your work products and making change for the better and helping the Team, to meet goals and to be recognized as a Firm with integrity.

Next Elephant Post:

What Trait Is The Least Important To Have In Your Profession?

I really need to state this question in a different way, but needed it short for the “title” of the next Elephant Post. Think of it this way – if someone you work with has too much of one trait, does that mean that he or she loses something off of another important trait? Does too much grit mean that there is too little open mindedness? We all deal with strong personalities. I have to deal with Toby and Lisa a few times a week, so I understand your pain of dealing with strong personalities!

Let us know if being too strong in one trait can cause someone to not be well-suited for your profession.

image [cc] Eva the Weaver

We have been asking Elephant Post questions for a little over a year now, and we just had a first for this week. No one answered this week’s question.

To refresh your memories, the question was “How are you implementing ‘efficiency’ at your office?” We had hoped that some would jump in and talk about adding structure to how attorneys are assigned matters, or how Legal Project Management programs have helped streamline the process of practicing law, or how changes in management structure have allowed employees to make local decisions rather than running everything through a committee or supervisor. That’s what we expected… we really didn’t expect to only hear the sounds of crickets chirping in the otherwise silent response.

In a way, getting no response might be telling. As Brian Rogers (aka @theContractsGuy) tweeted about the lack of responses:

lack of elephant posts re efficiency question must indicate a large audience of lawyers–not really an efficient bunch

Perhaps it was just a busy week for the readers of 3 Geeks and no one had the time to come up with a thoughtful answer to the efficiency question. Maybe there are a number of efficient processes that have been implemented across the legal practice spectrum that have truly revolutionized the way we do business, but these processes are kept as trade secrets by each of the firms that have instituted these revolutionary processes. Or, are we simply nibbling at the edges and giving lip service to efficiency because we really don’t want/need to be efficient?? I’ll let each of you decide which of those three options lead to the lack of response.

In all honesty, there was one answer submitted this week. It was from me, and was put out there to help get the ball rolling. I’ll go ahead and post it here. Maybe it will spark an idea or two and you can comment below on some processes that you’ve done that makes your workplace more efficient.

Also, don’t forget to look at next week’s Elephant Post question where we ask what trait (out of a list of 24) do you think is the most important in your profession.

Greg Lambert
Library/Records Guy
Getting people out of the process by going to Hosted or Cloud-based systems  

Bringing on an FTE is near impossible in any law firm these days. However, projects get requested (and approved) but we simply cannot put more of a burden on a group of people that are already doing the jobs that used to be assigned to two or three people. Now we look to hosted applications where the support is built into the price and no FTEs are required. Granted there are some drawbacks (we can’t simply modify things, and asking for reports or other one-off projects usually costs $$$) However, in the long run, it works and keeps existing staff from bolting out the door because they are being asked to take on one more task.

Next Elephant Post:

What Trait Do You Believe Is The Most Important To Have In Your Profession?

New York Times writer, Paul Rough, wrote an amazing piece a couple weeks ago called “What if the Secret to Success is Failure?” Although it focuses on the educational system in the US, the main theme that runs through the article is there are many factors in what makes someone “successful” and that the person’s IQ or how well they do on standardized tests doesn’t equate to automatic success. I really encourage you to read this article and think of how the story it tells can be transposed into your place of work.

There are 24 traits that are listed in the article, and they were all taken from Christopher Peterson and Martin E. P. Seligman’s 2004 book Character Strengths and Virtues. Take a look at these 24 traits and think of which one you think is the most important to have in your profession and let us know why that is.

Zest: approaching life with excitement and energy; feeling alive and activated
Grit: finishing what one starts; completing something despite obstacles; a combination of persistence and resilience.
Self-control: regulating what one feels and does; being self-disciplined
Social intelligence: being aware of motives and feelings of other people and oneself
Gratitude: being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen
Love: valuing close relationships with others; being close to people
Hope: expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it
Humor: liking to laugh and tease; bringing smiles to other people; seeing a light side
Creativity: coming up with new and productive ways to think about and do things
Curiosity: taking an interest in experience for its own sake; finding things fascinating
Open-mindedness: examining things from all sides and not jumping to conclusions
Love of learning: mastering new skills and topics on one’s own or in school
Wisdom: being able to provide good advice to others
Bravery: not running from threat, challenge, or pain; speaking up for what’s right
Integrity: speaking the truth and presenting oneself sincerely and genuinely
Kindness: doing favors and good deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them
Citizenship: working well as a member of a group or team; being loyal to the group
Fairness: treating all people the same; giving everyone a fair chance
Leadership: encouraging a group of which one is a valued member to accomplish
Forgiveness: forgiving those who’ve done wrong; accepting people’s shortcomings
Modesty: letting one’s victories speak for themselves; not seeking the spotlights
Prudence/Discretion: being careful about one’s choices; not taking undue risks
Appreciation of beauty: noticing and appreciating all kinds of beauty and excellence
Spirituality: having beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe

Image [cc] tambako

We all have trillions of pieces of information at our disposal through paid or free information providers. However, does that actually make us better informed? That is the question we asked our contributors to discuss this week, and, as usual, we got some pretty good perspectives on this issue.

Our contributors were split on the issue and pointed out some of the difficulties in handling all the information in a productive way. You’ll see terms like “separating out the wheat” and “over-informed”, but you also see things like “that’s okay” and “as informed as I need to be.” It seems that even those that feel uniformed have certain methods that they use to help them cope with all the information in a way that gets them through the process (just not as smoothly as they would like it to be.

Enjoy the different perspectives, and don’t forget to read next week’s question (conveniently placed below) and add your own perspective on the issue of what are you doing to improve efficiency at your organization? Since “efficiency” seems to be one of the code words that came out of the shake-up on 2008, we thought others might want to see if others are actually implementing new efficiency measures, or if they are still just talking about doing it.

Steven B. Levy
Author, teacher, consultant
No

I spend more time separating out the wheat, but it’s still there amid the ever-increasing chaff. Thirty years ago, I’d spend half an hour over breakfast each day reading the NY Times fully (while trying to keep the ink from rubbing off on my shirt — and of course spending a few minutes doing the crossword puzzle). Now it’s easier to pick and choose specific stories from multiple sources, but I still spend about 30 minutes keeping up with the real world and the legal world. (Kenken has replaced the crosswords, though.)  Hint on the fastest way to cut down on chaff: Put a block on any site or source that refers to celebrities by their first name! Famous isn’t the same as newsworthy or even interesting.

Elaine Knecht
Director of Information Resources
No

It’s all relative. I work hard at keeping current in several areas that are “mission critical” to my mind. For the rest, I skim lots of headlines. I can tell I’m “informed” because I am regularly delivering previously unknown-to-them information to my clients. As long as I know more than they do (about a given topic) I’m as informed as I need to be.

Cheryl Niemeier
Director of Library Services
Yes

My real answer is both yes and no, but since that was not an option I answered yes. With so much information out there, I think it is inevitable that I may feel uninformed and that’s OK. I can’t possibly be informed about everything. But I am very glad that I have resources at my fingertips to tap into so much knowledge in order to become informed if need be.

Kathleen O’Connor
Manager of a small public LL
Not sure… I need more data before answering

From my POV as a person without much of a legal background (if you count temping in many big firms in SF in the 80’s and 90’s doing donkey work) to having started from scratch here at a rural public law library. No training, no documentation worth using, etc.   I was already an “Internet groomer” (See Nina Paley’s comic of Mimi & Eunice) and was able tolerate the amount of reading and digging and embarrassing questions to get this place up to the 21st Century.   If I hadn’t had the computer admin experience and savvy, I would of been pretty clueless. But yes, I have MANY bookmarks and notes to follow up on and I will never get through all of them-especially if I restrict myself to company time.

Pat Orr
Manager of Library Services
No

If and when I realize that I’m uninformed on a particular topic, I know where to find the information. Whether it’s the mass media trying to fill a 24 hour news cycle, or vendors /publishers hoping to convince me that I need more information doesn’t matter.  I don’t need to know everything about anything. I just need to know where to find it.  Keep calm, and carry on.

Chelsea Baldwin
Asst Dir. Academic Achievement
Not sure… I need more data before answering

The answer to this question is both yes and no.   On the yes side, I have the most information and access to the most information I’ve had in my life. It’s organized so that I can quickly pick out relevant pieces, place on the back-burner intriguing but not relevant pieces, and discard irrelevant information. It’s also gotten to the point where entities such as Amazon, LinkedIn, and Yahoo! are pretty good at providing me with content or suggestions for things I am genuinely interested in and even introduce me to completely new-to-me concepts and ideas that I enjoy and have relevance to my work and life.   On the no side, institutional information dissemination as well as the dissemination abilities of individuals within the institution (me included) can leave a lot to be desired. Frequently the information that is needed for operating within an organization resides in people and not within any formalized, or accessible, information repository. There is still a lot of stuff that you can only learn by going and having a face-to-face conversation with someone.

Bob Wells
Executive Director
Yes

I am over-informed on matters which I will not be putting into play.  People have been creative enough to get those ideas in front of me.  I hence have less time for research into what I need to know, and I am certain the unknown is there because I get caught in drafts from those in front.

Amy Bowser-Rollins
Litigation Support
No

audiobooks and podcasts, but only because I do it during my 1 hour commute each way in the car.  So to answer the question, I feel very informed these days.

Next Elephant Post Question:

How Are You Implementing Efficiency At Your Office?

One of the buzz words that came out of the financial market crash of 2008 was that law firms needed to become “more efficient” at what they do. Of course, the Knowledge Management world has been telling law firms this since the late part of the last century, but only finding luke-warm response to making processes more efficient (especially if it butted heads with the almighty billable-hour.) Therefore, the next Elephant Post question asks your perspective on what types of efficiency processes do you see actually taking root in your work place? Are they working, or are the lawyers finding ways of working around them and going back to their old ways of working?

I know that someone will take the argument that clients don’t really care about efficiency… what they want is firms that are more “effective.” So, for those arguments, tell us what you think is the difference and why implementing processes that improve efficiency does not necessarily result in more effective ways of practicing law or conducting other business within an organization. I look forward to reading the different perspectives on this issue.

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