Technology is cool. There is no disputing that fact. Last month, while travelling for work, I had a video conversation with my kid, while I was 3500 kms away in a relatively remote mountain resort, and he was in a moving vehicle. Last week, while doing some research I came across a data visualization of all of the spells used in all seven books of Harry Potter on a scatter chart, and when you hovered over the data points you learned when the spell was used, by whom and why. That’s cool, that’s technology. Whether we are looking at the vast amounts of data in the world and how we can use that data, make it visible, pretty and useful, or whether we are talking about “smart” technology, machine learning or artificial intelligence as it applies to daily work tasks that can be automated, made better and or make our work lives and products more efficient.

And yet, as I sit here at ARK KM 2016, in NYC, the themes I keep hearing coming out of every session, are around audience engagement, adoption, clarity of purpose, how do we encourage people to share, and clear or shared communication. Fundamentally “soft skills” that technology can’t really impact have been a part of every presentation. Like it or not, while some of us may prefer to engage with robots, as people working in law firms for legal clients, we are dealing with people, clients are people. Implementation of strategically sound KM programs, social for enterprise, efficiency in data visualization, noise reduction, cross firm collaboration, data integrity, whatever it is – people are at the centre and people are necessarily complex. When we talk about getting people to collaborate, share data, engage on client matters together and so forth, we are discussing changing cultures with in individual firms and within the legal industry as a whole. Changing legal and law firm culture, (and related initiatives such as KM – however you define it) start, in my opinion with putting clients first.

I have written here and else where about how clients are or should be at the centre of any significant initiative by firms. Putting clients first to my mind means using a design thinking approach to new initiatives. Design thinking as explained in a recent Lexpert article is “also known as “human-centred design” — an approach that, at its core, is about structured problem-solving with a design flair.” The first step in design thinking that runs through every stage of the process is empathy. Empathy is knowing how someone else feels, whether as a lawyer knowing how a client feels or as an allied professional in a firm knowing how your lawyers feel. Feelings are not always used in the same discussion as law firms or lawyers, but therein, lies the change that needs to happen. In order to successfully innovate and move culturally sensitive initiatives forward we need to think like our clients, we need to feel like our clients. We need to understand our clients pain – their difficulty in solving problems and then very quickly try various solutions in solving those problems or assuage any ill feelings.

Technology can be a tool in helping to achieve resolution, but the tech itself could never replace empathy. The ability to think like others, to feel what they feel and to really understand their challenges and how to address those challenges is really about people connecting with people regardless of roles or capabilities. This is the heart of design thinking – the human element. The EI or emotional intelligence that is required to make AI, KM, BD/Marketing and other projects a success. On the surface it seems simple, and maybe it is, but all too often we are distracted by the technology and the crazy capabilities they afford us. Blinded by the possibilities of the technology, we present solutions to problems people don’t have or we aggregate data sets and taxonomies that make sense to only a few and confuse everyone else. We then push these technology solutions on a varied group of people and expect them to be as excited and ready for the impact of the technology as we are. Who wouldn’t want to know every spell Harry and his friends ever used to defeat He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named. But if those capabilities add nothing productive to my day, or solve no real world issues, then any real value the technology tools provide gets lost. Tie solutions back people. Start prototying solutions only after actually talking to people, all the people, with all the same problems. Use technology to aid in solving real world issues or frustrations and eliminate the pain that real people are feeling. To do that, we need to be sensitive to the human element every step of the way. Once you can do that, the prototyping and ideation gets far easier, but empathy especially in law firm processes can be a fickle friend.

Who wants to take on that session at ARK KM next year???

In his post the “Great Google Debate“, Mark Gediman suggested I was wise to not touch the debate on Google, and while I am happy to take the compliment, it also makes me wonder if somewhere down the road we (and by we, I mean those industry insiders, you know who you are) can’t create a Google equivalent to support the Legal industry. Imagine a single source that allows researchers to bridge the chasm between the business of law and the practice of law.  Let me explain.

On that same panel at AALL, I was asked where CI should report, my reaction drew a chuckle and was rapidly tweeted and retweeted. It was something to the effect of “I am tired of having this debate”. And I am, for a variety of reasons.  Where any of the research types or “information and analysis brokers” – Library, CI, KM, Research etc. – report is in my opinion, irrelevant and but an administrative imperative. How and where we add value to the firm and most importantly its bottom line/top line is what matters. I tweeted yesterday that information, intelligence, analysis when used effectively and systemically by firms could be the next disruptive factor, akin to the AFA.  Research, and the information professionals who undertake these tasks are embracing technology and are “to be congratulated for navigating really difficult times in the industry” according to Aric PressBig Law Is Here to Stay, and if its information professionals are going to continue to step up their game in this rapidly changing industry, they need proper tools, a collaborative environment and a checking of the proverbial egos (and related reporting structures) at the doors. 

Throughout the day, information professionals on the business side of the equation, search Google, subscription databases (what’s your favourite??), social media feeds, securities filings, traditional and  new media outlets and should be doing some kind of primary research i.e. talking to people and working the network (that’s a blog post for another time). On the practice side of the equation, legal researchers search corporate precedents, case law, filings, treaties, judgments, dockets, summaries, briefs, memos and other subscription databases. Imagine if you could put it all together, search one platform – a Googlesque type platform minus the paid SEO and get whatever research you needed in one place. How much more efficient, smart and focused on client and legal service could we and our firms be with one magnificent tool at our finger tips. 

Its pie in the sky, but that’s where dreams live, right? Here’s a use case. A proposed change in legislation relating to construction zoning in a particular jurisdiction is announced.  You  – Research Warrior/Maven/Guru  access the details of the proposed changes, and are able to fire it off to the relevant attorneys for an opinion, a LinkedIn Post, or a Client Update, while at the same time researching the number of public (and private, it’s a dream database, right?) companies in the jurisdiction who will be affected. You can also access which of those companies are your clients, your competitor clients, or prospects, and you can analyze the text of the proposed change to determine what the percentage of prior proposals with similar language were accepted, or rejected. With this data in hand, you can do a historiographic or timeline analysis to determine the likelihood of the proposal becoming law and using the same magic portal you can determine which other jurisdictions may adopt similar changes based on a cursory review of relevant local media and social media reactions and commentary.  And let’s not stop there, with a few clicks, you can output all the data into neatly branded reports complete with charts and graphs – a data visualization panacea. At that point, who really cares where you report? You just saved lawyers time, developed new leads, created an opportunity to demonstrate the firm’s value and demonstrated the information professional’s propensity for serial innovation.  Not bad in a day’s work!

Yes, there will be those that suggest it can’t be done, or those who won’t trust the data in a single platform even if it is pulling from multiple (triangulated and vetted) sources.  And course there will be a myriad of UX considerations, search/browse convergence discussions, taxonomy whoas and other finicky things to figure out.   But it would stop the where should we report and should we use Google debates….

There was an interesting question asked on Twitter this morning by Patrick DiDomenico (apparently preparing for an ITLA presentation on the topic.) At first blush, it seemed to be phrased a bit on the negative side, but it really is something that those of us in law firm libraries do need to ask from time to time. “Tell me what’s wrong with law firm libraries today.”

This isn’t about bashing Patrick for asking the question, quite the opposite actually. It is a legitimate question to ask. This is more about addressing what is wrong, while also addressing what is right in law firm libraries today. After batting the question around with some of my law library and law firm administrative colleagues, we thought that this question could be asked of any of the law firm administrative departments. The Library and the Knowledge Management (KM) groups are probably the most venerable to this issue, but all departments, including IT, Marketing, Accounting, Human Resources, Records, and others are under constant scrutiny from law firm leadership to prove our worth to the firm. If we aren’t challenged, we become complacent. If we come complacent, we fail to see those changes we need to make until it is too late. It could be asked of any department, but this morning, it was asked of us in the law firm library. So, let’s address it.

In defense of those of us that lead law firm libraries, as with most law firm administrative problems, there tends to be a lack of direction in the library as to where it fits in the overall strategy of the firm. For example, the push to “go online” has been the biggest issue for the past 15-20 years, and it has put the library leaders and staff in a situation that is unclear, and quite frankly, unobtainable without 100% of the partners all agreeing to go in one direction. We suffer from the “one-veto” effect of the partnership in that everyone can agree to go with or without a service, but if one partner votes the other way, we tend to get stuck supporting a service that is expensive, time consuming, and duplicate.

 
Hopefully this sets up the stage for a list of (very generalized) things that are wrong with law firm libraries today:
  • We are still debating formats within the library and keeping outdated formats in support of a minority of attorneys (example: formats now include print, e-books, online, databases, and on-demand… each with its own individual cost and demands from individuals within the firm.)
  • Law Firms have not decided how to bring the law library into the modern day structure of a 21st Century firm
  • The primary demands on librarians are to keep costs low, client costs low, and to watch out for the firm’s best interest
  • Librarians are not given the final word on what to buy and what to keep (that causes problems with the previous point)
  • Librarians tend to be the first to feel the cuts when times are bad, and the last to feel the benefits when times are good
  • Librarians tend to be team players and are willing to take a larger percentage of “taking one for the team” than other departments, this leads to libraries becoming easy targets
  • Librarians tend to be very tough on each other (publicly), yet very defensive when attacked from outside (think of it as “I can call my sister a name, but if you call her that, we’re going to fight!)
  • The current Directors of law libraries failed miserably in succession planning. We’ve been waiting for 25 years for the next group of leaders to bring in fresh perspectives and what resulted was the whole library structure got tossed out with the bathwater
  • Libraries (and Librarians) generally have a problem when it comes to the Return on Investment (ROI) piece of justifying their existence

What’s right with Law Firm Libraries?

  • Librarians are constantly looking out for the best interest of the firm
  • Librarians have kept very good control on overall costs (most libraries are less than 2% of revenue, some are less than 1%)
  • Librarians keep costs down to the client (usually by assisting attorneys that forget about those costs until they see it on the bill and have to write it off.)
  • Librarians are constantly looking for less expensive, or better resources that fit the needs of the firm’s practices.
  • Librarians are extremely good at risk analysis for the firm and help save the firm from itself (costs, copyright, access, correct resources, etc.)
  • Librarians share their experiences with each other. Most librarians do not have to trail blaze into a new product or mission or strategy, as we can stand on the shoulders of others that have tested the waters before and are willing to share those experiences (without exposing anything confidential, of course.)

Someone told me the other day that Librarians have a fear of strategy. Perhaps that is true of some, but no one that I would associate in the law library world is afraid of being strategic. I responded to this person that they were painting with a very broad brush and that the librarians I associate with have no fear, whatsoever, of strategy. However, I think we tend to be easy targets from other departments and law firm leadership, and that we roll over too easily at times. We’re at the end of a cycle where those in charge of libraries for the past 25 years are rotating out and failed to create an effective succession for the library to bring in those with the experience needed to understand the library structure, but with the fresh new ideas of where it needs to go from here. This left the door open for those outside the library to come in and have to start from scratch and think that the library needs to be rebuilt from the ground up rather than expand those processes that work, rework or remove those that don’t, and begin building new processes that make the library and the firm better prepared for the future.

So, what’s wrong with today’s law firm libraries? It’s a question you have to answer and supplement with what’s right. If you don’t, someone else will come in and answer it for you, and they will not be nearly as aggressive on defending what the law firm libraries are doing well.

Thanks, Patrick, for asking the question. I hope this gives you a few ideas to process.

Not too long ago, Jordan Furlong wrote a good post on what law firms sell. Normally I would go all “Dan Aykroyd” on him, but not this time. His post got me thinking about the broader question of what law firms sell in terms of product offerings. And here’s the catch: They don’t know what they sell.

And now a car analogy …

If Ford acted like a law firm, they would know they sell automobiles. They would probably know they sell some volume of sedans, SUVs, trucks, coupes, etc. But beyond that, they would not know how many of each product they sold. Under SUVs they would not know how many Explorers versus Escapes versus Expeditions were sold. Oh, and in the SUV category there would be some sedans, trucks and coupes included.

Of course if Ford acted in such a fashion, they MIGHT know they sell automobiles

Law firms know what they sell only at the high level because that is all they have needed to know until recently. Although most firms have some taxonomy of matter types, they are rarely used effectively. For most firms, the work gets a high level categorization based on the billing partner’s practice designation. This means transactional work can be tagged as litigation if the billing partner is a litigator. The choice of matter type when it is an option, is too often made by a secretary. These well-intentioned secretaries picked the most convenient type or the one least likely to get anyone’s attention. Therefore when someone wants to see “Single Plaintiff Employment” cases, the only way to find such a list is manually – which means it never happens.

This is obviously an opportunity for Knowledge Management (KM) to shine. But I predict the usual challenges for KMers who tackle this problem. First – a firm will appoint a committee to develop a ‘comprehensive’ list of matter types. The Committee will want to make sure every possible matter type makes it on the list, since Fred’s Admiralty practice is just as important as the rest of the firms’ commercial litigation practice. The result will be a long list of never-used matter types … and we’re back to where we started.

My advice: Firms need to know what they sell, down to a reasonable product level. Finding that reasonable product level is a task for marketing and leadership and then KM can be the engine to continually support this effort. Once firms know the true volume and margins on each of their product offerings, then they will know where to focus their market efforts and product resources.

Image [cc] lowjumpingfrog

#1 and I were chatting (not quite at 3 Beers) and he made a statement that really made me think.

Damn him.

We were talking about whether lawyers will embrace internal messaging apps or any other type of social media apps as KM or just communications tools. I commented that IT clings to some false hope that the next application they install will be a killer, one that gets used by everyone just because it’s there – just like email was. It’s my opinion that email has been the only true killer application for lawyers. It was the only one lawyers embraced simply because it was there. Since then firms hold out hope that the next application they install will be so useful and cool that their lawyers will jump on it.

This never happens.

We were talking about why that is the case, when Greg said, “I think they embraced email since it allowed them to avoid using their phones.”

Oh sweet epiphany.

We all know lawyers prefer to avoid change. But the epiphany tells us they are even more willing to avoid talking to clients (or maybe anyone else). One of my Golden Rules: Lawyers will doing anything to avoid talking to clients about fees. Likely this ‘avoidance rule’ extends well beyond that of fees and in to client conversations in general.

The lesson here is that those in search of the next Killer App for legal should build tools that focus on delivering a level of ‘Client Conversation Avoidance’ above useful features.

Commence with development.

Image [cc] Alistar McDermott

Ryan McClead’s post on THE Knowledge System has made me think of the way we ask others to work, and how effective, or ineffective that process is. In watching the TEDx video, there was a different part that stood out to me as Michael Idinopulos discussed the Disembodied Work process and how most of our work is now a series of “one-off” requests rather than a structure process. Idinopulos discussed the idea of putting Wikipedia-style knowledge system in place and encouraging people to transfer their knowledge from inside their heads onto a discussion board. The process started out fine, then dwindled, then incentives were offered (iPods, champagne) to promote sharing, but as the incentives went away, so did the effort to add information into the knowledge system.

The basic problem to these types of processes are actually very simple to explain, but difficult to fix. The overall problem is that these processes are viewed as “outside the normal” flow of work. If a person has to stop what he or she is doing (practicing law, answering reference questions, responding to RFPs, etc.) and go do some data entry so that someday in the future the results will make it easier for someone else to do their job, then these processes are doomed to fail. We try to make adjustments for this outside-of-the-normal-work-pattern by giving incentives for data input (back to the iPod, champagne ideas) or, even worse, by hiring people to be data stewards to do the work for them because we simply know the person that should be adding in the knowledge, won’t do it.

Now, this brings me to a story that I heard at lunch last week with a vendor. He said he was talking with his boss about a new product launch and they wanted to define what they would consider to be a “success.” Do they look at dollars as a benchmark? Do they look at usage? Do they look at market share? All of those are pretty definable goals and easy to track. Or, do they look at ease of use? Do they look at how the product helps attorneys do their jobs better? Do they look at whether current customers tell others about how great the product is? Not as definable, but probably a better indicator of how good their product really is. At the time, we didn’t really come up with which of these questions would actually help identify what would be a success. Then he mentioned another story, and that’s when I realized what the answer should really be.

While in the UK, he mentioned that he surveyed a number of attorneys about a product and what is would take to get them to move off of that product and on to his alternative platform. One of the responses he got went something like this:

If you take this away from me, I will quit my job. I cannot effectively do my job without it.

That, my friends, is what everyone wants to hear. That is the definition of success.

Now, this answer related directly to a product, but the same concept can be applied to almost any type of process that should be included in the normal flow of how we conduct our work. Take for example, the library:

If you take the library support away from me, I will quit and go somewhere that has it. I cannot effectively do my job without the resources and support the library provides.

Or,

If you take the knowledge base that KM (or IT or __) provides to this practice, I will quit and go somewhere that has it. I cannot effectively serve my clients without it.

The key is that the product or service has become so ingrained into the normal work flow of the person, that they would be less effective without it. The PC, email, and ‘the network’ have already become success stories in the modern work flow. Can you say the same about the Client Relationship Management system? The Document Management System? The Firm Wiki? The After-Matter Review process? Probably not.

As long as those systems are viewed by the worker as processes that require them to stop doing their normal job, and input data into something that they may, or may not see any return on their investment of time and effort, then those systems will never be successful.

 

 

 

You’ve all read/heard my take on aggregators here at 3 Geeks, and how there was a time when having access to information was in and of itself a competitive advantage. Simply knowing what your competitors or market were doing was currency. We all have more access to information today than any of us dreamed was possible even 15 or 20 years ago. Much of that information is readily available and free. In fact, information or data is so accessible that crowd sourcing and gathering of it online in places like Wikipedia is common place, even cited with growing integrity in university term papers and the like (ethics of which is not my topic, though I am sure many of you have ideas on that….feel free to guest post about it!)

I have suggested in previous posts that how we sort or filter the raw data is how we keep from contributing to information overload. Key to this process is determining what is good to know versus need to know versus interesting but maybe I don’t need to know that right now. Even when we’ve filtered that down, we still need to aggregate the relevant information by having Library or Intelligence teams sort and collate it into newsletters, alerts, RSS feeds or other helpful, readable tools. Finally, I’ve suggested that, depending up your resources, the process can be done manually or with any one of the commercially available tools available for purchase that can help us aggregate. You’ve read previous posts (hopefully), where I’ve asked, How Do We Make Them Read, and reviewed a series of aggregators a list that continues to grow and improve and then several months later, I suggested we are Almost There with a new series of product offering.

A recent exercise in my own firm has lead to me understand that aggregating with the help of technology is not enough! I now understand that friends don’t let friends aggregate alone.
Borne out of necessity and fiscal responsibility, when three departments at my firm all asked for budget for an aggregator in 2013, it was suggested that we work together to find one that suits all of our needs rather than to aggregate content – possibly the same content – three times, in three different ways.
On the surface, it seems like an easy and smart solution. But when you start to get down to the specific needs of each department (in my case, Intelligence/Business Development, Knowledge Management and Library & Information Resources), it seemed an insurmountable ask. How each department engages with internal and external information and brokers that information, turning it into intelligence, practice efficiency, current awareness or a business development opportunity and combine those different points of view with the need for Systems and IT compatibility and you start to think that maybe this seemingly obvious task is actually impossible. The sheer volume of information alone is one problem. The rest of the problem is in acknowledging the mandates of the different departments will cause each one to consume and reuse the information in different ways.
Therefore each department needs its own set of tools and distribution methods. Right? Hence the three requests for three different products? Right? Once up on a time the answer would have been yes, but if the last three months has taught me anything, it is the fact that all law firm administration departments really all want the same thing.
We all want our lawyers to be smarter, better, and more efficient at delivering client service and value and for our own departments to be seen as contributing to the bottom line rather than being dreaded cost centres especially since 2008. How we each achieve this goal will be executionally unique, but asking for three sets of tools would be akin to a carpenter, a cabinet maker and mechanic suggesting that what they each describe as a hammer is specific and unique to their line of work. Not true. How they each use the hammer might differ and which type of hammer they use might differ from time to time but at the end of the day, a hammer is a hammer.
So can we find an aggregator that suits all of our needs? I believe the answer, despite our different methodologies and interactions, is yes. That answer does come with some challenges, however, the biggest of which is being open to learning and understanding of what each department needs, wants and is willing to let go. The discovery process will not be easy, nor will building a set of criteria for the “right” tool, but if you are willing to have the conversation, open yourself and your department up to scrutiny among friends, you will find that friends don’t let friends aggregate alone and you may find (as I did) that you can even learn a very useful thing or two about how the different departments think about and use information, which you can leverage toward successfully meeting your department’s goals. By sharing in the in discussions and finding one solution to work for all information providers, you can actually help move the agenda of smarter, better, more client focused lawyers along.
Image [cc] mandiberg

I usually read articles written by vendors with a grain of salt, but I think that Thomson Reuter’s Dave Whiteside’s article, “Stop Doing the Legal Limbo” has some good food for thought in it, and it plays into what we discuss here on this blog when it comes to Librarians playing a bigger role in Business Development.

My suggestion is to read the article first and then come back to this part that I think helps explain it in the Librarian/Marketing/KM/BizDev environment.

… okay… I assume you’ve read it.

I’ll reword some key pieces of what Dave Whiteside wrote just a little bit to fit the concept of a law firm’s ability to research, market and sell it services:

  • How do we help attorneys get to know the potential client before they meet?
  • Are we preparing the attorney to better understand the potential client’s business?
  • What do we do to help the attorney understand the client’s industry and competitors?
  • How do we get current awareness information to the attorneys to help them keep up with upcoming issues and trends that impact the potential client’s business?
  • Do we have an comprehensive method of clearly explaining the relevant experiences that the attorney and/or the firm has that will guide the potential client who faces the same problem?
  • What type of training do we give to our attorneys to help them explain how our services don’t just help with short term needs, but we are also there to advise in ways that help General Counsel better direct their company in avoiding future legal issues?

Whiteside hands out a laundry list of Thomson Reuters products that can help, but I wanted to be more generic and think of the process instead of the specific products and see if there are things we already have in place that we could leverage to get to the goals listed above:

  • What do we use to organize our collective experiences and help attorneys explain how those previous experiences are specifically why the client should hire us?
  • How do we determine where we stand in these issues compared to our peers?
  • Where do we find our individual relationships between members of the firm and the potential client. How do we present this in an actionable way to the attorney?
  • What type of controls do we have in place that helps manage matters as well as helps quickly identify inefficient or unprofitable work?

I’ll add one more to this list that I think is very important:

  • What processes do we have in place that reviews matters once they are over and helps better prepare other attorneys in the firm for the next time?

There are a number of opportunities here for Librarians, Marketing, KM, Biz Dev, Client Development, and many others on the Administrative side of the law firm. I bet that almost all of you have some, but not all, of resources already in place at your firms. The key with something like this is that there has to be a process started of getting the right people, information, resources, and tools aligned so that it becomes a standard at your firm, and not just a one-off project that only comes into play when an attorney comes in with an “emergency” request because they are meeting with the potential client in 30 minutes.

Leading up to this final installment in our series – we have defined profitability for firms, described the four profit drivers and looked at how the market is pushing on all of this. In this post we take on how Legal KM can re-focus its efforts to help firms respond to all of this pressure.

The Hill Looks Steep

Significant challenges present significant opportunities. Yes – law firms are facing intense market pressures. No – law firms have not yet truly faced the challenge.

This presents a tremendous opportunity for Legal KM (LKM). Perhaps the biggest challenge here is the lack of understanding by law firm partners and leaders as to the underlying issues. Shockingly (or not), most partners have little understanding of what makes legal work profitable. They hold fast to the old model that hours and realization lead to more income for them. Although in some practices and markets a variation of this reality still holds true, for the most part it does not. Clients increasingly are holding the line on rates driving down realization. And clients are no longer willing to pay for however many hours a law firm bills on a task or matter.

Opportunity #1

Historically LKM has had minimal participation on the financial side of law firms. Many times client and matter billings are presented with portals or on dashboards, however these are usually relatively simple metrics. These tools do not typically show profitability or help partners appreciate the impact of our four drivers on their wallets. Firms will struggle greatly with change if they do not even know where to start. It is the old and familiar tale of “follow the money.”

Capturing, understanding and delivering this financial knowledge will have high value for firms. Better and easier to understand profit metrics will lead to improved decision making by firm leadership. These same metrics will also be used by the frontline lawyers enabling better resource management decisions.

Currently many law firm financial departments are being pushed to the limits just trying to stay up on traditional reporting requests, as more firm partners are demanding timely financial information. Run – don’t walk, to your financial department and offer to help them find some breathing room.

Opportunity #2

Another opportunity presented by this situation is what might be called “re-engineering the practice.” Without going into a lot of detail, it is obvious that firms will need to change the ways in which they deliver their services to drive profitability. The profit driver Leverage can be a powerful tool. But pushing work down only works when a firm has the right systems in place to support that shift. Legal Project Management (LPM) a current hot topic cannot function without supportive LKM systems in place. This does not mean LKM should necessarily try to co-opt LPM, but instead find ways to drive the success of LPM efforts. If a firm does not have any process improvement or LPM, then LKM can help initiate those efforts. If LPM is being utilized, LKM can supplement and enhance those efforts. Firms need this help. LKM is just the type of resource to step-up and make it happen.

Other Opportunities

Hopefully these two opportunities help illuminate the path forward for LKM. Find the pain in your firm and address it. Focus on the greatest level of pain. One might argue that “search” is a pain for law firms, and they would be right. But this type of pain is not touching the decision makers of law firms in meaningful ways. Instead, what most firms are concerned about right now is flat revenue, rising costs and the possibility of reductions in partner incomes. LKM will do well if it focuses on addressing those pain points.

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: