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.

Faculty


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