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Posts Tagged ‘VENs’

Is Litigation in America Heading Toward A Perfect Storm?

This is the tile of Gabe Acevedo’s recent article in Above The Law.  Acevedo writes on legal technology and discovery issues for Above The Law.

Gabe concludes:  “Today, litigation matters are striking like lightning bolts all over the place. The amount of data we will be processing in the near future is unfathomable, and the amount of attorneys, lit support, and paralegals that will be needed to get through all that information should be something like we have never seen.”

Normally, very few solos and small firms (SSFs) even take part in perfect storms of litigation. Some do as Plaintiffs attorneys, but almost none did as defense counsel. Let’s assume Gabe’s facts are accurate, and his conclusion is at least 50% accurate. That alone is the perfect storm of opportunity for small and solos to build scale with virtual enterprise networks (VENs) and compete with larger firms.

If you read the comments below Gabe’s blog, you will find political and moral arguments against his conclusion. I’ll leave the judgments to those who feel empowered to judge, I choose to focus on the opportunity. And this is a unique opportunity for many SSFs to formally structure temporary alliances (VENs) that can scale up to provide the services only big firms were capable of before. A group of committed SSFs can temporarily join their efforts, expertise and share their resources in ways that surpass the resources of many Big Firms.

Until the last few years, it was not convenient to build these types of VENs between lawyers. The primary difference was that our mindset has changed. Lawyers are more willing than ever before to invest in building the requisite relationship foundation for building a VEN. Technology has also made it possible to manage teams, share resources and expertise in real time without the need for investment in capital intensive technology.

Anyone interested in learning more about VENs for lawyers contact me at jorge.colon@theonlinebar.com.

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I’m summarizing and excerpting from Ken Thompson’s The Networked Enterprise. Ken is a leading expert on teaching small to medium sized businesses come together to form Virtual Enterprise Networks (VENs) to enable them to achieve scale through collective projects.

Ken’s Guidelines for Effective Group Operational Meetings:

1. Sterile Cockpit: In meetings this means focus exclusively on the agenda. Ken borrows from the aviation term for restricting all discussion in the cockpit during take-off and landing to those tasks and nothing else. Even if an interesting topic comes up, don’t allow the meeting to be distracted.

2. No Telling Stories: “Give the absolute minimum facts to allow the meeting to determine the correct action”.  Any stories inevitably lead to defending or justifying.

3. Reveal Don’t Conceal: Put everything on the table without being asked. Don’t force others to deduce or uncover information.

4. The Four Task States: Task may only be: Done, On Plan, At Risk, or Missed.

  • For Done or On Plan tasks: congratulate and end discussion, unless there is a challenge.
  • For At Risk or Missed: Team must find a new commitment that they really rely on.

5.  The 5 meeting roles: to be allocated to participants before the meeting.

  • Customer: The participant with predominant need for a successful outcome.  This role decides the success of the meeting.
  • Facilitator: Leads the meeting to make sure the customer gets what they need.
  • Timekeeper: Self explanatory!
  • Scribe: The designated notes recorder and after meeting report with action tiems and minutes.
  • Sensor: Senses how the meeting is going and spots unhelpful moods or agendas.

Last year I helped manage an online community (Greenlight Community on ning) of about 8000 members.  Ialso organized Greenlight Community city groups in 12 cities.  From my experience leading conference calls every week for 13 months, I have not seen more effective and concise guidelines for operational meetings. We learned this mostly by trial and error.

Please submit your own guidelines that have worked for virtual or distributed groups.  Thanks.

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