JD Profiles: David Hobbie, Litigation Knowledge Management Attorney, Goodwin Procter, LLP

In this new series, we are profiling legal professionals and J.D.s and asking them the hard questions that don’t always get answered in law school. For example, how did they find their job? What do they do on a day-to-day basis? And, was law school a worthwhile investment?

David Hobbie started his career as a litigator at Bingham McCutchen (then Bingham Dana & Gould) before moving to a new firm and a new type of career. Nowadays, he serves as the Litigation Knowledge Management Attorney at Goodwin Procter, LLP in Boston. David shares with us how he started blogging, how he segued into a new position, and he also shares some resources for lawyers interested in KM.

RecruiterEsq: Hi David, thanks for speaking with us. You work at Goodwin Procter, which is one of the world’s top law firms. American Lawyer Magazine ranks it in the top 50 US based firms. The firm allows you to use Twitter, LinkedIn, and maintain a blog?

Yes, my firm’s social media policy allows attorneys and staff to blog, although of course some topics are off-limits and I have to make it clear I’m not speaking for the firm. I blog (intermittently) about litigation knowledge management and related topics at Caselines; that blog is my own and it is not firm-sponsored. There are three firm-sponsored blogs, Sustainable Development (e.g., green building), Financial Crisis Recovery, and the Founder’s Toolbox blog, part of the Founder’s Workbench online resource. I do not write for them or the firm’s Twitter accounts. I’ve had my blog Caselines since 2007 and have been using Twitter since 2008. Stay tuned also for some news about a new channel related to ILTA!

Initially I was using these collaborative tools with an eye to their possible use inside my enterprise; that remains true, but they have also turned into a great way to connect with KM colleagues around the world and to keep informed of all the latest developments in my line of work. For instance, I can get a daily snapshot and preview of the content that some of my favorite tweeps are linking to at http://paper.li/kmhobbie/legal-kmers, which is a compilation of stories from the people on my “legal-kmers” Twitter list.

As for LinkedIn, there are degrees of use, but I think that it’s well past the adoption tipping point. At my firm, over 1000 of us (attorneys and non-attorneys alike) are on LinkedIn already (that is, have Goodwin Procter as their “current company”) out of a total population of south of 1500.

Goodwin Procter, LLP seems to embrace the changes in technology. For start-ups, the Founder’s Toolbox that you mentioned is an awesome resource. How does the firm’s environment foster innovative thinking and lawyering?

One of the firm’s formally expressed core values is “collective entrepreneurship.” That means that, even if you’re a relatively junior person on the team, and you have a good idea, it won’t be dismissed out of hand simply because of your seniority. Many of the firm practice areas have developed technological sophistication and social media savvy simply in order to keep with their extremely sophisticated clients.

That’s awesome to know. It’s something you don’t necessarily find out during OCIs or even interviewing as a lateral. How did you decide to start blogging?

I started blogging as part of an experiment with social media. At the time, I was lucky enough to have Doug Cornelius as a fellow KM attorney at my firm. We were looking at social collaborative tools in part because we were moving to SharePoint 2007 (which includes primitive wikis and blogs) and wanted to see how they might enhance knowledge-sharing, and what security or governance challenges they might present. Doug had started KM Space six months or so before Caselines got underway. I haven’t been able to put as much time into it as I would like, but it’s proven a useful way to capture and organize my thoughts, particularly at conferences, and it’s also raised my visibility in the legal km field and led to speaking opportunities I might not otherwise have obtained.

What are your responsibilities as Litigation Knowledge Management Attorney?

My role and that of my team is to help the litigation department attorneys and staff function more efficiently and effectively. We do this by providing cutting-edge tools for searching and browsing information about the substantive work of the firm, such as previous briefs or deals, and putting information “at the fingertips” of the attorneys and staff. So I have some daily responsibilities to help people find what they need, and longer-term responsibility to A) make sure the firm has cutting-edge search, storage, and collaboration tools and B) deliver enough training and awareness for the attorneys and staff to know the best tool to use in a given situation.

What does a typical week look like for you?

My weeks vary a lot. I typically spend a number of hours responding to specific requests relating to firm work product or other internal information, and the bulk of my time on specific projects such as budgeting and alternative fee arrangements, investigating what to do about docketing and calendaring, developing a new shared workspace, or rolling out the next training & awareness on-demand resource.

You were a litigation associate in the early part of your career. How did you segue into knowledge management?

I had enjoyed the legal research and writing I did as an associate. I also realized that I liked working in an office, with intelligent colleagues, but that I didn’t enjoy the more adversarial aspects of civil litigation. To put that into simpler terms, I didn’t like butting heads with people all the time, and having it be my job to show that the attorney on the other side was an idiot (and vice-versa, his job to show me for a fool). The litigation KM position at this firm was advertised in the state’s local legal weekly, and I knew from reading the description that it would be a great fit for me. I relish being in a “helper” role instead of an adversarial one, and while not writing memos myself I’m close enough to the process to still be participating in identifying the best firm resources that fit a particular legal or business challenge.

How do you think clients benefit when law firms invest in knowledge management?

This is a great question. With better knowledge management resources and systems, a law firm is better able to find and refind key content, and keep from reinventing the wheel. Clients should be able to get answers faster, and hence–at least under a billable hour model–cheaper. Better KM should also lead to better identification of who has the most relevant experience for that project or potential project.  Lawyers who have to worry less about how their teams organize and find information should be more able to focus on their clients’ needs.

Some KM tools, such as document assembly and checklists, also enable a firm to move work to a lower-cost provider. For instance, a junior associate might be able to generate and do basic vetting of a set of transactional documents a lot faster using such tools, work that would have required a senior associate to adopt a slightly different form of agreement. On the litigation side, to give another example, an associate can get started on a legal research project into a topic such as commonality requirements for class actions at the fourth or fifth stage, instead of at the first stage, by quickly finding and leveraging the dozens of briefs on that topic that have already been written.

Collaboration tools such as matter wikis might also prevent a matter team from having to waste time looking for information that might be buried in an email chain or otherwise not readily available.

Do you think knowledge management is something that lawyers should learn in law school? How do you think it could or should tie into the law school curriculum?

I have mixed feelings about this. The emphasis in academia is, and perhaps should be, on learning how to think like a lawyer. While study groups are great, a lot of that work is best done by the individual law student struggling with the caselaw. I start off junior lawyer training sessions by contrasting how taking advantage of other’s work is treated in law school or college, as compared to how it’s treated in a law firm. It’s grounds for expulsion in one, and the zenith of communal good in the other! So, enterprise-type KM is probably not really relevant yet.

On the other hand, law students should perhaps be thinking already about how they manage their personal store of information, their personal knowledge management. How are they going to keep up with the changes in their profession? How will they learn about the firms or other careers they hope to join? How will they be able to organize and share what they learn? There’s a whole group of people studying personal knowledge management, and increasingly impressive technological tools (such as Evernote) to help them do it.

Speaking of Evernote (which I love!), what tools do you use on a daily basis – cell phone, cell phone apps, SaaS, etc.?

I work with an at-times bewildering array of tools. On a given day, I might be developing on a SharePoint list of settlement agreements; crafting or editing a Captivate training and awareness video; searching for samples of a certain type of motion to dismiss in a certain federal court through West KM; reviewing data-mining from our BudgetManager tool about work done in previous matters; setting up a SharePoint or PBWorks wiki; or testing search features of our document management system iManage/ Autonomy.

For my personal KM I use Hootsuite to publish to Twitter and LinkedIn; paper.li to catch up on stories people I follow have published; and Evernote and Instapaper, to hold interesting posts or other content. I have an iPhone, which I use primarily to consume rather than create content.

For someone interested in knowledge management topics, are there any resources (books, websites, groups) that you can recommend?

For on-line resources, the best legal-km related blogs at the moment are above and beyond km and Three Geeks and a Law.

The twitter hashtags #km and #kmers are used quite often.

ILTA is a great way for km peers to get to know each other, though it is not the only km peer group out there. There are also a few groups on LinkedIn, though those aren’t particularly active.

Some excellent books on KM-related topics that I’ve been reading lately include Richard Susskind’s The End of Lawyers?: Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services, Andrew MacAfee’s Enterprise 2.0, and Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto.

Awesome resources. I’ve added those books to my wishlist. Thank you for taking the time to chat with us!


David Hobbie is Litigation Knowledge Manager at Goodwin Procter. A frequent speaker on legal business intelligence, knowledge management, and enterprise 2.0, you can find David on LinkedIn and Twitter or check out his blog Caselines.

Round-Up: Am Law 100 Job Listings

For my observations on this list and hiring at Am Law 100 firms, please refer to this post:  Firms Take Recruiting In-House and Other Am Law Job Observations.

Key: New jobs highlighted in green. If a firm removed any job(s), the firm’s name is highlighted in red.

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[Jobs] Round-Up of Am Law 100 Lateral Positions

Since the last round-up, there are 29 new jobs posted! These include a few coveted “alternative” arrangements such as an hourly position at Hunton & Williams in Austin and a practice support attorney opening at Reed Smith’s offices in Pittsburgh.

My guess for 2010? You’ll see a lot more of these positions. They are smart for firms, smart for clients, and smart for employees.

Note: To keep track of the changes, I’ve highlighted the new positions in green (money, baby, money!). If a firm removed one (1) position or more, I’ve highlighted the name of the firm in red.

Still looking for feedback. Also, still considering whether to make these updates solely available for newsletter subscribers (hey, it’s a lot of work! plus, my newsletters are fun and informative!). Thoughts in the comments, please!

If you’d like to sort by city or practice area, you may view it as a Google document. Under view, change the preference to list view.

This series features job posts from around the web.

RecruiterEsq posts directly to the link where the job was found. In addition, RecruiterEsq posts pertinent information here for readers to assess interest.

Please do not apply to jobs directly through RecruiterEsq.

Please e-mail melissa@recruiteresq.com if you would like to post a relevant job in the legal industry and/or would like a job that is posted here to be removed. Thank you.

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[Jobs] Round-up of AMLAW Lateral Positions

Folks, this is something special that I’ve been working on for the past week.

Ongoing Project: AMLAW Tweeple

Last updated: February 1, 2010
Updated version is color coordinated by role in the firm. See below for key. Will publish the full version for members-only. Lists role (partner, associate, counsel, etc.) and practice area for attorneys.

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BigLaw Tech Score: First Reactions and Goals for Improvement for 2010

When I compiled the list of top global law firms, I had to guestimate which firms would make the list. With a number of firm closings this past year, I knew a few of the AMLAW 200 firms would need to rise to the occasion.

Some of my guestimates turned out to be incorrect. So is life.

For the first 25 firms (alphabetical), two firms that I bet on lost: Bracewell & Giuliani (Texas oil!) and Cahill Gordon. I should have bet on Boies Schiller (litigation) and Blank Rome (full service, Philadelphia! firm), as they both made the AMLAW 100 list.

Therefore, the list of the first 25 BigLaw Tech Scores (in alphabetical order) includes Bracewell and Cahill and skips over Boies Schiller and Blank Rome.¹

I’ll include Boies Schiller and Blank Rome next time in my effort to be complete. Therefore, the next list will be comprised of 27 firms.

Observations:

It is obvious that law firms are reticent when it comes to embracing new technology. Thus far, however, the BigLaw Tech Scores serve as a vote of confidence for the law firms – who no doubt assessed the risks and benefits – and, ultimately, decided to take the leap to develop their presence on the web.

The firms with the highest BigLaw Tech Scores – Alston & Bird (19 points), Crowell & Moring (18 points), Cooley Godward (15 points), and Bryan Cave (15 points) – all jumped up in rank in 2009 and realized an increase in revenue.

The firms with the lowest BigLaw Tech Scores – Baker Hostetler (6 points), Bingham McCutchen (6 points), Cadwalader (6 points), and Cravath (6 points) – all jumped down in rank in 2009 but the firms split as to how their revenues changed. The two B firms realized an increase in revenue whereas the two C firms saw a decrease in revenue.

Coincidence?

Perhaps.

Obviously, there are a lot of factors that can change the AMLAW rankings, even assuming some of the players from last year were still around.

For example, each firm’s practice areas and specialties may explain the differences in rank, change in rank, or change in revenue. Maybe each of the firms that rose in rank on the AMLAW chart – those that simultaneously scored the highest on the BigLaw Tech Scores – focused on bankruptcy or securities litigation or practice areas that remained busy throughout the financial crisis. On the other hand, perhaps, each of the firms that decreased in rank on the AMLAW list – those that simultaneously scored the lowest on the BigLaw Tech Scores – specialized in capital markets or mergers and acquisitions or real estate. In other words, the practice areas that got hit the hardest.

Therefore, I decided that it would be prudent if I also considered the specialty areas at each of the top ranking BigLaw Tech Scores as well as at each of the bottom ranking BigLaw Tech Scores.


Here are the profiles from each of the firms U.S.A. Chambers & Partners rankings:

Alston (BigLaw Tech Score = 19)

Baker & Hostetler (BigLaw Tech Score = 6)

Bingham McCutchen (BigLaw Tech Score = 6)

Bryan Cave (BigLaw Tech Score = 15)

Cadwalader (BigLaw Tech Score = 6)

Cooley Godward (BigLaw Tech Score = 15)

Cravath (BigLaw Tech Score = 6)

Crowell (BigLaw Tech Score = 18)

Interestingly, out of the lowest ranking tech scores, Cravath seems to be the only one heavily weighted towards the financial services industry.

While there are discrepancies, there are also a lot of similarities. The high BigLaw Tech Scores do not stand out as “experts” in highly lucrative fields compared to the low BigLaw Tech Scores. The firms seem pretty even.

(Of course, with the caveat, that the types of clients these firms represent may vary.)

To reiterate, the BigLaw Tech Scores compared to the AMLAW rankings may be coincidental, especially because this was a very small sample. Once I go through all 100 firms, the evidence to support this claim may or may not be stronger. Again, I realize, there are a lot of factors that may change a firm’s profit and/or their rank on the AMLAW list.

Nevertheless, law firms need to revitalize their business structure and embracing technology – though scary (!) (for everyone!!) – is a cost-efficient method to improving client services and internal morale.

So, without further ado…

My wish list for BigLaw Tech Scores 2010:

  • Attorney cell phone numbers listed on firm profiles

Think this is outlandish? Many attorneys include their cell phone numbers on their “in case of emergency” out-of-office replies. That is, of course, if their firm even allows out-of-office replies.

Many sales trainers advise sales people to give out their cell phone numbers (and recruiting trainers). Meanwhile, clients tend to respect personal lives as much as they appreciate convenience.

Free. Video. Conferencing. Look tech-savvy and service oriented at the same time. (For firms who do this already, consider entering this competition – deadline June 15, 2009).

Based on what I’ve seen so far, I’d be surprised if law firm web designers have ever heard of those concepts.

  • Shortcuts to LinkedIn profiles (law firms or individual attorneys)

Wouldn’t it be that much easier for colleagues, clients, or potential clients to connect with a firm or an attorney if the LinkedIn profile was listed on the firm’s website?

  • Firm and/or individual Twitter accounts
  • Blogs

Rule of thumb: if the first 5 hits on Google highlight recent layoffs, attorney suicides, or pending lawsuits – it’s time to get involved in the conversation.

  • A consistent look-and-feel across blogs including their URLs²

This is about branding and presentation. A global law firm should look like a cohesive, organized entity. This takes planning, a little bit of foresight, and a helpful IT department to clear up any confusion.

(See also : user experience design and human factors.)

  • Podcasts

I’ve never been in the A/V club. I was a cheerleader and I rowed.

Earlier this year, I went out and bought this microphone to make my YouTube video for my first webinar.

PC users can create podcasts with Audacity (open source) and Mac users can use GarageBand . After the file is created, a firm can host it on its servers. Once there is a permanent URL or RSS feed, the podcast can be submitted to iTunes.

Law firms have plenty of content too. They simply need to find the person with the best radio voice to read all of those client alerts or firm newsletters.

Domain? Check. Host/server? Check. Design and layout? Check. Check.

(See : firm’s home page; see also : uniform web pages).

Cost? Free.

(What can I say? After using Blogger, WordPress, and Joomla, I’m a WordPress junkie.)

And, a report placed on every attorney’s desk so he or she knows who visits the website, how they found the website (i.e. what search words did they use), whether they are a new visitor or a loyal visitor, how many minutes they spent on the site….

(Note: Attorneys should be able to decipher the analytics report to assess their current marketing strategy.)

Google and other analytics solutions encourage users to optimize solutions with supplementary data.

  • Feedburner for RSS feeds

Once a user decides to subscribe to a site’s feed, they continue to receive the content but they no longer need to visit a website. Without clicking on the site, their visits and behaviors will not be picked up by services like Google analytics.

Nevertheless, these subscribers – arguably the site’s most loyal readers – are important in terms of analyzing trends and marketing goals. This is why services like Feedburner are beneficial.

  • Personalized domains for WordPress.com, blogger, or typepad

Again, this is a branding issue that some may find nit-picky or silly. Using a blogging platform is one solution to maintaining a blog. These solutions make blogging accessible to people who do not know computer languages such as HTML or CSS . Nevertheless, a blogging platform – used as a hosting site – and a website domain are two separate entities.

If a lawyer is blogging professionally, whether independently or on behalf of his or her firm, it seems like a sensible purchase to splurge on a professional URL at $22.50 per year, $9.99 per year, or $9.99 per year. True, those are affiliate links to sites that offer domains (read! like! support!). However, the advice still stands (and, feel free to research domain services on your own!). Think of it as the modern day equivalent of printing your résumé on good quality paper.

Ok, Ok. These are long term goals. I know not all of them will work and not all of them will be implemented by next year. But, these are simply suggestions to keep law firms moving forward.

I have to say thank you to the first 25 firms that I research. In this type of scrutiny, the first group always has it the hardest (especially if the group – the first large law firms in alphabetical order – has no idea they are being scrutinized).

I’m excited to see how the next firms compare!

¹ My incorrect assumption about Bracewell & Giuliani pains me because the firm came out on top with a BigLaw Tech Score of 22 points. (On the other hand, their high tech score and failure to jump up to the AMLAW 100 list sort of ruins my analysis below.)

For similar but opposite reasons, I hate to leave out Cahill because it was one of the lowest scoring firms with a BigLaw Tech Score of 6 points and, well, it didn’t rise to the occasion.

² It also pains me to criticize firms for their inconsistent URLs when they are way ahead of the curve in terms of embracing technology.

netLaw 101: Web Development at Bingham McCutchen

Ways to Contact Bingham McCutchen on the Web:

(phone) by office (+1)

(e-mail)  firstname dot lastname at bingham dot com (+1) (this varies by professional so users should look up individuals on the website)

(home page) http://www.bingham.com (+1)

How Bingham McCutchen Interacts On the Web:

(profiles)

- LinkedIn (+1)

- Facebook

- Jigsaw (+1)

- Martindale (+1)

(blog)

Official blogs (none)

(podcast)

Official podcasts (none)

Official webinars (none)

While the firm does host webinars, we found these difficult to find online and, therefore, we are listing it as zero.

How Bingham McCutchen Interacts With the Web:

(creation)

- n/a (no blogs or podcasts)

(interpretation)

- n/a (no blogs or podcasts)

(domain/hosting)

- n/a (no blogs or podcasts)

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BigLaw Tech Score: 6 points

For an explanation of the BigLaw Tech Score, see this post.

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