Tag Archives: Technology

Bloomberg Law 2.0

Bloomberg Law introduced a new and updated version of their platform last week. The new web site gives more information than the old site, but a new user would still need to contact sales for a demonstration. However, much more information is available in Jean O’Grady’s new blog post complete with screenshots.

I’m still trying to figure out what the Bloomberg Law strategy is, and where they see themselves in the future, but in the meantime, it seems that the product has much to offer.

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Plethora of Platforms

It seems that hardly a day goes by without a vendor announcement of a new platform. I thought I might use this post to round up the most recent announcements and some reviews:

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Why KM (or Library) Initiatives Fail

I came across a fantastic post about why KM initiatives fail. I believe that this list is totally applicable to library initiatives, and these points should be considered before embarking on any new projects. In fact, I believe that if you just substitute the word “library” or “information initiative”, it makes perfect sense (all emphasis is mine).

1) KM is not introduced as a change program.

KM is a program of organisational change. It’s not about buying and rolling out technology, it’s not about giving people new toys, and it’s not about adding another task into the project framework – it’s about changing the way people think. It’s about changing personal and organisational priorities, and it’s about changing the way people think about knowledge.

2) The KM team are the wrong people to deliver change.

If KM is a program of organisational change, then the KM team need to be change agents and change leaders. The team leader, first and foremost, needs to be a change agent, a visionary leader, capable of working at the highest levels in the organisation as well as the lowest. They need to be an insider; this is a role that cannot be outsourced, as they need to “speak the language”, know the politics, and have the credibility. They need to know enough about KM to translate it into business and customer terminology, but able to back it up with sound KM theory. They need to be comfortable in the board room as well as on the factory floor, and in both locations they need to inspire, and they need a team that can inspire as well.

All too often, the KM teams we come across in organisations are not like this at all. They are the wrong people. They are back-room boys and girls, more at home managing databases than inspiring change. They prefer working with computers to working with people. They do not inspire, and they are not visionary. They are uncomfortable in the board room.

Finding the right people is not easy, but changing the culture of an organisation is not easy either. With the wrong people on the team, you don’t get the right result, even with the best consultants in the world to support you.

3) The KM team preach only to the choir.

The KM team are enthusiasts. They see the value in KM, they “catch the vision”, and they assume everyone else will catch the vision. As they go out into the organisation they begin to meet other enthusiasts, they will get a lot of Buzz, they will find some exciting projects, but unless they move beyond the enthusiasts they are just preaching to the choir. The KM fans will create a KM bubble, but if you don’t move beyond the enthusiasts, you won’t penetrate the rest of the organisation. Experience shows that maybe 20% of people are enthusiasts, maybe 60% don’t care about KM one way or another (they will do it if their job requires it, but it’s not a big deal either way), and 20% hate the idea, and find it threatening. Very soon you have to leave the 20% of enthusiasts (even though it’s much more fun to work with them), and start the hard work of working with the other 80%; the tough nuts, the cynics and the don’t-cares.

And that’s where your change-agency skills will come in. Without them, and without preaching beyond the choir, you won’t get anywhere near your tipping point. You will get stuck with a happy choir, and a totally disinterested congregation.

4) Only parts of the KM solution are implemented

There are many elements to KM. There is connect, and collect. There is push, and pull. There is people (roles and accountabilities), processes, technologies and governance.

All too often, KM implementations take only one element, and assume that will work in isolation. A common assumption is that knowledge has to be captured and published, so people go down a route of collect and no connect, push and no pull, and a focus on technology without process, accountability and governance. Another common assumption is that all you have to do is “let people talk” and knowledge will share itself. So people go down a route of connect, people, and technology, And of course knowledge doesn’t “share itself”.

Taking a small element of KM and assuming it will work in isolation is like taking one ingredient and assuming it will create the whole recipe, or like taking one small element of a central heating system and assuming it will heat the house.

One common reason why we get invited into organisations is because they have part-implemented KM, and it got them nowhere. “We had a KM program last year, we bought a new search engine, but people aren’t using it”. “We introduced SharePoint and set up 40 communities of practice, but they are all inactive”. “We put in place a lessons learned process, but we are just learning the same lessons over and over”. They introduced a tool or a process or a technology, when what they needed was a system.

5) KM is never embedded into the business

Lots of KM programs do not take root, because they have never been embedded in normal business. They are delivered by a strong team and a charismatic leader delivered as something separate – not fully rooted in the work structure and management framework of the company. They are like a tree in a pot – well tended, well watered, but separate – and when the tender care is removed, the organisation tips back. KM needs to be like a tree in a forest – rooted in the fabric of the business.

The goal is to embed a self-sustaining approach to KM in all elements of the business, with clear governance and good support, and clear evidence of sustainable culture change and sustainable business value. Don’t stop your implementation until you have got to this point. And even then, plan for a handover period, until embedded operational KM is up and running. Stopping a KM program before this point is a common reason for failure. And given that it may take years to reach this point, you need to ensure that your high level sponsor (see point 6) is “in it for the long run”.

6)  There is no effective high-level sponsorship

In order to embed KM in the business, then changes to the business need to be made. You may have to change the incentives policy, perhaps removing the “factory of the year” award that drives so much internal competition. You may need to change the accountabilities of the Heads of Function, to include accountability for the maintenance of certain knowledge areas (that accountability usually being devolved to subject matter experts and communities of practice). You may have to introduce high level groups of responding to the output of knowledge capture sessions, whenever these uncover organisational weaknesses that need to be addressed, or organisation improvements that can be made. You may need to introduce a new technology across the entire organisation. For all of these, you need support at the highest level, so you need a sponsor with the ear of the CEO.

In addition, you need the heads of function onside, so you also need a high level steering team, including the CIO, the head of HR, the head of projects, the head of operations etc. These guys need to steer the KM project, and in return for that ability to steer, need to support the result.

Now not every KM implementation starts at a high enough level to have a C-grade sponsor. Sometimes KM starts in one division, or one country, or one function; however for KM to be applied across the whole company, or for the company-wide blockers to be removed, then the scale of KM implementation needs to be escalated, To do this, you will need to use the results of your divisional or national or functional KM program to make a case to senior management. You need to be able to say to them “Here is what KM can deliver. we have proved this at national, divisional or functional level. We can make these same improvements, and deliver the same scale of improvements across the entire business. However we need active sponsorship from you”. You make a deal with senior management. In return for their support, you promise real business benefits (see point 7). Of course you have to deliver against these promises, but without senior support, there is no way you can deliver.

7) KM is not introduced with a business focus.

I see this one all the time, and it’s a crucial point. KM should not be introduced for its own sake; it should be introduced because it solves business problems. The primary value of knowledge is helping people make better decisions, and so perform work better, faster and/or cheaper. You won’t sell KM to anyone, let alone the doubters, the cynics or the high-level sponsors, by assuming that KM has self-evident benefit. You won’t get anywhere by saying “we need to improve knowledge sharing”, unless you can clearly demonstrate how better knowledge sharing will help the business. If you want support of a high level sponsor, you need to show how KM will help solve the issues that worry that sponsor. And if you aren’t clear yourself, then sometimes the sponsor can help you clarify.

One of our clients took a KM strategy to the executive team of their organisation, It was a good strategy, but a little short on focus. Luckily rather than kicking it out, they said “yes, you can go ahead with KM, so long as you focus it entirely on the growth agenda. If it can help us grow, then go ahead”. That’s what they did, and now, many years later, then have a wealth of stories showing massive growth and many hundreds of millions of dollars value created, through the help of KM. It worked for them, and it would work even better for you if you think through the business priorities and the business benefit right at the start, before you even go to the sponsors in the first place. You need to know how KM will support the business strategy, you need to know where the value will come from, and you need to know, in general terms, the size of the prize.

What I really appreciate about this post, are the solutions listed. Mr. Milton doesn’t just talk about failure, he also offers up the secrets to success.

  • Plan KM implementation as an organisational change program
  • Recruit an excellent in-house change agent to run the program, supported by a powerful team
  • Map out your stakeholders and your audience segments, and ensure you address all of them
  • Implement KM as a holistic system, containing all necessary elements
  • Don’t stop KM implementation until KM is fully embedded into company processes, accountabilities and governance.
  • Make sure you have sponsorship at a high enough level that you can make and embed the required organisational change, and that you have a steering committee to ensure support for this
  • Make sure your KM implementation is focused on solving real, pressing business issues.



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An Interesting Prediction

I love LinkedIn! If you aren’t a member, head on over and sign up today. Not only can you keep up with colleagues and make new connections, the discussion groups are a great added benefit of membership. I belong to several, including a Legal Blogging group.

A recent post/discussion peaked my interest. The title,  2011 – The year that law firm websites become “publishing platforms”, first caught my eye, for obvious reasons. This notion of the web making everyone a “publisher” has been around for quite sometime, and it appears to have just hit law firm websites. Mr. Algeri’s prediction is this:

  • Old thinking: Law firm websites = online brochure
  • New thinking: Law firm websites = publishing platform for attorney-generated content

I think that this is fascinating, and I marvel at the potential increase in content that would be available . Just imagine…a free search on Google Scholar for cases and then linking to law firm web site with an opinion paper on that very case. I realize that this isn’t the same as ALR or AmJur, however, this shift has the potential to make a big impact.

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More Google Search Tips

From guest blogger:
Joelle Coachman
Research Librarian @ McKenna Long & Aldridge

Ask any librarian or search professional why they like Google, and I’ll wager they will tell you- “It’s the Boolean, Baby!”. When you are attempting to search through the millions of pages Google indexes, Boolean and other advanced search operators are indispensable tools of the trade. Here’s a round-up of helpful guides and resources on Google search.

The Digital Inspiration blog spotlights proximity searching in the post An Undocumented Search Operator. They also have a handy 1-page cheat sheet.

The Google Guide is an online interactive tutorial and reference for “experienced users, novices, and everyone in between”. In addition to a 2-page cheat sheet for Google search, they also have a cheat sheet on the advanced calculator functions in Google search.

See also our previous post Google Search Tips.

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Amazing New Resource from Stanford

From the Legal Research Plus blog:

We are pleased to announce the launch of our new Supreme Court of California website, SCOCAL.

SCOCAL is a joint project between the Robert Crown Law Library at Stanford Law School, and Justia, Inc.

The site provides free access to the full text California Supreme Court opinions from 1934 to the present, along with detailed annotations of selected cases written and edited by students in our Advanced Legal Research class here at Stanford. For selected cases related California Supreme Court briefs, other documents and news items are also available, all free of charge. Users may subscribe to separate RSS feeds of new opinions, annotations, Court news and follow the site on Twitter.

Special thanks to FastCase for providing a large number of the California Supreme Court opinions available on the site.


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Information Overload: A History

“Is there anywhere on earth exempt from these swarms of new books?”

This quote was recently mentioned in an extremely fascinating Boston Globe article about the history of information overload. What is most interesting are all of the innovations that stemmed from the pressure created by the situation.

When thinking about the current situation, as it applies to law, I’m not sure we have yet seen the same types of innovations. Perhaps something is right around the corner.

Hat tip: Out of the Jungle

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That’s a “Library”?

A recent Wall Street Journal article highlighted the ways some libraries are using new technology to better serve their patrons. For example, in Hugo, MN:

“the new library branch has no librarians, no card catalog and no comfortable chairs in which to curl up and read. Instead, the Library Express is a stack of metal lockers outside city hall. When patrons want a book or DVD, they order it online and pick it up from a digitally locked, glove-compartment- sized cubby a few days later.”

Several other cities have similar plans, such as:

  • Mesa, Ariz., plans to open a new “express” library in a strip-mall, open three days a week, with outdoor kiosks to dispense books and DVDs at all hours of the day
  • Palm Harbor, Fla., meanwhile, has offset the impact of reduced hours by installing glass-front vending machines that dispense DVDs and popular books.

This hasn’t gone unnoticed by some in the public library community. James Lund, director of the Red Wing Public Library in Red Wing, Minn., is quoted in the article saying, “the basis of the vending machine is to reduce the library to a public-book locker.”

But guess what? Hugo, MN reports that “visits last year rose 10% compared to 2007“, and they plan to add more lockers very soon.

I believe that we as librarians need to adapt to our customers, not continue to ask them to adapt to us. If your customers are at the mall, add kiosks like Mesa, AZ.

How does this apply to the law librarian? Ask yourself some probing questions about your services and how your patrons use them (or don’t). For example, if your attorneys don’t visit the library or your intranet page, how can you bring the information to the pages or places where they ARE? Is it vitally important to maintain something that no one uses or more important to provide services that are used and valued?

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Lexis Gets a New Look

Lexis may look a bit different this morning. No…you didn’t forget to have your coffee, Lexis has significantly changed its UI. Although this seems to be a response to WestlawNext, it doesn’t appear that the search functionality has changed. Lexis remains a product where a database must be selected first, then searching can occur. The only change to content is the addition of Lexis Web results. Not sure how the mix of free and paid resources will affect billing.

For more information, click here.

PDF handout, click here.

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Accuracy, Currency, Reliability…Oh My!

As legal research alternatives start to proliferate the landscape and the Law.gov movement continues to gain steam, the question arises regarding accuracy, currency and reliability. This issue was highlighted by Erika Wayne over at Legal Research Plus earlier this year. Although this isn’t a new issue and didn’t originate with the Internet, it is one that we all take very seriously.

No publisher, in either print or online, is perfect. We are all human, and thus what we produce has the potential to be flawed, BUT, when someone is relying on a procedural  rule (as highlighted in Erika’s post), what responsibility does the publisher (or site host) have to make sure that the content is accurate and current, and not just a direct  feed or data dump from another site? Does the answer change depending on whether or not the content is free, low-cost or expensive? Government or privately published?

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, this is a part of the (expensive) service that you get with Lexis and Westlaw. In theory, you don’t have to worry. I’m not saying that these publishers don’t occasionally produce products with errors, but they take accuracy and reliability very seriously, and they pay a lot of people to safeguard against excessive errors, make corrections and make sure that he most current content is available. Hence, many legal professionals view these products as irreplaceable.

What about a low-cost options? In Erika’s example, she found that Fastcase and Casemaker both had the current rule, but Bloomberg Law did not. Free sites? This entire post originated with Cornell’s LII and the fact that it had the wrong version, which they source from a government site. In all fairness, the Rule was accurate to the currency date at the top of the page: 2007. However, we all know that no one is going to stop and look for that. As Erika asks, should there be a disclaimer on these sites that is easier to see? What about print? In all likelihood, the newest version of any Court Rules pamphlet would have been consulted, which would contain the current version.

As I mentioned above, this isn’t a new problem, and when you think about it, has been around since John B. West published his first reporter. However, it has been exacerbated with all of the options available to legal researchers, and their subsequent lack of understanding regarding accuracy, currency and reliability. In my opinion, it just heightens the need for law librarians to continue to educate their users, as in “all things old are new again.”

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