Author: Jane A. Bennitt

Did You See It? Wow!

I am so impressed by the information provided in Sky Analytics’ newly-released Gender Study.  They evaluated $3.4 billion of ebills from 3,000 firms across the US and  looked at gender as it impacts billing rates, law firm roles, work assignments, write-offs, etc.  Instead of restating their findings, read the report yourself and you also will be wowed.

I for one am hoping to see more quality analytics like this available for public consumption.  Hats off to Dr. Sylvia Hodges Silverstein and the rest of the team at Sky.

Notes from the Analytics Conference

Yesterday I attended the Business Intelligence and Analytics in the Legal Profession conference sponsored by Ark Group by invitation from Chris Bullock at Sky Analytics.  What a great conference!  Here are some take-aways from the various speakers from an ebilling perspective.

  • Law firms are employing BI with respect to profitability, leveraging and write-downs to better evaluate the “value” of client relationships and to better position themselves when negotiating alternate fees.
  • During annual client meetings when past services are reviewed and future services are negotiated, it was recommended that firms bring their metrics.  Many clients do not have this kind of information and appreciate anything firms can supply.  It can also be helpful to refute any client metrics that portray the law firm in an unflattering light or to illustrate a problematic fee structure.
  • There are new Legal Project Management (“LPM”) tools available that also manage legal fees.  I wonder, will the predictability of the fee, alignment between time recorded and realization, and ease of bill submission in these LPM tools lead to the next generation of ebilling?

Some great quotes:

Chris Potter – “It used to be the sooner you broadcast bad news the better.  Now we don’t want to broadcast bad news at all.  We need tools to identify when a situation starts to go bad so we can deal with it before it escalates.”

Christopher Sweet – “Measure.  Monitor.  Manage.  Then meet regularly.”

Chris Potter – “We need to deliver business intelligence that is digestible and actionable to inside counsel.”

More on the Datacert Acquisition by WK

It was reported today that TyMetrix and Datacert are merging. In the press release, Richard Flynn from Wolters Kluwer Corporate Legal Services said, “We will continue to support and invest in the TyMetrix and Datacert product lines while offering the highest levels of service and support our clients have come to expect.” Elsewhere in the press release Jim Tallman, President of Datacert, references “this new combined business.” We can only wait to see what the future holds for these two products.

Inspirational Thoughts from Rudy

I went to hear Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger speak last weekend. If you have ever seen the movie Rudy (a favorite), his story will be familiar. This is his real story, not the one portrayed in the movie.

Rudy grew up as one of fourteen children in a working-class household. He was small in size and had marginal grades. He described himself as a dreamer who always imagined that better was possible. After graduating high school, he served two years in the navy and worked another two years at a power plant. He loved Notre Dame football and his dream was to attend Notre Dame. The first time he applied to Notre Dame he was not accepted and instead, with the help of a priest who was the former President of the University, was accepted into Holy Cross College. While there he learned he was dyslexic. He worked for two years to improve his grades and finally, on his fourth application to Notre Dame, was accepted into the college. He tried out for the football team,earning a spot on the practice squad (no mean feat for someone 5’6″ and 185 lbs!) and spent two years helping prepare the team for games. In the last home game of his senior year, in recognition of his devotion to the team, Rudy was allowed to dress for the game with the team. He participated in three plays at the very end of the game, sacking the opposing team’s quarterback in the final seconds of play. Rudy was carried off the field by his teammates.

Rudy has some very interesting things to say about staying focused and reaching for impossible goals.

  • Regardless of our age, without something to strive for, we founder.
  • He talked about  “goofy thoughts,”  those voices in your head that tell you you can’t do something or that a goal is unrealistic, or the voices of others who tell you something is impossible.  Their message is the same:   aim lower; be satisfied with what you have; better isn’t possible.  Goofy thoughts drive you away from your purpose and can lead you into trouble.  I loved that he put his message in such simple terms so that kids in attendance could understand.
  • He talked about the importance of mentors in his life.  Most were just regular people and would hardly call themselves a mentor.  By giving encouragement they helped him to remain focused as he kept true to his course.  We need to believe that anything is possible.  (I wonder, who did you encourage today?)

 An inspirational story and a great message.

On My Departure from the LEDES Board

This was distributed last week to LEDES members regarding my decision to not run for the LEDES board in 2014:

“… After leading this organization since 2006, I decided not to run for the Board  again this year.    The principal reason is a rule in our by-laws that states that, after the maximum number of consecutive years of service, a Board member must drop off the Board and is not eligible to rerun for a 2 year period.  Although I have not reached my maximum number of years of service, if I choose not to run this year, I will be eligible to rerun again next year.  I believe any rule that limits the participation of members in a voluntary organization is arbitrary and ridiculous especially at a time when the ability of members to volunteer is so limited.  Nonetheless, instead of attempting to change the rule for my own purposes, I have chosen to follow it.

During my tenure as President both the organization and our discipline have evolved significantly.  The LEDES ebilling standards are now globally recognized as industry-specific EDI standards for electronic invoicing.  This is a really big deal!   The LOC leads the industry in creating and updating UTBMS standards, with the release of the Patent, Trademark, revised Project, eDiscovery, revised Activity and Expense codes and with two other UTBMS projects underway.  We established utbms.com as the definitive resource for finding information on all known UTBMS standards, and added the ability to “Contact LEDES” or “Contact UTBMS” on our web sites.  Participation by the LOC has been sought in a number of global and industry-wide efforts, most notably the Jackson project in the UK.

I am immensely proud of the achievements of this organization and believe our success is based on three things.  One of the basic tenets of the organization is that no single constituency within our membership drives the conversation in the creation of standards, each perspective is given equal voice.   This, coupled with the  independence of the organization as a standards body, gives us credibility.   Lastly, our success is due to the members who volunteer their time and expertise in participating in our efforts and let us know about initiatives under consideration by other organizations and get us a seat at the table.

I have been fortunate to meet and work with many of you during my period of leadership.  I want to thank you for your generosity and trust in sharing what often is proprietary information in order to make our standards better.  Long ago I stopped being surprised at how smart you are.  It has been a privilege to work with you and to lead this organization.”

Datacert Acquired

In yet another blow to the shrinking gene pool of EBMM solutions available in the marketplace, it was reported yesterday that Wolters Kluwer has acquired the remaining shares of Third Coast Holdings, Inc., whose holdings include the Datacert Passport EBMM system.  The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval.

WK is the owner of CT Corporation and therefore the corporate parent of TyMetrix, another leading EBMM vendor system.  Both companies have been staunch competitors in the ELM marketpace.

CT Corporation acquired Tripoint in 2005 and within a few years the system disappeared from the EBMM landscape.  It will be very interesting to see how this acquisition evolves.

Update from The Association of Cost Lawyers

The Association of Cost Lawyers has released an update on the status of the Jackson Project that includes a recap of the steps undertaken by the project team to create an electronic form bill of costs data exchange standard.  They indicate that testing will begin in March followed by an industry consultation stage, and expect final approval some time in June or July of this year.

I want to commend my LEDES Oversight Committee colleague David Nelson for his great work PM’ing the work of the project team.

Acquisition of LT Online by Mitratech

I constantly hear rumors of MMEB vendor systems for sale, and the rumor mill has been buzzing for the past few months.

I read today that LT Online Corporation, who offers the Lawtrac system, has been acquired by Mitratech.  Congratulations to Frank Orzo and his team.

This follows acquisitions in the past few years of TyMetrix by CT Corporation, Tripoint by CT Corporation, Mitratech by Vista Equity Partners, Serengeti by Thomson Reuters, Visabillity by Bottomline Technologies and Allegient also by Bottomline Technologies.

It is always interesting to see what the new owner will do with these systems once acquired.  Many don’t fully understand the lengthy sales cycle.  Others lack product vision or the commitment necessary to evolve the product.  Others still see acquisition as the opportunity to acquire customers and, after a short period of stasis, stop selling and eventually withdraw support for the product.  It will be interesting to see what happens in this case.