Social software adoption...why law firms get it wrong!

A great post here from the Transparent Office blog on why the adoption of Social Software within Law Firms so often goes wrong. From the blog post;

"Social software can deliver 3 main patterns of use and value to firms:

  • At the most abstract level, there is general legal know-how: how to be an effective lawyer, how to serve clients, etc.
  • At a mid-level of abstraction, there is practice-specific legal know-how: deal templates, legal opinions and perspectives, standard processes for due diligence, strategic perspectives on client industries and/or functional topics
  • At the most concrete level, there is client-specific collaboration: collaborating within legal teams (internally, with clients, or with co-counsel) on specific projects and deliverables"

So where do most Law Firms start when it comes to Social Software? Unfortunately most firms start with "general legal know-how", which as the author describes is the worst place to start;

"From an adoption standpoint, however, general know-how is usually a bad place to start. Lawyers are incredibly busy, and general know-how lies squarely above-the-flow of their daily work. Because lawyers lack incentives to contribute their knowledge to the rest of the firm, invitations to participate in social software implementations are often greeted with a polite "Thanks but no thanks"

So where should Law Firms start, well according to the author it should be with "client specific collaboration". For most people this might seem a weird approach to take, rollout a social software to an external client before our internal teams, but to me it makes sense, but why? "Collaboration use cases appeal to the self-interest of the firm's partners. Partners are inundated with emails containing document iterations. Reconstructing a document's history from email threads is much more difficult than going to a single place where the history is laid it for you. Once partners see the value, associates and paralegals are easy converts"

What do other people think though?

Just for fun...27 things to do before a Conference

I'm speaking at "Managing the evolution of Legal Libraries and Information Services" next week so Chris Brogan's post on 27 things to do before a Conference seemed very timely.

Thn I thought what should you avoid doing at Conference and came up with the following, do post your own suggestions!

  • Leaving the notes accompanying your presentation at home and not realising until 10 minutes before your presentation.
  • Spilling, soup, sauce or slop on your shirt.
  • Sitting down next to someone realising you know who they are and struggling to remember their name for the rest of the day
  • Continually staring at someone's name badge because you cant remember their name
  • Taking a chocolate biscuit leaving it on your tea cup and ending up with melted chocolate
  • Taking the last chocolate biscuit - shocking behaviour

Note these are not based on personal experience...well not all of them at least!

Social's not just about the numbers

Social Networking for business what does this mean to you? Collecting business cards? counting the number of subscribers to your blog, the number of connections you have on LinkedIn?

Forget about that...numbers when it comes to Social Networking for Business aren't important. Or at least there not according to Seth Godin in this video from the BlogWrite for CEO's Blog. For the most part I agree with Seth Godin although I'm struggling to think of any instance where I've helped someone "achieve a goal" Maybe I'm just not very good at Social Networking?!

Shiny toys or useful tools?

An interesting albeit very academic article here in the February 2009 edition of Cites and Insights. The article by Walt Crawford looks at how blogs and Wikis have moved from being toys to play with to "tools"

[Hat Tip - the iLibrarian]

Email 2.0

The BBC Website has an interesting report on from the South by SouthWest Festival. The article discusses how Status Updates on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Yammer are become much more pervasive. David Sacks, founder of business social network Yammer is quoted in the article saying"We are all in the process of creating e-mail 2.0"

So what does this mean in the "real world"? As discussed in the article "You used to e-mail content to people and you had to choose who you wanted to e-mail it to and you didn't know if your friends even wanted to see it...Now you can passively put something out there and let people engage with it."

I can't ever seen an end to email being used as it does now within Law Firms. We'll all need to communicate with our external clients. There may however be a case for replacing som email conversations with this richer form of communication especially where you can add related content like pictures, Web Links, Videos etc. Some of the internal Microblogging tools certainly go some way towards this but there may have to be move away from the concept of blogging before the idea is widely accepted.

Legal Librarian Twitters

Jason Plant of the No Option for Law Firm Blog has started a list of Legal IT Twitterers so I thought I'd do the same but for Legal Librarian Twitterers...I can see a trend starting here.

Anyway here's the list *note these are people I follow so if you're a Law/Legal Librarian or are a member of BIALL and Tweet then let me know!

@jimmy1712 - that's me


Resistance to RSS

The first line of this article from the February/March 2009 edition of the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers is "It is human nature that people are resistant to change" oh how true this is especially when it comes to the use of Web 2.0 technologies.

Thankfully the author is on hand to provide some tips on how to encourage/convince your employers to start using RSS (the subject of this article).

These are listed as;

  • Finding the technology-savvy partners and/or associates.
  • Try to convince people to look beyond the printed newspaper.
  • Create a short, concise slideshow or Powerpoint presentation to show the use of RSS in legal research, news gathering ans current awareness.
  • Locate the staff members who write, edit or compile in-house bulletins. Tell them how much time they could save in news gathering by using RSS

This is a great article full of some useful suggestions on how to encourage individuals to use RSS.

Six ways to make Web 2.0 work

I love the McKinsey Quarterly (when I can access the articles that is) and they haven't let me down with this article from the February 2009 edition entitled Six ways to make Web 2.0

Nina Platt of the Strategic Librarian summaries the article nicely here. One of the things that was most interested me though was the "management imperatives" required for encouraging participation.

These are listed as:

  • The transformation of a bottom-up culture needs help from the top
  • The best uses come from users but they require help to scale
  • Whats in the workflow is what gets used
  • Appeal to the participants’ egos and needs - not just their wallets
  • The right solution comes from the right participants
  • Balance the top-down and self-management of risk

Of these the one that interests me most is "Whats in the workflow is what get used". In the article the authors describe how success with Web 2.0 tools can only truly be achieved when "incorporated into a user's daily workflow" The authors go on how to discuss how the importance of this is sometimes "masked by short term success" Web 2.0 tools are initially rolled out e.g everyone initially contributes to the blog but then because it isn't part of their daily work they forgot to do or their enthusiasm wanes.

[Hat Tip - The Strategic Librarian]

Should UK Legal Professionals be more in the game?

A short article here from the Law and More Website which is quite interesing. In it they discuss the pros and cons of using Twitter and Facebook with links to some well known legal blogging sites.

Five things every legal practice should know about...

...I really enjoyed this presntation, which was prepared by Lee Bryant and Mary Abraham so because I'm nice I'm sharing it with you!

Exploiting Web 2.0 - Legal IT Session

Well it has been a long time coming but I've finally managed to find some time to sit down and write up my thoughts from the "Exploiting Web 2.0" session I co-presented on at the Legal IT Conference with Damien Behan of Brodies and Cora Newell. The first thing to say is that this Conference could have been cancelled if it had taken place a day or two earlier occuring as it did in the week the UK experienced the worst snow in 20 years.

So fittingly the first parallel that I drew between Web 2.0 and "real life" was the snow that covered most of the UK during the week of the conference. According to a BBC News report I watched on the day of the Session the BBC received 35000 snow related pictures or texts this compares to 15000 pictures or texts they had received in relation to the Buncefield fire. This in my mind is one of the key elements of Web 2.0 individuals collaborating, commenting and becoming publishers in their own right. The problem is how do we take this concept and make it happen within a Law Firm?

One of the first items my co-presenter Damien Behan discussed was what Web 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0 actually meant when applied to an organisation. Damien explained that Enterprise 2.0 isn't just about using Web 2.0 applications within an Enterprise. Enterprise 2.0 is about using these tools as part of well established business processes to improve workflow and productivity. It is in these circumstances that these tools work most effectively.

The discussion then moved on to what people were doing within Law Firms with Web 2.0.There were some interesting examples (although most of them came from the panel) which included teams using Wikis exclusively to collaborate, Blogs for communicating with clients and using Delicious to share bookmarks within teams. After this there was some discussion around the benefits associated with using Web 2.0 tools. As I've said many times in the past using Web 2.0 tools is fine but there has to be a reason for using them. Just because they are cool and everybody is using them isn't a good enough reason for Law Firms to be using them.

One of the most interesting discussion was around Frolleagues these are colleagues that are Friends and whether having your line manager as a friend on a Social Bookmarking site is appropriate. Interestingly feelings are divided on this subject with many people not prepared to offer work colleagues an insight into their life if they don't socialise with them and some people happy to be friends with their colleagues. I'm sitting on the fence slightly on this subject as I do have some of my colleagues including my line manager as a "friend". The issue of frolleagues is something people need to consider very carefully. Now I would ask myself what value is there in having my boss or my line manager as a friend on Facebook or LinkedIn? what would happen if you were made redundant?

This was a really interesting session which I enjoyed very much and would love to present on again. I would happily do so with both Damien and Cora who had much to save on this very interesting and exciting subject.

Creating better presentations

I've got two presentations coming up in the next month so I found the following items useful when I came to think about not just what I was going to say but how I was going to say it.

[Hat Tip - the iLibrarian]

Computer Hardware in Plain English

If you're a geek or even if you're not you're going to love this video from Commoncraft guessed it "Computer Hardware in Plain English"