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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 January, 2004

The Alarm: VH1 Bands Reunited

Friday, January 30th, 2004

Every now and then you see something on cable TV that makes you think that there’s still hope for television. Last night, I accidentally ran across a show on VH1 called Bands Reunited: The Alarm. The premise is kind of fun. They track down the former members of a band that was hot many years ago and then disappeared. They try to get the members to agree to meet, to talk and to play together again for a few songs.
The episode I watched focused on The Alarm. The story of their breakup is pretty classic – the singer announced on stage before the last song on the last tour that he was leaving and walked away.
It was good to be reminded of what a great band the Alarm was, how you don’t seem to hear many of those great anthemic songs like “Sixty-eight Guns” anymore, and how much I enjoyed their early albums in particular.
And it was great to see them, years later, pick up the instruments, give the song a reading that captured both the enthusiasm of youth and the lessons learned in the years since in a way that just plain rocked.
Highly recommended.

Good Summary of 2003 Cyberlaw Cases

Tuesday, January 27th, 2004

As far as I can tell, this article on cyberliability cases in 2003 by Jeffrey Cunard and Jennifer Coplan of Debevoise & Plimpton is available for free from the well-known continuing legal education provider PLI.
PLI offers several free newsletters, including one called the Lawyer’s Toolbox, which gives you highlights from seminars and links to excellent program materials. It’s a very good resource that I doubt that many people know about.

The MasterList 2004

Monday, January 26th, 2004

One of the most enjoyable benefits that I’ve gained from my writing and other involvement in legal technology has been getting to meet a number of really interesting people who have developed some very useful products. One of those people is Bill Neubert and one of those products in The MasterList.
Bill contacted me a few years ago and wanted me to test and write a review of his new case management tool. I remember telling him that other people covered case management software far better than I could, but if he had something different, especially something that took a “project” approach, then I’d definitely like to take a look.
I expected that a project approach would not be part of his software, but I’ll be darned if that wasn’t exactly what he had. I ended up writing an article that I never expected to write.
There’s a quote from me on The MasterList website that sums up my favorable opinion of this software:
“The MasterList is one of the very few legal software programs that I’ve ever been asked to review that’s actually become a program that I use and rely upon every day. I’ve found that The MasterList is a program that fits the way I work and I don’t have to adapt what I want to do to fit the program. I look at my work, inside and outside my practice, as a series of projects. The MasterList allows me to manage projects — break them into tasks, actions and deadlines. In The MasterList, you can take a look at your ‘My Day’ list in the morning and then ‘blast’ (I love that term for this function) items that can wait to the appropriate days forward on your calendar. It’s a simple, but highly effective, tool. With its integrated features like word processing and linking to other programs, The MasterList can be a good place to ‘live at’ all day long on your computer. Bill Neubert is definitely doing some cool things with The MasterList.”
Bill and I have had a number of conversations over the years, ranging from mind mapping to the organizational approaches of David Allen, as set out in his classic book, Getting Things Done (which I thoroughly recommend to anyone who feels like the old to-do list has spun way out of control). For fans of David Allen, The MasterList gives you a tool to implement Allen’s systems. I also like the fact that Bill has added a couple of features I requested over the last few years.
However, there may be no more competitive area (and one with more choices) in legal technology than case management software, and The MasterList has not gotten a lot of traction over the years.
I was very pleased to see that The Masterlist has now been refocused (with a reduced price) as a project organizer and to-do management tool. The program clearly has had usefulness far outside the legal market since the beginning.
As the website says, “A tool that can realistically help you figure out what tasks represent the most productive use of your time is the holy grail of time management. . . . The MasterList is a system for making realistic choices.”
The MasterList is a fascinating, flexible and functional software tool. I love software that does something I really need in a way that works the way I work and also has a depth of features to allow me to grow in my use of the program. The MasterList is one of the programs that I have found that fits the category for me.
If taming your to-do lists, managing the hundred or so projects each of us have, and otherwise gaining some sense of control over the tasks in front of you is one of your goals for 2004, take a good close look at The MasterList.

The New Issue of Law Practice Today – Wow!

Friday, January 23rd, 2004

As an editor of the publication, I’ll admit to being a little biased, but we’ve outdone ourselves with this month’s issue of the ABA Law Practice Management Section’s webzine, “Law Practice Today,” (RSS Feed). I count 18 new articles on legal technology, marketing, management and finance topics, from a collection of great authors. The issue includes a roundtable discussion by a group of law students and young lawyers on what the legal practice will look like in 20 years, and a great collection of articles considering the idea of “virtual law firms,” anchored by a series of articles from Joe Kashi, who is another lawyer who should be blogging.
My articles in this issue are A Vision for Virtual Law Firms–Questions You Should Be Asking and Looking into the Crystal Ball for the Legal Profession–Great Resources for Innovating Your Law Practice, but you can jump into this issue anywhere and be well-rewarded.

Inverting the IT Pyramid

Friday, January 23rd, 2004

Jeffrey Kaplan’s article, “Inverting the IT Pyramid,” is one of the most thought-provoking or thought-promoting articles I’ve read in a while. He discusses the evolution of technology product companies into services companies.
Do the ideas also apply to legal technology? Does it makes sense for the companies who make the best legal software to also offer legal services? If you can’t get law firms to consider the client benefits of your technology, why not eliminate the middleperson and deliver the benefits to clients by offering them through your own law / professional services firm? I know, I know, there are some rules out there that might get in the way.
But think of it this way – if Intuit makes the tax software, why couldn’t I conclude that they also know how to use it best and might well be the best, most efficient and cheapest place to get high-quality tax preparation services. Just a thought.

The Linked-In Mini-Boomlet

Thursday, January 22nd, 2004

I noticed that some of my “social network” connected into the LinkedIn network and I had a little flurry of requests today.
I don’t know much about the social networking phenomenon, but, I respect the people who asked me to tie into their networks enough that I willing to experiment with it.
That means that if you are in the LinkedIn network and you know me (and I know you), please feel free to send me an invitation. I’ll either go ahead and add myself as one of your connections or, if I don’t know you, ask you who the heck you are.
I doubt that I’ll be proactive on this until I get a better sense of how it works. But, if it involves the Internet, collaboration and creating communities, I’m definitely interested.

Hiding the Elephant

Thursday, January 22nd, 2004

Arthur C. Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
I’ve just finished Jim Steinmeyer’s excellent book, “Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear,” which nicely meets the standard of being both educational and entertaining.
Steinmeyer walks us through the history and characters of the Golden Age of magic (roughly mid-1800s to mid-1900s) and gives a peek behind the curtains to explain the evolution and development of the great magical illusions. But, what’s great is that his explanations do not diminish your admiration for the illusions. In fact, I am left with a deeper appreciation of the classic magic tricks that fall into the category of illusions – sawing the woman in half, making ghosts appear, floating people, and making even elephants disappear.
And, I’ll be darned if mirrors actually do play a role.
It’s a fascinating world of large personalities, patented tricks, stolen tricks and an effort to create bigger and bigger illusions. The history leads up to Houdini making an elephant disappear on stage, which the author was later to replicate in a tribute to historical magic.
In a sense, any sufficiently advanced magic is explicable by technology, but it still stays magical. That is, unless your rival magician reveals the secret to your audience and they run you out of town.
A very good book that you might want to read for a nice change of pace.

Here’s Something That Makes it All Worth It

Wednesday, January 21st, 2004

I got a nice email today from Peter Judson, a teacher in Montreal, who wanted to let me know that he had linked to my Ten Tips for Making a PowerPoint Presentation article and had used some of my points to help his 7th grade students prepare to do some project presentations.
I took at look at the site he created and then looked at the slides under “Mr. Judson’s Presentation.”
I’ve published hundreds of article in all kinds of places, but I don’t know if I’ve ever been more flattered by someone making my ideas available or seen a more satisfying use of my writing.
I sit here thinking that there are not many things that are as cool as being able to help kids do cool things and to help the teachers who really care about helping kids do cool things. It’s one more cool Internet experience and another e-mail that has made one of my days.
By the way, the Sacred Heart School of Montreal looks like a school that is doing some great things. If you happen to be someone with influence over grants and funds that get donated to schools for innovative uses of technology, I suggest you might add this school (along with The College School) to your list for consideration.

Tablet PC for Lawyers Web Page

Wednesday, January 21st, 2004

In some ways, my web history consists of a number of repetitions of my 1995 experience in creating the Estate Planning Links Web Site.
The story goes like this: I search for information on a topic of interest to me. There is good information out there, but it is scattered all over the Internet, with no good way to get from one resource to another or to see them all in one place. I say, “I’m might as well put my bookmarks up on the web, so I can get to them and maybe they’ll help some other people.” Suddenly, I have a new web page, which gradually grows to have an audience, because people like to find a handy starting point to find good information about a topic.
Most recently, I had this experience when looking for information about Tablet PCs, in general, and their use by lawyers, in particular. Once again, I noticed the familiar itch and, almost before I knew it, I scratched that itch in my standard way. There is now a Tablet PC for Lawyers web page.
I’ll build this page out so it collects links and other info about Tablet PCs, with a special focus on use by lawyers. If you know of other sites or resources that I should include, please let me know.

Eerie Spam

Monday, January 19th, 2004

While I generally find the ways that spammers devise to beat spam filters to be quite creative and amusing, the recent trend of using random names has been a little unsettling for me in the last few days.
I’ve had to look at a couple of e-mails that I had almost no doubt were spam, but they were “from” names that were identical to the names of people I knew from high school, although from a year or two outside my graduating class. In other words, I had to look. Not suprisingly, these familiar names were offering great deals on vi*gra.
Speaking of spam, I recommend that you take a look at Fred Langa’s recent e-mail experiment that suggests that as many as 40% of legitimate e-mail messages may be filtered out by today’s spam filtering software.
These results back up my argument that spam filters have destroyed the trust we used to have in e-mail. Is the cure worse than the problem? Will I be calling you to see whether you got my e-mail?