Extras - The West Tech Knowledge Institute - A Participant's AccountBy Robyn Rebollo, Published on August 14, 2001
Does your career need an energy boost? Are you interested in
knowing what types of technologies the cutting edge law firms,
universities and institutions are implementing in their everyday
practices? Are you curious to see the West headquarters metropolis, up
front and center? If you
answered yes to any of these questions, I highly encourage you to apply to
Tech-Knowledge Institute next year.
Held for the first time in Eagan, Minnesota (July 12-13, 2001) in
conjunction with the University of Texas Graduate School of
Library and Information Science (GSLIS), the
West Tech-Knowledge Institute’s objective is simply stated:
goal of the Institute is to educate law firm librarians in the basic
technology found in law firms and to empower them to be an integral part
of their firms' intranet, extranet and portal development.”
a one-page description of your firm’s existing knowledge management
systems and/or intranet portal.
- Provide a two-page statement addressing your interest in leading technology implementation and innovation in your law firm and how you expect the Institute to contribute to your goals.
After receiving an acceptance letter and brief overview of
the agenda, I was pretty excited. The
faculty members selected for moderating and presenting during the two day
event were all rather impressive, each offering a different facet on
technology and knowledge management issues.
Some of the faculty members included:
Lynn Rice-Lively, Assistant Dean for Information Technology, The
University of Texas at Austin, Graduate School of Library &
Ellis, Director, Library Relations, West Group
Will, Director of Research, Greenberg Traurig
Hokkanen, Knowledge Manager, Latham & Watkins
Odegard, Manager, Technology Development for Corporate Matters, West
Claussen, Manager Product Development, West Technology Development
I arrived outside Egan, Minnesota late in the evening on July
11, 2001. Checking into the Double Tree Hotel so close to the gigantic
Mall of America, I was not quite sure what to predict for the next two
days. Was the Mall beckoning? It would have to wait. The hotel attendant
had presented me with some materials provided by the Tech-knowledge
Institute team. It included a
very busy schedule, and the first case study that all 30+ participants
would be responsible for solving.
The next morning I was up bright and early, since our agenda
began at 8:00 a.m. All the
participants were bused to West Group’s headquarters, which only took
about 15-20 minutes. West
Group’s headquarters is surely a sight to see for any librarian or legal
professional who deals with West on a regular basis, whether that entails
ordering publications, requesting passwords via RPM, or using their
1-800-Westlaw number for technical or reference related inquiries.
The building is state of the art, and includes a nice campus.
The first class began in the Thompson University Library, which was
equipped with all our technological needs. There were plenty of places to
plug in the laptops and other techie devices.
The main topics that were presented during the 2 day event
included the following:
Evaluation (online & traditional print)
Architecture and Logical Elements of a Law Firm Intranet
Content and Westlaw Integration Solutions
Each topic offered valuable information in terms of advancements
in the law library profession. Mary
Lynn Rice-Lively’s discussion on Strategic Project Management was
particularly interesting. The
theories she discussed were applicable to just about any law librarian
professional, either at the beginning or top of his/her career. Ms. Rice-Lively provided the following definition for Project
Management: “the application of the systems approach to the management
of technologically complex tasks or projects whose objectives are explicitly
stated in terms of the time, cost, and performance parameters” – Cleland
& King, 1988. The stages
of Project Management are quite simple:
Along with the selected presentations throughout the two day
event, participants were also required to work in teams on assigned projects.
The first team assignment involved a case study where participants constructed
and implemented a specific knowledge management project for their firm.
It was up to each team to decide what kind of program would be
best suited for their firm, in terms of growth and direct success.
For example, one team chose to focus specifically on producing
advanced practice pages for the firm’s intranet, where attorneys could
locate all the tools and resources in one area, and where the content
was personalized and easy to access.
In addition to all the rigorous brainstorming throughout the day, the
event provided social and networking opportunities during lunch break
sessions and dinner receptions. Thursday
evening’s dinner at the Double Tree hotel was exceptionally fantastic
since West setup an area where participants could demo the latest
technological gadgets including West electronic books, Blackberries and
other PDA devices. I should also
point out that both participants and presenters in events such as
these can really make or break it’s success.
I believe the West Tech-Knowledge Institute was a great success due
to the high energetic level of both participants and presenters. Everyone
seemed pleased to be making a contribution, whether in break out groups,
or Q & A sessions after a presentation.
One more final note: all
participants of the West Tech-Knowledge Institute have been asked to
complete a post assignment that requires them to implement an IT project
for their firm by using the skills and instruction learned from the 2 day
training event. Once
participants have submitted a paper detailing their projects, The
University of Texas GSLIS will certify continuing education credits for
attendees. All papers will be
due on October 16, 2001.