Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Partnership Made in the Cloud


Butch and Sundance. Holmes and Watson. Thelma and Louise. The list of legendary partnerships is long and varied, and the stories behind the famous affiliations are often as fascinating as the characters themselves.

That’s no less true for one of the more talked-about partnerships formed recently in the world of business. Microsoft and LexisNexis have recently joined forces to develop LexisOne™, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution for the legal industry. Helping law firms to transform their business by bringing together employees, information and business needs within a single solution to better serve customers and manage their business in today’s increasingly digital world.

Combining Strengths

LexisOne combines the legal expertise of LexisNexis with the proven enterprise foundation of the Microsoft® Dynamics® 365 platform delivered on the Azure cloud. The result is an ERP solution for legal that goes beyond traditional practice management. The partnership gives law firms the best of both worlds: the agility, scale, and security of Microsoft’s infrastructure, and the familiarity and transparency from the industry leading legal provider your trust.

Mutual Chemistry at Work

Like the partnerships celebrated in popular culture, the LexisNexis/Microsoft alliance is based on mutual attraction. LexisNexis wanted to team up with an experienced ERP partner that values the professional services industry, and offers a configurable, flexible, and accessible platform to work with. For Microsoft, the attraction included the prospect of penetrating the legal market by throwing in with an established leader. Long story short, a mutual magnetism too strong to resist resulted in a match made in the cloud.

Law Firms Benefit from the Partnership

Uniting the expertise of two leaders in their respective fields enables LexisOne to provide rich business intelligence and robust analytics in a cloud-based platform that Integrates seamlessly with MS Office 365, SharePoint and other standard Microsoft applications. LexisOne synchronizes financial, human resources, productivity and performance management to provide the insight, flexibility and scalability that firms need to rapidly adapt in an ever-changing world.

A Global Partnership

LexisOne has capitalized on technology currently being used by more than 30,000 companies worldwide, the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform, which adheres to global accounting practices and is multilingual and multicurrency out of the box. As well, the Microsoft Azure cloud platform has a network of Microsoft-managed datacenters across 42 regions worldwide, giving it a truly global footprint.

Roll that up with the legal practice management expertise that LexisNexis has honed over the decades and you’ve got a dynamic duo that’s transforming the world of legal services by helping firms around the world proactively manage costs, prepare and track matter budgets, improve control, make informed decisions, and optimize resources to deliver greater value to clients.

Want to learn more? Click Here

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Monday, October 9, 2017

How to Implement a Diversity Program in the Legal Department


Diversity and inclusion initiatives are about providing development and leadership opportunities to everyone – regardless of gender, race, or creed. Many corporations have formal diversity statements and programs to support these initiatives. Law departments are an area of increasing focus because it has been noted that they are generally more diverse than law firms within the legal industry.

According to the National Association for Law Placement, a disproportionate number of white men serve as equity partners in multi-tier law firms. As of 2016, only 5.8% of equity partners were racial or ethnic minorities; only 18.1% were women despite that more than 40% of law school graduates are women and have been for decades. Also, a recent Forbes article citing an MCCA/Vault study highlights that African-American and Asian-American representation in law firms actually decreased in 2014/2015 compared to 2007.

In a multicultural nation, the skills and talents of its diverse citizens should be valued.

There is an opportunity for leadership and buying power to reflect and to promote diversity. Over 100 corporations have signed ABA Resolution 113, which urges the industry “to expand and create opportunities at all levels of responsibility for diverse attorneys” and for clients to assist in this effort. Many more are implementing their own programs. Microsoft, Google, and HP are all putting in programs urging more diversity from their law firms. In some cases, companies may offer the incentive of more work. In other cases, they may hold back a percentage of the law firm’s bill until the firm provides more opportunity for diverse attorneys.

Clients have choice and leverage now, and technology helps make it possible. They can articulate their vision of what they would like to see in the law firms that represent them. They can elect to work with firms with diverse ownership. They can take their business to firms that provide the best service and match their values and culture.

For example, CounselLink® enterprise legal management solution allows clients to obtain information, which firms supply at the individual timekeeper level, regarding ethnicity, gender, or disabled veteran status. Reports can be generated based on work done for the department by those variables with tracking of hours and money by practice area, region, line of business, firm, or matter. While personal information cannot be required, it can be requested, and it is all stored on secure servers with strong data privacy procedures.

The first step is taking a stand and setting a goal.

Ask some important questions to understand where you are now. Many of my clients have chosen to gather information about their baseline now and frame their request to counsel accordingly. The initial request for information can be firm-level or timekeeper level information, and the first measurement is compliance with fulfilling the data request. Do not be surprised if you find low compliance in reporting initially – a quick look inside our system, with nearly $30 billion in law firm invoices, revealed that less than a quarter of the timekeepers reported either gender or ethnicity. To improve reporting compliance, rules can be added to the e-billing system, such as reductions in payment amount or rejection of invoices from firms not providing firm-level data.

Once this process is in place, and there is some compliance around the data request, clients move to framing specific diverse goals. This should be done concurrently with a review of corporate culture and goals and followed by communication of these goals internally and externally. This includes sharing the information with the law firms. Using a data-driven approach allows for far more productive conversations downstream as you make tough decisions about the firms you work with.

The entire process should be supported by a live, interactive dashboard, giving immediate visual insight into the program. This insight should include a chart showing compliance/non-compliance with data requests and breakdown of spending by gender and ethnicity (and/or other factors) – sliceable by role in the firm (partner, associate, paralegal, etc.) along with other variables. Key strategic stakeholders can interact with the data directly, comparing firms in real time and focusing on the complete picture for a more solid understanding of results. The holistic view can be shared with each firm as part of an ongoing relationship, letting them see where they fit in the program.

People and institutions play a role in changing perceptions and society.

Corporate law departments are in a unique position to ask for, support, and encourage diversity in the law firms they work with. Measurement of the current situation helps migrate to the desired situation – law firms and law departments hiring the best individual for the job, and clients hiring the best law firm for their work. Without measurement, we cannot manage to the results we seek.

Next week at the ACC 2017 Annual Meeting, I will be facilitating a panel discussion on How to Build a Diversity Initiative in Support of ABA Resolution 113. Sign up to schedule a meeting during the ACC 2017 Annual Meeting.

How to Implement a Diversity Program in the Legal Department posted first on

Friday, October 6, 2017

Driving your legal department with dashboards to improve reporting and performance

Legal departments need accurate, easy to read reports that can be communicated across the organization. I hear it all the time. Recently, Hyperion Research had a good post related to management dashboards. But how do you build a report that’s clearly readable yet also contains all the critical information that should be included?

I completely agree with the advice: make sure you are capturing good data, keep visualizations simple and “easy on the eyes,” and understand that your needs may be somewhat unique. However, the reality is that many legal departments spend a lot of time to produce reams of reports without much valuable knowledge being shared. These reports often include so called “dashboards” – because the buzzword has been around for so long that everyone feels they need to have them. Too often, they don’t communicate useful management information effectively.

Good dashboards easily provide users with a quick, visual understanding of situations that may have many data points or lots of data. They are especially useful for managing and tracking the success of specific departmental initiatives. For example, we know how important it is to support customers in promoting diversity in the legal industry, so CounselLink® enterprise legal management solution will soon have a standard dashboard accessible to all customers that allows them to manage the diversity of their law firm timekeepers.


The dashboard tells a story quickly and visually, supports viewing of the data from different angles (by practice area, type of vendor, etc.), and enables the user to drill into detail such as diversity by title and timekeeper. This will allow customers to measure how well their firms are doing at matching their goals for inclusion and a diverse culture. It even provides information on how many, and which, firms are not supplying the data requested to evaluate their diversity so that meaningful conversations can be had with those firms and the size of the subset of reporters vs. non-reporters can be understood.

Another example of a management dashboard being used for a customer-specific initiative is one for a legal department that recently implemented a preferred provider program and wanted an easy, effective tool to help manage the program and communicate results to the general counsel and department heads. That legal department can now visualize on one screen the amount they are spending across their preferred providers and quickly assess which departments are not complying with program guidelines by continuing to hire non-preferred providers of legal services.

A great management report helps to manage a key initiative and to showcase the results of those initiatives to the rest of the organization. In my experience, every law department has a list of the top five (or more) goals that they are managing this year. Think of the value that could be added to the business if, rather than starting by creating generic management reports, you moved toward creating fantastic visual reports directly tied to each of those top five priorities.

Your dashboards should be customized to your specific initiatives to make them true management tools. If you ready to learn more about producing valuable dashboards, see how CounselLink can help you drive your legal department with customizable dashboards.

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Three Ways to Improve Your Team’s Experience with CounselLink

Implementing CounselLink was an important step in improving your legal operations, but for it to be truly successful the entire team needs to adapt. You want to make sure you are doing everything possible to make it easy and efficient for your legal department to take advantage of what CounselLink has to offer.

Make it Easier to Access with Single Sign-On

The most common support inquiry we get is users who have forgotten their passwords. It’s even more common from the more infrequent users of the system, which for CounselLink tend to be the senior members of your legal department.  The good news is CounselLink supports integration with your company’s single sign-on (SSO) system, and implementing it can provide benefits beyond improving user experience.

  • Improved security – limiting the number of passwords to remember increases the likelihood of stronger passwords that are kept confidential. SSO integration also allows compliance with corporate security initiatives and a central security policy.
  • Increased productivity – having different passwords for each application adds log-in time to each daily task, and exponentially increases the potential for problems that take a call to the help desk to solve.
  • Ability to adopt the latest CounselLink features – Some new features require SSO integration. For example, Legal Request allows people who are not CounselLink users but are on the corporate SSO to submit requests to the legal department.


Increase Value by Integrating with Accounts Payable System

Having a single financial process span two separate systems leads to frustration and errors. Having CounselLink integrated with your Accounts Payable (AP) solution allows for a streamlined invoice process that can provide benefits across the board.

  • Save time and reduce errors – automating the process of submitting an invoice for payment once it is approved in CounselLink can save your invoice administrators a lot of time and reduce the possibility of errors.
  • Increase visibility – an AP integration with CounselLink goes both ways. The data from your AP system feeds back into CounselLink, giving your department and outside counsel more visibility into the status of an invoice.

Optimize Your Process with Billing Guidelines Refinement

The CounselLink SmartReview® rules engine reviews each line item on an invoice for compliance with your billing guidelines and automatically flags errors, which saves your team a lot of time. However, if you have too few or too many rules it ends up putting a lot of manual work back on your team to review or add adjustments. Your rules were probably set during implementation and can be revisited now that your team and outside counsel have had more experience using CounselLink. We have found that when customers work with our experts to take a data driven approach to refining their billing guidelines they see a vast improvement in satisfaction and productivity.

Interested in implementing any of these initiatives? Contact your CounselLink Account Manager or fill out this form to have one of our experts follow-up with you.

Three Ways to Improve Your Team’s Experience with CounselLink posted first on

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

When It Comes to Enterprise Legal Software, Change Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

User adoption with your enterprise legal software got you stumped? In the world of enterprise legal software, many companies evaluate metrics like ROI, process automation and optimization, and reporting capability when making a vendor/software selection. With all of that to consider, the ease of user adoption often takes a backseat during the software evaluation process, but this might be a major oversight.

Not understanding organizational readiness for change and how it works with your ELM project may be a recipe for disaster. You’ve probably heard about how frequently IT and process improvement projects fail. The staggering theme all around is the human resistance to change.


The Adoption Struggle Is Real

In the last two-plus decades, I have spoken to clients who struggle with end-user adoption; in many cases, they miss an optimization opportunity with their software as well. A recurring theme of requesting a stronger partnership with the consulting team and their legal department has surfaced as well. They envision a more strategic and long-term relationship with these vendor resources in a way that can be gained on an ad-hoc basis.

Four Steps to Change Readiness

Choose a top-down and bottom-up approach. Change-champions can be found in the executive and individual contributor levels of an organization. Choose them abundantly and include individuals in all areas of the hierarchy. Having change agents throughout the organization significantly increases the success of your initiative.

Take a lesson from the Organizational Change Management experts. Over-communication of the what, who, how, where, when, and why message of your change initiative is key to your success. Using the top-down and bottom-up approach from above, your communication strategy should apply the same principles. Be prepared for the message to change depending on the user perspective. These messaging strategies should take these varying perspectives into account when building the communication plan.

Training, training, training. In the face of new systems and ever-changing processes, change-champion and end-user training is critical. Choose a vendor that offers training with delivery methods that include both virtual and instructor-led sessions with delivery options that are remote or on-site. Look for opportunities to show end-users how to get maximum utilization out of your enterprise legal software.

Use your vendor to supply strength. Professional service plans or managed service plans from your legal software vendor provide your legal department with guidance, allowing consulting services to get to industry best. These service plans are designed to tie back to the original needs of the software purchaser but look through the lens of the end-user and their adoption rate.

Ready to Make the Change?

At LexisNexis, with the CounselLink®’s Professional Services Plan, those desires are met with an annual plan that takes these needs into account.

The Professional Services Plan provides access to a team of consultants, report engineers, and trainers who provide needed services that help their clients:

  • Meet data demands more effectively with enhanced or customized reports
  • Resolve day-to-day legal operations issues faster with on-demand consulting
  • Onboard new users with customized virtual and on-site training solutions

Your technology purchase allows for your team to begin the transformation of change but this is truly just the beginning.

Advancing your company to be the best it can be is tricky, so a professional services plan with a highly skilled consulting and training team to help you roll out and manage your enterprise legal software is crucial.


When It Comes to Enterprise Legal Software, Change Doesn’t Have to Be Hard posted first on

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

CounselLink Impact Awards Part III

 “With CounselLink, we started realizing a savings in invoicing immediately”

The following Impact Awards submission was written by Brenda Simmons, Paralegal for Brasfield & Gorrie LLC. Ms. Simmons is one of three Impact Award winners for 2017. All three winning submissions are being featured in Business of Law blog posts from LexisNexis.


Brasfield & Gorrie had fifty years of matters, invoices, and contracts recorded on paper when I arrived.

It was my job to go through the paper and record it in an Excel spreadsheet to make it easy to find data. After a few months, I had it recorded and it was very helpful.

Brasfield & Gorrie was growing fast and was now a $2.6 billion company. Our General Counsel suggested that we may be ready to take a giant leap forward and purchase matter management software. We reviewed a lot of software over the next few months, and found it easy to narrow down to two possible winners.

One of the presenters was very good at salesmanship, but their software was just not the whole nine yards.

We scheduled an online interview with CounselLink from LexisNexis, and I could see there was something there.

After a second CounselLink presentation, it was easy to see that CounselLink could meet our current needs and LexisNexis had plans to continue developing it to make our purchase worth the money.

It didn’t take long before we wanted more, and increased our contract to a more advanced package.

After many years of paper, CounselLink has turned our matter management situation around. Yes, some of our outside law firms were pulled into the program kicking and screaming, but after a while, they also found that it was easier.


We now have all our matters, invoices, and many documents housed in CounselLink. As you can imagine, the outside firms (75-100 firms) were submitting invoices that had various rates (that changed monthly) and did not give good descriptions. It made it very hard to know just what we were approving.

With CounselLink we started realizing a savings in invoicing immediately. The first year resulted in a $60,000 savings, and now with our Billing Guidelines built into the system, CounselLink flags invoices with problems before they come to us.

We now have 12 offices throughout the Southeast, so matter management connects us.

I’d like to give a special shout-out to my incredible CounselLink AE Michael Wells. He makes it happen. Also to Deepro Basu and Doug Zickafoose for amazing dashboards that make a difference in my reporting life.

We look forward to a long productive relationship going forward with CounselLink.

CounselLink Impact Awards Part III posted first on

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

“President” of FAMU Band Charged in Tragic Hazing Death

“President” of FAMU Band Charged in Tragic Hazing Death
It’s been almost a year since Robert Champion was beaten to death in a hazing incident but Dante Martin has become the 12th person charged. Champion was killed during an alleged hazing incident where band members beat him on Florida A&M University’s band bus C in 2011. His senseless death made national headlines and raised questions about hazing at FAMU.

Hazing Attorney Las Vegas
Martin was allegedly the unofficial president of Bus C in 2011, reports USA Today. He was added as a defendant in the criminal case according to new court documents.
The charges filed by the prosecution: felony hazing in Champion’s death.

Detectives allege that Martin organized the hazing events on Bus C although prosecutors have not confirmed that, according to USA Today. Martin has also pled not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of hazing in a related incident.

The tragic events that led to Champions death involved a hazing ritual known as ‘crossing Bus C.’ Initiates of the ritual had to move from the front to the back of the bus while other band members assaulted them using their hands, feet, and other objects. Hazing is a serious offense that seems to be commonplace at all levels of sports, school, and social organizations that many states have taken steps to punish.
It’s considered more than just simple assault, however, even though it’s as serious crime in itself. Hazing requires that the injury happens as a result of some kind of initiation ritual into a club or organization. It is also possible to charge someone with hazing if no injury occurs but the initiation is dangerous enough to likely cause harm.

Reports of ‘crossing Bus C’ indicate that it was part of the initiation into the group, according to Orlando Sentinel. It’s also clear that Champion died of injuries that could be linked to physical assault. The trial will determine whether the defendants were actually participants in a hazing incident. In Martin’s case, there have been no allegations that he ever hit anyone according to his attorney. But that doesn’t negate the charges.

Hazing isn’t just the act itself. In many states, it’s also illegal to organize such rituals or to encourage others to participate. The charges against the defendants are all criminal but that doesn’t preclude civil charges as well. The investigation into Robert Champion’s death appears to be ongoing for now. Dante Martin is the latest person charged in the incident but he may not be the last.

Hazing is a strange phenomenon associated with the desire to be part of a group. It is difficult to understand why so many people subject themselves to so much pain and suffering in order to “belong.” It does not help that the vast majority of the participants in these rituals are younger; school age or slightly older – hazing is extremely common in the military as well. It may have something to do with the vulnerability of that age, in conjunction with the fact that some parts of the brain, particularly the frontal cortex, which regulates violent or antisocial behavior, and decision-making, is not fully developed until well into a person’s twenties.

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