≡ Menu

Itai Gurari of Judicata: Building the Legal Genome

If you don’t know Itai Gurari of Judicata, then I suggest the following presentation from the end of 2013 on what, exactly, Judicata is attempting to do in the legal research space (which is much more than his ReInvent Law talk). I’ve been waiting to hear more about the platform because I’m excited about the idea of bringing structure to unstructured law. The question is whether the technology works. But as Gurari says, spinning silk with $8M is a lot harder than doing it with $500M. Hope to hear from these folks soon.

Challengers: The customer as a competitor

In my talk at CALL/ACBD this past May on the Future of Legal Publishing, I noted one of the possible (probable) entrants to the legal information services market that could disrupt the structure are customers (READ: law firms) of legal solutions providers themselves. So, it should come as no surprise that Outsell has now released a report that “shows legal publishers’ biggest customers will become their competitors.” From the press release:

In recent years, market pressures have forced law firms to cut their legal fees to the point where low-level work has become unprofitable for some legal services providers, especially for large law firms with high costs. Law firms have realized for some time that they need to find ways to deliver commoditized legal services, but have struggled to implement the technological and cultural changes necessary to do this in practice. This report looks at early adopter law firms that are successfully implementing what Outsell has termed the “information as a legal service’ (IAALS) model. The report finds that while this market is still in its infancy, it is projected to grow around 15% per year over the next three years, and in the process will potentially take market share from legal information solutions providers (i.e., legal publishers).

So, if you want to find out more, then for the low, low cost of $2,595.00, you can read up on it. Or, you could start by taking a look at what Littler has been doing with its Service Solutions, Littler CaseSmart, and Littler TV or Seyfarth Shaw’s HireCompliance system.

So last week I received a nice email from Gregoire Seizilles de Mazancourt, Co-Founder and Managing Director for the French startup Keluro, which is a budding LPM application that focuses on solo lawyers. The important thing to know about Keluro’s app, KAssistant, is that it is essentially a plug-in to Outlook, and it’s designed to allow you to organize Outlook emails by matter (there is a built-in client-matter interface), generate Word invoices based on customizable templates (you have to input/capture your time within the app), and assess the profitability of the matters with some simple visualization. [click to continue…]

Talk: The Future of Legal Publishing (JDUB remix)

[Author’s Note: This is roughly what I covered during my talk at CALL/ACBD this week. As in all my talks, nothing ever goes according to script and a good deal of information changed on the fly, was left out, etc., etc. But for the most part, this is what I covered.

I also want to again thank CALL/ACBD, Gary Rodrigues, and Cyndi Murphy for an excellent conference. I learned a lot about Canadian law and librarianship. I would also direct you to Robert McKay’s post on Slaw on The Future of Legal Publishing, which is quite excellent.]

So when we started discussing the structure of our talk on “The Future of Legal Publishing” for the CALL/ACBD Annual Conference, Robert McKay was kind enough to organize our thoughts under four topics: (1) the challenges facing publishers and how they are responding or anticipating them; (2) the changing market structures, taking into account new competitors; (3) what the challenges mean for law publishers and how business models might be altered; and, perhaps most importantly, (4) who will be the winners and losers? Certainly if anything was going to lead us to imagining a future, these seemed to me the most logical of waypoints.

One important point to make here is this: the topic is future of legal publishing, and one might be quick to ask: what does that have to do with law librarianship? I’ve struggled with this question, and what I’m going to attempt to do is highlight, when I can, where the challenges and changes we, as publishers, might face impact librarianship. Some of it may make sense; some of it may be complete hogwash.

So, without further ado, here are my thoughts. [click to continue…]

The Supremes have approved the 2015 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and off to Congress they go. And man, are there a lot of changes. Get your marked up copy right here.

Part 3: ABA TechShow & My Lame Take on LPM/PRP Systems

So, it turns out there is no shortage of reviews and surveys of LPM systems. Just Google it.

But because I don’t care, I offer my extremely limited take on a few of the vendors showcasing at ABA TechShow this year. There is no particular order for my list as I did not want to suggest that any one of these vendors is better than another because it’s really going to come down to your needs. My perspective, again, is based more on Nicholas Carr’s discussion on cognitive overload, and among these vendors which ones gave me the most relaxed feeling. Although features are pretty important too, which is to say you should see my earlier post on that issue and, at the very least, my recommended reviews.

Also, and importantly, is the default view. It tells you a lot about what these various systems think you want to see, from calendared items, to-dos, recent matter transactions, billable hours targets, news, etc. Ultimately, when evaluating any of these services, you have to decide whether they are presenting the right combination of information for you (or can be customized to do so). There are plenty of other factors as well, such as whether you are happy with your current billing and accounting setup apart from client-matter management, which is a very big deal if you are, for example, someone who loves using Kahuna Accounting‘s implementation of Xero. Remember, you don’t always need everything in one package to be efficient or smart in your practice.

And that’s the shit of all of these platforms. Features upon features and maybe many fall into that category of Microsoft Word where you’ll only use 10% of what you pay for. Who knows. But I would argue that you should at least go for something that (1) seems intuitive and (2) if it isn’t, has a robust knowledge base, community support, or both. Self-help centers are a thing, and are vitally important. Any vendor who isn’t building a knowledge base to help you learn and trouble shoot, and community centers that demonstrate users are working towards solving problems, are suspect in my mind. It is, in fact, one thing I’m actively working to build for our own digital product, and something I rely on when working on private projects.

CAVEAT. So here’s the deal. I know there are several vendors not represented here, but these are the ones I had down, and even then I didn’t get to everyone (so noted in my review). These are also my opinions based on workflow mechanics I know very little about. So if you don’t like my assessment, just recognize that no one is going to read this anyway.

ALSO for this post, and this post only, I’VE TURNED ON COMMENTS, so if you are a vendor or user or whatever and would like to say something that isn’t defamatory, please do so and I will make sure to clear them for the post.

So, without further ado… [click to continue…]

So before I give you my take on the LPM and PRP vendors, I want to further frame the discussion in terms of feature sets. Let’s face it, by this point features across most of these platforms are going to be the same or similar, but the difference is almost entirely on how they execute on a given feature and whether the execution resonates with you in a positive way.

With each vendor, I didn’t want to spend a lot of time talking about all of their features because most have most of whatever features you think should be included (and in product demos, you don’t ever get a sense of exactly how many features they have). It’s better if I simply attempt to define that universe as I understand it and then point out the limitations, if any, of a given system. Most of my comments will be about user interface and experience issues anyway, but I like the idea of having a checklist. [click to continue…]

So here’s the thing. I’m going to give you a run-down on SaaS providers that cater to law practice management, but what’s important for you to know is that I have (1) no need for any of these services and (2) no knowledge as to whether they will help you in your practice. BUT I do understand user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) issues, and I did practice law at one point in my career, so I have some idea of the “why” of these systems. And there are many of them now. [click to continue…]