Friday, September 26, 2008

The Demise of Heller

Bruce MacEwen of Adam Smith Esq. put together a post of lessons to be learned from the demise of Heller Ehrman (1890-2008).  He proposes that one of the reasons for the demise was the fragility of law firms.
"Our assets go down in the elevator every night." Take that bromide seriously.

You must give people a persuasive reason to come back "home" every Monday morning.
Make them believe in the ongoing vision of a vibrant institution, a living firm where they can make a contribution in their own way, where they have a voice, where they can matter, where they are part of a team, where there are new mountains to conquer and new clients to be won, new legal innovations to be created with your firm's imprimatur on them, new dimensions of professional development which you can create and with which you can inspire and energize your associates, new, heartfelt, admirable and groundbreaking commitments to pro bono, new, clear-eyed and profound commitments to client service and client relationships, new and innovative uses of technology to deliver cost-effective services clients increasingly will demand while at the same time sparing your associates scut-work. New, new, new.

Those are the things that will inspire people to come back on Monday.
Take a look a your role in your firm and see if you can inspire people to come back on Monday.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Real World SharePoint Experiences

I attended a breakfast meeting sponsored by Knowledge Management Associates, Inc. about all things SharePoint.

There were four presentations:
I will be putting my notes to each of the presentations in a separate blog post.

In the interest of full disclosure Knowledge Management Associates, Inc. is a client of The Firm and they did give me a copy of MS Office 2007 as a prize in the raffle.

Microsoft's SharePoint Investment Areas

Tara Seppa from Microsoft spent some time at the Real World SharePoint Experiences conference to give us some idea about what direction Microsoft is taking SharePoint.

. . . . Omitted at the request of Microsoft. Apparently the information was not ready for disclosure.

Lastly, Tara pitched the the SharePoint team blog as place for information on Sharepoint as it goes through the development process.

SharePoint Best Practices Conference Recap

Tim Farrell and Marcel Meth of Knowledge Management Associates presented some of their notes from the recent SharePoint Best Practices Conference.

Tim and Marcel attended the SharePoint Best Practices conference in DC Sept 14-17.

Marcel is seeing a trend where extranets and intranets are collapsing. He is seeing companies deploy in a secure site outside the firewall. Internally, Microsoft's SharePoint deployment has 14 Terabytes of data. They keep each database under 200GB.

Microsoft expects support of non-window browsers within 2 years.

There is also a new SharePoint online. You do not need to install SharePoint. Your information just lives in the cloud.

Intranet search and enterprise search are different. The intranet search of SharePoint is mature and works well, but it is not an enterprise search.

Workflow is not quite ready for prime time. There are lots of subtleties and you will need some expertise to use it.

Tim spoke about governance and taxonomy. You should have a governance team of about 10 people even for a big company. Chose a pilot program that can build grass roots support. See how it grows and emerges. Start with just the one pilot. (He seems to like the concept of emergent collaboration.)

Tim also focused on tiered levels of control.  At the top, with the highest degree of control and the lowest degree of innovation and change are the enterprise wide taxonomy. At the opposite extreme are MySites that have the lowest degree of control and highest degree of innovation and change.

Tim's best practices for document management in SharePoint:
  • Support a single source of the truth
  • Consistent taxonomy
  • Centralize management of taxonomy
  • Updateable taxonomy as the organization changes
  • User can enhance core tax and enhance with own particular needs
  • Changes shared with rest of business to avoid duplication
Tim's top ten pitfalls for a SharePoint implementation
  1. MOSS as replacement for a network drive
  2. We know that we need, just set up a default site
  3. Failure of capacity planning
  4. Just set up a site, Joe user will love it - you need some user testing
  5. Oh, while we are at it - adding other upgrades at the same time
  6. Upgrading SQL and line of business applications during portal implementation
  7. Letting front office administration manage SharePoint - they need training and defined roles for Governance
  8. Designing every site before rolling out SharePoint - think in terms of phases.  Do function first
  9. Over-engineered security - use AD as much as you can.
  10. Converting all of the code to web parts - some stuff may just run better not being in

Training Approaches to Drive SharePoint Adoption

Pam Conway, Vice President at  CompuWorks gave this presentation at the Real World SharePoint Experiences seminar.

Pam talks about the purpose of training.  Sure, it is about acquiring skills.  But that is only one piece of the puzzle. Pam's seven points for training:
  • Acquire skills
  • Improve skills
  • Inform
  • Communicate
  • Sell
  • Connect
  • Reassure
You want to use training to inform users so they know how they should be using the tool.  Training can also be used to communicate and explain why they should be using the tool.  Communication is two way, trainers should be listing and bringing feedback from the users.  You should use training to sell the tool.  You need to sell the users on why they should be using the tool.  You need to show them what is in it for them.  Training can also be used to connect individuals within a group or across groups to discuss how they could use the tool.  It is also time to reassure the users.  You should be prepared to hold their hands to let them know that support is there for them.

Training is essential for SharePoint.  If you build it, will they come?  NO.  You need to pull them in.  There are lots of change management issues associated with SharePoint.  Training can help and should be part of the change management process.  You should identify the hurdles in advance so you can address them as part of the training.  Training is just start of the process. You need plan for before, during and after deployment.

For before, you need to generate buy-in.  The trainers should have cases ready that show how current problems can be solved by the adoption of SharePoint.  The trainers should use a real use case in the training sessions.  You also want to show the top-down push for SharePoint.  You need to show what's in it for me to the users. You need to show how it is going to make easier for the individual to be able to do their job.

Pam pitched focusing training on the persons role in SharePoint:  are they a user, contributor, editor, administrator, etc.

There is a learning kit from Microsoft.  It is an add-on from Microsoft download center. Office SharePoint Server 2007 Training

Pam pitches the use of documentation, single page quick reference cards.  (I was surprised that she did not pitch having them in SharePoint, but using paper handouts).

Dispatches from the Front Lines - Themes and Trends in SharePoint Use

Sadie Van Buren of Knowledge Management Associates gave this presentation at the Real World SharePoint Experiences seminar.

Sadie also blogs at A Matter of Degree, a Microsoft SharePoint / Information Architecture / Web Usability blog.

Sadie showed some client reactions and surveys on their use and adoption of SharePoint.  The clients surveyed covered a broad spectrum of industries, size and revenue. It was a small sample set of only 19 companies.  Sadie compares SharePoint to a Swiss Army Knife.  It does lots of things but does not do them very well. There are lots of best of breed programs that do some of the things better.

Some downsides to SharePoint:  it is not Blackberry-friendly, it is not a cross-platform platform, it does not produce reports, it is not good for a relational database and it is not good for transaction uses.

Most people are using SharePoint for search and for their intranet.  Only one is using it for public facing web pages.  Sadie was surprised that about half of the clients were using blogs and wikis.  In part, because they did not ask for them.  They seemed to adopt blogs and wikis just because they were part of the platform.

These are the trends she sees in customization:
  • Site collection creation process for extranets
  • Employee phone list from AD
  • Inserting staff photos into AD
  • Theme changer
  • Alerts refresh
Sadie moved on to some of SharePoint's cultural challenges. Most of the challenges she presented for adoption of SharePoint are the same challenges we have in knowledge management.  People resist changing ways of doing things.  People are too busy to share or won't invest time, management won't assign ownership of content, governance and consistency are a low priority, and "my documents, not the company documents."

Some things that Sadie found to be ingredients for success:
  • Bulletin boards, cafeteria menu and a picture of the day drive traffic
  • Buy-in from management
  • Sponsorship from key users
  • Right attitude: "We're not implementing SharePoint; We're implementing a new KM program."
  • Findability (People need to find things)
  • Integrate with other systems to avoid duplicate data entry

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Social Networking for Lawyers and Legal IT

The International Legal Technology Association is holding a lunch presentation in Boston on Social Networking for Lawyers and Legal IT.
Please join us for this exciting presentation and learn how the lawyers and IT staff at your firm can use Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs to capture knowledge and uncover expertise.


Doug Cornelius
is a senior attorney in Goodwin Procter's Real Estate Group helping clients invest in real estate through a variety of investment vehicles.  In addition to his real estate practice, Doug is a member of the firm's Knowledge Management Department.  In this role, he is responsible for developing and implementing tools and resources to identify, create, represent and distribute knowledge for reuse, awareness and learning.  Doug is a frequent speaker and writer on the legal profession's use of knowledge management, enterprise 2.0, Web 2.0 and social networks.

Jenn Steele is the Director of Information Technology at Morrison Mahoney LLP.  She holds an MBA from the Simmons School of Management and a B.S. in Biology from MIT, with a minor in Expository Writing.  Prior to Morrison Mahoney, she was the Director of Information Technology at Donovan Hatem LLP from 2002-2007, and the Senior Applications Specialist at Burns & Levinson LLP from 2000-2002.  She has also held positions in the health and human services industry.  She is the author of Leading Geeks, a blog focusing on best practices for leading technologists (

Robert Ambrogi is an internationally known legal journalist and a leading authority on law and the Web.  He represents clients at the intersection of law, media and technology and is also established professional in alternative dispute resolution.  Robert is a Massachusetts lawyer, writer and media consultant and is author of the book, The Essential Guide to the Best (and Worst) Legal Sites on the Web.  He also writes the blog Media Law, co-writes Legal Blog Watch and cohosts the legal affairs podcast Lawyer2Lawyer.

Monday, September 22, 2008

State of the Blogosphere

For those of you wondering if blogging is a real activity or whether blogging is worthwhile, you should checkout Technorati's State of the Blogosphere. They are tracking over 133 million blogs and almost one million blog posts every 24 hours.

Enterprise 2.0 Progress Report

We have continue to wiki-fy content at The Firm.  SharePoint treats wiki pages as documents and gives them high rankings in search results. They are quickly becoming the preferred way to capture information and knowledge in the firm.

The SharePoint wiki tool is simple, but that makes it easy to teach people how to use. Everyone who has actually used the wiki is stunned at how easy it is to edit.

Here is the latest count of wiki pages:

June 6 July 7 Sept. 15
Wiki Page205313667

I am staggered at the amount of content flowing into the wikis.

I am using the number of wiki pages as an indicator of adoption. Ideally, I would like to be able to pull the total number of versions of wiki pages. That could be a better indicator of usage because it would show the total number of edits to pages, not just the number of pages. So far I have not been able to find a way to get a report on this from SharePoint.

Does anyone know a way to find that information in SharePoint?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Why Social Computing Aids Knowledge Management

I stumbled across this article by Michael Fitzgerald : Why Social Computing Aids Knowledge Management. (I missed it originally because it was not listed under the Knowledge Management articles on
In fact, social computing represents a third wave for KM: the set of tools and processes companies use to create, track and share intellectual assets, says Patti Anklam, an independent consultant who is focused on KM and social networking. Anklam says the first wave involved digitizing and tracking documents using tools like content management systems. When it became clear that it was too hard to share those documents, companies adopted collaboration tools. With social networks, companies are extending knowledge management to make it easier to connect employees and information.

"A framework for knowledge management consists of understanding what you need to have in place so that people can connect and share with each other, and then...connect to people outside of their own current, small personal networks," Anklam says.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Benefits of Inefficiency

I listened to a profound presentation on the benefits of inefficiency and its implications on enterprise social networks and enterprise 2.0.

One of the many great things at The Firm is the Life Series. The Firm brings in interesting outside speakers to speak about interesting things. A few weeks ago, Devon Harris spoke about his experience as member of the 1988 Olympic Jamaican Bobsled Team and Captain of the 1992 and 1998 Jamaican Olympic teams.

This week Dr. John Lachs, Centennial Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University spoke about how we, as individuals in a complex, modern society, can resist the tendency to allow large institutions to get the better of our human natures.

About 15 minutes into the presentation, I realized the implications of his presentation on justifying knowledge management, enterprise 2.0 and enterprise social networks. I did not have my laptop or even a pad of paper, so I started taking notes of the blackberry. (I think everyone around me thought I was ignoring Dr. Lachs and sending emails.)

Dr. Lachs put forth a proposition about the impotence of large institutions. They break the unity of action. He defined the unity of action as having three parts: (1) intention, (2) execution and (3) the enjoyment or suffering from the action.

People lose interest inside large institutions because they lack control of the three nodes of the unity of action. They are going through the motions because someone else is making them. They are stuck with policies for which they had no input or comment.

The misery of the modern world comes from there being so many of us and our institutions are too big. People do not feel good about it. We can't go back to living in small communities. (Although there are a few left over hippies from the 60s.) But, there are great things about living in the modern world. (You can have grapes in the winter!)

Institutions need to make things more transparent. The CEO needs to spend time with front line workers. People inside institutions need to get to know what others are doing inside the institution.

What are the consequences?

1. Its okay to be a little less efficient if we can be more human. There is no need to keep secrets when making policies. Why are doing this? How could we do it better? How does it impact the enterprise as a whole? All of these questions can be better answered by exposing the policy-making process to a larger audience.

2. We have to lodge responsibility and accept responsibility. We should hold people at the top of ladder as responsible for bad acts of the institution as we do for those people who commit the bad acts.

Institutions, even if built on best intentions, can become inhumane. Sheer size causes institutions to become inhumane. There is a break down in communications. The larger the institution, the bigger the chain of command and the greater the problems.

Using new communication techniques, we may be able to break down some of the barriers and the breakdowns in communications. It is better to be less efficient in order to share information with a larger group.

How do you take the time in our time-sensitive culture? It takes less time then you think. Can you say hello to everyone? (On twitter or yammer you can!) Instead of creating a policy, say "what do you think?" It is actually more efficient because the opening up of the process allows for improvement of the policy. A larger audience will provide greater insight on the impacts of a policy and how it can be improved.

Dr. Lachs wrote the book "Intermediate Man" on this subject.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Social Networking for Lawyers

I am in New York City today participating in a panel on Social Networking for Lawyers sponsored by New York Legal Marketing Marketing Association. I will be joining  Robert Ambrogi of Legal Line, David Johnson a member of the advisory board of Legal OnRamp and John Lipsey of Martindale Hubbell.

The LMA put together this reading list for further reading:

Social Networking Articles

Social Networks Get Down to Business
eMarketer Daily Newsletter, August 18, 2008

LinkedIn: A Competitive Intelligence Tool
By Shannon Sankstone, Marketing the Law Firm Newsletter, August 14, 2008

The Social Network as a Career Safety Net
By Sarah Jane Tribble, The New York Times, August 13, 2008

Social Networking: For Lawyers Only?
By Robert J. Ambrogi, Law Technology News, August 8, 2008

Social Networking May Pay off in the End
By Robert Ambrogi, Law Technology News, June 9, 2008

Exclusive First Look at Martindale Hubbell Connected
By Robert Ambrogi, Legalline, July 31, 2008

"LinkedIn to My Facebook on My Blog - Social Media for Lawyers and Law Firm Staff"
By Jenn Steele and Doug Cornelius
Published in ILTA's March, 2008 white paper titled, Marketing Technologies – Putting Your Best Face Forward

Social Networking Surveys & White Papers

Humans Seek Connections: The Case for Online Social Networking
LMA Resource Committee, with Jayne Navarre

Networks for Counsel Study:  Online Networking in the Legal Community
Independent research, sponsored by LexisNexis

Social Media in the Inc. 500: The First Longitudinal Study
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research

Social Networking Sites

Legal OnRamp

Wikis and Document Management Systems

Versions of this article appeared as
Which Route?
KM Legal, Volume 2 Issue 4, June 2008

EI Case study: Wiki versus DMS at Goodwin Procter
Inside Knowledge, Volume 11 Issue 8
The document management system has long been the factory assembly line for most big law firms.  In turn, the document management system becomes the largest searchable repository of knowledge in a law firm.  With the rise of enterprise 2.0 technologies and their alignment with knowledge management, the question arises how these new technologies might affect the use of existing technologies, like the document management system.  One of the most promising enterprise 2.0 technologies for knowledge management is the wiki. 

Definition of a Wiki

At its core, a wiki is a collection of editable pages on the web.  Each time a wiki page is edited and saved, a new version is created.  Also, when the wiki page is saved, the wiki platform will send out a notification of the changes to subscribers to that wiki page.  A typical feature of the wiki platform is that it is easy to compare changes between any two versions of a wiki page.

Wikipedia is the most famous wiki. is a web-based, free content encyclopedia project.  This site is based on a wiki platform, open for anyone to add content or edit existing content.  With over 9 million articles in more than 250 languages, and over 2.2 million articles in English alone, Wikipedia is several times larger than the Encyclopedia Britannica.  One key step that Wikipedia took was to eliminate any requirement of registration to add or edit content.  Anyone can anonymously edit wiki pages in Wikipedia.  Rarely would a firm allow for anonymous editing of wiki used within the firm.  Most wiki platforms deployed inside a firm's firewall will allow a single sign-on so the editor is recognized from their initial sign-on to the network.

Wikis are attractive as a knowledge management tool because they it make very easy to contribute content and easy to find the content.  Most wikis offer an easy to use "What You See Is What You Get" page editor that resembles a simple word-processing program.  Since the wiki content is in the form of a web page most search engines can easily index and search the contents of the wiki.

Definition of a Document Management System

A document management system (DMS) is a computer system used to track and store electronic documents.  Those electronic documents can include word-processing documents, presentations, scanned documents, spreadsheets and a variety of document formats.

A typical DMS will automatically tag the document with a specific reference identification.  This identification allows for immediate retrieval of the document.  The DMS will allow (or require) you to add metadata about the document.  For law firms, that metadata will typically include a designation of the client and the particular matter for the client.  This allows you to search for a document based on specific criteria about the document in addition to the text of the document.

The DMS will also allow you to add security to the document, so it can be private to the individual, limited to the matter team, limited to the client or to exclude specific people (as may be required for ethical purposes).  The DMS allows you to store multiple versions of a particular document so that you can track the edits to the document.

A DMS succeeds because it offers more functionality than the user would have from saving the document to a standard drive.  The DMS offers greater searching and categorization of documents.  The unique identification marker on the document allows you to quickly identify the exact document in question.  This identification is much shorter than the long file folder designation you would get from a file located on a standard drive.  The DMS can also easily be tied into the word-processing software.  In the end it easy to contribute to the DMS and easy to find content in the DMS.

DMS and Wikis at Goodwin Procter

Almost a decade ago at the beginning of my firm's knowledge management group, one of the first action items was the selection of iManage (now Interwoven's Worksite product) as the firm's DMS.  We now have over 8 million documents in the DMS.  Nearly all of the documents produced by the lawyers and staff in the firm are stored in the DMS. 
Our existing intranet is built on Microsoft's SharePoint 2003 platform.  A great deal of the content on the intranet is merely links to documents in the DMS.  Users update content by opening and editing the content in the DMS.  That shields them from the clunkier web editing and process on the existing intranet. It also allows them to use the version control features of the DMS to trace the history of the document and its content.

Over the past year, we have been planning and implementing an upgrade of our intranet to Microsoft's SharePoint 2007 platform.  Wikis, blogs and some other enterprise 2.0 tools are included as part of SharePoint 2007 platform.  At the outset of planning for our upgrade, we decided to actively use some of these tools to see how they worked.  In particular, wikis caught our attention as a great tool for knowledge management within the firm.  I used the free test version of PBWiki for a variety of projects:  managing our knowledge management projects, co-authoring an article on social networking, planning a conference, managing transactions for a client, preparing and gathering the results of a survey of law firm knowledge management leaders, and gathering definitions of knowledge management. 

Comparison of Functionality

In comparing the features of a wiki and the features of a DMS, a wiki combines more of the features in the document production process into one package.  A wiki has a basic word processing program, with a simple editor for creating content.  The wiki has a flat list of wiki pages within the wiki platform.  (Although some wiki platforms do allow for greater organization.)  The wiki has the ability to compare changes between versions of a wiki page.  The wiki has a notification process that alerts subscribers to the wiki page when changes or additions occur.

The wiki combines features of a word-processing program, a DMS, a document comparison program and an email program into one package.  Of course, a wiki does not have all of the bells and whistles that these four programs do.

The strength of the DMS lies in it rich metadata collection, version control and security.  Within a law firm, it is important to be able to retrieve all of the documents for a particular client or for a particular matter for a client.  And perhaps even more important is the ability to apply security limitations to documents for a particular client or matter.   For example, a document for public company merger would have security applied to limit viewing to the matter team in an effort to avoid the disclosure of the transaction.

Document Behaviors

A wiki and DMS are both focused on producing, storing and sharing content.  A wiki page is just another type of document.  When producing content, I have noted five types of behaviors:  collaborative, accretive, iterative, competitive and adversarial.  In a collaborative scenario, there are multiple authors each with free reign to add content and edit existing content in a document, and they do so.  With accretive behavior, authors add content, but rarely edit or update the existing content.  With iterative, there is single author controlling changes to the document.  The document may have originated from another source, but stands on its own as a separate instance of content.  With competitive content creation, there is a single author who seeks comments and edits to the document as a way to improve the content.  However, interim drafts and thoughts are kept from the commenters.  Adversarial behavior is where the authors are actually competing for changes to the content for their own benefit.  Although there may be a common goal, the parties may be seeking different paths to that goal or even have different definitions of the goal.

Collaborative, accretive and iterative content production are largely internal behaviors.  Competitive and adversarial are largely external document behaviors.  Of course, a document may end up with any or all of these behaviors during its lifecycle.

Typical Behaviors With a DMS

The principal behavior for use of content in he DMS is iterative.  Lawyers will search for and reuse existing content in a DMS.  But rarely will they change an existing document.  Generally, a document in the DMS was drafted for a particular issue for a particular client.  They reuse existing content, but create a new iteration of that content.  Lawyers will work collaboratively in drafting documents, but the process is iterative.  They draft the document with some collaboration with their assistant in finalizing and editing the draft.  The draft is circulated for comments.  Then the lawyer creates a new iteration of the document as a new version of the document in the DMS.  The lawyer then incorporates the changes they accept, finalize this new draft and circulate again.

The transmission of the content to a client or a more senior person inside the firm will result in a competitive behavior.  A junior person will generally want to hide interim drafts and issues from the senior person.  The junior person is looking to impress and move up in the firm.  The same behavior is typical with a client.  The client is expecting vetted, finished work for their review and comment.  With a lawyer-client relationship there is the additional and important issue of liability for mistakes resulting in possible malpractice and personal liability for the lawyer. 
Accretive behavior is seen more often in email than documents.  Each response is added on top of the existing string of information with no one synthesizing the information in a coherent manner.

Typical Behaviors with a Wiki

I have seen two principal behaviors in using wikis.  The first is accretive.  With this behavior, the person will add content to the wiki, but not update or edit existing content.  This is largely the learned behavior from email.  The second behavior is collaborative, where the person will add content, but also edit existing content. 
The accretive behavior is distinguished from the iterative behavior by the grouping of similar content together.  With accretive behavior the content is being added to the same wiki page, effectively editing the document.  With iterative behavior, the lawyer creates a new document rather than adding to an existing document.

When to Use a Document in the DMS

The traditional DMS process is best used when the production of content is adversarial, rather than collaborative.  Generally all discussions between opposing counsel are adversarial, even in transactional law.  With collaborative behavior in a typical wiki, there is no control over the addition or editing of content, other than responding to edits or locking the wiki page from editing.  You give up the control of authoriship.  Most of the bad behavior stories from wikipedia come from an adversarial editing process.  A robust infrastructure has grown as part of wikipedia to deal with adversarial editing.

The DMS is the better repository for documents that enter a competitive or adversarial behavior.  The lawyer will want a record of what was contained in each version of the document as the content was changed by the author.

When to Use a Wiki

The question is what content in the law firm should you "wiki-fy"?

Of the document behaviors, a wiki is an exceptional platform for collaborative treatment of documents.  Ownership of the document is less important than the collection of the content into one synthesized place.

One great use of a wiki is to replace a practices and procedures manual.  One of the first questions I hear when a group creates a practices and procedures manual is how will they know when it changes.  The typical behavior is to draft the manual in a word processing program, save it into the DMS, then email the group when it is complete.  The recipient will then print it out or refer back to the email when using the manual.  With the manual in a wiki, the notification of changes happens as soon as the change is made.  The manual becomes an active flow of information rather than the republishing of a manual.

I had some success using a wiki to manage the internal closing agendas for a client with several transactions occurring in the office at any one time.  Instead of one person needing to control the edits, the entire client team can update any closing agenda at any time.  When viewing the wiki page, it will always be the most up-to date location of information.  As changes are made to an agenda, the wiki platforms sends out a notification of the change to the entire internal client team.  The DMS behavior would be to maintain the closing agenda in a word-processing document.  A single person would be responsible for keeping it up to date (usually the most junior person).  After an edit or a group of edits, the author would email the updated agenda to the client team, who would then have to discern changes or eschew a version full of the marked changes.  The wiki collapses the document process into a shorter series of steps and provides a richer flow of information.

Wiki While You Work

As law firms begin implementing wikis, they will need to identify the best way to use this new tool.  Wikis can simplify the production of content by reducing the number of programs and the steps needed to produce the content.  Although they are not appropriate for all types of content, they are an excellent tool to add to your knowledge management program.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

PEW Survey on Cloud Computing

The Pew Internet and American Life Project released a report on the use of cloud computing applications and services: Pew Survey: Use of Cloud Computing Applications and Services (.pdf).
"Some 69% of online Americans use webmail services, store data online, or use software programs such as word processing applications whose functionality is located on the web. Online users who take advantage of cloud applications say they like the convenience of having access to data and applications from any Web-connected device.
When asked why they use the different services that store personal information on the web, users cite a range of reasons that have mostly to do with ease and flexibility. They like how such services enable them to share data with others and let them easily access their data from any computer."

Thanks to beSpacific for pointing out this story: Pew Survey: Use of Cloud Computing Applications and Services.

DMS and Collaboration Suite: Friends not Foes

Michael Idinopulos published a great piece on his SocialText blog: DMS and Collaboration Suite: Friends not Foes.  (It reminded me that I never published my Wikis and Document Management Systems piece. I have it set to publish tommorrow.)
"When asked about the relationship between DMS and collaboration tools, what I said was that some of the content in a typical DMS really belongs there. These are the documents associated with highly regulated processes. But most of the content in a typical DMS--to-do lists, meeting notes, press clippings, conversations, working papers, personal observations--doesn't really belong there. It's in the DMS because there was no good place to put it. That's where a collaboration suite can do a much better job. A good collaboration suite can liberate that content from the tyranny of documents and nested folders, and will encourage people to use it for actual working materials.

In many cases, you will want to integrate the two. Law firms, for example, are absolutely dependent on their document management systems to manage their filings and other legal documents. But we're increasingly seeing them set up collaboration suites to capture all the discussion around the documents, how to use them, what they mean, and so on. The two systems are integrated with links from the collaboration suite into the corresponding DMS records."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Effective Wiki Uses

Stewart Mader put together a list of 5 Effective Wiki Uses over at Website
  1. Project Management
  2. Customer/Client Collaboration
  3. Documentation
  4. Online Community
  5. Policies, FAQ, Guidelines and Best Practices
Here at The Firm we currently have four uses for wikis:

First, we are using them as a classic encyclopedia, similar to the Wikipedia model.  We start a wiki page for a substantive legal topic, seed it with information and ask others to edit and add to the information.  It is easy to link a topic page to other related topics.

Second, we are using the wiki as a lightweight content management tool.  We are replacing hard-to-edit conventional web pages with wiki pages.  This use is largely focused on administrative information that can be edited and updated by those who know and are responsible for the content.  We are removing the barrier of having to go through IT or an intranet editor to update their content. The individual subject matter experts can update the information themselves.

Third, we are using wikis to manage clients.  Rather than keeping a client's practices and procedures manual in a word document or three-ring binder, we "wikify" it.  The individual sections of the manual get their own wiki page in the wiki library.  Also, each case/matter for the client gets a separate wiki page in the wiki library.  On the case/matter's wiki page, we maintain the status of the matter, with key notes and items to be completed.

Fourth, we use wiki pages to manage administrative projects.  Each project gets an wiki page. On that page we list the items to be done, the milestones to be achieved and the links to other relevant information.  On the page you can get a background, see how the project has evolved, where it is headed and its current status.  This works much better than a folder full of e-mails.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Live Wiki-ing Meetings

You readers know that I routinely blog from conferences as way to keep my notes and share them with you (and myself). [see: ILTA 2007, ILTA 2008, Legal Tech 2008 Enterprise 2.0 2007, Enterprise 2008]  The other day I realized I was doing a better job capturing external sessions than internal sessions.

I was sitting in a practice area meeting taking notes on substantive legal issues. We were coming up with best practices and discussing some traps for the unwary. I looked down at my barely legible handwriting and I think I actually saw the light bulb. My notebook practically slammed itself shut. I sprinted back to my office and grabbed my laptop. On the sprint back, I thought I would put the notes on my internal blog: Real KM. But then I thought this substance would be better off being synthesized in our newly launched topics wiki. During the rest of practice area meeting, I typed the notes and final thoughts of the group into a wiki page for that topic. At the end of the meeting, I sent an email to the practice area with a link to the wiki page with an invitation to edit my notes.

Best of all, the partner who led the practice area meeting edited the wiki page.

Ahhhhh, the sweet smell of success.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Yammer - Platform Communications for the Enterprise

Yammer is a platform communications tool for the enterprise. It is Twitter for your firm. And it just won the top TechCruch award.

As a Twitter user, I have been keeping my eye out for something similar to Twitter for firm communication. Yammer seems to have squarely hit the target. From the Yammer website:
Yammer is a tool for making companies and organizations more productive through the exchange of short frequent answers to one simple question: “What are you working on?”

As employees answer that question, a feed is created in one central location enabling co-workers to discuss ideas, post news, ask questions, and share links and other information. Yammer also serves as a company directory in which every employee has a profile and as a knowledge base where past conversations can be easily accessed and referenced.

Anyone in a company can start their Yammer network and begin inviting colleagues. The privacy of each network is ensured by limiting access to those with a valid company email address. Information is never shared with third parties.

The basic Yammer service is free. Companies can pay to claim and administer their networks.

Yammer was founded by former executives and early employees of PayPal, eGroups, eBay, and Tribe. It is backed by venture capital firms Founders Fund and Charles River Ventures.
Since it is a communications tool, I would need someone to communicate with. So I enlisted my colleague David Hobbie (of Caselines). It was off to races. We used Yammer instead of email all afternoon (mostly). It also seemed like a great way to let my assistant know where I am and what I am doing. So, I added her. It has since grown to six people with nine more invitations sent out.

I also downloaded the blackberry application for Yammer. It works great. Better than any blackberry client I have found for Twitter.

I am not sure how far Yammer will spread beyond the knowledge management group for members or for use.

For more coverage of Yammer:

Facebook for Law Firms and Recruiting

Some law firms are trying to figure out what to do with Facebook. Some are blocking it, some are tolerating it and some are embracing it. Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt + Mosle LLP is embracing it. They have launched a Facebook page to serve as a central component in its law school recruiting efforts:

“We are pleased to be capitalizing on the popularity of the most widely used social networking site,” said Nancy Delaney, Partner and member of Curtis’ Personnel Committee. “As a Firm, we recognized the power of this format of communication and the wide use being made of it by future lawyers.” The Curtis Facebook recruiting page offers a wide range of information about the Firm and its summer associate program. Visitors to the page can read what former summer associates say about their experiences at the Firm. Potential recruits can easily find information about work assignments, Firm news, Firm awards and rankings, and special events, as well as a schedule of the Firm’s on-campus interviews.
Based on my survey of summer associates at The Firm most of them check Facebook every day: Social Network Site Survey. If you are going to market your firm to this group, you should spend you time and energy on where they are. It seems pretty clear that Facebook is full of law students and prospective new associates. Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt + Mosle LLP has figured this out.

Maybe you should spend some time exploring this tool for use by your firm. Is your firm using Facebook for recruiting?

Wachovia and Enterprise Social Networks

I ran across this video of Pete Fields of Wachovia at the Office 2.0 Conference last week:

I became a big fan of Mr. Fields after listening to him at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference: Realizing Business Value through Social Networking within Wachovia. It was great to hear his update on the use of social media/enterprise 2.0 tools at Wachovia.

At the time of the Enterprise 2.0 post, I was so impressed with the initiative that I said maybe its time to buy some sotck in Wachovia. Of course, since then Wachovia and lots of lenders have run into some problems. Pete shares some of these events and how they affected his Enterprise 2.0 deployment.

Thanks to Susan Scrupski of ITSinsider for pointing out this video as part of her coverage of the Office 2.0 Conference.

9/11 from Space

Free Copy of Andrew McAfee's Enterprise 2.0 Article

For those of you have not yet Andrew McAfee's seminal article: Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration, SocialText is sponsoring free copies of the article from their website. The blurb about downloading the article is on the right hand side of the SocialText home page, after you scroll half-way down the full page.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Need to Share Culture

Oscar Berg over at The Content Economy writes about Transforming from a “need to know culture” to a “need to share culture".

The State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency are both moving to become more open and collaborative using enterprise 2.0 tools to gather information and communicate.

Is your firm more secretive than the State Department or the CIA? Why?

As The Firm is adopting enterprise 2.0 tools like wikis and blogs, I will get a request for a private wiki or a private blog. My first reaction is to ask them "Why?" The information they are putting up will be useful for the firm. People are already overloaded with the flow of information. They are not going to spend time reading your blog or wiki unless it is relevant to what they are doing day-to-day. They may find information in it occasionally in a search for information they need to know. Those two situations are exactly the reasons that you want to collect information and communicate using open platform tools like wikis and blogs.

Of course there are areas that do need to be walled off in law firms. Human resources has lots of limitations on what they can make publicly available. Client work needs to walled off to implement ethical walls.

If you are willing to send an internal email to more than one other person, maybe that information should have been put in a blog or wiki instead. You can always send a link to the information in the email, instead of trapping that information in an email.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Twitter and Lawyers (and Legal Professionals)

Adrian Lurssen over at JD Scoop put together a list of lawyers and legal professionals on Twitter: 145 Lawyers (and Legal Professionals) to Follow on Twitter. The list started at 145 and has grown to 180. Tweet Adrian @jdtwit if you are not on the list. I have picked up a dozen or so followers already. I am @dougcornelius.

If you are not familiar with Twitter it is open communications platform, operating like an open instant messaging platform. Since it is an open platform, there are many programs that can tie into your twitter account and twitter feeds.  The folks over at Common Craft can explain it better than I can:

To find out more about Twitter, try some of these:
Or just sign up for Twitter. It does not cost anything except a few minutes of your time.

Enterprise Search at Procter & Gamble

Bud Miyahara, Section Manager, Procter & Gamble shared his company's take on enterprise search during the webinar: FROM VISION TO REALITY: ENTERPRISE SEARCH AT PROCTER & GAMBLE.

The user experience is guided by consumer websites and searches. Internally, the content does not have as wide a variety of information. You need to meet their expectations.

The companies internal search average was 1.58 words which is much less than the 2.7 word average on the internet. A huge number of queries were for acronyms. Over half of the queries were not in their search engine (the search did not return relevant results).

The user benefit they were looking for:
Find the documents you need, the people you should talk to, and the places to look more efficiently than before. Reduce the time spent searching for information, increase the time to make productive connections, and enable action.
The company chose Vivisimo. They liked the end-user experience. What came out of the box was close to what they wanted.  They also like the clustering of Vivisimo.  They also liked the flexibility of connectors and architecture. They ended up with rapid deployment, going from start to live in 8 weeks.

Bud struggled with the ROI on enterprise search. His advice:
  • Throw hard numbers away 
  • Possibility of increase in employee productivity
  • Reduced rework around the globe
  • Increased number of searches being performed
  • Search as the “glue”

How To Be A Hero: Develop An Enterprise Search Strategy

Matthew Brown, Principal Analyst and Research Director at Forrester Research presented on Enterprise Search strategies in a Webinar sponsored by KM World and Vivisimo.

User behavior is driven by consumer experiences
  • Simple queries
  • Illusion of comprehensiveness
Enterprise search technologies are very different
  • Connectivity to specific repositories
  • Business content lacks context, text, and links
And requirements are not the same
  • Security really matters, often mandated by law
  • Application, and worker context is king
This was just a snapshot of his more complete coverage in Matt's foir purchase report: How To Be A Hero: Develop An Enterprise Search Strategy

More on Cloud Computing for Law Firms

Cloud computing has been in my mind lately. Either there are more conversations going on or I am just noticing them more. I ran across this post by Maggie Fox of Social Media Group: You store your money in the cloud - why not your data?

Maggie writes:
"You already store your money in the cloud. Your employer does not give you a bag of gold ingots on payday. They electronically transfer funds to a third party. Most of us are so comfortable with this that we don’t even think about it. . ."
So why should we so uncomfortable with keeping our documents and enterprise information in the cloud.  Maggie points out that there needs a more robust competitive environment for providers and government regulations need to be in place to make it viable.  The recent mistake on Google Chrome's Terms of Service [See: Making Terms of Service Clearer from the Official Google Blog.] One sided terms of service with no liability for a loss of data will not be acceptable for a business to embrace cloud computing.

The challenge will be determining the value of lost data. If the bank looses your $100 deposit, they owe you a $100. If the cloud computing provider loses 100GB data, how much is that data worth?

Of course the enterprise is just as capable of wiping out its own data on sources inside firewall.

Yesterday, I posted on knowledge management in the cloud through Practical Law: Knowledge Management and Practical Law Company. Sunday, I posted about the Xconomy cloud computing conference. Both of which came from my Cloud Computing and Law Firms post last week.

Moving away From the Command and Control Approach to Knowledge Management

I remember listening to David Jabbari, Global Head of Knowledge Management, Allen + Overy LLP at LegalTech 2008. He spoke on a panel entitled: Technology Integration – The New Face of Knowledge Management. Part of presentation focused on the growing use of wikis and blogs at his firm.

Mr. Jabbari has now gone on to embrace Knowledge Management 2.0 in an article in the ABA's Law Practice Today: The End of 'Command Control' Approaches to Knowledge Management?
"If you see knowledge as an inert ‘thing’ that can be captured, edited and distributed, there is a danger that your KM effort will gravitate to the rather boring, back-office work preoccupied with indexes and IT systems. This will be accompanied by a ritualized nagging of senior lawyers to contribute more knowledge to online systems. If, however, you see knowledge as a creative and collaborative activity, your interest will be the way in which distinctive insights can be created and deployed to deepen client relationships. You will tend to be more interested in connecting people than in building perfect knowledge repositories"
As he writes in the article, Mr. Jabbari first caught onto this idea after seeing a seminar on Wikipedia a few years ago. He now sees knowledge management as a three prong approach: Collaboration, Location and Navigation.

I like the focus on these three areas so this is my take on them:

Collaboration. We must encourage the unregulated proliferation of content online (internally and externally). At law firms, this is already this occurring in our document management systems. Moving it online is just changing the forum. Even though enterprise 2.0 is more open, it surprisingly easier to monitor the content. As wikis are growing at The Firm, our KM team is taking on the role of wiki gardeners, as well as wiki champions.

Location. Google has raised the expectation of people when looking for information. The junior associates coming into a law firm are used to finding whatever they want at the snap of their fingers. Law firms need to have that same capability internally. This can work by just pointing the search engine at your document collections. But then you lose the inter-relationship between the content. The use of wikis and enterprise 2.0 tools allows you link to relevant content found elsewhere.

Navigation. Search is great, but you also need to guide people to the good content. Search is important when you are not sure what you are looking for and navigation is important when you do know what you are looking for.

Also see:

Monday, September 8, 2008

Knowledge Management and Practical Law Company

Practical Law Company (PLC) ( is invading the United States later this year. Like the Beatles did for music, the British invasion from PLC looks like it will change knowledge management for law firms. Jeroen Plink and Denise Caplane of PLC bought me lunch and gave a demo of the UK deployment of Practical Law and a preview of the US deployment of Practical Law.

Why Use Practical Law Company?:
  • Increase efficiency and productivity
  • Cost Savings
  • Risk control
  • Attract and retain talent
  • Training and Professional Development Tool
Obviously, those are the goals of knowledge management. But can PLC pull all of this off? So what does PLC actually do?

It is web-based collection of transactional documents, notes, articles and know-how. All these resources for its US deployment are developed and maintained by US lawyers in PLC's NY office.

To show how it works, Jeroen jumped into the process a junior lawyer might go through for a private stock acquisition. You either browse to the private stock acquisition section or search for a "private stock acquisition." All resources relating to private stock acquisitions are assembled in one location: practice notes (explanatory notes), standard documents/forms, market practice analysis, checklists and news items. You can start off with practice notes section and can pull up an overview of this type of transaction. The overview goes through matters such as the typical structure of this type of transaction, the key documents, interests of the main players and what the key documents do.

Then you can jump to the standard documents/forms. Most form documents also have drafting note document that take you through each provision in the document, what each provision does and practical tips for either party to the deal. You can download the form document into Word using either a PLC standard style or your firm styles. (You do know how to use Word Styles? Don't you?) Even better, many of the forms have an automation feature called FastDraft. This document assembly engine allows you to answer a few questions and have the draft document be better suited to your transaction and fill in repetitive information.

The subject area also has checklists, legal updates, articles and a glossary on that area of the law.

The materials are labeled as maintained meaning they are maintained and updated by the PLC staff attorneys. Or they are labeled with a last updated date, which is mostly used for articles and news.

Jeroen moved on to the market analysis feature of Practical Law called "What's Market." For public transactions, they do a summary of significant transactions and chart key terms. This allows you to search by deal type to see key terms. For example, you can pull a chart of break-up fees for transactions similar to the one you are negotiating or risk factors in 10k's in a particular industry.

Practical Law has collections of briefs on cross-border transactions so you can see how transactions are handled in other countries. These are outsourced by law firms in those countries, not the Practical Law staff. I assume those firms do it to attract work. Law Departments are big users of Practical Law in the UK.

You can also personalize Practical Law for your firm. You can add annotations to items that are viewable just for your firm. For example, you can note that your firm handles these type of issues in a different way and links to other resources.

Since Practical Law is web-based you can also integrate it into your enterprise search tool and index the Practical Law content along with your firm's internal content.

The invasion by Practical Law is scheduled for later this year. The initial subject areas will be limited to (a) Corporate and Securities and (b) Finance. They have plans to expand beyond those subjects into a robust collection of information on US law. One of the challenges in the US is the number of jurisdictions involved. When they move to real estate they will have 51 different jurisdictions that each handle things in a different way (51? Don't forget Washington D.C.!)

Practical Law is surprisingly inexpensive. There is a sliding scale of prices, but it should be less than $2000 per attorney, depending on the number of subjects, size of the firms, etc.

Practical Law has an army of attorneys producing their information. According to Jeroen, his staff is comprised of attorneys from the top law firms ( It seems to me that it may be much cheaper (and easier) to buy into PLC's army of KM attorneys than it will be for an individual firm to do the same.

Practical Law offers up a free trial period once it launches in the US. I think this may be like a crack dealer offering free samples to get you hooked.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Xconomy’s Cloud Computing Extravaganza

As a follow-up to my post on Cloud Computing and Law Firms, I ran across the materials for a recent conference on cloud computing from Xconomy: Notes From Xconomy’s Cloud Computing Extravaganza. They have also posted the slides from conference:
Says Irving Wladawsky-Berger:
"Nicholas Carr nicely framed the historical shift to cloud computing in his keynote, which was based on his recent book, The Big Switch. Carr first talked about the evolution of power plants in the 19th century. In the early days, companies usually generated their own power with steam engines and dynamos. But with the rise of highly sophisticated, professionally run electric utilities, companies stopped generating their own power and plugged into the newly built electric grid.

IT, said Carr, is the next great technology that is going through a similar transformation. Many IT capabilities, now handled in a distributed way, will be centralized in highly industrialized, efficient, scalable data centers—Clouds—which should free companies to invest in innovation where it really matters to their business. Nick acknowledged that IT clouds are quite different in nature from electricity—more complex and diverse in the services they offer. So it is too early to tell how IT clouds will evolve."

Thanks to Lee Gesmer of MassLawBlog for his story:  Cloud Computing - The “Next Big Thing”?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Be the First to Blog Inside Your Firm

Being the first or one of just a few bloggers inside your organization can put you in an influential position. Scott Gavin put together five reasons why in his First Mover Advantage article:
  1. Senior management will want to know who you are and what you are saying. Are you a threat or an innovative individual who’s willing to share his thoughts in a public forum?
  2. The first blog is like a when a new kid starts school. People want to know who you are, what you are like and what you have to say. Whether they take to you after this is another matter and is up to you.
  3. It can feel like a new era has dawned on your company. This is especially true if the blog originates outside of a technical IT line. Such a simple thing as a blog can make people feel like the company is moving with the times both culturally and technically.
  4. You are doing something new that others wish they had the courage to do, so they’ll take notice and champion your efforts.
  5. You’ll be seen as a risk talker and innovator. In many companies this is a good thing.
. . .
I’m not saying any old Joe can achieve great things just by blogging. However if you really are great, and have great ideas and interesting things to say, then step up and get noticed.
If your firm has an internal blogging platform, jump on board and start writing.  It is good for your career to think about your job for a few minutes a day and write down a few of those thoughts.

If your firm does not have an internal blogging platform, set up an external blog.  It only takes a minute to set one up using a hosted blogging platform like Blogger or WordPress. (Of course check to see if your firm has a blogging/internet/social media policy and make sure you comply with it.)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Enterprise Social Network at Sabre

In continuing to explore Enterprise Social Networks after my Beyond Blogs and Wikis post I came across an an article by Toby Ward: Employee social networking − Sabre Town case study.
"We humans are social creatures. With rare exceptions, we strive to relate, converse and connect with others. Social networking promotes online communities of interests and activities that promote connections between users in a more open and robust manner than simple e-mail. While best represented by the quintessential MySpace and Facebook, social networking has made significant strides into the corporate intranet where employee networking is becoming a valuable asset to leading organizations that covet the new breed of employees. This young, web savvy employee cohort desires – if not demands – a more social and dynamic work environment that uses the best possible Web 2.0 (Intranet 2.0) technology."
Sabre runs most of the world’s airline flight reservation systems among other systems, with nearly 10,000 employees. They rolled out an enterprise social network called Sabre Town. The employee profile is more casual and friendly than your standard employee directory. The profile includes the following, if answered by the employee:
  • Shared photos
  • Blogs
  • User commenting
  • Network connections and feeds
  • Enterprise question and answer functionality
  • What’s your hometown?
  • Where do you live now?
  • What do you really do for a living?
  • What are your corporate gigs and contacts?
  • What are your skills, expertise or things you rule in?
  • What is your favorite lunch spot or watering hole?
  • What are the sports you can’t live without?
  • What are your favorite hobbies?
  • What’s the music you put on continuous repeat?
  • What celebrity are you most like?
  • Places you’ve traveled
  • Places you dream about going
Sabre is able to show an ROI from the system's question and answer feature.

Thanks to James Robertson of Column Two and Step Two Designs for pointing out this article:
Employee social networking at Sabre .

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Beyond Wikis and Blogs

We are continuing to roll out wikis at The Firm and getting ready to push out internal blogs. Wikis are rapidly gaining traction at The Firm. We now have more wiki pages than conventional web pages on our intranet.

With this success, I am thinking ahead to what is coming next. An article by Ashley Jones in E Content Magazine gave me some ideas: Studies Suggest That Enterprise Social Media Will Change the Face of Business.
Though many companies already have enterprise-wide wikis and blogs to promote collaboration, enterprise social networking brings something a little different to the table. "We’re huge fans of wikis and blogs, but they don’t do a good job of helping users find those people who would be interested in collaborating in a wiki in the first place," notes [Peter Biddle, VP of development for Trampoline, which offers its SONAR suite—a portal delivered via API that provides tools for employees to locate experts, connect, and collaborate.]

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Unlearn What You Have Learned

In making the case for enterprise 2.0 and web 2.0, there is usually the argument about showing the return on investment from the CIO and CMO. I ran across the Afterthought column in E Content magazine by David Meerman Scott: Unlearn What You Have Learned.
"I suggest that when people are faced with the inevitable push back from executives about "the ROI thing" to ask the executives a few questions: 1) Have you answered a direct mail ad or visited a tradeshow as an attendee? (Nearly all answer "No.") 2) Have you used Google or another search engine? (Nearly all answer "Yes.") OK, I then ask, why are we putting all our marketing resources into the old stuff such as tradeshow booths and direct mail instead of the things that people are using today?"

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Law Firm Recruiting and Blogging

Wilmer Hale has launched four associate blogs as part of the firm's Wilmer Hale Careers website.
  • Julie Smolinski from the Palo Alto office and is a member of the Transactional Department, Corporate Practice Group
  • Ross Firsenbaum from the New York office and is a member of the Litigation/Controversy Department.
  • Anne McLaughlin from the Boston office and is a member of the Litigation/Controversy Department.
  • Kevin Chambers from the Washington office and is a member of the Securities Department, Securities Litigation and Enforcement Practice Group.
Although Lisa van der Pool was dismissive of the blogs in the Boston Business Journal (Blog Fog subscribers only), I liked the use of blogs as a recruiting tool.  They give some insight into the lives of these associates and, by proxy, into the life of an associate at WilmerHale.  Sure it may be a sanitized view, showing everything is great. But it is still a view that will appeal to recruits. It certainly gives a recruit plenty to talk about if they get to interview with any of these four bloggers.

Cloud Computing and Law Firms

I was sharply critical of the Law Firm CIO 100 panel for being dismissive of using Enterprise 2.0 tools. [See: Web 2.0 - What is Means to Law Firms] The Law Firm CIO 100 had a presentation on Google Apps and were impressed with the functionality and cost savings.  Apparently they were impressed with cloud computing approach of Google Apps, not the collaboration approach.

As Dave Rigali commented on that post:
"In the end, it was the economics of something like Google Apps that caught the CIOs attention. Isn't this where their focus should be?"
Cloud computing can show a tangible cast savings and return on investment.  The same is not true for enterprise 2.0 for law firms.  The benefits of the knowledge sharing and platform communications are difficult to measure at law firms. Law firm revenue is tied to hourly billing. Most enterprise 2.0 and knowledge management tools lead to efficiency, which is a reduction in hours for a task, and a direct reduction in revenue. You need to make the leap that those gains in efficiency will lead to better client satisfaction, increased realization, stronger client relationships and improved attorney satisfaction.

Cloud computing offers lots of possibilities.  I first became interested in the possibility after listening to Rishi Chandra, Product Manager, Google Enterprise, give a brief presentation on cloud computing at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference: Working in the Cloud: How Cloud Computing is Reshaping Enterprise Technology.

Anita Campbell posts on the {App}GapCloud Computing - Get Used to the Term.  The term "cloud computing" did not spring up as significant Google search term until October, 2007. Anita offers a few definitions of cloud computing.

Over the past weekend, I saw Dennis McDonald post on his Lesson Learned From Using Google Docs. Like the Law Firm CIO 100, he thinks the product needs a lot of improvements but sees much value:
"In summary, Google Docs is impressive. The fact it is available free and can be configured to run locally are additional reasons to consider it for serious applications. Still, I can see how introducing its use into an organization accustomed to more traditional tools might take some time."
I have used Google Docs to write a few of my print articles. See: Wiki While You Work and Wikis and Document Management Systems at Law Firms. I find it a great way to collaborate with co-authors and editors. I really like that I had quick and easy access to edit the articles whenever I had internet access.

It is clear that the tools need some improvement before they will be adopted by large law firms. But the cost savings and ease of maintenance make for a compelling reason to consider cloud computing.  

Monday, September 1, 2008

Killable Hour

This week's Economist has a brief article on whether the time is up for clockwatching lawyers: Killable Hour.
"If the billable hour does perish, it will be at the hands of the clients, rather than the private-practice lawyers themselves.
. . .
But the legal industry is not known for welcoming change. Whatever it turns out to be, the billable hour’s replacement must be easy to use—and must strike a compromise between clarity for the client and profits for the law firm."