As most of you know, in the United Kingdom, you are frequently reminded to “mind the gap” when stepping on and off trains. It’s a precaution to watch out for the gap between the train and the platform, so you don’t trip and fall flat on your face.

 

I was reminded of this this admonition recently. LexisNexis has rolled out a premium research service called Lexis+. I had a chance to talk to Jeff Pfeifer, LexisNexis’ Chief Product Officer and David Ganote, LexisNexis’ Senior Director of Product planning, about the product and the design process.

 

Lots has already been written about this colossus upgrade to the LexisNexis legal research platform. The new platform offers 11 new bells and whistles that I won’t begin to describe here. (For a complete description of the new features, see Bob Ambrogi’s excellent summary).

 

But when I talked to Pfeifer and Ganote about the new package, one thing stood out. Pfeifer and Ganote found one of the biggest challenges in designing Lexis+ was to make it usable to a full range of customers. These customers and users range from younger law students to older and more experienced lawyers and professionals. It is this latter group, of course, that often make the purchase decisions.

 

This range creates a serious gap in experience with technology and, let’s face it, mindset toward technology. This gap in turn often causes frustration. It results in dashed expectations on both sides of the experience bar. Tech decisions made that don’t help the actual users. Technology not doing the things that’s someone expects it do. Benefits and limitations being poorly understood.

 

 

Best I can tell, recognizing this sometimes broad gap led Pfeifer and Ganote to do several things. 

 

First, Pfeifer told me LexisNexis went to its users–lawyers and legal professionals–before it designed the product. As I previously wrote, just like it did with the Product Navigator design process, LexisNexis wanted to get input about their pain points and what they really needed. Lexis, Nexis went to some 2000 users across the experience board before designing the overall product. The result: a platform that hits the pain points and makes it easier to accomplish tasks for those that have the greatest use of the products.

 

Second, for perhaps the first time, a legal tech product designer actually considered design.

 

Second, for perhaps the first time, a legal tech product designer actually considered design. As Pfeifer put it, who says the dashboard and user interface for legal tech has to be boring. The result: an excellent easy to use and inviting interface that looks good for a change. A dashboard that appeals again to a large and diverse group of legal users. Again recognizing and dealing with the gap.

 

The result of these efforts and recognition hopefully is a product that appeals and can be used by those across the board. By talking to people and paying attention to design interface LexisNexis hopes to have a product that is functional and appeals across the board. It hopes to bridge the gap.

 

Failing to recognize the gap can indeed have deleterious consequences.

 

Failing to recognize the gap can indeed have deleterious consequences. Too often, I have seen those involved in tech purchase decisions in law firms and legal departments think of the users as monolithic group and assume what’s right for one group is suitable for all. Older lawyers will look at how they, themselves, might use a piece of technology in deciding whether to buy it. What is or is not useful to them. But the younger lawyers and other legal professionals, have a different idea of what is or is not useful in the work they actually do. Too often tech is bought that does not advance the users pain points and frustration ensues.

 

Failing to see the gap had also led to strange and counter intuitive decision-making processes. For example, back in the day when we actually had physical onsite legal tech trade shows, I was always amazed at how few working lawyers would attend. How could these lawyers–who often make tech purchase decisions (or even worse, have veto power over the choices of others)—not try to get familiar with what is going on? With what is what is useful?

 

On the vendor side, I often see products designed that appeal to younger more tech savvy users with little to no thought to how the product looks to an older lawyer. An older lawyer-buyer who is not as familiar with technology and tech terms and concepts. Hence the marketing effort falls on deaf ears.

 

So how can we better mind and bridge the gap? I think it takes awareness. Awareness by those making tech decisions of what those who will actually use the product think. Ask younger lawyers and legal professionals what they think. Asking whether the products will address their pain points.  Will those people actually use the product? This kind of inquiry takes time, which, to most lawyers, is the most valued commodity. But a long-term view would surely demonstrate that taking the time to mind the gap would lead to more efficiencies. It sure would lead to fewer disruptions, disruption that reduce billable hours.

 

On the vendor side, it means greater sensitivity to the differences in the market. Just as LexisNexis has tried to do, it means looking across the market and seeing the differences and addressing them. It means taking the time to understand the viewpoint and goals of the often-older lawyer. These are the lawyers who have the ultimate power when it comes to use and purchase. It means marketing to them in ways that demonstrate the sensitivities of the real users. It means taking the time to make them understand what’s being offered and show who and how it helps. It means translating the value the product has to the younger lawyers and legal professionals to the older lawyers in ways the older lawyers can see.

 

The time spent learning how to use a nonintuitive product is money literally taken out of lawyers’ pockets.

 

I often talk to vendors about the need to understand what more experienced lawyers see when they look at tech. They see time, and time to the billable hour lawyer is money. The time spent learning how to use a nonintuitive product is money literally taken out of their pockets. It this kind of sensitivity to the goals and needs that can help vendors mind the gap.

 

Finally, the same is true for all of us of commentators. If we want to enhance technology and innovation across the profession, we have to understand we aren’t talking to a monolithic marketplace. Like Pfeifer and Ganote, we have to recognize and address the gap between law students and, say, the 71-year-old solo practitioner. If we want to be effective communicators, we need to understand the legal market is broad and diverse. Minding the gap should be a message we give ourselves every day.

Photo by Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash

 

I have talked before about legal tech products that either try to do too much or are so nonintuitive that lawyers who bill by the hour won’t use them. One problem often begets the other: in attempting to do too much, a product often becomes too cumbersome to learn and use. I have found examples though of legal tech developers that get it right. Casepoint, for example, which I have written about before. More recently, LexisNexis’ Product Liability Navigator has found the sweet spot as well. Continue Reading Trellis: The Google of State Court Analytics?

I recently wrote and published a piece on my blog about the LexisNexis Product Navigator, an analytical program I thought was very impressive.

After I published that post, I learned more about the team at LexisNexis that put it together. The product was designed and built by the User Experience (UX) Group at LexisNexis and Michael Oberle, a Senior UX Designer II, along with the Product and Development Team. The UX team \includes UX Designers, UX researchers, and Visual and Product Designers.

Michael and I exchanged several messages about the product, which was his first while with LexisNexis. According to Oberle, the UX team, “used elements from Design Thinking, Design Sprints, Lean Business Canvas, SVPG training to make a new product in a new way. We started with subject matter experts that had experience in the industry and kept testing and refining with our potential users. In one stage, we let the users design their own dashboard. We continually refined the top tasks and the jobs to be done.”

Continue Reading Meet the Team Behind Product Liability Navigator

If productivity increases are passed along to customers via lower prices or better quality services, then the demand for whatever goods and services are being provided is likely to rise…

Daniel Susskind

A World Without Work: Technology, Automation and How We Should Respond

 

Imagine a well-heeled consultant coming to your law firm and saying guys (yes, its usually guys. See my most recent rail on this subject) “I have great news. You can lower your rates and make more money”! He or she would likely be fired on the spot for such heresy. After all, the mantra of most law firm consultants and the practice of most law firms is always to raise hourly rates. At every chance. Whether clients like it or not.

 

Continue Reading Lower Hourly Rates. Make More Money. Hold My Drink

We all suffer daily with trying to figure out the “new normal. In the following Guest Post,  Rose Jackson discusses how to make the new normal better than normal. What we can do to improve ourselves and organizations as a result of the circumstances . How we can adapt. I recently met Rose and was impressed with her insights. I think you will be too.

Rose E. Jackson, MBA, is the Chief Empowerment Officer at Professional Legal User Support Specialists (PLUSS), LLC, a technology trainer and user support professional who specializes in legal applications.  With over 30 years of training, project management, administrative management, and technical support experience, Rose can assist your organization with workflow improvements, tech support, training, and technology consultation services. Rose can be reached at rose.jackson@getpluss.com or (312) 589-0962. PLUSS consultants can support all of your end-user technology needs.

 

 

Recently, a colleague informed me that the law firm she works for is just waiting to “get back to normal.” I am not sure what that means. I have had several conversations since with legal professionals that suggest that whatever the normal was will never be again.

Continue Reading The New Normal:Better Than Normal


In my former life as a defense product liability lawyer, I was often called on by clients to evaluate the exposure and risk of a case. Or I might need to determine whether and how many similar cases there might be out there to better assess risk. Or I might want to know what experts to vet and hire. Obtaining this information wasn’t easy, however. It took time and patience and even then was not always complete. You had to look at a variety of sources in different places. Often the results allowed you to make little more than a wild ass guess.

 

That’s why the LexisNexis Product Liability Navigator, announced today, looks so promising. As most of you know, LexisNexis is a global provider of information and analytics. The Product Liability Navigator is the second Navigator offered by LexisNexis. The first being the Lexis Medical Navigator®.

Continue Reading LexisNexis Announces New Product Liability Tool

Based on the survey findings, there are gaps to fill, and there is progress to be made.”

Amidst all the proclamations that the law profession has turned some sort of tech and innovation corner because of the pandemic comes a reality jarring Survey from Wolters Kluwer. The Survey, entitled The 2020 Wolters Kluwer Future Ready Lawyer Report, reveals that clients and law firms remain far apart in how they view the world and what they value. The Survey was performed before the crisis. But the fundamental disparity in understanding, expectation, and even values hasn’t changed. Given the mindset of many law firms reflected by the Survey, it may not, at least for a while. The Survey was conducted through interviews of some 700 lawyers in law firms and legal departments across the world.

Continue Reading Clients and Law Firms: Fundamental Disconnect

By Rich Smith

Technology assisted review (predictive coding) for ediscovery still strikes fear in the hearts of many lawyers. Indeed, in the last ABA Legal Technology Survey (2018) only 12% of the respondents reported using predictive coding to process or review e-discovery materials.  Many reported  significant concerns about cost and the validity of the process.

In the following Guest Post, Rich Smith discusses the use and advantages of technolgy assisted review and dispels many of  the concerns about use. 

Rich Smith is a Senior eDiscovery Consultant for Page One Legal. With 7 years of legal technology experience, Rich will be happy to discuss your current technology needs and help craft a vision to be more successful with your practice. He can be reached at: rsmith@pageonelegal.com or 502.376.5829. Page One Legal handles all aspects of eDiscovery and Digital Forensics. With 13 years experience, they provide eDiscovery platforms with both Relativity and Relativity One.”

I would like to thank Rich for his willingness to publish his article on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this site’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Rich’s guest post.

Lawyers fear technology.

However, SUCCESSFUL lawyers are EMBRACING technology.

THE MOST SUCCESSFUL lawyers are utilizing technology to assist them, especially during review of large amounts of documents.

Wait…technology…assisted…review? T.A.R.? Hmm, isn’t that sometimes called, “predictive coding”?

YES!

Continue Reading Guest Post: Predictive Coding, You’re Already Using It, Now Apply It To Your Cases…

Last summer, I wrote two pieces about the lack of gender equality in the profession generally and big law in particular. These were based on an ABA Survey, which summarized several recent trends of the profession in such areas as diversity, women, legal education, technology, and more. It was not a pretty picture. (My first piece summarized the findings, the second responded to some criticisms of my interpretations of the Survey’s findings).

 

A recent Survey by Burford Capital conducted by Ari Kaplan Advisors, confirms the startling gap between men and women law firm compensation, especially at the partner level. This gap translates pretty directly into a lack of power of women within the law firm. And a lack of power translates into an inability to change the conditions that cause it.

 

Continue Reading Burford Survey Reveals Big Law Gender Gap and Why

Amidst all the reports of downturns in the legal business with firms cutting pay and furloughing staff, there are bright spots.

I recently talked with Kristin Tyler, one of the founders of LAWCLERK, and one of the more astute observers of the innovation and legal tech scene. She had lots of good news about LAWCLERK. She also had some interesting observations of where legal may be going–a subject that seems to be on many pundits’ minds these days. It’s always good to hear, though, from someone actually in the business.

 

 

Continue Reading For Some in the Legal Community, Business Is Good