Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Review: The Most Popular Dewey B Strategic Posts

I have compiled a list of the most popular Dewey B Strategic  posts of 2013. Several themes run through the year. Innovation and reinvention are driving both law firms and legal publishing. There is a "David and Goliath" theme with new legal publishers challenging the dominant players -- this theme emerges as well for law firms in the ALM surveys and Bruce MacEwen's PLL Summit speech. Big Data, efficiency,
consolidation are everywhere. Legal information professionals are rising to the challenge of reinventing and expanding their roles from "library centric management" to more strategic advocacy and advisory roles... driving the flow of knowledge  through all aspects of  the business and practice of law.

Most Popular: I have to confess with some astonishment that the runaway hit  in 2013 was a light hearted post which I wrote out of curiosity about an ATM machine for recycling old phones which I had heard about on a trip to California. The post " An Encounter with an ecoATM: It's Not Easy Being Green." is now the answer people get on "Ask.com" when they inquire about the ecoATM. I think its a great concept and I assume they have smoothed out some of the kinks I encountered a year ago.

Personal Favorite: My personal favorite was a "flash back" piece which I hoped would provide some historical context to the current "lean in" success strategy for female professionals.  "Before Women Could Lean-In, The Good Girls Had to Revolt."

Here is the popular list in chronological order.
Happy New Year! --- Jean O'Grady

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Holiday "Mash up" From Dewey B Strategic

Back in May I spoke on a panel with Sara Glassmeyer, at the Canadian Law Library Association meeting in Montreal. Then in December we were paired up again as ABA Magazine Blawg 100 nominees. Being a co-panelist on a program called "Thriving on Chaos: The Future of l Law Libraries" with the queen of the Punk librarians made me feel well.... old. I brought checklists and charts and I hope some useful insights. Sara brought down the house when she illustrated the challenge to reforming  legal education as combining elements of :" The Hindenburg" "The Titanic" and a "herd of cats."

At the time, our pairing reminded me of a "mash up" of Bing Crosby,  1930s crooner and David Bowie 1970s glam rocker on a holiday special.  So here is to mash ups, Punk librarians and Holiday Cheer!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and A Wonderful New Year to All!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Can Wolters Kluwer Get its Groove Back? Can Cheetah Outrun the Market?

After years of development Wolters Kluwer is preparing to release the secret platform that has been referred to internally as Project Cheetah at the AALL conference in July. Wolters Kluwer recently offered to "lift the veil" so I could get a look at Project Cheetah. Will Cheetah be just another hyped up launch of a marginally new product? Will it be a "head scratcher" like IntelliConnect?  Can Cheetah find a home in the wild world of legal research? Can Cheetah outrun the competition? Read on.

The Bottom Line

Cheetah is NOT an IntelliConnect makeover. Bob Lemmond, President and CEO of Wolters Kluwer Law & Business  describes it as "a complete reimagining of WK content."  The real question is not "have they come up with a better product?" which I believe they have. The big question is "have they come up with a better product in time to grab some additional market share from shrinking pool of law firm budgets?"  Like law firms, legal publishers are facing a world in which most revenue growth will come from stealing market share from the competition. Clients hate cost recovery more than ever. BloombergLaw the "Wunderkind" of 2009 which was expected to upend the legal research market, appears to be stalled in a holding pattern.

I imagine that Wolters Kluwer selected the Cheetah name to refer to the lightening speed of its retrieval engine. But Cheetah also suggests the speed with which Wolters Kluwer  must displace competitors.

Context Is Everything.
Wolters Kluwer bought Commerce Clearing House in 1995. CCH began as a tax law research and compliance product in 1913 at the birth of the modern US federal tax system. In order to keep up with the frequent and massive changes in tax law and regulation CCH developed a system for coding and updating their publications. For almost a century CCH products dominated tax and other highly regulated practice areas including securities, banking, trade, energy, government contracts. Their gold tooled, black binders where workhorse mini libraries where a practitioner could navigate through codes, regulations, commentary and collateral regulatory materials. The editors invented exotic marvels of specialty research including  indices, finding lists and conversion tables. It may be that the books were so iconic to loyal practitioners that the editors and corporate leaders had trouble thinking "outside the book" at the dawn of the digital age.

Wolters Kluwer (CCH ) dominated the topical legal publishing market at a time when information printed on paper inserts and delivered weekly via the postal service was considered breathtakingly current.

In the early 1990s I bought what was then the "cutting edge" of research technology: the CCH tax service consisting of 10 CD-ROMs in a networked tower. This was a clunky but serviceable solution which was later replaced by the CCH Research Network. The CCH Research Network was basically an online version of the CD-ROM, and the CD-ROM was a really a digital version of the books. The working assumption appears to have been – "we got it right with the books – we’ll just keep pouring the old content into the latest digital wineskin."  In 2009 CCH tried to reinvent user experience with the introduction of a platform called IntelliConnect. It is now widely maligned as one of the most disappointing product revamps in legal publishing. It was criticized as a disorienting platform, full of duplicate content, and overly complicated to search. In fairness, many specialists who learned the IntelliConnect system will defend it. It was never a system for a casual user. And as we all know, people become power users after spending time as a casual user. IntelliConnect just seemed to aggravate most people.

The one indisputable breakthrough function offered by  IntelliConnect which no publisher has yet to match is a feature called Smartcharts. This innovation allows lawyers to generate 50 state surveys of a topic in seconds. This feature will be retained in Cheetah.

Customer First
I outlined the recent transformation of Wolters Kluwer toward a more customer centric organization in a prior post about Robert Lemmond who was appointed President and CEO of Wolters Kluwer Law & Business earlier this year.  Lemmond describes Cheetah as being the product  of "our ‘Customer First' development process [which] has resulted in a seamless integration throughout the user’s workflow, whether at a desktop, or on the go with a smartphone or tablet."


Thinking Outside the Hype Cycle

Wolters Kluwer demonstrated its commitment to reinvention when it recruited some IT "star power:"   Andrew Little and Alfred Kahn to lead the development of Cheetah. If you are an IT groupie you would know that Andy Little is credited with developing the concept of "the hype cycle" which defines the stages of technology adoption.

Andy came to Wolters Kluwer from the Gartner Group where he was Vice President of the Strategic Technology Group. While at Gartner, Andy was instrumental in the realization of many solutions that have become synonymous with the IT Industry. In addition to the "Hype Cycle" he helped develop "The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)," " Magic Quadrant" and the "Market Clock" research methodologies. He also created an innovative technology suite to produce many of the self-assessment tools in use by Gartner clients today.

Another key player in Cheetah is Alfred Kahn, who heads the customer experience organization to ensure that the customers’ voice is part of all WK development practices. Alfred and his team devised a persona-based development process, meeting with and observing hundreds of research professionals, attorneys, and associates to understand their work flow needs, requirements, and preferences. Alfred’s work helped create RBSource a recently developed digital version of the Securities Act Handbook.
Thinking Outside the Code

Cheetah is the first digital product from Wolters Kluwer Law & Business  which is not built on top of a statutory and regulatory code structure. The linkages between codes, regs, commentary and cases are still there, but these are not the backbone of the user experience. A user can still navigate through a table of contents for a code, but they also have dozens of other options for navigating and combining and filtering research results based on what they, the user need to do.
How Did they Do It?

The Cheetah team basically disassembled, purged, reorganized and enhanced the over 25 million documents in WK's  various legal products. They removed all the duplicates which appeared in various CCH publications. They gave each document a persistent URL. This means you can now catalog digital versions CCH  titles and documents or add URLs to your portals and they won’t go bad! No more linkrot in your catalogs or portals. All content was enriched and enhanced with new taxonomies and ontologies and documents were coded using 40 meta data features. All research can be related and rendered in the context needed by the researcher in the course of their workflow.

The Dashboard
Cheetah will offer a customizable dashboard which is divided into three sections. The left column is for personalized content: favorites, current awareness, saved searchers, the center column is topically organized with practice specific content; the right column contains productivity tools such as Smartcharts.

Cutting to the Chase: Cheetah Offers A Long List of Enhanced Features

  • Each statute has a table of contents which can be expanded to allow navigation of the document
  • Unlimited scrolling provides continuous reading experience
  • When a user annotates a document, Cheetah will post the citation to the document
  • Content collection - users design their personal library shelf of materials  from all collections
  • A type ahead feature suggests words and phrases as you type.
  • The system recognizes citations automatically
  • Enhanced reading experience document review offers lightening fast continuous scrolling of documents
  • 40 new meta data items for search, filter and display
  • Each statute and regulation includes a "point in time" amendment history
  • Each users research history is saved for 2 years
  • A Worklist collaboration tool allows lawyers to share documents and notes related to project or matter
  • Every document has a persistent url  meaning no duplicate documents, no dead links
  • Users will have an identical user experience on every device, PC, tablet or smartphone.Responsive design renders an interface scaled to any device.

Rollout Securities will be the first practice area released in the Cheetah platform followed by tax and then other practice area content sets. There is no fixed conversion date for existing customers. According to Lemmond " As part of our customer driven strategy we are consulting with our customers not just on product enhancements but also on migration strategies to help ensure seamless transfer between the platforms. Given our commitment to "Customer First," it is our commitment to make this transition as successful as possible and with as little disruption."
Can Cheetah Outrun The Market?

I assume that anyone reading my blog needs no introduction to the history of the online research cost recovery frameworks created by Lexis and Westlaw  which have survived for three decades. Bloomberg Law elbowed into Lexis/ Westlaw turf in 2009 with a disruptive new model which attempted to create a "research Utopia" as an alternative to the complex cost recovery systems which had driven the revenue of Lexis and Westlaw while driving billing partners, associates and librarians mad!  Bloomberg offered an all inclusive contract that was built to be a utility that would remain open all day on the desktop, and for which there should be no client charges or cost recovery. Bloomberg may have underestimated the impact of the recession. The market liked the content  and the concept but largely resisted the price tag.

Can Bloomberg’s Plateau Be an Opportunity for Wolters Kluwer?

OK, Wolters Kluwer doesn’t offer as much content as BloombergLaw. They don’t have the business data trove but they do have solid legal practice centers and have taken direct aim at the legendary BNA newsletter market by introducing their suite of afternoon topical dailies. Whatever Wolters Kluwer is charging for their practice libraries on Cheetah it will be a fraction of what the SuperSystems (Lexis, Westlaw and Blaw) charge. Law firms are still looking for ways to cut their spending.  Law firms still want to get out of the online cost recovery mess.Cheetah offers a  flexible, feature rich new research platform. Can Wolters Kluwer position Cheetah’s high performance platform to actually steal the market share that had been in BloombergBNA’s crosshairs? Can Cheetah lure users from Lexis and Westlaw with a promise of high functionality and relatively low annual cost which can be supported without charging clients for cost recovery? It looks like Cheetah is positioned to give them a  "run for their money."

Monday, December 9, 2013

Thomson Reuters Legal Names First Female President, Susan Taylor Martin

Earlier this year I wrote a post  which noted the paucity of female executives in legal publishing. Wolters Kluwer was the only major  publisher to have not only a female CEO, Nancy McKinstry but many female leaders of its publishing units.

Today Thomson Reuters announced the appointment of Susan Taylor Martin as the new President of Thomson Reuters Legal. I applaud the promotion of a new female executive to a top leadership 
role in legal publishing.

Ms. Taylor Martin is currently managing director of Thomson Reuters Legal in the UK and Ireland. She joined the company in 1993 and has held a variety of leadership roles within a number of businesses, including global head of Corporate Strategy at Reuters and president of Reuters Media.
Now For the Questions

It is impossible to second-guess the internal decisions of an organization. Yet I find it somewhat hard to fathom why less than a year after outgoing president Mike Suchsland,   made the bold pronouncement that TR Legal was no longer in the content business, he is well,  out!  He didn't just announce a new direction, it was accompanied by two new cloud based and process centric platforms, Concourse for In House Counsel and Firm Central for small law firms.

Will Ms Martin remain in the UK or will she relocate to the TR Legal  headquarters in Egan Minnesota? Does her selection suggest a shift away from a US focus? Is the US market regarded as so mature that TR will focus on the development of non-US legal products?

I tried to reach TR to get clarification and have not heard back, so for tonight we are left with the questions.

Congratulations to Ms. Martin as well as to  Basil Moftah who has been appointed president of Intellectual Property & Science; Gonzalo Lissarrague who has been appointed president of Global Growth & Operations (GGO).

Related Posts:
Thomson Reuters  Legal Announces New Strategic Direction: Content no Longer King, Shift to Client Centric Platforms

Nancy McKinstry;CEO Of Wolters Kluwer on Leadership Strategies  and The Importance of Law Librarians in the New Information Environment



Sunday, December 8, 2013

AALL Launches Information Center for the "Principles and Standards of Legal Research Competency"

The American Association of Law Libraries has launched an online information center dedicated to promoting its new  Principles and Standards for Legal Research Competency within the legal profession. One of the most important aspects of  "the principles" is that they are a strong antidote to the increasing risk of malpractice which arises from the "everything on the Internet myth."  There is no question that certain types of " fact checking" research have gotten simpler with the aid of tools like Google. But the absolute volume of unstructured data, as well as terabytes of Internet dreck (material of questionable provenance and quality)  increases the risk of both wasted time and finding "the wrong thing."

In the practice of law there is a world of difference between finding "something" on the Internet and finding "the right thing."  Locating a legal precedent is not the end of the research process, it is the beginning  of a series of  collateral inquires. This may involve determining if a case was overruled, if  a statute invalidated, or  that a regulation is about to expire or come into effect. Information literacy has never been more important to the practice of law.

According to a press release from AALL."The standards were developed to improve legal research methods,. AALL's online information center provides access to the principles and standards; implementation and best practice ideas; and information on upcoming programs. The Information Center is organized into 3 areas, Outreach, What's New and Action Center.
Crossing the Bar
Academic, Government and Firm librarians have been advocating for law schools to enhance and expand legal research classes  for decades. In the  mid - 1980s, I was told that law schools would not take legal research classes seriously until the state bar examiners incorporated research concepts into the bar exam..
According to the AALL information center, The National Conference of Bar Examiners completed a job analysis of  the workload of newly minted lawyers ( in practice less that three years.)  For ninety-eight percent of the lawyers surveyed , electronic research is one of the most important and frequent activities they perform.  The NCBE is considering adding new assessments  which will cover skills where are not currently being measured on the bar examination, including legal research.AALL's Principles, Standards and Competencies provides a thorough framework which details the intellectual and practical complexity on effective legal research.

I applaud this initiative which demonstrates the continuing importance of librarians and knowledge professionals in enhancing lawyer competences and building the  digital literacy skills which are a cornerstone of  the competent practice of law.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

AmLaw 200 Law Firm Leaders Survey: What's Hot and What's Not

Update Dec. 11, 2013: This post was awarded the Technolawyer BIg Law Pick of the week:

Yesterday I reported on the ALM  General Counsel Survey. Today I looked at the data from the Amlaw 200 Law Firm Leadership Survey.  There is only a partial correlation  between two surveys. Like corporate GCs, law firm leaders are overwhelmingly optimistic about their firms prospects for 2014 while being fairly pessimistic about the pace of economic  recovery in the US. Law firm leaders are deeply pessimistic about prospects for a near term European economic recovery. Instead of writing a summary of the reports,  I reviewed the ALM charts and culled a  list of “what’s hot”  and “what’s not.”

  • New office locations:   Hot (DC) Not (Silicon Valley)
  • Practice areas:  Hot (Litigation) Not ( Bankruptcy)
  • Revenue drivers:   Hot (government regulations) Not ( Dealflow)
  • Staffing trends:    Hot (small incoming associate classes)      Not (associate layoffs)
  • Partner trends:    Hot ( de-equitizing partners) Not ( mandatory retirements)
  • Law Firm Finance:   Hot (Capital calls) Not (3rd party debt)
  • Growth strategies:   Hot ( US mergers) Not ( European expansion)
  • Lateral partner hires:   Hot (Litigation) Not ( Energy)
  • Client feedback:   Hot (establishing a feedback program) Not (actually getting client feedback)
  • Fee Arrangements:   Hot ( discounting hourly rates) Not (alternative fees)
  • Alternative staffing:   Hot ( secondments) Not (shared staffing)
  • Succession planning:  Hot (making a succession plan) Not ( executing a succession plan)
Some of the items on this list highlight a disconnect between planning and execution (client feedback programs). Although the majority of firms have a succession plan - 90% of firm leaders have been in place for more than 10 years, so succession is not happening. Failing to establish policies (mandatory retirement)  may have negative repercussions. Would establishing a mandatory  retirement age, diminish the need for undertaking the humiliating process of de-equitizing partners?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Corporate Counsel Agenda 2014: "It's the government, stupid!."

ALM Legal Intelligence  released a report  this week "Corporate Counsel: Agenda 2014". Many of the themes are familiar: controlling costs, driving efficiency, alternative fee arrangements. But I can't recall any recent reports that repeatedly point to "the government" as a major source of anxiety for in-house counsel.

How The government is impacting In house counsel
  •   The slow recovery of the economy.
  •   The fear of political stalemate.
  •   An expanding minefield of new regulations creates new risks of compliance failures
  •       New laws and regulations create new risks of liability.
  •   GCs must not only know the new laws and regulations, they have to figure out how to adopt company-wide procedures to assure compliance. 
What they want from outside counsel

"Responsiveness"of outside counsel jumped significantly since the last survey. 80% of GCs ranked this as the top quality GCs want from outside counsel.

Surprising findings
  • 90% of respondents expect their budgets to stay the same or increase in 2014
  • Supporting company growth and providing exceptional service to company leaders continue to be the top two concerns, of GCs.
  • Half of the respondents expect their company’s financial health to improve significantly in 2014 but only 1/3 think the US economy will improve.
  • 90% expect their legal budgets to increase or stay the same.
  • Many CGs are examining technology to improve efficiency, enhance compliance and reduce risk.
  • They would rather hire lawyers and staff rather than outsource to LPOs.
  • Most plan to move all transactional work in-house. Complex litigation will continue to be sent to outside counsel.
  • 56% of GCs plan to request alternative fee arrangements.
How to annoy your client

Total cost of outside legal work and the uncertainty of legal costs rank high in the list of irritants.
Outside counsel who provide legal solutions that don't consider the business objectives are undermining their relationships with their clients.

Common Ground with Outside Counsel
  • GCs looking for technological solutions
  • GCs plan to implement project and workflow management.
  • GCs want to be positioned as strategic business partners in their organizations just as outside counsel want to be strategic business partners to the GCs.
Although most GC's think that their companies will have a strong 2014, they are not confident that the overall economy will improve. They continue to scrutinize costs and to look for opportunities to enhance productivity and reduce outside counsel spending. Despite all of the financial scrutiny, personal relationships with individual lawyers remains an important factor in the retention of outside counsel.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

ABA Journal Names Dewey B Strategic to the "Blawg 100" for Second Year in A Row

Vote Here
Last week Dewey B Strategic was named one of the ABA Journals "Blawg 100" for 2013. The "Blawg 100" are designated by the editors of the ABA Journal as the  100 best blogs for the legal audience each year.  Readers can now vote for the best blawg in 13 categories.  Click here if you would like to vote for Dewey B Strategic as the best blawg in the "Legal Research/ Writing" category.Go to http://www.abajournal.com/blawg100 to register and vote. Voting ends at close of business on Dec. 20, 2013

Congratulations to colleagues Sarah Glassmeyer (SarahGlassmeyer(Dot)com), Greg Lambert (3 Geeks and a Law Blog), Bruce MacEwen, (Adam Smith Esq.) and Jordan Furlong ( Law21) who were also named to the  7th Annual  "Blawg 100."

 The ABA Journal is asking readers to weigh in and vote on their favorites in each of the 7th Annual Blawg 100's 13 categories. Go to http://www.abajournal.com/blawg100 to register and vote. Voting ends at close of business on Dec. 20, 2013.

Press Release:
November 25,2013. Dewey B Strategic  was chosen as one of the ABA Journal's Blawg 100.- Editors of the ABA Journal announced today they have selected Dewey B Strategic as one of the top 100 best blogs for a legal audience.In addition, the magazine has added 10 more bloggers to its Blawg 100 Hall of Fame, featuring the very best law blogs, known for their untiring ability to craft high-quality, engaging posts sometimes on a daily basis.

Now that the editors have made their picks, the ABA Journal is asking readers to weigh in and vote on their favorites in each of the 7th Annual Blawg 100's 13 categories. Go to http://www.abajournal.com/blawg100 to register and vote. Voting ends at close of business on Dec. 20, 2013.

Dewey B Strategic is authored by Jean O'Grady. "In our 7th year selecting the Blawg 100, we recognize that it takes more than luck to make it onto our list. Bloggers with the creativity to attract readers to their blogs and keep them engaged continue to be a pleasure to celebrate each year," said ABA Journal Editor and Publisher Allen Pusey. "Congratulations to this year's 100 honorees and the 10 who were inducted into our Blawg 100 Hall of Fame."

About the ABA Journal:
The ABA Journal is the flagship magazine of the American Bar Association, and it is read by half of the nation's 1.1 million lawyers every month. It covers the trends, people and finances of the legal profession from Wall Street to Main Street to Pennsylvania Avenue. ABAJournal.com features breaking legal news updated as it happens by staff reporters throughout every business day, a directory of more than 3,600 lawyer blogs, and the full contents of the magazine.

About the ABA:
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Turf Wars; Partners Hoard Work, Associate Training Fades, Knowledge Management and Project Management Reign

Partners and associates competing for work
On November 14th, ALM Legal Intelligence released a new report "Turf Wars: Defining New Roles and Competing for Business."  The report is yet another examination of the ongoing impact of the "Great Recession" on the transformation of large law firms. The report contrasts results with a similar 2011 study and in just two years there are significant shifts in trends. The 2011 report focused on down sizing, the 2013 report focuses on " Right sizing." Working smarter in order to meet client demand for efficiency requires an emphasis on project management, knowledge management and business development.
The real headline of 2013 is the struggle between partners and associates for billable hours. Partners who are feeling Insecure about workload are  hoarding work. Although firms have begun hiring again, partners are focused on project management and business development and neglecting associate  development and training.
Chief Satisfaction Officers  The biggest change in partners roles in past 5 years is the increased emphasis on business generation and marketing.   One partner  respondent describes his role as "Chief Satisfaction Officer."
In 2011, the report  tracked the increase in non-equity partners. This report focuses on the nebulous definitions of the   “Of Counsel”  roles. Some of the definitions are too harsh and  depressing to repeat. But the counsel role is a win-win if the firm gets to keep valued talent who lack a client base and the attorney gets more work-life balance.

Key findings:
  • 46% of respondents indicate that firms are beginning to introduce project management
  • Recruiting is  focused on  experienced lawyers with both project management experience and knowledge of clients industries.
  • Three quarters of respondents had reduced support staff in the last year  and 50% expect this continue in 2014
  • Over next three years Legal Process Outsourcing is expected to increase for 19% of respondents ( but we don’t know if this is their first round of outsourcing or if they are extending ououtsourcing into more functions)
  • Reliance on contract lawyers is  slowing, down from 29% 2011 to 20% in 2013.Respondents indicate that the revolving door of contract attorneys too hard to manage.
  • 44% of respondents want to increase permanent associates. Only 1/3 indicated firms should increase partner track associates.
  • Complaint that partners are hoarding work from associates.56% respond that partner are doing more work than associates.
  • Non equity partners continue to increase.
  • Since clients are refusing to pay for associates, associates are receiving less training and hands-on experience
  • Partners spending time on marketing rather than training associates. Associate training squeezed out.
  • In associate recruiting, practice expertise more important than Ivy league education or GPA.
  • Top factors impacting morale “failure to eliminate dead weight, lower compensation than other firms and too much work for current staff levels.
  • Firms have brought in CFOs and COOs but don’t’ give them the authority to implement financial reform. Firms not planning beyond the end of the fiscal year.
  • Predicts a volatile staffing picture will continue. Top challenges are  Hiring and retaking talent and establishing right  partner associate leverage ratios.
Knowledge Management and Project Management Reign. The report underscores the need for skilled professionals who can assist lawyers in driving efficiency through project management and knowledge management. Staff who perform routine commoditized work, will continue to be under considerable scrutiny and vulnerable to  outsourcing. More strategic staff, especially those who can help partners implement and leverage project management and knowledge management will continue to be in demand.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Unspoken Words: John F Kennedy's Last Speech November 22, 1963

I was an 8th grader when the school's new public address system suddenly erupted. with crackling, fragments of a radio news report. We giggled at first thinking that Sister Agnella had hit the wrong button on the "cutting edge" communications system.  What was a motorcade? A Trade Mart? Three shots fired! President Kennedy....It was a Friday. We were sent home. The streets of New York City were silent. The beginning of a long national wake.

Although I live in a world of "primary sources," this is the first time I have read the undelivered Trade Mart Speech (reprinted below).  I now notice that President Kennedy was scheduled to deliver the  speech at  1pm CST, instead he was pronounced dead at that exact moment. The speech primarily focuses on complex, contemporary, foreign defense issues.

A few timeless quotations from the speech:
  •  "Ignorance and misinformation can handicap the progress of a city or a company, but they can, if allowed to prevail in foreign policy, handicap this country's security. "

  • " America's leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason -- or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality and the plausible with the possible will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions to every world problem."
It concludes with this very moving paragraph:
"We, in this country, in this generation, are -- by destiny rather than by choice -- the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of "peace on earth, good will toward men." That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: "except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain."

The "Dallas Trade Mart" Speech:
I am honored to have this invitation to address the annual meeting of the Dallas Citizens Council, joined by the members of the Dallas Assembly -- and pleased to have this opportunity to salute the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest. It is fitting that these two symbols of Dallas progress are united in the sponsorship of this meeting. For they represent the best qualities, I am told, of leadership and learning in this city -- and leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. The advancement of learning depends on community leadership for financial political support, and the products of that learning, in turn, are essential to the leadership's hopes for continued progress and prosperity. It is not a coincidence that those communities possessing the best in research and graduate facilities -- from MIT to Cal Tech -- tend to attract new and growing industries. I congratulate those of you here in Dallas who have recognized these basic facts through the creation of the unique and forward-looking Graduate Research Center.

This link between leadership and learning is not only essential at the community level. It is even more indispensable in world affairs. Ignorance and misinformation can handicap the progress of a city or a company, but they can, if allowed to prevail in foreign policy, handicap this country's security. In a world of complex and continuing problems, in a world full of frustrations and irritations, America's leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason -- or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality and the plausible with the possible will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions to every world problem.
There will always be dissident voices heard in the land, expressing opposition without alternative, finding fault but never favor, perceiving gloom on every side and seeking influence without responsibility. Those voices are inevitable.

But today other voices are heard in the land -- voices preaching doctrines wholly unrelated to reality, wholly unsuited to the sixties, doctrines which apparently assume that words will suffice without weapons, that vituperation is as good as victory and that peace is a sign of weakness. At a time when the national debt is steadily being reduced in terms of its burden on our economy, they see that debt as the single greatest threat to our security. At a time when we are steadily reducing the number of Federal employees serving every thousand citizens, they fear those supposed hordes of civil servants far more than the actual hordes of opposing armies.

We cannot expect that everyone, to use the phrase of a decade ago, will "talk sense to the American people." But we can hope that fewer people will listen to nonsense. And the notion that this Nation is headed for defeat through deficit, or that strength is but a matter of slogans, is nothing but just plain nonsense.

I want to discuss with your today the status of our security because this question clearly calls for the most responsible qualities of leader- ship and the most enlightened products of scholarship. for this Nation's strength and security are not easily or cheaply obtained, nor are they quickly and simply explained. there are many kinds of strength and no one kind will suffice. Overwhelming nuclear strength cannot stop a guerrilla war. Formal pacts of alliance cannot stop internal subversion. Displays of material wealth cannot stop the disillusionment of diplomats subjected to discrimination.
Above all, words alone are not enough. The United States is a peaceful nation. And where our strength and determination are clear, our words need merely to convey conviction, not belligerence. If we are strong, our strength will speak for itself. If we are weak, words will be of no help.
I realize that this Nation often tends to identify turning-points in world affairs with the major addresses which preceded them. But it was not the Monroe Doctrine that kept all Europe away from this hemisphere -- it was the strength of the British fleet and the width of the Atlantic Ocean. It was not General Marshall's speech at Harvard which kept communism out of Western Europe -- it was the strength and stability made possible by our military and economic assistance.

In this administration also it has been necessary at times to issue specific warnings -- warnings that we could not stand by and watch the Communists conquer Laos by force, or intervene in the Congo, or swallow West Berlin, or maintain offensive missiles on Cuba. But while our goals were at least temporarily obtained in these and other instances, our successful defense of freedom was not due to the words we used, but to the strength we stood ready to use on behalf of the principles we stand ready to defend.

This strength is composed of many different elements, ranging from the most massive deterrents to the most subtle influences. And all types of strength are needed -- no one kind could do the job alone. Let us take a moment, therefore, to review this Nation's progress in each major area of strength.
First, as Secretary McNamara made clear in his address last Monday, the strategic nuclear power of the United States has been so greatly modernized and expanded in the last 1,000 days, by the rapid production and deployment of the most modern missile systems, that any and all potential aggressors are clearly confronted now with the impossibility of strategic victory -- and the certainty of total destruction -- if by reckless attack they should ever force upon us the necessity of a strategic reply.
In less than 3 years, we have increased by 50 percent the number of Polaris submarines scheduled to be in force by the next fiscal year, increased by more than 70 percent our total Polaris purchase program, increased by more than 75 percent our Minutemen purchase program, increased by 50 percent the portion of our strategic bombers on 15-minute alert forces. Our security is further enhanced by the steps we have taken regarding these weapons to improve the speed and certainty of their response, their readiness at all times to respond, their ability to survive an attack, and their ability to be carefully controlled and directed through secure command operations.
But the lessons of the last decade have taught us that freedom cannot be defended by strategic nuclear power alone. We have, therefore, in the last 3 years accelerated the development and deployment of tactical nuclear weapons, and increased by 60 percent the tactical nuclear forces deployed in Western Europe.

Nor can Europe or any other continent rely on nuclear forces alone, whether they are strategic or tactical. We have radically improved the readiness of our conventional forces -- increased by 45 percent of the number of combat ready Army divisions, increased by 100 percent the procurement of modern Army weapons and equipment, increased by 100 percent our procurement of our ship construction, conversion, and modernization program, increased by 100 percent our procurement of tactical aircraft, increased by 30 percent the number of tactical air squadrons, and increased the strength of the Marines. As last month's "Operation Big Lift" -- which originated here in Texas -- showed so clearly, this Nation is prepared as never before to move substantial numbers of men in surprisingly little time to advanced positions any- where in the world. We have increased by 175 percent the procurement of airlift aircraft, and we have already achieved a 75 percent increase in our existing strategic airlift capability. Finally, moving beyond the traditional roles of our military forces, we have achieved an increase of nearly 600 percent in our special forces -- those forces that are prepared to work with our allies and friends against the guerrillas, saboteurs, insurgents and assassins who threaten freedom in a less direct but equally dangerous manner.

But American military might should not and need not stand alone against the ambitions of international communism. Our security and strength, in the last analysis, directly depend on the security and strength of others, and that is why our military and economic assistance plays such a key role in enabling those who live on the periphery of the Communist world to maintain their independence of choice. Our assistance to these nations can be painful, risky, and costly, as is true in Southeast Asia today. But we dare not weary of the task. For our assistance makes possible the stationing of 3.5 million allied troops along the Communist frontier at one-tenth the cost of maintaining a comparable number of American soldiers. A successful Communist breakthrough in these area, necessitating direct United States intervention, would cost us several times as much as our entire foreign aid program, and might cost us heavily in American lives as well.
About 70 percent of our military assistance goes to nine key countries located on or near the borders of the Communist-bloc -- nine countries confronted directly or indirectly with the threat of Communistic aggression -- Viet-Nam, Free China, Korea, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Greece, Turkey, and Iran. No one of these countries possesses on its own the resources to maintain the forces which our own Chiefs of Staff think needed in the common interest. Reducing our efforts to train, equip, and assist their armies can only encourage Communist penetration and require in time the increased overseas deployment of American combat forces. And reducing the economic help needed to bolster these nations that undertake to help defend freedom can have the same disastrous result. In short, the $50 billion we spend each year on our own defense could well be ineffective without the $4 billion required for military and economic assistance.

Our foreign aid program is not growing in size, it is, on the contrary, smaller now than in previous years. It has had its weaknesses, but we have undertaken to correct them. And the proper way of treating weaknesses is to replace them with strength, not to increase those weaknesses by emasculating essential programs. Dollar for dollar, in or out of government, there is no better form of investment in our national security than our much-abused foreign aid program. We cannot afford to lose it. We can afford to maintain it. we can surely afford, for example, to do as much for our 19 needy neighbors of Latin America as the Communist bloc is sending to the island of Cuba alone.
I have spoken of strength largely in terms of the deterrence and resistance of aggression and attack. But in today's world, freedom can be lost without a shot being fired, by ballots as well as bullets. The success of our leadership is dependent upon respect for our mission in the world as well as our missiles -- on a clearer recognition of the virtues of freedom as well as the evils of tyranny.
That is why our Information Agency has doubled the shortwave broadcasting powers of the Voice of America and increased the number of broadcasting hours by 30 percent, increased Spanish language broadcasting to Cuba and Latin America from 1 to 9 hours a day, increased seven-fold to more than 3.5 million copies the number of American books being translated and published for Latin American readers, and taken a host of other steps to carry our message of truth and freedom to all the far corners of the earth.

And that is also why we have regained the initiative in the exploration of outer space, making an annual effort greater than the combined total of all space activities undertaken during the fifties, launching more than 130 vehicles into earth orbit, putting into actual operation valuable weather and communications satellites, and making it clear to all that the United States of America has no intention of finishing second in space.

This effort is expensive -- but it pays its own way, for freedom and for America. For there is no longer any fear in the free world that a Communist lead in space will become a permanent assertion of supremacy and the basis for military superiority. There is no longer any doubt about the strength and skill of American science, American industry, American education, and the American free enterprise system. In short, our nation space effort represents a great gain in, and a great resource of, our national strength -- and both Texas and Texans are contributing greatly to this strength.
Finally, it should be clear by now that a nation can be no stronger abroad than she is at home. Only an America which practices what it preaches about equal rights and social justice will be respected by those whose choice affects our future. Only an America which has fully educated its citizens is fully capable of tackling the complex problems and perceiving the hidden dangers of the world in which we live. And only an America which is growing and prospering economically can sustain the worldwide defenses of freedom, while demonstrating to all concerned the opportunities of our system and society.

It is clear, therefore, that we are strengthening our security as well as our economy by our recent record increases in national income and output -- by surging ahead of most of Western Europe in the rate of business expansion and the margin of corporate profits, by maintaining a more stable level of prices than almost any of our overseas competitors, and by cutting personal and corporate income taxes by some $11 billion, as I have proposed, to assure this Nation of the longest and strongest expansion in our peacetime economic history.

This Nation's total output -which 3 years ago was at the $500 billion mark -- will soon pass $600 billion, for a record rise of over $100 billion in 3 years. For the first time in history we have 70 million men and women at work. For the first time in history average factory earnings have exceeded $100 a week. For the first time in history corporation profits after taxes -- which have risen 43 percent in less than 3 years -- have an annual level of $27.4 billion

My friends and fellow citizens: I cite these facts and figures to make it clear that America today is stronger than ever before. Our adversaries have not abandoned their ambitions, our dangers have not diminished, our vigilance cannot be relaxed. But now we have the military, the scientific, and the economic strength to do whatever must be done for the preservation and promotion of freedom.
The strength will never be used in pursuit of aggressive ambitions -- it will always be used in pursuit of peace. It will never be used to promote provocations -- it will always be used to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes.

We, in this country, in this generation, are -- by destiny rather than by choice -- the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of "peace on earth, good will toward men." That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: "except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain."

Sources:  Original press release with full text of speech

Read more: JFK’s Assassination: Portrait of an Era When Newspapers Mattered | LIFE.com http://life.time.com/icons/jfk-assassination-a-portrait-of-an-era-when-papers-mattered/#ixzz2lNiDdJSX

Friday, November 15, 2013

New ALM Legal Intelligence Report: Law Firm Partnership "Ain't What it Used to Be"

It is hard to believe that less that 20 years ago law firm partners followed a relatively safe and dignified trajectory from junior partner through retirement.. American Lawyer Media released a report this week: “Up or Out: When Partners Need to Go."  which paints a grim and unsettling landscape of  partner termination practices in large law firms. The survey was commissioned by SJL Shannon and conducted  by ALM Legal Intelligence in the summer of 2013 .

Since the Start of the Great Recession law firms have had limited ability to raise rates, face pressure to offer discounts and alternative fees and have already cuts staff and expenses to the bone. The vulnerability of firms is further intensified by the fixed pool of clients. The only way to grow business is to poach clients from other firms. This is often accomplished though the hiring of lateral partners.

Lateral Partners: Failing Early and Often. Senior Fellow  James  Jones from Georgetown Center for the Study of the Legal Profession is  quoted as stating that lateral hires have only a 50% chance of succeeding. Many law firms recruit partners without first determining how they fit in the firm strategy or defining the metrics by which the new partner will be measured. The processes for communicating a failed lateral match to the partner is the most depressing piece of this somber report,

The report suggests that a new round of partner cuts is the next strategy for improving the balance sheet. The only positive news in the report is that terminated partners reported that they  found new positions within 2 to 4 months. Most didn’t face reduced compensation and were able to retain their clients through the move.

Key Points

•    53% of the departing partners have been at the firm less than 6 years
•    Law firms and partners provide contradictory explanations for partner departure. 55% of law firms reported that departures were voluntary vs. 93% of partners reported that they left voluntarily.
•    The top reason for partner “lay offs” were due to :the inability to develop and cultivate new clients or sustain a book of business.
•    77% of partners report that they learned about their performance issues for the first time on the day they were terminated.
•    Only one in ten partners received outplacement assistance
•    Lateral partners are left to fend for themselves with out guidance, feedback or an integration strategy.
•    44% of terminations are not communicated by law firm leaders such as Executive committee or Practice Group leaders.
Lateral Partners Fail Early and Often One of the most stunning aspects of the report is the revelation that  from a human resources perspective, partners  are treated worse than the average  law firm file clerk. I think it is safe to say that no Amlaw 200 firm would dream of terminating a staff member without a well documented performance plan and a series of formal warnings. Some law firms are reported to rely on passive aggressive activities such as cutting pay  and with-holding support rather than having an honest conversation.

Develop Strategic Hiring Plans Law firms need to develop framework to align hiring with  overall firm strategy and develop time lines and metrics to guide performance and communication with lateral partners.

Fix the Exit Process. Firms need to treat exiting partners like valued alumni who become part of the firms referral network. Mishandled terminations hurt the films reputation as well as internal morale.

Firms Better Act Quickly
 Earlier this week ALM Daily reported on the recent Wells Fargo and Citiback Law Firm financial surveys:

 "The underproductivity is largely centered in the partner level of all the law firms," says Jeff Grossman, of Wells Fargo, who notes that associates are logging many more hours than partners. "It continues to be one of the biggest challenges law firms are facing. ... Not enough partners are being asked to leave...."

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Financial Times SLA Report on Information Management Has a Law Firm "Credibility Gap"

Last week the Special Libraries Association and the Financial Times released a report "The Evolving Value of Information Management."  First of all, I want to applaud SLA and the Financial Times for this innovative partnership which obviously addresses a mutual need to foster the value of  both premium content resources and sophisticated content advisers.

I do agree with the reports conclusion that we face  unprecedented opportunities. But we need to also acknowledge unprecedented vulnerability if we do not adapt. This report includes some valuable observations including.....

The Five Essential Attributes:
  • Communicate Your Value
  • Understand the drivers
  • Manage the process
  • Keep up on technical skills
  • Provide "decision ready" information
Crossing the Analysis Divide

The  5th attribute above  is the most important of all. Providing "decision ready" information will take care of number one, communicating our value. Information professionals need to get comfortable analysing, distilling and designing consumable information.The emergence of big data, will create a host of new opportunities requiring a higher level of analytical skills which can benefit  both the business and practice of law. The value proposition will increase and become more visible if these opportunities are seized.
How relevant is the study in the law firm context? There is a Credibility Gap in The Performance Gap Data 

Much as been made of the performance gaps reported in the survey. The report cites legal information professionals as having overestimated the value of their services compared to their colleagues assessment of the information professionals' value. They have the biggest "performance gap." But how credible is the data?

In preparing a "decision ready" assessment of the report,  I focused on the  survey data that was provided in the introduction.  That data is remarkably skewed. There were 832 respondents to the survey and the vast majority of the respondents were information professionals (83%).  Since it is reported that only 17% of the respondents we in a legal environment we have to assume that there were only 149 respondents in the legal field. If 83% of those respondents were information professionals, then there were only 25 legal information consumers. Furthermore it is unclear who those legal information consumers were. How many were partners, associates, C-level executives in other areas such as finance, IT or marketing?  When I "run the numbers" the large performance gap which is suggested  in the legal context has a lot less weight.

The Perception of Value and the Lawyer /Non-lawyer Schism  

Seriously, did the drafters of this survey think that lawyers would view anyone but lawyers as strategically important  to the practice of law? More precisely would any lawyer view his/her fellow lawyers as delivering more value than his/her own work product? I think not! 

If we did want to assess the value of information professionals this would have to be done in the context of how lawyers rate the value of other administrative professionals in their organization ( IT, Finance, Marketing, Professional Development). Our value needs to be contextualized in the perspective of the overall legal environment to have any meaning.

The Value of  Everything is Being Questioned in Law Firms

You name it, the value partners, associates, senior counsel, staff, office space... every aspect of the business and practice of law is under scrutiny due to the ongoing turmoil of the legal market. Indeed, firms  are even questioning the value of certain client relationships!  Has there ever been a more uncertain time to ascertain a value proposition? Nonetheless questions must be asked, but they must be asked carefully and in the proper context.

Other Disconnects from The Legal Context.

The report states that the most cited threat articulated by information professionals in the survey, is that people are bypassing the library and doing their own Google research.

Thanks to Lexis and Westlaw,  lawyers have been doing their own online research for the past 30 years. The current generation of senior partners grew up using one of the more primitive software versions of Lexis and Westlaw. Legal information professionals have been facilitators and trainers encouraging the direct effective use of online resources. Over the past 30 years, instead of coveting the gatekeeper role, legal information professionals have continued to expand and facilitate direct disinter-mediated access to research of the "fact checking" "document pulling" variety - which is the kind of thing that Google is good for. They have instead focused on expanding their portfolio of complex research offerings which address the entire lifecycle of business and practice workflows from competitive intelligence to the emerging opportunities in big data.

The Best News in this report...

is the suggestion that executives are ready to engage with information professionals and they anticipate that such engagement will increase over the next 3 years.
Despite its shortcomings, the report is an interesting read with useful, actionable insights, but more is needed.
We need a study which focuses on the unique challenges legal information professionals in the law firm environment.