Orrick is a global law firm with roots stretching all the way back to 1863 in San Francisco. It has 23 offices across North America, Europe, and Asia, throughout which it practices both transactional and litigation law across a variety of industries such as real estate, financial markets, and insurance. The law firm has dedicated itself to the completion of two goals: serving its clients while building and strengthening its institution.
As a global law firm, Orrick had documents in repositories around the world. If someone at the firm needed to access the information in one of these repositories, he would need to search each one separately until he found the document he was looking for, taking up valuable time and resources. "The document repositories are not really user friendly," says Mark Salamon, senior knowledge analyst at Orrick. "So one of the main things we wanted to accomplish was being able to search all that content at once, and also being able to search it more easily."
Vendor of Choice: Recommind
Recommind is a predictive information management software company that provides end-to-end e-discovery, enterprise search, and automatic categorization software. Though it is thought of as an enterprise search company, Recommind's VP of marketing, Craig Carpenter, says the software can really be thought of as a "concept search system." He used the word "java" as an example, explaining that Recommind's software can search the term and differentiate between the different uses of the term, making search easier and more effective.
The Problem In-Depth
Dealing with document repositories scattered across the globe on an individual basis forced Orrick employees to perform search after search, wasting valuable time. It also resulted in no small amount of frustration. "People are used to going to Google and typing something in the search box and it searching everything," says Salamon. "We wanted to mimic that kind of search behavior where you could just go to our web database and have a search box and type something in and get results."
While Orrick was looking to employ the concept of a familiar Google-style search, the way Google actually ranks relevancy would not work within different document repositories or within a corporation in general. "It's based off of how many (links) there are to any individual page," says Carpenter. "That has no bearing on relevancy at a corporation. Google won't work in a corporation situation so that's how technologies like ours became very popular."
Accuracy and efficiency are high on a law firm's list of business priorities. Carpenter says, "Lawyers and their staff need to have the right results pop up first every single time. It's not okay if the right answer is number 50 on a list of one to 100."
While Orrick was trying to increase employee efficiency and therefore profitability, Carpenter says that from Recommind's perspective, "they were ultimately trying to make sense of the information that they had internally and the information they needed externally that was growing exponentially every year."
In late 2007, Orrick began working with Recommind, which it heard about "through the legal IT grapevine." It took about 6 months for both companies to collaborate and then launch the new software, Decisiv Search. When Orrick was first looking to solve its problems with search, the answer did not take long to find. "There wasn't much of an alternative at the time," says Salamon. "We didn't feel as if we settled on Recommind. They definitely came in and filled a niche in the market that was not being filled at the time."
Much of the work involved in implementing Decisiv Enterprise Search-the Recommind tool Orrick eventually settled on-started before the software was even installed. Orrick had to decide which information sources would be searchable, customize their relevancy weighting for specific documents, adjust security settings, and settle other internal issues before the product was able to be integrated into Orrick's system and given their "branding and particular feel." The actual installation of the software took only a matter of days, followed by straightforward trainings, taking about a half-hour to an hour to execute.
The concept-based search system allows Orrick employees to find documents they otherwise would not have been able to find from a simple keyword-based search. "The results are the most accurate. It's not keyword-based," says Carpenter. "So if you enter a search for Japanese contracts, you'll get back documents having to do with contracts that have to do with Japan, which may or may not actually have ‘Japan' in the name."
Overall, both companies have been pleased with the partnership created through the installation of the Decisiv Enterprise Search tool. "The rollout has gone very well, and the relationship between the two firms has been very good," says Carpenter.
Orrick says it has not received tremendous user feedback, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Salamon says there was no customer or employee feedback and "that's in a good way."
The tool became so integrated in Orrick's existing system, most employees barely noticed a change. "People have these very high expectations of technology [due to] the consumerization of search and things like that. In a sense, if it were more noticeable, it would be worse. I think people just start to take it for granted. They don't even notice that it's there, and that's the best indicator of success," Salamon says.
While the success of a search tool may be hard to measure in numbers and figures, he says, "The implicit proposition of any tool like this is that you're able to search quickly and more accurately than you could in the past. People spend a certain amount of their day searching for information, so if you can reduce that by even 10%, you'll be able to save your company a certain amount of money per year."
With a time-saving search tool, employees are now able to dedicate more of their time and energy to dealing with cases and customer service. Salamon says, "A lot of people see Recommind as being a search enterprise tool, and therefore limited to searching their documents and things like that. I also like to think of it as a development platform that lets you search for really any kind of content that's stored within an organization."
Orrick has used Recommind's software to set up what it calls its "Who Knows Whom," which allows employees to search within their organization to find out who has certain contacts and where, as opposed to needing to send out a mass email and then filter through all the responses.
Carpenter also notes that since information coming from all sources is so vital to law firms, including each and every email sent and received, the two companies will soon be working together to implement an email filing and management system, allowing Orrick to more easily organize and search email.
"We don't just seek to sell licenses and then move on to the next client," says Carpenter. "We look to sell multiple products of ours to each client, instead of just one sale and move on, which law firms and most companies like a lot. They want a partner that they can grow with."