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 April, 2005

By Request Tuesday – “What newsletter(s) (law, tech, computers, etc.) should every geek attorney receive?”

Tuesday, April 12th, 2005

I assume that you are using the term “geek attorney” in the most positive sense of the term. I also note that you used the word “receive” rather than “read” in your question. I’ll have some thoughts on that, maybe more than you want, at the end of this post.
Blogs have greatly changed the dynamic and my answer. It’s increasingly difficult for print publications to compete for “attention space” with blogs.
The questioner mentioned a post of mine last year that praised the PLI Lawyer’s Toolbox Newsletter, which is one of several great newsletters from PLI. PLI has also moved to RSS feeds for some of its upcoming webinar listings and other resources.
It’s an example of some of the great stuff out there. You need to keep your eyes open for stuff that might be useful to you.
I do have some standard recommendations that I’ll give and then give you a few thoughts about what I think it takes to develop a level of knowledge about these topics. You might think it’s a little harder than it looks.
For print publications, I like the big three of Law Office Computing, Law Practice Magazine and Law Technology News. They each take slightly different approaches. If you’re serious, you’ll want to read all three.
I’m on the board of the ABA’s Law Practice Today webzine, so I may be biased, but it’s an extremely good resource and it’s free.
TechnoLawyer.com is mandatory, in my opinion.
I also recommend that you subscribe to one of the standard computer magazines. My current choice is Computer Shopper, but any of them would be a good choice: PC Magazine, PC World, and several others. Don’t overdo it, but it’s good to keep tabs on popular computing issues.
I also like the free trade publications. Again, you only need to read/skim one. The idea is to get a feel for larger trends and the industry. ComputerWorld, InfoWorld and eWeek are examples. You shuld be able to qualify for a free subscription. For bigger issues and enterprise issues, you can’t beat CIO, CFO, CSO and that family of magazines. Baseline is one of this type of publications that I think is quite useful.
These give you a great base at almost no expense.
You might also explore some of the specialty trade publications. I really like KM World and eContent, for example. Presentations magazine is great for both presentation skills aricles and info on presentation technology. Many of these are free to qualified subscribers.
If you have areas of specific interest, you’ll probably want to find something targeted to those interests. You might find magazines, trade pubs or newsletters. It just takes a little research.
There are also tons of great email newsletters on almost any tech topic you can think of. I like the Microsoft newsletters a lot these days. Tom Mighell‘s Internet research newsletter often has great practical tips and info.
Almost all of the trade publications have excellent email newsletters. Obviously, you can get inundated with all of these newsletters. I generally scan them and move them by rule into a special folder. That folder then becomes a great research database for me.
It should not surprise anyone that I have a real passion about technology and the Internet and my reading list will confirm that. I also realize that not everyone either reads as much or as quickly as I do, or has the same level of interest that I do, so you want to use good judgment in what you read. Choose some examples from the different categories. You might adopt my “research folder” approach to email newsletters.
However, subscribing to the RSS feeds of legal tech and tech blogs is clearly a great way to go to get selected information identified by bloggers who know what they are talking about.
I also recommend reading at least one or two magazines or newsletters on topics that do not relate to any of these topics. You will often see that they provide new perspectives and help you see tech issues in new ways.
By the way, I can point you in some good directions, but there’s no easy way to develop a level of expertise – it takes hard work. And, like all things, the more you know, the more you realize how little you know. I’ve long had the gift of being able to read very quickly, so that’s a help.
Where do I find the time? It’s just part of what I do, like how others find time to learn what they need to learn to be good at what they do. It’s comparable to the time anyone needs to put into training and practice to be good at anything. I always laugh when someone wonders how I can find things on the Internet or do other things and then wants me to teach it to them in a few minutes. It only took me more than ten years and countless hours to reach that point. You have to be willing to put in some time and effort.
And, my best trick – I don’t even try to read everything in all of these resources. Take a look at the table of contents and rip out the articles you want to read. Throw the rest out and then concentrate your reading on what you have ripped out. It’s OK to tear up and throw away magazines.
I attribute a lot of what I can do to the speed I can read. You might want to invest in a speed-reading course. In a way, RSS feeds offer you a great way to improve the selection and quality of what you read, effectively making you a faster reader than you might be now.
I also have the gift of being able to read documents upside-down, a great skill for a lawyer – but that’s a story for another day.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

It’s Time for Another By Request Tuesday

Monday, April 11th, 2005

It’s been a couple of weeks since I did a “By Request Tuesday.” I have a few questions in the ol’ email inbox to get things started. Fire away with other questions you have and I’ll see what I can do with them tomorrow. Email me your questions at denniskennedyblog @ gmail.com.

The Steve Gadd Tour Stopped in St. Louis

Monday, April 11th, 2005

We took our daughter to the St. Louis stop on the Steve Gadd drum clinic tour last night. She’s been taking drum lessons for three years and clearly has both strong interest and talent.
Grace had to tolerate me telling her that Steve Gadd really was a drum legend when I first saw a poster for the show and then me occupying her teacher’s time talking about Steve Gadd. In spite of the embarrassment I may have caused, she still wanted to go to the drum clinic.
It was fun, it was educational, and it was amazing. I realized that I haven’t taken enough advantage lately of the chances to see any great artist or expert in any field when you have the chance. If you have the chance to catch a stop on this tour, even if you think you have no interest in drums or drummers, you will want to catch this show. There are still a few dates left.
Gadd had just celebrated his 60th birthday and there was such a great vibe in the room. The show was sold out and I’ve never been in a place with so many drummers in my life. It’s clear that they revere Gadd and, as he patiently answered questions, and showed techniques and played some of his signature drum tracks, it became clear why that is the case. I was as impressed with his generosity as much as his tremendous skill and ability.
I enjoyed all of his talk about finding the groove and his effort to find an ego-less approach. I don’t pretend to know much about drumming, but I was in awe of some of the things he did. I also loved the way he played with a fluidity where the sticks and gravity clearly were doing most of the work.
Great stuff. Inspiring. A view into a different way of seeing and thinking. We all had a great time. For some reason, though, every song I heard on the radio today sounded like the drumming needed a lot more work.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

The Debut of the rethink(IP) Blog

Sunday, April 10th, 2005

As you may know, I have a general policy not to routinely mention new legal blogs.
Today, I gladly break that policy to announce the new rethink(ip) blog. The people behind rethink(ip) have impressed the heck out of me and it’s well worth your while to pay attention to whatever they are doing. They didn’t even ask me to mention their new blog, which shows that the best way to get mentions on other blogs is not to ask for reciprocal links, but to do cool stuff and post great content.
The other excellent new blog that I want to highlight is Between Lawyers, but I think you’ll understand the reason for that.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

LexThink Meets Metallica – Some Kind of Monster?

Sunday, April 10th, 2005

I wanted to take some time to process my thinking after LexThink – or more accurately, after BlawgConnect 2005, ABA TECHSHOW 2005 and LexThink, and I haven’t yet started to write about it. I’ve also needed to tend to a few other projects and work on the launch of Between Lawyers.
From my email, I know that I’m taking a little more time than some people would like. I point you to Jack Vinson, Yvonne Divita and Matt Buchanon, among others who have very good posts about LexThink.
I finished another of Jack’s reflections on LexThink this morning. He reflects on the way that “passion” emerged as a theme for the day. I’ve also been thinking a lot about that, and I’ve been thinking about some notes on a big sheet of paper that hung on the wall at LexThink that talked about “passion” and “trust.” A companion sheet has the phrase “authentic voice.”
Last night, VH1 showed the recent documentary film called Some Kind of Monster. The film follows Metallica through the period in which they recorded their last album, St. Anger, and sometimes labeled as the film in which “Metallica hires a therapist.”
[By way of background: Many of my friends are surprised both by how few movies I watch or like these days and by the fact that there were years when I saw more than 300 movies. My glib, but more accurate than you might expect, answer is usually that after Kurosawa's Ran, there wasn't much else left to be said through film. I love great movies, and I can't stand to be in the same room with mediocre or bad movies.
The other answer is that because of Babylon 5, La Femme Nikita, 24 and other serial television shows, I've grown to like the extended story-telling form of "movies" better than the 2-hour format. Not to name drop, but seeing Fassbinder's "Berlin Alexanderplatz" over several days many years ago probably set off my interest in that extended format.
So, to my surprise, and probably the shock of people who know me, I've now seen two movies in 2005 that I really liked. One was "Some Kind of Monster." The other caught me totally off-guard and was "3," a made for TV ESPN movie on Dale Earnhart.
But, let me get back to Metallica, er, LexThink.]
I don’t pretend to be a Metallica fan – I’m not all that familiar with their music and I didn’t understand their story very well until last night. I especially didn’t realize that as they started to hit big, they lost a band member in a tour bus crash that could have killed them all.
It becomes clear that this documentary shows, in part, the three core members of the group trying to come to terms with that event in a way they never had before. It’s also the story of a fight for their art, their identity and whether they can stay together as a group.
It’s riveting stuff, especially as what is happening reveals itself in the music. It’s also clear that the group could have split apart at several points during the filming.
Interestingly, at the lowest point, in the turning point of the film, there is a funny scene that has them all laughing and realizing that by knowing what they aren’t, they realize what they are and why it makes sense to go forward from that.
The music changes after that point, culminating in the video of the song St. Anger that they shot at San Quentin playing to a group of prisoners. The first time I saw that video, I put it into my top 10 of music videos before the video even finished. Now I understand why the video has the power and realness that it does for me.
Heck, I don’t mind if you make fun of me for liking this movie, for making Metallica references on my blog, or whatever. I do mind if you aren’t willing to set aside a couple of hours sometime and watch this movie with an open mind.
The movie (or at least my reading of it) focuses on three themes I took from Lexthink – Passion, Trust and Authentic Voice. That’s stuff that matters.
You will see in Some Kind of Monster that the Metallica guys are very wealthy and can spend their money on anything they want. They chose to spend $40,000 a month (not always willingly) to bring in a coach/therapist to help them determine what Metallica was, where it was going and if they wanted it to go on.
In other words, they cared about what they had created and where it might go. They wanted to know whether they still had the trust, the passion and an authentic voice and whether they were willing to fight for it.
You might dismiss Metallica as just a heavy metal band, but they showed me more about commitment and caring about what they are doing, their audience and their art than I’ve seen at any law firm. Would you spend that kind of money or, more important, invest the amount of time and emotion, that they did? Why not? Why don’t you care as much about what you are doing as they do?
When I encounter a lack of trust, I have to leave. When I find a lack of passion, like most of us, I tend to be willing to make compromises. Until blogging, I didn’t place much emphasis on the authentic voice piece of the puzzle. Now, I think a lot about that.
So, here are my first action steps for you that grow out of LexThink.
1. Watch “Some Kind of Monster.”
2. Ask yourself if you are willing to make the same kind of effort to work on your firm, business or orgaization.
3. If so, write down at least three reasons why you aren’t making that kind of effort now.
4. If not, write down at least three reasons why you plan to stay there.
5. Rewrite your lists as questions and spend a few minutes every day thinking about your answers to those questions, until it becomes impossible for you not to take some action.
Passion. Trust. Authentic voice. Stuff that matters. Even if we can’t get all the way there, the paths to get closer to them are ones to give serious thought to taking.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

My Tablet PC Article Now Publicly Available as Part of TechnoLawyer Blog Launch

Thursday, April 7th, 2005

I got a nice note today from my friend Neil Squillante at TechnoLawyer.com. He’s officially launching the TechnoLawyer Blog, which will be a great legal technology resource that will supplement the TechnoLawyer website and great collection of email newsletters.
I mentioned the other day that Neil had published my recent article on Tablet PCs as a TechnoFeature on the site. Neil liked the article so much that he’s making it publicly available as part of the launch of the new blog as a little thank you to me.
I seem to have hit a nerve with the Tablet PC article. I’ve gotten much more email responses and blog mentions on this article than any other article that I’ve written in a while. No wonder I prefer publishing new articles on the Internet rather than in print.
So, check out the article, check out the TechnoLawyer Blog and check out the TechnoLawyer family of newsletters, discussion lists and other features. TechnoLawyer is an essential resource for anyone involved in any way with the use of technology in the practice of law.

Multiple Takes on the Billable Hour Issue

Wednesday, April 6th, 2005

Bruce MacEwen has posted Savvy Blawgers Query #2: The Future of the Billable Hour. It’s thought-provoking reading on the much-debated value billing topic. This topic was the subject at one of the sessions at LexThink.
I gave what I thought was a short, pithy statement that argued, I thought, that inertial forces would keep lawyers from making the change to value billing on their own. Unfortunately, Bruce interpreted what I said almost in almost exactly the opposite way from what I meant.
I said:
“Answer: The future of the billable hours is in the hands of clients. Without client pressure, there is little reason to expect many lawyers or firms to change the current system on their own. Ultimately, however, there will be practical limits for how high rates can go and the number of hours lawyers can work. Until then, I expect alternative billing to remain in the realm of experiment, primarily used by innovative lawyers who will be criticized by some of their peers and praised by their clients. Here’s a great experiment: ask lawyers whether they like to have repair, construction or any other services done on an hourly billing basis, without an estimate or cap. If lawyers don’t like that approach for their services (and, believe me, they do not), what makes them think that their clients like it any better? Forces for change are building, but the pressure has to come from clients and, even then, change will be slow.”
It was sentence #3 that caused the problem. What I meant was that, as a practical matter, there are practical limits to how high hourly rates and the number of hours can go. The market will set a cap on high hourly rates can go. Physical and mental exhaustion will set the limit on the number of hours you can work. When a lawyer’s hourly rate hits the market cap, the lawyer (assuming the simplest scenario) will only be able to make more money in succeeding years by billing more hours.
The result of a focus on hourly billing is then a consistent push to raise hourly rates, to maximize the number of working hours and to have incentives to spend more hours on projects.
If, and I know that this is a radical proposition, we assume that lawyers would like to make a lot of money, then, as many critics of the billable hour have argued, they’ve chosen the worst way to do so.
Unfortunately, at the same time, they’ve also chosen a way that puts their incentives at odds with those of their clients.
Here’s the example I like to give. When we moved to our house, we used a moving firm that estimated that the job would take 3.5 hours and quoted us a flat fee of $350. In fact, the movers were great and got the job done in about two hours. We were so pleased that I think we even tipped the guys. For our $350, we had a great, FAST, no-hassle move and felt we got our money’s worth in value.
We recommended the movers to someone else. In a similar experience, they had a great experience and the move was done around an hour faster than the time estimate. They were livid that they had been cheated out of $100, even though they were completely pleased with the work the movers did.
Now the careful reader will have realized that almost everything in this post is a non sequitur. However, I have come this far and have vowed to pull all of this together and make a solid point.
My observation is that billing is largely based on inertia. Once you start down one path, it’s difficult to change. As long as lawyers feel that there is still room for either rates or number of hours to increase, inertia will keep them in the hourly billing model. The force that will push them out of hourly billing must, therefore, be external, which means from clients, or perhaps from other innovative lawyers or other professional services providers.
Unfortunately, I wrote my comment in a way that Bruce interpreted: “as soon as it’s not an optimal deal for firms, they’ll turn to something else.”
That’s not what I meant. Value billing will almost invariably be an optimal deal for both lawyers and clients, so long as there is trust and agreement on value. Value billing requires more thought and a change in approach. Inertia will almost always win.
Ah, hell, it’s easier to write about technology than this stuff. I’ll leave this subject to Matt Homann.
I’ll only note that the most telling evidence on this issue can be found by watching how hard lawyers will fight to avoid getting into an open-ended hourly billing arrangement with any other service provider.
I’ve always found Alan Weiss’s “Ten Ways to Convince A Buyer That Value-Based Fees Are Best” to be a very useful way to think about these issues.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

Jack Vinson on Collaboration

Tuesday, April 5th, 2005

One of my favorite people I’ve met through blogging is Jack Vinson. I’ll always be grateful to Jack for inviting me to BlogWalk 6.
Jack was at LexThink on Sunday and has a great little essay summarizing a session on collaboration (I actually participated in that session) that raised some fundamental questions in some new ways. Jack brought to the discussion his great insights, his experience in KM and the benefit of his preparation for the class in KM he is now teaching at Northwestern.
Jack summarizes the session well. I have the giant post-it notes from that session and have thought a bit more about the ideas that were raised in that session. In a way, we flipped some of the standard assumptions about the negatives of online or “virtual” interactions on their heads and considered whether they might be positives rather than negatives. In part, we looked at some examples of successful voluntary collaborations where people had never met in person and compared them to unsuccessful collaboration efforts in the employment context.
It might have had nothing to do with the day’s topic of “creating the perfect professional services firm,” or it might have had everything to do with it.
In any event, if you are considering a KM project, Jack is definitely someone you want to have on your short list of people to help you.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

Evan Schaeffer on LexThink

Tuesday, April 5th, 2005

Until I get the chance to do some posts on LexThink, you won’t find a better post about LexThink than Evan Schaeffer’s gentle and wistful essay about his inability to attend.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

My TechnoFeature Article on Tablet PCs is Now Available

Tuesday, April 5th, 2005

My article “A Field Report on the Tablet PC” has been published as a TechnoFeature on TechnoLawyer.com. A free subscription to TechnoLawyer.com is required, but if you are interested in legal technology, you really should subscribe to TechnoLawyer.
Here’s the summary of the article:
“In this article, legal technology expert Dennis Kennedy reports on his move to the world of the Tablet PC. He gives the Tablet PC high marks, highlights ten key observations, and comments on how the Tablet PC has changed his approach to computers in some fundamental ways. He then wonders aloud what it will take for law firm IT departments to equip lawyers with these tools. This article contains 2,172 words.”
This article is now available for reprinting in other publications.
[Originally published on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]