Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Private Law Libraries-SIS Board on Blogtalkradio Today. Discussing PLL Name Change, The Evolution and Future of Private Firm Libraries, Training Associates....

Rich Leiter the host of Law Librarian Conversations has invited the PLL Board  (including myself) to be guests on the show at 1pm est. today, October 23. The chat room will be available at the show's website.

Here are some of the topics to be discussed: 

1. The PLL Board has proposed that members consider changing the name of the Private Law Libraries SIS to a name focused on the future of the profession rather than the past.
I outlined my thoughts on this issue in the PLL newsletter. "What's in a name?"  

2. How are things changing in law firms that effect library services? What is the new normal? 

3. The  Success of the PLL Summit 

4. How are firm libraries changing? 

5. What should we academics know about what our students will be doing in your firms that they don't know? What kinds of research skills do students need today? Is it true that firms are canceling all print formats of materials?
Listen or Talk : Here is the link to the link to the show for people who want to listen in: http://tinyurl.com/kh6oon6/ Listeners who want to call in and "Join the conversation" can call in at 347-945-7183


Monday, October 21, 2013

Practice Innovations: Global Practice of Law, Digital Identities, Competency Modeling, Legal Pricing and The Future of the Legal Secretary

The latest issue of  Practice Innovations from Thomson Reuters was just released and it includes an interesting array of articles of interest to law firm executives. The lead article focuses on the  Global Practice of Law. The rest of the articles focus on various aspects of how technology, law firm economics and changing demands are impacting how we work and support the practice of law in law firms. These articles focus on: Digital Identities, Competency Modeling, Legal Pricing Professionals and The Future of the Legal Secretary. It also features a book review. The Next IQ

 Below you can link directly to articles of interest.

Global Practice From the US Perspective by Carol Silver, Professor of Law Indiana University Maurer School of Law (Jan 2014, Professor of Global  Law and Practice, Northwestern University Law School.)

Redefining Digital Identities by Lynn Watson, Director of Information Resources and Technologies, Hogan Lovells, US LLP

Competency Modeling: Defining the Criteria that Drive Individual and Organizational Success by Kancy Krauss, Learning and Organizational Consultant

Legal Pricing: An Emerging Profession by Steven Petrie, Chief Strategy Officer, Faegre and Benson

Secretarial Roles in Transition: Laid Off, Outsourced and Reengineered. The Future has Begun
by Jean O'Grady, DLA Piper US, LLP

Book Review: The Next IQ:The Next Level of Intelligence for  21st Century Leaders by Arlin N Reeves. Reviewed by William Scarbrough, COO, Bodman, PLC

About Practice Innovations

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thomson Reuters Re-Launches Westlaw Business (Again): The Business Law Center and the Next Great Battle for the Corporate Lawyer's Desktop

Today Thomson Reuters announced that it had launched the latest incarnation of Westlaw Business as “The Business Law Center on WestlawNext.” There have been seismic shifts in law firms and the legal publishing industry since Thomson Reuters first waded into the corporate practice market in 2005 with the acquisition of Global Securities Information (GSI). Seven years on, TR has to overcome customer cynicism and a complex range of competitors including: the big, rich and innovative (Bloomberg Law); the small and innovative (Intelligize); the small and commoditized (10K Wizard) and direct competition from Lexisnexis/Knowledge Mosaic. 

A Brief History of The Big Bungle(s)

In 2005 Thomson Reuters acquired one of the most beloved legal research brands, Global Securities Information (GSI) owner of the LivEdgar product. GSI had a long history of providing securities research and retrieving documents from the public reading room of the SEC. It was the first product to offer "real time" access to SEC documents. To lawyers and researchers the “good will”of the GSI brand extended beyond the product to the extraordinary GSI customer support team of expert securities researchers. The team functioned as a trusted extension of the firm's research team. It was in effect, an early "legal process outsourcer" which specialized in complex securities research. GSI also featured a simple "pay as you go" pricing. $10 to login and $2 a minute.

According to a former GSI insider, the company had many suitors, but Thomson Reuters beat out the competitors because they promised GSI’s founders that they would not fire the GSI customer support team. The team was not fired but it seemed to wither away and was unable to perform as it had when part of a small company. West’s customer support for their legal product remains one of the best in the business. That said, their attorney research generalists were not prepared to deliver the level of expertise developed by years combing through 10K exhibits or the mining the mysteries of private placement documents. Thomson Reuters also decided to discard the powerful LivEdgar brand.  

·       In 2007 Thomson Reuters relaunched LivEdgar as WestlawBusiness. It was a "stand alone" corporate research platform, separate fromWestlaw which offered SEC documents and specialized practice centers. The securities filings were no longer the centerpiece. They eliminated the low cost “pay as you go” model and instituted a hefty, flat monthly fee which was roundly criticized by the law librarian community. Customers grumbled that the personalized customer support was gone. To make matters worse, Westlaw Business launched at the dawn of "the great recession." Transactional work tanked, armies of lawyers got "pink slips" and budgets contracted.

· In late 2010, Thomson Reuters created a GRC (governance, risk & compliance) business unit under the “Thomson Reuters Accelus” brand, and Westlaw Business was a part of it. Westlaw Business was renamed “Business Law Research.”

· In 2011 TR decided to eliminate the dedicated corporate research support team and moved support to the general Westlaw legal research support team. This resulted in large numbers of the Westlaw Business support team departing for upstart competitor Intelligize.

· In early 2012, amidst a company-wide reorganization, Business Law Research was moved back out of GRC and returned to TR Legal. It continues to be officially called “Business Law Research” but moved under the “Thomson Reuters Westlaw” brand.

· Today, it is launching as the “Business Law Research Center.”

Introducing the Business Law Center on Westlaw Next  

1. Experts on Call. Making Amends to the GSI Loyalists.

The promotional flyer announces “You talked. We listened.” Not much a stretch to imagine that they are trying to reclaim the glory days of GSI customer service. The flyer  also proclaims: “We can do the legwork for you, especially when you are faced with difficult request.”  “Call our experts to discuss approaches to difficult requests.”  Enhanced customer service promises “our Business Law Research Experts monitor the progress of your service ticket to insure timely resolution.” TR has reportedly recruited some former GSI customer support staff.. The business support team will offer 24/7 coverage. The customer support pitch is being promoted as much, if not more than the content. 

2. The Business Law Center on Westlaw Next Features

The latest incarnation of Westlaw Business offers the Business Law Center where it features the faceted search capabilities of Westlaw Next.

o Filter search results using dozens of categories of information

o SEC filings will display related agreements and SEC comment letters

o New search templates for M&A, Capital markets, Loan and Bond transactions.

o Foldering – organize and manage documents and selected text in folders which can be shared with collaborators

o Search by relevance: results can be sorted by date ranges or transaction values..

o Experts on Call- provides 24/7 support by email or phone from team of corporate and transactional research experts.

o Global filings include filings Canada, UK and Australia

Coming Next 

o Export data to spreadsheets

o Improved navigation through exhibits.

o Compare text of documents within the Business Law Center

o Improved no-action letter functionality

o Trending Topics on the main page

o Flexible Bill Back Optional ability to skip client-matter entry screens

The Business Law Center has an intuitive look and offers advanced filtering of document keywords and features. It offers a wider range of content with deeper contextual linking between securities filings and regulatory materials. It offers the future promise of linking to the Practical Law “know how.” It has changed so dramatically from the original Westlaw Business that it will be worth a second look by customers who wrote off the Westlaw Business brand during one of its prior incarnations. The market is likely to be both highly skeptical and highly sensitive to pricing. Transactional activity has ticked up since 2007 but Thomson Reuters will likely have to displace smaller competitors who have made significant headway in many firms. The Business Law Center will be on theWestlaw Next platform in a separate “zone.” It will require a separate subscription. Existing Westlaw Business customers who subscribe to Business Law Center will have access to both Business Law Center and Westlaw Business platform included in the price of the Business Law Center subscription.

Fighting for Control of the Transactional Desktop

The speculation will begin about whether the Westlaw Business Center will reclaim the lost legacy of GSI. Clearly that is only a short term issue for TR. This relaunch is surely about regaining lost “good will” and reinforcing credibility in the corporate practice space. But I suspect that the Business Center is a beachhead from which a greater initiative will be launched. It is becoming increasingly clear that as content has become commoditized, the large legal publishers will maintain their growth and advantage by providing more integrated content, enhancing context and folding content into tools for process improvement.

The launch of the Westlaw Business Center needs to be viewed in the context of TR’s recent acquisitions and other product launches. In this year alone TR finalized its acquisition of Practical Law Company, and launched integrated workflow products Concourse for in-house counsel and Firm Central for small firms. The emergence of Bloomberg Law will probably motivate TR to accelerate the integration of data from Thomson Financial with corporate and legal information. 

I think we are about to witness a wave of aggressive product development and fierce competition as legal publishers grapple for control of the transactional lawyers desktop by offering increasingly sophisticated workflow tools. Riffing on Neil Armstrong:..." One small step towards securities research, followed by one bold leap to control the desktop."

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Has Legal Process Outsouricng Peaked?: New ALM Study Reports Waning GC Interest

This week ALM Legal Intelligence released : Diving In… Or Baby Steps – Legal Process Outsourcing in Corporate Legal Departments.

The survey which was conducted in the Summer of 2013 surveyed corporate legal departments regarding their views on legal outsourcing.. The survey defined outsourcing as sending work to a non-law firm entity either in the US or abroad. They also included work outsourced by the outside counsel on behalf of the client. The survey suggests that legal process outsourcing may not be on the explosive growth trajectory that has been  repeatedly predicted. The report cites a Datamonitor study which had predicted that legal outsourcing revenue would grow from $400M in 2010 to $2.4 billion in 2012. In fact the 2012 revenues were 1.1 billion. The slower growth is corroborated by the ALM study. LPO represents a small percentage of all legal spending. The majority 64% spend less than 10% of their budget on LPO. GC’s don’t seem to be interested in expanding their use of LPOs. 68%  of GC believe that the savings will not be worth the trouble.The study also implies that law firms are not all that threatened by LPOs since they are encouraging and facilitating the use of LPOs  by clients, for work that they apparently have no interest in taking on themselves.

Here are some of the key findings

  • The main motivations for outsourcing are cost savings and to improve speed of delivery not to improve quality
  • Only 21% of GCs outsource in order to improve quality.
  • More than 48% cited lack of quality or lack of familiarly with clients business as an obstacle to outsourcing.
  • 45% of GCs said they were encouraged to outsource by their outside counsel.
  • In house counsel didn’t cite LPO as the most important way to rein in costs. ( Bringing more work in-house was the top strategy).
  • The cost savings derived from outsourcing are shrinking ( rising labor costs)
  • 90%  of responding GC’s  who had not yet outsourced didn’t have any interest in trying outsourcing in the next 3 years.
  • One third of the respondents indicated the more than half of the outsourced work was work that was previously sent to law firms.
  • Document review and ediscovery are the most common functions outsourced
  • Most work is outsourced in the US not abroad.( 65%)
  • For every dollar spent on outsourcing law firms lost fifty cents.
  • Law firms have decided on their own that they don’t want to perform certain kinds of repetitive work and are encouraging clients to outsource certain work.

The Tidal Wave That Wasn’t
The most surprising "take-away" from reading  this study is the evidence that legal process outsourcing may not be the growth industry which  legal management consultants have been predicting.  GC’s  report that their interest in LPC is waining not growing because perceived disincentives are expanding.. Security and quality concerns are slowing and possibly reversing the growth . Many GC appear to believe that outsourcing is simply not worth the effort and the complications won't justify the cost. For GCs who want to cut costs, the LPO option is way down the list of priorities.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Bloomberg CEO Doctoroff Giving Legal Education "The Business." Donates $5M to U Chicago Law for Business Leadership Program

 "In recent years fewer business leaders have come from the ranks of lawyers. Our intention with the Doctoroff program is to go 'back to the future' and reestablish the JD as a compelling option for anyone who is bright, ambitious, and ready to become a leader in business."  -- Dean Michael Schill
Last week the University of Chicago Law School, announced  an innovative business leadership program  supported by a $ 5 million gift from Dan Doctoroff, CEO of Bloomberg L.P. (a 1984 Law School alum), and his wife, Alisa (a 1983 grad of the Business School)..

The Law School will establish the Doctoroff Business Leadership Program. The Doctoroff program will combine law and business courses to prepare the next generation of law graduates with the analytical skills to be leaders of businesses or key advisers to business. The Doctoroff Program will offer all U of Chicago law students a series of core business courses taught by professors at the Booth School of Business. In addition, each year it will provide 15 students who demonstrate commitment  to careers in business, with a unique array of mentorship, internship, and enrichment opportunities not normally found in law schools. The Doctoroff Program provides the platform for the Law School's first-ever certificate-granting program, combining a business curriculum taught by many of the leading professors of Chicago's acclaimed Booth School of Business; mentorship from alumni business leaders; and summer internships in business enterprises.

"For Chicago, this is not about offering JD/MBAs, sending law students to the MBA school for classes, or mini MBA boot camps. It is about integrating analytical business thinking into the study of law."
Adding Business Analysis to the Study of Law

"The Doctoroff Program is a key part of Chicago's comprehensive approach to providing our students with the analytical tools to be preeminent not just in the practice of law, but also in business, government, and academic careers," says Dean Michael Schill. "The recent upheaval in both the legal and financial markets has profoundly changed the legal profession and challenged law schools to innovate. For much of the past century, a law degree was a great credential for leadership in banking, finance, investment banks, and real estate, as well as more traditional endeavors such as government service and private practice. In recent years fewer business leaders have come from the ranks of lawyers. Our intention with the Doctoroff program is to go 'back to the future' and reestablish the JD as a compelling option for anyone who is bright, ambitious, and ready to become a leader in business."

Dan Doctoroff's View 
Dan Doctoroff has  held a variety of leadership positions  in government (NYC Deputy Mayor for Economic Development) and financial services  (Oak Hill  Capital Partners and Lehman Brothers  ) before becoming the CEO of the Bloomberg media empire. I think it is safe to assume that Doctoroff has interacted with many outside counsel in his career so law firm leaders should "listen up." Doctoroff offers a rather compelling quote in the press release: “Time after time, I've seen the value  of lawyers who have fundamental business and financial skills, no matter their field of specialty." This is an important message for law firm leadership to absorb, the traditional benchmarks for recruiting should be reassessed. CEO's want lawyers who understand businesses and industries as well as "the law.".

In a telephone interview Doctoroff described the program as offering law students the "best of both worlds" and filling an educational void which has hampered prior generations of law students. The Doctoroff Program will enable students to better understand the value of business data and analytics. He hopes that it will also give Chicago a competitive advantage in recruiting students who might otherwise opt for Harvard or Yale. One long term benefit he sees is growing a new generation of business leaders who will not only build businesses but also have resources to fund innovative  philanthropic initiatives and also become law school donors themselves.

The Next Normal
Given the uncertainties of the legal market for law grads, a  set of business skills combined with legal analysis offers a compelling recruiting profile for law firms which are also grappling to define the "Next Normal." Law firms need to recruit a new generation of leaders with a new skillset. Will a judicial clerkship and and writing a law review article start to pale in comparison to a preparing a spreadsheet and a regression analysis?