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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 October, 2003

“Napster for Good Causes”

Friday, October 31st, 2003

Another fascinating article today – the topic: “social software” or tech projects that help people.
From the BBC News article:
“Good ideas that use technology to improve life offline are being sought by a new non-profit organisation.
MySociety is looking to turn the ideas into working projects that help people get involved with their community or make a contribution to civil society.”
“The basic criteria for ideas are that:
They must be internet based
They must have a real world impact
They must serve many people for the same cost as they serve a few”
Here’s another cool example of using the Internet to help people, via the Junkyard Blog: Operation Hero Miles offers a way to donate unused frequent flyer miles to allow soldiers to use use them for flights home. If you’re not using them any way, it seems like a pretty good use for them.

The End of Credit Hours in Academia?

Friday, October 31st, 2003

Fascinating article today about the push to end the credit hour system in academia.
From the article:
“Having time- and space-bound measures that equate learning with a certain place and a certain time is clearly outmoded. And yet it is the DNA embedded in both the academic and funding system,” said Jane Wellman, coeditor with Thomas Ehrlich of “How the Student Credit Hour Shapes Higher Education,” a recently released collection of essays on the credit hour.
The many different types of educational opportunities available today, including online education, are making the time-based approach less and less relevant.

Why Tables for Layout is Stupid

Tuesday, October 28th, 2003

I’ve been wanting to find a little time to experiment with CSS on my web pages. So, I’ve been collecting resources on the topic.
Today, I found a great set of presentation slides on the subject called “Tables for Layout is Stupid” that is an excellent introduction to the topic and points you toward the standard references. Highly recommended.

Calculating ROI on IT Security

Tuesday, October 28th, 2003

I spoke at an excellent CIO Security Forum put on the the St. Louis Chapter of the Association of IT Professionals on Saturday and learned tons of great stuff from the other panelists and audience.
One of the big issues raised was how to calculate return on investment for security efforts in order to sell security projects to management.
CFO magazine has a comprehensive discussion of this issue in an article called “Gremlin in the Works,” which is as good a starting point on this issue as I’ve seen.
Here’s the abstract:
“It’s almost impossible to figure ROI for information security investments. But as supply chains become more complex and business partners become more connected, IT security is increasingly the concern of the CFO.”

How Safe is Law Firm Data?

Friday, October 24th, 2003

An article in today’s ABA Journal eReport addresses the shocking lack of attention a surprising number of law firms pay to security. As I’ve mentioned previously, the tech survey cited in the article is self-reporting and not scientific, but these numbers are astonishing because they reflect what law firms are willing to confess.
Are clients asking the right questions?

IT Portfolio Management – Move it to the Top of Your List

Thursday, October 23rd, 2003

One of my favorite legal technology topics is portfolio management – how a firm can create and manage an IT strategy by using the notion of “portfolio management,” a Nobel prize winning concept as applied to investments.
I have seen in the last few days several solid articles on IT portfolio management, each of which I would recommend to anyone involved in setting IT strategy and to anyone trying to make sense out of what their IT departments are now doing.
Portfolio Management: Dos and Donts” in CIO Magazine gives six best practices for getting started on IT portfolio management.
Which Projects are Worth Your Time? from Baseline magazine draws on some real world examples and tries to share some lessons learned from experience.
Finally, “Project management is not the center of the IT universe” critiques a narrow, project-centered approach to IT and advocates practices more attuned to business goals.
The combination of these three articles will give you a good introduction to the idea of IT portfolio management. It’s a fascinating topic that I’ve thought about over the years (I wrote my first article on the subject in 1998) and I’ve had the chance to speak about it from time to time.

ABA TechShow 2004 Update

Thursday, October 23rd, 2003

As many of you know, I’m on the board for the American Bar Association’s TechShow 2004, one of the premier annual technology conferences for the legal industry. One of my goals as a board member is to help remove the qualifier “one of” from that description.
One piece to that puzzle is putting together a great slate of speakers and programs. We are well on the way to doing that and the final grid should be made public in another week or two.
Our speakers and attendees include some of the most tech-savvy lawyers in the world, many decision-makers and decision-influencers, and a large number of the leading writers, speakers and opinion leaders on legal technology.
If that appeals to you, you should consider attending. The registration info is at http://www.abanet.org/techshow/register.html. Check out the available discounts.
A second piece to the puzzle is to be sure that we have the exhibitors and sponsors necessary to give attendees access to both (1) the vendors they expect and want to see and (2) the vendors who are doing cool things that should be seen by our audience.
If your company wants to reach that kind of audience, you should consider being an exhibitor or sponsor. Detailed exhibitor/sponsor information is available at http://www.abanet.org/techshow/sponsorsexhibitors.html.
If I can answer questions, help with follow-up or help with suggestions for sponsorship or exhibitor ideas, please contact me.

The New Killer App for Lawyers?

Thursday, October 23rd, 2003

Take one Tablet PC. Add a copy of Microsoft’s new OneNote. Put it in the hands of lawyers.
Maybe you get a revolution.
Fantastic potential.
A wise Tablet PC vendor or developer would get this combination into my hands and help me evangelize the heck out of it.
I could not be more serious.

A Few Reactions to Office 2003 Launch Event

Thursday, October 23rd, 2003

I attended the Microsoft Office System Launch Event in St. Louis with my eyes open for the potential value to lawyers. I had read a number of articles suggesting that Office 2003 was an “unnecessary” upgrade and I wanted to see for myself.
I drew the opposite conclusion. There are aspects of Office 2003 that should be considered carefully by lawyers and law firms who either (1) wish to take advantage of some cool innovations or (2) want to improve productivity and business results. Those firms not interested in either category can go back to sleep now.
I’ll probably write an article with more detail at a later point, but I will note that the combination of Small Business Server and Office 2003 could be a dynamite package for a new small firm, and here are five observations I’ll share:
1. Microsoft has developed a standard edition of Small Business Server that provides most of the server software a small business needs (print and file sharing, remote access, et al) and some nice bonuses for $600 for 5 users (used to be $1,500). In addition, some hardware companies (I can’t remember which) are bundling a simple server plus SBS for not much more than $1,000. Additional users are added by 5-pack licenses. SBS can also be supported remotely, alleviating the need for a full-time IS person or on-site consultant.
2. Office 2003 (Small Business and Pro) has two programs built in that will have great utility for small law firms – a business contact manger in Outlook 2003 and Small Business Manager, an accounting and financial package. Both packages probably give you a solid 90% of the best stuff of what you’d expect from standalone programs (Act!, QuickBooks) and might (emphasize might) be alternatives to dedicated case management and legal accounting software in certain circumstances. Small Business Manager will allow you to create useful business analysis reports very easily.
3. Office 2003 (Small Business and Pro) once again contains Publisher, which can be used to create a variety of marketing materials and standard print items.
4. I continue to believe that the newest versions of Office have more features that are geared to the working lawyer. As other articles have indicated, Outlook 2003 is clearly the star of the new version. The integration between the office programs is pretty amazing.
5. OneNote – Very, very interesting application for lawyers. You’ll be hearing more from me about it.
Final Thought: I came out of the day-long session energized and seeing a lot of possibilities in the new versions. I think that’s a good sign. I’ll be curious to see what other legal tech experts think.

Presenting to Win – A Must Read

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2003

I’ve just finished the highly-praised Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story, by presentation guru Jerry Weissman. Add me to the list of fans.
As a frequenter presenter, I am constantly looking for ways to improve my presentations. If you forced me right now to pick just one book to have, this book would be it.
I recently (but before I read this book) completely revamped a presentation I had done because, although it was good, it did not seem to be effective enough. I thought that the revamped presentation, when I gave it, was 100% better than the first version. Reading Weissman’s book, I realized that I had improved the presentation by paying attention to and actually choosing one of the approaches he lists under the category of “Flow.”
If you want to be a great presenter, study Weissman’s book – he’s been advising speakers for years and there are a lot of tips and techniques that I fully agree with based on my own experiences. Even if you only get what he is saying about “Point B” and include one, you’ll stand out from the crowd of run of the mill speakers.
Finally, and this may be most important, Weissman’s book is also the best resource on using PowerPoint that I’ve found. If you read what he has to say about the distinct roles of presenters and presentations, you’ll have a solid understand about how to use PowerPoint.
There have been many articles about the “evils” of PowerPoint and the terrible effects that it has had on society. I don’t agree with any of that. PowerPoint is a tool. What’s the point of blaming a tool? I don’t get it. The problems I see with the use of PowerPoint in presentations arise out of the way the tool is used, not because of the tool itself. As Weissman says, “The presenter is the focus of the presentation.” Keep that in mind and you will do well with PowerPoint.