The Attorney Personality Profile – Knowing and Harnessing Your Practitioners’ Tendencies

Join ILTA for this webinar on Thursday, July 26, 2012 at

4 p.m. GMT/ 12 p.m. EST / 11:00 a.m. CST /10:00 a.m. MST / 9:00 a.m. PST.

Join in the exploration of personality types, lawyers’ personalities specifically, that impact the successful implementation of firm projects, with particular emphasis on KM initiatives. Based on several studies that have examined the typical lawyer personality, hear why lawyers are both rewarding and challenging people with whom to work. Learn how to use this information to work more effectively with attorneys as you gain a better understanding of their strengths and foibles, how to engage them and what tendencies need to be managed.

Speaker:

Mark Sirkin, Ph.D. is the Principal of Sirkin Advisors. He specializes in working with the leadership of law firms and law departments to assist them with people issues, including coaching struggling partners, advising law firm leadership, introducing competency models and evaluating legal talent. For the past 20 years, Mark has worked at the highest levels of organizations and firms, helping individuals and teams improve performance and results. He can be contacted at mark@sirkinadvisors.com or (914) 450-6481.

If you would like to Tweet during this session the hashtag for the Knowledge Management Peer Group is #ILTAKM

Fee:  The fee is PER CONNECTION and is $50 for ILTA members and $150 for non-members.  You will receive connection (both phone and internet access) information upon receipt and processing of payment.

REGISTER online at: http://www.iltanet.org/MainMenuCategory/Meetings/Webinars/WEB-KM-072612-942755.html

Questions?   Please contact Kristy Costello at 512.795.4674 or kristina@iltanet.org

For some reason, more and more and blog posts have enumerative titles like “The Top 10 Most Popular Social Networks,” and “Top 5 Myths about Facebook.”   A  Google search revealed over 530,000 blog posts published in 2010 that have “Top 10″ in the title.  In the spirit of the beloved enumerative blog post, here are five reasons why we love these lists:

1. They’re short

Who has the time to read lengthy blog posts?  Enumerative posts are usually short and concise (I have a thing for concision).  They have numbered headings, so they’re skim-able.   By the way, lack of time to read good stuff is why I love to use Instapaper, a bookmarking tool that let’s you quickly mark web pages to read later.  It’s dead simple.  Set up a free account, install the bookmarklet, and click it when you’re on a web page that you want to read later.  When you have the time, visit Instapaper (on the web, iPad, or mobile device) to get a nice text-only, super-readable version of the article.  Here is a New York Times article about it.*  But I digress.

2. Anticipation

I get all excited when someone promises me a list.  I can’t wait Continue reading »

On Friday, March 12 at 12:15 p.m. I’ll be speaking about Knowledge Management at the Legal Marketing  Association Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado.

There is a ton of buzz about this conference on Twitter (and I thought legal tech people loved Twitter).  The conference goers are using the #LMA10 hashtag on Twitter to converse.  Check it out here.

Here is the description of my session, from the conference materials:

Title: Leveraging Knowledge Management to Increase Efficiency and Improve Your Firm’s Bottom Line

Topics for this session include:

  • Best practices for completely aligning your knowledge management processes with the business processes and goals of the entire firm
  • Collaborating with marketing and business development groups to use knowledge management to impact your industry and practices teams, and clients
  • Examining ways in which knowledge management can improve profitability and impact the bottom line
  • Different technologies firms are using and how information-sharing improves internally as a result

_

Presenters:

  • Meredith Williams, Director of Knowledge Management, Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz P.C.
  • Patrick V. DiDomenico, Chief Knowledge Officer, Gibbons P.C.
  • Rob Saccone, Vice President & General Manager, XMLAW
  • _
    Knowledge Management, Technology & Social Media for Lawyers and Law Firms

    The Knowledge Management Peer Group of the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) is conducting its biennial knowledge management survey to probe the trends, hot topics and development of KM in the legal industry. Results of the survey will be published in the KM White Paper scheduled for publication in June of 2010.

    Please take five to ten minutes to complete the survey or forward it to the appropriate KM person in your organization (we only want one response per organization). The person responsible for KM at your law firm or law department should respond.

    As an incentive to participate, ILTA will draw three names from the pool of respondents –– two winners will receive $500, and a third will receive his/her choice of $500 or a waived registration fee for ILTA 2010, the annual conference (a $1,025 value).

    Take the Survey Now

    It will remain open through March 26, 2010.

    And don’t forget the the annual ILTA Conference, which will be held August 22-26, 2010 in Nashville, TN.

    Knowledge Management, Technology & Social Media for Lawyers and Law Firms

    Since I’ll be discussing External Knowledge Management: Using Internet Resources to Your Advantage at LegalTech next week (see my post about it), I thought I’d share a new Google tool that can help.

    Google Reader is not new, but Google just announced a new feature that allows you to follow changes to any website — even those that do not offer RSS feeds.

    It’s simple: find the website you’d like to track, copy the URL into the “Add a subscription” field in Google Reader, then click “create a feed.”  I did it for my firm’s website’s articles page:

    google-reader-create-feed1

    According to Google: “Reader will periodically visit the page and publish any significant changes it finds as items in a custom feed created just for that page.”

    Obviously, this is a great tool for keeping up with clients’ websites that don’t offer RSS feeds.  But even if a website has RSS feeds, you may want to set up the Google Reader tracker for parts of websites that the RSS feeds do not cover.  For example, if a company has a web page listing employees, it might not publish changes to that page with an RSS feed.  You can keep tabs on who joins or leaves the company by using this new Google Reader feature.

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

    The New Communication is better communication.  Why address communication in a KM blog?  Because communication is part of the “how we do things” component of knowledge management.  Here are 11 tips on how to better communicate:

    1. Be Concise. Nobody wants to read though paragraphs of blather to reach your point.  Enough said.

    2. Choose the right tool for the job. Don’t send an email if you need (1) immediate confirmation of receipt of your message or (2) an immediate response.  While some people have the ability (or luxury?) to respond to emails immediately, others are not always in front of a PC or able to check their BlackBerrys.  The only way to ensure that your message got through is by way of a synchronous communication (like a telephone call or face-to-face meeting).  As fast as some people seem to respond to email, remember that it (like snail mail) is an asynchronous communication tool.  Don’t assume that everyone reads all of your email as soon as you click “send.”  For more ideas about using the right communication tool for the job, see my previous post on the topic.

    3. Indicate the need for action up front. If you’re in the unfortunate group of people at your firm or company whose emails are routinely ignored after the first sentence, then make that sentence (or even the subject line) count.  If I need someone’s attention or action in response to my email, I start it with “Your action is needed” (yes, in bold, red letters).  If it’s an important update, use a headline (e.g., “Note: meeting time has changed — info below“).

    4. Make your point up front. Your email should not be a suspense thriller like The Sixth Sense, where only at the end do you realize that Bruce Willis’ character… I won’t spoil it for you.  Sometimes an email will be longer and more complex than you would like.  If that’s the case, consider an executive summary or a short statement that will make the recipient want to read the whole thing.  Instead of starting off with “I met with opposing counsel today regarding settlement.  At first, the plaintiff would not consider our proposal…” try “I have negotiated a settlement in the Martin case; here are the details.”

    4. Don’t change the subject without changing the subject. Sometimes email strings get pretty long.  And sometimes, the topic of the email “conversation” changes midstream.  If that happens, then change the subject line of the email (or simply start a new email).  Your email recipient will appreciate it.  And you will too when you try to find the email weeks or moths later.

    5. Name your shared appointments properly and respectfully. I keep my Outlook calendar up to date.  If someone wants to meet with me, they can simply schedule an appointment and pick any free time (while people can’t see the contents of my calendar, they can see whether I am available).  It’s handy and it obviates back-and-forth emails suggesting meeting times.  When inviting someone to meet with an appointment invitation, remember that it’s not all about you.  If you send me an appointment invitation called “Meeting with Patrick,” it may help you, but it is meaningless to me (all of my meetings include me).  Instead, name the appointment by its topic (e.g., “Monthly Performance Review” or “Smith v. Jones Deposition Prep”).  Be concise, but not vague.   “Monthly Meeting” is confusing to someone who has multiple monthly meetings with various people.  “Monthly IT Budget Meeting” is better.

    6. Stop using “ASAP” as soon as possible. ASAP is meaningless.  What you mean by “as soon as possible” may be very different than what I mean by it.  Don’t leave things up to chance.  If you’re asking someone to do something, you probably need (or want) it done by a deadline (real or contrived).  Say so.  While you’re at it, eliminate all temporal vagueness from your communication.  Rather than “send me a draft ASAP” or “send me a draft next week” (both vague), try “send me a draft by noon on Wednesday” (certain).  Be clear and leave no room for interpretation.  It saves time for everyone and eliminates misunderstanding.

    7. Don’t leave them hanging. If part of your job is to respond to requests for assistance (e.g., a Help Desk or Reference Librarian), then let your customers know that you’re taking care of them.  Promptly acknowledge receipt of your customers’ requests and let them know when they can expect results (or ask when they need an answer).  If things change and you can’t meet the agreed-upon deadline, then let your customer know as soon as you learn things have changed.  Don’t wait until the last minute.  Nobody likes to be surprised by delays.

    8. Avoid jargon. Do not use KM jargon or “geek speak.”  As a former practicing lawyer who now tries to bridge the communication gap between other lawyers and techies, I can attest that this is very important.  Speak in the language of your audience–not your language.  There’s no better way to lose the attention–or the confidence–of your audience than to make their eyes glaze over in confusion.  If you want to communicate your point, speak in terms your audience can understand.

    9. Avoid the details, if they’re not important. This concerns the previous point about concision.  Sometimes people just need to know when something will be done so that they can act on it.  They don’t necessarily need the details.  Perspective is important.  If a lawyer asks a litigation support analyst when he’ll be done with a project, she probably doesn’t need to know when each step of the process (initial culling, de-duplication, data processing, database creation, etc.) will be completed.  She really wants to know when she can begin doing her job: reviewing the electronically stored information (ESI).  Don’t waste someone’s time with minutiae.

    10. Include details, if they are important. On the other hand, it’s important not to withhold information if it’s important to a decision.  Using the litigation support scenario again, a lawyer may ask if all of the electronic documents in a matter can be “TIFFed” or turned into images for attorney review.  The answer is generally yes.  But other factors, such as cost, ability to keyword search the documents (by applying optical character recognition (OCR) processes), the processing time, and better alternatives (in this case, perhaps initial native file review) should be discussed.

    11. Measure twice, cut once. Today’s forms of communication are fast.  That’s great, but they can lead to hasty mistakes.   Take a moment to check some things before sending that email: (1) double check the recipient list [we’ve all heard of “reply all” horror stories]; (2) spell check; (3) proof read; (4) did you forget an attachment referenced in your email?  (thanks to Jennifer Perez for this list).  Slow down, and get it right.  It can avoid embarrassment and wasted time.

    How do you ensure better communication?  Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

    PLEASE NOTE: LawyerKM has moved.  We’re now at www.lawyerkm.com.  We’re no longer at www.lawyerkm.wordpress.com.  If you subscribe by RSS, please re-subscribe in the upper-right hand corner.

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

    At the International Legal Technology Association conference in Washington D.C. I’m attending the Autonomy iManage Early Adopter session.   Among others, my colleague at Gibbons P.C., the Chief Technology Officer, Michael Aginsky, is speaking.  On a related note, Michael is starting his own personal blog, Law Firm CTO, soon.  Check it out.  And you can follow him on Twitter at @michaelaginsky.  Another note, my friend David Hobbie is sitting next to me (and typing much faster), so he probably has better coverage than mine at his Caselines blog.  Check that out, too.  Finally, please forgive any typos because I am creating this post at the conference to get it out quickly.

    Here are some interesting points from the presentation:

    • Email filing is an important aspect of the new system.  How to get attorneys to file their emails in to the document management system (DMS) has been difficult.  iManage 8.5 should help to do that.
    • Budget – how to justify the cost of this type of project in this economy. For some, the cost is not too significant.  Also, the offset of eliminating a lot of paper file space makes it worth it.  The cost savings from email management issues makes the project worth  the expense.
    • Indexing the documents took much less time on 8.5 than on other systems.  The IDOL indexer is much faster than the previous Interwoven system and apparently faster than competing systems.
    • Document accessing performance: there is significant improvement in time for accessing documents.
    • Search: search results come back more quickly.   Full text searching is much better and more precise.  Some are even seeing documents that they didn’t even know they had (this can be risky – especially with documents that should be locked down).  The results are “almost instantaneous.”
    • Matter-Centric Design: firms are taking guidance from other firms that have been recognized for their MCC designs.   Minimal and simple folder structure seems to be preferable among the panelists.
    • User adoption — Buy in from the top is important, and e-discovery issues are also a driving factor.  The firms are essentially requiring that their users adopt the DMS and use it.  The project is seen as a strategic initiative, and it is therefore required by all users.
    • Deployment: most firms are deploying to small groups (sometimes admin groups) first to test it out.  Firm-wide deployment will be done later.
    • Advice: test, and don’t under estimate IDOL – it needs more attention than the predecessor – Verity; don’t under estimate hardware needs and staffing needs in terms of expertise; early adopter training was helpful, but it only scratched the surface, more training will be necessary.

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

    The first sessions at the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) conference have begun.  I’m at the Information Management track listening to Tom Baldwin, Joshua Fireman, and Peter Krakaur talk about Selling Enterprise Search in Your Organization.

    Here are some key points (please fogive any typos – I’m doing this on the fly to get it out there quickly):

    • Don’t let the vendor define the scope.  Figure out what your firm needs and acquire the technology that works for you – not necessarily the tech the vendor is trying to sell.
    • Don’t rely on the users (especially lawyers) to tell you what they need  or how you should deliver it.  They are experts in the law – not in tech.
    • Think big about all the stuff that you want to include in your finished product.  What are the buckets that you want to include?
    • Manage the “Google expectation” – these systems will not be as simple as Google.  You’ll need some training.
    • Don’t under estimate the manpower that you’ll need to maintain these systems.  Expect that you’ll need at least a part time (probably a full time) person to keep the systems running.
    • Think about strategies beyond KM and IT – what about records management?  Think about the full life cycle of the information your firm needs to manage.
    • Figure out what’s important to your firm.  Is it work product retrieval?  CRM? ERM? a basic intranet?
    • Think of search as an enterprise integration layer that is very good at finding things.
    • You should have a good business case to present the strategy to the firm.
    • Security by obscurity – be careful of documents that will come to the surface when you start an enterprise search project.  These same documents were there before but were “hidden” just because they were hard to find.  Make sure those documents (reviews, employee compensation memos, etc.) are secure before going live with the project because people will find them.
    • Don’t get lost in over design and over “tweaking” the system at the outset.
    • Google Paradox – manage the expectations of your users.  They can find anything on Google – why can’t they find something on a server three floors away within the firm?  Manage their expectations early.
    • “Selling” after the roll out: beware of “If you build it, they will come” approach.
    • Don’t leave to chance the perception of the system to the users.  Don’t forget to follow up after the roll out.  See how people are using it.   Make sure they are using it properly.  Drive adoption and utilization.
    • Pre-launch communications are only the start…
    • How to sell the goods.  Analyze the usage and compare it by practice group, office, and role.  You need firm-wide messages, but also target certain groups.  Let your users do the selling: have the power users evangelize for you: a partner endorsing the system means more than you doing it.  Use “other” ways to reach people – not just email; use webinars, live presentations, etc.  Tom at Reed Smith uses videos of lawyers talking about the system – very effective.
    • Maintaining the system.  You’ll need people to do this (at least a pert time position).  Find out who is not using the system and focus on them.   Reporting is key for maintenance.  Check out the firm-wide emails – see what people are asking, then do the search for them and send them a “friendly reminder” email (give them a fish, and teach them to fish).
    • Marketing is really important.  ATV campaign Awareness, Training, and Visibility.

    Great presentation.

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

    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

    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

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