Monday, November 19, 2007
"In this article I'll discuss how Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (SharePoint) has been used at Fenwick & West to meet the challenge of making extranets available for each and every matter opened. I'll also cover the key issues that must be addressed in order to scale to thousands of extranets and terabytes of data. At the conclusion of this article you'll have a better idea of what can be accomplished with SharePoint at your firm, as well as a road map to get you started. "
This is a great article for anyone interested in SharePoint, especially those thinking of using it as an extranet.
Those of you looking to automate new hire intake will find MTVs case study of particular interest. They focused heavily on addressing many of the shortcomings for new hire intake and have found significant time and cost savings.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
"Today Neil Richards and I are delighted to launch Knowledgethoughts.com, an open source resource for the KM and legal KM communities. This is a personal, collaborative learning effort, and is not associated with any organisation." more..
In my initial scan of the site, it's already rich with a variety of content for those seasoned vets in the KM space, or those just starting out and wanting to learn more. There's a wiki section with some terms classified such as CKO and PSL, along with selling points for those looking to add these roles to their firms. There's a section with a ton of rich media content, aimed at helping explain KM. Much of this comes from outside legal, which is a great thing. A section bound to be on everyone's "to be seen" list is their leading people and thinkers page. If you're looking for ideas to kick-start your knowledge management initiatives, there's even a thought starters section.
I'm going to need to sit down and dedicate some serious time to this site, there's too much to just quickly glance through.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
One of the main themes was the continuing pressure in-house counsel face to reduce legal costs. This is squarely in opposition to the constant rate increases many firms are pushing on their clients. You know corporations are serious about cost-cutting when companies like Citigroup have someone with the title of "Director Legal Expense Control". The salary of first year associates was brought up routinely. If we think it's an issue within law firms, it's even more of a problem for our clients. They view the rate increases solely as a mechanism to help absorb these associate salary increases, while maintaining what I like to call a law firm's "stock price"- profits per partner. Think your firm is different and really listens to its clients' needs? Check out this article from Bruce MacEwen's blog - there's a huge disconnect between how our clients perceive us and how law firms view themselves as it relates to outside counsel satisfaction. One more piece of evidence to demonstrate the disconnect is found in the InsideCounsel Magazine's 18th annual survey. Clearly there is room for firms to proactively go to their clients with ideas on how to reduce legal expenses:
Offshoring and outsourcing of low-level legal work (like first-cut document review) has been the fashionable thing to talk about lately, but when talking to folks at legal departments, they didn't seem all that interesting in their law firms doing it - at least some of them. Much of a company's comfort level with off-shoring legal work seems to be directly linked to the company's own use of off-shoring for other functions. So, before you go down this path with a client, find out if the company currently does any off-shoring, you might save yourself some grief as there were several companies in the room that would take serious offense to it.
However, I think there are opportunities to help clients reduce litigation costs in the document review area. McDermott fired the first salvo recently, by creating a new tier of associates. Think of them as permanent contract associates -- to handle lower-end tasks at lower billing rates. I was also told during the week that there is a surplus of lawyers in cities like Detroit and Charlotte, as a result you can get contract lawyers in those cities at rates not much higher than that of Indian off-shoring companies. I heard of one firm that setup an office in Charlotte simply to conduct document review, taking advantage of this talent surplus.
The takeaway for me was, and has been for a while, that we need to truly listen to our clients needs and pain points and take real actions to help them.
Monday, September 17, 2007
What's interesting is direct verbiage from the Sedona Search Team almost admonishing the reliance on simple keyword search technology for the review of ESI:
. . . the experience of many litigators is that simple keyword searching alone is inadequate in at least some discovery contexts. This is because simple keyword searches end up being both over- and under-inclusive in light of the inherent malleability and ambiguity of spoken and written English (as well as all other languages). . . .
The problem of the relative percentage of “false positive” hits or noise in the data is potentially huge, amounting in some cases to huge numbers of files which must be searched to find responsive documents. On the other hand, keyword searches have the potential to miss documents that contain a word that has the same meaning as the term used in the query, but is not specified. . . .
Finally, using keywords alone results in a return set of potentially responsive documents that are not weighted and ranked based upon their potential importance or relevance. In other words, each document is considered to have an equal probability of being responsive upon further manual review.
But the Sedona Search Commentary does not end on a negative note; instead it discusses new search technologies that will significantly improve upon the dismal recall and precision ratios of keyword searches:
Alternative search tools are available to supplement simple keyword searching and Boolean search techniques. These include using fuzzy logic to capture variations on words; using conceptual searching, which makes use of taxonomies and ontologies assembled by linguists; and using other machine learning and text mining tools that employ mathematical probabilities..
The last tidbit Ralph brings to our attention is a call to action from the Team:
The legal community should support collaborative research with the scientific and academic sectors aimed at establishing the efficacy of a range of automated search and information retrieval methods.
Looking at these comments, albeit in a vacuum, it's astonishing to see such a clear line in the sand drawn by the Team. Clearly, reliance on simple keyword such isn't going to cut it for much longer. Vendors like Recommind, Engenium, Sygence, Content Analyst and the like will be drooling once word of this gets to them.
There's a lot more on Ralph's blog about this and he writes much better than I do, so I encourage you to read the post in it's entirety.
I learned a lot about the legal market, the economic climate and the 'proper' way to pronounce such words as aluminum and tomato, as well as certain acceptable words in the States that are off limits in Australia :)
"Brain drain" was a phrase used often at the conference. The country is experiencing a flight of talent, mostly to the UK. While wages appear to be decent for most tech-related jobs, the cost of living is very high (a Volkswagen Passat costs around $40k and a Snickers bar at a convenience store was $2.00 - food was particularly expensive) and as a result many of Australia's brightest young minds are taking their talent overseas.
More and more legal work is coming from all the growth from China. With construction comes a lot of legal work, especially litigation. One consultant, Justin North, suggests that the next large merger will not be "vertical" (NY-London), but "horizontal" (China-Australia), because of the synergies between these two countries and their respective economies.
Over the years, I found that there are a handful of highly innovative firms in Australia, such as Mallesons who have taken the Recommind product to new levels with their Decisiv e-mail management tool. While there are firms in Australia that are arguably more advanced in their use of technology than any firm here in the States, it seemed that firms are generally a bit behind what we are doing here as an industry. Many of the conversations were on topics we were dealing with 3-5 years ago.
There are also many thought leaders from Australia, both within law firms and on the vendor side. Justin North, who recently left Baker Robbins/Thomson to start his own consulting company (Janders Dean), is among those leading the charge on the innovation front - not only in Australia, but across the globe. Most recently, he's been working with a few of the largest firms on the planet on the selection and implementation of enterprise search.
All in all, it was a very interesting conference, well run, with a good mix of content and opportunities for networking. Anyone in Australia should consider their next event in 2008.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Today the buzz is about OpenText's announcement around their SharePoint strategy. I was not in the session, as my firm is an Interwoven shop, but here is what I heard from others that attended:
- There will be the option to have SharePoint become the main store for documents
- OpenText is looking to extent beyond DM to more full blown matter/document lifecycle management, using Sharepoint to accomplish this.
The feedback around the show is mixed. Some are very excited by the news, while others wonder what this means in terms of their investment in OpenText's current product architecture.
Both DM vendors seem to be scrambling to respond to the product offering from StarLaw, which purports to have a more comprehensive solution for document lifecycle management (DM, RM, etc.), or as they put it an "intelligent Enterprise Information Management system".
Friday, August 17, 2007
While there are certainly both operational and strategic elements to what IT and KM do, there are different types of opportunities for each group. This idea was illuminated recently on a call with my friend (and idol) John Alber at Bryan Cave, one of the more innovative folks in the business. Furthermore, we might stop calling it KM and start calling it something else. All one needs to do is look at the titles of people performing relative degrees of KM duties these days:
- Director of Practice Innovation
- Director, Consultant Services/Client Advocacy
- Director of Professional Services
- Director of Practice Management
- Director Professional Development
- Director, Legal Business Systems
- Director of Practice Systems
- Director of Practice Support
- Chief, Practice Systems & Services
- Director, Legal Information Systems
Notice something missing from these titles? How about the word 'knowledge'? Personally I like the Director of Practice Innovation the best, very fitting. If someone were really bold, Director of Practice Enhancement might also be apropos, although it could lead to some interesting dialog with Partners who might not feel their practice needs 'enhancement'.
In any event, I look forward to seeing everyone at ILTA next week and stay tuned as we talk about this topic more in the months to come.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
The popularity of SharePoint 2007 has exceeded even Microsoft's expectations and related technologies are coming along for the ride, with workflow being one of them. Cost, flexibility and the development environment seem to be the main factors for firms looking to leverage their SharePoint investment by building workflow. I've attached the PowerPoints slides from e-Sentio's presentation (with Nestor's blessing) and also attached an article I wrote highlighting some of the issues surrounding workflow development and the merits of Microsoft workflow.
I think that there are many opportunities to gain a competitive edge with workflow, as clearly illustrated in the number of workflow options spelled out in both e-Sentio's presentation and the article. There are also some unique challenges to be aware of in developing workflow and most of them are not technical, if you get my drift.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
It appears that the $1.58 billion verdict was overturned because of the plaintiff's inability to prove damages, despite the fact that the judge precluded any defense on liability. It likely won't affect the underlying e-discovery issues, but it's interesting that this was overturned after all the hoopla surrounding it.
Friday, March 16, 2007
I hope everyone enjoys their weekend and has a pint or two of green beer :)
Friday, February 02, 2007
Monday, January 22, 2007
The feedback has been overwhelming. Our targeting of webparts, quick access to financial data and WorkSite document search features are scoring big points with our users. Since going live, we are AVERAGING over 1,000 document searches per day. We wouldn't be maintaining that level of use unless it worked :) Stuff that we had in our old portal is now looked at as 'new' features because they're actually easy to find!
Since going live, we have learned a few things. First, those of you on previous versions of SharePoint should proceed with caution if you're converting over webparts that worked in '03, looking to buy webparts from vendors converting their webparts from '03, or any freeware webparts. We were running webparts from '03 for MONTHS on our SharePoint 2007 environment with any issues and only found problems as the load begin to reach critical mass. So, don't be fooled into thinking that just because you didn't get an error right from the start that your webparts are safe.
- Make sure to properly “dispose” of SharePoint objects when programmatically accessing the API to avoid excessive memory consumption and performance/stability problems.(see http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms778813.aspx)
- Make liberal use of caching in memory, particularly of objects resulting from CPU or memory intensive processes, such as XSL transformations or disk access, but must also be mindful of caching or session state across processes (in a “web garden”) or across servers (in “web server farm”).(see http://support.microsoft.com/kb/313997/)
- Load test and look for memory leaks or process hogs *before* going live to identity potential problem areas. For example, a bug in the .NET Framework was causing a memory leak in XSL transformations that used inline script, which in turn was crashing the IIS worker processes and stopping the server. After a simple rewrite of these XSL transformations, memory usage returned to normal and stabilized the server.(see http://support.microsoft.com/kb/316775/EN-US/)
Friday, January 05, 2007
To listen to the recording of this webinar, click here. You should just have to enter your name and then click View Recording (the key isn't required).