Friday, February 27, 2009

Freehills Intranet Project - A Case Study

Many thanks to Linda Moore from CCH for the recent blog posting on the Freehills Intranet Project which mentions the role of Janders Dean in the design and foundation activities. The full article "Freehills - how to create a classy intranet with a laughably small amount of time and money" can be sourced here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Friday's Cocktail Leadership

We've got nothing uplifting for you in this Friday Cocktail Leadership posting. Sad isn't it.

Oh...what we can say though is that if you're after a Friday cocktail this week to dull the pain caused by embracing a life of pessimism or from thinking that this is as good as it gets and that nothing (particularly your own happiness, or those who contribute to it) is worth fighting for, then we recommend anything which is served in a glass that is half empty.

The glasses which were normally half full just looked out of place and a little bit too optimistic for our we smashed them.

We're off to tell the first kid we see that there is no such thing as Santa just to see what it feels like. Enjoy your weekend.

* The authors wish to state that no animals (except one loyal but unlucky puppy) were injured during the drafting of this post. A significant number of Bombay Sapphires were unfortunately (and unavoidably) drowned in quinine though for which we do not apologise...

ouRSpace - ReedSmith Intranet Launch

Janders Dean was in London last week at the same time global giant ReedSmith launched their new and innovative ouRSpace Intranet to the firm with glowing reviews and feedback from the user community. We say 'wow'!

After an international rapid design process involving goal directed design techniques and newly evolved persona development methodologies (which Janders Dean was fortunate enough to assist the firm with), the final product was built in only four months on an MS SharePoint platform utilising a combination of new features and integrated technologies from XMLaw and others.

The ouRSpace Intranet has both a rich user interface and a phenomenal amount of content (both traditional and new media) which is sourced from across the firm's applications.

ReedSmith is another firm which is leading the way in relation to designing with a philosophy of "search over navigation", and have a unique integration with MS SharePoint, Recommind and Westlaw serving their knowledge management needs.

The features and functionality are too extensive to list, but needless to say, both statistical and anecdotal evidence indicates that users have been blown away with the significant shift from the firm's previous information and knowledge management interfaces.

Credit to Tom Baldwin and the ReedSmith project team, the internal communications team, the developers, and the firm's management for their deep involvement and sponsorship. Thanks also to the firm for allowing Janders Dean to be part of the fun and innovation!

NSW Corporate Knowledge Management Roundtable

Janders Dean had the pleasure of being invited to join Nicole Bamforth (Director of Knowledge Management at Freehills) and George Freney of DWS to present on the highly successful Freehills Intranet project at the NSW Corporate Knowledge Management Roundtable event in Sydney yesterday.

Attendees (a mixture of knowledge and information management representatives from pharma, banking, defence, government, publishing and manufacturing industries) heard from Nicole on the Freehill's project formation phase and the unique design approach (which Janders Dean was fortunate enough to assist the firm with) in addition to discussing the agile development methodology which was so successfully executed with DWS and the Freehills development team to ensure a timely and cost effective Intranet launch.

There was a huge amount of interest from the audience on the different approaches engaged throughout the project, and significantly positive feedback from the attendees on both the way in which the site had no resemblance to a typical MS SharePoint site, and the "replacing traditional navigation and manual taxonomies with search" philosophy. Nicole's statistics on user search behaviours and activities in the first three weeks post go-live helped validate this latter point.

Many thanks to Nicole for inviting Janders Dean to join the discussion on the design, to the KMRT team for their hospitality (and the World Vision duck...which we have named eQuipy), and to George from DWS for his invaluable involvement.

For any firm looking to launch (or re-launch) their Intranet and/or general MS SharePoint information and/or knowledge management system projects, we would encourage you to seek out Nicole and the team from Freehills to look through not only the first release of the product, but also the way in which the project was planned and executed (and the second phase features currently under development).

Wiki wiki....that's all folks.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Get Connected - The LexisNexis Way

We just been given a sneak peak at the latest offering from the team at LexisNexis which is a new lawyer-to-lawyer networking site. You can all now see the Beta site and sign up here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Friday's Cocktail Leadership


Simple word isn't it, but it hasn't been around for long. The first entry of the word 'hello' in an English dictionary is not until 1883. Although credited by some to Thomas Edison when he invented the telephone, according to the Oxford Dictionary (and the old faithful Wikipedia), it is an alteration of hallo, hollo, which came from the Old High German "halâ, holâ, emphatic imperative of halôn, holôn to fetch, used especially in hailing a ferryman."

It also connects the development of hello to the influence of an earlier form, holla, whose origin is in the French holà (roughly, 'whoa there!', from French là 'there').

We've been told by HM that the above is far too much information on one single word to include in this Friday posting, so here is some other things to distract you and make you look like you're working in case the people from HR walk past.

Welcome to the regular Friday posting that has nothing to do with law firms, technology, knowledge management, or anything really. It is simply designed to give you five minutes of meaningless information that you may one day find useful. Oh come've got five minutes don't you?

Mouse in your house? As the cold winds blow in Europe, this is the time of year when little visitors sneak into your house to find warmth and comfort from the elements. Yep, we're talking that cute little mouse that visits. If you're not a fan of the furry little fella, consider a trap like
this one. Don't say we didn't warn you though.

We have a special mention to Ms K from DLA who we caught up with at
Tart Bar this week, and another shout out to Baps and Bob's gardening gal who joined us. We were also lucky enough to catch up with old Grumpy Barr, his patient other half and Barr2.0 at Detroit Bar, and Insead's newest student at Kong in Paris.

You know how we feel about
Innovation - if you're looking to show the firm just how clever and innovative you are, why not tell them how you've single handily been able to invent the transparent computer screen, then demonstrate it to them to see the reaction. We've not thought of how you can tell the partners this will make them money, but we're sure you've got time to think of something before April 1st.

Still confused about what to do while counting your redundancy cash?

We think sitting at Sydney airport and counting the number of returning Australian lawyers who have been let go from London firms is always a good idea, as is keeping a tally of the number of 'guru' support staff who'll think about hanging their shingle out.

More satisfying perhaps is spending your time (and sharing your expertise and skills) volunteering. This
link and this one should help.

If you're bored, read
Sway by Ori & Ron Brafman and try to see how fast you can think of a project you've been involved in which could have been a case study for them.

We're off now - final hello to Mr Milford, Mr White, Mr Northcott and the new/tall Miss Tikit who we saw time with this week. Congrats to TressCox's new head of marketing, and also to the sparkling new global head of everything in London.

Goodbye. Simple word isn't it. It originally had its origins.....

Some Happy News!!

With all this depressing talk of redundancies, frozen salaries, shrinking bonuses and poor sales figures from software vendors, we've finally sourced some happy news for you.

Tomorrow is Friday! Yep, that's right - tomorrow is Friday and you can look forward to a few days away from the office. Great news!!

Our top tips for the weekend are to turn the blackberry off (we know you can do it...come one....that's it), turn the television off before the headlines come on, throw the newspapers in the bin without reading them, slap a massive smile on that face of yours, sleep in a little, tip your barista (even if you think your coffee is over priced), give at least one stranger and two friends an unsolicited compliment, and concentrate of living the life you imagined.

See you tomorrow you smiling happy people.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Redundancies - Vendors Feeling Pain

Unconfirmed talk of 'restructures' and senior executive level redundancies at leading practice management (and legal publishing) vendor hit the streets today in London. Watch this space for when the marketing teams put their spin on it.

Making Support Departments Redundant

As hundreds of lawyers across the UK and US face redundancy as a result of the economic fun and games, what of the support staff?

DLA this week announced over one hundred support staff were to be let go, and the firm is just the latest in a number of major and mid tier firms to make such announcements.

Don't put your head in the sand on this one. Casualties in Knowledge Management, Finance and Information Technology departments are common, with numerous mid tier firms even looking to off load expensive and/or under performing department directors in the past two weeks. Knowledge Management is well and truly in the firing line.

We expect to see many firms combining Knowledge departments with either Learning, Human Resources, Information Technology or Marketing departments and having the combined entity fall under one umbrella (and one director's salary rather than two).

Firms to lead the way in this 'combined' approach include Freshfields and Linklaters who both wrapped Knowledge Management into other departments during early 2008, while APAC leaders such as Blake Dawson have walked the talk very successfully for many years with a combined approach to Knowledge and Information Technology under the expert guidance of Chrissy Burns.

Expect numerous partnerships to now look at these early adopters and translate this into the new world of cost saving options.

Be aware that now is the time to perform or role is safe in professional support. Almost all support without exception are (rightly or wrongly) considered expendable and/or eventually replaceable by the fee earning side of some businesses.

As the crunch continues to squeeze firms, and second round redundancies now being considered common occurrences, not even the leaders of the support departments should be considering themselves safe - particularly in the softer areas of professional support where value is often not as tangible or visible as some of the other more traditional areas.

Consolidation of support departments looks to be upon us.

Slaughter & May - Making Corporate Counsel Happy (again)

Global guru firm Slaughter & May have been quick to adjust to the new market conditions with news which will be music to corporate counsels' ears. A series of new options around their already famous fixed fees, further discounting for transactions which fail to complete, and new approaches which embrace value billing could bring even more business into the firm we all wish we could be.

"Slaughters has always shunned the hourly rate, preferring to bill based on the ‘value’ of its services, but agreeing fees in advance is a new phenomenon. In October 2008 the firm won a place on ITV’s fixed fee-only panel, the first to be made up of firms that do not charge by the hour" commented Kit Chellel and Luke McLeod-Roberts of The Lawyer magazine in their recent article.

Full story courtesy of The Lawyer

The Lawyer HR Awards 2009 - London

After announcing hundreds of redundancies, Linklaters was last night awarded a Highly Commended for "Innovation in Talent Management & Retention" and a win in the "Best International Recruitment Initiative" categories at The Lawyer Magazine's HR Awards 2009 in London. Hmmmm.....a full list of winners and short-listed firms can be found here.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Victorian Fire Appeal

Nothing to do with legal IT or KM, but those of you who are Australians on this thread and ex-pats in the IT/KM community, please consider a donation to the Victorian Bush Fire Appeal via the Red Cross.

Online credit card donations can be made

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Redundancies - Should They Stay or Should They Go?

So how do the firms facing large scale redundancies select those who are going to get the chop?

According to RollonFriday, the following points system is rumoured to be the key measuring stick for assessing the lawyers at Linklaters. If you score low, then you go. The below however is only for the legal staff, with the support staff selection system not yet known.

30 points - Overall appraisal rating 2008
10 points - Disciplinary/performance improvement plan
20 points - Utilisation
10 points - Investment hours (in non chargeable work)
20 points - Contribution to the future development of the business
30 points - Performance in financial year to date since May 2008 appraisal

The weighting of each category is interesting. At first glance we would see that the "Performance in financial year to date since May 2008 appraisal" weighting may cause some concern given the state of the economy (and with consideration given to the 20 points assigned to Utilisation). One would also hope that you would be graded against peers within your practice area in this category, rather than those working in other (and potentially less impacted by the economic down turn) practice areas.

There have been comments that one would like to see higher points being allocated to both "Contribution to the future development of the business" and "Disciplinary/performance improvement plan", particularly (in relation to the latter) if your performance was questionable enough in good times for you to be subjected to a performance improvement plan.

It should also be pointed out that unfortunately the "Contribution to the future development of the business" is one of the only grading areas which can not necessarily be linked to cold hard statistics or facts, and one which can be open to great interpretation.

Where does the client opinion or feedback fall into this equation?

But what of the support staff? With voluntary redundancy packages and reduced working hour options out of the way, how then should the support personnel who are left (more than 100 at Linklaters) be graded or divided to determine who goes and who stays - particularly given the fact that three of the gradings relate to the billable hour?

Taking secretarial staff to one side and only looking at the areas of core operational support (e.g. knowledge, finance, technology), we would suggest that planned and actual 'capacity' of an individual over the next twelve months is a key criteria. What projects or initiatives that were planned are no longer moving forward, and who were to staff these?

We also suggest that you hit the list if you have been subject to disciplinary or performance improvement plans in the past twelve months. It may sound harsh, but at most firms it takes quite a good deal of stumbling before anyone is placed on a formal performance improvement plan.

And what of the concept of 'value to the firm' when considering support personnel in areas such as operations (not to mention 'future value to the firm')?

All sounding too hard? Well, add the potential for litigation and the required mathematics for calculating the cost to the firm of redundancy packages, and you have the recipe for many late nights and pounding headaches from senior management.

Spare a thought though for the mid-tier firms with small numbers who are also going through the pain.

One mid-tier European firm we know has been taking the opportunity to review the senior management positions within the firm's operational areas to ensure that the partnership is receiving value for money. Tabled as a quick audit or sanity check during a partner meeting, it soon became a very interesting (and subsequently formal) process. One partner's comments caught our ear immediately and it was all that was needed to kick the debate off.

Although not word for word, the comment went as such..."We have close to 500 staff but we have only 250 lawyers in this firm. This director is on $250,000 a year. That is $1,000 of value that they should be visibly providing to each lawyer each year, and that is just for the head of that team - it doesn't take into account all the other related costs of their staff and their projects. If we asked each lawyer, would they agree that they are getting that level of value from [insert name of support department or person here!]. Get this director and their team to come in here and prove it...or we have a problem"

Interesting approach. Crude? Probably. Too simplistic? Possibly. Do we agree with it? No comment, but maybe there is some method in the madness. Just make sure you can answer the question if asked.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Latest Recommind Case Study - Mills & Reeve

Computer Weekly UK has today gone to press with an article outlining law firm Mills & Reeve's move to the Recommind MindServer enterprise search technology. The full article can be found here.

Professionals & Web 2.0 Survey

CCH has made available the details of their study on the use of Web 2.0 technologies by "professionals" in the APAC region. The survey involved just over 200 individuals from the tax, accounting, HR and legal industries. See report here.

Clifford Chance Follows Linklaters in Dramatic Partner Reductions

Following the news last week that the Linklaters' "New World" strategy would involve a reduction of partner numbers (as well as up to 270 lawyers and support staff) Clifford Chance has today shocked the City by announcing that a similar partner reduction process could be on the cards.

See today's news stories from Legal Week
here and our recent posting on earlier reductions at Clifford Chance here.

London LegalIT Show 2009

We're not sure if it was the unexpected snow, the depressing economic climate and resulting tight budgets, or indeed the perceived value and/or quality of the event by potential law firm representative attendees, but this year's LegalIT exhibit in London was (in our opinion) more than a slight disappointment.

We feel for those vendors who booked their stands in February of last year when things were a little more rosey...and even more sorry for them when they realised today that the only people visiting their stands were vendors from the other stands who had nothing better to do.

Although 2010's dates are already set in stone, we would not be surprised if this event slips off the radar by then when the vendors do the math from this year's investment in this type of format and approach.

The event's reputation has suffered in recent years, with few senior management level personnel from London firms making the trip to Islington to walk the floors and attend the presentations.

The format works better in New York for the 'real' LegalTech primarily because of the scale of the legal market and the large number of mid and small tier firms that attend each year from multiple locations - in fact there were over 260 exhibitors in New York in comparison to the 50 scraped together in London.

Time for a new team and a fresh approach to these things we think...unless tomorrow's final day shows significant improvement.

Legal Technology Awards 2009 - London

We had the pleasure of being on the Sam Suri table last Thursday at the Legal Technology Awards 2009 event held in London. Although numbers were (obviously) slightly lower than the 2008 event which we also attended, the quality of the event was still worthy of note.

Congratulations must be extended to our old pal David Fitch of Simmons & Simmons who walked away with the "International Law Firm Knowledge Director of the Year" award, and also to Chris White and the team from Ashurst who scooped multiple awards on the night including "Knowledge Team of the Year" and "Training Initiative of the Year".

Both firms also had a number of "Highly Commended" and fought it out toe to toe in most categories.

Special thanks to Sam and Odette for the hospitality on the evening, to the fellow table guests including Paul Heywood and the wonderful Ruth Ward, and of course a special thank you to the one who sparkled all evening...h
ello also to all the old friends who came across to say 'hi' including JV, Greg, Neil, Tim, Jezza, Geoff, Orlando, Powell, Pricey and others, and also to new contacts made on the night.

A full list of winners can be viewed

Innovate, Innovate, Innovate the market is heading down the wrong side of the curve...we all know it...we're all in it....roll with it.

As Chuck says, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

Let us discuss however where the economic downturn leaves law firm KM and IT (and indeed the other professional support functions), your approach to innovation and (as workers within these support areas) your desire to innovate?

Should KM and IT management support a partner inspired short term position of immediate cost cuts which will no doubt result in project cancellations, recruitment freezing, and possible redundancies across KM and IT departments?

Do these reactionary approaches to the downturn impact the ability to support and foster innovation within a law firm? (...we say 'No, quite the opposite by the way'...) How can KM and IT continue to deliver, support and show value in the face of a swinging axe?

We were reminded by Ron Baker that the guru of business management Peter Drucker once famously noted:

"Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two--and only two--basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business."

While working with our clients in APAC and the UK, we've seen many firms pour funding into marketing and intelligent analysis of their existing clients, practice areas, and industries of interest...but what of innovation? Drucker preached that a business's required ability to both maintain existing consumers and to create new customers is directly dependent on that business's ability to produce innovative products and/or services.

If you want to see both at work, we suggest you not only refresh your reading on Drucker, but that you look at the ultimate case study - one Mr Will Kellogg. A summary of Kellogg's combination of both marketing and innovation (not just innovation in marketing, but innovation across the entire business) to drive success in a changing market can be read here - and many other more detailed examples exist for those wanting to burn the midnight oil.

Anique Gonzalez analysis of Drucker states that "In order for a company to maintain its market share, it must continue to out think and out-produce its competitors not only in terms of the selection of products and services that it offers but also in terms of its prices. In essence, all companies must continually strive to discover how they can better satisfy the needs and wants of consumers."

In fact, Drucker was such a proponent of innovation that he also advocated for the utilisation of "planned abandonment". Planned abandonment means rejecting the continued use of tactics, strategies, or techniques that brought a firm success in the past and, instead, [fosters an approach of] continually establishing new means by which the firm can attain success since, as is often the case, these "tried and true" methods of success are no longer useful.

In a profession as old as the law, and in institutions as "change challenging" as a law firm partnership model, the question we've been working with firms to answer over the past month or two is "how?". The answer......well, wink at us on a Wednesday and we'll tell you for free.

LegalTech New York 2009

Sorry, but we had to share this - an absolute cracker of a posting from Craig - more serious news from LegalTech New York to follow.

Craig D. Ball, P.C. Announces Release of Absolutely Nothing 2.0™ for LegalTech New York

Austin, January 31, 2009 - Craig D. Ball, P.C., a leading national provider of e-discovery blather and enervative synergistic solutions announced the release of Absolutely Nothing 2.0™ in anticipation of LegalTech New York. Designed to work in conjunction with the company's flagship product, More of the Same,™ Absolutely Nothing 2.0™ sets a new standard for purpose-built, mission-critical marketing hype.

"We looked at the burgeoning e-discovery market and saw firms and companies spending huge sums on products that delivered big promises but little else," said Craig Ball, the company's President. "Absolutely Nothing responds to the growing demand for applications that offer best-of-breed pricing without saddling the enterprise with balance sheet headaches like value or ROI. We are so confident that Absolutely Nothing 2.0™ will meet expectations, we put our promise right in the name," added Ball.

If you're at LegalTech NY (Feb 2-4), come see Craig D. Ball, P.C. at table #1234 in the lobby bar of the New York Hilton and become a beta tester for the company's development platform, Buy Craig a Cocktail (Premium Brand). Complimentary aphorisms and homilies will be served (along with cheesy chotckes nabbed from the show floor that will make your five-year-old wonder why you bothered to cart that crap home).

Monday, February 2, 2009

XMLaw OneView 2009 Product Release

Just in time for LegalTech NY 2009, leading MS SharePoint integration specialists XMLaw have announced the release of their OneView 2009 product. The current product is utilised by 25% of the AmLaw 200, and provides a framework for delivering integrated intranet , extranet and search using SharePoint 2007.

New features include extranet creation automation for matter workspaces, a new version of embedded search, content tagging and targeting, improved standards based integrations, and advanced tools for development.

The product flyer can be accessed here, and the full press release regarding the new version release can be accessed here.