Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The First Legal Publisher Offering A Brexit Book is..... Wolters Kluwer; Who will Launch the First Brexit Newsletter?

 Wolters Kluwer  has won the "Brexit  Legal Publishing Sweeps" with their  title “Britain Alone! Implications and Consequences of United Kingdom Exit from the EU”

When the citizens of the UK voted in favor of leaving the European Union last week, they unleashed a firestorm of “news” and commentary consisting to two major elements- a litany of negative speculations and a conclusion which can be summed up as “no one really knows.”  One legal publisher who I spoke to today confessed to having “Brexit fatigue.”   The need for solid legal commentary and analysis will not abate any time soon. The market is ready for some deep legal analysis from experts, how will the major legal publishers respond. Have they already responded. I took a brief tour of their websites to see what may be in their publishing pipelines.

Yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised when a colleague pointed out to me that Wolters Kluwer International had already published a book in January 2016:  Britain Alone! Implications and Consequences of United Kingdom Exit from the EU.

Wolters Kluwer which is based in the Netherlands also has a  Brexit Web Dutch... so I can't tell you what it offers. 

Thomson Reuters Legal's website provides a link to a page containing Reuters news on Brexit.
UK votes for Brexit – which is part of the Reuters News site. The TR publications “catalog” lists a few general EU titles and the digital version of the “Official Journal of the EU” which contains the laws and regulations of the EU.

RELX which owns LexisNexis is also a European based company, had nothing on their website mentioning Brexit. 

BloombergBNA a search of the publications catalog on the BloombergBNA website failed to identify any Brexit related publications.

Just to be clear, all of the major legal publishers are publishing stories and commentaries about Brexit in their existing newsletters and news sources, but there is no indication on their public websites  that they are planning to offer any specialized Brexit publications.

Other Sources
The Peace Palace Library Not a source I am familiar with, offered  the most extensive “bibliography of Brexit titles" on the web. I have no idea if these are unbiased treatments or political diatribes.

Amazon  seems to offer more Brexit t-shirts than Brexit books. It was almost impossible to determine the quality of the books listed on Amazon.Are these “vanity publications?  I couldn’t find the name of a publisher or a publication date for most  the books listed on Amazon.I find it surprising that Amazon which started out as a book seller no longer provides easy intuitive access to the most fundamental bibliographic data.

Google Books – Google also lists a few Brexit titles. To Google’s credit – it was easy to identify the name of the publisher and publication dates for the books they list. 

Which Legal Publisher Will Launch the First Brexit Newsletter? Your guess is as good as mine.

Whenever a “hot” legal topic emerges –specialized legal newsletters soon follow. I could spout a litany of transient topics which have spawned dedicated newsletters. “The Alaska Oil Spill Law Reporter” emerged as the gash in the Exxon Valdez was fouling the Alaskan coastline. My favorite specialty newsletter was the “ BNA Y2K Law Reporter” which anticipated a flood of litigation from the worldwide crises triggered when computers running electrical grids, transportation systems, elevators, hydroelectric dams cascaded through serial malfunctions at midnight on December 31, 1999. BNA quietly rebranded  the newsletter as “the Computer Law Reporter”  in early 2000.

 Legal publishers, please feel free to email me with any additional information if you have already published a resources which I missed or if you are working on a Brexit  treatise or newsletter to be published in the future.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Find Your Stuff: KM in the Real World, ABA,LPM Knowledge Strategy Free Webinar This Week

 The ABA, LPM, Knowledge Strategy Subgroup is hosting the 6th in a series of free knowledge strategy webinars this week.  “Find Your Stuff When You Need It - The Key Technique for Organizing Your Work Product”

June 30, 2016 - 12:00 Noon, Eastern (30 minutes) - Free webinar

The program will cover:

·         How to organize your work product and reference material in a group setting for maximum findability, whether your firm is large or small
·         Why this effort should be designed at the practice group level, not firmwide
·         How your system can evolve with your practice, and is complementary to a document management system
·         How this approach lays a solid base for future knowledge management software initiatives

Register Here

Improve Practice Group Performance

Document management systems haven't solved the problem of locating relevant practice group precedent.  Practice groups at most firms have a hard time quickly finding relevant precedents. 

The upcoming free ABA 30-minute webinar  focuses on process rather than software and will outline how a practice  group can readily create a system to make it much easier for colleagues to find relevant documents. The expert panel will explain how document and folder naming conventions can be  created by each practice group and implemented consistently. The panel will also explain why this kind of system is so fundamental and important.

The Panel includes Karen Buzard of Paul Hastings LLP, addressing the large firm perspective, and Ariadne Montare, Knowledge Attorney and Consultant, who will address the small firm perspective.

Registration and additional information is available here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The First Serial Legal Entrepreneur Strikes Again: Gary Sangha, Intelligize Founder Launches LexCheck: Computational Linguistics for Legal Drafting

Most of the exciting new products I have seen in the past year have offered visualization or analytics features. I shouldn't be surprised that Gurinder "Gary"  Sangha has resurfaced with a product that focuses on text rather than data. He has a decidedly contrarian history.  In an earlier post I explored  his launch of the highly successful Intelligize product at the height of the financial crisis where it was a late entry into an overcrowded market of products built around SEC filings and regulation. I nearly groaned at the prospect of seeing yet another SEC product trying to take share from 10K Wizard, Securities Mosaic and  Westlaw Business.... what could possibly crack that market? Sangha had managed to develop a product driven by algorithms which untangled and sorted and paired streams of SEC correspondence, No Action Letters and comments which were painfully unintelligible using standard Boolean keyword search or normal filters. Intelligize exposed  a web of relationships between documents and offered lawyers a "time rebate"- less time searching and sorting meant  more time for  high level analysis.

Sangha is a former AmLaw 100  associate (Shearman & Sterling and White & Case) who left the practice of law in 2007. As CEO of Intelligize he developed a product which has been adopted by most of the Amlaw 100 firms. After stepping down as Intelligize CEO in 2013 , Sangha pursued a more traditional legal dream of returning to his alma mater Penn Law to teach business law. He was recently appointed a Fellow at CodeX, The Stanford Center for Legal Informatics and was profiled in Crain's New York Business 40 Under 40.

Although Sangha had been a corporate lawyer his new venture is a product called LexCheck  which was inspired by litigation. Sangha was appalled that the fate of the Affordable Care Act was being derailed by textual ambiguity. The case of King v Burwell  had  reached the US Supreme Court because of the phrase "exchanges established by the state." Did  that phrase refer only to insurance exchanges established by individual states or  did it include the exchange established by  the federal government?  This was of course not the first instance of a legislative drafting error resulting in litigation, but it was the case that launched Sangha into his next tech venture with a company called LitIQ. Sangha went around the country talking to leading computational linguists about developing a technology to remedy legal drafting errors. He assembled a team of technologists and computational linguists who came together to build a new product called LexCheck.

Diagnosing  Lawyer Errors.  Sangha wanted to solve a "big issue" in the legal sector. The "issue" he has taken on is "human error."  Sangha learned that according to the ABA 45% of malpractice claims arise from substantive errors, drafting errors. ambiguous language, language omissions or conflicting language. When a lawyer makes an error, he will face adversarial interpretations.

The Diagnostics of LexCheck

Lexcheck is a diagnostic software that detects unnecessary ambiguities, errors and inconsistencies in contracts, patents, regulations and other legal documents. LexCheck will quickly enable lawyers to diagnose errors in their own documents before they are sent to a client or counterparty. 

LexChek offers 3 main features:

1) Ambiguity detection. The English language is full of ambiguities.The "ambiguity detection" tool can identify both semantic and syntactic ambiguities.  For example: "I saw her duck" has two completely different meanings. Does "she' have a pet duck? Or did "she" take evasive action?

2. Style Manual. LexCheck incorporates the Ken Adams Manual, of Style for Contract Drafting.
Certain words always cause trouble. Instead of using  "biennial," or " biannual" the style guide recommends "every two years." The style guide can be customized with "firm specific" rules.

3. Proofreader.  Sangha knows first hand from his Intelligize experience that the average  length of a merger agreement has doubled over the past 15 years. This increases both the risk of a mistake and the "mind-numbing"pain of reviewing such documents for internal inconsistencies. Cost conscious clients don't want to pay for proofreading. Associates are terrified of "career ending" oversights.

The Value Proposition

 Sangha sums up LexChek's value proposition in a single illustration. LexChek, Saves time and money while mitigating the risk of damage to the reputation of a lawyer or the firm or damaging client relationships.

What's Next
According to Sangha LexChek is available on the market and has already been adopted by several ALM 100 firms. The cost of licenses will be scaled to the practice group size. Right now the product is ready for the transactional market. A version for litigators is under development. I can't think of any product that combines all of the features offered by LexCheck. Thomson Reuters Transactional Drafting assistant has similar proofreading capabilities but not the ambiguity detection.

Competitive Analysis in Your Future? While the primary focus is  on helping lawyers improve the quality of their own work, it is clear that this product could also have a "competitive analysis" function by identifying weaknesses in an adversaries documents or contested legislation or regulations.

Could LexCheck Have an A2J Impact?
I am a big fan of legal entrepreneurs. I  certainly wish Sangha success in his venture...  I also can't help but hope that the product is so successful, it can be adopted by every legislature in the US.  Access to justice is impaired by the sheer volume of litigation. If LexCheck were run on all legislation in the US, could this not have cumulative benefit on access to justice by reducing some volume of litigation? More importantly it could assure that  all legislation is more comprehensible to the general public -- those who can't afford lawyers to fight over common legislative drafting errors such as ambiguities,  omissions and grammatical errors which impact the interpretation of a law.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Content Clutter and the High Cost of Low Cost Alternatives: AALL Responds to Outsourcing Articles

American Association of Law LibrariesIn response to the recent American Lawyer article on the outsourcing of law libraries, AALL President Keith Ann Stiverson released a statement today which underscored the important role which information professionals play in 21st century law firms. Stiverson recognized the value of limited, targeted outsourcing but warned of risks and hidden costs arising from the wholesale outsourcing of all information services to a third party. Information management is more important now than at any time in history. 
 Stiverson's statement included some interesting data on "content clutter."
"Every two days society creates as much information as it did from the
beginning of time until 2003.On an annual basis, content clutter costs businesses about 500 hours of time per employee. Information professionals cut this cost by effectively managing content for the firm, keeping them competitive in this information driven economy."
The statement concluded by urging firms to calculate the total cost of outsourcing including an assessment of risk to the business before considering the wholesale outsourcing of all information support and intelligence functions.
Read the full statement here here.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Throwing Law Firm Intelligence Out with the Books?

Today American Lawyer posted an article about what the author  described as a "growing trend in law library outsourcing."  Nuance doesn’t grab headlines, and this article raises more questions than it answers.  A  few key clarifications are in order.  Are law firms throwing away institutional intelligence instead of just tossing the books? Will they pay a high price later for a short term savings?


1. Outsourcing is not new – I suspect that 100% of ALM 200 firms engage in some level of outsourcing, looseleaf filing, cataloging,  document retrieval and repetitive technical processes are the processes which are most commonly outsourced. Functions involving deep, specialized knowledge and  high levels of expertise are not.

2. Outsourcing is not unique to law libraries - many large law firms have outsourced lower level repetitive work  from many different departments including HR, IT, conflicts, marketing, accounting.  The key metrics which determine whether to outsource a job are: the complexity of the work, a short learning curve, high repetition, low decision making authority. Outsourced positions anticipate high turnover  with low impact on service in order to maintain savings.

3. Most importantly... What exactly do they mean by "law library?" Are any two people  in the article talking about the same thing when they refer to” law libraries.”?

Is Your Law Library a Time Capsule? 30 years ago most law libraries operated according to a fairly standard template focused mostly on maintaining print resources, overseeing book circulation, routing  newsletters and magazines. Research support  was generally confined to “ready reference fact checking.”

Since 1986 the spectrum of  services offered by information professionals has exploded as they have taken the lead introducing firms to online research, the internet, Knowledge Management, analytics, competitive intelligence, project management and listening platforms. Sadly there are firms and law librarians who have perpetuated the “time capsule version of a 1986  law library.” Clearly law firms who have failed to hire strategic knowledge leaders will find the savings offered by an outsourced solution very attractive– but this doesn’t mean that the lawyers will be getting what they need to compete in the 21st century knowledge economy.

Is Your Law Library an Intelligence "Force Multiplier?" Most ALM 200 firms are well down the road to eliminating print, automating operations and outsourcing or eliminating repetitive low level work. Any firm that has not begun these transformations is way behind the curve. Before law firms jump on the outsourcing band wagon leaders and partners should do some “soul searching” and consider  what kind strategic information support they currently offer to their lawyers and what kind of intelligence they want to integrate into  their business and legal work processes to compete in the 21st century.

I have observed at least 3 different tiers of legal information support in ALM 200 law firms and there are probably more.  But for purposes of assessing the value of “outsourcing” to an organization you need to define the central idea of the “law library.” What kind of support does your firm offer now and what kind of support do you need to maintain a competitive edge?

Low tier.  A basic library. Supports the management of print and electronic resources. Provides reactive, basic legal research. 

Middle Tier. Research and Intelligence Center. Provides proactive legal and business intelligence and complex legal  and business research services,  in-depth research analytics. Oversees the organization wide content acquisition  strategy informing  management and business decisions. Offers  a wide range of services including KM, competitive intelligence, practice aligned support, practice  portals and key client portals. Director/CKO assures that information polices mitigate ethical risks. 

Top Tier. Strategic Knowledge Services . Director or CKO oversees integration of workflow and resources  functions including research services, conflicts, dockets, records, intranet, competitive intelligence, knowledge management. Investigates emerging technologies, AI, machine learning, process improvement and advises firm on  development of integrated desktop workflow solutions.

Open Questions?

 It is not at all clear how an outsider, even if given a “Director” title with no "seat at the management table" can help a law firm build out their 21st century knowledge enabled desktops and workflows.

 Information professionals are in demand across a wide spectrum of jobs in the emerging fields of competitive intelligence, pricing, process improvement and data analytics, so positions in marginalized “library” operations are unlikely to offer an attractive career option for innovative information professionals. Who will want to take these jobs?

Let‘s be frank  there are law firms which have tolerated law libraries staffed by "book tenders" which are rightly at risk for drastic measures such as 100% outsourcing... and then there are firms who had the foresight to hire professional knowledge strategists who have spent the past decade transforming law libraries into strategic intelligence units that are driving competitive insights and analytics through all legal and business processes. It is one thing to throw out the books and another to throw out the information professionals who act as "force multipliers" in assuring that the firm always knows more and looks smarter than their clients or the competition.

SEE ALSO Greg Lambert's response to the American Lawyer article on 3 Geeks and a Law : Law firm libraries can not simply be a service: they need to be a strategic partner.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Free Webinar on Checklists for Lawyers: Roadmaps for Accuracy & Completeness"

On Thursday May 29th, at noon est., the ABA, Law Practice Management, Knowledge Strategy Interest Group is offering the 5th in a series of free webinars. Register here
Checklists in the practice of law are not merely "to do lists. The best checklists for improving efficiency in legal practice are more like roadmaps which provide nuanced and experience guidance. This webinar will discuss law to draft effective roadmaps for lawyers at all skill levels.
Discussion will cover:
  • Examples pf roadmaps that work in large and small practices
  • How roadmaps can enhance efficiency in staffing matters.
  • Roadmaps vs standardize forms: Why roadmaps are superior and provide greater flexibility and minimize risk.
  • Substance vs process: How are do substantive and procedural roadmaps differ? Why do  you need both?
  • How to get start drafting effective roadmaps?
  • Using roadmaps to kick start a firmwide efficiency programs.


Jack Bostelman ( moderator)
President KM/JD Consulting LLC and Chait of ABA Knowleldge Stratetgy Interest Group

Thomas H. Kennedy
Partner, Golabl Head of Knowledge Strategy. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, New York

Daniel J Siegel
Managing Partner, Law office of Daniel J Siegel, LLC and Co- Author, Checklists for Lawyers (American Bar Association 2014

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tax Cheetah! Wolters Kluwer Unveils New Research Platform for Tax Practitioners: Responsive Design and Personalization Rule!

Today Wolters Kluwer Law and Business is announcing the release of  “Cheetah for Tax.” Ben Snipes the Product Line Director for Tax provided me with a preview of the new platform. The Cheetah Tax Product has a clean intuitive look and  offers a boatload of new functionality.  The U.S. tax code has been the rigid backbone of all prior tax products. That backbone is this there, Cheetah also offers flexible alternative approaches to research. Cheetah offers a high level personalization as well as a variety of options for search, navigation and display.

Today’s press release quotes Dean Sonderegger, Vice President & GM, Legal Markets Group:  “With Cheetah we built a platform that is specifically designed to support the attorney workflow and we will continue to add new capabilities and practice areas to this platform to help a new generation of attorneys re-envision the way they work.”

The Code Rules CCH has held a firm grip on Tax research for over 150 years. When CCH launched their original tax product in 1913, it was considered rather revolutionary, offering weekly news of  regulatory updates (by mail.)  For most of that time the Internal Revenue Code was the central organizing principle of all tax research. Wolters Kluwer/CHH has been chasing the right technology for decades. They migrated from the multi-volume print  Standard Federal Tax Reporter, to cd-rom, to online dial-up , to web based (and much maligned) Intelliconnect and now Cheetah for Tax.

Cheetah for Tax  is the second product to launch on the Cheetah platform.  The Securities law product was released in 2015. Cheetah is not a revision of Intelliconnect—It is a whole new platform. The Cheetah team took the 7.5 million tax documents from Intelliconnect and de-duped,  re-coded and enriched each document with meta data. A major goal was to move beyond the book paradigm and allow lawyers to cluster  all related content, no matter where it was originally published.

Although tax lawyers can continue or organize their research around tax code sections, in Cheetah they have many more options. Topic, Entity type (LLC, partnerships, nonprofits etc.), jurisdiction, subject can be selected for inclusion on a personalized “home page” or used as filters.
The Cheetah Home Page - Before Personalization
Cool Tools: Cheetah is loaded with new functionality:

  • ·         There is prominent citation search box in the right corner.
  • ·         Content includes, primary law, analysis, legislative history  and news.
  • ·         All of the Smartcharts have been migrated.
  •        All of a subscribers content can be accessed from home page.
  • ·         Customize the page to see only what you want. Select code sections, topics and jurisdictions of importance to you.What you use will be there in one click.
  • ·         All the quick reference tools are in the same location on each page.
  • ·         Red envelope – give feedback. Send your recommendations directly to Editor Ben Snipes.
  • ·         Seach across all subscribed content: federal, international and state and local.
  • ·         International content covers 270 jurisdictions which can be both searched and compared by country using “smart charts.”.
  • ·         Entity type search allows a lawyer to focus on tax impact on an LLC, partnership a corporation, nonprofit?
  • ·         “Content flags” Tell you clearly what kind of content you are looking at e.g. a statute, a temporary regulation, a treatise. This feature assures that a new lawyer always understands what kind of document they are reviewing. It clearly shows which documents have the force of law and which are interpretive.
  • ·         A-Z lists are coming so lawyers can navigate to a specific titles.
International Smartcharts

Existing Subscribers: All Intelliconnect subscribers will have the option to migrate to Cheetah or remain on the Intelliconnect platform. They will see all the same CCH and Aspen content which was availableto them  on Intelliconnect.

Will Cheetah entice the majority of print Standard Federal Tax Reporter subscribers to give up their books?  Since Cheetah  will offer both the code structure and  topical research, they  will now be clearly in direct competition with  RIA Checkpoint from Thomson Reuters which offers a topical approach to tax research. Will more tax lawyers be willing to go will a single online source since Cheetah offers both topical and code views?

Wolters Kluwer along with their competitors, Thomson Reuters, LexisNexis and BloombergBNA are in a fierce competition to control practitioners desktops by offering not only content but workflow enhancements.The winners are the lawyers who can count on the continuing development of faster, better and more integrated desktop tools like Cheetah.

More information at: Cheetah For Tax Law