Technology-Lawyer

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 August, 2004

High Tech, High Touch Via the ASP Model – Sendoutcards.com and Lawyer Marketing

Tuesday, August 31st, 2004

I make no secret of the fact that I’m probably the biggest fan of the ASP (application service provider) model in the world of legal technology. I’ve recently learned of a very cool ASP approach that epitomizes the concept of “high tech, high touch.”
My friend Glenn “The EsqLawTech Weekly” Garnes called me recently to talk to me about Sendoutcards.com. Glenn is an innovator, so I always take notice of anything he finds interesting. He usually has a good new business idea or two for me in the conversation as well.
My first reaction was that Glenn was describing to me an e-card service. I was wrong.
Sendoutcards.com applies the ASP model to the physical world of greeting cards and postcards. Think of “print on demand” cards.
It’s a classic web interface approach. I can upload my contacts and mailing list. I can select among 2,500 card designs. I can add a personal message, of course. Even better, I can edit the standard message. How many times have you found a great card, only to open it and find an inappropriate message? I can even create and use a font based on my own handwriting.
After I get my mailing prepared, I transmit my order. Sendoutcards.com then physically prints out my cards and envelopes, has them stuffed into addressed envelopes, puts a first-class stamp on them, and mails them out.
Your clients and friends will receive a great, personalized card from you in the mail. It’s easy to send cards on a regular basis to clients, friends and relatives. How good a job are you doing to get that done?
The cost: $1.00 per greeting card (including postage). A smaller amount for postcards.
Think of the last time you were at a drugstore or mall looking for cards. It took a long time and you ended up grabbing some sort of a compromise card. You probably paid $3 or more for the privilege.
Think of the costs in supplies, time and labor for your firm or organization to send out holiday cards or do a postcard marketing campaign. Sendoutcards.com is an attractive alternative, isn’t it? Don’t just think small firms or individuals. We all know the hassles in managing the greeting card mailings for a large law firm under your current “beg the attorneys to send out their cards” process. And that season will soon be upon us.
I had Glenn set me up with an account. He’s a distributor. You can simply use the service or you can turn it into an income opportunity for yourself or your firm. Glenn has all the details. Take a look at the detailed info Glenn has put together at http://www.greetingcardwiz.com/. Then get in touch with Glenn by way of the contact link on that site (or contact him directly through his blog). Just tell Glenn you came to him from me or my blog and he’ll take care of getting you set up.
Heck, Glenn can even set you up to use the system to send a card for yourself to experience how it works – a great idea if you have a wedding anniversary or spouse’s birthday coming up soon. I’ll personally vouch for that.
By way of disclosure, there is a little something in it for me if you sign up through Glenn and mention my blog, but it’s better than the alternative of having me set up a little tip jar on this blog and begging for donations because you like my blog, isn’t it? In any event, I wouldn’t recommend the service if I didn’t see a potential value and benefit for my readers. And, I use the service myself.
It’s a great of example of “high tech, high touch” and a great way to save money while staying in better touch with your clients, friends and others. That’s a combination that’s hard to beat.

Client-Centric Marketing: What Clients Want

Monday, August 30th, 2004

From the excellent SmartPros newsletter:
Client-Centric Marketing: What Clients Want makes a compelling case for August Aquila and Bruce Marcus’s Client at the Core: Marketing and Managing Today’s Professional Services Firm.
Here are some excerpts from the review’s excerpts from the book:

  • Because clients are more sophisticated in the ways of the law and accounting, they no longer accept the advice of the professional without questioning, challenging, demanding more reasoning and detail.
  • Because of the complexity of business today, clients demand that their professionals know more about the clients’ business and industry than ever before.
  • Professional services always function best when trust is at the heart of the relationship, but the corporate scandals of recent years have eroded that trust. That trust must now be regenerated.
  • Where once the narrow structures of a profession were sufficient to serve clients, clients now demand a broader spectrum of capabilities. The more broadly educated and well-rounded professional is the one with the greater advantage in meeting the needs of today’s clients.

These excerpts are singing one of my songs – note the emphasis I placed on client-driven technology initiatives in the law firm portion of this post. I’ve added the book to my reading list.

LawNet 2004 Redux

Monday, August 30th, 2004

Back from LawNet. Great show. Great time. Met lots of great people doing cool stuff, but didn’t get the chance to meet up with everyone that I hoped to. (Sorry about that.)
A big thank you to SydneyPLUS and the audience for my KM talks. I was very pleased with how the presentation turned out and it’s not often I have a Q & A session that lasts two-and-a-half hours and turns out to be such a good time. There was a video made of the presentation, which I will try to make available later this fall.
Not unexpectedly, I returned with a ton of new ideas, which will gradually filter their way through my blog, other outlets and my work for clients.

Electronic Discovery Showcase

Tuesday, August 24th, 2004

Although a free registration is required, it’s a small price to pay for the good collection of articles on electronic discovery (the acronym for which is, somewhat mysteriously, EDD) on LawTechnologyNews this month. Good articles from George Socha, Craig Ball, Donna Payne, Albert Barsocchini, Ross Kodner and others.
Don’t forget the great virtual roundtable discussion on electtronic discovery on Law Practice Today and the great set of articles and resources at DiscoveryResources.org.

URLinfo from FaganFinder – Way Cool!

Monday, August 23rd, 2004

Thanks to Sabrina at BeSpacific.com for the mention about and link to FaganFinder’s URLinfo.com. URLinfo pulls together a whole bunch of great tools in one place – track links to your site and blog, search engine placement and much. much more. It’s in beta, but it’s very cool.
Warning: You can spend a lot of time on this page trying different things.

My Recent 5 by 5 Post on Legal Technology

Monday, August 23rd, 2004

Matt “the ]non]billable hour” Homann periodically runs a feature on his blog called “Five by Five” that features five experts answering a thought-provoking question. I recently participated with legal tech experts Ron Friedmann, Jerry Lawson, Jeff Beard and Kevin Heller in a Five by Five on “What five new technologies should all lawyers incorpoate into their practices, but probably won’t?”
I’ve reproduced my answer below:
There is a certain sense of resignation in the question that, as the eternal technology optimist, I�m unwilling to accept. On the other hand, lawyers are notoriously late adopters of technology. I put together my first document assembly application for drafting wills in 1990 and document assembly is still treated as a new development by many lawyers.
Technology implementation should be considered in terms of portfolio management, just as you would do with your financial investments. Diversification should be your bedrock principle, mixing together low, medium and high risks and low, medium and high returns across your �technology portfolio.� Lawyers, conservative by nature, tend to stick solely to the low risk, low return approach, which will be as devastating over the long run as will a solely low risk, low return investment policy be as it gets hammered by cycles of inflation.
�Safe� and �prudent� approaches require that you direct some of your investment, in technology or otherwise, in higher risk, innovative approaches that may pay off extraordinarily well or may cost you your shirt, but make sense in terms of a diversified portfolio. The one approach that I believe all lawyers and law firms should incorporate into their practices, but probably won�t, is the application of modern portfolio theory to technology.
I�ve provided two sets of answers, a detailed set for individual lawyers and a quick list for law firms, because many times the interests of firms and lawyers are quite different. What the two should have in common today, however, is that technology should be implemented on an �lawyers first� priority, meaning that the needs of the lawyers in their practices should be given the highest consideration, rather than the traditional �secretaries and staff first� approach or today�s common �IT Department first� approach. My opinion on this point has proven to be more controversial than I ever expected.
Five For Individual Lawyers
I have a simple three-step approach for technology decision-making for individual lawyers. First, honestly and courageously identify your existing system that will be affected by the technology you are considering and clearly spell it out in writing � no matter how wacky it may be (e.g., �certain pieces of paper are stacked on my desk, others are on a chair, others are on a credenza and others are on the floor, but I (or my secretary) usually know where everything is�). Second, ask yourself whether the technology you are considering either (1) replaces the existing system with something better or (2) improves or enhances the existing system. If the answer is �no� in both cases, either forget about the technology or admit to yourself that you will buy it only because you �want� it. Finally, if your answer is �yes,� make your decision about how the costs and benefits balance out for you.
1. Technology to Help You Manage Your Time and Priorities. How many balls do you have in the air? There is nothing that would help any lawyer more, yet gets considered less, than something that will truly help manage time and priorities. The big problem is that every one is different, so there is no single answer. In a firm setting, you will get a one-size-fits-all-that-actually-works-well-for-nobody approach. The fact is that many lawyers have their own �DayTimer� or other system. They then create (or are forced to create) a parallel system on their computer. The result: the worst of all possible worlds � multiple calendars and to do lists and ensuing chaos.
You must find a technological solution that takes the place of the paper system to have any chance of success. There are solutions that may work well for you � The MasterList, Outlook with David Allen�s Getting Things Done add-in, case management programs, mind mapping programs. This is so important that, in a firm setting, you should be willing to spend your own money to get a solution that works for you. That�s how important this issue is.
2. Technology to Help You Find Things That You Need When You Need Them. Lawyers spend a stunning proportion of their time trying to find things that are hidden in piles, files and even in the ceiling tiles. The reasons relate to the problems I mentioned in category #1, the steady stream of interruptions and crises in the average lawyer�s day, and to their own failings at personal organization. �A place for everything and everything in its place� makes perfect sense, but the notion gets blown away when people drop off files, your mail arrives and you get fifty emails all while you are on a telephone call with a crisis that has interrupted what you were in the middle of working on.
Computers where supposed to help with this, but papers and voicemail still don�t make it into our digital systems and our computer world consists of separate and unconnected �silos� of information � documents, email, bookmarks, RSS feeds, and the list goes on and on. Our document management system does not do the trick. It doesn�t cover everything and we never bothered to fill in the field that would have helped us.
Interestingly, solos and small firm lawyers may be in the best position in this area. They can use a simpler document management program like Worldox, which includes a great local search capability, or get great results from a general case management tool. Both local search engine tools and the �enterprise search� category of tools also show some promise.
3. Technology to Help You �Remember� What You Already Know When You Need to Know It. This category is different from category #2. It�s what you can focus on only after you get a handle on the �finding things� problem. Because of your experience, there are many things that you �know.� There are also many things you (or someone in your firm) have researched, found an answer for, done before, found the appropriate resource person or created something that can be reused. It might be a document. It might be a note about a client�s birthday, a recommended expert, a recent case, a good article, an important URL or some handwritten notes. Unfortunately, there�s no personal search engine for your brain yet.
We need to capture, store, be able to retrieve, and, ideally, to incorporate into our existing forms and processes all of this knowledge and know-how. The phrase to remember is �personal knowledge management.� Unfortunately, the key word is �personal.� Again, this something we all do differently and there�s no single solution.
However, we need to work on finding a tool or set of tool. I advocate a �do-it-yourself knowledge management� approach. Start finding all of the tools you already have that you can use. You can use more features of some of the tools I mention in category #2 as a start. If you have document assembly applications, you can begin to incorporate experience, expertise and knowledge into your forms on a routine basis. In the litigation context, CaseMap is a perfect tool for getting results in this area. Another example Outlook 2003 users might consider is the suite of tools included in the �Business Contact Manager� component of Outlook.
4. Technology to Help Your Clients in Ways They Will Appreciate. One of my pet topics is �client-driven technology.� Lawyers and law firms are notorious for not using (and, in some cases, refusing to use) software that is compatible with what their clients use. I�ve talked with many people who have complained vocally about their lawyers sending them documents in WordPerfect or in a format they can�t use. In one case that I remember especially well, the complaint ended with this: �They are working for us and they should give us the documents in the format we use.� It�s hard to argue with that point.
Other stories abound about lawyers unable to use email, create PDF files or pronounce the word �Pentium� correctly. To make the situation worse, your business clients already assume that you have state of the art technology. When they say that they think you can create their agreements with a push of the button, they really mean that. I�ve seen lawyers who will say �yes, we can do that� to clients on legal issues they have never heard of tell clients that there is �no way� they can adopt a technology that would help the client. I�ve seen that even when the client has offered to pay for the new technology.
This category is the easiest category to make positive changes and see positive benefits. The first step is preposterously easy. Ask your clients about what they use and their preferred ways of working with you. Legal tech consultant Adriana Linares has a simple technology survey that can be made part of the engagement letter or the client intake process. The second step is to evaluate your current technology and any contemplated changes in light of its �friendliness� to clients. The third step is to do a little research into all of the �low hanging fruit� projects you can do right now. Take the lead on providing your clients with metadata scrubbing guidelines and tools or ways to address security issues. Use extranets, deal rooms and electronic workspaces where you can clearly save your clients money. How many clients today tell their friends, �My lawyer just came up with a great new way for me to save money�? Consider electronic billing, electronic closing binders in PDF, and the new ReportBooks in CaseMap 5. It�s all part of showing clients that you care about their businesses and not just yours.
5. Technology to Help You Practice Law in the Way You�ve Always Envisioned. If you talked the best students at the best law schools who want to work for the best litigation firms, you probably would not find a single one whose vision of the practice of law includes finding themselves in a rodent-infested warehouse full of cardboard boxes of old files stamping numbers on pieces of paper for twelve hours a day for months at a time. Yet, that�s where they might find themselves. I think the vision would be more that they are using sophisticated search and visualization tools on a laptop computer to locate the fact no one else could have found that wins the case and instant partnership for them.
That�s one thing. What�s worse, though, is seeing the lawyers who have reached the holy grail of partnership only to find that they work harder and longer hours, have more pressures, and find that they have little, if any, enjoyment about what they do. Tom Davenport, a knowledge management expert, has written that we may now spend 40% of our work day fighting against the tools that were implemented to help us be more productive. In any law firm, there will be a lot of hardware, software and systems that are far more burden than benefit. Almost everyone learns to live with that, to their detriment.
A far better approach is to focus your technological change on ways to reduce your pain and increase both your ability and your time to do the work you love. There are endless ways to do this. For me, the answer might be a blog that allows me to talk about a subject I like and attract others interested in the same thing. For you, it might be a way to automate a time-consuming and tedious process so that you can spend more time talking with your clients and helping them do what they want rather than trying to talk them into taking approaches that better fit your existing forms. For someone else, it might be to get the Tablet PC that you know would really help you out. For others, it might be finding a way to automate the routine work you are doing for a great client and free up the time to do much higher-level work.
There�s never been a time where we have had more tools and capabilities available to us that could enable us to spend more time doing the things that brought us to the practice of law and the things we love the most. I don�t want to be one of those people who said I could have done that, but I didn�t. As the quote goes, �some ask why, but I ask why not?� I�m one the �why not� people.
A Quick Five for Law Firms.
1. Client-retaining Technologies. Compatible software and systems; extranets; electronic billing; document assembly applications; online education; creative file management; allowing clients to track their projects.
2. Client-pleasing Technologies. Technology that reduces cost or streamlines process and allows you to try alternative billing methods; telling clients about solutions that have worked for you that might work for them; collaborative projects where you adapt to their technologies; automated delivery of relevant news and developments; automating processes requiring them to pay for the same number of hours over and over again; coming to clients with HIPAA, Sarbanes Oxley and other solutions rather than waiting for clients to ask for them.
3. Client-focused Technologies. Technologies that make it easy for clients to work with you; extranets or other applications designed with clients in mind; facilitating access to your IT staff to resolve problems; fixing technology and communications issues; taking the initiative in technology projects with clients; handling document filing and management issue or tracking cases; IP filings or other matters; getting bills to clients in a way that fits their accounting systems.
4. Client-producing Technologies. Websites, blogs and feeds; creative uses of extranets for training and other purposes; business intelligence and customer relationship management tools; innovative billing arrangements enabled by technology; winning a high-profile case using state-of-the-art presentation and other litigation technologies; not sending your lawyers out to clients with aging technology.
5. Keeping Your Best People Technologies. Willingness to take individual approaches; generous replacement and acquisition policies for new technology; willingness to allow test projects; listening to young lawyers; rewarding creativity and results more than raw numbers of hours; helping people learn to use software better; resisting the urge to say �no� to every request for new technology; getting technology into the hands of the people who are most likely to use it best; give your people the tools they need, the respect they need and a little room so that they can fly.
The Product List.
I got to thinking that Matt might have meant products. Here are five that should be on every lawyer�s list in today�s legal world.
1. CaseMap 5 (if you are a litigator).
2. Microsoft Office 2003.
3. Adobe Acrobat 6.
4. Tablet PC (or notebook) with WiFi and OneNote.
5. FeedDemon or news aggregator of choice.

New Law Practice Today Mentoring Issue

Monday, August 23rd, 2004

I’m biased because I’m on the board of the ABA’s Law Practice Today webzine, but we just published another issue that rocks. The featured theme is mentoring – about as important a topic as there is. You’ll find the best collection of articles on lawyer mentoring I’ve seen. Highly recommended.
My contribution is the this month’s “Strongest Links” column called “Finding Great Resources about Mentoring on the Internet May Be Even More Difficult Than Finding a Great Mentor On Your Own” – a reflection on mentors I have known and mentoring in general, and a set of links to excellent Internet resources on mentoring.
Great work by Wendy Werner and Fred “Let’s Ride” Faulkner, especially, that went into this one.

Adam Smith Esq. Has a Serious Message for All Lawyers

Monday, August 23rd, 2004

Bruce MacEwen at Adam Smith, Esq. has been in the zone lately with a string of excellent. thought-provoking posts. His post today, “There is No Place for the Computer in the Home,” may be the best one of this stretch.
Maybe it’s because Bruce talks in terms of “structural” problems, something I tend to do, but Bruce makes an important point about the growing disconnect between business, law and innovation and ties it to one of the least prophetic quotes of the computer era. It will make you think.
I recommend reading this post and spending a few minutes reading Bruce’s recent posts. Of course, subscribing to the feed should be a given.

CaseSoft Releases New DepPrep Tool

Sunday, August 22nd, 2004

CaseSoft has added another product to its great line of litigation software tools. Once again, CaseSoft has created a great tool that fits a compelling need for litigators at a compelling price ($149.95 for DepPrep, with a special $79.95 price until August 31 available here).
From the DepPrep web page:
“DepPrep is an electronic tutorial that makes it easy to groom witnesses for their depositions. All aspects of deposition preparation are covered — everything from deponent demeanor to how to answer a question.
DepPrep isn�t intended to eliminate the interaction between witness and counsel as deposition approaches. Rather, DepPrep enhances the time counsel spends with a witness. Instead of dealing with perfunctory points, you�re free to focus on the most critical issues. Moreover, witnesses who spend 30 � 45 minutes with DepPrep are ready to make the most out of their interaction with counsel.”
Remember that I’ve put together a special arrangement with CaseSoft for readers of my blog.

OneNote 2003 Price Dropped to $99.95

Sunday, August 22nd, 2004

I haven’t found a lot of takers yet, but I continue to say that Microsoft’s OneNote 2003, especially when combined with a Tablet PC, is a must-try program for lawyers. From the Windows Secrets Newsletter comes the news that Microsoft has dropped the price by 50% and you can get OneNote for $99.95. Apparently, the news of the price drop has been slow to reach retailers, so the best route is to order directly from Microsoft for now.
With the enhancements found in Service Pack 1 for OneNote and some cool new PowerToys discussed by Michael Hyatt and available here, here and here, OneNote has become even more interesting – at least to me.