LAW LIBRARIANS’ SOCIETY OF WASHINGTON DC HOSTS: FORMER BIG LAW LAWYERS TALK ABOUT DRIVING USAGE OF SOFTWARE TOOLS AT LAW FIRMS

Topic:

When law firms buy technology or create resources people don’t use, everyone loses. But, getting attorneys and their case teams to actually use the right new resource at the right time is challenging.

Technology is part of the problem – but it can also be part of the solution.

Listen as two former big law lawyers discuss lessons learned.

Moderator:

John Digilio, J.D., Senior Director, Research & Intelligence at LAC Group
The former manager of national library research services at Reed Smith LLP and now Senior Director, Research & Intelligence at LAC Group, John is an internationally known law librarian, educator, and award-winning author.

Speakers:

Catherine Bernard, J.D., US Litigation Support Lawyer, Mayer Brown
Catherine is the US Litigation Professional Support Lawyer, and a member of the firm’s Knowledge Management Department. She uses her extensive complex litigation experience to help the firm’s litigators efficiently generate work of the highest quality.  Her practice focuses on the development of instructive practice guides and forms for all stages of litigation projects in federal and state courts. Catherine also works with the firm’s Electronic Discovery Services and IT Departments to develop and implement technology that allows the firm’s lawyers to better leverage each others’ knowledge and promote the full application of the firm’s resources in serving client needs.

Anna McGrane, J.D., COO of PacerPro
Anna graduated UC Berkeley with a double major in Biology and Russian and a minor in Spanish. She also has a JD from New York University School of Law, and a LLM in Chinese Laws from Peking University. She started practice at a London firm advising foreign banks and foreign state owned enterprises on US securities laws. She then transitioned to Beijing, where she advised the Chinese government on oil & gas regulatory matters. Anna read her first legal brief at the age of 12, got her first law job at 18, and joined PacerPro after attending the 2014 AALL conference with her brother, the CEO of PacerPro, and seeing first hand how much end users loved what he had built.

National Docketing Association Panel

Panelists include managers from Sidley Austin, Keker, Van Nest & Peters, and Schulte Roth & Zabel. Moderated by John Digilio

On March 23, the National Docketing Association hosted a panel discussion featuring PacerPro.

John Digilio, former national library manager of Reed Smith, now at LibSource, moderated.

When John asked the law firm managers how their lawyers had responded to PacerPro, they replied:

Debbie Brand (Sidley Austin) “They love it. . .  You know everybody’s using it.”

Evan Melluzzo (Schulte Roth & Zabel) “Really, really good feedback.”

Michelle Koepf (Keker Van Nest) – “I can tell that the [attorneys] have really adapted to it . . . one attorney [sent a sort of congratulations to me and included the managing partner saying . . . he just really loves it.]”

The host, Elaine Screechfield (Morrison & Foerster) added, “I’m a client . . . we had a very successful 7 office roll-out. . . I really appreciate the product.”

Powerpoint available here.

Panel discussion here.

Mining Gold: Highlights

On February 17th, PacerPro hosted a panelist discussion with Jean O’Grady, head librarian at DLA Piper, Lucy Curci-Gonzalez, executive director at NYLI, Gavin McGrane, CEO and co-founder of PacerPro, and Robert Dessau, CEO and founder of voxgov.

The session was moderated by Bob Ambrogi.

The broad ranging conversation provided valuable insight on a number of important questions, including:

  • Why are new tools and new sources of government data important to legal teams?
  • What are the primary challenges in accessing government data?
  • 10 tools that provide new insights into government data

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be releasing blog posts summarizing the panelists’ thoughts on each of these topics, along with links to relevant sections of the recording and/or slides and images, as appropriate.

Specific use cases will be provided as possible, so that followers can better understand when it’s appropriate to use which tool.

Tools covered include PacerPro, voxgov, NYLI, Manzama, FastCase, Lex Machina, Ravel Law, UELMA, and more.

We invite your constructive comments on these posts – and on the products. For example, we’d love to know what’s working for you, what isn’t, and where would you like to see development.

Jean O’Grady, Bob Ambrogi on Mining Gold from Government Data

On February 17th, PacerPro hosted a panelist discussion with Jean O’Grady, head librarian at DLA Piper, Lucy Curci-Gonzalez, executive director at NYLI, Gavin McGrane, CEO and co-founder of PacerPro, and Robert Dessau, CEO and founder of voxgov.

The session was moderated by Bob Ambrogi.

The broad ranging conversation provided valuable insight on a number of important questions, including:

  • Why are new tools and new sources of government data important to legal teams?
  • What are the primary challenges in accessing government data?
  • 10 new tools that provide new insights into government data

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be releasing blog posts summarizing the panelists’ thoughts on each of these topics, along with links to relevant sections of the recording and/or slides and images, as appropriate.

Specific use cases will be provided as possible, so that followers can better understand when it’s appropriate to use which tool.

Tools covered include PacerPro, voxgov, NYLI, Manzama, FastCase, Lex Machina, Ravel Law, UELMA, and more.

We invite your constructive comments on these posts – and on the products. For example, we’d love to know what’s working for you, what isn’t, and where would you like to see development.

Moderator:
Bob Ambrogi, J.D., nationally recognized and award winning legal technology expert

Speakers:
Jean O’Grady, J.D., M.L.S., Director of Research Services and Libraries at DLA Piper, Blog Dewey B Strategic voted “Best Legal Research/Writing Blog in ABA Magazine Blawg 100 Poll”

Lucy Curci-Gonzalez, M.L.S., Executive Director at New York Law Institute

Gavin McGrane, J.D., co-founder and CEO of PacerPro

Robert Dessau, founder and CEO of voxgov

PacerPro featured in new FastCompany article

How AI And Crowdsourcing Are Remaking The Legal Profession

“The legal industry is ripe for innovation,” says attorney and journalist Robert Ambrogi, who covers the role of technology in law. In an influential April 13 blog post, Ambrogi proclaimed a boom in legal tech startups based on a more than doubling of listings on startup directory AngelList. Ambrogi has since produced his own streamlined listing that currently has nearly 500 companies offering technologies to the legal industry. Several are courting attorneys who need better, cheaper ways to sort through the avalanche of legal filings, rulings, and spiderwebs of citations between cases, from the local to federal level. Read more.

What to do when your law firm library lacks the resource you need

On February 17th, PacerPro hosted a panelist discussion with Jean O’Grady, head librarian at DLA Piper, Lucy Curci-Gonzalez, executive director at NYLI, Gavin McGrane, CEO and co-founder of PacerPro, and Robert Dessau, CEO and founder of voxgov.

Below find an excerpt regarding New York Law Institute.

Lucy Curci-Gonzalez kicked us off with a general background overview of NYLI.

The New York Law Institute is much more than a lending library – it is a full information services organization, offering members materials in various formats, including 24/7 availability of electronic databases.

As the oldest circulating law library in New York City, the New York Law Institute (NYLI) has an impressive collection of current, unique, historical and hard-to-find materials. Membership, which is available nationwide,  provides access to significant print resources enhanced by remote access to an array of online databases, including nearly 100,000 eBooks.

Use Case 1:
Accessing hearings, congressional records and other materials relevant to legislative intent – particularly older materials that may not otherwise be available on government sites.

Solution:
NYLI ProQuest access.

ProQuest Congressional (formerly LexisNexis Congressional) provides access to a searchable and constantly expanding collection of materials produced by and for the U.S. Congress, such as: Public Laws, Senate/House Bills, Committee Reports, Committee Hearings, Congressional Record (daily and annual), Congressional Research Service Reports, ProQuest/CIS Legislative Histories.

More information available at: http://www.nyli.org/electronic-resources/proquest-congressional/

Use case 2: 

You need help with a specific search or access to specific content, such as:

  • You need access to a Lexis cite, but you only have a Westlaw subscription.
  • You need expert witness information.
  • You need non-legal materials, such as a treatise on HR policies, for your labor practice or a scientific paper.
  • You need titles from Mathew Bender or the American Bar Association.

Solution: 

Join NYLI and either search NYLI’s online or print resources or contact one of their expert librarians.

Workflow and “concierge” trainings

On February 17th, PacerPro hosted a panelist discussion with Jean O’Grady, head librarian at DLA Piper, Lucy Curci-Gonzalez, executive director at NYLI, Gavin McGrane, CEO and co-founder of PacerPro, and Robert Dessau, CEO and founder of voxgov. Below find an excerpt regarding workflow, product trainings, and technology design.

For law firms, there are two aspects to the discussion on government data: making it available and having it used.

What do I mean by that?

Well, there are a number of companies out there taking some very exciting and novel approaches to government data, exponentially increasing the amount and types of information that are meaningfully accessible to end users.

But, if end users don’t actually use the right product at the right time for the right project, even the most exciting tool isn’t worth very much.

The traditional approach was in-house lunches and hour long trainings. In today’s busy world, those aren’t really a viable option.

Jean offers this perspective:

[At] law firms everyone is looking at workflow – how do we . . . make it obvious that you should go to this product and get this information at this time?

[On a technology front], I have always believed in one-click solutions. Lawyers want to get right to the answer. They don’t want to learn a lot of protocol. They want easy buttons. That’s one of the most important challenges – to get vendors to make things as easy to access as possible.

The other way we’ve approached some of these challenges is to do concierge installations. So if a lawyer needs a special kind of password or a special kind of set-up, we assign a regional informational specialist to visit every single attorney . . . because no one comes to training anymore.

Gavin McGrane, CEO of PacerPro adds:

For firms, I think the “concierge service” of training is a great development – getting attorneys in their workflow, saying, “what are you doing right now?”, and then trying to show them the best technology for that task.

Because the issue is never not having enough tools – it’s making people aware when there’s a problem what the best tools are to fix that problem.

That said, I think it’s really incumbent on the vendors to deliver value without requiring training (as possible). 

That’s why at PacerPro we focus on “no-software” solutions. For example, our “pdfs-to-go” service is set-up entirely on the backend, and delivers copies of attorneys filings right to their inbox in pdf format, exactly as they are used to getting them from their paralegals and secretaries. 

See more.

So everyone at the law firm – from the lawyer who gets their filings faster to the secretaries and docketing departments that don’t have to waste time downloading, labeling, saving and distributing PACER documents, to the librarian that pays the PACER bills – sees value from day 1.

But is that enough?

Well, no. There’s never going to be one product that does everything.

So as Gavin elaborates:

The key is integration within and across products. That means making sure that the process is seamless for end users while they are on your platform and seamless when they need to go to another platform – because an end user at a law firm never cares about the technology product they are using – they just care about getting the right information.

So, for example, in the litigation context, we make sure to connect users reading one filing to other related filings, users looking at their activity in one case to their activity in all their cases.

See how this works.

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 12.23.30 PM

At the same time, as a company we’re looking at where the end user will need to go next – whether that’s to a legal research platform, a media or news site, an alert system – and then working on pushing them seamlessly wherever they need to go next.

The cost of “free” government data

On February 17th, PacerPro hosted a panelist discussion with Jean O’Grady, head librarian at DLA Piper, Lucy Curci-Gonzalez, executive director at NYLI, Gavin McGrane, CEO and co-founder of PacerPro, and Robert Dessau, CEO and founder of voxgov. Below find an excerpt regarding government data.

Lucy Curci-Gonzalez had just highlighted a major problem in accessing government data on-line: authentication. As Lucy pointed out, there’s a lot of data on-line – but not all data is good data. For example, government agencies don’t always maintain up-to-date copies of regulations on their sites.

Jean O’Grady elaborated on this by introducing a report written by Sarah Glassmeyer titled  The State Legal Information Census: an analysis of primary state legal information.” 

Sara Glassmeyer, Librarian, Lawyer and Information Provocateur published an important new study outlining the substantial shortcomings of “free” digital, legal information in the United States . . .

The next time you are asked why you are paying for commercial research products “since everything a lawyer needs is on the web” — just whip out the Glassmeyer report.

I have long suspected the difficulties and unevenness of free digital resources on the web but I had never seen a systematic analysis of the problem.  Glassmeyer’s report fills the gap and moves the ball from impression to proof.

Jean provides more background on this report on her blog.

What’s the root problem?

Well, money.

As Jean points out:

A lot of people say, oh, commercial vendors are the problem. [But] state and federal agencies don’t have the money to make their information that accessible and that usable. 

Commercial vendors come along and make that information available.

Robert Dessau added:

We meet with law librarians and it’s like, well, it’s all available free. But [“free” government data] is a lot like open source software – it’s some of the most expensive software you can implement.

 

But will the technology continue to be as expensive as it always has been?

At PacerPro, we don’t think so.

With modern technology and smart business decisions, it’s possible to produce better software for much less than was once possible.

Or as Gavin McGrane, CEO of PacerPro put it,

You don’t need to charge a lot to make a profit in this business. I’m much more interested in moving the practice of law forward.

Listen to the discussion here.

 

Authenticating government data

On February 17th, PacerPro hosted a panelist discussion with Jean O’Grady, head librarian at DLA Piper, Lucy Curci-Gonzalez, executive director at NYLI, Gavin McGrane, CEO and co-founder of PacerPro, and Robert Dessau, CEO and founder of voxgov. Below find an excerpt regarding government data.

Discussion overview: 

Legal analysis is only as good as the materials it relies on – but in a digital age, verifying your sources faces new challenges.

Use Case: 

Identifying and maintaining access to government documents in an electronic age. This problem may arise because, for example, certain government agencies don’t maintain up-to-date versions of the laws/regulations on their sites.

What’s being done: 

UELMA. Listen to Lucy-Curci Gonzalez discuss UELMA here.

Overview:

UELMA provides for the preservation of and access to trustworthy state primary legal materials.

The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) is a uniform law that addresses many of the concerns posed by the publication of state primary legal material online. UELMA provides a technology-neutral, outcomes-based approach to ensuring that online state legal material deemed official will be preserved and will be permanently available to the public in unaltered form.

The American Association of Law Library (AALL) members and chapters partner with the Uniform Law Commission and other organizations around the country to advocate for adoption of UELMA.

Background and advocacy materials available from AALL at: http://www.aallnet.org/Documents/Government-Relations/UELMA

Predicting and understanding future government regulatory action

Listen to Robert Dessau, CEO of voxgov, speak.

What is voxgov

Voxgov is a technology company founded by Robert Dessau that aggregates government data (8,500 sources) and then provides users with filters so they can quickly sift through the data to find relevant information.

Why was voxgov founded?

Robert founded the company after having run a consulting business that helped Australian companies compete for bids for US government contracts. In helping these companies, Robert realized that being able to access and understand pre-legislative government materials enabled him to better predict future government actions, thereby giving his clients a competitive edge.

Robert then realized that this government information was of great potential use to a variety of other actors, including law firms, and founded voxgov to provide that access.

Why use voxgov at a law firm?

Voxgov would be a useful service for lobbyists and government-affairs lawyers, general counsel, and any lawyer with signifiant need to track government activity on specific topics across a range of sources and in real time.” Robert Ambrogi, Law Sites blog.

Use case 1:

Law Firm Z has a large Financial Services practice.

The firm needs to know about know every mention of Dodd-Frank by the U.S. Federal government in next to real-time due to the nightmare of regulatory compliance requirements for domestic and foreign financial institutions introduced by Dodd-Frank and potentially catastrophic financial risk of non-compliance.

In fact, firms are/were paid 5 and 6 figure monthly fees to help clients to navigate their way through the regulatory minefield it presented. Just keeping track of the regulations was made even harder due to the unusually high number of authoring Executive Agencies and Offices.

In a single search on Voxgov, the user gains immediate access to:

– 23,948 matches

– by Date

– by Document type (over 30)

– by Category (15)

– by Branch of Government

– by Party

– by Source (448 Democrats; 519 Republicans; 231 Executive Agencies & Offices)

– leading keywords; names; organizations and places

In addition, there are custom views, alerts, storage, reporting and delivery options.

Select sources.

The user cares about regulatory background because . . .

Of the 23,948 mentions of Dodd-Frank in our database, 7,122 were regulatory or legislative documents. Voxgov captured an additional 16,826 other government documents referencing the subject (such as official source press releases, speeches, transcripts, blogs, articles, advisories, publications, as well as official source social media content.) These difficult to find, widely dispersed materials provide lawyers with the advantage of greater insights into the legislative and regulatory intent through access to information that otherwise goes missed.

Use case 2:

Law Firm A has a significant Advertising Law Practice.

Advertising law requires constant work to ensure existing clients are maintained and new clients are brought on-board. The firm publishes a number of different ‘promotional’ pieces via their Articles, Blogs, etc.

Using voxgov, the firm can supplement its materials with valuable timely original source on-topic insights from all branches of government that touch upon the political, policy, legislative and regulatory impact from the intersection of government and advertising, that otherwise go missed.

In doing so, they show they are listening, informed and proactive in watching over the needs of their clients.

Sample documents might include:

– ‘Lumosity to Pay $2 Million to Settle FTC Deceptive Advertising Charges for Its “Brain Training” Program’

– ‘FTC Brings Enforcement Action Against DeVryUniversity for False Advertising’

– ‘Lujan Introduces Legislation to Increase Transparency in Political Advertising’

– ‘Congressman Smith Introduces Bill to Protect Taxpayers, Stop EPA Propaganda Machine’

Chart results

Why would a user use voxgov and not Lexis or Westlaw?

Voxgov occupies a specific niche that is not the main focus of either of these products.

Legislative and regulatory documents represent just 15% of our database.

Voxgov specializes in providing the most comprehensive record of what government is saying by tracking the political, policy, legislative and regulatory conversation from all branches across 8,500 U.S. Federal government sources.

Voxgov visits over 15,000 unique .gov web destinations multiple times daily in search of over 50 types of documents containing news, media and information that informs users about who in government is saying what on any subject at any time. By bringing order to the widely dispersed sources of government information, users become and remain well informed and are better placed to manage risk and make decisions for the benefit and well-being of their clients.

Understanding big data

Before trying to access and use government data, we should take a step back and try and understand it.

First, what are we talking about when we say “big data”? 

A popular term used to describe the exponential growth and availability of data, both structured and unstructured.  Ie, there’s lots of it, it moves very quickly, it’s in lots of formats, and normalizing it so we can understand it is very complex.

Jean O’Grady.

Big data slides.

Next, what is the difference between structured and unstructured data?

Bob Ambrogi provided the overview here. Listen.

I summarize below.

What is unstructured data?

  • Origin: comes from a broad range of different sources.
  • Challenge: Curation. Pulling the data together and then relating the data to a particular research question.
  • Example: legislative and pre-legislative materials
  • Company: voxgov aggregates data from a variety of sources, and then provides tools to make that data understandable and useful.

What is structured data?

  • Origin: Exists in a structured database collection.
  • Challenge: The structure itself will create limitations on the usefulness and accessibility.
  • Example: Pacer is a key example of a database where the structure provides a degree of usefulness but also limits usefulness.
  • Example: PacerPro provides new access to PACER data along with tools to make that PACER data more useful.

Need to tap unstructured government data to understand legislative or regulatory intent? Join us tomorrow to learn about  concrete tools provided by voxgov that give you a competitive edge.