Legal Influencers Weigh In On Legal Document Management
The hype and buzz surrounding artificial intelligence, lawyer robots, machine learning and predictive analytics in Legal is often times unbearable. Especially, when compared to the legal reality that this type of early adopter, nouveau tech is still in its infancy. Contrast this to document management systems (DMS), one of the most traditional, standard, yet mission critical applications within any law firm.
In this edition of "Legal Influencers Weigh In" we go under the hood with DMS. Specifically, we will drill down and deep on a recently completed DMS implementation survey and share commentary from some of legal's sharpest DMS minds. Also, anyone reading our corresponding feature ["Making Your DMS Migration (Relatively) Painless"] in the July/August issue of Legal Management will hopefully be able to connect the dots when it comes to DMS success and failure.
On premise, client-server DM systems have been around legal for 30 years and even native cloud-based solutions date back to 1999. Yet, still, after all this time one of the biggest challenges law firms as well as their legal technology business partners face is successfully navigating the DMS implementation, be it a new purchase, swap out or existing system upgrade.
Problems arise and DMS implementation survival is at stake, whether implemented internally by the firm; in collaboration with a business partner; fully outsourced to a DMS implementation partner or left up to the DMS vendor and their full service (from sale to implementation, training and firm ‘go live’) delivery. Why is that? What forces are in play that makes the DMS upgrade/DMS implementation the perpetual pain in legal IT’s, and especially firm users’, you know what?
Who better to ask then the experts? For the purposes of this post and my Legal Management DMS feature, I reached out to the leading minds (and hands) when it comes to legal DMS implementations, migrations, upgrades and the like. Our panel consisted of 21 experts, with a total of 2,848 law firm DMS projects under their belts, representing 16 of the leading DMS implementation, support, training, design, configuration and software solution providers. We asked the panel to complete a short survey focused on DMS deployment types; DMS implementation provider selection; tips for successfully navigating a DMS upgrade; and top reasons why DMS implementations (still) fail.
Looking toward the cloud
In order to provide an adequate technology baseline, we asked our experts, who collectively serve a broad range of small, medium, large, mega and global firms, to state the type of DMS projects they had been involved with over the past 12 months. 95% had worked on cloud-based DMS implementations followed by 71% involved with on-premise DMS to cloud DMS upgrades versus 57% busy with on-premise implementations. The bottom-line ... law firms of all shapes and sizes are embracing the cloud, especially when it comes to DMS.
DMS selection survival
Selecting the right DMS service provider is nothing to scoff at. Its critical firms do their due diligence and ask the important, sometimes uncomfortable questions before it’s too late. According to our expert panel, the top five attributes and qualities to look for in a DMS implementation partner included: reputation (86%); peer feedback/what are other firms saying (76%); track record (71%): overall value (67%) and cloud experience (57%). In addition, several respondents cited the importance of finding a technology and business partner that is knowledgeable in the areas of Information Governance; change management; system design; user experience; cloud-based security, and possess the technology certifications and credentials to back this all up.
DMS implementation success
When asked to provide vital tips for navigating a successful DMS implementation, some of our experts focused on the importance of project planning, overall communication between firm and business partner teams, and achieving executive project buy-in. Kraft Kennedy’s Brian Podolsky, it's NY office Practice Leader, takes the notion of buy-in a step further: “Be sure to involve your attorneys and staff in some of the user interface and workspace designs, to ensure their workflows are considered and their ideas are heard.”
Others stressed the importance of user adoption, DMS usability and designing DM systems with adoption at the forefront. “With cloud services, the focus is now on designing for adoption and getting full value from the platform,” stated Joshua Fireman, Fireman & Company’s founder/president, and a recognized thought leader in areas such as knowledge management, change management and system design. “System design should involve IT and KM and include input directly from lawyers.”
Related to user adoption is user training. Most survey responses mentioned the need for training, pre, go live, and post, and the necessity to increasingly plan and budget for additional training to support the firm’s DMS ‘go live’.
Jason Scott, Senior Business Consultant with Tikit, and a track record of 200+ DMS firm implementations across the globe says it best: “Plan it, design it, build it, test it, communicate to the business what 'it' is, learn it and then roll it out.” He also emphasis the importance of having clear objectives going into any migration project ... "there should be a structured process in place to manage the implementation with clear objectives. and at the end, ensuring these objectives have been met. This might sound trite but you’d be surprised how often objectives don’t match up."
Matthew Marcinek, DMS Team Manager & Solutions Architect at All Covered, feels strongly about leveraging data found in existing systems and analyzing the data at hand in order to make informed decisions. “Above all, perform a pilot migration with the firm's data. This will allow the firm to see the results of their design and the migration process to confirm it is what they expect.” Marcinek agrees with Fireman regarding the importance of design: "The most important step in any DMS Implementation is the Design."
Mike Sanders, Senior Solutions Expert with NetDocuments, has 200+ DMS implementations under his belt. His advice ... "become familiar with best practices of the new system and how that may change some of your current processes." Beyond that, test, test, test before going Live." According to Sanders’ colleague JB Trexler, NetDocuments' Senior Director of Professional Services, DMS implementation success is typically based on … “1. Project support and communication from the top-down; 2.Know your data and clean it up/plan accordingly; and 3. Spend the correct amount of time on workflow and security.”
Failure to communicate
As evidenced by our expert conversations and survey feedback, communication breakdowns are more times than not the source of DMS projects gone badly. According to Jeff Alluri, Principal, VP Consulting with Element Technologies, DMS needs and the overall business case are not always clearly spelled out. “The message as to "why" we are choosing a DMS needs to be clearly understood by everyone within the law firm. With that being said, communication both internally at the law firm and externally with the selected DMS vendor is vital, and many times one or both of these are dropped or there is simply not enough of it.”
Jennifer McComb, a consultant with Software Analysis Corporation, also doubles down on the importance of communication. “Lack of communication is reason #1, #2 and #3 why DMS implementations often fail. Remember, your implementation person can't work in a vacuum. Make sure the people who will be actually using the product have a say in its setup. And, remember, implementation doesn't end at go-live. Be available for follow up.”
Another “why DMS implementations fail’ argument made by several of the surveyed DMS experts focused on the lack of change management and the overall perception that “we are dealing with a technology not a business issue.”
Adds Michael Georgopoulos, eSentio’s Director of Document and Information Management Systems: "IT-led projects focus only on the technical conversion issues” making the point that a myopic, IT only view might make it more difficult to affect broader change. Viewing it only as a technology project fails to see the larger picture of how the system impacts business for the entire firm. It can also make another critical factor for success that much more difficult — leadership and staff buy-in.
Finally, lack of planning, regardless of where it starts, can bring down even the savviest and brightest technologists and product experts, and, most cutting-edge technology.
The future is now
As I wrote in Legal Management, so much of what is wrong with DMS projects is most definitely also what’s right. Don't cut corners, plan accordingly, create a 'buy-in' culture, test until the cows come home, (over) communicate, and when you think everyone's 'up to speed' on the DMS, offer up more user training. and more hands-on DMS KM transfer.
Hey Legal, What's the State of our Industry? ALM Intelligence Speaks
‘Pre’ Legalweek New York began today with various premium boot camp-style intensives but Tuesday’s ‘State of the Industry’ general session at 9AM (Grand Ballroom West) marks the official kick-off for Legalweek 2018. I had a chance to touch base with Steve Kovalan and Nicholas Bruch, both senior analysts with ALM Intelligence and tomorrow’s ‘state of the union’ session leaders.
Senior Analyst, ALM Intelligence
Senior Analyst, ALM Intelligence
Check out this insightful Q&A before you head into the session tomorrow and you might be one of the smartest (but definitely most informed) folks in the room. I attended the 2017 session, really a useful, perhaps sobering way to kick-off the conference, and was constantly reminded that law firms are (still) lousy listeners when it comes to acting on as Kovalan and Bruch put it, the ‘changing field of play’, especially in terms of new competitors and evolving client demands. So as we head into this year’s session, the elephant in the room if you will is whether law firms have made any strides in terms of recognizing change and taking proactive measures to address increasing client as well as market demands?
IL: Before we dive into some of your findings, can you tell us a bit more about your research scope and focus for this project?
ALM: When we prepare for this presentation each year we try to do two things. Firstly, we reflect on what we are hearing from law firm leaders, law department leaders, and other leaders in the legal industry. We spend a lot of time talking to people in leading roles in the industry. It is important to us that this presentation reflects on those conversations and connects to the trends they are seeing in their own businesses and the narratives that we see forming out in the legal market which try to help explain why things are moving in the way they are. The second thing we do is take a deep dive into the data to help explain some of the trends and, when needed, debunk some commonly held beliefs that aren’t supported by the data.
IL: Last year, your state of the industry session was focused on three central themes: disruption, innovation, and revolution. How does 2018 compare in terms of focus areas? SK & NB: This year’s presentation certainly touches on the themes we discussed last year. Disruption is still a major conversation in the legal industry and you will see that trend continued in this year’s presentation. Our focus this year, however, is slightly different. We want to show people what the data says about the future of the legal market and provide a coherent view of where the legal market is heading over the next decade. IL: What are the top 3 significant data points, perhaps even ‘wow moments’ you will be sharing during your session?
ALM: Different parts of the audience will find different data points more compelling so we try to put something in the presentation for everyone. We suspect individuals from law departments and ASPs will find some of the insourcing data particularly compelling; the law firm audience will find the data on billing rates and GDP growth of interest and our analysis on the future of the legal market should be compelling and thought-provoking to all.
IL: You mention that based on your data analysis, the legal industry is undergoing a significant, if subtle, shift. What are you seeing?
ALM: People tend to see things in extremes – either everything is changing or nothing is. That tendency is as true in the legal market as it is anywhere and you see it all the time. We're constantly hearing predictions about the “death of the hourly rate” or the “death of Big Law”. Our analysis suggests there is a shift happening in the legal market, but it’s not quite that dramatic. If we look at the legal market 20 years ago it was fairly straightforward – law departments managed the work and law firms did the work. This is obviously a generalization, but it is also broadly true. Law department’s primary task was deciding which law firms got what work and on what terms, while law firms did the vast majority of high and medium value work (and a fair amount of low value work). Today’s market is a bit more complex. Law departments still play the role of manager but law firms now share their market with in-house teams, alternative service providers, and increasingly, with the legal arms of The Big 4. The looming question for the future of the legal market is how all of this new competition is going to impact the space that law firms once owned. Many people seem to believe that the answer to that question is fairly straightforward – that law firms will lose market share at the expense of these new competitors. We believe the data suggests a slightly more nuanced outcome is more likely. We think some law firms will be highly successful. But we also believe that many will, indeed, loose share to new rivals. We think success in the future legal market will be based on a firm’s ability to provide a unique value proposition. Some firms will success because they have the scale to deliver services more cheaply. Others will succeed because they are profitable enough to buy the best talent. Regardless of the specific value proposition we strongly believe the market is moving to a world in which firms – whether they be law firms or ASPs – must be highly focused.
IL: Based on your analysis and insights, what major trends will be impacting the legal industry this year and further down the road?
ALM: 1. The Big 4: The Big 4 are coming for the legal market. The legal arms of the Big 4 are still largely underappreciated. We strongly believe that there is growing evidence that the Big 4 are targeting a position in the legal market which threatens law firms and traditional ASPs.
2. Consolidation: The consolidation we have seen in the legal market over the past several years is likely to continue and, probably, accelerate. We will see more law firm mergers and more ASP mergers. We believe it is highly likely that the Big 4 will go on a buying spree in the ASP market for example.
3. Divergence: The data clearly shows that there is an ever-widening gulf growing in the law firm market. Law firms are growing more and more different from each other – in terms of profitability, size and operational models. We think we will see this trend continue and probably accelerate. In 10 years full-service law firms will look dramatically different from bet the company firms.
4. Litigation Finance: The litigation finance trend has just begun and it is arguably one of the biggest and most exciting trends in the legal industry right now. It has the power to be a major force for change in the legal industry. It could, for example, spur new demand for litigation services (via an uptick in lawsuits). It could also spur changes in the way litigation is priced and managed.
5. Law Firm Failures: We have seen quite a few law firm failures in the past years. Dramatic failures – with law firms going into bankruptcy – and less dramatic ones – with failing law firms “merging” into “white knight” firms. The data suggests this trend will continue and potentially accelerate. There is significant volatility in law firm financials. Many firms can withstand a single bad year – but few are in a position to withstand two or three bad years.
6. CLOC Movement: We think the CLOC Movement – a term that we use to describe the changes going on in-house – will continue to evolve. Currently, it appears to be focused on in-sourcing. We suspect that will change in the coming years to a greater focus on vendor management and more sophisticated sourcing strategies.
IL: In 2017, you commented on the ‘changing field of play’ with various graphs and visuals. What are you seeing this year?
ALM: The trends we have seen on the client side – that we highlighted in the ‘changing field of play’ slide last year – have continued. Clients continue to report that they are in-sourcing more and that they are using ASPs more. We provide new data, particularly on the in-sourcing trend, in this year’s presentation. We're very optimistic about the future of the ASP market. In the short term, we think they have a lot of scope to grow in areas like litigation support, contracts, and due diligence. In the longer term, we think there are even more opportunities. We are less convinced about the future of the in-sourcing trend. The largest law departments may be able to effectively manage large portions of their legal work themselves. But we're not certain most departments will have the scale to compete with ASPs and law firms. We think in-sourcing is a transitionary step. As stronger alternatives grow, we suspect law departments will follow the direction of other support functions in large corporations. Most marketing departments, IT departments, and finance departments outsource large portions of their work. It is tempting to think law departments are an outlier – but we suspect they are not.
IL: Lastly, for anyone on the fence about attending your ‘state of the industry’ session on Tuesday at 9Am, what’s the one compelling reason you can give them to make this a ‘must see’?
ALM: The legal industry has gotten so large and complex over the past several years that it is easy to miss the forest for the trees. Many people live in their own bubble within the legal industry. Law firm partners are surrounded by other law firm partners. They might be highly aware of the trends within the law firm market and they probably know quite a bit about the law department trends as well. But, we suspect, most partners know very little about the happenings in the ASP world or the LegalTech world. The same can be said about individuals who work in ASPs, law departments, or LegalTech. This presentation is a chance to see the forest and the trees at once. To be able to see how the corner of the legal industry fits into the broader picture. We think that is incredibly valuable for most people, particularly business leaders. We are focused on what the data can tell us. We base our findings on imperial evidence, on analysis of large longitudinal data sets. Presentations like this one are meant to bring together some of our best research from the past year to provide business leaders with a set of facts to help them better understand the marketplace.
Get your Legal Week Tuesday started right by attending this state of the legal industry session at 9AM in Grand Ballroom West.
6 Tips for Legalweek NY Attendee Survival
If you are looking for basic tradeshow tips such as "wear comfortable shoes", "plot out who you want to meet ahead of time" and "bring business cards", etc. this isn't the post for you. This is a post based on 18 years of attending Legaltech New York (LTNY) and most all other legal events and conferences. Legaltech's timing is unique in that it allows you to kick off the new year with a bang, however it can also make for a brutal week. With the morphing of Legaltech into Legalweek, this is still the case. Here are my tips for how to look back at Legaltech/Legalweek in a positive light...
1. There is no ‘cone of silence’!: You wouldn’t believe the things we’ve heard in the common areas of the Hilton over our 18 years attending LTNY. Realize that the property is a ‘hot’ spot and that you never know who is at the table beside you in the restaurant or is sharing the elevator with you, so be discreet! Update: I'm going to extend this tip out two blocks in all directions. If you are at the Warwick or the Starbucks or the corner pub, it can still be full of Legalweek attendees or your competitors!
2. Multi-task: There is a lot to take advantage of at Legalweek, so often plans for the event begin and end with working your booth. To maximize your investment, take advantage of all the opportunities available to network and/or promote your brand including connecting with partners, media, bloggers but also take time to meet with the other legal associations on-site such as ILTA & ARMA.
3. "Social" networking: The first word in social networking is SOCIAL. In an industry with the staying power of legal - no one ever leaves, they just change companies/firms - it is just as valuable to make social connections with peers and contacts. During social events, stay social! Don’t start listing the bullet points for your product or bust out a laptop/tablet for a ‘quick demo’. Seriously… it happens all the time! Also bring your manners to the Twitter-verse and don't hog the hashtag. There are many people that participate in the Legalweek NY social media world so be respectful and don't hog the hashtag! If you are including the #Legalweek18 hashtag (which you should), don't send tweets from multiple company/employee accounts multiple times in a row. There are always a few people/companies that decide that social media success is based on the number of tweets they post. In fact, often those people are ridiculed and avoided, so don't be one of them!
4. Meeting space hell: Unfortunately, one of the biggest challenges at Legalweek NY is finding a space to meet on-site, so prepare accordingly. Book a separate meeting space, locate a few off-site meeting options beforehand or direct all meeting traffic to your booth to collectively find appropriate space. We have managed to find a few choice places to meet, but then again, you don't expect us to publish those, do you? :-) However, we've found a couple of creative ideas from the suspended glass box meeting room below to the "portable chair" (try at your own risk!). Next year, someone should give them away in the exhibit hall!
5. Beware of the 'convenience' of the coat check. In the past, recovering from hypothermia because I walked to the Hilton without my coat was less annoying than standing in the coat check line. Seriously. (OK, obviously the photo is an exaggeration but you get the idea!)
6. Who's Who?: Legaltech has always attracted attendees from all walks and that is even more the case with the new Legalweek concept. For vendors, it provides an incredible opportunity to speak with prospects that you may not normally get in front of, but that also means that the ability to scan and pull in the right people from the crowd is all the more important. Although this is by no means a perfect technique, knowing who is walking by your booth is a start and you can use Legalweek's color-coded badges to help you with that. Just pray you are not color blind! Below is a guide to the badge colors for Legalweek 18. Remember though: Treat everyone with respect. Even if they are with a 2 person firm now, they may be hired by your largest client in a couple of years!
A variation from a post originally published January 20, 2015
InsideLegal’s 2018 Legaltech NY Word Cloud ... And 7 Year Flashback
Starting next week, we will join a few thousand people at what will be our 19th edition of Legaltech New York
(LTNY). 2018 will mark the second year that LTNY is part of an expanded Legalweek
format, with three days of exhibitions, networking and legal sessions.
If you've attended LTNY before, you may be familiar with our annual Legaltech NY Agenda Word Clouds that provide a visual display of the words/themes from the event's educational agenda and session lineup. If you aren't familiar with word clouds (you'd be surprised!), the larger words/phrases are the ones most often referenced in the agenda text and so on.
Let's take a look at InsideLegal's 8th annual Legaltech NY Agenda Word Cloud. To allow for comparison of this year's visual with the trends from past years, we've also included below the word clouds we created in 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011. Take a look, click on the images to enlarge and compare for yourself.
Remember: Click on images to enlarge
Subscribe to InsideLegal
for LTNY updates and market information and follow us on Twitter at @InsideLegal
for timely updates.
The word cloud was pulled from the agenda located at www.LegalTechShow.com.
How Was Your Year? Legal IT Today Authors Chime in, Revel in Humanity
Happy New Year. While many of us are more than happy to leave 2017 in the rear view, we did want to point out some worthwhile content you may have missed at the tail end of last year. In late December, Legal IT Today (LITT), the quarterly publication published by the global legal technology news and resource site Legal IT Professionals, gifted us issue #20 chock-full of thought provoking articles including a Q&A-style section on 2017 musings and 2018 hopes. Several LITT 2017 contributors including me responded to four questions sharing their thoughts as we move from 2017 to 2018. I encourage you all to download and read the entire issue (and this article), but wanted to single out a favorite answer.
In response to "What's the most inspiring thing you have heard this year?", Hélder Santos, Senior Business Technology Manager, CMS Legal Services EEIG, highlighted something non-#LegalIT/business related but an amazing "this is why I believe in humanity" moment from the world of sports. He shared a moment from an April UEFA Champions League soccer/football match between Borussia Dortmund and AS Monaco which was postponed after a pre-game bomb attack near the Dortmund team’s bus. "The game had to be postponed at short notice until the next night, but many of the away fans from AS Monaco did not have an additional night’s hotel booking. Shortly after news circulated about the number of people stuck without a place to stay, the Twitter hashtag #bedforawayfans began trending, helping to connect marooned supporters with locals who opened up their homes to them. There was no official request or organization behind it, it was just an idea that sprang up among fan groups before spreading via social media. It ended up reaching far and wide," noted Hélder.
I too am a passionate and dedicated soccer supporter and remember this moment like it happened today. As a German national, I was particularly inspired by the acts of kindness and goodwill being displayed by the local Dortmunders. I witnessed a similar situation closer to home here in Atlanta in December when a freak (and unplanned) power outage left 1000s of travelers stuck at the world's busies airport in Atlanta. After 5+ hours of being stranded, a out-of-town college football player who had participated in a bowl game the day before, started walking away from the airport looking for a close by hotel to spend the night. While on his trek, the young man was flagged down by a local news crew who had noticed him on the side of the road. They interviewed him about his experience, challenges and needs live on location at a local gas station. Within 10 minutes of the broadcast, a number of local good Samaritans drove to the station to offer their help and resources to the cast-away. Again, a similar story to Hélder's, and more proof that 'social' is the new village and often humans don't get enough credit for being kind, selfless and generous.
I toast to that and to more moments in 2018 that will inspire us to think, share and act.
If you aren't currently a subscriber to Legal IT Today, you are missing out. Legal IT Today is produced by the Legal IT Professionals team and edited by Jonathan Watson. It is a truly international magazine packed with commentary, strategy and market intelligence. Sign up now for free digital subscription and to access past issues at www.LegalITToday.com.