Thoughts and opinions of Tom Baldwin on law firm management, technology, knowledge management and other issues affecting our industry.
Monday, March 26, 2012
Once you've done that, you'll need to consider how to apply to your new LPM methods, taking into account that different types of matters will require different levels of LPM rigor. Adding another layer of complexity is that once you've defined what level of rigor is attached to each matter type, you'll likely have to factor in 'modal LPM', for lack of a better phrase. This is to say that even within a given matter, you're going to need to further refine your LPM efforts based on matter velocity - you'll need to have different modes for different phases of a matter. For example, perhaps you're working on a litigation matter that is going to last a couple years. You may reach phases where the case is somewhat dormant and meeting monthly might be perfectly acceptable. But, at certain points, you may need to transition into what Scrum practitioners refer to as a "Daily stand-up." Key point is to be flexible in your approach, but base your flexibility on a foundation that allows for that.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
LPM, Lawyers and Project Managers
What does this sound like? No, it's not a newly proposed format for earning your JD. It's the requirements to achieve the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, but as you can see earning this certification is not trivial.
But listening to some of the banter about LPM lately, what does seem to be somewhat trivialized is a lawyer's ability to Vulcan mind-meld this amount of experience and education in a few training sessions and come out a good project manager suitable of carrying forward a firm's LPM program goals. Does one need to earn a PMP to be a competent PM? Certainly not, but on the flip side is it realistic to expect someone to go through a few hours of training and be good at something that others do as a career? Can they learn the basics and become conversant on the topic with clients, certainly. Can some absorb it all and instantly integrate the teachings into their daily practice - it's possible, but not likely and certainly not likely on a firmwide level. We already have lawyers doing enough jobs, some of which you could argue they aren't ideally suited for, so why do we add on this to the list?
We are already seeing firms get smart about this and leave certain jobs to the pros, take pricing for example. There are at least 12 large firms with dedicated pricing professionals, people with finance backgrounds, very few of whom are lawyers. My firm, Vinson & Elkins, Bracewell, Fish & Richardson, Baker McKenzie, Bryan Cave, Goodwin Proctor, Dechert, King & Spalding, Ogletree, Mayer Brown and Winston all have groups like this - with more on the way. We saw the first 'non-lawyer' CEO hired this year at Pepper Hamilton (by the way, can we come up with something better than 'non-lawyer'?). The point is, I believe there's a trend where law firms are starting to realize that there are better ways to fill these roles - PM should be viewed similarly.
Some lawyers argue that they already do project management and have no need to be trained. Tell that to the litany of folks that have been involved in large projects (IT projects, office moves, insert 'big project here') where the people PM themselves and the ones with a dedicated PM - there's no comparison. People that have experienced what a well trained, experienced PM can bring to the table know the difference, the problem is that many lawyers have never gone through the experience - they don't know what they don't know.
Sometimes when I'm posed with challenging business issues, I like to look outside legal and see what our counterparts in other related verticals are doing, as I tend to think they take more 'business minded' approaches to things. Interesting that when I did a search in LinkedIn for the title 'project manager' Accenture, Deloitte, KPMG and E&Y cumulatively have over 1,000 people currently in this role. They can't all be doing internal PM on IT projects and office moves....
Monday, April 12, 2010
Observations from Computerworld's Premier 100 Conference
There were a ton of good sessions and while not all of them were always relevant to law firm IT or KM, I did take away some interesting concepts:
Ken Korless, Executive Director, Business Applications, from Accenture:
They espouse a fail cheap/fail often mentality. This is not to say they want failure on major projects, 'cheap' meaning that it be low in both cost and risk.
One of his right hand folks is actually tasked with having 10 failed ideas/projects a year. Again, these aren't failures on major projects, but smaller ideas. Their goal is that if they push the envelope and fail, through those efforts, they will hit a home run.
The acceptance of 'cheap' failure, they claim, helps drive innovation and creativity with the IT group at Accenture.
An example of a cheap idea that took off was a simple application they created based on an idea from within Google. Google has this tool that let's you see how many people were hired after you and then gives you a percentage, the higher the percentage the more people were hired after you. Because of the hiring pace at Google, people were interested in where they stood. Accenture IT thought this might be interesting as well, they built it within a very short window (less than a week) and didn't do much to advertise it internally. Within the first month, it was one of the most frequently accessed applications around the globe.
Bruce Michelson from HP: (view presentation)
IT standards should not be unilateral, but based on role. Investment in innovation (however they define innovation at HP) delivers a 30% ROI, while investment in infrastructure delivers an 8-10% ROI
Author and former CIO of EDS, Frito-Lay and Delta Airlines, Charley Feld (view presentation)
- IT has advanced, but the common language between IT and management hasn't
- Innovation can't happen in a 3 year cycle, you need to deliver it now
- The CIO role should stand for Chief Integration Officer, with a focus on end-user intimacy and global leverage
- Many IT organizations play not to lose, rather than playing to win.
Glenn Noga, CIO from Polycom:
A slight sales pitch as Polycom was one of the sponsors, but still a few interesting tidbits
They are delivering new technology that will cut the bandwidth needed for good video conferencing by 50%, down to 512k. Polycom feels that they've finally got to the point with this breakthrough that desktop video conferencing is ready and won't be as huge a network burden as it has been in the past.
Looking ahead, he mentioned delivering a better experience through the 'communication ecosystem', which includes suppliers, partners and customers. He talked about establishing direct gateways with key suppliers to facilitate desktop based video conferencing. Interesting to think about how we could do the same thing with key clients to further foster relationships.
Jim Fortner, Vice President Information Technology Development & Operations from Proctor & Gamble: (view presentation)
- Over 4,000 people and a 1 billion dollar budget in their IT organization, which they DON'T call IT, they call it IDS (Information, Decisions, Solutions).
- I like their focus on decisions. We serve up all types of data, but what decisions or actions can we better facilitate?
- They spend a lot of effort taking reports that senior management get in excel or in a list view and creating 'cockpits' which are very visual dashboards. These cockpits help drive decisions based on the data presented in a much better, faster way then the excel spreadsheets management used to get before
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Slogging is the new black
Unlike the past, the posts you'll see from me won't go into great depths about what we're doing at the firm. Otherwise if I told you, I'd have to... well you get the idea. All kidding aside, I think we are on the cusp of a fundamental shift between what KM has been traditionally focused on and where we are headed. I'll save that rant for a separate post.
Mostly, it will be much more boring thoughts and observations about the legal industry and general thoughts about how KM ties into all of it. To the extent that I hitchhike my way to a conference, I'll try and report back on what's discussed, as I realize many of us have uber-tight travel budgets these days.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Okay, so it's been a while..
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?
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
Monday, April 21, 2008
Introducing the new Director of Knowledge Management at Reed Smith
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
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
The Generational Divide..
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?
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...
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.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Law.com article from Mark Gerow on implementing large-scale extranets with SharePoint
"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.
Sheppard Mullin case study gets a 'top 17' nod from Microsoft
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
New site on the KM scene
"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.