Does Anybody Know…? – a new website helps you get answers from your network.

aardvarkThere’s an impressive new website called Aardvark that helps you answer the question: “Does anybody know…?”  by tapping your online networks.  This is not a search engine.  The results are not a list of websites that may or may not get you the answers you need.  The results are from real people in real time.

So, how does it work?  Sign up at the Aardvark site [click here].  It requires that you have a Facebook [my page] account (other networks will be integrated in the future).  From the Aardvark site you can ask a question by simply typing your query into the box.  If you add your instant messaging (like Google Talk, AIM or Windows Live Messenger) and or email account information, you can ask questions via IM and email, too.  According to the site, “Aardvark first looks for a friend or friend-of-friend who can answer your question. If there are only a few people in your network, Aardvark will send your question to your very extended network (friends-of-friends-of-friends-of…) to make sure that you get an answer.”

So, how well does it work?  My first question was: “What’s the best Italian restaurant in midtown Manhattan?”  Within moments, I received an answer from Sara: “Becco is really great, on 46th between 8th and 9th(?). possibly 9th and 10th. it’s a little pricy but if you want to eat in midtown that’s the norm.”  Not bad.

Then I asked, “Where is the best place to see the 2009 Macy’s 4th of July fireworks display in NYC?”  I happen to know that, this year, the barges from which the fireworks are launched will be along the Hudson River (not the East River, as in years past) and according to Macy’s, the best place to view the show is on the west side: 12th Avenue below 59th Street, so this was a bit of a test.   The first answer came from Ling: “bring a chair to sit on the FDR, or watch it from someone’s rooftop.”  That would have been good advice last year, but the FDR is on the east side of Manhattan.  The second answer came from Josh: “Battery Park is a good place, also top of the Empire State Building.”  Again, Battery Park — at the southern tip of Manhattan, was good viewing for last year’s show, but this year?  Not so much.

So, is Aardvark a failure?  Time will tell as the site matures, but so far, I don’t think so.  The site and integration with Facebook, email, and IM is great.   So, mechanically, it works – I can ask questions and get answers very quickly and efficiently.  The quality of the answers is another matter.  It seems that Aardvark may be better at getting opinion answers (best Italian restaurant?) than facts (where can I see the fireworks?).  Besides, there are some questions that are best left to Google (I could have–and did–easily found the relevant information about the prime fireworks viewing with a quick web search).

The thing that sets Aardvark apart from Internet search engines is the human touch.  Sometimes, that is a good thing, and sometimes, well, it’s not.  Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to asking and answering questions on this interesting new website. And I’m looking forward to exploring how this sort of approach can advance KM efforts. So, in the spirit of the human touch, please let me know what you think of Aardvark (feel free to sign up with this link: http://vark.com/s/hUnq) and leave a comment below.

Photo: Tut99 on Flickr

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

Law Firm Associate Productivity Survey Results Webinar – Knowledge Management

Free Lexis Associate Productivity Survey Results Webinar today (June 24, 2009) 3PM est.

Also preview Lexis Search Advantage in a live demo.

Click here to register http://bit.ly/3BcDqW

Please Join!

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

Little Knowledge Management is the Next Big Thing

tagBack in September of 2008 I mentioned this idea of “little KM” in a post called “Micro-blogging in your law firm?.” There, I wrote: little KM is about “how” and big KM is about “what.”  Little KM helps people find the big KM.

The Small Stuff. By little KM, I mean meta data; but not the hierarchical, taxonomic stuff of older KM approaches.  It’s not about asking your lawyers to profile, or select prescribed meta data, for their documents when saving them in a document management system.  Rather, little KM is about on-the-fly, user-generated tagging, commenting, and rating.  Little KM is also about self interest; and that’s important.

Little KM is not substantive.  It points or directs people to the substantive stuff (the big KM).  For example, if a lawyer tags a document with “best practice” or “model” it will probably indicate to others that someone thinks highly of that document.  The same is true if a rating system (e.g., five stars, or “thumbs up”) is employed.  Comments can also be helpful to note attributes of a document that are not immediately evident from the contents.  For example, a lawyer may comment that a particular transactional document is favorable to a buyer, rather than a seller.  That can help someone more quickly decide which among several documents to review when working on a new matter.

Self Interest. Altruism may be alive and well, but for the most part, we do things to help ourselves, personally.  The good thing is that with little KM, the side effect is that it also helps others.  When someone tags, comments on, or rates a piece of content (presumably to help themselves find, or make sense of, it later) others get the benefit of that person’s efforts.  This is not to say, of course, that such selfless activities shouldn’t be encouraged.  But, unless people see the personal value of using little KM, it won’t become all that it could.

Low Impact. For little KM to be helpful and effective, it must be easy to use and part of one’s workflow.  If a lawyer must open a new application to tag or rate a document in a work product retrieval system, then it will seldom happen.  Think of the online social bookmarking site Delicious.  It allows you to bookmark websites and tag them with keywords.

delicious-toolbar

The most effective way to use Delicious is not to add URLs on the Delicious website, but rather to use a web browser toolbar button (see above) that allows you to tag your current website.  Here is a Common Craft video that shows how to use Delicious.

In the same way, little KM features inside your firm need to be easy to use.  If they’re not, they will surely fail.

Is your firm using little KM?  Do you have systems that allow lawyers to tag, comment, and rate the big KM?

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

KM101 Webinar: Intranets, Portals, Web 2.0 & Enterprise 2.0

On Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 3:00 PM Eastern Time (US & Canada), I’ll be conducting the fourth of four webinars in the KM 101 series.  Register here – free.  Here’s a description:

This session is called: Intranets, Portals, Web 2.0 & Enterprise 2.0

Knowledge Management is not all about technology, but it certainly helps. Today, we’ll discuss how intranets/portals can play a central role in your firm’s KM strategy, and can provide a single place to access much of the information that lawyers and staff need to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. We’ll also look at Web 2.0 tools (blogs, wikis, etc.) and see how they can be used both inside (referred to as Enterprise 2.0) and outside the law firm.

If you missed one of the first three webinars, you can replay them here.

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

KM 101 Webinar: What Do We Know? Document Management and Retrieval Systems

On Wednesday, April 22, 2009 at 3:00 PM Eastern Time (US & Canada), I’ll be conducting the second of four webinars in the KM 101 series. Register here – freeIf you missed session one, you can watch it here.

Picking up where session one left off, this session, What Do We Know? Document Management and Retrieval Systems, will focus on the “What we know” of knowledge management. Most firms have been around for many years. They have amassed collections of documents that contain the firm’s “institutional knowledge” or “collective work product.” The ability to quickly and easily access and reuse the models, samples, forms, and precedent documents allows lawyers to leverage the work of their colleagues to ensure high quality work product in a efficient, cost-effective manner.

Like last time, we’ll use Twitter as an additional platform for questions and answers. During the sessions, you can send a “tweet” to me at @LawyerKM and include the hash tag “#KM101.”  I’ll be monitoring Twitter and I’ll try to answer any questions that you may have.  You’ll also be able to ask questions or make comments via telephone or through the WebEx Q&A system.

I’ve already reached out to the “Twitterverse” to ask people their thoughts about this topic and to see what they would like me to cover in session two.  Here are some of the responses (Search LawyerKM on Twitter to see the conversations there):

twitter-responses-re-dms

My thanks to the Twitters above — and all the others — who have chimed in.  You can too… or leave a comment below.

Hope to see you Wednesday.

Knowledge Management 101 for Legal – Webinar Series

km101_banner1

I’ll be conducting a series of four short (20-30 minute) webinars in association with LexisNexis.  The series will be tied to my Knowledge Management 101 blog posts.  Those posts, and the webinars, are intended to give people a basic introduction to KM in the legal industry (hence the “101” designation).  If you’re a KM whiz, like many of my readers, you may not get much out of the series, but if you know someone in the legal industry who wants to begin to understand what KM is all about, please let them know.

And just for kicks, I thought we might try to use Twitter as the platform for questions and answers. During the sessions, you can send a “tweet” to me at @LawyerKM and include the hash tag “#KM101“.  I’ll be monitoring Twitter and I’ll try to answer any questions you may have.

Here is the schedule and description for each webinar (or visit the LexisNexis sign-up page for all four):

1. Introduction to Legal Knowledge Management – Wed, April 8 – 3:00 PM

Knowledge management is nothing new, but there is still no agreed-upon definition. The way organizations implement KM efforts and initiatives varies widely; and law firms are no exception. This session will be a general introduction to knowledge management, focusing on the basics. It aims to help you decide whether to introduce KM at your firm, and how it can help — not only in the practice of law, but also in the business of law. A question & answer session will follow the presentation.

2. What Do We Know? Document Management and Retrieval Systems – Wed, April 22 – 3:00 PM

Picking up where session one left off, this session will focus on the “What we know” of knowledge management. Most firms have been around for many years. They have amassed collections of documents that contain the firm’s “institutional knowledge” or “collective work product.” The ability to quickly and easily access and reuse the models, samples, forms, and precedent documents allows lawyers to leverage the work of their colleagues to ensure high quality work product in a efficient, cost effective manner. A question & answer session will follow the presentation.

3. Who Do We Know? Contacts, Connections, and Social Networking for Lawyers and the Legal Profession – Wed, May 6 – 3:00 PM

Knowledge management is not just about documents. It’s also about finding the people (both inside and outside of the firm) who can help you get the job done or help with business development. This session will focus on the importance of the “who we know” aspects of knowledge management. Many firms have seen significant growth in the past decade. At some smaller firms, everyone knows everyone, and their areas of expertise. However, as firms grow and add lateral attorneys, it becomes more difficult to really know your colleagues and the their specialties. Cross-selling legal services to existing clients becomes difficult because attorneys may not know who at their firms can assist. This session will also look at connections outside of the law firm, and discuss how social networking can help solve the “who do we know” problem.  A question & answer session will follow the presentation.

4. Intranets, Portals, Web 2.0 & Enterprise 2.0 – Wed, May 20 – 3:00 PM

Knowledge Management is not all about technology, but it certainly helps. Today, we’ll discuss how intranets/portals can play a central role in your firm’s KM strategy, and can provide a single place to access much of the information that lawyers and staff need to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. We’ll also look at Web 2.0 tools (blogs, wikis, etc.) and see how they can be used both inside (referred to as Enterprise 2.0) and outside the law firm.  A question & answer session will follow the presentation.

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

Social Media For Lawyers Meetup Group Talks Twitter in NYC

If you’re in the legal profession, are interested in social media, and are in or near New York City this week, you should join the Social Media for Lawyers Meetup Group for a discussion about Twitter.

The Meetup, called The If’s, Why’s and How’s of Using Twitter, will be this Thursday, March 26, 2009 at 7:30 PM.  The location is still TBD, but will be somewhere in NYC.

As super-Tweeter and group organizer, Alin Wagner-Lahmy (@alinwagnerlahmy) puts it on the Meetup page:

Let’s gather to talk about how Twitter can be used to:

* Promote
* Network
* Learn
* and more

without it taking control over our lives.

As a meet-up, the purpose is to meet face to face. Those who cannot physically attend a NY venue and wish to attend are invited to attend via Twitter.

Location details to be confirmed soon (somewhere in NY City).

$5 fee for those attending f2f to cover location and drinks. If you plan attending through Twitter please still let us know by RSVPing.

Event Hasgtag: #SM4Law

So, please join in the conversation; and tell them you heard about it here.

You can follow LawyerKM on Twitter here.

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms


Another Law Firm on Twitter

Since I’ve written so much about Twitter, including a few posts about law firms on Twitter, I just had to mention another one.  It’s my law firm, Gibbons P.C., where I serve as chief knowledge officer.

gpc_twitter_bigger

I’m happy to say that we launched our Twitter page today.  You can follow Gibbons P.C. on Twitter by clicking here.  I hope you will.

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

Bringing E-Discovery In-house (LegalTech NY Coverage)

I attended LegalTech New York and took some notes from Wednesday, February 4, 2009.    They may be a little rough, so please forgive any typos.

From the conference:  Session title:  Bringing E-Discovery In-house

  • Operate in the most efficient and cost-effective way with external counsel
  • Minimize objections from opposing counsel
  • Create an effective working relationship between legal and IT professionals
  • Recognize and address risks
  • Identify necessary tools and when you need to use them
  • Capitalize on potential savings
  • Identify trends in the marketplace

Moderator:
Jason R. Baron, Director of Litigation, National Archives and Records Administration

Panel:
Will Robberts, CEO, Kempton Advisors, Former President, Livenote (division of Thomson-Reuters)
Tom Tigh, President, SuperiorGlacier
Christopher A. Byrne, Esq., Christopher A Byrne, Esq., P.C, Former Assistant Director, FDIC’s Division of Liquidation
Stuart W. Hubbard, Attorney, Schiff Hardin LLP
Johannes C. Scholtes, President / CEO, ZyLAB North

My notes from the presentation:

One goal of the panel is to help legal types and tech types to better communicate and understand each other.

The panel was impressed that Judge Facciola talked about concept searching in his keynote address this morning.

As Judge Facciola said, it is critical for lawyers to keep up on the technology around e-discovery and to understand it.  It is no longer an option.  You simply cannot litigate these days without knowing about e-discovery.

Cooperation among parties (and among lawyers and in-house IT professionals) is key to saving money matters involving e-discovery.

Mentoring: Baron’s rule of thumb is to get the youngest person in the organization to be involved in e-discovery and make sure they know about it.  But maybe this is bottom-up mentoring?  It works both ways; it fosters cooperation and each learns from the other and develops a positive relationship.  And it helps the firm or corporation to save money on vendors.

Communication is difficult between and among IT folks, lawyers, and records professionals.

Among the audience, many want to bring e-discovery in-house.  For those in the audience who have had success with it, a lot has to do with the good relationship between the lawyers and IT.

The Role of Record Management: starting your strategy with RM and records retention policies and planning can help control the costs and time down the road when you become involved in litigation.  With good RM techniques and practices (including ultimately, records destruction) the process is more manageable.  Destruction of records may sound bad, but in reality, it is simply part of the RM lifecycle.

Baron: The Achilies heel of records keeping is people.  The more you have to rely on people, the high the risk and the more work in the long run.  Auto email archiving can be helpful, but it must be done correctly, or else it can get way out of hand.

Knowledge Management: Baron claims that there are tons of KM conferences, but they never invite lawyers.  Of course, I beg to differ.  Case in point: LegalTech NY – there was a whole legal KM track in this very room on Monday.  Readers of this blog know that there are many KM conferences that are focused on law and lawyers are welcome.  Nevertheless, Baron’s point is well taken: lawyers are often ignorant about KM principles and they are important when considering RM and e-discovery.  These are all connected.

Most companies react to things out of fear.  The key is to be pro-active and to address this before the need arises – before the lawsuits.

Search: Johannes C. Scholtes (ZyLAB pitch): Knowledge management search is different than “legal” or e-discovery search.  KM search just wants the best results, e-discovery search is concerned with finding “everything.”   ZyLAB provides the high level of recall.  But with high recall, you get a lot of “junk” and “noise” (i.e. non-relevant search results).

Finding what’s not there: the technology can find words and concepts that are not actually present in documents.

Key: Early collaboration (before the meet & confer) between the lawyer and technologist to develop strategy and how to perform the search.

How can law firms bring e-discovery in house?:  the panel really did not dig into this issue.  I expected more concrete advice on it.  Perhaps someone will ad a comment and augment my notes?

Factors to consider when selecting e-discovery / EDRM vendors: Ownership of IP – the vendors should own their platforms; important product requirements: scalability, open formats and integration with in-house systems, usability, compare coverage with the EDRM model; Cost of software; size of vendor doesn’t matter – focus on competencies and service levels; speak to references.

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

Best Practices for Social Networking for Lawyers – Web 2.0

I attended LegalTech New York and took some notes from Tuesday, February 3, 2009.   I was reluctant to call this “social networking” but the name persists.  They may be a little rough, so please forgive any typos.

From the conference: Web 2.0: Best Practices for Online Networking Exhibit

  • Opportunities in online networking for attorneys
  • Re-energize the traditional, valuable art of networking with tightened budgets, time and resources
  • Growth areas, benefits and challenges of online networking
  • Best practices on selecting a network
  • Gaining the strategic advantage of an online network

Moderator:
Robert Ambrogi, Journalist

Panelists:
John Lipsey, Vice President, Corporate Counsel Services, LexisNexis
Vanessa DiMauro, CEO & President, Leader Networks
Eugene M. Weitz, Corporate Counsel, Alcatel-Lucent
Olivier Antoine, Counsel, Crowell & Moring

My friend and fellow KM guy, David Hobbie,  is also blogging this session on Caselines.

My notes form the session:

Not surprisingly, this session on packed.

Among business people, online networking and social media (SM) is a source of fear.

One survey said 15% of people in the legal industry are members of some sort of social networking (SN).  Another survey says that 59% of lawyers are members of some sort of SN.

Vanessa DiMauro finds that web 2.0 stuff is still new, but maturing.  SM is no longer about tools, but how to apply them and measure them and determine ROI.

John Lipsey – Martindale Hubbell is looking to transform from what it was (print-based lawyer listings) to what it will become (a more useful way for lawyers to fulfill their business needs). The new product is Martindale Hubbell Connected (MHC).  He likes the term “professional networking” rather than SN – me too. They have done a lot of research to figure out what lawyers want and need.

The MHC does not allow anonymous users – it authenticates so that the members have confidence that they know who they are communicating with.  The advantage that MH has is a HUGE database of information on lawyers that they can use to make and enhance connections.  They want to integrate into existing workflow.  This could include the connectors that InterAction (another LexisNexis product) has with LinkedIn.  [makes sense to me]

Olivier Antoine is a practicing attorney who gave his perspective about the value of SN.  It provides value to clients so that you can provide information about who knows who.

Eugene M. Weitz mentioned how he has 2 Blackberrys because he has a professional network and a social network.  He maintains these separately intentionally.  He wants to keep them separate.

The networks allow in house counsel to connect with those who they want to – among in-house counsel, for example.  They can discuss things that are important to them and collaborate within that group.

Bob Ambrogi questioned how Weitz is able to maintain two separate networks.  The investment in time is very difficult to justify.

[side note: while blogging this, I’m also watching Twitter, which is on fire with the #LTNY.  Doug Cornelius just wondered–on Twitter– when MH Connected will be launched.  Mary Abraham, who was in the room, passed along the question and go the answer: Q1 this year.]

DiMauro says there are different social norms that come along with SN – much of the communication is transparent, so you need to be careful.

There was much discussion about networks of trusted people – this reminded me of the really nice ILTA online networking community that is used to connect and ask questions without the threat of vendors reading of contributing

Weitz stressed the need to maintain client confidentialities when participating in online networking communities.   Even asking a simple question or asking for a recommendation can disclose certain information that shouldn’t be disclosed.

Weitz says that this is no different than the type of communication by lawyers – only the vehicle has changed.  The bottom line is that lawyers haveto be as careful with SN sites as they are with all communications – and is some cases, more careful.

DiMauro noted that many other industries have adopted SM and SN.  The legal industry — which has been a late comer and fearful of it — can learn from these other industries.

An audience member asked about the value of LinkedIn.  Oliver gave an example about how he could see that five people from a company he pitched had looked at his profile after the pitch.  There is no other way to get that type of information.  Bob Ambrogi noted that LinkedIn is at least an online directory of business people on the web – the way Martindale Hubbell used to be.

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms