Thursday, September 04, 2008

Okay, so it's been a while..

It's a good thing I don't try and make a living as a blogger, my time between posts has been quite long - which is a good indicator of how busy we've been here. While every firm is grappling with the change in the economy, that certainly hasn't slowed us down with the projects we're undertaking at the firm. The two biggies this year for us are our rollout of FileSite and our intranet project.

You may have seen some press lately around our purchase of Recommind , ContactNetworks, and selecting XMLAW to help us with our intranet redesign effort. There's been a lot of discussion about our implementation of Microsoft CRM with the help of Client Profiles, which is being led by Victoria Gregory from our Marketing Department. She spoke at ILTA recently about the project. Having scars from my own CRM implementations, I'm confident that Victoria's approach to this rollout will lead us down a path of success.

Speaking of ILTA, our own Lisa Gianakos represented Reed Smith as we took home 1st place in the annual MCC design competition co-hosted by Baker Robbins and Interwoven. Our approach was quite different than some firms and we got excellent ideas from this year's GearUp conference, especially looking at what Faegre & Benson had done.

Powerful search changes the game dramatically. For those firms about to embark on an MCC project, your design should account for how people will organize/retrieve work product now that Interwoven has included the Vivisimo product with their core line-up. One partner at my last firm made the statement, "If I have good search, wouldn't I just need a folder for e-mail and one for documents?" While that may sound far fetched, it certainly got me thinking about the actual need for the granular level of folders we've seen in the past. In fact Justin North, of Janders Dean International, worked with Gilbert+Tobin to design their MCC implementation with something this simple in mind. While not a new trend, per se, I do think we're seeing more firms look at a clean, simple design.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Slow your roll on outsourcing?

In an interesting twist, a Bethesda, MD firm has filed a suit in Federal court claiming that law firms who outsourcing their legal support services overseas could be jeopardizing their client confidentiality. This story was picked up by several news sources, including

The main point of contention is that once the data leaves the US, the privacy privileges we enjoy go out the water and even claims the US Government might go out of its way to run surveillance on the data:

"It seeks this declaration knowing that foreign nationals who reside overseas lack Fourth Amendment protections," says the firm's complaint for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief. "It seeks this declaration having been informed ... that the United States government engages in pervasive surveillance of electronically transmitted data."

To add more fuel to the fire, the lawsuit names President George W. Bush as a co-defendant along with Acumen Legal Services of India and its U.S. subsidiary, Acumen Solutions of Houston, Texas.

I'm not an attorney, so I certainly don't have a legal opinion on this, but it certainly is something I hadn't considered before and is worth following.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Live from GearUp 2008

So far this is been pretty informative. Guy Kawasaki kicked off the morning in the Keynote, if you've not heard Guy speak before, he's fantastic. Later in the morning there was a panel comprised of CIO/IT Directors from a range of firms, including Ashurt from the UK. No surprises, everyone was still very much challenged with how to manage e-mail. In a room with well over 100 people, only 3 hands went up when the moderator asked who had 75% or higher of adoption for e-mail filing. After lunch there were several breakout streams, I sat in the on the Business Strategy track where Neil Araujo and Rafiq Mohmmadi outlined the product roadmap for the next 12-18 months, including their discussions around version 9, code named 'Meritage'. Much like the fine wine that blends the best from many grapes, Interwoven's version 9 purports to be a totally new platform, leveraging a SAAS model, which they hope will allow them to extend their product line to smaller firms that have traditionally found the implementation a barrier to entry. The last session was conducted by Jerome Pesenti, Chief Scientist at Vivisimo, the makers of Interwoven's new enterprise class search product. In true scientific form, Jerome quickly went through a myriad of slides, it would have been nice to see a live demo, but I think the audience certainly is interested in seeing more.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Introducing the new Director of Knowledge Management at Reed Smith

Thanks to all of you who either referred someone you knew, or applied for the position directly. We had a TON of interest in the position and there were many fine applicants.

I'm pleased to announce that Lisa Kellar has accepted our offer and will join Reed Smith in May. We are extremely lucky to be able to bring in someone of Lisa's caliber and experience.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Director of Knowledge Management opportunity

For those interested, I am looking to bring in a right hand person to do "km stuff" :) Major initiatives this year include a MOSS rollout, Recommind installation, Interwoven/MCC deployment and a few other things I could tell you, but then I'd have to.. well you know how that goes. [UPDATE] A couple of points to address now, based on some of the questions I've gotten:
  • Although I'm based in LA, the preference is to have someone based in either Chicago, NY, DC, PHL, or PIT.
  • If you don't live in one of the cities where we have an office and are interested in the position, working from home or telecomuting aren't options. You'd need to be prepared to relocate.
  • If you're interested in the job, please e-mail your resume using the info below, don't email me directly as our HR folks have asked that everything go through them for tracking/reporting, etc. If you want me to know that you've applied, just cc me on the email.
  • The rollout of IWOV has already begun and both Recommind and MOSS are approved and FUNDED projects.
  • The is a Director level position and the compensation will be as such.

Here's a link to the job description, if you're interested e-mail your resume to



Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Generational Divide..

An interesting string started today on the ILTA listserves regarding the generational rift within IT Departments as reported in a recent article. This falls in line with what we're seeing in all corporations, especially in law firms.

This also has an important impact on how technology is designed and how we go about training lawyers on technology. A great post by Doug Cornelius which discusses/defines the types of searches a lawyer conducts when looking for documents got me (abstractly) thinking more about this issue.

As we get more focused on the needs of lawyers in our design of systems, the knee jerk reaction is often to build to the needs of the Partners and rightfully so. They are the ones that ultimately employ us and bring money in the door. On the flip side, there's the possibility that you are building systems based on the wrong user group, if for nothing else, because many partners won't bother using the technology - regardless of how great and user friendly it is. You often hear the term "building to the lowest common denominator", which is a nice way of saying that we'll build something so even our least tech-savvy lawyer can use it. But, is that the right approach? Will your least tech-savvy lawyer even bother trying out what ever system you have built and if so, what percentage of your lawyer population actually falls in that category? Furthermore, how much longer will that crop of lawyers be at the firm? Conversely, tailoring your systems to the needs of young, tech-savvy, Associates might also be a CLM (Career Limiting Move).

Going back to Doug's post and thinking about some of the comments by my good friend Beau Mersereau, perhaps you do both and build systems around "where they live". When you build document retrieval systems, you focus on the needs of the Associates, as they are the ones most likely to use a system like that. Partner's aren't usually taking a first cut at a MSJ (motion for summary judgment), or being asked to dig up a buyer-friendly asset purchase agreement, it's the Associates. On the flip side, when looking at implementing a portal, or Outlook integration, Partners have a greater need to aggregate information from various locations than Associates do.

Then you start looking at how we traditionally train lawyers. I'm still mystified at all the rollouts that rely on classroom training for lawyers. I guess we're all still stuck in the late 90's, when we could get lawyers to show up for classroom training for the WP to Word/DOS to Windows training. Ah, the days of watching people play Solitaire for hours on end while they "learned" to use a mouse.. That went out around the same time Pearl Jam stopped being popular, but we (much like Eddie Vedder) are holding hope that there are glory days still ahead of us.

Partners don't have the time (or desire) to spend an hour learning the latest and greatest tool being rolled out and the misnomer that food will bring them in is also a joke. These guys make plenty of money, they can afford to pay for their own Quiznos sandwich. Associates are equally pressed for time and many of them feel that they can usually pick up whatever new software you put in front of them within minutes. Unlike their senior counterparts, they were practically born with a keyboard in their hand and dismiss the notion that they need training on most anything.

This requires a shift in the way you deliver training to lawyers. This isn't to say that you stop all forms of classroom training, it's still a valuable tool - especially for staff. But, you can't rely on it as your only means of training the lawyers. Take the 1hr session and boil it down to what you can deliver in 10-15 minutes, usually the most relevant 5-10 features/functions that are critical for the lawyers to know. Walk the floors and make personal visits to every attorney armed with "Do you have 10 minutes for me to show you a new tool that might make your day a little easier?" Now, you're doing on their terms, in the comfort of their office and doing it in a timeframe that they'll accept. While this approach requires more people, time and effort, it's a sure fire way to optimize the acceptance and adoption of new tools.

Anyone know people that would be interested in our new Firmwide Director of Records position?

While this is in poor form, it's my blog and I can do what I please.. I guess :)

In any event, this is a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor and be able to implement a new records system (Interwoven) along with new policies and procedures. We're also looking to go paperless, it's a very exciting opportunity for the right person. The person can be based in Chicago, New York, Pittsburgh or DC. For more information look at the link below:

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Meet the new CKO at Reed Smith...

First and foremost I hope that everyone had a safe and fun Holiday season. For those of you that hadn't heard yet, I accepted the Chief Knowledge Officer position at Reed Smith effective January 7th. I've been in Pittsburgh this week to meet everyone here, it's been fantastic so far - everything I expected and more. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Sheppard Mullin and have fond memories, but I am really excited to begin working on all the various projects here at Reed Smith.

I'll still be 'based' in Los Angeles, which is where I'll be getting mail and having dust collect in my office, I'll likely spend more time in the Friendly Skies on United for the next few months, so I'm not sure how much I'll be writing here. For those that will be attending LegalTech NY this year, I look forward to seeing you.