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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 December, 2003

Robert Scoble, Tom Peters and Me

Monday, December 29th, 2003

I have been trying to decide for a while about how best to write on this blog about my reactions to Tom Peters’ great new book, Re-Imagine!. Peters is a management guru I’ve enjoyed, thought about and relied upon for many years. He’s an author who seems to either enthuse or infuriate readers, with little or no middle ground.
I’m a big fan. Re-Imagine! is the book I read in 2003 that has had the biggest impact on my thinking and my approach. In fact, some of the new things I’ll be doing in 2004 are direct responses to things Peters says in Re-Imagine!
However, I’ve found the idea of blogging about the book to be a little daunting. The ideas seem a little too big to discuss in the blog format. I haven’t yet decided if I will take on that task.
But, today, I was delighted to see that Robert Scoble of the highly-visited and highly-regarded Scobleizer Weblog, has a recent post, Tom Peters is My Guru,” that reflects the same “whack to the side of the head” feeling I got from the book. I recommend reading Scoble’s post and I look forward to seeing more from Scoble as he suggests that he will be showing influences of Peters in his blog.
I also must agree with Scoble that Peters’ chapter called “Women Roar” is one of the most important chapters any business owner could read and ponder, especially for those who think in terms of new year’s resolutions and goals for 2004.
His chapter on education is also significant. In it, he poses more questions than answers, but points to some ways to think about education issues. Interestingly, the approach taken by my daughter’s school, The College School, provides many answers to the questions that Tom Peters raises about the next directions for education.

GiveLists, WishLists and Giveaways – Tangible Rewards for Bloggers

Monday, December 29th, 2003

I’ve been intrigued lately by the innovative ways bloggers have used to support their efforts – from pledge drives to tip jars to Amazon wishlists and other options. This phenomenon is cool and shows one of the many creative techniques that bloggers have developed, often by applying existing tools to new uses.
It makes good sense to me and I can’t wait to jump in.
I was fascinated to hear about WhatGoesAround.org and the variation on the wishlist idea they have developed to allow people to donate funds to your favorite charities. This approach, too, also makes sense in the context of ways that readers of blogs can do something to support their favorite blogs.
So, if you like what I’m doing with this blog and want to help support it, here are four things to consider doing:
1. Make a donation to one of the charities on my GiveList and, in particular, to The College School, the amazing and innovative school that my daughter attends.
2. Send me something on my Amazon WishList.
3. I have a growing collection of cool tech giveaway items (you know, like the logoed giveaway items you get in exhibit halls). If you are doing some cool new giveaway items for 2004, you can add me to your recipient list.
4. Help me learn about cool tools by sending me review copies of software, gadgets and the like.
Of course, there are also the traditional options of sponsoring a portion of my website or buying my services or products.
Best wishes for 2004!

A Good Summary of Internet Law in 2003

Monday, December 29th, 2003

Doug Isenberg, founder of the great GigaLaw.com site, writes a good retrospective on developments in Internet law in 2003. He discusses anti-spam laws, pop-up ads, file-sharing, domain names, taxes and other 2003 legal issues. A handy and useful summary.

Back Home and the Light of Day

Monday, December 29th, 2003

We’re back after a break to visit my parents and family in Indiana, a good trip in many ways.
Waiting for me on my return was the new issue of the Springsteen fanzine, “Backstreets.” In the issue, they mention the collection of Springsteen cover versions by various artists called Light of Day. The proceeds from the sale of this CD set go to benefit research on Parkinson’s Disease.
I mention this because my Mom has had Parkinson’s Disease for about seven years. She’s done well with the medications, with the occasional ups and downs. It seems that researchers are getting closer to finding some things that will really help those with Parkinson’s. Every little bit helps. If the music or the cause interests you, please consider buying this CD or targeting a part of your charitable giving to this cause.

Blawgspace is a Generous Place

Thursday, December 18th, 2003

Nearly every time I’ve spoken about the Internet over the last seven years, I always end by saying something to the effect that “I’ve found the Internet to be a helpful and generous place. There have been many people who given me great advice and many kindnesses over the years, and, as a result, I’m always happy to try to help people out, if I can, so that they can also experience some of the good things I’ve found in my Internet experiences.”
I like to use the example of how in my earliest days of e-mail, I sent an e-mail to document assembly guru Marc Lauritsen and he quickly responded with a detailed and helpful response. I’ve always tried, not always successfully or promptly, to take the same approach.
I noticed two things today that re-emphasized to me that the world of legal blogging, at least in its current early history, embodies that same sense of generosity.
In part, the reason for this is that some of the same people who were in the earliest groups of lawyers with web sites are also in the earliest group of blawgers. But, it is more the case that the earliest group of blawgers (the “First Ones”) also have been very generous and helpful to new blawgers. As just one example, Ernie the Attorney, Tom Mighell, Denise Howell (I still owe her a belated congratulations on the baby and look forward to working with her on the IP Memes newsletter in 2004), and others have gone out of their way to mention new blawgs and give new blawgers a bigger audience and more recognition at the start than they could ever have imagined. By the way, I was talking with Ernie on the phone today and I still feel like I’m getting the chance to speak with a major celebrity.
So, today, I noticed that Jeff Beard at the LawTech Guru Blog said some extremely nice and generous things about both Ron Friedmann and Michael Arkfeld. Not that that suprised me – Jeff is one of the truly good guys.
Second, Internet-for-lawyers guru and regular writing partner of mine, Jerry Lawson, is doing a set of posts that show his great generosity and readiness to build communities.
And here’s the cool part. When I watch lawyers on the news talk shows, there always seems to be so much bitterness, divisiveness and polarization – all those things that give lawyers a bad name.
As we near the end of 2003, it is so cool to see how blogs have not only brought back the enthusiasm and energy of the early days of the web, but also provided a medium in which lawyers can show that the TV picture is not the only picture, that lawyers can be creative, generous and help in creating communities.
With that, I salute those who have created the blawgosphere in 2003.

IT Portfolio Management

Wednesday, December 17th, 2003

Applying portfolio management theory to IT planning and projects has long been a favorite topic of mine. I noticed a few more good articles on the topic today.
First, Ron Friedman on the excellent Strategic Legal Technology Blog points to and discusses a very good article by Josh Fish of HubbardOne called “Using Strategic Technology to Win and Keep Business,” which appears in the November 2003 issue of the highly-recommended Peer-to-Peer Newsletter.
In the article, Fish discusses an online delivery mechanism for health care law developed by Reed Smith, the differences between “strategic” and “operational” technologies, and the role of portfolio management in IT planning. It’s a very good article, although I think that it underplays the element of diversification of IT portfolios and the fact that “risk-avoidance” techniques are, in the long run, riskier than a diversified strategy. In this context, I suggest taking a look at my articles, “Thinking Strategically about Technology” and “A Prudent Approach to Legal Technology Spending
in a Slowing Economy
.”
Second, CFO Magazine has a great article on IT portfolio management in general. The money quote:
“Technology portfolio management, experts say, may be the perfect tool for this task, since it is designed to steer scarce resources to the projects that will produce the greatest overall value. Rubin claims first-time adopters of IT portfolio management can reduce their existing IT costs by 25 to 30 percent in the first year.”
For a context in which to think about IT portfolio management, see my “Seven Easy Ways for Law Firms to Throw Away Money on Technology.”

Open Source Families and Facts

Monday, December 15th, 2003

A good day for finding helpful resources on the Open Source licenses.
First, my article, “Open Source Families and Facts,” has appeared on UnixReview.com. It’s a useful little article that sorts the Open Source licenses into four families and then illustrates some of the key features and differences among the various families. I also include a section on “Ten Practical Tips for Choosing, Using, and Living with an Open Source License.” It’s exciting for me to be published in a techie publication rather than a legal publication for a change.
Also, Pamela Jones’s post called “The GPL is a License, Not a Contract, Which is Why the Sky Isn’t Falling,” a helpful analysis of the “viral effect” question that arises with the General Public License. I’m not sure I buy the license vs. contract argument in its entirety, but I think that the discussion helps people understand the “viral” issue and shows how derivative works under the GPL should be handled.
A third greaat find is Joel Spolsky’s “Biculturalism,” a fascinating discussion of the differences between UNIX and Windows programmers that occurs in the context of Spolsky’s review of Open Source guru Eric Raymond’s new book, The Art of UNIX Programming. Spolsky’s essay can be read as a fascinating response and follow-up to Raymond’s seminal The Cathedral and the Bazaar.
I keep a page of Open Source license resources, including the law review article I wrote on the Open Source licenses in 2001 (watch for an updated, less-academic version of the article to appear soon in the Journal of Internet Law), on my web site.
The Open Source license are very important and, as Pamela Jones points out, it is also important that lawyers understand these licenses because there is some FUD out there. I hope that my articles and these resources help clarify some of the issues.

Legal Departments, Law Firms and the “Digital Divide”

Thursday, December 11th, 2003

There’s a great line spoken by Ambassador Kosh in Babylon 5: “The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote.”
I was reminded of this line today as I read “GCs Struggle to Hold the Line on Legal Spending” by Rob Thomas of Serengeti Law.
Here’s the money quote: “This strong level of dissatisfaction among corporate clients presents a clear opportunity for those firms that are willing to work with their clients to improve efficiency and predictability. Rather than waiting for their clients to impose new constraints, outside counsel can gain a competitive advantage by identifying and proposing practical solutions that will meet the needs of both sides of the relationship.”
Thomas describes the key problem: “In-house counsel are caught between a heavier workload and their companies’ need to hold the line on legal spending. . . . the top concern of most in-house counsel [currently 82 percent] is getting control over outside legal spending. Dissatisfaction with outside legal costs is leading companies to impose more constraints on firms and to send less work to them.”
Further, he adds, “And it’s clear that more in-house counsel are turning to technology to increase productivity in order to handle more work with current resources: The concern that increased the most this year was having ‘technology to improve the efficiency of the law department and work with outside counsel.’ In-house counsel are starting to close the technology gap with their colleagues at firms. Unlike last year, in-house counsel are generally planning to increase spending on various new technologies during the coming year. In general, as Internet-based systems, such as extranets and e-billing, have matured and gained mainstream acceptance, they have moved up in the list of technology priorities that law departments are considering. E-billing is at the top by a wide margin, with more than 28 percent of law departments currently considering implementing it with their firms. The smorgasbord of other technology to help law departments manage their legal work breaks down roughly into two categories: external tools [that include their firms], and internal tools [used only by the law department]. Among external technologies, law department extranets, currently used by about 20 percent of law departments, continue to grow in popularity as a way to share information.”
Take just a moment to recall that the most common reason law firms get fired is “lack of responsiveness.”
Now consider this statement: “In-house counsel report that firms are not cooperating when it comes to controlling legal costs. Each of the past three years, outside counsel have been rated lowest in performance on cost consciousness and predictive accuracy. In fact, the top suggestion for outside counsel is to be more concerned with costs. These sentiments are supported by reports of law firm resistance to alternative fees, failure to respond to requests for bids, and reluctance to accept other changes sought by in-house counsel.”
Anyone else hear the sound of a big train coming down the track?
I’ve been preaching on this topic for a while, and that’s part of the reason I like this article so much. The other reason is that it is very clear that this train is coming and part of my business is helping law departments and law firms deal with these trends. Since law firms don’t want to listen to the legal departments of their clients, I’m more than happy to help legal departments, through seminars or consulting projects, put together a package of technologies that will definitely get the attention of their law firms, or help them find lawyers who will listen.

Surviving Spam Filtering

Wednesday, December 10th, 2003

I recently made a decision to delete, without opening, all e-mail messages with a blank subject line. It became apparent that this type of message was an unsolicited advertisement. So, if you send me an e-mail with no subject and I don’t recognize your name or e-mail address, I will not be reading, let alone be responding to, your e-mail.
As with each backstep I’m forced to make because of spam, I feel a little sadness.
I’ve long argued that good e-mail practice requires good subject lines, but writing good subject lines has become imperative in today’s world of spam and spam filters.
Usability guru Jakob Nielsen makes a very similar point in his weekly column, “Automated Email From Websites to Customers,” in which he says:
“Transactional email can be a website’s customer service ambassador, but messages must first survive a ruthless selection process in the user’s in-box. Differentiating your message from spam is thus the first duty of email design.”
I’d only add that the same principles now apply to all e-mail as the combination of spammers and spam filtering have made the simple act of e-mailing much more complex.

The Digital Practice of Law Blog

Tuesday, December 9th, 2003

One of my favorite writers and speakers on legal tech topics is Michael Arkfeld. His book, The Digital Practice of Law, is probably the best one volume resource on legal technology that you can find because of his commonsense approach to the subject, even though some of the hardware sections have become a bit dated. He now has a blog (with RSS feed) on litigation and legal tech topics that should also become a great resource, particularly on litigation technology topics. In addition, his new book, Electronic Discovery and Evidence, has just been released and will probably become a standard reference text on this important subject.