Read the latest legal commentary by experienced practitioners and industry leaders. Here's my General Editor's note that gives a flavour of what's covered.
I think the answer is yes, or should be yes, at least from a legal practice management perspective, especially after learning valuable lessons from the 15th annual ALPMA Summit "Tomorrow’s Firm: Digital, Divergent, Differentiated".
As Industry Advisor for SAI Global, I get to hear and see a lot of industry events. ALPMA events are always among my top favourites. This year, for three full days from 9 September to 11 September, legal practice managers from all around Australia and from New Zealand packed the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre to attend the 2015 ALPMA summit. No doubt you would have already heard from delegates that theThe place was filled with positive energy and excitement. Clearly everyone in attendance wanted to be there and people were thrilled to be there. After all, there was indeed much to learn from industry experts and thought leaders. ALPMA’s annual summit has always been well attended by loyal delegates and strongly supported by world-class speakers and a group of knowledgeable and reputable sponsors, exhibitors and partners. This year’s event was no exception.
I have always thought that the pre-summit master class workshops on day one of the event are a great introduction to two further days of intense and inspiring presentations. Personally, I love the way the workshops help attendees make a smooth transition between managing their own busy practices and re-focusing their minds on the hot issues that the summit program will be tackling. What I don’t like is that you could only attend one workshop stream – unless you have worked out how to clone yourself! This year, while the Stream A workshop by business strategy expert Tim Williams of US-based Ignition Consulting Group was clearly very popular, the Stream B workshop by Canadian legal industry analyst and commentator, Jordan Furlong, was not one to miss. I have heard a lot about “NewLaw”. I am sure you have too. And I have certainly read commentary on how “NewLaw” delivers legal services via innovative structures and in a flexible manner. What I have not come across until Jordan’s master class was hands-on advice for “traditional” firms of all sizes on integrating “NewLaw” features into the practice (and business) of law. My observation is that the ability of a firm to apply technology to the performance of legal tasks is highly valued, and this technology theme continued well into the presentations on the following days of the summit. For example, David Smith of Smithink2020 shared his insights on how to maximise the opportunities that new technologies could deliver. David went on to facilitate a panel discussion, aptly titled “Innovative Firms in Technology”. I only like panel discussions with the right mix of panellist, and I must say attendees were certainly not disappointed by an expert panel comprised of Matthew Burgess from View Legal, James Vickery from IKnow IT, Russell Wright from Gilbert + Tobin, andWarrick McLean from Coleman Greig Solicitors. These firms have started the journey forward, and what they have shared with legal practice managers in attendance, in particular regarding the challenges they have had to overcome in order to reap the benefits of technology, was simply priceless. The conversation was engaging, and this panel discussion, as well as the closing panel discussion “Tomorrow’s Firm: Digital, Divergent, Differentiated – DEBATED!” was a real highlight.
I have chatted to many people about this year’s summit. One attendee told me that the two messages that stuck in her mind were: (1) it is so important to get your processes right before deciding on what features or tasks you need automated, then you could choose the relevant enabling technologies, and (2) when choosing technology, look at whether it facilitates collaboration. I cannot agree with her more, especially regarding the second point. The human aspect is just as important as the technology, and I have very recently written about this for ALPMA.
What about you? What does digital, divergent, and differentiated mean to you? Post a comment and let me know. Don’t forget ALPMA has a knowledge bank that houses articles relevant to legal practice managers. You can find my articles there too.
Read the latest legal commentary by experienced practitioners and industry leaders. Here's my General Editor's note that gives a flavour of what's covered.
Do you work in an industry that evolves continuously? Of course you do. We all do. It really doesn’t matter whether you are a lawyer, an accountant, an insolvency practitioner or a financial planner. As long as you are someone who provides a professional service to your clients, or needs to tap into the endless amount of commercial information to do your job, then you would certainly have used technology to help your business evolve. If you have great technology on your side, it would help you more than merely stay alive – it could actually help you stay ahead of the pack.
I recently presented at the annual Sinch Online Legal Services Conference (SOLSC) in Sydney. Presenters and attendees included innovative lawyers, legal entrepreneurs and other "rebels" remaking the business of Law (in SOLSC’s own words). My topic was commercial information management (CIM) and what it means to the legal industry. CIM is a term used to describe methodologies or software that help an organisation or firm manage commercial information they use in the process of delivering their core services (usually about clients) in an organised way.
This year, the well-known SOLSC had an interesting focus – to explore creative destruction at work and the new battleground: convenience. A quick internet search would tell you that convenience is the quality of being suitable to one's comfort, purpose or need. CIM is not necessarily a new concept, but when used resourcefully, it indeed could have the quality of being suitable to a professional services provider’s comfort, purpose or need. Let me explain. By comfort, I mean the ease of using a CIM platform to manage commercial information, and this includes acquiring commercial information such as information available from an ASIC or a PPSR search, as well as retaining, retrieving and refreshing that information in a reliable and secure way. By purpose, I mean getting the right commercial information to the right person, at the right time. This could be for completing a due diligence exercise, or providing comprehensive expert advice. By need, I mean the requisite of having a competitive edge in this ever-evolving business world. Excellence in CIM aids a professional services provider’s ability to analyse, communicate and act. For example, if a firm could have the ability to extract and analyse data that could potentially be converted into insightful information, and then present this insight in a format that enables decision makers within the firm to act, and you can do this better than others in the market, then this is a real competitive advantage.
The key message I had for the conference audience was this – CIM is an emerging discipline, CIM is here to stay, and CIM excellence is definitely possible. This is also the message I want to share with you today. As we transition further into the world of needing fast and accurate commercial information in order to service clients, having a convenient, innovative CIM solution that meets your search and review requirements is the “new normal”, and finding that unique solution would propel your business beyond the competition.
This post first appeared on SAI Global's Commercial Information Management News Edition 01, July 2015.
The latest Australian Banking and Finance Law Bulletin has just been released! Don't miss articles by legal experts on fintech, SMSF lending, execution of documents under section 127 of the Corporations Act and recent case law. We also have 2 books reviews in this issue (and more to come in the coming issues). Read my General Editor's note to find out more.
A new approach to working with commercial information - learn from this year's winner of the LawTech award for best practice knowledge management
"Best Practice in Knowledge Management" is the award category at the annual LawTech Summit that recognises outstanding achievement in the process of collating, organising, sharing and analysing knowledge.
This year, law firm HWL Ebsworth took home the award. HWL Ebsworth was recognised for its innovation in response to the significant legislative change brought about by the new Personal Property Securities (PPS) regime, which has direct implications for many of its clients.
Thank you again to Peter Frankl of Legal Practice Intelligence for his report titled "HWL Ebsworth LawTech award for best practice knowledge management reflects changing attitude to information in law firms", which includes my comments relating commercial information management.
Peter Frankl reported that HWL Ebsworth uses a new cloud based visual information management platform called Encompass, which has enabled the firm to improve the efficiency and accuracy of its commercial search and review, particularly when it comes to PPS related information. It has also enabled the firm to finalise due diligence quickly, provide prompt advice and minimise risk. I wrote about visual information management in two earlier blogs, which you can revisit here and here.
If you need assistance with commercial information management, such as a visual information management solution, just contact us for assistance.
What is Ripple? Have you heard of Ethereum? What about Auroracoin?
The answer – these are cryptocurrencies.
The Oxford Dictionary defines “cryptocurrency” as “a digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank”. Perhaps the most famous cryptocurrency is the first cryptocurrency - created only 5 years ago - Bitcoin.
There are many definitions of Bitcoin, but basically, Bitcoin is a payment system. Other cryptocurrencies that have the same characteristics as Bitcoin are payment systems as well. On 20 August 2014, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) released guidance on the tax treatment of cryptocurrencies in Australia, specifically regarding Bitcoin. You can read the ATO’s guidance here.
According to the ATO, transacting with Bitcoin is akin to a barter arrangement, with similar tax consequences. The ATO specified that its view is that Bitcoin is neither money nor a foreign currency, and the supply of Bitcoin is not a financial supply for GST purposes, but Bitcoin is treated as an asset for capital gains tax purposes.
In the 21st century, we can use Bitcoin (or Ripple, Ethereum, Auroracoin plus many more other cryptocurrencies) to pay for personal or business transactions. Do you know Bitcoin can even be used to paying salary or wages? What you also may not know is that the ATO has a number of other resources relevant to the tax treatment of cryptocurrencies in Australia. These include Taxation Ruling No. IT 2668 on barter transactions, and Draft GST Determination GSTR 2014/D3 on the GST implications of transactions involving Bitcoin. You can access these resources here.
Cryptocurrencies are gaining traction not only globally but also locally, with an estimate of 50,000 users in Australia, as reported by the ABC on 22 August 2014. You can read the report here. This interesting piece of news item also reported that, while ATMs that accept and exchange Bitcoin already exist, a first-of-its-kind-in-Australia ATM has just opened in Canberra. This new ATM trades three major cryptocurrencies - Bitcoin, Dogecoin and Litecoin.
It is indeed time for all of us to learn more about cryptocurrencies.
This post first appeared on CPD Interactive's "Legal Natter's Blog".
The modern day law practice has entered into a new age and applies equally to practitioners working in-house to those in private practice. Thriving and surviving in today's legal landscape is determined by our ability to utilise and manage data and information as well as embrace and adopt technology.
This has led to the emergence of commercial knowledge management as a new discipline.
What exactly is commercial information management? Commercial information management refers to methodologies or software platforms that help an organisation or firm search, review and manage commercial information they use in the process of delivering their core services (such as the provision of legal advice). Commercial information is all around us – information derived from data from the ASIC registers, the PPS Register, AFSA’s National Personal Insolvency Index and Land Titles searches are all examples of commercial information.
Data is just facts and figures. Information is data with relevance and purpose. What we really want is information, not just data. Information, especially commercial information, that is well managed is useful, and can convey a trend, indicate a pattern, or tell a story. Better still, we can derive knowledge that germinates from interpreted data and information. And knowledge is the ultimate competitive advantage.
Three things you should know about commercial information management:
1. Conversion from data to information to knowledge is key. Data needs to be converted, first into information and subsequently into knowledge, otherwise its use is limited. Commercial information management aids this conversion and deliver a real and measurable return on information.
2. Commercial information management is data agnostic. Data agnosticism refers to the ability of data to work with various systems. The message here is that commercial information management does not need to be customised for a single system only. In fact, it can be quite flexible.
3. Commercial information management is linked to competitive advantage. The ability to generate useful commercial information (which impacts on the ability to create new knowledge), and properly manage that process is at the heart of an organisation’s competitive advantage.If we can have the ability to extract and analyse data which can potentially be converted into insights, and then present this knowledge in a format that enables decision makers within the our organisation or firm to act, and we can do this better than others in the market. This presents a real competitive advantage.
Four benefits commercial information management can deliver to a law practice:
1. Improved Discovery and Access. How? By providing lawyers with easy and transparent access to accurate and timely data and information. Data and information that is easily discoverable can be shared and utilised for a variety of purposes, from conducting due diligence that involves multiple practice groups in a firm, to providing legal opinions in cross-border transactions involving legal teams working in different jurisdictions.
2. Improved Integration and Accuracy. How? By collecting data once, ensuring its integrity and quality. This is an incredibly powerful tool for risk management, as commercial information management helps to ensure a legal practice can confidently rely on any reports and advices it produces based on data gathered and information derived.
3. Improved Decision-making. How? By providing better information to support analysis, decision-making and risk identification. The best decisions are made when people understand the full picture. In a legal practice, professionals bring years of experience and intuition to the decision making process, drawing information from various sources, considering the context and extracting insights to make informed decisions. Commercial Information Management increases the quality of the information ‘input’, requiring less effort to process and organise complex information to draw meaningful conclusions more efficiently.
4. Decreased Costs. How? By all of the above! Decreased costs is a direct outcome of improved efficiency by improved management while eliminating risk and waste.
(These four benefits have been derived based on Griffith University’s Information Management Framework.)
Human intellectual capital + innovative technology = achieve your goals. It is worth mentioning here that there is an aspect of commercial information management that relates to human judgement as well as an aspect that relates to technology and science. Both the use of judgement and technology and science provide and add value. Embrace commercial information management and contribute strategically to your legal practice’s ultimate goals.
This post first appeared on the ALPMA blog "A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers".
If you are interested in learning more about commercial information management, you can watch my free on-demand webinar "Emerging Discipline of Commercial Information Management", now available from the ALPMA On-Demand Learning Centre.
Each year, organisations and firms spend thousands of dollars purchasing commercial information from brokers and regulatory sources like ASIC and PPSR in the process of delivering their core services. Commercial Information Management (CIM) is an emerging discipline being implemented by these organisations and firms seeking to leverage and maximise the value of this information.
In an on-demand webinar provided exclusively to ALPMA members (by Encompass Corporation, ALPMA's Summit 2014 Live and On Demand Partner), I outline the principals of CIM and the 4-stage process of CIM. I also look at the benefits of CIM and how to maximise your return on information.
Get ahead of the pack. Learn about CIM.
At today's Sinch Online Legal Services Conference in Sydney, I presented on visualisation as a legal solution and explained how it is helping lawyers adapt and respond to change.
To learn more on what I said about visualisation in law and the 3 key things that a legal practice can use visualisation technology for, read my blog on Encompass News.
My presentation was also reported here.
Only very recently, Forbes published an article on data visualisation, or “dataviz”, as they have called it. It pointed out that progressive organisations today are using a wide array of dataviz solutions to ask better questions of their data and make better business decisions.
I asked the conference attendees this question – how is your legal practice using dataviz? I wanted everyone to have a think about whether they have an interactive solution designed for professional audiences that can tease out connections and turn complex data into simple pictures. I certainly hope the answer is yes, because, among other things, embracing dataviz also means creating differentiation and enhancing competitive strength.
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