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 November, 2004

WordPerfect Killed Itself – David Coursey

Friday, November 26th, 2004

There’s nothing that will get lawyers’ juices flowing more than a good debate about the relative merits of Word and WordPerfect.
For the life of me, I still don’t understand this phenomenon. However, I will attest to the fact that I’ve found myself in several discussions this year among otherwise seemingly rational people where glasses were raised in toasts to the glory of WordPerfect 5.1.
My memories of WordPerfect 5.1 are somewhat different. I was mainly living in the Macintosh world at the time. I don’t recall the need to memorize obscure key combinations (shift-F7 anyone) as the golden era.
David Coursey’s WordPerfect Killed Itself blog post is just what the doctor ordered for lawyers who are WP 5.1 nostalgists to get the blood boiling on a cold winter day. There are also plenty of comments to his post for bonus reading.
Coursey makes a great case for his proposition, although it is unreasonable to expect that anyone can nail the whole story in a few paragraphs.
Anyone who ever struggled with the first version of WordPerfect for Windows (who had the incredibly bad idea to change the common key commands?) will find themselves nodding in agreement to Coursey’s central argument.
Although I won’t be present at this session, ABA TECHSHOW 2005 will have a bonus informal roundtable session that we are tentatively calling a “WordPerfect Revival Meeting,” which we hope will be led by legal technology’s leading WordPerfect advocate.
For what it’s worth, I think that Word 2003 is the word processing program that really gets it right for lawyers, but that it’s OneNote that might well be the tool of choice for lawyers today. Unfortunately, most lawyers aren’t yet using Word 2003 and, if I bring up that point to WordPerfect fans, the discussion tends to go nowhere.
By the way, I’ve heard all of the arguments on the Word/WordPerfect issue many, many times, so there’s no need to try to “enlighten” me about the errors of my ways. It’s just word processing, after all. There are other programs that can do a lawyer a lot more good.

The Art of the Start

Friday, November 26th, 2004

I’ve long been a fan of Guy Kawasaki. In fact, I have autographed copies of two of his books because I saw him speak back in the old days when I attended meetings of the St. Louis Macintosh Users Group (which, if memory serves me was known as GMUG, or the Gateway Mac User Group).
I’ve recently finished Guy’s latest book, The Art of the Start. As the number of dog-eared pages will attest, I found it to be another great book from Guy. I’ve got a bunch of new ideas that I hope to implement in my own business between now and the end of the year.
Guy also has some excellent comments on lawyers and the use of lawyers by businesses that I plan to comment on in the near future. There is a strong message in Guy’s discussion of lawyers that many lawyers really need to hear and there is also some wise, practical advice that businesspeople who hire lawyers really need to understand. And I’m not saying that just because I agree with Guy’s comments. More about that topic later.
Now, I’m looking for another chance to see Guy speak so I can go for the trifecta on owning autographed copies of his books and, more important, get the chance to say thank you in person.

Changing Your Notions of Legal Marketing – Law Practice Today

Wednesday, November 24th, 2004

As you know, I’m a little biased because I am an editor of the ABA’s Law Practice Today Webzine, but the new November issue, which focuses on legal marketing, is chock full of great articles. I highly recommend that you check it out.

The four feature articles on legal marketing from four stellar authors will definitely expand your thinking about both the theory and practice of legal marketing – just in time for gearing up end of the year / beginning of the year marketing efforts.
Blawg Channeler Tom Mighell has a column covering blogs on legal (and non-legal) marketing. My contribution to this issue is called Revolutionizing Case Preparation and Client Relations with CaseMap 5 – Making It Easier to Win Cases and Clients, in which I suggest an innovative way litigators can use one of the best litigation software programs to market legal services to both existing and new clients simply by giving clients the kind of information they wish you were giving them now.
And there are even more good articles in this issue.

Reconsidering the Internet Bubble

Friday, November 19th, 2004

Trader Mike points to a fascinating reconsideration of the famous Internet Bubble from Paul Graham called “What the Internet Bubble Got Right,” which discusses ten conclusions Graham draws from those frothy years.
The money quote:
“When one looks over these trends, is there any overall theme? There does seem to be: that in the coming century, good ideas will count for more. That 26 year olds with good ideas will increasingly have an edge over 50 year olds with powerful connections. That doing good work will matter more than dressing up– or advertising, which is the same thing for companies. That people will be rewarded a bit more in proportion to the value of what they create.”
Highly recommended. Interesting juxtaposition of the timing of Graham’s article and this article about cashing in Google shares.

JD Bliss Has an Article about Dennis Kennedy

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004

JD Bliss is a blog and newsletter that covers career satisfaction issues for lawyers. I’m honored that they have published an article about me. For those of you who have wanted to know about my legal career and my story, this article probably tells as much as I have ever told in one place. For those of you who are considering making some changes in your career, I go into a fair amount of detail in describing my own approach and the recommendations I make to others.
The article is at
I hope you enjoy the article and would be happy to answer questions you might have about I talk about in the article.
A special thank you to Joshua Fruchter, John Toth and everyone working on JD Bliss.
There’s also my video for Intel at (look under the “Law Firm” heading) for anyone interested in seeing and hearing my thoughts about how lawyers can make good use of notebook computers, WiFi and the Intel Centrino chip.

Fish & Neave’s Identity Loss Problems Continue

Tuesday, November 16th, 2004

Some would argue that it’s been a tough year for the prominent patent law firm, Fish & Neave. The firm has fought what appears to have been a losing battle to keep its identity.
First, the firm suffered through the agonies of being a victim of "identity theft by employee," with the attendant negative publicity.
Now, the firm will have its 125-year-old identity swallowed up by Boston’s Ropes & Gray, in a merger that, at least for now, will create the 8th largest firm in the country.
This merger is the latest in the large law firm merger fad of 2004. I’ll join the list of people who are baffled by these types of mergers and wonder what benefits that they will bring to lawyers in either firm or their clients in the long run. Presumably, however, the combined IT department will have a strong commitment to computer security.
The Blawg Channel’s Marty Schwimmer asks good questions about this type of merger here and here. Philip Mann has a more detailed and hard-hitting analysis here.
I’ll simply suggest that we all check to see how many lawyers stay with the merged firm for more than a year. Losing your identity once in a year is bad enough, but losing it twice is a terrible thing.

Today’s Scoreboard – Firefox 1.0; Broken Extensions, 8

Wednesday, November 10th, 2004

The blog world has been abuzz with the news of the release of version 1.0 of the Firefox browser. I’ve been using the Firefox browser from the early days when it was known as Firebird.
To be accurate, I use both Internet Explorer and Firefox, which seems to be a necessity these days since the pop-up blockers of the browsers break websites in inconsistent ways. For example, I couldn’t see some important parts of this morning in Firefox, but I could in IE. Other sites break in the opposite direction. Just another day on the web in 2004.
I’ve become pretty ambidextrous in my use of the browsers and agnostic about the current edition of the great browser wars.
I’ve generally lived in the IE world for many years, but, frankly, IE has gotten boring and I’ve never liked the way Favorites work.
Based only on my own experiences, I rank the Netscape browser of the 90s as the buggiest program I’ve ever used. Some of the books and articles on the history of Netscape suggest that there were good reasons for me to draw that conclusion.
I was a little reluctant to try Firebird/Firefox, but I was won over by the Open Source approach and the rewrite of the Netscape rendering engine.
Most important, however, I was attracted to the tabbed browsing feature. I’ve been a fan of tabbed browsing since I discovered the now-defunct Clickgarden browser suite a few years ago.
So, lately I find that I was spending more and more time in Firefox as it gradually, and at times painfully, moved toward the version 1.0 release. I’ve experienced horrific crashes using earlier versions of Firebox, wacky problems, and I don’t even try to handle PDF files in Firefox anymore, an approach I’ve found that other long-time Firefox users have adopted. Don’t even get me started on my experiences trying to use Firefox themes.
However, the tabbed browsing and some usability features that I prefer keep pulling me back. And, since it was in beta, I knew and accepted the risks.
The other feature of Firefox that I really want to like is the extensions. I love the idea of extensions – small add-on programs that give you new, specific functionalities. I like many of the extensions I’ve installed. The concept is so cool and it represents a community and open approach to the browser.
The problem is that everytime I update Firefox, most of my extensions get broken. Installing extensions has often been a baffling and frustrating process. At one point, the default settings kept you from installing extensions and, believe, it was not intuitive what setting changes you needed to make.
Without looking too hard, you might easily find 100 blog posts in the last day or so announcing the releasing of version 1.0 of Firefox and urging everyone to drop Internet Explorer to move immediately to Firefox. You will also see rave reviews of Firefox from people who have only used it for a day or so.
Often, the main argument in these reviews (other than that Firefox is not a Microsoft product) is that Internet Explorer has so many security problems that you need to move to Firefox to be “safe” when you browse. People need to know that Firefox has had its own legacy of security problems. Let me be clear on this point: moving to Firefox doesn’t eliminate your need to pay attention to browser security problems and your need to watch for patches and updates. I am critical of Firefox’s approach of simply describing new versions as “more secure” rather than clearly stating that they contain important security patches. I have a suspicion that Microsoft would be criticized ever so slightly if it took that approach.
That said, here is my experience after installing version 1.0 today.
Eight of the extensions I installed in the latest pre-release candidate are broken. Probably updates will be available in the next few days. I downloaded and attempted to intall two new extensions. When you download a new extension, you will get a message that you need to close and restart Firefox in order to install the extensions. Many openings and closings of Firefox later, the extensions are not installed and I get the same message. I assume that if I reboot my computer they will install.
Here’s my conclusion. I like Firefox a lot. I’m using it right now (in this case, it’s IE that has the pop-up blocker problems). I’d like to see it succeed. I’ll use it on a regular basis. However, I think that the euphoric and uncritical response to Firefox is troubling. There’s a story called the “Emperor’s New Clothes” that some of the people cheerleading for Firefox might want to read.
Firefox has tons of potential, but it’s clearly a version 1.0 product, not a version 2.0, 3.0 or even a 6.0 product.
For experienced and tolerant users, Firefox has much to recommend it, but for the average and novice users, and for less tolerant and less patient users, Firefox may well turn into a source of frustration. The over-hyping of Firefox may well create a backlash against the product simply because it does not meet overblown expectations created by this rapturous response to its official release. And I say that as a fan of Firefox and Open Source in general, but not a fan wearing rose-colored glasses.

A Practical Example of Why Talking to Your Clients about Technology is Important

Wednesday, November 10th, 2004

Mike McBride of the Life of a One-man It Department nicely sums up the problems lawyers create for their clients by (1) not understanding the technology they use and (2) not checking with their clients about technology preferences and problems.
Interestingly, he blames law firm IT people rather than lawyers. My guess is that the IT department at the firm he deals with has made several efforts to educate lawyers about this very issue, probably with light attendance by the lawyers.
The money quote:
“Can you please train the lawyers and legal assistants that you work for to actually attach a document when they’re sending it to an outside entity, like the one I work for? I’m really tired of getting yelled at by my users because they can’t open the attachments when all that really got sent to them was a link to the document as it exists in your document management system. Obviously, from here, that link is useless.”
The lesson here for clients is that you need to raise these technology issues with your lawyers when they happen. Law firms will address these issues when they are pointed out to them. Don’t assume that lawyers are aware of these issues or are doing these things only to irritate you. Your best approach is to talk with your lawyers about the programs, formats and other technology preferences that you have.
I have long suggested that IT directors of clients talk with IT directors of their law firms on a regular basis to address these types of issues and share best practices.

Legal Technology Psychic Hotline?

Tuesday, November 9th, 2004

I was listening to a psychic give on-air readings on the radio yeserday morning. I began to lament, for a moment, the fact that celebrity psychics make more money from these “readings” than I ever will from providing technology consulting services to law firms.
I then noticed Kevin O’Keefe’s salute to my prediction abilities about blogs and RSS feeds.
That reminded me that I had recently finished my annual article on legal technology predictions.
Maybe I’m missing something obvious here, I thought.
What about doing a psychic hotline for legal technology, with a hefty fee for each reading?
“I can see that you will finally leave WordPerfect 5.1 behind by the end of 2007.”
“No, you are actually wasting more money than you think on technology.”
“I see your clients leaving you because of your antiquated technology.”
“No, your young lawyers won’t believe that Blackberries are the equivalent of Tablet PCs.”
“Yes, I definitely see you hiring me to help you out.”
I guess the idea of a legal tech psychic hotline will not work.
Kevin O’Keefe is someone whose insights and opinions I really respect. I badgered him with my obsession about the importance of RSS feeds during a phone call a few months ago. I’m slowly convincing lawyers. With Kevin now on board, the total is now creeping up toward the double figures.
I got to spend some time last week with Tom “Inter-Alia.Net” Mighell. To me, Tom is the lawyer who understands this whole blogging thing better than any other. At dinner one evening, someone asked Tom and I about blogging. I swear that we both said at the same time that “it’s RSS feeds that really matter.” As usual, I saw a puzzled look in response.
As a legal tech psychic, I can confidently predict that most lawyers will be way too late to understand the implications of RSS feeds. For me, though, the feed phenomenon is one party at which I want to be one of the early arrivals.

Predicting The Coming Fad of Writing Articles Predicting the End of the “Blogging Fad”

Thursday, November 4th, 2004

The blog world played a large role in the election. However, if you remember the time period after the end of the Iraq shooting war, the number of blogs and volume of postings will drop after an event which drives a large proportion of posts has ended.
Commentary on the presidential election has constituted a huge proportion of blog posts for the last few months in particular. There will be an inevitable drop off in postings for many blogs and some political blogs will definitely disappear.
Watch for many nay-saying articles predicting the end of the “blog fad” to beginning appearing over the next few months. I’m just predicting the coming onslaught of these types of articles.
The truth, of course, will be elsewhere. Keep your eyes open for what is really happening.