Thursday, October 25, 2007

Friday Cocktail Leadership

Welcome to the next Friday Cocktail Leadership posting, where Janders Dean scribbles about our week, rather than giving you tips, hints and information on leadership within KM and IT practices across the law firm world....phew...

Today we congratulate the beautiful Cat Wirth, Marketing Director from Blake Dawson Waldron (soon to be Blake Dawson) and all the Kokoda Chicks for completing the trek to Kokoda and raising huge funds for Australian breast cancer charities. The group reached their target destination this Tuesday night and spent the evening in the village before preparing to fly back to Australia later this week. For those of you who still wish to congratulate cat – say it with cash, and contribute to the fund raising here.

We’ve been very busy here as usual, but we’ve not forgotten to have fun and celebrate. We’re all off to Derby Day in Melbourne next week to do just that, and then London to celebrate our latest project win and host a Friday Cocktail Leadership event with our new friends (oh…and finally finish our London office planning).

For Cocktails this week we like anything Parisian.

Our thought leadership this week extends to the new scientific fact that one of the only single pieces of music where it is clinically proven (and not in the same clinic where they prove that jojoba extract strengthens your hair) that you cannot get stressed if you listen to it is Pachelbel's Canon in D. We took time this week to take a fresh listen to this and must indeed agree. We also took the time to find one person on the globe (as there always is) who bucks the trend.

Thanks to those who crowded in for the first Janders Dean KM Leadership Roundtable this morning - Australia's senior Knowledge Management thought leaders representing firms such as Freehills, Blake Dawson Waldron, Gilbert+Tobin, Baker McKenzie, DLA Phillips Fox, Minter Ellison, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Clayton Utz, Ebsworth & Ebsworth and Sparke Helmore gathered for breakfast and an open discussion on the issues around Enterprise Search and how/if there is a current problem within knowledge management working practices in this country that such a product and subsequent investment can address.

A shout out to our new pals at Deacons, to Jason Newman of TressCox (Captain Smash Sparrow) for the Derby Day treasure hunt, David at Suncorp, and to our new friend Kate from Headshift as she prepares to welcome her own Kate2.0. There is one last person who needs a special mention, and without her we could not have survived this week – she is the maker of muffins, the bringer of coffee, the giver of spontaneous hugs (and left overs) when she thinks we look stressed. Varvara rocks our world!!

We also say a great big Janders Dean “how you do’n” to the CC&T Practice Group at Gilbert+Tobin who invited us to share their Thursday evening this week – if you are reading this CC&T members, then funky Jamiroquai hats off to you for joining the revolution. Remember, as your very own leader told me this week, “in any revolution you have to eventually choose a side and pick up a gun”. We’re glad that you chose our side, but we would rather you pick up a flower or maybe some litter instead (sorry Peter). Wiki wiki wiki ning ning ning…. wiki wiki....

Those in the know keep a regular eye on our email disclaimers – and to those of you who asked about our current buns this week ,you can be safe in the knowledge that they are hard as steel, and reserved for the middle of the matrix.

Have wonderful weekends friends, and please do us one small favour over the coming days – spontaneously compliment someone for something. It makes them (and you) feel wonderful, and is not done nearly enough. Try it, you’ll see what we mean… the way, you look awesome in that outfit. Is it new?

Janders Dean KM Thought Leadership Roundtable

Many thanks to all those who attended this morning's KM Roundtable on the emergence and validity of Enterprise Search in the APAC law firm market.

The country's senior most Knowledge Management thought leaders representing firms such as Freehills, Blake Dawson Waldron, Gilbert+Tobin, Baker McKenzie, DLA Phillips Fox, Minter Ellison, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Clayton Utz, Ebsworth & Ebsworth and Sparke Helmore gathered for breakfast and an open discussion on the issues around Enterprise Search and how/if there is a current problem within knowledge management working practices in this country that such a product and subsequent investment can address.

In addition to a review of the usual suspects in the vendor space, and an informative discussion around fee earner behaviours, the group also discussed the scope and structure of potential proof of concept programs.

Discussion was also reserved to address the value in developing a series of fee earner "personas" using a goal directed design technique to uncover user behaviours (either search or otherwise), and the fact that developing these personas to a level of fee earner experience (based on years qualified) and also individual practice group (e.g. a 1st-2nd year Associate in Corporate) allows KM and IT leaders to uncover user needs and issues that can then be addressed and better adopted - rather than having a solution that needs a problem found.

Thanks must go to Gilbert+Tobin for hosting the event, and again to those who contributed and shared such valuable content with their peers (while avoiding the desire to move into discussion on Web2.0 technologies).

The next invitation only Janders Dean KM Leadership event will be hosted in December, and will address the topic of which cocktail on the list at the Zeta bar is better. We look forward to once again welcoming you to this peer-to-peer forum.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The End of Lawyers - Susskind Leads The Way

In an email last night, law firm technology guru Richard Susskind OBE invited Janders Dean (in addition to others) to preview his greatly anticipated book "The End of Lawyers" which is a follow up to his 1996 bestseller "The Future of Law" and is extending this preview concept to a wider audience via The Times Online.

For those of you who don't know, Richard writes a column in the Law Section of London's leading newspaper The Times - each of you can now access the previews and provide comments to the book before it is published

The Times writes that "Alongside each week’s extract will be an interview with a leading legal figure: names include Richard Bennett, general counsel at HSBC,
David Morley, managing partner at Allen & Overy, and Mark Chandler, general counsel at Cisco Systems in the US."

This is a fantastic opportunity to preview what will no doubt be ground breaking global thought leadership on the future of law, and the challenges that lawyers around the world will face if they do not acept new ways of working.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Linklaters: A Global Law Firm Management Case Study

For all of you who enjoy the management side of law firms, (and for those that know a good case study when you see one), take the time to read and re-read this article from October's The American Lawyer addressing the management trends and approaches at the global success which is Linklaters.

This is a great historical wrap up of the firm, and points to a number of issues that the firm overcame on their way to a multi-billion dollar business.

Friday's Cocktail Leadership

Another week, another Friday Cocktail Leadership.

Our London friends are still feeling the effects of the first Legal IT Forum to be held in Turnberry (the old Gleneagles event which eveyone is having trouble referring to as anything but Gleneagles), and yet good reports of the presentations and roundtables have managed to come through the whiskey fog. For those of you who want to see what you missed (from the point of view of the agenda) check it out

Our Sydney cocktail consumers have been eagerly attending client sites this week impressing all with their dramatic pauses, hair tossing, and clever use of jazz hands to convey the business processes around knowledge collaboration within law firms - oh...and their imput into some of the most innovative legal IT projects currently underway should also probably be noted. All this while also preparing for the next two weeks of conferences and roundtables in their spare time.

We also paid a virtual visit to our new favorite hotel - the
Hotel Amigo in Brussels. Thanks to Hamlet and the concierge team for their assistance this week.

In our ever present desire to think and be green (just like our friend
The Hulk) we've adopted a vegetable - the Black Sugarsweet Turnip to be exact - did you know that traditional organic vegetables are dying out and need your support? True!

As an example, in the United Kingdom, the Victorians grew over 120 different varieties of tall garden pea providing a continuous picking of freshly shelled peas throughout the summer months. A century later, frozen peas reign supreme. Food processors require varieties where all the peas ripen at once. Consequently, only one tall pea variety remains....sad we know...especially for the cute little peas. Forget smelly pandas and smart arse dolphins for a moment and
adopt a veg.

By adopting a veg you will be directly contributing to its conservation. With your donation you will be helping to pay for the seed handling, storage and propagation facilities, as well as the staff needed to look after the ever-expanding collection.

You can even chose your own from the list - we were thinking of the "Red Elephant" carrot or the "Mortgage Lifter" runner bean, but the Black Sugarsweet Turnip ended up as ours. Click
here for things to do with turnips.

Today we will leave you with one thought courtesy of Australia's High Court Justice Michael Kirby who recently presentated at the 25th anniversary dinner for the NSW Society of Computers & Law. "It's a strange thing the human being. It can have these wonderful mental explosions, it can dream of the farthest planet and distant galaxies, it can send new technologies and vehicles out there to explore, and it can plumb down to the depths of the ocean, it can analyse the genome, break up the gene, split the atom, and yet here on earth we can still do unkind things to each other and still be unequal and unjust".

That is it from us this week - we're all off to Zeta for some turnip cocktails before the next week grabs us...enjoy the weekend friends.

Have you ever hit a nerd?

While we've recently been on the "geeky short guy with glasses" bandwagon discussing the way in which law firms approach innovation in legal practice, and also their approach to the potential adoption of new technologies to enhance the success rate of this legal practice innovation, here is some Friday reading for the nerds who are keeping up to date with Enterprise 2.0 technologies....and particularly those who keep asking us about Sharepoint.

This week Microsoft announced a strategic partnership with the
Confluence wiki platform and the Newsgator RSS application - all designed (in marketing department speak) to enhance the strategic appeal and enterprise social features of the Microsoft Sharepoint portal suite.

Those with experience with the current challenges that many organisations are experiencing with fully realising their enterprise knowledge management and social collaboration objectives with Sharepoint will see this as validation that Sharepoint alone may not (today) necessarily be "enough" (or the one-stop solution so many of you want it to be).

Our tip for the innovators and thought leaders in this space - Lee Bryant, Livio Hughes, and the funky HS team in London.

Now go and do some real work people....

Friday, October 12, 2007

Innovation Warning

Let's talk about the technology aspect of "innovation"....

A number of our clients and contacts have been picking our brains lately in relation to the market and media buzz around social networking (see here) - asking what London and US firms are doing in these spaces (our good friend and global thought leader Ruth Ward at Allen & Overy started it all long ago people, so we question it still being considered an "innovation" by the media, but anyway...), and what can and should be achieved for Australian and Asian firms.

Although we are not going to give away the entire farm, we are happy to share some thoughts.

Our first warning on this topic is to make sure you are not jumping on the band wagon just because you think you need to - and particularly that you are not racing forward without a clear and agreed FIRM WIDE strategy that aligns all the possible and achievable benefits of these new('ish) technologies across the internal practice of law, your possible external offerings to your clients, and the utilisation of innovative technologies for branding, recruitment and market "buzz" purposes. We're not saying don't do it - far from it....

Without clear thinking and a documented approach, you run the risk of falling into the "portal" and "deal room" traps of the late 1990's - everyone wanted one, but no-one was sure why or what they were supposed to achieve - only few clients benefited, but the benefit was high for some - however most firms saw this as a solution to push to all clients and users, rather than understanding the requirements and values.

Without a strategy and some thinking before you start, you run the very real risk of having each department (such as Marketing or Knowledge Management) getting excited after a conference or news items and then running in separate directions (with best intentions) without talking to each other (or the wider firm) about a single approach and the wider goal/s.

There is also the risk that without thought, your clients and lawyers will be side-stepped in this process, and that your support departments will (again with best intentions) simply create a blog, wiki, or social networking presence because you can (or because other peer firms have). These will undoubtedly have a short life and/or the benefits will not be realised - and with multiple and unplanned efforts, your brand is at risk. One other potential result is that you may easily waste an opportunity to discovery a true use for this technology which may indeed return tangible value to lawyers and clients (remember these people?).

So in short - stop...don't rush....and create a plan first (we know it sounds boring) that aligns what your Marketing, Knowledge Management, IT, HR, partners and clients think they want to try.

So why involve all these departments, and why working toegther?

Well think about it - each have their own reasons to explore the possibilities - for example, HR may want to address the summer clerks, alumni and graduate recruitment processes and utilise some "buzz" and "market spin" via tools such as Facebook (see Linklaters LPC Class of '07 and Clifford Chance's Feb 2008 Trainees page as examples). Although not a law firm, check out what the Eclipse Group (part of Deloitte Australia) have on their recruitment site - play the video.

Marketing may want to be involved as they have been at Sheppard Mullin (see their use of blogs as a replacement for client newsletters here They may also see the value for providing internal tools for their teams where wikis are used internally to capture and collaborate on new and emerging industry and market analysis tasks.

Good old Knowledge Management (where a majority of these technologies were first utilsied within professional service environments) should be looking to utilise these technologies for a variety of both internal working practices and external client value-add reasons (see the Allen & Overy link above and also the way in which Linklaters still continues to innovate with BlueFlag after all this time - even though this is not necessarily bundled in the Web2.0 technologies - and their Linkpedia). Many more examples like these exist - see Pinsent Masons innovations (again not necessarily Web2.0, but evidence of what can be achieved when all the support departments, fee earners, and clients work together to find ways to innovate).

KM have uncovered a plethora of internal working practices that these technologies can be tested on - however it is the type of law and the behaviour of users which will dictate success. Do not be under the illusion that one solution will be a firm-wide success. What a tax lawyer will want and use will be very different to what a real estate lawyer will want and use. The possibilities multiply the more geographically disperse and large the firm.

We hate to go on about this - but rather than allowing each internal department to gain an individual benefit, again think about the benefits of these support teams working together with the lawyers and (yes) clients on these offerings during the planning and design phases so as to achieve a higher potential for overall success, and also - to ensure that from a branding and a "mojo" perspective, the design, the approach, the look & feel, the potential for market buzz, the branding etc for the firm's approach to innovation is consistent and clearly defined/identifiable.
We would have to say that from an external perspective that Linklaters is by far and away ahead of the pack in relation to a single branding and firm wide approach to adoption of "outside world" facing technologies - this is demonstrated simply by the example of their global web strategy and the simple and cheap wins created by the use of consistently branded sub-sites for specific and tangible Marketing and HR purposes. This also shows that cutting edge technologies are not necessarily required to show innovation.

By the way - if we took an approach which said that actually Web2.0 and related technologies are no longer "innovative" because it these are no longer new (that is not to say that you can't benefit still from being a current adopter), we would need to look at the "what next" scenario. Now we are certainly NOT giving away the farm here; however a quick tip would be to have your lawyers gaze at the stars for a while, and ask your clients as well - ask them where there are efficiencies to be gained, products and services to be provided to clients, markets to be tapped (hello China). Also listen carefully to the core information providers and the courts. This approach will give you an answer far faster if you focus also on goal directed analysis, rather than finding solutions first that are awaiting problems.

So who do we rate as leaders in this particular field (i.e. the user of wikis, blogs, social networking, etc)? Well that is easy - we've been fortunate to work with, drink with, scribble with, and spend time around some of the best, and their thought leadership and early adoption has contributed to our thinking in this space. They clearly led the way as innovators, and we are all learning from them now - our ideas are simply taken from the lessons these leaders learnt.

In London we would say that a conversation with our friends Ruth Ward, Marc-Henri Chamay and the team at Allen & Overy, Australian ex-pats such as Matthew Parsons and Katja Ullrich at Linklaters, Stuart Barr at Headshift, another Australian ex-pat David Fitch at Simmons & Simmons, and Sam Dimond at Clifford Chance is essential - as is a glass of wine with the ever youthful Melanie Farquharson (ex-Simmons & Simmons, now Director at 3Kites) is also a must.

It is not surprising that those who have found success and realised a benefit from innovation utilising technology also happen to be those who clearly understand lawyer behaviours, the differences between practice areas and areas of law, and who have indeed been embedded within the practice group floors. Does that tell you something?
When considering the Australian market, the Lovely Chrissy Burns at Blake Dawson Waldron and Gerard Neiditsch at Mallesons are the two clear leaders in our opinion.

The core message to take from the above is to gently pause, thoughtfully plan, recognise that a collective strategy and approach across all the areas that could be impacted or enhanced via this technology is essential, and finally - look for something new, as that is true innovation as well as playing your part in keeping up with the Jones'.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Friday's Cocktail Leadership

We here at Janders Dean love Fridays - it is all we think about on Saturday mornings, plus it gives us a chance to take our beloved friends and clients out on the town to one of the now infamous CLE sessions (Cocktail Leadership Education).

This week has been a busy one for us here - we've been busy supporting our most beloved Cat Wirth (Marketing Director of Blake Dawson Waldron) as a formal corporate sponsor for the Kokoda Chicks trek to raise funds for breast cancer research.

Check out and keep yourself posted on the events and the training regime.

We have also planted four new trees this week - for the nerds out there, you'll understand that each tree planted ‘offsets’ your environmental impact by ‘breathing’ in about 730 kg CO2 emissions over its lifetime of 100 years. It is estimated that the average person needs to save about 7,000 kg of CO2 per year. So planting just 10 trees each year is one strategy for achieving this......or you could simply let all that mumbo jumbo go over your head as you prepare yourself for Friday night drinks but promise us that you will think about planting a tree before the end of the month - we dare you.

By the way - if you don't have space, go here and they'll plant it for you

Not only were we busy being good, we even got a little mention again out there in cyber space. For any of those who subscribe to Australiasian Legal Technology (a free newsletter resource run by Chris McLean at Sparke Helmore to collate news from around the region on legal IT announcements - similar to Charles' Orange Rag), you would have seen a piece announcing the arrival of Janders Dean in Australia (link below).

We love seeing our own name - it makes us feel all warm and fuzzy, but alas, the "first street, first pet" theory isn't correct.

Some of our friends are apparantly are also playing away at Turnberry - news on the conference to follow when they have sobered up and reported back to base (the country code is 61 people - and it is not big or clever to see the sun rise two mornings in a row).

Oh...and we also did some phenominal work with our existing clients, and added two new ones! Welcome to those two, and get ready for your initiation into the Janders Dean CLE hall of fame.

Crouching Tiger About to Pounce

This week has seen some of our old law firm strategic thoughts on mergers and growth trends validated. Although we've been musing over the potential for this since our days in London over two years ago, we were recently quoted here ( as saying that "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".

In an article from The Lawyer entitled "Malaysia and Singapore's finest unite to form South East Asia powerhouse", it was announced that Malaysia’s largest law firm, Zaid Ibrahim and Co will form a strategic alliance with Allen & Gledhill, Singapore’s largest law firm from January 2008 onwards.

Although only a strategic alliance (and one that excludes an Australian presence just yet), we have thought since early this decade that the trend will hit soon as Asian law firms realise the potential of their own regions and the power of their own brands - and hence pause to think about the consequences of jumping into an alliance with an existing US or UK mega-firm too quickly.

At a recent Janders Dean Mergers Advice mini-conference involving firms in both China and Australia, attendees discussed the synergies between the regions in relation to the future growth of various practices of law including energy and resources, infrastructure and construction, and IP/IT legal services. Discussion also surrounded the cultural aspects of potential strategic alliances and mergers, the staffing and secondment challenges, the threat of the existing UK/US mega firms entering the market place, and a friendly wager on the gold medal count at the upcoming Olympic Games.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

KM Thought Leadership Roundtable

With only two weeks to go until the next Janders Dean KM Leadership Roundtable in Sydney Australia, we have been chuffed at the success to date. Within 48 hours of restricted invitations being sent, all places were taken with a majority of Australia's largest and most innovative law firms being represented at senior management level. Now, we would like to think that this is because of our good looks and humour; however we suspect it has something to do with the specific subject matter of this session. Stay with us for an update on the event.