Monday, April 27, 2015

Ravel Law Launches Judges Analytics: Precedential Behaviour Analysis Made Easy.

Ravel Law is  relatively new entrant to the legal research market. Just looking at Ravel you can see that it was designed without regard to the hierarchical and organizational conventions of  traditional legal research. They use a unique algorithm and an analytical approach to displaying and ranking the relevance of cases which I outlined in an earlier post: Ravel Law: Legal Research Radically Reimagined.
Ravel: Judge's Citation Analysis and Comparison to Peers

Judges Analytics Earlier this month they launched a new judges analytics platform which may be especially interesting to partners and senior attorneys responsible for developing litigation strategy.  I am inclined to say we need a new vocabulary to describe these innovative legal research techniques. I am inclined to describe Ravel as providing "Precedential Behavior Analysis." The bottom line is that Ravel has invented new ways for lawyers to seek a competitive advantage by discovering patterns and outliers in judges opinions  as well as  insights into who and what influences them. And yet the desire to gain competitive insights is not new... Daniel Lewis one of the co-founders of Ravel likes to  tell a story about how President Lyndon Johnson used precedential insights in 1948 to overcome an election challenge. The full story is printed below.*

From Anecdote to Precedential Insights
Lawyers have always employed a variety of techniques to glean insights into a judges temperament and judicial behavior including firm wide emails, checking court websites or  directories like the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary which provides lawyers comments about judges. Ravel has created a completely new way of gaining competitive insights.

Wouldn't You Like To Know:...

  • How many opinions your judge has written addressing an issue
  • How often has the judge  ruled in your favor on that issue?
  • What precedents do they cite?
  • What Circuits do they cite?
  • Does this judge rely on different caselaw than other judges?
  • What language does this judge find to be persuasive on an issue?

Ravel provides powerful comparative analytics illustrating citation patterns and patterns of rulings which can be accessed with a simple keyword search.

In addition to the analytics, Ravel provides up to the minute feeds from news sources and blogs on individual judges.
Ravel Judge News and Blog Coverage





*Lyndon Johnson & Abe Fortas  Strategy
In 1948, years before he became president, Lyndon B. Johnson fought a desperate senate election campaign. A loss would ruin his political career. With election day approaching, a district court judge issued an injunction keeping Johnson’s name off the ballot until accusations of voter fraud in the democratic primary were resolved. Johnson called in attorney Abe Fortas to seek the one outcome that mattered: get the injunction overturned, fast.
Fortas devised an unconventional, but brilliant strategy – the only one that could work in the time available. He recommended identifying and appealing to the 5th Circuit judge most likely to rule against Johnson. A loss would allow Johnson to quickly appeal to the Supreme Court, where Fortas expected they could win a final, favorable decision from the Fifth Circuit’s overseer, Justice Hugo Black.
 
Executing on the plan, a team of lawyers flew to New Orleans to dig through previous decisions by the Fifth Circuit’s judges. After analyzing the rulings and language in case after case they found their judge, the one most likely to rule against them. Properly targeted, the court fight unfolded exactly as envisioned by Fortas. Johnson went on to win the election. And Fortas? He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1965.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

New ALM Law Firm Staffing Report: Outsourcing Out, Library Staff In, Partners Answering Own Phones?

American Lawyer Legal Intelligence has released a new report “Law Firm Support Staff How Many are Enough?”

"In response to the changing legal landscape, law firms have restructured their staffing of both attorneys and non-attorneys alike.  Law firm management has begun to realize that they can use support staff more strategically within the organization. This survey examines staffing changes and the impact on law firm for the following categories: legal support staff, library services, marketing and business development, office services and litigation support"

The authors of this year's report acknowledge up front the challenge of establishing consistent staff and function definitions that have equivalencies across all law firms. They wonder at what point does  secretarial work morph into paralegal work?   When a report indicates that partners are answering their own phones and doing their own proofreading, one has to wonder if the cost control and staff reductions of the Great Recession haven't "overshot the mark."

At what point is the cost of efficiency too high? At the point where client support is suffering and lawyers are no longer focused on using their "highest and best talents?"
Here are some key findings from the report:

  • Spending on non-attorney staff continued to increase. 47% of firms increased their spending on staff.
  • 62% decreased legal support staff levels.
  • Firms are reducing lower level staff while recruiting staff with more sophisticated skills who are being paid higher salaries.
  • Legal support staff (secretaries and other administrative clerks) continue to be the biggest staffing category.
  • Library Staffing has been impacted by technology more than any other staff function.
  • Outsourcing remains unpopular. Library is the department least likely to be outsourced and litigation support the most likely to be outsourced.
  • Lawyers and paralegals are doing more online research. The report suggests that this research is "being taken away from the library." I completely disagree. Lawyers have been doing their online research for 30 years. Librarians have been freed from routine research and are now able to focus on conducting more sophisticated research and generating analytics on a wide range of non-legal issues to support both the business and practice of law.
  • 34% of firms who had outsourced, brought the work back in-house.
  • IT and office services where the functions that were most often brought back in house after unsuccessful outsourcing.
  • 97% of lawyers screen their own calls. (I wonder if this is because they are relying more on their mobile phones which are not available for secretarial screening.) But it does raise the troubling possibility that downsizing from the recession has pushed clerical work up to partners and impacting both billable time and client support.
  • Litigation support is the function most likely to have increased staffing in the next year.
  • Marketing functions which are most often performed by outside vendors are website design, Public relations and graphic design.

The bottom line is that each firm must find its own balance of efficiency, cost control, staffing and client support. The responses to this year's survey in some ways seem both inconsistent and contradictory, but perhaps this is just a reflection of the varying methods firms are using to reconfigure support (automation vs insourcing vs outsourcing vs downsizing vs upgrading). One size solution does not fit all.

 .

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Private Law Libraries SIS Members Vote In Favor of Name Change To Reflect New Member Roles Beyond the Bookshelves

Note: This post was originally published on Tuesday but it was mysteriously deleted from the blog so I am reposting.
 
Members of the The Private Law Libraries Special Interest Section of AALL have voted to change the name of the SIS to "Private Law Librarians & Information Professionals." The results were released Tuesday in a special edition of the PLL eNewsletter. Almost 79 % of those voting, cast ballots in favor of the name change.

The name change accomplishes two things. It changes the focus from "libraries" to the "librarians" themselves. It enlarges the membership tent to include the growing number of librarians who are now pursuing non-traditional careers as information professionals within law firms.

In late 2013 the PLL Board surveyed members on the name change. At that time 70% of the members indicated that the word "librarian" no longer described the scope of their responsibilities. Nonetheless. there was a strong resistance to rebranding the SIS without including either the word "library" or "librarian." The Board finally proposed a compromise name which satisfied both the traditionalists and those professionals who are focused on redefining the profession for the 21st century.

Creating a more inclusive name recognizes the many "non-library" activities performed by PLL members. An increasing number of librarians are focused on Competitive Intelligence, Business Intelligence, Knowledge Management, records, docket, web development, and other emerging digital roles. Members are intentionally embedding information professionals in practice groups outside of the library. I saw it as increasingly risky to maintain a tight professional identity with a room that is shrinking.

"Private Law Firm Librarians & Information Professionals" acknowledges the professional roots and a signals to law firms and the larger world that SIS members engage in a broader range of activities beyond traditional librarianship, it also combats the stereotypes that generate unconscious biases. Most importantly the new name recognizes that information professionals have a role that will endure long after the last book has been tossed in the dumpster.

The final step in the name change is a vote to amend thy Bylaws to reflect the new name. Those ballots will be sent to members on May 13th.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

"3 Geeks" Founder Greg Lambert Enters the C Suite At Amlaw 200 Firm Jackson Walker: An Interview With a Geek

Jackson Walker an Amlaw 200 firm based in Texas has promoted Greg Lambert to their roster of C-level leaders.  Lambert  joined the firm as the Director of Library and Research Services in 2012 and became Chief Knowledge Services Officer in February of this year. Lambert made a name for himself as one of the founders and writers of the award winning 3 Geeks and a Law Blog.

My first encounter with Greg occurred at the inaugural PLL Summit in 2010 when he rather
Greg Lambert
prophetically spoke on the topic: "Expanding Your Role: How to Reach the C Level." In the course of his presentation he  raised some uncomfortable issues about the low numbers of librarians at the  C Level in law firms. (Data indicates that fewer than 1% of  the C-level leaders in law firms began their career as librarians.) He pointed out that in the past 20 years librarians were repeatedly at the forefront of introducing new initiatives and technologies above and beyond their core responsibilities as librarians.

These innovations include providing firms with the first link to the Internet, introducing knowledge management (which by the way librarians invented in about 2000 BC), competitive intelligence and formal professional development programming. But instead of having their roles elevated, a strange thing happened… someone else was hired to lead each new initiative. Worst of all the people hired into these new roles were then elevated to the C-Level! The persistence of the pattern is too dramatic to be ignored. But for today, lets celebrate the addition of one more librarian to the C-Suite and congratulate both Greg and Jackson Walker.

I invited Greg to answer some questions about his new role and share his wisdom on law firms and the role of legal information professionals.

What unique perspective and expertise do librarians bring to C-level discussions and strategy?
GL: I think a lot of librarians underestimate what they bring to their organization. I know I’ve mentioned this before to you, but librarians (whatever you call them) are one of the best evaluators of risk that the organization has. Librarians understand the information and knowledge needs of the organization, usually they have significant relationships within the organization, and they know the industry and industry players very well. They are leaders, and need to see themselves as such. No one in the organization has the skill sets that a librarian has. The unfortunate thing is that many times their voices are pushed into the background at times when it should be heard very loudly. Whether that is self-imposed, or something of a traditional stance taken by the organization, it needs to change. Many of us deal with 7 or 8-figure budgets, many of us have multiple departments to manage, coordinate between different Admin and Professional groups within our organization, but when it comes to the strategic goals of our organizations, we are pushed to the sidelines. That just can’t be the norm. I understand that each organization has its own personality on who sets strategy, but we have just got to make more of an effort to get in that discussion. We have so much to add. It’s a disservice to our organization, our profession, and ourselves to not get in on that discussion.

Has this resulted in your being engaged in new projects that people were unaware you could contribute to or advise on?
GL: We've been doing some really great things here, especially with Practice Group alignments. I don't think that this alone has created any additional projects at the moment, but aligns better with what we have been doing since I arrived here. I will say that I have some ideas of projects that I'm going to pitch, but I would have pitched them regardless of what my title was.

What non academic life experiences  have helped you in your career?
GL: A few years ago, some law librarian friends and I started an informal peer group. We call the group “The Bradys” because it started out with a Greg, a Jan, a Cindy, and a Marsha (no kidding). Over the past six or so years, the group has become a core set of 11 folks ranging from Librarians, CI Leaders, Marketing, Pricing, IT, and KM professionals. We also talk a lot on trends we see out there, complain a lot about things we think should be corrected in the industry, but aren’t, and bounce a lot of ideas off of each other. The Bradys have become one of the most successful things I’ve ever been a part of… and it’s really just an unofficial think tank of really smart, really nice people.

What do you think the next generation of info professionals should focus on learning?
GL: One of the thoughts that’s been bouncing around in my head lately is the concept of “Library and _____” or “Information and ____”. When I was in law school in the 90s, there was this movement of classes of “Law and ____” Law and Economics… Law and Religion… etc. I think we’re at a point in time where law firms will always need help in organizing and managing the information needed to keep the firm competitive. However, that just isn’t enough to justify creating an entire department. So we have to make sure that Information Professionals continue to be top notch managers of information, and negotiators with information providers, but that can’t be our only purpose. In fact, it may end up not even being the most important purpose we have within our organization or profession. It’s the other things we do that become the most visible, and most valued (whether actual or perceived) that our organization looks at and understands about what we do. There’s no “Easy Button” when it comes to determining what that service or process is. Each organization has its own set of needs, and it is the smart person that looks to fill that need. The next generation (actually even this generation) needs to find what their organization is failing to accomplish, and find a way to fill that gap. Listen, understand, learn, succeed/fail/regroup and then start over. It’s not about what we solved yesterday, it is about what we are helping to solve tomorrow that counts.

What do you look for in a new hire?
GL: I’ve hired a number of new people since moving jobs a couple years ago. I think I’ve been pretty successful in finding people that are motivated to help, and are willing to interact with others here at the firm. When I have an open position, I usually get a number of well qualified people that apply. In fact, there have been many nights where I stay up fretting over a couple of applicants that are just really close in skill sets and I don’t have a clear winner. I did that a couple years ago, and luckily it turned out that six months later I had a new position open, and I was able to go back to the previous applicant and get her to come work with us. So that’s a long way of saying that I look for people that I think will fit in with the group. I give my people a lot of freedom to conduct their work in the best way that they can, and so far, that has worked very well. I want people that are smart, hard-working, creative, and energetic. At the same time, I want people that have personality, and can interact and have fun with the others here at work. We do not lack for personalities. I'm sure they would tell you that extends all the way up to me.

How should librarians measure their value?
GL: That’s a big question that probably has a thousand different ways to answer. Value is really in the eye of the beholder, and not necessarily in the Librarian’s eye. We need to be viewed as leaders. We need to be viewed as problem solvers. We need to be seen as go-to people to get things accomplished. We need to be in the discussion when it comes to setting the strategies for the organization, and not just worker-bees in accomplishing those goals. There should be an expectation that we will be involved, and noticed when we are missing.

What is your proudest professional achievement?
GL: One of my proudest achievements was one of my very first when I started this career. That was helping in the completion and maintaining of the Oklahoma Supreme Court Network (OSCN.NET). Creating a vendor-neutral resource of legal information for the State of Oklahoma, and making that freely available to everyone was such a fun project, and completely rewarding experience. The pay was terrible, but the reward was fantastic.
A close second is what all we have achieved with the blog, 3 Geeks and a Law Blog. I have to say, we never imagined that it would have been as successful as it has turned out to be.

How many years ago did you start 3 Geeks?
GL: We started back in July of 2008. Since then we’ve posted over 1500 blog posts. Some good… some bad… but all were fun and interesting to those of us that wrote them.

Why did you start the blog?
GL: The blog started really on a whim. Lisa Salazar, Toby Brown, and I met for lunch one day and Lisa came up with the idea and the name. From there it has been a whirlwind of activity and additional people that have joined and helped along the way.

How did it help or hurt you career?
GL: It definitely helped, but in ways that may not be obvious. As with many things, what’s important isn’t necessarily how much you know, as opposed to who you know. The blog has opened up many doors to leaders in the industry. There have been many times where I am in on a strategy meeting and a name comes up in the conversation, and I get to say “hey, I know him/her… do you want me to connect you to them?” It may sound a bit shallow, but in this industry, being connected is very powerful.

Did your blogging ever get you into trouble?
GL: I’ve never gotten into trouble for what I’ve written. But, I have gotten into trouble for things others have written. With this blog, we give everyone a pretty long rope to do with as they please. We really only have a few rules, but the big rule is that we don’t give away any internal information from our own places of business or air any dirty laundry. When we poke at vendors, it is usually because they say one thing, and then do another. We hardly ever say that a product is bad (we may say it looks bad, or doesn’t do what it is advertised to do. We get asked to do a lot of product reviews, but very few of those do we actually agree to do.

We try to be very honest, but very fair in what we write. Occasionally, especially with those that don’t post all the time, there is a line that is crossed. We’ve only every pulled one post over the past 8 years, but we did so after talking with everyone involved, and then making that decision. Most of the Geeks have had big transitions in their careers the past few years. Two of us are now C-Levels at different firms, and that takes a bit more of a time commitment than we had at our previous firms. So you may have noticed that the writing had dwindled off a bit over the past couple of years. It’s still a lot of fun to do, and as long as we are having fun, we’ll keep writing.

What is your advice for the next generation of information professionals?
GL: Listen, Learn, Act. Do something interesting. Do something a little risky, but understand, and let those that are affected by your actions, understand what the goals are. Get involved in your organization. Understand what’s important, and help achieve those goals. Accept recognition. You can still be humble in your acceptance, but make sure everyone knows that you’re a leader that has taken action and succeeded. The key is understanding you have the ability to contribute to your organization. Once you understand that, take the lead and own it. When you’re truly valued by the organization, you don’t have to tell everyone that you are valuable… they already know it.

Related Posts: No Room in the C Suite for Strategic Information Leaders aka Librarians: The Long Shadow of "Help Wanted Female?"

Monday, April 13, 2015

Ravel Law Invites You to Witness the Launch of "Judge Analytics" Thursday April 16th

I don't hide the fact that I am a "big data" and analytics enthusiast. Having started my career in an analog world of print and key word searching, I have a deep appreciation for the fact that we are witnessing an unprecedented transformation of legal  research products. Products have evolved from providing answers to providing custom insights. When I first wrote about Ravel Law in August 2014, co-founder Daniel Lewis promised me that they were developing a unique product for analysing judicial opinions. I described it at the time as a "killer app." It goes beyond research and is an app which I could imagine a partner using to plan litigation strategy. Yes there are other litigation analytics products out there, but Ravel is delivering insights which I haven't seen in any other product. I am excited to see that  Judge's Analytics  is about to launch.
Ravellogosimp8
The founders of Ravel Law have asked me to host the webinar where they will launch Judge Analytics. There is a link to register below.

Join The Free Webinar on Ravel's Judge Analytics Tool

In this half hour session, you can get the inside scoop on Ravel's Judge Analytics product, which arms litigators with data and analytics about how individual federal court judges make decisions.
  • Quickly identify opinions authored by your judge about issues like yours and the cases that influenced those rulings
  • Develop a data-driven understanding of your judge's decision making process
  • Deliver high quality & financially efficient results to your clients
Register here  to join the webinar on Thursday April 16th, from 11:00 - 11:30am PST , 1 -1:30 pm CST, 2-2:30 pm  EST.

 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Why Libraries Still Matter: Insights From a Recent Study of Academic Libraries by Gensler

Just as I was contemplating topics for Library Week,  I had a chance to review a 2014 study which provided at least of one perspective on “Why Libraries Still Matter.”

The global architectural and design firm Gensler recently published a compilation of their Research Reports and one the reports asks “Why do students really go to the library?”

The results are based on an observational analysis conducted at seven US and UK university libraries using a web-based observational tool.

What tools do students use in the library? Surprise!
c.Gensler

What Tools Are They Using When They Are In the Library?

The results are fascinating and somewhat surprising. Who knew that paper and pen still dominate private study?

  •             Books are used less often than computers (10% vs 23%)
  •             Computers are used less often than pen and paper ( 23% vs 65%)

Collaboration vs Solitude

 When Students are in the library...

             71% are working alone

            15% work in groups of 3 +

            10% work with one other person

Libraries Remain Important Gensler’s research suggests that some aspects of the traditional library must be retained for both symbolic and functional reasons.

Here are some of the findings:
  • Students still seek quiet places to study. 
  • Libraries remain students first choice for private study.
  • Library and university leaders have over estimated the need for collaboration space.
  • The solution is to increase the capacity of libraries without increasing space. 
  • Private study stations are occupied twice as much as open work areas.
  • Design classrooms for collaboration.
  • Design libraries for solitude.
I recognize that  the library's role as a book repository shrinking as digital resources expand exponentially. Yet, students still long for a quite place to think and study. I thought that perhaps earplugs created a sufficient zone of privacy for the current college generation.  Gensler says I am wrong.  When I was in college at Fordham University in the Bronx, the university library was a former church and I loved  studying in a space that was once a choir loft. I would climb up to the third tier and feel smarter from simply breathing the scent of  ancient scholars ... old leather and dust.

I have worried about a world in which there is no refuge from noise. I am in fact writing this at the Sherwood Hall  Regional Public Library in Alexandria, Virginia. It is quieter than a Walmart but noiser than a church. I hear the murmur of students receiving tutoring and people talking on their phones.  Every one of the 20 or so  public computer terminals is occupied. I am alone in the communal table area. It lacks the hush of scholarly reverence, yet I am delighted to see the robust traffic and hum of activity in a DC area library on the Sunday of a beautiful Cherry Blossom Weekend.

The Gensler study suggests that even when the last book has been digitized, the library will have a purpose as a  cathedral of solitude. When I considered what these future library carrels might look like, I recalled the scene in the movie "The Internship" where Vince Vaugh and  Owen Wilson as Google Interns  stumble noisily into their colleagues "sleep pods." 

c. Dunnco.com

Implications for Law Firms

Although firms remain committed to private offices for lawyers, the increased mobility and financial pressures to reduce real estate costs may lead some firms to consider hoteling and hot-desking to increase daily space utilization. The paradox may be that while law firm libraries are tossing their books and shrinking, the concept of libraries as bookless but quiet spaces for solitary study could get a second life in the law firm of the future. 






Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Lou Andreozzi Former Bloomberg Law and Lexis CEO to lead new .law domain into the legal market - will law firms follow?


Lou Andreozzi, former Chairman of Bloomberg Law and CEO of LexisNexis North American Legal Markets, has been named CEO of .law by Minds + Machines, Minds + Machine was granted an exclusive license to market the new generic  top level domain .law  by  ICANN  (The Internet Association for Assigned Names and Numbers) which governs internet domain assignments. Andreozzi not only has experience in the legal market but his experience includes leading the Martindale Hubbell, which in pre-internet days was the premier marketing vehicle for law firms. In a recent interview, Andreozzi took credit for acquiring the domain "lawyers.com" domain for Lexis. He believes that since law firms have a much more sophisticated understanding of marketing than they did when Martindale Hubbell ruled the legal market, firms are likely to welcome and recognize the importance of claiming a .law presence on the web.



Organizing the legal market on the web

.law will officially launch in August. Unlike .com and .net which can be used by virtually any organization, .law registration will require the registrant to be a lawyer. Each registrants legal credentials will go through a two step verification process. Law firms will have a chance to re-brand their web presence.

Andreozzi believes that  .law enable .law domain owners to get better rankings in Google. It will also give some law firms a second chance to claim a domain name which they were unable to secure in the .com domain. In addition, law firms are very likely to want to acquire .law domains for both offensive and defensive strategies. Even if a law firm plans to continue using their .com URL, they will not want another law firm claiming a confusingly similar .law domain name.

 Minds + Machines is also going to market .law to  other kinds of legal entities. They are currently in discussions with bar associations around the country and they plan to give 5 free domain names to each US law school. Other law related entices such as legal publishers will also be eligible for .law registrations if they qualify for registration.
 
Below is the press release:

___________________________________________

SANTA MONICA, April 1, 2015, California,  – Minds + Machines (LSE: MMX), the owner of the new .law top-level domain today announced the appointment of Lou Andreozzi, former Chairman of Bloomberg Law and CEO of LexisNexis North American Legal Markets, Martindale Hubbell and lawyers.com<http://lawyers.com/>, as CEO of .law. Carl Jaeckel, founder of Lawyer Central and CMO of Morgan & Morgan will also join as COO and John Morgan, Founder of Morgan & Morgan, renowned businessman, philanthropist and political power broker will serve as Chairman.

Minds + Machines has been granted an exclusive license to operate the .law top-level domain by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which regulates the Internet namespace and will provide registry and registrar services for .law.  Andreozzi, Jaeckel and Morgan will play key leadership roles in the launch of .law.  The leadership is in discussions with many prominent bar associations, legal journals and key legal market players worldwide to distribute .law domain names.

 Lou Andreozzi said, “Minds + Machines has been truly visionary in recognizing the importance of the new top level domains.  I am very proud to be working alongside them in bringing .law to the legal industry.”

The new .law web address, which will function just like other familiar top-level domains such as .com or .org, will go on sale to accredited lawyers and law firms during the summer of 2015.  Applicants will have their credentials checked upon registration and renewal.

Antony Van Couvering, Chief Executive Officer of Minds + Machines, commented, “Lou Andreozzi and his team are the right people to run .law.  Their experience and network will assure that qualified lawyers worldwide become aware of .law and its tremendous benefits to their practice.”

“We are giving lawyers and law firms the once in a lifetime opportunity to rebrand their identities online, clear up any confusion with other extensions and differentiate themselves from non-lawyers,” said Morgan.

About Minds + Machines

Minds + Machines (LSE:MMX) is a leading owner and operator of new generic top-level domains (“gTLDs”), and provides registry services to a range of high-profile clients. The Group also provides domain name services to consumers through its wholly owned registrar operations in the US and Europe. For more information on Minds + Machines and its services and companies within the Group, please go to investors.mindsandmachines.com.

For further information

 Tina Lord – Minds + Machines
+1 424 299-2079


 Toby Hall – gth Communications

North America 802 768 8018
Europe +44 7713 341072