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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 August, 2004

The Many Unexpected Benefits of Electronic Discovery

Wednesday, August 18th, 2004

George Socha and I write a column called “The Electronic Discoverers” at DiscoveryResources.org. Our new column, The Many Unexpected Benefits of Electronic Discovery, has just been published.
Our premise is that all is not gloom and doom in the world of electronic discovery. There are some unexpected benefits for clients, lawyers, law firms and even the legal system.
From the column:
“Focusing on the search for the �smoking gun� may cause you to overlook some of the many other benefits of electronic discovery, many of which fall into the ‘better, faster, cheaper’ category. ”

KM or Chaos – My LawNet Presentation

Wednesday, August 18th, 2004

I’ll be speaking on August 25 at LawNet on knowledge management in law firms. The session, presented by SydneyPlus, has the title “KM or Chaos: Choosing the Best Paths for KM in Law Firms” and will focus on practical tips to make law firm KM efforts more successful. I’m quite pleased with the way the presentation is shaping up and I’m putting the finishing touches on a set of handouts that will be my most complete effort to collect my thoughts on KM to date. And, it will have a great list of resources. For more info, see the program description here. I see SydneyPLUS’s kmBuilder as a tool that can help work around many of the well-known difficulties most IT people have found when working with lawyers.
If you are attending LawNet, I hope to get the chance to see you and say hello, either at my session or elsewhere around the conference.

Is Evan Schaeffer the “Anonymous Lawyer”

Tuesday, August 17th, 2004

It wasn’t until I read Evan Schaeffer’s lengthy and detailed analysis of the Anonymous Lawyer yesterday that the realization suddenly hit me – Evan could in fact also be the Anonymous Lawyer.
Think about the following:
1. Evan is way, way too interested in the details of the Anonymous Lawyer and the hidden identity of the Anonymous Lawyer. Way, way, way too interested, if you ask me. Very suspicious.
2. Evan and the Anonymous Lawyer are, by wide consensus, the only two humorous legal bloggers. Think about it, what are the odds that there are actually two lawyers who have a sense of humor and can write humorously?
3. Evan is the only legal blogger who has kept multiple well-written blogs going for a long time. Might he not have one more (Anonymous Lawyer) also going, hmmm?
4. Evan’s knowledge of the details of the Anonymous Lawyer posts is encyclopedic – not what you would expect from the casual fan.
5. Evan’s never let himself be seen in person. Neither has Anonymous Lawyer. QED.
6. Evan’s entire post yesterday appears to be a trial balloon that floats future plot lines for the Anonymous Lawyer.
7. Most importantly, Evan’s blog is replete with characters he has invented. He’s no amateur at creating fake characters. My favorite character, by the way, the one who is always defending trial lawyers – that one cracks me up every time.
8. There have been other clues that I am not yet ready to divulge.
Perhaps we can find an expert text analyst to determine if Evan’s blogs and the Anonymous Lawyer are, in fact, written by different people, or whether the multi-talented Mr. Schaeffer has created yet another masterful ruse. I hope that the answer is the former, because, if it is the latter, I would be forced to proclaim that Evan is not only the funniest lawyer blogger, but also the king of all lawyer bloggers.
[DISCLAIMER: This post includes multiple attempts at humor and should be regarded by lawyers as such, to the extent possible, rather than taken literally in each instance.]

How to Attract Clients: Sell Nothing

Monday, August 16th, 2004

Ned Steele has a good little article called “How to Attract Clients: Sell Nothing in today’s Smart Pros newsletter.
It has a simple message and five easy little steps to conduct a low-key and effective marketing campaign that has the virtue of its regularity, its focus on helpfulness, and its ease of implementation.
To summarize briefly:
Have a good database of clients, prospects, referral sources, and potential prospects.
Use your database often.
Use your database smartly.
Mix your tools.
Go to the media.
Then, as he concludes, “Finally: REPEAT THE ABOVE REGULARLY. And watch the prospects come calling.”
A short, wise and highly recommended article, perfect for a slow August afternoon in your office.

Six Ways to Unmuddle Your Legal Writing

Friday, August 13th, 2004

I’m a big fan of Evan “Notes from the Legal Underground” Schaeffer. Evan offers guest blogging opportunities on his blog. He wrote a great series of articles on improving your writing recently and I wanted to highlight his great series of articles as well as add a few comments of my own.
The result is a piece called “Six Way to Unmuddle Your Writing,” which distills some of my observations about legal writing.
It goes something like this:
Six Great Ways to Unmuddle Your Writing
1. Know Your Subject Matter. I find most muddled writing in places where the writer does not fully understand their subject. It�s no different from when you are asked a question about a point about which you are uncertain. You stammer, start to use jargon, reach for more polysyllabic words, ramble around in circumlocutions, and generally try to change the subject. The same phenomenon happens in writing. Take a close look at something you wrote on a subject that you know very well. Then take a look at something you wrote where you didn�t really understand your subject. Notice the difference. Try to write in the former style more often.
2. Write with the Action You Want to Obtain Firmly in Mind. What do you want your reader to do after they read what you have written? It�s endlessly surprising how often lawyers, whose job, after all, is to persuade people, forget this point. Read what you have written and when you finish, ask yourself, �so what?� Focus on the action you want your reader to take in response to your writing. Then go back and edit, remove and rearrange what you have written so that your revised draft leads the read to the desired action. It is hard to convince a reader to do what you want even if you write clearly, but it is impossible when your reader has to try to figure out what action you want.
3. Put Yourself in the Place of Your Reader. Remember that your reader is at least as tired, distracted and unable to concentrate as you are. You want to write in a way that anticipates that state of mind. What is your reaction to receiving a ten-page, single-spaced letter with no headings, bullet points or executive summary? Why do you expect your reader to have any different reaction? Do you like section headings, numbered points, short paragraphs, executive summaries, a one-paragraph conclusion at the end or other reader-friendly techniques? Lots of other people do too. Do not forget that your writing is meant to be read by another human. Make it easy for them to do so.
4. Write in Your Own Voice. Many lawyers spend the early part of their careers learning how to write for one or more partners. Other lawyers tend to write in ways that they think that lawyers should write. In each case, they are not writing in their own voice. Writing clearly in your own voice is difficult enough. You may not be able to avoid writing for your supervising lawyer, but avoid making your life harder and your writing even less clear by pretending to be someone else when you write. Reading aloud what you write is a great exercise to help you develop your voice.
5. Copy Your Best. I have interviewed hundreds of law students in the law firm hiring process. I tried to learn a few lessons from this experience. In fact, as some of the people I have �coached� on interview skills will tell you, I learned quite a few lessons. Here is an important one. If a candidate becomes convinced during the interview that he or she really wants the job, their demeanor, approach and even posture change radically. It is quite striking. Interestingly, whether or not you are interested in the job, you can easily mimic this response in any interview that you have and your likelihood of success increases greatly. Is it �fair� to do this? I will leave that question for you, but there is no reason not to take a similar approach to your writing. Find examples of your best writing � the ones that got you the results that you wanted � and study them. For example, compare how you wrote a slam-dunk winner of an argument to how you wrote a sure-fire loser. Then start to copy your best and most persuasive writing, even in places where you don�t have your best and most persuasive arguments.
6. Realize that It�s a Journey, Not a Destination. There is always room to improve and lessons to learn. The goal is to write in the best way for your audience to understand and respond in the way that you want. Be open to hear constructive criticism and make adjustments that further this goal. In most cases, criticism of your written work is not criticism of you. There are many roads to this goal, but a long way to travel. Take it one step at a time.
*****
You can read the article in full form on Evan’s excellent Notes from the Legal Underground blog.
By the way, I really enjoyed doing a guest blogging gig and would be happy to consider other guest blogging spots that might fit my interests and schedules.

This Week’s Issue of IP Memes

Tuesday, August 10th, 2004

Here are few selections from this week’s issue of TechnoLawyer.com’s IP Memes newsletter. The IP Memes newsletter is available for a free registration and this week’s issue was put together by me.
The Presidential Election, Copyright, INDUCE Act (IICA) and Tech Policy
Ernest Miller’s blog, “The Importance of . . .,” has become a focal point for information and news for the controversial INDUCE Act. He’s also begun to pull together information, when he and others can drag it out of the candidates, about the intellectual property stands of the presidential candidates. It’s a great place to check if you are interested in trying to learn what might happen in IP law after the 2004 election.
Link to Election Post
Safeguarding Trade Secrets in the Information Age
Sheryl Willert has a comprehensive article on trade secret protection in the August issue of FindLaw’s Modern Practice webzine. As she says, “There are no easy solutions to the problem of protecting trade secrets in the information age. But there are definite steps the employer can take, and these include monitoring business equipment and promulgating unambiguous policies.” Getting to “unambiguous? is no easy task, but this article will give you a handy primer of the issues you must consider.
Link to Trade Secrets Article
Exploring the Patent Explosion
Berkeley’s Bronwyn Hall recent paper takes a close look at the various sources of patent growth in the United States since 1984, drawing some interesting conclusions. Hall notes increases in market value of companies in industries where patent growth surged. The paper also draws some conclusions about the difference in approaches between entry companies and incumbent companies.
Link to Hall’s Paper
If You Have Been Feeling that it’s Taking Longer to Get Patents
For chart and graphics fans, IPO.org has a great chart showing the ebb and flow of the length of the pendency of patent applications since 1979, all compared to the baseline goal of 18 months.
Link to Patent Chart
Copyscape Internet Infringement Protection
To my surprise, Copyscape’s new “infringement protection” service has generated some buzz recently. I’ve been finding “republishers” of my articles for years by running searches on selected quotes and titles of articles. However, Copyscape offers some nice enhancements and you can run a search on the URL of your article or image. In my test, I found a good number of results that did not seem relevant to my selected article, but I’ll be darned if I didn’t find a 100% reproduction of my article with no attribution to me whatsoever. I’m impressed enough to recommend that you try Copyscape, although “searching by hand” continues to work quite well.
Link to Copyscape
Columbia University Law Library Music Copyright Infringement Online Archive
The resources you can now find on the Internet are almost without limit. Matt Buchanan’s IP blog, Promote the Progress, recently put the spotlight on Columbia Law Library?s online archive about well-known music copyright infringement cases over the years. I agree with Matt’s comment that providing music downloads of the songs at issue would be a cool next step.
Link to Columbia Online Archive
Link to Promote the Progress post

Greenspan Hurls “Stee-rike 2!” Against Bush Re-Election Campaign

Tuesday, August 10th, 2004

The Fed raised interest rates again today, making the second increase during this election year. Another increase is projected for September, with more to follow.
Has anyone done the research on the odds of re-election of a sitting president when the Fed raises interest rates three or more times in an election year? I have to think that the odds would be pretty slim.
It’s turning into a baseball-related campaign, at least from my point of view. I’m shocked that the Bush campaign is not running the footage of Kerry one-hopping the first pitch of that Red Sox game in every single commercial. The Dems are lucky that the Kerry in a bunny suit pictures kept that video from getting overplayed.
Ultimately, though, it looks like we have a classic “is it time to fire the coach?” decision ahead of us, especially as the “team” continues to drop balls.
With a third strike from pitching ace Greenspan, Bush may well find himself out on strikes.

A “Power Drill” for KM

Saturday, August 7th, 2004

More shared research notes for my upcoming KM presentration.
Lawyers absolutely will not cooperate with completing fields, creating or complying with taxonomies, or creating other useful metadata.
The big question: are there ways to “route around” this self-defeating behavior that make more sense the trying to change behavior (which is probably impossible in most firms)?
How about throwing high-horsepower data mining tools at unstructured data?
See Edmunds.com deploy text mining tools for user forum (Ephraim Schwartz)
“In beta trials now, Edmunds.com will be deploying a technology from Attensity called PowerDrill that converts written language into relational data.
PowerDrill takes the unstructured data, namely sentences, and diagrams the sentences placing each part of speech, such as noun phrase, verb phrase, and prepositional phrase, into a separate field, actor, action, and object which can then be used by a standard database to discover relationships and trends.
Although text mining for content intelligence is covered by a number of other companies such as ClearForest Tags, Inxight SmartDiscovery, and IBM WebFountain products, Laura Ramos, vice president at Forrester Research, called Attenisty’s diagram capability unique. ”
AND
“In a test with Honda Odyssey, a highly anticipated 2005 car model, information from drivers of previous model years was tabulated, allowing Edmunds.com to show that the most needed improvements were in road noise, transmission issues, and styling.
Edmunds.com was able to analyze trend information from conversations on the forums, including shopping and dealer behavior, re-occurring issues, and concerns which can also be used to predict future behavior.
Companies such as Edmunds.com as well as government agencies are suddenly waking up to the richness of unstructured data, according to one industry analyst.”
Recall John Gilmore’s “The Internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it.” Might it be that we can treat bad metadata creation behaviors of lawyers as damage that we can (and perhaps should) route around?

Dave Pollard on Expertise Finders

Saturday, August 7th, 2004

From Dave Pollard’s must-read and aptly-named blog, How to Save the World:
EXPERTISE FINDERS: POLLARD GOES LOOKING FOR ANSWERS
Do you see the outline of the “law firm of the future” in this post? If not, you might want to read it more closely and think about it a little longer.
Pollard’s blog is a constant source of great new ideas and new ways of looking at old ideas. This post, in particular, is likely to have a lot of impact in a number of areas, KM being only the most obvious.

Bloggers Creating Businesses

Saturday, August 7th, 2004

From Blog Business World:
1. Creating businesses with bloggers
2. Finding Business Opportunities
The money quote (and something to meditate on every morning for a while):
“The qualties that make a great blogger are one that are required to become a successful entrepreneur. It’s time to consider forming your own business, in partnership with other blog writers, and create your own company.”
You know how to reach me.