Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The 10 Most Popular Dewey B Strategic Posts in 2014

2014 was the first year since 2007 in which  the legal press began consistently publishing optimistic news about the legal market. Law school enrollments are still shrinking. Large law firms continue to combine into mega-firms. Law firm support roles and ratios continue to evolve. In 2014 legal publishers began to deliver products which help transform big data into analytics which offer the promise of a  competitive advantage if lawyers and information professionals can ask the right questions.

The Most Popular Post on Dewey B Strategic was posted only 3 weeks ago and it shot to the top of the list:

My personal favorite  was the most popular post until it was surpassed by the "Dumpster" post on December 11th. It is a comic nostalgia piece:

Here are the remaining 8 most popular Dewey B Strategic posts of 2014 in chronological order: 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

In 2014 Change Was the Only Constant In Legal Publishing Leadership

2014 was marked by an unusual level of churn in the leadership of legal information companies. Here is a rundown of notable changes:

Bloomberg BNA Legal Division.The most interesting  executive change was Bloomberg's selection of "legal rebel" David Perla as President of Bloomberg BNA Legal. There have been a succession of short term leaders at Bloomberg Law since it’s launch in 2011. David Perla joined the Bloomberg BNA Legal Division in July. Perla was a co-founder of Pangea3 which was purchased by Bloomberg BNA competitor Thomson Reuters.

Bloomberg LP  the parent company of Bloomberg BNA is also undergoing a leadership change.  Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is returning to his former leadership role effective January 1st 2015 according to a press release.  Dan Doctoroff will be stepping down from his role as CEO. Doctoroff joined Bloomberg as President in 2008 and became CEO in 2011. Doctoroff oversaw the evolution of Bloomberg Law into a serious competitor to Lexis and Westlaw. He also engineered the acquisition of legal publisher Bureau of National Affairs (BNA) which demonstrated Bloomberg Law's innovative "no  exclusions" policy. Most legal publishers charge additional fees for access to  newly acquired new content.  Examples of this  excluded content approach are Thomson Reuters' acquisition of GSI and Practical Law and LexisNexis' acquisition of Knowledge Mosaic and Law360.

Intelligize – In  March 2014  Intelligize founder Gurinder Sangha  left the company and was replaced by Todd Hicks.Phil Brown was named Chief Strategy Officer.  Hicks joined Intelligize in August 2010 as Vice President of Sales & Marketing to develop the company’s go-to-market strategy and to accelerate its revenue growth. Phil Brown has worked with Intelligize since 2010 as a strategic adviser. Brown is well known to the legal information community as former CEO and co-Founder of Global Securities Information(GSI) which was purchased by Thomson Reuters in 2005.

LexisNexis  Robert Romeo, CEO of LexisNexis North American Research and Litigation Solutions since 2011 resigned on June 30th. Sean Fitzpatrick assumed leadership  with the new title of managing director, North American Research Solutions. Fitzpatrick, was vice president of small law since joining LexisNexis in 2005.
Thomson Reuters On January 1st  Susan Taylor Martin became the first female president of Thomas Reuters Legal. She  replaced Mike Suchsland. In 2013 Suchland  announced  TR’s strategic pivot from being an information provide into a solutions provider when he introduced the Concourse and Firm central workflow management products. 
Taylor Martin  was previously  managing director of Thomson Reuters Legal in the U.K. and Ireland. According to the companies press release  Martin has been with TR since 1993, serving in several posts, including ‘head of Corporate Strategy at Reuters and president of Reuters Media.

 Wolters Kluwer Law and Business had  one of the busiest  booths at the AALL conference in July where it was previewing the next generation Cheetah platform. It was real stunner to many, when CEO Robert Lemmond departed in September. In addition to steering the development of Cheetah, Lemmond had created Wolters’ Kluwer’s first  Advisory Council of information professionals, launched a suite of topical daily newsletters, launched the new Health Care platform. Gregory Samios became president and CEO of Wolters Kluwer Law & Business on Sept. 8. He was previously president of health programs at Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions and held prior positions Reed Elsevier.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Share Your Wisdom With Your Colleagues: Invitation to Take the 2014-2015 START/STOP Poll

The Poll: Please take the brief (11 question)  2014-2015 Start Stop Poll here.

New Year, New Beginning I am a great believer in the New Year as offering us a New Beginning. I have been fortunate enough to have spent my career in a profession where colleagues have generously shared insights into their victories, hot tips,  short cuts, false starts and  just plain old bad choices. We are living in a whirlwind of change: new products, new processes, new roles,  new organizational options, new expectations.  We can't do it all so let's help each other decide what's worth doing. Let's leap boldly into the future together.
Did you outsource? Centralize? Switch to a single online provider? Stop distributing deskbooks? Start offering eBooks? Embed your team? Start a competitive intelligence newsletter? Develop an app?
Knowing When to Stop. I am a big fan of Jim Collins author of the business classic "Good to Great." He counsels readers that deciding what to STOP doing is as important as deciding what projects we START. It is so easy to continue doing things - because we have always done them. Managing change is not easy. You may take some heat... it's part of the job. Change is the only constant. 

Make Room For Value. The speed with which old processes and assumptions become obsolete is accelerating. We can only deliver more value by eliminating or streamlining the routine, the redundant and the unexamined. 

The Wisdom of Colleagues. In the spirit of collecting the wisdom of colleagues I am once again asking readers to share what they  started or stopped in 2014 and on what we plan to start or stop in 2015. What products did we stop using? What new ones will we adopt in 2015?
The Poll: Please take the brief (11 question) survey here.
The Survey will remain open until January 15th and I will report on the results. Thanks in advance to all participants.
Voting for the ABA Magazine Blawg 100 will remain open through December 19th. Dewey B Strategic is nominated in the "Legal Research and Writing" category. Vote here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

It Takes More Than a Dumpster to Build A Digital Law Library: 12 Critical Components For Digital Law Library Transformations

Several weeks ago the New York Times published an article So Little Paper to Chase In Law Firm's New Library about the transformation of Kaye Scholer law library from print to digital. The law library community was universally outraged that the author was 1) completely surprised that law libraries were going digital and 2) overlooked the real story. Law libraries have been "going digital" for at least twenty years.

The demise of the print law library has been so obvious  and inevitable that the American Lawyer stopped asking about print resources in their 2006 annual law library survey. The real story which was not reported by the Times is the complexity of planning the print to digital library conversion.  A LOT happens before the dumpster arrives to cart off the books. The hero of the story is not the architect who designed a law office without a room designated as a “library,” but the information professional who crafted the complex plan, reengineered the workflows and aligned the licenses and resources on which the digital infrastructure rests. In Kay Scholer's case the true hero of the story was Shabeer Khan. He didn't get a mention in the Times story.  

For the past two decades law librarians and legal information professionals have been assessing products and developing in house solutions to support virtual library resources. We have been sharing best practices and advising legal publishers on how to build the next generation of products that lawyers will be willing to use.

There is no universal solution. The law firms which have the foresight to invest  in  strategic information professionals are  most likely  to have substantial digital libraries in place today. Many firms are running parallel digital and print libraries because they are supporting both  the last of the “baby boomer partners” and the “born digital” generation of lawyers. The tipping point  from print to digital for most firms will be the relocation to new offices. The phasing out the physical collection will be the last step in a long and carefully laid plan. 

Library size of a phone booth

Twenty years ago during a job interview with the Executive Committee of an AmLaw100 law firm I was asked how soon I could reduce their 12,000 square foot library to a library that was "the size of a phone booth." I would give the same answer today that I gave 20 years ago. Every law firm has a different mix of needs depending on its practice groups, the number of lawyers, the number of offices and the  number of jurisdictions where the lawyers practice. To build a digital library the most fundamental questions to be addressed are:

  • ·         Have the resources been digitized?
  • ·         Do the digital resources offer format/functionality which the lawyers are willing to use?
  • ·         Is the resource available at the price the firm is willing to pay?
Answering those questions is just the beginning. This is an analysis that needs to be applied to hundreds and possibly  more than a thousand resources. In other words, the dumpster can only be filled when a raft of issues are resolved.

 Building Blocks of a Digital Library

1. Strategic Information Professionals are the most important  pre-requisite in designing a digital library strategy. Information professionals often have an MLS and/or a JD degree plus years of working with lawyers and legal materials. They need to have sufficient experience to assess the products and the lawyer workflows and to be able to re-imagine new solutions which unify and seamlessly authenticate resources in a  digital  desktop environment.  They begin the process by comparing the catalog of print resources with digital offerings available from a wide range of publishers government agencies,major legal vendors, (LexisNexis, ThomsonReuters, Wolters Kluwer, Bloomberg), Small publishers ( Fastcase, Ravel ) regional publishers ( JonesMcClure) and  specialty publishers ( Practicing Law Institute, Law Journal Press) . 

2. Finding tools  Traditional catalogs can be transformed in to portals by adding web enabled links which will bring the lawyer directly into the full text resource. Enterprise search  also can be used to identify resources and documents. 

3. Practice portals  Information professionals can develop intranet pages and portals where links to digital practice resources such as treatises, statutes and databases can be organized and integrated with internal resources and other workflow tools. 

3. Leveraging Flat fee contracts. Many firms have unlimited contracts with Lexis and Westlaw. An information professional will determine how these contracts can be leveraged to deliver IP authenticated access to selected content  such as "treatise eLibraries," cases, and statutes. All the major publishers will work with customers to create "custom user interfaces" and “one click gadgets” such as a “find and print” tool which will retrieve and print cases identified with a citation. Bloomberg Law was developed to serve as a digital library which can be left open and accessed as needed throughout the day.

4. EBooks. LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters offer hundreds of titles in eBook format. Fastcase offers advance sheet eBooks. eBooks have the same content as print but offer additional functionality such as highlighting and linking to primary source citations.

5. Mobile Apps. Most of the major legal publishers have apps which provide all or some of their content to existing subscribers who use mobile devices. 

6. Licensing. licensing is one of the most complex and important risk management components of a digital library strategy. Legal information professionals will map the workflow and determine the size of the licenses which will protect the firm from copyright and licensing violations. Newsletter licensing is so complex that a full explanation of the issues would warrant a separate post.

7. Electronic newsletters and custom alerts. One of the most tangible benefits of the digital library is the elimination of the "routing" slip which enabled newsletters to meander through organizations.  The lawyers at the bottom of the list often received newsletters  weeks or even months after publication. Electronic newsletter delivery puts everyone "at the top of the routing list.” New tools enable information professionals to offer consolidated news from various sources in a single custom newsletter. Curated news services provide individually selected custom alerts targeted to a specific lawyer, practice group or clients.Tools for curating custom newsletters include Linex, Ozmosys, InfoNgen, Manzama and Attensa. 

8. Academic and Bar Library Memberships. Information professionals work with local bar and academic libraries to provide backup resources or to acquire resources via interlibrary loan. They also provide access to databases or retrieval of digital documents. One very innovative program from the New York Law Institute loans eBooks to member law firms. 

9. Training. Converting lawyers from print to digital requires training. Webinars offered by the firm's information professionals or vendors can smooth the transition. Concierge style "in office" training or roving trainers equipped with iPads can be leveraged to facilitate the digital library transition. Microsoft Lync  allows information professionals to virtually visit lawyers desktop and walk them through the use of a new resource.

10. Continuous Resource Assessment ROI. Digital products continue to evolve. New products need to be trialed and compared with existing resources. An information professional can implement a resources management product such as Onelog, Research Monitor, Lookup Precision or Quattrove which can help a firm collect usage data for determining the cost/benefit of each product. This data can also be used in future contract negotiations.

11. Password management.  IP authentication is the ideal access solution because it eliminates individual passwords and allows anyone in the organization to automatically access a resource. This is not always possible and the management of individual passwords for lawyers can be a massive headache. The monitoring products mentioned above all have the ability to save passwords. When such a resource is not available,  the information professional will develop a digital vault where all of the lawyers passwords can be stored and retrieved as needed.

12 Cost savings and re-engineering workflow. Firms often focus on the real estate savings from eliminating the space of the library.  The reduction/elimination of print resources also reduces  costs associated with the maintenance and upkeep of print. These  costs include loose-leaf filing, serials check in, routing, labeling and maintenance of print. Staff can be retrained and reassigned to assist with password management and portal maintenance and  usage analytics.

 Climbing the value ladder. The implementation of a digital library eliminates a host of necessary but lower value administrative activities. This transition increases the time and attention which information professionals have available  to focus on higher value and transformative client support and business development work.

The digital library is a journey not a destination. Products and practice needs will continue to evolve. A new generation of analytics and “big data” products has begun to emerge and these will no doubt displace some existing resources. The role of the law librarian/information strategist will be to continually reassess the balance of resources,  capture and analyse the ROI of digital products and work with the practice groups to assure that they have the right mix of desktop resources to optimize client support.

A webinar on this topic:

The Law Library Association of Greater New York will be sponsoring a webinar program “Kaye Scholer Library: New Model for Going Digital?”  on December 17th. Information is available at this link 

REMINDER: Voting for the ABA Blawg 100 still open at this link. Dewey B Strategic is nominated in the “Legal Research and Writing” category.