This is a live post from Ark Group’s 11th Annual Knowledge Management in the Legal Profession in NYC. I publish live posts as a session ends, so please forgive any typos or failure to capture meaning accurately.

Session Title: Focusing on User Experience to Enhance the Practice of Law 

Patrick V. DiDomenico, Director of Knowledge Management, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Session DescriptionTechnology is an important—indeed critical—enabler for knowledge management, but allowing the technology tail to wag the KM dog can lead to serious problems. Focusing first on user experience is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive; but doing so will help ensure success.


Patrick starts by asking if we can measure experience. That is, how do we measure user experience? Are there objective measures?

Start with a lesson from another field, cognitive behavioral studies…  A study of Israeli parole board decisions [RF: cited in Kahneman, Thinking: Fast and Slow]. The point of slide below is that more favorable decisions are made after breaks:


And the lesson from it:”Making successive decisions depletes a limited mental facility.” That is, fatigue plays a big factor. Patrick suggests same theory applies to conference presentation. You should go first or right after a break, when the brain is cognitively refreshed.

This lesson applies to user interface and user experience decisions. So lesson one is: Don’t tax your users with two many decisions and choices.

Steve Jobs said you have to work backwards to the technology by understanding the customer experience. You can’t start with tech and try to figure out where you are going with it.

If you ask Siri hold Steve Jobs was in 1997, it thinks you mean the movie. But if you ask Amazon’s Echo (Alexa), she answers with he age. In this instance, Echo provides a better experience than the iPhone.

Lesson Two: If the tech is bad or provides bad info, the the UX is bad.

What is technology anyway? Is a nice knife technology? What about a knife made of liquid metal (a new alloy). Is a rotary phone technology. If it’s not, then is an iPhone? The point: tech is misunderstood.

We do an exercise where a series of questions lead many to answer iPhone but the real answer is the Post-It note. The point is that no one really thinks of Post-It notes as technology today. Rather, it solves a problem.

Lesson Three: The best tech disappears, the UI disappears, leaving a great experience.

You can think of great tech as an iceberg: you only see the tip. Most of it is hidden from view

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” – Arthur C. Clarke

Patrick shows a “belaycord” USB cord that is symmetrical. That is, you can plug it in either side up. Why did it take to 2015 to invent this. Why did we settle for bad user experience – asymmetrical USB plugs – for so long.

Summary of User Experience Lessons

  • Tech is an KM enabler
  • Good UX is difficult and expensive
  • Don’t fatigue users
  • Bad tech is bad experience
  • The best tech disappears
  • Don’t settle for a bad user experience
  • Start with UX and work backward to the tech