Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy New Year From the Nation's Capital: Home of the "Cliff": A Comic Counterpoint.

I recently discovered a BBC comedy called Yes Minister which is a biting satire of government "efficiency" and bureaucratic decision making. Although it is now more that 25 years old  and set in the UK, it seems wickedly a propos of the  current crisis.

As we watch Congress and the President struggle with the "fiscal cliff" here are a few brief clips from Yes Minister that I hope will give you a chuckle..

Government Policy Policy



Empty Hospital 1



Empty Hospital 2




Wishing you all a  very Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Survey: Does Your Law Firm Recognize Staff Expertise and Contributions on The Firm Website?

I included an incorrect link to the survey on law firm websites. My apologies. The survey is studying the inclusion and recognition of non-lawyer staff talent and contributions on law firm websites.

Here is the corrected link to the brief survey. The Survey will be open until January 15th and results will be reported here.





Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Is it Time for Law Firms to Market "Non Lawyer" Expertise and Contributions?

At the PLL Summit this year, lawyer and  law firm consultant Jordan Furlong pointed out that the law firms are the only institution that define half of their employees by "what they are not."  Law firms are neatly divided into lawyers and non-lawyers. Furlong's blogpost The Non-Lawyer Gap in Law Firms Narrowing or Widening,  suggests that this division does not optimize collaborative teamwork or deliver the highest level of efficiency. Although clients are pressuring firms to engage in creative staffing  in order to enhance efficiency, how many firms actively promote the value of their  "non-lawyer" support teams? Firms routinely  brag about their use of outsourced or offshore teams, but remain silent about the many talented "non-lawyers" who contribute experience, efficiency and unique talents to client support. Are firms overlooking the marketing value of half of their own institutional talent pool? Is this omission perpetuated  by Furlong's observation that, lawyers can never entirely forgive staff for their "original sin" of  lacking a law degree.

Making Staff Talent Part of the Pitch When Burr & Forman Launched their new website in November, they issued a press release announcing that their new website included more than 40 videos  highlighting  both lawyers and staff. Burrr & Forman is a 300 attorney regional law firm with offices in 9 cities in the southeast US. Their press release states that the videos and new interactive features on their website were developed as a result of client feedback.

Highlighting the Library Director and Research Support!  Library Director Helen Walker and library staff and services are featured in three sections of the website, including  "Working at Burr," "Advanced Work Place" and "Summer Associates."


Watch Summer Associates  provide  commentary noting that  the library staff are among the most valuable resources available to them.

What are Other Firms Doing?

Is Burr & Forman  pioneering a new trend? Respond To This Brief Survey

Results will be reported in mid January.








Monday, December 3, 2012

Wolters Kluwer Launching Daily Reporting Suite: Built for Collaboration and Copyright Compliance




There is nothing radical about a leading legal publisher jumping into the fierce competition for current awareness market share. What is radical in WK's announcement is the casual, almost off- handed reference to "automatic copyright compliance."

WK Trusts You - Yes They Really Trust You!

Every publisher, pronounces their profound commitment to supporting lawyers and improving workflow. They build tools for collaboration but generally exclude clients (anyone outside your organization or your network) from being permitted users of the licensed content. And who do lawyers most want to collaborate with? CLIENTS!

One of the things that has driven me batty over the years is the disconnect between product licensing and workflow. If you send a lawyer content - you need to assume that they need to share it.  WK is removing the "licensing handcuffs"and stating unambiguously that lawyers are free to share content with colleagues and clients. Hallelujah!

Over the years this is something that law librarians have to deal with on an ad hoc basis. A lawyer wants to share "hot news" with their client. No leading publisher has had an efficient system to deal with this. A response may come in a few hours... or a few days. Worst of all is the " the wink and a nod approach"... we will give you permission .... we won't come after you - trust us - but we can't put it in writing...."

 I asked Bob Lemmond, Vice President of Wolters Kluwer, Law and Business about the rationale for this dramatic break with traditional position of newsletter publishers.  Lemmond indicated that it is a recognition of the nature of lawyers workflow. "It is imperative that we support lawyers collaboration with each other and with their clients." WK also expects to be soliciting content from law firms for distribution on their platforms.

Wolters Kluwer Daily Reporting Suite
 Last  July I wrote a post about  the release of two new daily newsletters from Wolters Kluwer on Employment and IP Law  which would also available on Westlaw due to a special agreement with Thomson Reuters.

Today's release expands and re-brands the daily  newsletters as part of a growing suite of current awareness products which are focused on the "hottest" practice and most complex practices..  The Daily Reporting Suite which includes:: Antitrust, Securities Regulation, Health Law, Employment Law and Intellectual Property. All of the newsletters except Securities Regulation will be available on the Westlaw Next platform.  Securities Regulation will require a direct subscription from Wolters Kluwer.
Pricing Without quoting any numbers, Lemmond assured me that WK will be offering Information professionals a  pricing  package for the bundle of all the products would be "very compelling."

The Content These daily news services will deliver breaking news from both the federal and state level, the latest rulemaking and updates on litigation as well as a complete summary of the daily legal news.

Mobility Rules The products will be delivered via email, RSS feed, and mobile apps for iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, and Android.

Here are the features outlined in the press release
  • Daily email summaries written by knowledgeable attorneys and industry experts with links to the full text of any new cases, regulatory or statutory developments, and breaking news
  • Seamless access to information from ANY mobile device without being prompted for logins/passwords. Other legal news services require logins creating unnecessary time delays. 
  • The ability to customize content by topical area and jurisdiction so users can view the content that is the most relevant to them
  •  Built-in copyright permissions that permit legal professionals to instantly share information with clients or colleagues without having to download or reassemble information.
  • Time-saving mobile apps with customizable home page, ability to filter by topic/jurisdiction, note-taking capabilities, favorites folders and email functionality
  • A searchable archive on Wolters Kluwer’s proprietary online content delivery platform, IntelliConnect.
The expansion of both the content and delivery platforms suggest that Wolters Kluwer is targeting a legal "newsletter" niche currently dominated by   Bloomberg BNA and Law 360. However WK seems to have focused more on customization of both content and delivery from the start than their competition have.  They are clearly ahead of the entire market in embracing the need to allow lawyers to legally "socialize" their content.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Know Your Client: Bloomberg Law Launches Business Development Center

Today, Bloomberg Law is announcing the release of a new suite of  tools for lawyers which are focused on the unrelenting demand for lawyers to improve their knowledge of their clients and their clients industries.  Several months ago newly appointed CEO Greg McCaffery indicated that he anticipated that BLaw would be expanding their offerings to tools which focus on "business of law" and he appears to be making good on this product.

The Business Center synthesizes the full range of Bloomberg Law's people and company profiles, market data, law firm insights and business intelligence, and news for partners and general counsel. Other features include Dockets and Breaking Complaints, litigation news and analysis and Bloomberg Brief newsletters.

Special Features:
  • Client Monitor
  •  Rumors & Leads Monitor
  • Company Screener
  • Customized Watchlists
Here is the press release:

New York, November 29, 2012 – Bloomberg Law, the legal research system from the world leader in data and information services, today introduced the Business Development Center, a powerful suite of tools that draws on Bloomberg's renowned news and financial data, integrated with legal resources, to provide lawyers with targeted information to help them better understand and engage their clients.

Bloomberg Law's Business Development Center features a collection of integrated business, legal and financial tools and customizable news monitors, including proprietary features from the world-famous Bloomberg Professional service, presented in a sophisticated, fast and easy-to-use way. All Bloomberg Law users have access to the Business Development Center as part of their subscription.

"We developed the Business Development Center in response to a need from lawyers," said Greg McCaffery, Bloomberg Law CEO. "Partners are under pressure not only to generate new business but also to retain and expand the work from their existing clients. They seek ways to stay informed and knowledgeable about their clients’ issues and the competitive landscape without having to sort through Internet searches or visit multiple platforms. Bloomberg Law solves that problem for busy lawyers by providing a set of high-value business development resources all in one place."

"In the world of high-stakes litigation, strategic information comes quickly from any and all directions. Bloomberg Law adds great value by synthesizing that information and putting it at my fingertips in a format I want to use," said Charles "Bucky" Zimmerman, a founding partner of Zimmerman Reed and a nationally recognized leader in complex and class action litigation. "The Business Development Center is a feature that helps me readily see all of the pieces – from what courts, agencies and people are doing in a given area to background on companies and industries."

The Business Development Center provides a centralized location for Bloomberg Law's significant business development resources and includes powerful new tools, such as:

• Business & Client Monitor. Drawing on Bloomberg's world-class business news as well as thousands of other news sources, attorneys can monitor clients and follow topics to get the information they need as soon as an event occurs. Alerts keep lawyers up-to-date so they can better communicate and network with current and prospective clients.

• Rumors & Leads Monitor. Attorneys can track the latest executive hires and attorney moves along with breaking news that affects their clients and their practice, such as IPO and M&A rumors, credit downgrade leads and market-moving stories. Attorneys can follow a particular company or create a customized Watchlist so they will be the “first to know” when an opportunity to win business arises.

• Company Screener. The Company Screener taps into Bloomberg's financial information to enable users to search for and help evaluate companies across a wealth of data points. Attorneys can use sophisticated tools to understand which companies are financially healthy, how a company compares to its competitors, companies that may be at potential risk of bankruptcy, and much more, so that they can meet the client prepared to discuss the issues that affect them.

In addition, the Business Development Center synthesizes the full range of Bloomberg Law's people and company profiles, market data, law firm insights and business intelligence, and news for partners and general counsel. Other features include Dockets and Breaking Complaints, litigation news and analysis and Bloomberg Brief newsletters.

About Bloomberg Law

Bloomberg Law is the real-time legal research system that integrates innovative search technology, primary and secondary legal content, company and market information, and proprietary news all in one place. This collaborative workspace also includes a suite of new tools for more effective legal analysis and more productive business development. The innovative service provides the information legal practitioners need, tailored to the way they work.

About Bloomberg

Bloomberg, the global business and financial information and news leader, gives influential decision makers a critical edge by connecting them to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas. The company’s strength – delivering data, news and analytics through innovative technology, quickly and accurately – is at the core of the Bloomberg Professional service, which provides real time financial information to more than 310,000 subscribers globally.

Related Posts: New BLaw CEO McCaffery Headed Toward the Business of Law
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Vote Here

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dewey B Strategic Chosen as One of the ABA Journal's Blawg 100


Press Release: Washington DC, November 26, 2012 - Editors of the ABA Journal announced today they have selected Dewey B Strategic as one of the top 100 best blogs for a legal audience.

Congratulations to all the  honorees  and a special nod to colleagues: Greg Lambert, 3 Geeks and a Law, Jordan Furlong, Law21, and Kevin O'Keefe, Real Lawyers have Blogs.

Register and Vote Here. Now that the editors have made their picks, the ABA Journal is asking readers to weigh in and vote on their favorites in each of the 6th Annual Blawg 100's 15 categories. . Voting ends at close of business on Dec. 21, 2012.

In addition, the magazine has introduced the inaugural Blawg 100 Hall of Fame, featuring 10 of the very best law blogs, known for crafting high-quality, engaging posts day in and day out.

"Each year, our choices become tougher. Blogging has become such a staple of professional communication that keeping up with our own directory of more than 3,500 blogs by lawyers, judges, law professors or even law students is more formidable than it's ever been," said ABA Journal Editor and Publisher Allen Pusey. "Some of them have become such permanent, even required, fixtures in our everyday reading that we're introducing the ABA Journal Blawg 100 Hall of Fame to recognize those blogs and bloggers that have set the standards for this vast, vibrant network for legal news and commentary."

About the ABA Journal: The ABA Journal is the flagship magazine of the American Bar Association, and it is read by half of the nation's 1.1 million lawyers every month. It covers the trends, people and finances of the legal profession from Wall Street to Main Street to Pennsylvania Avenue. ABAJournal.com features breaking legal news updated as it happens by staff reporters throughout every business day, a directory of more than 3,500 lawyer blogs, and the full contents of the magazine.

About the ABA::With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary
professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

Monday, November 26, 2012

My Secret Weapon: A Thanksgiving Reflection on Law Librarians

by Phil Rosenthal,  Guest Blogger

I’d like to think I was brilliant. More likely I was just lucky. When I started as a first-year associate at Covington & Burling more than sixteen years ago, I was very fortunate to discover the library, and to discover that it was the secret to survival as a junior associate at a large law firm. Early on I learned that the best way to begin a complex new project was to ask a librarian for guidance. Did I do this because of some previously untapped wisdom? Or was because the library was just a few steps from my office? Either way, I was very fortunate.

The Associate's Dilemma. The library encounter I remember most vividly occurred when I was asked to analyze the legislative history of the Price Anderson Act. This raised many questions. What the heck was the Price Anderson Act? (It turns out it provides a framework for handling liability during nuclear incidents at reactors and even during a nuclear war, if there is anyone left to quibble over such things.) What is a legislative history and what do you do with it? What are its various components? Do some of these components have more weight than others? I’m sure you will all be shocked to know that I was not taught these things in law school. I could have spent days going in circles hunting down each element of the legislative history, if I had even been able to imagine what to look for.

So instead I asked a librarian, Covington & Burling’s great legislative history librarian at the time, Charlotte White. Happily, she had assembled a complete legislative history and was able to hand it to me on a silver platter. Next, she painstakingly took me through each element of the history and meticulously explained to me what it was, how to read it, and its likely significance. A hopeless project became one that was manageable in a few hours. I have no idea how I would have completed it otherwise.

Know Thy Librarian, I was lucky in another way. I practiced during an era when law firm libraries were large and properly funded. Indeed, the library at Covington & Burling was directed by none other than Roberta Shaffer, the Associate Librarian of Congress and former Law Librarian of Congress. The library occupied part of two floors. How different today: every square inch, every linear foot measured, and the measurements part of a dozen ROI formulae.

Indispensable. But if librarians were helpful two decades ago, they are indispensable today. When I left practice in 1999, the world created about 2 exabytes (2 billion gigabytes) of data per year. This is a lot of data, to be sure. By 2011, however, annual data production rose a thousand fold, to about 1.8 zettabytes (1.8 trillion gigabytes) of data. It is estimated that the amount of data in the world is growing well over 50% each year, so if it is hard to find the needle in the haystack today, it will get no easier as the haystack explodes right before our eyes. Lawyers need librarians to find that proverbial needle efficiently.

But isn’t everything on the Internet? I challenge anyone to find the legislative history of the Price Anderson Act with a Google search. Even if the content is on the Internet, a recent study shows there is about a 38% chance that the link to that data will no longer work within five years. Moreover, how can a lawyer tell if the online data is reliable? The only thing worse for a lawyer than not finding what was needed is thinking you have an authoritative source only to find out that what was filed in a brief or reported to the client is wrong. Lawyers can make their best guesses about whether online information is accurate, or they can ask librarians. The bottom line is that as the online world explodes, the reliability of digital data becomes more suspect, and as physical libraries shrink and become less user-friendly, lawyers need somewhere to turn to find and manage the data.

Libraries as Institutional Memory. Parenthetically, perhaps the biggest reason why associates should get to know their librarians has nothing to do with legal information. Libraries often are also the repository for the institutional memory of the firm. Librarians just know how things work around the firm, and they have this odd habit of wanting to help. If you need to know which partner to talk to when you have a problem, how to get a different office, or even how late the cafeteria is open during a holiday, the library is still the place to go.

I sometimes miss the law firm library. Perhaps many of you in law firms which have downsized or de-emphasized the library miss it too. Still, let us be grateful. It was the librarian, using professional skills and personal wisdom, who made the library useful and efficient for lawyers. We can continue to take comfort as long as the librarian’s same skills and wisdom are available to help us move through an otherwise unmanageable information explosion.

About the Author Phil Rosenthal is co-founder and President of Fastcase, the smarter alternative for legal research, serving more than 500,000 attorneys nation-wide. He can be reached at phil@fastcase.com.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Squire Sanders Puts Their Library on "Main Street"


 
The Green Wall

When Squire Sanders relocated from Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, to new offices on 19th St NW, they left behind  a traditional wood paneled law firm motif and moved to a decidedly and perhaps radically modern “green” space.

The new offices received a Platinum LEED rating. It features conference tables made of concrete, glass and stone; panels made from recycled buttons and abundant amounts of glass which assure that everyone has a view of the outdoors. When was the last time you visited a law office with a two story “green wall” of live plants?

The Main Street Concept In planning for the new space Scott Bailey, the Director of Research Services, Nancy Kronstadt the Office Administrator and the architect Phil Olson of Alliance Architecture, developed an innovative “Main Street” concept which placed the library on the main traffic axis..

The old library had included a massive reference desk, a card catalog and loads of shelving.
In the new space, Baily was prepared to leverage digital resources and make dramatic cuts in the print collection. He successfully reduced the linear feet of library shelving from 7000 to 2000 linear feet. Instead of being marginalized by the space reduction, the library became the central hub of Main Street. It is located at the intersection of many critical flows. The staff are near the managing partner, the business development personnel, an active international trade group and the lunch room.

Library Without Walls They developed an open environment in which the boundaries of the library are not well defined. One of the most important impacts has been the improved integration with the ebb and flow of the firm which has increased lawyer demand for research services. The staff is more exposed to practice activities. Bailey sums it up this way "Being located within a high traffic area in this open office space has increased the visibility of our services and has remarkably increased our interactivity and workload with all of the practices."




Library Coffee Bar


New projects have organically grown from proximity, awareness and opportunity. Lawyers have matched special needs for non-traditional library projects with the unique skills of the staff.

The library space features a coffee bar which invites traffic and conversation. It has become a social space – where lawyers can browse newspaper headlines and chat.


While the research staff regret the loss of privacy they embrace the heightened visibility.

The Squire Sanders "Main Street Library"  concept demonstrates the importance of collaboration in developing  innovative new models of information service delivery. By pulling down the walls, libraries invite new opportunities to broaden and deepen their involvement in supporting the business and practice of law.










Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Decline of Cost Recovery For Online Legal Research: Two Reports Track Trends


Today the ABA Journal published an article  "Firms Wave Goodbye to Billing for Online Research Costs" which highlights two recent reports on law firm cost recovery for services such as Lexis and Westlaw. While the article is informative,  I take exception to the author's comment that "firms haven't historically passed along (online research) discounts to clients." If there was a time when that was the norm – it is now ancient history.  At least in firms sophisticated enough to have a full time Library Director to inform their cost recovery policy... there is a significant effort invested in developing a methodology for giving clients a discount aligned with the firm's flat fee contract.

Clearly the emergence of flat fee contracts in the early 1990's created challenges for firms in establishing an appropriate discount that would allow them to pass on the benefit of the flat fee to clients, but the majority of AmLaw 100 firms do make that effort! And contrary to a popular misconception, this doesn't violate the ABA Code of Professional Responsibility, as long as the client is informed of how they will be charged. This is usually done in the retainer letter or an annual letter regarding firm cost recovery policies.

Bloomberg Law published "Law Firm Cost Recovery Research". The report examines past,  current and expected cost recovery practices used by law firms. The survey targeted large, medium and small law firms. Since Bloomberg Law has been positioned as a non-metered system that lawyers should use, as needed, instead of worrying about cost recovery, they have a special interest in riding the tide as it ebbs away from online cost recovery.

 Key findings:

·         Law firms are recovering less of the research costs than they were 2 years ago.

·         The downward trend in the amount of research costs being recovered is most dramatic at medium and small law firms, despite the fact that those same law firms are more likely to provide training on such policies than large law firms

·         The cost of legal research and client expectation/demand are the main drivers of cost recovery policies, regardless of law firm size. For more than half of the law firms, competitive advantage was cited as a significant factor as well.

·       Online legal research costs are recovered significantly more often than other kinds of research costs.

·      Most law firms have more than one person responsible for setting and managing their cost recovery policies. That group typically includes, a partner, practice group/ department chair and senior administrator. Librarian
·      Just under 60% of aw firms review their cost recovery policies annually. 
·    Document retrieval charges are the most frequently recovered costs. It is has a 68% recovery rate.  I assume that this is because these costs are relatively low  compared to online research and easy to document.
·    Large medium and small firms recover about the same level of online research (50%). Large firms are more likely to recover printing, scanning and photocopying than medium and small firms.

The Mattern Report
Mattern & Associates is a legal consulting firm that conducts an annual law firm cost recovery survey. It has a broader scope than the Bloomberg survey and covers traditional and emerging cost recovery areas. No one should be surprised that the survey reflects the continuing demand from clients for accountability, cost containment or cost reduction in all firm activities. This has impacted soft costs which includes online research. Here are some key trends:

· Increased pushback and refusal to pay for certain items by clients

· Downward pressure on rates and net realization

· Continued preference by clients to reimburse firms for hard costs

Thursday, November 8, 2012

"Practice Innovations:" InSourcing, Outsourcing, Leveraging Alumni, Pitching in the Playoffs, Total Library Service Management, Professional Development and Project Management



The latest edition of Practice Innovations from Thomson Reuters was just released and it includes an interesting array of articles of interest to law firm executives in a wide ranges of areas including, strategic sourcing, business development, alumni relations, knowledge and library management, professional development and project management. Below you can link directly to articles of interest.

The Ins and Outs of Sourcing by Lisa Gianakos, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP

Understanding the Value of Your Alumni by Sharnon Melt Abrahams, Foley and Lardner LLP; Sarah Finesberg-Lombardi, Select-Mind, Inc.;  Jennifer Young, Foley and Lardner, LLP

Prepping Your Team for the Playoffs by Patrick Fuller, LawVision Group and Linda Will, Thompson & Knight, LLP

Total Library Service Management: A Framework for Success by Lynn Oser, IMS, LLC

Professional Development: on the Rebound? by  Joyce Greene

Project Management with an Organizational Psychology Approach by Elaine Egan, Shearman & Sterling, LLP

For More information on Practice Innovations:

The Practice Innovations Editorial Board
About Practice Innovations
Past Issues

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Digital Resource Management in A Mobile World: Onelog Mobile There's An App for That!

This week, Apple approved the Onelog mobile APP which is  now is available via the Apple APP Store.

Onelog Mobile App

In the past decade we witnessed the acceleration of law libraries morphing from print to digital collections. In response librarians needed usage data to determine the ROI for high ticket digital resources. They needed a tool to improve cost recovery by requiring client number validation before sign-on. Several products  emerged to address that need: Lookup Precision, Research Monitor and Onelog.  With the proliferation of tablets, Ipads and Smartphones, and increased  lawyer mobility, librarians knew they were losing the ability to track an increasing share of digital resources use. This week Onelog became the first vendor to close that gap with the introduction of two products: Onelog Mobile for PC and Onelog Mobile for iPhone/iPad.

The Onelog product which was first released in 2004 addresses several management problems. It records usage of electronic resources, it manages and saves individual passwords,  It can  require a lawyer to provide a client number for designated products, and facilitates that process by allowing them to look up a client number when it is not known.  Over the years they have improved both the interface and the reporting capabilities of the Onelog product, but this week's announcement breaks new ground in addressing the latest challenges of digital resource management in a mobile world.

Today's lawyer performs  research wherever an Internet connection is available and he or she performs it on a range of different devices.  Onelog has now developed a solution which allows a lawyers' passwords to travel with him or her. According to James Wright,  Onelog Product Director, "Our focus has been to make the introduction of Onelog Mobile as simple as possible.  So, to use Onelog Mobile on your iPhone or iPad simply register while at the office, download the App and enter your registration details, then use it. IT Departments needn’t do a thing.  We are very proud of our Onelog Cloud Service that makes this possible."

Onelog Mobile – Two Solutions in One


Off-Network Access, Password Provision and Usage Analytics for PC’s & Smart Devices

Onelog Mobile for PC will enable Onelog to provide single sign-on access to content, even if your network is down or user bypasses Citrix when remote. This advancement can be a valuable tool for your disaster recovery efforts. Furthermore, Onelog Mobile for PC will monitor usage (even when off the network) and automatically sync user passwords & usage.

Onelog Mobile for iPhone / iPad has been designed to offer a solution that is fully automated,  this requires zero involvement by IT. Onelog will securely login users, insert validated numbers, require comments (when appropriate) and monitor usage. Onelog Cloud Sync, another technological advancement for seamless and secure integration will encrypt all data and report usage when devices never connect to the network.  A lawyer can use his or her personal iPad, download the Onelog Library Portal APP, navigate to resources and report usage via the fully automated and secure Onelog Cloud Sync.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Google Releases Hurricane Sandy Disaster Response Resources


The Calm Before Sandy

According to a story in the New York Times and a Google blog post, Google rushed the release of Hurricane Sandy maps which aggregate publicly available data to create some powerful  emergency resources including alerts and  mapping tools which track the storm and point to relief services.  While some of these resources may not provide the highest value in the post-storm environment they certainly demonstrate  highest and best use of the web and social media in crisis response and  mitigation.

Maps include:

•Location tracking, including the hurricane’s current and forecasted paths, courtesy of the NOAA-National Hurricane Center

•Public alerts, including evacuation notices, storm warnings, and more, via weather.gov and earthquake.usgs.gov

•Radar and cloud imagery from weather.com and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

•Evacuation information and routes

•Shelters and recovery centers will appear as they become operational

•Storm footage and storm-related YouTube videos, curated by Storyful

NYC Subway Post Sandy cc

Public alerts, to show warnings about natural disasters and emergencies based on information from government agencies like Ready.gov and the National Weather Service. The alerts will  show up in response to searches on Google.com and Google Maps, and appear unprompted on the cellphones of people with the latest version of Android, through Google Now.

“This is part of our continuing mission to bring emergency information to people when and where it is relevant,” Nigel Snoad, a product manager for Google Crisis Response, wrote in a company blog post.

A map of the storm area. Using Google Maps, the company has created Markers show where power is out; the location of evacuation shelters and routes; traffic conditions; and where surges, floods and high winds are expected. There are also public alerts. People can choose different views, including the addition of cloud imagery or location-based Webcams and YouTube videos to the map.

A New York City map shows shelters, Webcams, evacuation routes and other information from NYC Open Data, the city’s Web site for sharing data with software developers.

The public alerts and maps are products of Google Crisis Response, part of Google.org, the company’s nonprofit arm, whose focus is to use Google products and engineers to help solve problems. It was started in 2005 in response to Hurricane Katrina and has published online resources for disasters like hurricanes and oil spills since then, including the person finder feature that was used after the Japan earthquake.

For the Sandy maps, Google has drawn information from the Red Cross, the National Hurricane Center, Weather.gov, Storyful and the United States Naval Research Laboratory, among others.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Million Dollar Reference Desk: Are Librarians Selling Themselves Short? Ask Pearl!

Reinventing Reference? Try The Pearl Model

Today I came across a story in Wired  "A  Place for Burning Questions" describing what may be a new model for the future of research support: Pearl.com . It uses the tag line " Wisdom when you want it." At this point they offer the services of only a  handful of specialties and yet they have built a multi- million dollar business. Earlier this year the company  raised a $25 million Series A round of funding, which included investors Charles Schwab (the man himself) and Glynn Capital.

Pearl.com bills itself as  "a revolutionary new way to help solve life’s everyday issues." The service strikes me as being a cross between a reference desk and Angie's List. Pearl connects people with questions with "professionals" who can  provide answers. The professionals currently offering their services are doctors, lawyers, mechanics, computer technician, veterinarians, home repair and something called a "life professional." They have not yet added information professionals,but can that be far off?

Unlike other social network sites that offer crowdsourced  answers, Pearl.com claims it is the only website offering advice from screened, qualified professionals. The service promotes itself as being fast, anonymous and available 24X7. The prices are cheap. According to the Wired story a basic  question costs $15 and a more complex question can cost $80. The average time to get an answer is  10 minutes. Pearl also offers a 100 percent money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with your answer.A review of their terms of service, indicates that they are providing "Information" not "advice".


According to the Wired  story, Pearl.com gets 250,000 questions per month and has earned $100 million in annual revenue, and has had a 123 % revenue growth year over year since 2008.

Sounds Like a Reference Interview to Me

All you have to do is ask your question, set an approximate deadline, and decide if you need a lengthy answer or a concise one and a specialist sets to work analysing your request and writing a response. As Google has given everyone an easy way to perform a quick fact check. the research questions sent to the research  staff in law firms have grown more sophisticated. In light of the complexity of the questions handled by the average law firm reference librarian, their answers should command a premium for a lawyer under a tight deadline.

Is it Time to Outsource Ourselves... To Ourselves?

At the 2011 PLL Summit, Keynote speaker Esther Dyson responding to  the convulsions in the legal marketplace, suggested that librarians might be able to build a more secure professional future as outsourced professionals selling their own professional services back to law firms. Looking at the Pearl model if 3 million questions can generate $100 million in revenue a year - this might be a model worth adapting. Given the ongoing uncertainties of the legal industry... the time may be now.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A "Computer" Was Originally a Job Title: The History of Computing Timeline

Today CNN posted a Timeline for Computing Power.  Being a librarian and a blogger on information issues, I collect timelines related to all aspects of information history.  Last week I attended a meeting where someone said that the Internet will double every 11 months. What have we wrought with these computers?

The best thing about the CNNs timeline is the photo of the original Apple Computer which sold for $666.66.

The Original Apple Computer
 A "Computer" Was Originally a Job Title

But I do have a few quibbles with the timeline. It dates the history of computing to only 1946. In fact, the first use of the word "computer" dates to the 1640's and referred to a human being who performed calculations. These human generated calculations would be compiled in to navigation tables or interest rate tables.

How Did They Overlook Charles Babbage?

My big beef is with the omission of Charles Babbage who developed  the Difference Engine  in 1822.  It was capable of computing several sets of numbers and producing a hard copy of the results. In 1837 Babbage proposed an Analytical Engine, a hand cranked, mechanical digital computer which anticipated virtually every aspect of present day computers. It was almost 100 years until another all purpose computer was conceived. According to James Gleik's book, The Information, Babbage was inspired by the Jaquard fabric loom,invented in 1804 and which used punched cards to design the fabric patterns. 

A Demonstration of the Difference Engine

Although Baggage never completed building the Difference Engine in his lifetime, a team of engineers using his design notes built an identical engine which was completed in March 2008. It is on display at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.


Reference Librarians Vs The Machine

The CNN timeline ends in 2011 with IBM's Watson becoming the first non-human winner of Jeopardy. Reference Librarian's take heart. According the Google's CTO Craig Silverstein, it will be  about 300 years before Google can understand emotions and non-factual information and replace human reference librarians!  So we have some job security at least for a few more centuries. But coming full circle, if the word computer was derived from the ability to compute algorithms, will the future Artificial Intelligence machine be referred to as a "researcher?" And will some future generation ever be amazed that there were people who once  performed that task, using their own brains?




Thursday, September 13, 2012

ALM Rachets Up Their Competitive Intelligence Game With Acquistion of RivalEdge: Listening Platforms Today.. Predicting Platforms Tomorrow?

Competitive Intelligence is hot and the competition among vendors of CI monitoring services keeps getting hotter. Today American Lawyer Media  announced that they had acquired Rivaledge, which currently produces FirmWatch and LateralWatch. ALM becomes the newest entrant into the legal "listening platform" wars.

Your Bottom Line

RivalEdge will be part of ALM Legal Intelligence, the unit of American Lawyer Media  which produces the annual surveys such as the AmLaw 100 and other legal industry rankings and surveys. If you are currently a Legal Intelligence subscriber the RivalEdge products will require a separate subscription.

Is this New?

They claim that they will break new ground by reducing the number of email alerts, newsletters and tweets that lawyers receive. There are already quite a few products that are deployed in law firms which are already tackling this problem including Ozmosys, Info(N)Gen, Attensa, Manzama.  I also doubt that the clipping pioneers Westlaw and Lexis Nexis will stay on the sidelines forever. So the real question is....

Can they Do it Better Than the Established Rivals?

The most intriguing part of the press release is the reference to a proprietary taxonomy and concept map algorithms that RivalEdge has been building the past few years. It will be interesting to see if this innovative platform delivers a truly superior result compared to platforms already on the market.

Can Predictive Trending Be Far Behind?

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The truth is that it is getting easier to know "what just happened." I think the real differentiator in the future will be the ability to detect emerging patters to tell you "what may be about to happen."  Especially in the area of litigation, bad news can be a predictor of litigation. I was recently reading that Google was able to predict the outbreak of the Flu Season before the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and now has a site called Flu Trends. In the same way shouldn't the monitoring of social media reflect a world of problems which could signal potential litigation arising from a wide swath of issues from investor complaints to product liability. Wouldn't firms want to follow negative trends involving existing and potential clients?
Make a client pitch in advance of the problem?

I look forward to seeing the the new ALM RivalEdge product offering and reporting back.



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New BLaw CEO McCaffery Headed Toward the Business of Law Frontier

When Bloomberg acquired the Bureau of National Affairs in 2011, many legal information professionals wondered if this was simply another takeover that would obliterate the identity, the products and culture of yet another venerated  legal publisher.  Would Bloomberg Law crush the deep and well cultivated relationships that BNA had developed with law firms and law librarians over the years?

When the acquisition was first announced I highlighted the synergies between the two companies in a post entitled Bloomberg Gets BNA's Intellectual Capital in the Capitol., At the time, I asked whether Bloomberg would be able to retrain the deep pool of human talent and intellectual capital at BNA. I got the answer today. The short answer is "yes."

Bloomberg has repeatedly affirmed that they knew a good thing when the saw it.  They wasted no time in loading all of BNA content into the Blaw platform which became available to BLaw subscribers at no additional cost. They have maintained the integrity of BNA's newsletters and research platforms which continue to be available outside of Blaw.

Today, a press release from Bloomberg announced the retirement of Bloomberg Law CEO Larry Thompson, and the elevation of Greg McCaffery to replace him. Since McCaffery, is a 26 year BNA veteran and the most recently the BNA  President and CEO, this   affirms  that BNA  is seen as a valuable collaborator in the evolution of the Bloomberg Law platform.

The Missing Piece: The Business of Law

I was intrigued by Global Product Head Beth Mazzeo's comment  in the press release that in Greg's new role he will "focus on the next phase of expansion."

I contacted Greg and asked him if he could provide any insight into new content and strategy. On the content side  BLaw is planning to  release a Tax and Accounting Center in the fourth quarter. They will also supplement the traditional practice of law platform with new content which focuses on "the business of law."

The new strategic direction will focus on building portals to support law firm management. There is ample content on both the BNA and the Bloomberg side which can be leveraged and integrated toward this end. Business development tools  could leverage both BNA's "Convergence" monitoring tool and  Bloomberg's proprietary news and company data. A Human Resources portal  could leverage BNA's labor and HR content,  an accounting portal could leverage BNA's payroll, tax and accounting resources. A Business of Law Center would focus on the needs of firm Executive Committees and C-level leadership. Since firms have an insatiable interest in improving both the effectiveness of their management and their competitive position this seems like both a logical and a potentially winning strategy.

Bloomberg Bought More than Just Content

I asked Greg whether Bloomberg had succeeded in retaining most of the BNA staff following the merger. Greg explained how Bloomberg had focused  on retaining BNA's human intellectual capital. They have done this  by recognizing that Bloomberg and BNA had two unique cultures. Rather than merge the two organizations into a hybrid culture, they have attempted to preserve the two unique cultures. He described one strategy as "trading their assets back and forth." In keeping with this, Greg will essentially be leaving BNA and joining the Bloomberg organization. The one area that they have unified is the sales force which supports  the product lines for both organizations. All sales staff have been trained on both the Bloomberg and BNA products so that law firms only need one account executive for all Bloomberg and BNA products. "Amen" to that strategy!






Related Posts:
Welcome to More on Bloomberg Law: BNA Content Debuts on the BLaw Platform
Welcome to Bloomberg Law: No Deals, No Discounts, No Apology
Bloomberg Gets BNA's Intellectual Capital in the Capitol
Bloomberg Law Takes on the Titans

Monday, September 3, 2012

Nominations for the ABA Journal "Blawg 100" Due September 7th.

The ABA Journal is seeking nominations for the 2012 "Blawg 100" which recognizes the best legal blogs.

"Friend-of-the-blawg" briefs are due no later than Friday Sept. 7, 2012.

If you would like to nominate Dewey B Strategic or any other favorite law related  blogs, fill out the form at this link


About Blawg 100 Amici From ABA Journal Editor:

There is no specific criteria that a blawgger can meet to be guaranteed a spot on the Blawg 100. And we think our list would suffer if there were. A blawg’s whole can be greater than the sum of its parts, and a blawg that never fails to post that daily update, has a beautiful design and an unwavering topical focus can very often have less of an impact than another blawg that is less consistent on all fronts.

That said, please keep these criteria in mind when submitting Blawg 100 amici:


That said, please keep these criteria in mind when submitting Blawg 100 amici:

• We're primarily interested in blawgs in which the author is recognizable as someone working in a legal field or studying law in the vast majority of his or her posts.

• The blawg should be written with an audience of legal professionals or law students—rather than potential clients or potential law students—in mind.

• The majority of the blawg’s content should be unique to the blawg and not cross-posted or cut and pasted from other publications.

• We are not interested in blawgs that more or less exist to promote the author’s products and services.



Friday, August 31, 2012

In KM... Volume Doesn't Equal Value: Descriptive vs Prescriptive Approaches to Knowledge Management

James Gleick's 2011 book, The Information: a History, a Theory a Flood documents humanity's 5 millennia quest to define and organize various galaxies of information.

A Lesson From The 17th Century

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In response to an earlier information explosion caused by the proliferation of printed books, 17th-­century writers began compiling  indexes, bibliographies, compendia and encyclopedia to "winnow out the chaff. "
Gleick's review of the history of English language dictionaries reminded me of a concept I learned in graduate school about the differng linguistic approaches of dictionaries. Some dictionaries, e.g. Webster's An American Dictionary of the English Language. are "prescriptive:" i.e. they advise on the proper use of a word.  A "descriptive" dictionary such as the Oxford English Dictionary tells you how a word has been used --- exhaustively--- throughout history--- it delivers all recorded usages of a word. It passes no judgements. The definition of the word "information" is an opus in itself--- an astonishing 9,400 words long. Or should the definition of this definition be shortened to "TMI?"

The Prescriptive/ Descriptive Dichotomy In KM

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As firms increasingly turn to enterprise search as the next "holy grail" for taming the tidal wave of documents surging from their Document Management Systems, it is important to recognize that we may be embarking on a "descriptive" approach to Knowledge Management. We are not passing judgment or making a selection based on quality we are simply allowing lawyers search an ever growing repository. They can retrieve documents based on relevance, they can often filter based on objective "facets" of information. What most systems can't do without human intervention, is  provide  lawyers with an easy way to locate curated results based on quality.

There seems to be a hope that over time lawyers will provide curation by recommending documents the same way people recommend restaurants and movies on social networking platforms. Are we wise to consider that likely or even desirable, if we consider the reliability of lawyer provided desciptive data in our DMSs?

KM's Role in Professional Development And Professional Efficiency Needs to be Prescriptive

As firms are seeking both to enhance the efficiency of legal processes and to provide more practical guidance to associates, KM resources should be utilized as a component of the training plan. While British firms have deep legacy of "prescriptive KM,"  using Practice Support Lawyers to craft and filter and promote the use of standard documents, US firms have relied heavily on technology. While technology offers lower headcount and greater efficiencies on producing a KM resource, it may not be optimizing lawyer productivity.

A Hybrid Approach?

A new role for embedded practice librarians may be as KM curators, helping practices define, organize and  tag their best practice templates, checklists and model documents. These curated documents could be appropriately weighted to facilitate retrieval in the KM or enterprise search systems.

The Perfect As the Enemy of the Good

One of the biggest obstacles I have observed in various iterations of KM projects, is the paralysis and indecision that surround what I call the "blessing" of documents and 'exemplars" representing the "best of firm work product."  We need to have the courage and persistence to lead and make choices, knowing that we can over time improve the selection process.The important thing is to make a start at taking KM from a "volume proposition" to a "value proposition."





Friday, August 3, 2012

Practice Group Oracles and Knowledge Engines: Law Librarians Climb the Value Ladder


Jordan Furlong's keynote address "Climbing the Value Ladder"  at the recent  PLL Summit outlined the critical forces reshaping the legal market. Furlong  concluded his talk with an optimistic array of emerging  roles and responsibilities which obliterate the cliche of "library as administrative cost center." In my experience it is rare moment when a lawyer/consultant escapes the prison of "librarian conventions"  and demonstrates that he not only understands the analytical skills and substantive knowledge of librarians but can re-imagine these skills in strategic new roles in the 21st century law firm.

Some of these roles are already emerging in firms today, from embedded librarians to Competitive Intelligence Analysts, but Furlong turns many an "ear catching" phrase. The list of new roles suggest new possibilities  not only within law firms, but also new client facing roles.

Niche expert resource: You could also call this a "practice group oracle," which sounds much better. This person is a kind of permanent attache to a practice or industry group who is fully versed in the law and legal developments in a given subject and who lawyers can contact with topic-specific questions or research requests.

Bespoke CPD designer: Professional development (as distinct from "CLE," which remains fixated on lectures) is the next natural evolutionary step for law librarians. Assign a librarian or knowledge manager to become a key lawyer's personal PD coach and guru, interviewing the lawyer about his or her practice, clients, industry, specialties, interests, ambitions, etc., then provide a steady stream of learning and networking opportunities to help advance the lawyer's goals.

LPM coordinator: Legal project management is all about creating a structure and discipline around legal workflow --designing processes, milestones and collaboration requirements to ensure that a given legal project proceeds on time and on budget to the client's specified conclusion. Process is knowledge's first cousin, making the transition natural for law librarians.

Business intelligence director: This also encompasses the similar but distinct category of competitive intelligence; in both cases, it's a position that strives to tell the law firm what it needs to know about its operating theater, its competitors, its clients, its industry sectors, etc. This can be a case of revealing what the firm doesn't know that it knows.

External - Services to Clients

Legal knowledge liaison: A practice group oracle who alternatively or additionally is assigned to perform the same knowledge resource and research functions for a key client in the practice or industry group.

Expert application programmer: Based on emerging applications like Neota Logic, which integrates sophisticated legal knowledge management into a logic-driven decision-tree questionnaire, this job involves designing programs that can answer a firm's most commonly asked legal, regulatory and compliance questions.

AFA coordinator: Every law firm needs to offer alternative fee arrangements in an intelligent and profitable manner, and many are hiring new Directors of Pricing to do so; many successful candidates for these key positions are knowledge managers.

Amazon.law engineer: Based on my column about Amazon.law, the idea is to engineer a firm-specific system that will analyze every data point of client interaction with a firm and, like Amazon, "recommend" certain products, services or knowledge streams for key clients.

Cost Center to Knowledge Engine

The most compelling line of his talk was both a declaration and a challenge. "Law librarians are not running a cost center they are running the knowledge engine of the law firm." 

The most strategic among us have already shifted focus to strategic knowledge services, but for those who have not, it may soon be too late.