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Dennis Kennedy

Technology Law and Legal Technology. Dennis Kennedy is one of the few technology lawyers who is also an expert on the underlying technologies. Dennis an award-winning leader in the application of technology and the Internet to the practice of law. DennisKennedy.com gives you access to a wide variety of Dennis Kennedy's resources on legal technology, his writings, his well-known blog, DennisKennedy.Blog, and information about how you can have Dennis speak to your organization or group.

Dennis Kennedy is one of the most knowledgeable legal technologists you will find. - Michael Arkfeld.

Dennis Kennedy, a lawyer and legal technology expert in St. Louis, Mo., has been a significant influence in the ever-evolving relationship between lawyers and the Web. - Robert Ambrogi

Archive for August, 2003

Costs of Using Dated Technology

Monday, August 18th, 2003

I had the chance at lunch today to discuss Lewis Kinard’s Law.com article Beware the Underlying Costs of Using Dated Technology. There’s no question that this is an important and timely issue that is receiving far less attention than it deserves in many law firms, and Kinard does a nice job of covering some of the major issues.
Unfortunately, I think the article will not convince many law firms. I think that it’s simply a matter of emphasis.
For me, there are three main reasons that outdated technology will cost a law firm dearly.
First, using outdated and non-upgraded software means that you are begging for a massive security and/or virus problem. This kind of problem will cost a firm a lot of money, but it will embarrass or even humiliate a firm with its clients and the public. If client confidentiality is compromised because a firm is running outdated software, the firm will have little or no defense in litigation on the matter – in addition to losing the client. It’s surprising to me that law firm malpractice insurance carriers have not pushed firms harder on this issue.
Second, many business people these days laugh at the technology of their law firms. Then they get frustrated. Then they get new representation. Clients think, reasonably, that part of customer service should be giving them work product in a format they can use. If you can’t open documents or work with files because your software is too old, they will start to look elsewhere.
Third, firms with outdated technology will not only have difficulty attracting excellent new lawyers, but they will lose some of their best lawyers. Want to embarrass your tech-savvy lawyers? Send them to a meeting with a three-year-old laptop computer. In almost every case I know where a lawyer left a large firm to start a new firm or practice, frustration with outdated technology played an important role. Almost everyone today has a better computer and newer software at home than what they have in the office. I have a friend in an AmLaw 100 firm that still runs Office 97 and he is genuinely embarrassed by that, especially when I razz him about it.
The great irony, of course, is that lawyers would be horrified if their clients wanted to rely only on the law as it was a few years ago.

An Answer to the Never-ending Bookmark Management Issue?

Wednesday, August 13th, 2003

Every so often I start to think about what will eventually take the place of the browser. Most of the time, I start to think this way after I get fed up with the continuing lousy state of bookmark/favorites management tools in the browsers. That means that, once again, I have a bunch of bookmarks, but can’t use them in a meaningful way.
Today, I have a new sense of optimisim.
The latest issue of ResearchAgent News has a link to a new program called Snippy, which is an Internet Explorer add-in that addresses a number of the “research management” issues that still plague serious research on the Internet.
The timing could not be better for me, because I’ve once again hit a point where my frustration with the standard browser bookmark/favorite tools is about to boil over. And that doesn’t even get to my latest question: how in the heck do I find a good way to store, track and return good items in a news aggregator?
Here’s the description of Snippy: “Use Snippy to save, organize, annotate and share snippets of useful web content. Simply ‘drag and drop’ text and/or graphics to Snippy and save into a category or project. Snippy date-stamps snippets alongside your comments and the original URL. . . . Internet research surveys show that over 25% of user bookmarks become obsolete within a year,and over 70% are rarely, if ever, re-used.”
While I can do most of these things one way or another, the process is exceedingly cumbersome. I’ve been thinking lately that just the ability to sort and look at my favorites in chronological groupings in just one step would be great. However, because I use category folders, that won’t work with current browser tools, at least with those that I can find.
In fact, I have a concern that the whole notion of nested folders won’t work well. That’s my concern about the “three-pane” news aggregators. My point of view is this: “Give me enough nested folders and I guarantee that I can’t find anything.”
So, having reached the end of my rope earlier today, I was so excited by the way Snippy dovetailed with my wants that I want to write about it before I even try it.
My first web site grew out of my first irritation with the inability to manage bookmarks meaningfully in a browser and I’ve written about this issue in the past.
I’ll be testing out Snippy, but I’m pleased simply that it has given me a bit of optimism on this subject.

Survey Says . . . Solo and Small Firm Tech

Tuesday, August 12th, 2003

While I generally question the “scientificity”and the validity of the conclusions we can draw because this survey is self-reporting, BeSpacific.com notes that the results of annual survey of technology use of solos and small firms by the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center have been released. These results are based on the forms returned by nearly 4,000 lawyers and they do represent some of the best information we have on the actual state of affairs of technology in law firms and I commend the ABA for making this effort.
On the other hand, I would warn against placing too much faith in the actual results rather than simply relying on them to indicate trends. While I don’t think that there is much in the survey results that will be surprising, it is interesting to note what a large percentage of respondents look to email listservs as information resources.
The report does not mention my most important finding about legal tech in the solo and small firm environment: the technology is so much cooler when you don’t have to run everything through and get approval from committees.

Gently Exiting the Vacation Mode

Monday, August 11th, 2003

As the song says, it’s always good for me to be back home again in Indiana. While visiting my parents this past week, I did something that I realized I haven’t done in many years – let myself drift into the vacation mode and let go of the need to “accomplish” some work even when on vacation. Instead, I found myself visiting with friends and family, completing a bike ride I’ve wanted to make since I was a child, spending time at my family’s farm and even attending a pickle festival and touring a pickle factory in a nearby town.
A good time to let thoughts percolate and I have some ideas for some new directions.
The little blog break was a good thing, too, because I now have a better feel for some of the things I’d like to do with this blog – new directions, a somewhat more personal approach, and some surprises, I suppose. I know that I sure do disagree with the recent article suggesting that lawyers who blog should take care to show no personality or, God forbid, mention their interest in Nascar. How will people know how much I’d appreciate great tickets to the Daytona 500 if I can’t mention it in my blog? Interestingly, in talking with friends, I notice the most eye-rolling and head-shaking about lawyers when I mention the comments of others that lawyers should take care to hide personality and opinions in blogs.
Watch this space for some new things.

10 Tips from PDF Gurus

Wednesday, August 6th, 2003

From the always useful PDFZone, 10 tips from the PDF best practices gurus. PDFZone also has lots of other great tips and features and a handy email newsletter with recent developments and other info.

New Issue of My Newsletter Released

Friday, August 1st, 2003

“What Did I Really License?” is the lead article in the latest issue of Dennis Kennedy’s Practical Technology Contract Review News. Check it out.

Increased Health Risks for Law Firms Without Casual Dress Policies

Friday, August 1st, 2003

Recent health findings may cause law firms to rethink prohibitions on casual dress. The concern is that tightly tied ties may damage eyesight by raising pressure in the eye, possibly leading to glaucoma. From the article: “The experts say that the ties are probably causing the problem because they are constricting the jugular vein, the main blood vessel returning blood from the head towards the heart.”