Peer to Peer Magazine

Spring 2017

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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11 WWW.ILTANET.ORG BEST PRACTICES Raise Your Conflicts Technology Game STUART POOLE Stuart Poole is the CEO and founder of Fulcrum Legal Solutions, LLC, a company that advises law firms on risk management pertaining to conflicts, business intake and lateral integration. Prior to founding Fulcrum, Stuart spent over 16 years working in two top-50 global law firms, leading and performing a vast array of conflicts, business intake and lateral integration processes and responsibilities. Stuart can be contacted at stuartpoole@ to modify the existing workflow to one that is non- sequential, so a request will not get stuck on a certain step and multiple tasks can be handled at the same time. Another option is to create side workflows to the main new business intake workflow for requests that do not concern new business, including preliminary searches, marketing requests, new employee hire requests and employee personal trade requests. For example, a firm could create a secure portal for lateral hire requests, which will allow information to be shared by internal and external parties. A portal could ultimately be a side workflow, since there are ways it can be connected to a firm's conflicts database. Building side workflows that connect to a firm's main workflow removes unnecessary steps for any requests not for new business. Eliminating these superfluous steps will significantly decrease the time it takes for a firm to open a new maer. The Data Game Before investing in new conflicts technology, a firm's data should be evaluated and a plan devised to clean up dirty data, merge duplicate data and standardize the process of retrieving and recording future data. Most conflicts databases contain incorrect data due mostly to human error. Appropriate personnel should determine a strategy to clean a firm's data, beginning with client information, then move into other categories, such as maer information and involved parties to a maer. Another data issue is duplicate information stored in the conflicts database, which takes up storage and slows down the review and clearance of conflicts search results for opening new business. Both legacy conflicts soware and newer conflicts soware have administrative capabilities to automate data cleanup and merge duplicate data. In addition, newer conflicts soware can prevent future duplicate data from being created. Cleaning up dirty data and merging duplicate data will help a firm more efficiently search its database, but the biggest effect is when a firm standardizes the retrieval and recording of information from a conflicts request. In the real world, conflicts request information comes in many forms, including email messages, phone calls, web forms, workflow requests, instant messages, documents, handwrien notes and other informal formats. Many firms tolerate this practice because they believe it caters to aorneys and their busy schedules. However, allowing all these options inhibits efficiency and, over time, does more harm than good. During the evaluation of current processes for internal reasons or in preparation for purchasing new conflicts soware, a firm should create and enforce a standard way to receive all types of conflicts-related requests and to categorize that information upon receipt. This standardization means these requests will be processed more efficiently and will create a stronger audit trail. Next, a firm should standardize how new information is recorded. Over time, data can be entered into a firm's workflow or conflicts system several ways. For example, the company "IBM" could be listed as "IBM," "I B M", "I.B.M.," "I. B. M." and so forth. Having the same data listed multiple ways not only puts an undue burden on conflicts analysts to capture the appropriate data in a conflicts search, but also increases the likelihood that a name/party will be overlooked. If a firm invests in newer conflicts soware, it will have options and solutions to help with data cleanup and standardization of the retrieval and recording processes. Winning the Conflicts Technology Game There are many things to consider and plan for prior to purchasing new conflicts soware; however, geing it right will reap benefits not just for a firm but also for the clients it supports. By developing and executing a strategy, a firm becomes an informed buyer that will gain more value out of its conflicts process and technology than a firm without a plan. P2P Create side workflows to the main new business intake workflow for requests that do not concern new business.

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