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. 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 June, 2004

Matt Homann’s Five by Five

Monday, June 14th, 2004

When I talked with Matt “the [non]billable hour” Homann this past weekend, he told me how excited he was about his first “Five by Five” feature. Now, I see why.
Matt’s idea is to get a group of five experts to give lists of five ideas on a number of topics.
The first Five by Five covers “What are the five worst mistakes a lawyer can make when marketing to a female potential client? Alternatively, what are the five best things a lawyer can do to secure a female’s business?”
The responses are fantastic and deserve a wide audience. The interviewees include Kirsten Osolind, Michelle Miller, Anita Campbell, Yvonne Divita, and Jennifer Rice, all of whom have excellent blogs.
There is a tremendous amount of wisdom and practical advice in these posts. I’ve cringed in meetings when I’ve seen many of the “points to avoid” repeated by male attorneys. Great stuff.

Missouri Solo and Small Firm Conference Rocks!

Monday, June 14th, 2004

I just returned from the Missouri Bar?s annual Solo and Small Firm Conference, which is widely-known as the premier event of its kind in the country. The 2004 conference was a complete sellout, registration was closed two weeks before the date, and roughly 700 lawyers attended (out of slightly more than 800 lawyers who are members of the Solo and Small Firm Committee). Linda Oligschlaeger, her colleagues at the Missouri Bar, David Ransin, and the planning committee once again outdid themselves.
It?s difficult to imagine a conference that is more fun and people-oriented. I met lots of great people, many of whom I?d only known of by email, and got the chance to learn lots of new things.
I also continued my streak of having really great co-presenters. I, perhaps foolishly, agreed to give six presentations at the conference, but only two were solo. I got my first chance to co-present with Bruce Dorner, one of the top legal tech consultants for small firms and solos in the country and a terrific speaker. We presented on Troubleshooting Computers (which collected many of our best tips and was well-received) and on Wireless Networking (a topic in which there was a lot of interest). Those were fun and Bruce is a joy to work with.
I also got to do a computer forensics and e-discovery presentation with John Mallery. I was really pleased with the approach that we took to this subject and the response we got. John is not only very knowledgeable, but his history includes 15 years of working as a standup comedian. I?ll work with him again any time. We had fun and got a number of comments about how well we worked together. Better yet, I had someone who I didn?t know tell me that our computer forensics presentation was the best one they saw at the conference. I admit that it?s only one vote out of 700, but it?s still nice to hear.
Finally, I finished the conference with Bruce Dorner, Natalie Thornwell (one of my fellow TECHSHOW Board members) and Reid Trautz ? all prominent ABA Law Practice Management Section members and national speakers ? doing a 60 Tech Tips in 60 Minutes presentation that was very fun. It?s great to be on stage with a group of excellent speakers, all of whom are comfortable and easy to work with, with a great give-and-take. Reid is such an inventive presenter ? his last two slides had the audience breaking out into cheers, at 4:00 on a Saturday afternoon!
I always find that I learn new lessons every time I speak. Two key lessons from this conference were: when the projector is hanging from the ceiling, you cannot turn it on without a tech person, and never download and install an update to a program you plan to demo in a session without testing it beforehand (my apologies to those I promised the full Adobe Acrobat 6.0 demo, but hope that I made a reasonable recovery).
I also got to have some extended conversations with my good friend Bob Wiss of CaseSoft and Matt ?the [non]billable hour? Homann, and get in a short vacation with my family. Not too bad at all. Now I turn to catching back up on everything else.

Tom Peters Moves to Blog Format

Thursday, June 10th, 2004

I’m a big fan of Tom Peters and it’s great to see that he is moving his web site to a blog format. Apparently, he is still making a decision about RSS feeds.

A $3 Answer to Document Management

Wednesday, June 9th, 2004

IBM has pre-announced a new approach to document management, according to Transform Magazine, with attention-getting pricing. More fodder for discussion for those interested in the current state of document management systems. The very least impact it will have is to require other alternatives to create per seat per month price comparisons.

Ronald Reagan, Rest in Peace

Monday, June 7th, 2004

I went to law school at Georgetown from 1980 – 1983. I don’t think that it is possible for any president to make a greater impression on you than the one in office while you live in DC, and I’ve never found anyone who didn’t live in the DC area the day Reagan was shot who has the kind of feelings that those of us there did and still do. I haven’t been back to DC in 21 years, but I have to admit that there’s a big part of me that feels like the right thing to done is to make it to the Capitol rotunda in the the next few days.
I’ve known for a while that the inevitable announcement of his death would sadden me greatly, in part because of the dignity and eloquence of his last note and the way his family handled the decline and deterioration of his Alzheimer’s disease and in part because of knowing what the disease takes away. It surprises many of my friends that I’m a Reagan fan, but I came to that later in life (after I learned that you could like people and not have to agree with their politics). There was something about that “Mr.. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” that turned my opinion. I wrote a little bit about some of this a while backfor those who might be interested.
In contrast to the noise, yelling, pessimism vitriol, unwillingness to admit mistakes and lack of humor that characterizes today’s political debate, it’s good to see that the Reagan memories bring us back to notions of civility, avoidance of personal attacks, decency, optimism and humor, especially the ability to make a joke at your own expense) that are so characteristic of the Reagan approach. When I saw Walter Mondale Saturday night telling warm stories and laughing while describing his 1984 campaign against Reagan (and compared it to the recent ranting, screaming performances of Al Gore). it made me a little sad about what has changed over the years.
In fact, as I spent most of Saturday evening watching the Reagan coverage, I was struck by how the idea of story-telling is so closely tied to my memories of Reagan. And, such great stories. With endings like, “and then the Cold War was over.”
When I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, there was a constant, nagging fear of nuclear war. I remember walking across the campus shortly after I turned 21 and thinking, “I guess I’m going to have to decide what to do after I graduate – I really thought they would have blown everything up by now.” I think surveys from that time show that my view was not uncommon.
It’s hard to underestimate the relief that came as we gradually realized that the Cold War was indeed over and the threat of nuclear annihilation had left us as a daily concern. Part of the funk and depression I’ll always associate with 9/11 was that an equally great, but more random and unpredictable, danger had returned and would stay for a long time and could appear, unlike the nuclear annihilation we imagined in elementary school, without a build-up or warning.
Most of the time, you’ll never find a bigger technology optimist than I am. For me, it’s the communication, creation of communities, connections to others and the ability to share than means the most to me. Frankly, I lost a lot of that optimism after 9/11, when I felt that the trend and momentum of the early wave of the Internet was lost and that we could well slip backward to a different, isolated world with inflexible and intolerant visions.
Lately, my optimism has returned, due to blogs and RSS and the community they’ve created. It’s amazing to me.
But, I have two stories to add about Ronald Reagan.
The first reflects a much different time. In the fall of 1980, I walked over to see a rally for candidate Reagan at the Capitol. One of the benefits of being in DC was that you could see these kinds of things in person and I believe that I’d seen President Carter live earlier that fall (interesting that my Reagan memory is so vivid and I’m not even sure if I saw Carter). I was able to walk up to maybe 20 feet away from the side of the podium (as I said, these were different times, especially in security practices). In fact, Jack Kemp stood beside me and introduced himself to me and shook my hand (a thrill since I was a fan of the AFL Buffalo Bills – not surprisingly, he was shorter than I expected from my childhood memories). When I first saw Reagan, I was surprised that he seemed to be about my height, since he always gave the impression of being a much taller man. That said, I noticed that he had that aura of a larger presence that I’ve later come to know as the “star” factor. Unfortunately, I didn’t meet Reagan and this story has no great punchline. It’s just a nice memory.
The other story is my favorite to tell when people ask why I loved being in Washington while Reagan was President. DC in those days was a land of giants when you think about it: Reagan and Tip O’Neil, Joe Gibbs and John Riggins, Patrick Ewing and John Thompson, the original pairing of Howard Stern and Robin Quivers. Reagan always gave you the feeling that we was a regular citizen in the White House. He always called World Series and Super Bowl champs after the games and you knew that he watched them. In fact, you often knew that your president was doing the same thing that you were. The press was always after him on this. Once they got the story that Reagan watched reruns of Charlie’s Angels in the afternoon. Well, most of us would have just denied it. Not, President Reagan. He said something like, “they are just good detective stories.” As so many people have pointed out in other examples – the perfect, self-deprecating and humorous answer. We all wish we could be so comfortable in our skin to be able to do the same. It strikes me as a good thing to have a president who seems to be one of us.
However, the legacy of Reagan became clear to me in his valedictory speech at the 1992 Republican Convention, a speech crowded out of the limelight by some earlier controversial speeches. I’ve quoted from it at length below, from the point where I realized that I was seeing and hearing something magical and, in its own way, as clear, eloquent and powerful expression of that optimistic and proud strand of Americanism that so many of us, although a little embarrassed to admit, really feel at heart.
Hey, we never get it all the way right, but if we didn’t have this outlook, we’d never keep trying.
Here’s the quote and I recommend that you take the time to give it a read in the next few days:
“Some might believe that the things we have talked about tonight are irrelevant to the choice. These new isolationists claim that the American people don’t care about how or why we prevailed in the great defining struggle of our age — the victory of liberty over our adversaries. They insist that our triumph is yesterday’s news, part of a past that holds no lessons for the future.
Well nothing could be more tragic, after having come all this way on the journey of renewal we began 12 years ago, than if America herself forgot the lessons of individual liberty that she has taught to a grateful world.
Emerson was right. We are the country of tomorrow. Our revolution did not end at Yorktown. More than two centuries later, America remains on a voyage of discovery, a land that has never become, but is always in the act of becoming.
But just as we have led the crusade for democracy beyond our shores, we have a great task to do together in our own home. Now, I would appeal to you to invigorate democracy in your own neighborhoods.
Whether we come from poverty or wealth; whether we are Afro-American or Irish-American; Christian or Jewish, from big cities or small towns, we are all equal in the eyes of God. But as Americans that is not enough we must be equal in the eyes of each other. We can no longer judge each other on the basis of what we are, but must, instead, start finding out who we are. In America, our origins matter less than our destinations and that is what democracy is all about.
A decade after we summoned America to a new beginning, we are beginning still. Every day brings fresh challenges and opportunities to match. With each sunrise we are reminded that millions of our citizens have yet to share in the abundance of American prosperity. Many languish in neighborhoods riddled with drugs and bereft of hope. Still others hesitate to venture out on the streets for fear of criminal violence. Let us pledge ourselves to a new beginning for them.
Let us apply our ingenuity and remarkable spirit to revolutionize education in America so that everyone among us will have the mental tools to build a better life. And while we do so, let’s remember that the most profound education begins in the home.
And let us harness the competitive energy that built America, into rebuilding our inner cities so that real jobs can be created for those who live there and real hope can rise out of despair.
Let us strengthen our health care system so that Americans of all ages can be secure in their futures without the fear of financial ruin.
And my friends, once and for all, let us get control of the federal deficit through a Balanced Budget Amendment and line item veto.
And let us all renew our commitment. Renew our pledge to day by day, person by person, make our country and the world a better place to live. Then when the nations of the world turn to us and say, “America, you are the model of freedom and prosperity.” We can turn to them and say, “you ain’t seen nothing, yet!”
For me, tonight is the latest chapter in a story that began a quarter of a century ago, when the people of California entrusted me with the stewardship of their dreams.
My fellow citizens — those of you here in this hall and those of you at home — I want you to know that I have always had the highest respect for you, for your common sense and intelligence and for your decency. I have always believed in you and in what you could accomplish for yourselves and for others.
And whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunity’s arm steadying your way.
My fondest hope for each one of you — and especially for the young people here — is that you will love your country, not for her power or wealth, but for her selflessness and her idealism. May each of you have the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, and the hand to execute works that will make the world a little better for your having been here.
May all of you as Americans never forget your heroic origins, never fail to seek divine guidance, and never lose your natural, God-given optimism.
And finally, my fellow Americans, may every dawn be a great new beginning for America and every evening bring us closer to that shining city upon a hill.
Before I go, I would like to ask the person who has made my life’s journey so meaningful, someone I have been so proud of through the years, to join me. Nancy …
My fellow Americans, on behalf of both of us, goodbye, and God bless each and every one of you, and God bless this country we love. “

It strikes me that there are probably not many better legacies to be known for than to be the one who always said: “Our best days are yet to come.”

Noble Ideas That Probably Won’t Work Department: #419

Friday, June 4th, 2004

Nigeria may use software to nab 419 scammers
From the article:
“Nigeria plans to launch software that would help catch fraudsters who send scam letters via email, known as the 419 advance fee fraud, a meeting on the sidelines of Africa’s World Economic Forum has heard.
The new technology, which would identify key words used in such letters, is likely to be made available to Internet service providers and government departments, Mustafa Bello, executive secretary of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission said.
‘The introduction of new software, currently under discussion within the Nigerian parliament, will scan emails originating in Nigeria to look for keywords commonly found, especially relating to banking and the country’s petroleum industry’” Bello said late on Wednesday after a discussion on the issue on the sidelines of the conference.”

PDF Zone Has RSS Feeds

Friday, June 4th, 2004

PDF Zone is great resource for information about PDF, Adobe Acrobat and the Acrobat alternatives. The website and email newsletter consistently have great tips and info. PDF Zone now offers a choice of RSS feeds. As Robert Scoble would say. . . Subscribed! Note that registration info is required to get the feed (although I suspect some people can figure out a workaround).

Email Management – Eating My Own Dog Food

Thursday, June 3rd, 2004

I’ll be giving a presentation on email management next week. In the grand tradition of “practicing what you preach” and “eating your own dog food,” I felt obligated to make sure that I brought my own email management into shape before the presentation.
Last year, the title of my talk referred to “email managment.” This year the title refers to “email triage.” I think the shift in terminology reflects reality.
As a general rule, the cornerstone to successful email management is keeping an empty inbox. The sheer volume of email can make this difficult to achieve on a daily basis and I was way behind, but I really had no problem today getting my inbox to zero (down from 343, which reflects only messages to which I cannot easily apply rules).
One of the my new and recommended email practices is using the flags in Outlook 2003. If I have an email I need to respond to in short order, I give it a red flag and move it out of the inbox and into the appropriate folder. I use other color flags to mean different things. I’ve also set up some saved search folders and can look at the entire set of messages with a certain color flag all in one folder. It seems like a good system.
Unfortunately, red-flagging an email does not mean that you have already responded to it. After patting myself on the back for easily clearing my inbox , I looked into the red flag folder and found . . . 164 items. I knew it was going to be bad, but gee whiz. By working through the list, banging out some easy replies, clearing some red flags that no longer needed to be there and changing the color of some flags, I worked the red flag list down to a much-more manageable, ahem, 93 items, many of which require some kind of thoughtful response that can’t be dashed off.
So, to all of you to whom I owe a reply, I say, man, I’m really sorry, and I promise that you’ll hear from me soon (and, no, don’t think that because I’m posting to my blog that I think that my blog is more important than answering your email – it’s just a different thing).
It’s another example of why it is better to find “touch it once” systems than “handle it later” systems.
The sad thing is that I know that I’m really good at email management – it’s just that the sheer volume is overloading any reasonable systems, for me and everyone else. I think that the root of the problem is we’re trying to make email do too many things for which it is not well suited.

IT Manager.Net: Here’s Someone Who Deserves a Big Raise

Thursday, June 3rd, 2004

Roger Bonine of IT Manager.Net hits a towering home run with his post “Are Document Management Systems Broken?” His post was a response to Cindy Chick’s response to my discussion-starter question of, uh, are document management systems broken?
Roger makes his points so well that I simply suggest that you read the post for yourself. I think that it is essential reading for any law firm CIO or IT Director thinkiing about the document management issue. Roger has not only identified the key problems, but, and this is the point I want to emphasize, he has also developed some creative ways to address those problems.
Roger’s firm has a tremendous (and probably underpaid) asset. Roger, feel free to take a copy of this post into your bosses and say “Look this guy says I deserve a big raise immediately.”

Tenet and Untenability

Thursday, June 3rd, 2004

I’ve been thinking how smart I would have seemed if I had posted on this topic last night as I had planned.
George “It will take us another five years to have the kind of clandestine service our country needs” Tenet must have just read the two books I just finished.
The first, Al Qaeda’s Great Escape, by Philip Smucker, tells a reporter’s view of the Afghan war and the Tora Bora debacle. It’s worth a read just to get the colleague’s view of Geraldo Rivera’s personal campaign to get Bin Laden – hilarious. The story of Tora Bora and, especially, Operation Anaconda stunned this amateur student of military strategy. T
he second, Blood from Stones, by Douglas Farah, tries to unravel the threads of terrorist financing, with chilling impact. There is much to be learned by following the money. Unfortunately, bureacratic turf wars seem to be harming the effort.
Both books paint very troubling pictures and the CIA comes out the worst. It’s also becoming clearer that the FBI and CIA are back to their turf wars and that Homeland Security is not calling the shots on homeland security. I suspect that intelligence info is still in too many separate silos. The vulnerabilities we continue to have and tolerate are disturbing, especially when no one is willing to admit that they ever made a mistake.
The most troubling question: is there greater danger in continuing the current course with the same people or opening up a huge window of vulnerability during the natural confusion of a change in administration? That’s a tough one. If Kerry can get people to the threshold that he can do a decent job on security, he’s probably got the election. I don’t think he’s done that and I’m someone who actually read the book about his life and war experiences and was impressed. Unfortunately, I was left wondering if the current Kerry is still like the young Kerry. If Kerry asked my opinion, and God knows he does not, floating the names of the people he’d appoint to key positions probably would do the trick for most people.
In any event, there are many reasons for heads to be rolling in Washington. In my mind, it makes sense for Tenet to be the first. Since it’s easier to fire the coach than the whole team, the current war between top military officials and Rumsfeld make him very likely to be next. Then the Ridge/Ashcroft battle will probably resolve in favor of Ridge. My wildcard guess, by the way, is that Cheney will step down and move to Secretary of Defense or Homeland Security, leaving Bush to pick a new VP (Rudy G?). In any event, the Tenet resignation will not be a solitary event – there’s a lot going on in Washington under the surface. I only hope that people remember to mind the shop while they jockey for position.
In the meantime, follow John Robb’s fantastic Global Guerillas blog and try to convince yourself that we are not preparing to fight the previous war.
Reminder: These predictions are for entertainment purposes only, unless I happen to be right. In that case, I reserve the right to claim that I am prescient.