Legal Digital Transformation – Lesson #1: Digital Transformation is a Never-Ending Mode of Operation

March 5th, 2021

If you are interested in digital transformation in the legal industry, I invite you to read the first of my “Top Ten Lessons” for digital transformation in the legal industry.  Also, if you are interested in learning more about Schwegman, Lundberg & Woessner’s digital transformation journey, please listen in on our multi-part webinar series.  Episode 2 is coming up next week:


Often, a law firm or corporation that embarks on a digital transformation effort views it as project that they will complete in a given time frame, check the box on their task list, and then move on. But going forward this is not how digital transformation will work. The scope and scale of the current phase of digital transformation is far more profound than past phases of this journey. Replacing legal professionals with AI is not as easy as digital transformations of old such as buying a facsimile machine, switching from a typewriter to a word processor, getting an e-mail account on the Internet, or scanning paper files into an online database. Instead, this new era of digital transformation involves the infinitely more complex realm of automating legal thought process. Because the legal frameworks these tools must work within, the client requirements they must accommodate, and the data and facts they need to consider are forever changing, their configuration is not a one-time event. Instead, it will be never-ending and is going to require a whole new workforce of automation/AI configuration specialists who will be a permanent presence in the legal workforce of the future and who will never run out of work to do. To get a mental picture of this new future, you can think of current law practices as equivalent to automobile assembly lines before robotics. Yes, there are tools like hoists, winches and wrenches, and the assembly line brings the automobile to each worker as they perform their respective expertise “on the line”, but humans are still operating the tools to perform the work of assembling a vehicle. Already now and more and more into the future, legal practices will look less like assembly lines of old and more like today’s state of the art assembly lines – that is, robots will be performing the work while the workers look on and supervise the work. Already, companies like Black Hills IP ( are using AI to flawlessly docket PTO correspondence in the blink of an eye, with a dozen servers now capable of automatically and virtually doing 80% of the daily work of ALL THE US DOCKETING PARALEGALS IN THE UNITED STATES. This is a profound change to this particular segment of the IP profession – as it is eliminating a large number of jobs that were previously believed immune to automation. These types of changes will continue to come as more and more legal work that involves the application of fixed rules to a finite set of data become commonplace. All of this, however, requires a brand new workforce of legal automation specialists that in many cases can be filled by the very personnel displaced by the automation.

The bottom line is this – successful digital transformation is not just buying new tools for the same people to use to do work faster and better. Instead, it is replacing human personnel with legal robots that do thought work and that will bring a profound change in how legal work is performed. This will require a large investment in legal robots and a large number of automation specialists to continuously tend to and program those robots.

Join Us for Digital Transformation Webinar Series: First Episode February 11

February 5th, 2021

In 2021, the SLW Institute is examining the digital transformation of the legal industry in a new webinar series. We’ll start by looking at the big picture view, and then focus in on detailed aspects of IP practice. In a series of case studies, we’ll explain specific tools and strategies our firm uses to automate processes and increase precision. Experienced industry innovators will provide their perspective. This series will dig into practical aspects of how digital transformation affects the future of IP law firms and departments.

The kickoff episode is coming up on Thursday, February 11 at 12 p.m. Central: Come join us. Our speakers will provide insights about the transformation taking place in the legal industry, especially with regards to IP practice. Mary O’Malley, Thomas Marlow and Ann McCrackin of Black Hills IP will be presenting, along with Dr. Manjeet Rege of the University of St. Thomas, Dan Yarmoluk, and myself. It’s a complimentary presentation, and we invite you to be there. You can register at the SLW Institute online.

Data Monetization Webinar Series Now Available on Demand

January 14th, 2021

If you missed the live presentations of the SLW Institute’s Data Monetization Webinar Series, you can access them online at your convenience. All six episodes are available on demand. This webinar series examined how data is being leveraged behind the scenes, and affecting both industry and everyday life. What is the economic value of data? Distinguished guest speakers contribute their insights from areas such as medical devices, manufacturing, retail, autonomous vehicles and financial services. We are grateful to each speaker for joining us and sharing their knowledge and and experiences.

Individual episodes are available at these links:

Upcoming Data Monetization Webinars

November 16th, 2020

Join Us for the Final Episodes of the Data Monetization Webinar Series 

Once technology has collected data, what further use can that data serve? This is a question we hear on a regular basis, so we decided to explore the topic with a webinar series. Several distinguished guest speakers have joined us to share their insights. So far in the Data Monetization webinar series, our guest speakers have given an introduction to data monetization. They have also discussed data monetization in the medical, manufacturing and industrial markets. If you missed these presentations, they are now available on our website.Three more episodes are coming up before the end of the year. Make plans to join us:

Schwegman principal Suneel Arora and I enjoy serving as moderators for these programs; it’s been fascinating to hear from experienced industry leaders from across the country. One of our guests is Dr. Manjeet Rege, who is Associate Professor of Graduate Programs in Software and Data Science and Director of the Center for Applied Artificial Intelligence at the University of St. Thomas. We’re privileged to hear from him on this practical and thought-provoking topic. We hope to see you in the (Zoom) audience soon.

Missed the First Data Monetization Episode? The Recording is Now Online 

October 13th, 2020

On Thursday, October 8, our three guest speakers kicked off the Data Monetization webinar series. We were honored to be joined by Bill Schmarzo, Chief Innovation Officer of Hitachi Vantara and author of “Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science”; Michael Gale, CEO of Inc. Digital, WSJ Best Selling Author of “The Digital Helix” and Forbes podcast host of “Futures in Focus”; and Manjeet Rege, Associate Professor of Graduate Programs in Software and Data Science and Director, Center for Applied Artificial Intelligence at the University of St. Thomas. Fellow moderator Suneel Arora and I enjoyed hearing these distinguished speakers’ points of view as they examined the question, what is data and how can you use it as a product? If you missed this presentation, or if you would like to hear it again, the recording is now available on the SLW Institute.

The next episode of the series is coming up on Thursday, October 22. In this episode, our next guests will discuss data monetization in medical device, healthcare and insurance. You can register for this episode, and the entire series, online.  The Data Monetization webinar series takes place every other Thursday through mid-December. In these presentations, speakers will discuss the use of collected data from a variety of perspectives. Suneel and I enjoy hosting and serving as moderators. Do join us if you can.

Venture Capital Investment in Patent-Intensive Industries Falling

August 4th, 2020

Are We Really Encouraging Innovation?

The race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine illustrates how vital scientific innovation is to our entire society – and also how arduous and uncertain scientific research can be. Scientific ventures are massive undertakings. For organizations to undertake such pursuits, there needs to be a reasonable expectation of a return on investment. This stance is not money-grubbing. A return on investment is necessary to enable the massive expenditures that go into developing lifechanging innovations.

In many cases, patents are necessary in order to protect this return on investment. Yet as a new report from the Alliance of U.S. Startups and Inventors for Jobs describes, U.S. legal and judicial systems have made changes to the patent system – and venture capital investment in patent-intensive industries has fallen.

Perhaps now is the time to examine this legal and judicial environment. Does our system really encourage the innovation that can change so many lives? The coronavirus is massive enough that governments have undertaken action to incent work to combat this virus, and rightfully so. But what about other needs and medical issues that do not receive as much urgent attention? Is our system set up to encourage innovation to combat other problems? What needs to change in the U.S. patent system so that more investors will turn to patent-intensive industries?


Patent Analytics Series Comes to a Close with Final Episodes 

July 26th, 2020

Patent Analytics Series Comes to a Close with Final Episodes 

In July, our team presented the last two episodes of the Patent Analytics webinar series. This series was an eight-part boot camp on driving performance with IP data and analytics. Episodes 07 and 08 wrapped up the series by discussing dashboards and patent prosecution history reports.

Episode 07: Using a Patent Analytics Dashboard for IP Strategy, Competitor Surveillance, and Portfolio Management 

The seventh episode of the series took place on July 9. Janal Kalis, Mark Stignani and I were joined by Thomas Marlow of Black Hills IP. We discussed such topics as high level insights for portfolio management; best practices for outside counsel management; fast competitive benchmarking; extraction of strategic insights/business actions; and an overview of dashboard tool sets.

Episode 08: Using Patent Prosecution History Reports to Increase Prosecution Efficiency and Avoid Unintended Estoppel

Janal Kalis, Mark Stignani and Peter Rebuffoni and I presented this final episode on July 23. One of the most daunting tasks of any patent prosecution team is staying on top of the file histories for patent family members completed or in flight around the world or previously prosecuted. In this webinar, we discussed best practices for tracking and organizing this information so it can be readily accessed and used to avoid inconsistent file wrapper arguments and reuse previously successful arguments in other applications.

All Episodes Available Online 

If you missed any of the episodes of the Patent Analytics series, you can check them out online; they are posted on Schwegman’s SLW Institute.

Let me take this opportunity to thank everyone who joined us for this series: We appreciate all of our speakers, and the attendees who were so kind as to give us their time.  It was good to gather with you – at least electronically – and discuss topics that give us energy and can help move our industry forward.




Blue Ocean Maps Webinar

July 6th, 2020

Blue Ocean Maps Webinar Available Online

Blue ocean maps are a valuable tool for identifying “open spaces” in the patent landscape. They enable better targeting of claims on defensible points of distinction. Thomas Marlow of Black Hills IP joined Schwegman Analytics Chair and Firm Compliance Officer Mark Stignani to discuss this approach on a recent webinar. This sixth episode of the Patent Analytics webinar series took place on June 25. In “Using Blue Ocean Maps to Identify Open Spaces in the Patent Landscape,” Mark and Thomas reviewed the creation and use of blue ocean maps for everyday prosecution. They also presented some real life examples.

If you missed this presentation, you can still watch a recording and download the slides. You can find these resources on the SLW Institute, at:

Upcoming Webinar Discusses Data-Driven IP Management and Dashboards

Data-driven IP management (DDIPM) is an approach to IP strategy and management that values decisions that can be backed up with verifiable data. The success of this approach is reliant upon the quality of the data gathered and the effectiveness of its analysis and interpretation. In a July 9 webinar, my colleagues and I will discuss this topic. In “Using a Patent Analytics Dashboard for IP Strategy, Competitor Surveillance, and Portfolio Management,” we will highlight key metrics used in DDIPM and an example IP analytics dashboard.

You are cordially invited to join us for this webinar. Register at:

This presentation is the second-to-last installment of an eight-part series. To catch up on previous episodes, visit:

Fifth Episode of Patent Analytics Webinar Series Discusses FTO Mapping

June 23rd, 2020

On June 11, we presented the fifth episode of the Patent Analytics webinar series. Suneel Arora, Tyler Nasiedlak and Mark Stignani joined me. This episode covered, “Best Practices for Developing Reliable Freedom-to-Operate Landscapes and Advanced Techniques for Interactive, Reusable FTO Mapping.”

One of the most dreaded tasks for any product development team is navigating a complex patent landscape in order to achieve an infringement-free product design. We discussed best practices for patent counsel to work with product development teams to perform the key tasks of an FTO project, and also demonstrated how interactive claim maps make navigation of an FTO landscape fast and effective.

Key takeaways from this episode included:


Best Practices for FTO Analysis

June 11th, 2020
One of the most dreaded tasks for any product development team is navigating a complex patent landscape in order to achieve an infringement-free product design. This webinar will discuss best practices for patent counsel to work with product development teams to perform the key tasks of an FTO project, and also demonstrate how interactive claim maps make navigation of an FTO landscape fast and effective.
This webinar, which I moderate, discusses FTO fundamentals and also advanced FTO techniques for creating reusable and interactive FTO maps.