Thursday, March 29, 2007

Demise of Document Management?

Ron Friedmann has reported [Strategic Legal Technology :: Demise of Document Management?] that the UK firm Lewis Silkin is replacing their Hummingbird document management system with Sharepoint.

As I pointed out in my posts last week on the four types of document searches, they lose the critical fetch and recall searches to get a more effective research search. The traditional DM is great system for managing documents; it is not a great system for knowledge management.

I prefer the approach that Tom Baldwin at Sheppard Mullin has taken with layering the Sharepoint search engine on top of the DM system. This gives you the best of both worlds with the great management of the DM and the superior search of Sharepoint.

Topic Maps

In response to my post on taxonomies and folksonomies, Matt Hodgson offered a solution of topic maps as a way to deal with the unstructured chaos that comes along with folksonomies.

I have been looking at a similar approach of leveraging topic maps in my search for an enterprise search engine. Products like Recommind are able to create a relationship among words and phrases in a document and equate them as synonyms. So when you search for a "P & S" the search engine will return a "purchase and sale agreement", "sale agreement", and "purchase agreement" as well as a"P&S."

The next step is to get them to recognize the folksonomy tags and create relationships among them as well as the words in the document. Effectively, the folksonomy tag would be just another piece of metadata for the document.

Knowledge Management among the Top Ten Tools

Bain & Company released the 11th edition of their Management Tools and Trends Study. Among the top ten "most used" tools was knowledge management (for the first time). Knowledge management had been in the bottom 5 for satisfaction for the last ten years. From 1996 to 2006 it moved from 28% to 69% usage average, with the highest coming from Asia and the lowest in Latin America.

Executives Are Taking a Hard Look at Soft Issues, According to Global Management Study by Bain & Company

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Taxonomies and Folksonomies

Matt Hodgson has three posts on taxonomies, folk taxonomies and Folksonomies.

I have struggled with trying incorporate taxonomies into our work product retrieval and precedent storage systems. It has been difficult to create anything that exists beyond a single practice area. As Matt highlights in his post, taxonomies create a one-size-fits-all approach that may be comprehensive, but it is hard to get all of the concepts in place. As the taxonomy gets bigger it just makes it harder for the user to find topics and harder to file items into the taxonomy.

We have implemented a tool that auto-categorizes documents: West KM. It does an excellent job of categorizing substantive legal memos into the West key system. But is it worth the effort? In our analysis, users start with search terms. Very few browse through the categories. I also find the west taxonomy to be lacking in depth in many areas.

Folksonomies are intriguing to me, because they put categorization in the users hands (for better or worse). I have become a big fan of (you can see my tags).

Folksonomies have a lot of flaws. Just take a look at the most popular tags on "video" and "videos" are two separate entries.

What really intrigues me about folksonomies is being able to include them as part of the metadata for an enterprise search. As we have experienced with WestKM, most users will start with a search. If the tags allow us to manipulate the rankings of documents it could make the enterprise search engine more powerful and useful.

I assume the enterprise search engine will use stemming and other techniques to eliminate the noise of the "video" and "videos" tags.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Knowledge Management Jargon

The Applied Knowledge Group put together this list of terms used in the practice of knowledge management:

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Wikis for the Legal Profession

Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell present an good primer on wikis for lawyers: The Strongest Links -- Wikis for the Legal Profession.

The big advantage of wikis is being able to produce a notification of change. In particular, the generation of an rss feed and the user having an rss aggregator.

I have been experimenting with wikis for our next generation of our intranet. Wikis by themselves do not offer much more functionality that a folder of documents in our document management system. However, the notification feature of a wiki turns the document into a communication tool.

One area I having testing wikis is for a client's practices and procedures memo. A question came up at a client team meeting: "How will I know when there is a change?" Keeping the practices in a word document would require two steps when a procedure cahnges: (1) the attorney makes the edits and (2) then the attorney has to send out an email alerting others to the change. By converting the memo to a wiki, the two steps are compressed into one. The attorney makes the edits. The intranet then generates the rss feed with the change. Then all of the subscribed attorneys get a notification of the change in their rss aggregators.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Insurance company refuses to cover law firm's blog

The New Jersey Law Journal is reporting that An Insurance company refused to cover a law firm's blog.

As Ron Friedmann reported, there is a distinct lack of blogs produced by large US Law firms. Anecdotally, most law blogs (blawgs?) I find are produced by smaller firms.

There are the advertising limitations on law firms that impacts blogs. Bar overseers are struggling with how to deal with the web presence of law firms and how they should be treated.

I understand the liability concerns that come with attaching the firm's brand to a blog: the possibility of the blog being considered legal advice or the inadvertent creation of a lawyer-client relationship.

There is also a question of removing posts that are no longer valid due to changes in law or are found to be inaccurate.

Ultimately, the biggest problem with blogs is getting lawyers to contribute to them. As with all knowledge management tools, content is king. Convincing a lawyer to make contributions on regular basis will be a difficult task.

Nonetheless, my firm is working on a blogging policy and has identified one of its regular publications for a blog pilot. This publication should be an excellent fit since it is published weekly and is full of substantive content. The process is already in place for a weekly mass email of the publication as a PDF file. Conversion to a blog will give it a much broader audience.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The ABCs of Search Engine Marketing has a detailed article on search engine marketing. Although it goes into detail about the use of a search engine marketing specialist, there is enough background information on how to enhance the relevancy of your website in search results.

The same techniques carry over to intranet searching as well, since most intranet search engines operate in a similar way. The need text in the html of the page.

The ABCs of Search Engine Marketing - ABCs

Google Customized Search

Google now allows you to create a customized search that will only search the sites of your choosing.

Ron Friedmann of Strategic Legal Legal Technology blog and Prism Legal Consulting used this to search the websites of the AmLaw 200 firms.

I created one to search the essential knowledge management sites. (Mentioned in my previous post)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

27 essential knowledge management sites.

Lucas McDonnell in his Uncommon Knowledge blog posts
27 essential knowledge management sites.

These are great resources for learning more about knowledge management across a wide spectrum of industries and academia.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Great Firewall of China

Great news. This blog is not blocked by the Chinese censors. However my website ( is blocked.

At least that is according to this website: Great Firewall of China

Monday, March 12, 2007

The New Real Estate

Arthur Segel published an article in the Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge on the real estate boom: The New Real Estate.

He points out four stories in the commercial real estate markets:

1. Record prices: Highest price for a single building ($1.8 billion for 666 Fifth Avenue in New York City), the most paid for one project ($5.4 billion for Peter Cooper Village, also in New York City) and the largest takeover ever ($39 billion takeover of commercial property owner Equity Office Properties Trust) (now second after TXU).

2. New Capital Markets. REITs are now in 24 countries with 28 other countries looking to implement them.

3. Sustainable Development. Green Buildings are coming.

4. Emerging Markets. Huge real estate growth in China and India.

The problem? REIT dividends are at an historic low of 3.6% (100 basis points below the 10 year treasury), the housing market is in a slump, foreclosures have risen.

Disrupting conventional law firm business models using document assembly

Darryl Mountain published an article on document assembly Disrupting conventional law firm business models using document assembly in the International Journal of Law and Information Technology.

He identifies three barriers to the adoption of document assembly: 1. Shortage of Right People, 2. Inadequate Capital and 3. Rules against the Unauthorized Practice of law. Although his article is about externally facing document assembly being made available to the public, I think the same barriers exist for internally facing document assembly products.

1. Shortage of the Right People: For a successful and sustainable document assembly process you need both a technology person for the programming and a legal person for legal expertise. The legal person will need to tolerate the technology limitations, the intrusion of the logic tree and business process on the form documents. The technology person will need to understand the legal needs and anticipate the legal business process. Both of these type of people are few and far between in a law firm.

2. Inadequate Capital. It is difficult to identify the documents that it is worth investing the resources into to automate. The simplest (i.e. shortest documents) are generally the first to be automated. As the documents get longer and more complicated, harder decisions need to be made about the choice of language and decision-making process to achieve the right language. This is where many automation projects fall aside. Attorneys lose interest as the choices made no longer match the choices they would make. I have found the most successful projects to be those focused on a particular client, where a senior partner can force the decisions on those working for his client.

3. Rules Against the Unauthorized Practice of Law. For external document assembly this is the biggest issue. For software vendors, this is largely insurmountable. For law firms making the legal knowledge available through document assembly, this opens them to malpractice claims from unknown individuals. For internal document assembly, there is a similar concern that an attorney without the substantive knowledge will misuse the document assembly program, opening the law firm to malpractice. From a technology standpoint this can be controlled through security. But one should also point out that an individual attorney misusing a document assembly product would otherwise be uncovering a random form or precedent from another knowledge system. The document assembly package can be used to better steer the attorney in the right direction, give better advice and point them to who they need to talk to.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Operation Spamalot

Someone at the Securities and Exchange Commission is a Monty Python fan and is tired of getting spam promoting questionable companies.

Press Release: SEC Suspends Trading of 35 Companies Touted in Spam Email Campaigns; 2007-34; March 8, 2007

From the trading activity described in the press release it looks like the spam campaigns really work. APPM went from $.06 with a trading volume of 3,500 shares in two days of spam to $0.19 with a volume of 484,569 shares.

A little late by the SEC, USA Today was warning the masses about this many months ago.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Search Federal Regulations

Tim Stanley and Justia have launched of a free, searchable database of Federal Register Regulations, Proposed Rules and Notices.

This site allows you pick and choose the subject and topical content, as well as document type, from each daily Federal Register Index, and allows you to browse the content, and create a custom filter of specific content.

Even better, the site supports RSS feeds for each agency's respective documents.

Hyatt Vineyard Creek

I just closed a transaction today. I represented an institutional real estate investor who entered into a joint venture with a hotel operator for the acquisition of the Hyatt Vineyard Creek in Santa Rosa, California.

The hotel is subject to a ground lease from the Santa Rosa Redevelopment Agency. Debt financing was provided by JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A.

Monday, March 5, 2007

KM Advertising

The first video advertising I have seen for knowledge management. I think I might start my presentations with this.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Directory of Law Firm Blogs

Ron Friedman of Prism Legal Consulting, Inc. and Joy London of Excited Utterances compiled a directory of Large US law firms with firm-branded blogs or RSS - feeds.

Not very many.