The Alarm: VH1 Bands Reunited

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

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

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!

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

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.