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 December, 2004

My New Favorite Spammer – Irradiates T. Numskull

Thursday, December 9th, 2004

In the relentless push to wipe out all spam emails, we sometimes forget the occasional lift that spammers bring to our day when they use clever subject lines or emails.
Share with me, if you will, the chuckle I got when I saw an email from “Irradiates T. Numskull” in my inbox this morning. Sounds like the name of a character in one of Evan Schaeffer’s Advice to Law Firm Partners feature in his Notes from the (Legal) Underground blog.
A tip of the hat to chanop@zoilismgestic.com for cooking up this great email alias name. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be clicking on the handy hyperlinks included in the email.

Dennis Kennedy’s 2005 Legal Technology Predictions Article

Wednesday, December 8th, 2004

As you may know, since 1998 I have written an annual legal tech predictions or trends article. Although it does represent an attempt to collect some of my best insights and ideas, it’s also something I try to have fun with. In some years, I included predictions from a bunch of experts. The articles have been very popular. One year, the article was reprinted in more than fifteen publications.
Merrilyn Tarlton at Law Practice Magazine talked me into writing my 2005 predictions article for the magazine. That put me in the unusual position of writing the article in early October and knowing that it won’t appear until January.
I got to see the page proofs yesterday. I’m so pleased with the layout of the article and the way it was edited. Since I wrote the article two months ago, it was, in a way, new to me. I have to admit that I really enjoyed the article as a reader. In fact, I decided that I finally was able to write exactly the kind of article I wanted to read. That was a cool feeling.
The good news was that the predictions still looked good. The bad news is that the article won’t be out until January. Writing for print publications is like a form of slow torture for me these days. I’m even thinking about only writing for Internet publications and blog. Blogs have certainly changed the publication dynamic and I love the “instant publication” aspect of blogging. However, Merrilyn, Amanda and a few of the other editors of print publications I enjoy working with will probably still be able to talk me into writing articles for print.
Writing books and book chapters is another story. I have book chapters I wrote months ago that won’t appear in a book until next spring. That’s agonizing, especially since a few of my then novel ideas have been written about by others in the interim. There’s plenty of room and I’m trying not to keep score, but it’s hard not to do so.
I always avoid spilling the beans about the content of my articles until the date of publication, so you’ll have to wait until this article appears in January to find out my 2005 predictions.
The article is written with small law firms and solos in mind. That made the article especially fun, because I could focus more on hardware and software than I usually do. I address what individuals can do.
Of course, that leaves me an opening to write another article (or collaborate on one, as I did by being interviewed for an article on tech trends in the December issue of the ABA Journal – that’s me opining on client-driven technology, whether WiFi will kill off the Blackberry, and RSS feeds) with a different focus, such as on big firms.
I have a few notes for a big law firm technology predictions article. It’s just the start of a draft, but see if you think I have something here that might work for an article:
1. Percentage of big firm lawyers being told “NO!” by IT departments to cool new hardware and software ideas increases.
2. Percentage of big firm IT directors being told “I don’t understand what you are talking about or why we need it” by management to ideas that are commonplace in business today increases.
3. Percentage of big firm clients being told “we can’t do that” in response to requests for technology changes that actually help both clients and law firms increases.
4. Percentage of big firm lawyers seeing small firm lawyers and solos using cooler technology increases.
5. Large firms continue to pour money down the drain because of projects that will never work but they will not terminate.
6. Dennis continues to find John Tredennick to be the only lawyer to whom he can talk about the potential of using web services.
7. And the big one: more big firms dip their toes into blogging, a few even learn about RSS feeds, and we still wait for an official big firm blog to last for more than a few months.
That might be a little harsh, but I have to report what the crystal ball shows. Have fun in 2005! If I can help you, let me know and we can talk.

Guy Kawasaki’s Hiring Exercise

Wednesday, December 8th, 2004

Planning to hire someone? Try this exercise before you make your decision.
From Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start:
“EXERCISE
Think back on your first few jobs. True or false?
_____ I was perfectly qualified.
_____ I am holding candidates up to standards higher than the person who hired me used.”
What action steps does your answer require?
For more great information on hiring, check out George’s Employment Blog, an excellent example of how practicing lawyers are using blogs to provide useful practical information on legal topics that affect people and businesses on a daily basis.

Guy Kawasaki on Deal Lawyers

Wednesday, December 8th, 2004

Guy Kawasaki, in his book The Art of the Start, has some choice words for lawyers. If you are a lawyer who represents businesses or you are in a business that uses lawyers, Kawasaki offers excellent insights into the lawyer/client relationship.
Consider this:
“[F]ind a lawyer who genuinely wants to do deals, not prevent them, and set the right legal framework. Many lawyers view their role as the ‘adult supervision’ that will prevent stupid deals from taking place. However, their bias is often that a deal is bad until proven good. Avoid this kind of lawyer. Instead, find one who views his role as a problem solver and service function for you, the customer.”
I recently spoke to a group of IT and business people about the Open Source licenses. I decided to take the approach that if you found good business reasons to implement an Open Source project, you wanted to decide how best to manage your legal risks and how to make the project happen. You didn’t really want to have your lawyer tell you “no, no, a thousands times no” no matter what the business benefits of the project might be. The group voted unanimously at the end of my three-hour presentation to let me speak an extra half hour after the original ending time and told me that I wasn’t like any other lawyer they’d ever met. Yes, it did feel like a standing ovation.
Lawyers are trained in law school to spot issues and are rewarded in exams for doing so. They don’t often get trained to help decide what to do about those issues if you want to move forward and how to balance the various risks. Unfortunately, unless you move past this bias in your training, you will be exactly the type of lawyer Kawasaki advises businesses to avoid. Is that the kind of lawyer you want to be? How do you become the other kind?

Guest Blogger – Chicago Trolley Ride

Wednesday, December 8th, 2004

CHICAGO TROLLEY RIDE
(Touch) I step on cautiously. The trolley is unknown and unfamiliar. Sitting down on the seats, I have to sit up straight because of the stiff backs. It feels hard, cold, and sturdy. There is no way to relax, no cushion to sit upon, and no place to rest my head. I reach for my camera. It feels cold and flat, like a new, fresh dollar bill; all straight and smooth. I snap a picture.
(Sight) I look around inside the trolley. I see people I have never seen before, surrounding me. Some of them are silent, almost frozen, with thin smiles and serious expressions on their faces. Others are louder, shouting and pointing out things as we drive around the city. When I look out the window, I see cars racing past us, as if they want to get away from everything, or perhaps they’re just late for something. Advertising signs beg me to stop for a while, to come and see them. I try to ignore them. I look at the beautiful golden-green colored trees on the sidewalk instead. They rustle and shake as the wind blows on them. I look back inside the trolley.
(Sound) I have no choice but to listen as our tour guide drones on and on. I try to pick up on what the other people are saying, things like “I’ve been there before” or “look how beautiful that building is.”
(Taste.) My stomach begins to growl and my mouth starts to water. I take out the small sandwich I have packed in my bag. It tastes moist and chewy, while the peanut butter sticks to the roof of my mouth. It tastes too good. I swallow the whole sandwich down. Our trolley turns to the corner where we will get off. It drives slow and steady, with a few speed bumps here and there. As the trolley halts to an end, I think about all the new and exciting experiences I’ve just captured in my mind. I get off the trolley, and walk on. Ready for new adventures, but the trolley ride stays stuck in mind. It always will. Forever.
- Grace Kennedy
++++
I never thought I’d have a guest author on my blog. However, my daughter wrote two essays for her sixth grade language arts that I liked so much that I asked her if I could publish them on my blog. She agreed to let me do so. This one is her favorite.
I like the essays for many reasons. They are just good and read so well. There is a strong sense of “voice.” They also illustrate the wonderful way her teachers, in this case Kevin Navarro, have developed to teach writing at The College School in Webster Groves, Missouri. One of the tools they are using this year is something called the 6 + 1 Trait Writing Framework, which I want to start using for my own writing. I also think that it is great that these essays each went through at least four drafts, with distinct improvements in each draft.
We are so pleased with The College School and its unique approach to education. One example is the amazing sixth grade wilderness trip. Make a visit to the school’s website and, if you are in a position to help the school out, financially, through technology donations or otherwise, please consider doing so. It’s a wonderful place.

Guest Blogger – A Simple Map

Wednesday, December 8th, 2004

A Simple Map
Orienteering is a map of your life. Sometimes, a map leads to a dead end, and you don’t know what to do. Other times, the lines on a map will be confusing and hard to understand.
When I look at my life, it’s a lot like that. But there are good parts to life too. Like your compasses.
My compasses are my parents and my friends. My parents can teach me right and wrong, and can show me where to go and who to go with. My friends can comfort me in my saddest times, and they can listen to me when I am expressing my feelings to them.
They are all there for me, both my parents and my friends when I need them. They help me understand life at my most puzzling times.
My life is a mix of good parts and bad parts, full of ups and downs, and memories to treasure forever. When you think about it, a map shows you a new way to look at life.
- Grace Kennedy
++++
I never thought I’d have a guest author on my blog. However, my daughter wrote two essays for her sixth grade language arts that I liked so much that I asked her if I could publish them on my blog. She agreed to let me do so. This one is my favorite, in part because I wish I could write an opening sentence like the one she has here. She doesn’t necessarily agree with how I’ve divided it into paragraphs, but I like it the way I’ve formatted it here.
I like the essays for many reasons. They are just good and read so well. There is a strong sense of “voice.” They also illustrate the wonderful way her teachers, in this case Kevin Navarro, have developed to teach writing at The College School in Webster Groves, Missouri. One of the tools they are using this year is something called the 6 + 1 Trait Writing Framework, which I want to start using for my own writing. I also think that it is great that these essays each went through at least four drafts, with distinct improvements in each draft.
We are so pleased with The College School and its unique approach to education. One example is the amazing sixth grade wilderness trip. Make a visit to the school’s website and, if you are in a position to help the school out, financially, through technology donations or otherwise, please consider doing so. It’s a wonderful place.

Help Me Research and Article on Mobile Technology for Lawyers?

Monday, December 6th, 2004

I’m writing, on a fairly tight deadline, an article on putting together the basic set of tools for mobile computing for lawyers. I want to write this article with the idea of capturing the solid, middle-of-the-road, realistic choices for lawyers. I want to leave the reader with the feeling of “hey, I can do that.” Someone else can write an article on cutting edge, pricey gadgets and technological fetish objects – that’s not what I want to do with this one.
What do lawyers really use? Ernie the Attorney recently wrote a great post about his laptop setup. I’m interested in what’s in your computer bag when you have to be mobile and even what the bag itself is. What is really necessary and helpful? What seems like a good idea but hasn’t really panned out? What have you used over and over again? I don’t especially care about what new thing you’ve had for a few days and think is cool – what has stood the test of time? What tools would you recommend to your best friend?
I may try to do some sidebars with recommendations from lawyers, so you have a chance to be included in the article (subject, of course, to the editor’s final decisions). If you have some good ideas, email me about them. I’ll share a few of my findings on this blog. My article will come out in print in the early part of next year.

To Tech or Not to Tech; Tech Decisions for Lawyers

Monday, December 6th, 2004

I was looking for the electronic version of a new article of mine that just came out in print. Unfortunately, it’s not yet available on the web.
The good news, however, is that in the process I found an electronic version of one of my favorite articles I wrote this year – To Tech or Not to Tech from the June 2004 issue of GP Solo Magazine.
The article captures my approach to making good decisions about technology, with some helpful suggestions and links to resources.
I’m increasingly bothered by the lag time from writing an article to publication in print as compared to blogging or publication on the Internet. Anybody else feel the same?

Why Do We Blog?

Thursday, December 2nd, 2004

The blog buzz of the last few days seems to focus on the large collection of reasons bloggers collected at Sandhill Trek. It’s a long, but enjoyable read. You will see a bit of that ol’ blog magic in there.
My favorite reason, which I always want to claim for my own, came from Lisa Williams at the Learning the Lessons of Nixon blog:
“because I cannot play the guitar.”
How can it be said any better than that?
I rediscovered today one of my favorite reasons: finding that people you have a world of respect for, like Joy London, tell you and the world that they find what you write is valuable.
As I like to say, blogspace is a generous place.

Ernie’s Laptop Computer

Wednesday, December 1st, 2004

Ernie the Attorney reminded me today of one of the items I have on my rapidly expanding blogging to do list. He describes his basic computing toolbox and the tools in it in a post called “My laptop is my one-stop shop for everything I need.”
Great stuff – a good picture of how Ernie can work comfortably on a Mac in the Windows-dominant world of the legal profession. I learned a lot from his post. For one thing, it still amazes me that law firm IT departments are trying to move lawyers away from laptops and back to desktop computers. I love the looks I get from Tablet PC users who ask me why, oh why, lawyers do not realize how Tablets are so well-suited to the way lawyers work when I start telling them stories about the ways lawyers and law firms view Tablet PCs.
As usual, Ernie inspires me to blog better, but, as David Byrne said so eloquently, “I don’t have the time.” At least not today. But soon.
I’ve been wanting to put together a similar list of the hardware and software I actually use for a while – in a way “Open Sourcing” my personal technology choices so that people will email me with constructive criticism of my choices and suggestions for improvements. It might also serve as a guidepost for tech vendors who want to send me the latest version of their products, but haven’t been sure what I need. As an aside, if I were in Apple’s marketing group, I’d be “seeding” Ernie with the best new Apple stuff and making him the shining example of Macs in the law, especially given his profile in the legal blog community and his influential audience. But, what do I know? On the other hand, Apple could get me for the small price of a U2 iPod.
As a bit of a preview, I will mention the coolest addition to my computing arsenal – an HP OfficeJet 9130, unquestionably the best printer I have ever used, including my days in large law firms. Oh yeah, it also copies, scans, and, for those of you still living in the fax world, also faxes. The OfficeJet 9130 has its own keyboard – how cool is that? I’m grateful to my pals at HP for getting me a unit to review, so be sure to factor that bit of disclosure into my gushing review. However, this unit just seems like a great fit for small offices and workgroups in large offices.
And printing in colors! I may lose my membership card in the lawyers club for this, but I have to say to other lawyers, “c’mon over to the world of colors – it’s almost 2005 and it might just be safe to take a taste of the world beyond black-and-white printing.”
It’s amazing how the HP Laserjet became the workhorse in most law firms. Lawyers love them and keep them forever. I recently saw a post from a lawyer on an email list looking for suggestions to keep his LaserJet 1 alive. He could get ten times the printer for less money than it would cost to keep the old one alive! That’s customer loyalty. I can see the OfficeJet series capturing the same level of ubiquity in small law firms over the next few years.