and while I am happy to take the compliment, it also
makes me wonder if somewhere down the road we (and by we, I mean those industry
insiders, you know who you are) can’t create a Google equivalent to support the Legal
industry. Imagine a single source that allows researchers to bridge the chasm
between the business of law and the practice of law. Let me explain.
On that same panel at AALL, I was asked where CI should
report, my reaction drew a chuckle and was rapidly tweeted and retweeted. It
was something to the effect of “I am tired of having this debate”.
And I am, for a variety of reasons.
Where any of the research types or “information and analysis
brokers” – Library, CI, KM, Research etc. – report is in my opinion,
irrelevant and but an administrative imperative. How and where we add value to
the firm and most importantly its bottom line/top line is what matters. I
tweeted yesterday that information, intelligence, analysis when used
effectively and systemically by firms could be the next disruptive factor, akin
to the AFA. Research, and the
information professionals who undertake these tasks are embracing technology
and are “to be congratulated for navigating really difficult times in the
industry” according to Aric Press. Big Law Is Here to Stay,
and if its information professionals are going to continue to step up their
game in this rapidly changing industry, they need proper tools, a collaborative
environment and a checking of the proverbial egos (and related reporting
structures) at the doors.
business side of the equation, search Google, subscription databases (what’s
your favourite??), social media feeds, securities filings, traditional and new media outlets and should be doing some
kind of primary research i.e. talking to people and working the network
(that’s a blog post for another time). On the practice side of the equation,
legal researchers search corporate precedents, case law, filings, treaties,
judgments, dockets, summaries, briefs, memos and other subscription databases.
Imagine if you could put it all together, search one platform – a Googlesque
type platform minus the paid SEO and get whatever research you needed in one
place. How much more efficient, smart and focused on client and legal service
could we and our firms be with one magnificent tool at our finger tips.
Its pie in the sky, but that’s where dreams live, right?
Here’s a use case. A proposed change in legislation relating to construction
zoning in a particular jurisdiction is announced. You –
Research Warrior/Maven/Guru access the
details of the proposed changes, and are able to fire it off to the relevant
attorneys for an opinion, a LinkedIn Post, or a Client Update, while at the
same time researching the number of public (and private, it’s a dream database,
right?) companies in the jurisdiction who will be affected. You can also access
which of those companies are your clients, your competitor clients, or prospects, and
you can analyze the text of the proposed change to determine what the
percentage of prior proposals with similar language were accepted, or rejected.
With this data in hand, you can do a historiographic or timeline analysis to determine the
likelihood of the proposal becoming law and using the same magic portal you can
determine which other jurisdictions may adopt similar changes based on a
cursory review of relevant local media and social media reactions and commentary. And let’s not stop there, with a few clicks,
you can output all the data into neatly branded reports complete with charts
and graphs – a data visualization panacea. At that point, who really cares
where you report? You just saved lawyers time, developed new leads, created an
opportunity to demonstrate the firm’s value and demonstrated the information
professional’s propensity for serial innovation. Not bad in a day’s work!
Yes, there will be those that suggest it can’t be done, or
those who won’t trust the data in a single platform even if it is pulling from
multiple (triangulated and vetted) sources.
And course there will be a myriad of UX considerations, search/browse
convergence discussions, taxonomy whoas and other finicky things to figure
out. But it would stop the where should we report
and should we use Google debates….