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 October, 2005

Recursive Flocks

Sunday, October 23rd, 2005

Testing Flock Blog Editor #2

Just checking out Flock, a new blog-friendly browser, after seeing Matt’s test of Flock, the new blog-friendly browser.

BlawgThink Speakers

Friday, October 21st, 2005

While I’ve been on the road, Matt has been posting a lot of updates on BlawgThink 2005 on the LexThink blog and The Nonbillable Hour. Take a look.
We’re thrilled with the speaker slate that we have put together for BlawgThink.
Via Matt, here are some of the recent additions to the list:
“Tim Stanley of Justia (former CEO and founder of Findlaw) is talking about search engine optimization in his session “Why Google Loves Blogs.”
Carolyn Elefant of My Shingle fame (and in my opinion, the single greatest source for practical information on small firm practice) is giving her take on Small Firm Blogging.
We have a pair of tremendous law librarians, Bonnie Schucha and Diane Murley of WisBlawg and Law Dawg Blawg, respectively.

Patrick Lamb
will be talking about blogging in a medium size firm.
Henry Copeland, Founder and CEO of BlogAds will talk about the Zen of Blogging.
Steve Dembo, teacher, technologist, and podcasting pioneer.
Tom Mighell, legal technologist and blogger extraordinaire will be involved in our Five by Five, which we have moved to lead off the day on Saturday. (The Five by Five will feature 5 (or more) of the best-known bloggers giving quick comments and tips on 5 topical issues.)
And Ernie the Attorney. Enough said.”
If you still want to come, there is a bit of time to let Matt know at or contact me directly.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
This post brought to you by LexThink!(TM) – The Conference, Re-imagined. LexThink! – Think big thoughts, do cool things, change the world. November 11 & 12 – BlawgThink 2005 – the legal blogging unconference.

Making the Right Choices When Starting a Solo or Small Firm Practice

Friday, October 21st, 2005

[Written in April 2005. Published in Law Office Computing magazine.]
Making the Right Choices When Starting a Solo or Small Firm Practice
Obtaining the right technology is a key component of the business plan of every lawyer planning to start a solo or small firm practice. Often, however, it’s the one area over which a lawyer feels he or she has the least control.
As a result, indecision about technology can paralyze the whole process of making a decision to start a new firm. Even though I hear more talk than ever about “law firm in a box” approaches, the reality is that you cannot walk into a computer store and order up a “solo starter combo meal” and launch your practice the next day.
I have noticed over the years that when lawyers ask me for recommendations about what to purchase, they invariably have done a lot of homework. Almost without exception, the real question they are asking me is not what they should buy, but whether it would be a mistake to buy what they have in mind. Make no mistake, technology costs will make up a significant portion of your start-up costs.
In this article, you will learn my approach to making technology decisions when starting up a solo or small firm practice, based on my own experience and what I’ve learned from talking with lots of lawyers. I will show you what questions you want to ask, how to set priorities, evaluate options and get started, and give you a number of approaches that you can take. My goal is to get you to the point where you can open the doors of your new business feeling confident about and comfortable with your technology.
1. The Practice of Law is a Cash Flow Business.
Let’s start with the basics. The best advice I received about starting my own practice what that the practice of law, like any small business, is a cash flow business. The second best piece of advice was the “Rule of Threes” for new businesses: Everything will take three times longer than you expect, be three times harder to do than you expect, and cost three times as much as you budget.
For several years, the likely cost of setting up the desired technology for a typical small firm with a couple of lawyers and a couple of people on the staff easily ran into the $30,000 to $50,000 range and perhaps even higher. Those kinds of number were show-stoppers for many firms. As a result, lawyers made a lot of cuts and compromises to get the technology budget down to the point where they could live with it.
Fortunately, the world is changing. In certain cases, small firms might be available to take advantage of leasing arrangements that roll hardware, software and consulting into a single lease, giving you one monthly payment for technology. While not always at the most favorable interest rates, companies like Dell will extend credit to small businesses, again allowing you to turn your technology costs into monthly payments. New “software as services” and other hosted and outsourced services are becoming available to provide needed technology for fixed monthly fees.
These trends allow a startup firm to consider the approach of treating technology as a kind of monthly utilities cost (like electricity) rather than a big, front-end capital cost. Technology costs can then be budgeted and you can obtain more of the technology you need with the goal of using it to improve your cash flow as quickly as possible. Obviously, taking a highly-leveraged approach to starting a business has its own dangers that you must consider carefully, but the options are available.
2. The Golden Triangle ? Hardware, Software and Services.
The “sticker shock” on technology often comes because lawyers forget to consider all three sides of the technology triangle. In many cases, a lawyer will concentrate on a dog-eared copy of an HP or Dell catalog or Computer Shopper magazine and come up with a budget. Unfortunately, they are only looking at the hardware piece of the puzzle.
The surprise happens in two stages.
First, you find that the cost of software will easily exceed the cost of hardware. In fact, it’s easy today to find computers that you can buy for less than the cost of a copy of Microsoft Office. Legal-specific software, depending on your areas of practice and needs, can cost thousands of dollars.
Second, you find that you probably have neither the time nor the expertise to set up and install everything yourself. Some kind of consulting, technical and/or training services will be required. The good news is that these services can add tremendous value and help you get a substantial return on your technology investment. The bad news is that the cost of services can easily be greater than the cost of both hardware and software combined.
You must consider all three sides of the technology triangle ? hardware, software and services ? when planning for technology at your new firm. Factor in the Rule of Threes I mentioned early, especially about cost expectations, and you’ll arrive at a realistic number to use for your technology budget. Or you might think in the opposite direction ? take your planned budget and divide it by three and see what you can get with that number of dollars. These are important exercises to help you focus on key issues and set priorities.
3. Asking the Right Questions.
Lawyers often ask me questions like, “What [scanner, case management program, etc.] should I get?” Well, what do you want to use it for? The answer changes depending on your plans.
It is also essential to ask a number of core questions. Where will you be working? Will you work in one place or will you be mobile? Will you travel? How do you (and others) work best? How comfortable are you with computers and software? If a program has a significant learning curve, will you get the training you need? Will you produce a lot of paper or will your work be electronic? How important is email, Internet use, faxing and telephone service? What software might be required for your practice? For example, if you do electronic filing, you’ll need a program (or a service) to create PDF files. The more basic the questions, the better your results will be.
Finally, you need to think very carefully about what your areas of practice will be. Your practice areas will drive many of your technology choices. If you do litigation, you have an entire set of considerations and options than non-litigators have. Even in litigation, lawyers who try cases will use different technology than lawyers who handle only appeals.
4. One Key Word to Consider ? “Volume.”
The single most important driving force in your technology choices is volume. If you understand the volume of your work, the volume of your work product and volume of the demands that you will make on your technology, you will be successful in making good technology choices. If you misgauge volume, your choices will fail you.
What I mean is that you must have a clear picture of the amount of input and output you need from each part of your technology. Then, you must be sure that you make selections that will comfortably handle the volume that you expect.
For example, if my practice consists of one case with one matter, I can easily get by without a case management program. At some point, however, the volume of cases and matters mandates that you use case management software. If you fax hundreds of pages a day, then you must consider a dedicated fax machine with a sheet-feeder and all the accoutrements. If, however, you email documents as PDF attachments and only need to fax a few pages every other month, then you can save the money you would have spent on a fax machine and use a low-cost Internet fax service.
As a general rule, then, technology will make the most sense and give you the biggest payoff in areas where there is sufficient volume that can be addressed by automation or other computerized systems.
5. Outsourcing vs. Do-It-Yourself vs. Sharing.
The trend toward home businesses, even in the practice of law, has produced a lot of discussion about the notion of “core business.” If you have limited space and money, you want to consider what elements of your business really need to be done by you. What is the core or essence of your business that must be done by you and what can be done for you by third parties?
As long as the volume remains manageable, many of your technology needs can be met by a Kinko’s or other office store, as long as it convenient for you to use it. Dictation services may be better and more cost-effective than speech recognition software.
Consider putting together a group of solos and small firms and try to get group rates for training, maintenance, consulting, planning and other services, as well as volume discounts for hardware and software purchases.
6. A Few Words About Services.
The third side of the legal technology triangle is services. I use the term “services” in two ways. The first is the traditional sense of consulting services. The second is the notion of hosted services, “software as services,” or what used to be known as the application service provider or ASP model.
It’s difficult for many startup firms to pull out the checkbook for consulting services, especially after they have paid large amounts for hardware and software. There is some irony in this, since lawyers’ livelihoods depend on other people hiring lawyers to provide professional services.
There are many consulting services to choose from ? planning, evaluating, installing, training, financing, and more. You can get experts in networks, integration, communications, Windows and even single applications.
Everyone has his or her own comfort level with asking for help and paying for help. I recommend that you build into your technology budget a reasonable amount for consulting services. As you might expect, cutting corners on the front end may well cost you a lot more on the back end. Although this point is an obvious one, it’s still worth mentioning that non-lawyers often have difficulty understanding how lawyers work and the ethical and other requirements lawyers have.
The most interesting area in legal technology for startups today is the hosted services area. There are some widely-accepted examples, such as website hosting. Other options appear on a regular basis. Backup, security, email, contact management, databases, timekeeping and other traditional areas of software usage have all been turned into services to one degree or another. I’ve noticed a number of young attorneys turning to these services as a way to get functionality and features they could not otherwise afford to buy, but that they can use for a reasonable monthly fee.
7. Some Standard Models to Consider.
In 2005, startups can make a decision in favor of Windows or the Macintosh environment. If you are a Linux user, I wouldn’t discourage you from that option, but I am reluctant to suggest it as an option for the average computer user.
If you want to take the Macintosh route, go ahead, after you consider the software options in light of your requirements. Apple has put together a helpful list of legal software for the Mac at legal.htm. You can also run Windows programs in an emulation mode on a Mac and get perfectly adequate levels of performance. As long as you make your decision with eyes wide open and know where you will get support, any startup firm may consider Macintosh as a viable option.
Most startups, however, will live in the Windows world. Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 is the operating system of choice for lawyers. Windows Small Business Server is a great package for a server-based network in a small firm.
Rather than make a lot of specific recommendations about hardware and software, I want to describe some standard approaches to consider.
A. The Classic Approach. In the Classic Approach, you build your technology around a central server and traditional applications, giving your firm room to grow. The Classic Approach involves a lot of planning, consulting help, name brand equipment and tried and true software. As you might guess, a full-blown version of this approach can be very expensive and reach into the six-figure range even for a relatively small firm. Leasing and other financing arrangements will be important in this approach, and you often see compromises made to help cut costs.
In this approach, I’d expect to see a Windows based network running on Windows Server 2003 or Small Business Server on a server that may cost $10,000 or more, tricked out with lots of memory, storage, backup tools, backup power supplies and the like. Generally, you will see users given some choices of computers, but all within the same brand. The whole system will probably be installed by a consultant who provides continuing maintenance and other services.
I would expect to see Microsoft Office 2003, Worldox for document management, and market leaders (e.g., TimeMatters for case management) for other back office programs and a reasonable number of practice tools. You should be able to see that we are talking about a large investment, especially if you start with the traditional medium-sized firm packages from the beginning because you expect growth.
B. The Classic Lite Approach. Not surprisingly, many firms look for ways to get the equivalent of the Classic environment for a much less than Classic price. You look to focus your spending and efforts on the most important pieces of the puzzle for you and you shave pennies everywhere that you can. It’s a tricky approach and one where you can easily make mistakes.
C. The Modern Approach. The Modern Approach is another variation of the Classic Approach. It is a customized approach that requires a lot of planning and personalization. In other words, everyone does not get the same setup. Users get only the tools they need. A variety of outsourcing options are considered and used. There is a willingness to start with a reduced number of features while keeping a close eye on the need to improve features when necessary. The savings over the Classic Approach might be substantial.
D. The Outsourced Approach. The Outsourced Approach goes even further than the Modern Approach. You will see this approach from young lawyers, some tech-savvy lawyers and lawyers fleeing large firms who are accustomed to certain levels of technology they can no longer afford. The Outsourcing Approach involves a conscious effort to look for hosted services for as much of the firm’s technology as possible. Risky? Yes, but it can rocket your firm to a high level of technology, especially customer-facing technologies like extranets, for a small initial capital outlay, plus a reasonable monthly utility cost.
E. The Macintosh Approach. Macintosh has becoming a significant and growing presence in the solo and small firm legal market. Concerns about Windows security, the Mac’s reputation for usability and reliability, and the push from young lawyers have driven this trend. Don’t expect to see a lot of savings on hardware and software, but expect savings in consulting and other costs and potential benefits in productivity. Like the Outsourced Approach, the Macintosh is a bit outside the tradition legal approach, but that’s part of the appeal of the Macintosh. The Macintosh Approach may be a good one for lawyers looking to use audio and video and take other creative and innovative approaches.
F. The Barebones Approach. How low can you go? Most lawyers already have a computer or two at home. They might work for you until you get the business rolling. You can use the Internet to find free and shareware programs for everything from basic accounting to the OpenOffice suite to time-keeping. It’s a stop-gap measure, but it might be what it takes to get your practice off the ground.
8. Realistic Thinking about Costs and Cost Savings.
For many years, consultants have suggested that the rule of thumb cost figure to use for computer technology is between $5,000 and $10,000 per seat. It’s a good number to use for ball-parking your budget.
You can improve your practice’s cash flow by either bringing more cash in or reducing the flow of cash out. You have the most control over outflow.
First, do not overbuy for your needs. It’s easy to get caught up in the thinking that you need to buy certain pieces of equipment because every office needs it. I’ve seen lawyers spend a lot of money on equipment that is rarely used. A startup rarely has that kind of luxury.
Second, watch for Internet bargains. Every little bit of savings can help you and you can sometimes jump up your level of technology for the same price you expected to pay for lesser technology.
Third, look for volume discounts. A surprising number of software companies start offering volume discounts for as few as five copies. As I mentioned earlier, you might also explore ways to work with other lawyers and firms as a consortium to secure better pricing or split the costs of training or services.
Fourth, take a hard look at outsourcing and hosted services.
Finally, consider leasing and other arrangements to reduce your initial capital costs and treat your technology like another monthly utility cost.
Implementing the right technology can put you on the road to success. Technology costs are some of the biggest variables in any startup firm’s business plan. You want to make good choices while keeping your costs under control. Listen to the suggestions of others, but keep the focus on you and your business. Ask the fundamental questions and think carefully before you answer them. Get the help you feel you need. Then choose an approach that fits your philosophy and budget and be as smart in your technology implication as you are smart in your legal work.
Note: This article is one of a series of my previously-published articles that I’m making available for free on my website and incorporating into my blog. Other of my articles may be found in the Articles category archive on my blog.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
This post brought to you by Dennis Kennedy’s consulting services, featuring RSS and advanced blogging consulting and technology committee coaching packages for law firms, corporate legal departments and other professional services providers.

Web 2.0 and AJAX – A great primer

Tuesday, October 18th, 2005

There’s so much talk these days about Web 2.0 and I’m soaking it all up like a sponge. It can get a little confusing.
However, I found a great primer on AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript and XML) that really helped me understand, at least conceptually, the technological underpinnings of AJAX and why there is so much excitement.
It’s Amit Asaravala’s AJAX Puts the Browser to Work in this week’s issue of InfoWorld, to me a model of clarity in writing about technology.
Highly recommended if you want to get some familiarity with this area of technology development and understand the reasons for the excitement it is generating.
The money quote:
AJAX encourages developers to split Web pages into compartments of data that can be refreshed independently of the entire page, and to write applications that act on data within the browser rather than on the server. After all, why should a browser ask a server to run a simple task when the browser has enough processing power to do the job itself? The result is that considerably less data and display information has to travel over the network.
The article is especially strong on giving examples of how AJAX approaches are being used in business settings and does a nice job of setting out the different tools being used today.
If you read this article, you’ll be able to follow some of the Web 2.0 discussions with a much better sense for what is going one.
By the way, it’s starting to become a running gag with us, but it seems like Matt Homann and I probably have tried about half or more of the Web 2.0 services out there. We are always trying out new ones. One of the ones I’ve grown to like is Writely, for quick and easy collaboration on standard documents.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
This post brought to you by Dennis Kennedy’s legal technology consulting services, featuring RSS and advanced blogging consulting and technology committee coaching packages for law firms, corporate legal departments and other professional services providers.

Tapscott on Open Networks with Trust and the Gold Mine Example

Tuesday, October 18th, 2005

I was reading the new issue of CIO Insight last night and every article seemed like a winner. I learned something new and useful, it seemed, on every page.
Especially worth your while is the interview with Don Tapscott on open networking with trust. This interview helped me see a number of things with new eyes, especially that old notion of the virtual law firm.
The money quote:
So how do you harness that genius?
We looked at this concept of innovation Webs, a very powerful idea, completely enabled by IT. I’ll give you an example. Rob McEwen, a director at Goldcorp, a gold mining company in Vancouver, B.C., gathered his engineers one day and told them that unless they could assure him that they could find any more gold in his largest mine, he was going to shut it down. The engineers scratched their heads; they just didn’t know.
So McEwen decided to hold a contest on the Internet. He published his most proprietary data—the specs about his mines, geological data, things that are fiercely held secrets at any mining company. He offered $500,000 to anyone who could submit a viable way to find gold. Of the 77 submissions he received, he chose the top 25, and they shared $575,000. Using those proposals, McEwen managed to locate roughly $2.5 billion in gold on that property.
That’s pretty impressive, but still a terrifying prospect for many companies that have built high walls around their employees and intellectual property.

Does this approach have application outside of gold mines? I think it might. Is there a chance you’ll get to discuss this topic with me on Day 2 of BlawgThink? I’d say there’s a very good chance.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
Like what you are reading? Check out the other blogs where I post – Between Lawyers (feed) and the LexThink Blog (feed).

Revolutionizing Client Relations with CaseMap’s New ReportBooks – Article

Monday, October 17th, 2005

[This article talks about one of my favorite programs, CaseMap, and the way I believe that lawyers can use one of its new features to take their practices to the proverbial next level. However, it's become even more interesting as a tool that clients might use to gain control over their litigation matters, make better decisions about what cases to try and what cases to settle, and get a grip on its litigation portfolio. Written in late 2004. Published on and elsewhere.]
Revolutionizing Client Relations with CaseMap’s New ReportBooks
Let me say this as clearly as I can – CaseMap 5′s ReportBooks feature will revolutionize the way clients expect to receive status and other reports about their cases from their lawyers. Used effectively, ReportBooks will help enhance existing client relationships, win new clients and create new business and revenue streams. ReportBooks will also allow you to bring new members of the team up to speed quickly, minimize the losses of team member leaving your firm and ensure that all team members are on the same page.
Since CaseMap 1.0 debuted in 1998, there has been a general consensus that CaseMap has been a step ahead of other litigation software tools. With a steady stream of improvements, CaseMap has continued to hold its place as the leader in innovation among litigation software programs. Now, the newest version, CaseMap 5, moves CaseMap 5 at least a hop, skip and a jump ahead of the rest of the litigation software vendors.
One of the under-recognized reasons for CaseMap’s success in winning a place at the table with some of the premier litigators in the United States is the long experience CaseSoft’s co-founders’ Bob Wiss and Greg Krehel had as jury and litigation consultants with some of this country’s leading trial practice firms. CaseMap grew out of a need to solve real world problems that hampered the effective preparation and presentation of cases. CaseMap reflects an understanding of what lawyers do, how they work and what will help them work better.
CaseMap is a litigation fact management, evaluation and strategy software tool that has become popular among some of the best litigators in the country and in large firms, small firms, government and corporations. It is both simple and powerful. CaseMap has always provided ways to present important and useful information about cases in ways that help both lawyers and their clients. Unfortunately, not all lawyers made the best use of CaseMap for these purposes, especially when it came to presenting information to clients.
CaseMap 5 has now made it ridiculously easy to create reports that give clients the information they have always wanted in a way that is most useful to them. The method is through a new feature called ReportBooks.
Let’s take a closer look at ReportBooks to see why I think that they may become so important. The concept is quite simple, but the potential power is immense.
A ReportBook is simply a compilation of your CaseMap reports that is automatically assembled and generated on the fly. CaseMap has created a number of templates for ReportBooks. You can customize ReportBooks or create your own version from scratch, but I expect that most of you will find that the standard templates will work well for you.
Here is an example of how ReportBooks work. You receive a call from a client who wants to know what is happening on a certain case. If you are like many lawyers, you will likely stammer, delay and buy some time to try to remember the case and what might be happening in it. You will likely offer your client something like, “We’re on top of it,” or “We have a status meeting scheduled next week and I’ll give you a call after that.” Essentially, you buy time, make vague comments and bland reassurances, or you change the subject as quickly as you can. Your client will be left with a vague uneasiness and irritation that may grow into anger when he or she sees your bill for that telephone conversation.
Here is what you can do in the same scenario with ReportBooks. You can say, “Give me about twenty seconds and I’ll email you a full report that we can talk about while we look at it together. Let me do that while you are on the line.” You are already opening CaseMap, and finding and opening the CaseMap file for the case. You choose to create a ReportBook with a default template. A ReportBook is generated and you send it to an email attachment in PDF. A new email message appears with the ReportBook attached. You type in the email address and write a short note. You send the email. In a second or two, your client has the message and opens the attachment. Now, you both have the ReportBook to serve as a basis for discussion.
The ReportBook will give your client, in a summary fashion, the key information your client needs to understand and discuss the case. In fact, it will probably give many clients the basic information about cases to which they feel they are entitled and that they have long felt their lawyers should provide them.
Here are just a few of the ideas I have had for using ReportBooks: creating ReportBooks for the trial (maybe with a nice binding) for everyone on your team; sending your clients weekly or monthly ReportBooks on their cases; getting new associates up to speed on the case; giving a tax or corporate partner from whom you want advice about a specific issue a quick way to become familiar with the case; creating useful overviews for expert witnesses; and much more.
However, there is no need to rely on my hypotheticals. Let’s see what David Wolowitz, of McLane, Graf, Raulerson & Middleton in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, has actually done with ReportBooks:
“I have found the new ReportBook feature to be of great benefit in unexpected ways. In one matter, I had a mediation to prepare. I was dealing with my clients, two highly educated professionals, a member of their board who is a very astute attorney in NYC and a savvy insurance adjuster, also an attorney. I needed to educate all of them on the facts and the issues and to determine what information was missing. So, I sent them a CaseMap ReportBook of the key facts and also three reports by key issues.
I created a very impressive cover sheet in about two minutes. I then revised the confidentiality statement to meet my needs and created an intro page explaining how to utilize the reports and the status of the case. From that point on, everyone responded with ideas and missing information. On a weekly basis, I sent them updated ReportBooks, including a report on what was new (a standard CaseMap saved report.) The mediation went well. I gave the mediator a TimeMap report of key dates. I noticed he kept referring to it throughout the mediation. Throughout the process, everyone involved commented on my thoroughness and the usefulness of the reports.”
What’s in the ReportBook? The standard “Case Summary” ReportBook contains a customized cover sheet, a confidentiality statement, a table of contents, introduction, issue outline, cast of characters (persons), cast of characters (organizations), fact chronology, document index, list of open questions, research authorities and research authority extracts, all generated automatically in seconds from your existing CaseMap file. Other templates include (1) a summary of issues, cast of characters, facts and key documents, (2) key issues fact chronologies, (3) key players fact chronologies, (4) summary list of key players, facts and documents, and (5) what’s new in the last 14 days.
The utility of these reports, both externally and internally, should be clear to you. Compare the impact of sending any of these ReportBooks to a client to the traditional methods. As Wolowitz concludes, “I prepared these ReportBooks with very little effort but received far more attention than if I had not used this feature.”
The beauty of ReportBooks is that they can be created in seconds from existing data (and you can even refresh an old ReportBook with new data). You can provide them at no cost to your clients just as part of your standard service. When your client, who probably uses other law firms for other cases, starts to ask its other firms for similar reports. They will probably get some pushback from other firms and, more than likely, will see time charges for the creation of reports. Take a look at a sample ReportBook and try to estimate the cost of producing something similar by hand. I suggest that most firms would run up thousands of dollars in costs to produce the same kinds of reports.
In the CaseMap tradition, ReportBooks allow the experienced lead lawyer to move away from spending too much time on the drudgery parts of cases and move toward spending time do what he or she does best and probably enjoys most – analyzing and evaluating cases, planning strategies and tactics, dissecting the strengths and weaknesses of cases, and preparing to be devastatingly effective.
Clients prefer to pay lawyers for their expertise and ability to analyze cases and make good recommendations about how best to handle those cases. Too many lawyers get caught in the trap of thinking that clients are paying them to produce memos, briefs and other documents. With ReportBooks, your clients will easily see the value that you bring to their matters. More importantly, your clients will understand your unique value to them as compared to law firms that do not use ReportBooks.
Here is just one idea to consider. Assume a major client can receive ReportBooks for all of its cases from all of its law firms. Might they want to use your services and pay you very well for your evaluation of those cases rather than have you spending your time supervising associates handling routine discovery and writing memos and briefs? Are there other opportunities for litigators to create new services, packages of services, products or other income streams as a result of ReportBooks? I believe there are. How about you?
What value do you put on these kinds of results? I suggest that the value is significantly higher than the $495 cost of a single-user license for CaseMap 5 (volume discounts are available), or the $199 upgrade price for current users of earlier versions of CaseMap. However, I’ll let you do your own math.
Conclusion – Is Now Too Soon?
With CaseMap 5, the best litigation software just keeps getting better. If you use ReportBooks, you might start hearing your clients introduce you to others as “my favorite lawyer.” When lawyers start hearing those words, you will know that a revolution is here. Client service and client satisfaction are the wheels on which today’s law practice turns.
The benefits of CaseMap’s ReportBooks are limited only by your own imagination. However, I suggest that you get to ReportBooks before either your clients tell you to start using them or your clients stop calling you and move their work to competitors who do use them. As always, the choice is up to you, but this choice is much clearer than most of the technology choices you have these days.
If you are a client of a law firm, or a client of many law firms, as many corporate general counsel are today, then pick up the phone and find out why your firms haven’t told you about ReportBooks yet. In today’s world, the bill for that call from your lawyer might be more than the upgrade price for CaseMap, but it will pay for itself many times over if you improve the quality of information about your matters as much as ReportBooks can do for you.
Note: This article is one of a series of my previously-published articles that I’m making available for free on my website and incorporating into my blog. Other of my articles may be found in the Articles category archive on my blog.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
This post brought to you by Dennis Kennedy’s consulting services, featuring RSS and advanced blogging consulting and technology committee coaching packages for law firms, corporate legal departments and other professional services providers.

The Empty Email Inbox

Monday, October 17th, 2005

The holy grail of email management is achieving, at least temporarily, the empty inbox. I saw that Jeremy Wright had recently accomplished this and it inspired me.
So, here I am with an inbox with exactly zero items in it. It’s definitely an exercise that worth doing – at least once.
It’s a temporary victory, but it feels good.
Of course, having an empty inbox is not the same as having responded to and dealt with every email. That one may be impossible. However, the exercise of clearing the inbox, moving messages to folders, setting up new rules, deleting messages and dealing with messages that need only a quick response can leave you feeling a lot less overwhelmed. At least until tomorrow morning when everyone emails you back and the overnight load of email has arrived.
Food for thought from 43 FoldersMarc Eisenstadt’s calculations on time spent handling email.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
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Placing Your Bet on Client-Driven Technologies – Article

Friday, October 14th, 2005

[Note: This article, written in January 2003, was my first effort to pull together a set of ideas into the theme I've come to call "client-driven technologies. I think the ideas associated with client-driven technologies are the most important trend in legal technology today. This article gives some ideas for innovative and forward-thinking law firms. It also gives corporate legal departments some guidelines for what to ask from their law firms.]
Placing Your Bet on Client-Driven Technologies
From application service providers to knowledge management, we hear a lot of buzzwords and predictions for the future of legal technology. How should you sort out each of these options? Where should you place your bet as you allocate your legal technology dollars today?
A large portion of your bet should be placed on the spot on the wheel labeled “client-driven technologies.”
Recent surveys of corporate legal departments show some statistics that all law firms should consider carefully. Lawyers are hired for factors such as “expertise” and “familiarity with the client and its business.” Lawyers are fired primarily for “lack of responsiveness.” A stunning 62% of corporate legal departments considered firing one or more law firms in 2001. The trends toward cost cutting and reduction in number of firms used have been well documented.
Consider this, though. Over 90% of corporate legal departments would be willing to respond to client surveys from law firms. Most would like to have more contacts from their firms. Finally, and not surprisingly, most would respond very favorably to a firm’s efforts to find creative solutions to billing, fees, and delivery of legal services.
Many companies are also looking at the success of Dupont’s efforts to control costs and improve legal services. All lawyers who have corporate clients would be well advised to study what Dupont and its law firms have done.
The best firms servicing this market will make changes in reaction to the current and future market. In the Dupont paradigm and in other examples, a major driver has been technology.
How, then, do you move into the world of client-driven technology?
1. Study History. To put it mildly, the legal profession is rarely a “first mover” in technology. Just a few examples, fax and e-mail, show how clients tend to push reluctant law firms into new technologies. The sea change of law firms moving from WordPerfect to Word was almost completely driven by client wishes. With a few exceptions, clients, rather than firms, have pushed for extranets, electronic deal rooms, electronic billing, collaboration and other technology evolutions.
2. Learn What Options You Have. You cannot move very far toward implementing client-driven technologies if you do not know what technologies and capabilities your firm has or can obtain. It is rare to find a firm that is using or is even aware of all the capabilities of its software and systems, let alone to find lawyers and firms who have a good understanding of all the new developments in legal technology. Becoming a member of the ABA’s Law Practice Management Section or are two good starting points, but it is very difficult to stay current. You may find that you have capabilities that you did not know you had.
3. Learn What Technologies Your Clients Use. Once law firms found out that their clients hated getting documents in WordPerfect, firms began to move to Word. It is vital to understand what software and technologies your clients use for their own work and how they would prefer to interact with you. Today, many law firms underestimate how commonly PowerPoint is used in many businesses. You might use surveys, meetings with the client or meetings between IS people to compare notes on what software and systems are used.
4. Find Out What Bothers Your Clients. Clients are willing to answer surveys. What about your software and technology irritates them? Do they have difficulty with the program you use to redline? Does your use of GroupWise cause irritating little problems for Outlook users? Do clients want to use Excel or PowerPoint?
5. Ask What Would Help Your Clients. Involve your IS people. At this stage, knowing what your capabilities are will not only be helpful, but also should impress your clients. Look for significant concerns, such as scrubbing of metadata out of Microsoft documents, security or encryption. Search for approaches that can be done easily but create great results. These could be small things like changes to your web site or extranet to make it more usable, new features on extranets or web sites or more complex items such as movement to new programs or common platforms. Consider the 80/20 rule that 20% of your efforts will give you 80% of your results and try to identify that 20%.
6. Suggest Items Your Clients Have Not Thought Of. You should have the advantage of knowing what is now available in legal technology. You should also consider ways to address the key client concerns you have been alerted to by the available statistics. Are there ways you can suggest to show clients your expertise, cut costs or improve responsiveness? What is the potential benefit of having a client say “Would you believe that my lawyer came to me with a way to save money of legal fees”? A few simple ideas: CaseMap offers a way to present very useful information about the strength of litigation cases to decision-makers; EZClean is an inexpensive tool to scrub metadata out of Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents; and virtual deal rooms and electronic document repositories are valuable solutions. Full-blown extranets, collaboration tools, common databases and content management may make sense in some cases, but, for most clients and firms, it will be best to build those projects after building momentum from a string of small successes.
7. Identify Priorities. Apply the 80/20 rule again to the ideas you have generated. Which ideas make the most sense in your current context? From your point of view, which initiatives will best address the common reasons law firms are fired (e-mail problems all but certainly will lead to “lack of responsiveness” issues) and hired (how can you show your expertise and understanding of the client’s business?)? Do these initiatives cut costs or enable creative billing approaches? Do these approaches connect the client to you and make it harder for the client to leave? Are these approaches useful to other clients? Finally, are they responsive to your client’s own list of priorities?
8. Make a Plan. Your technology initiatives will fall into one of three categories. The first category is things that you can do internally and on your own. The ball’s in your court. Start the effort to get them done and get the right people working on them. The second category is things that your clients can do internally. The ball is in their court, but you can provide assistance, resources or tools, as appropriate. The third category is things that you must cooperate on. Here, too, the ball is in your court. How can you make it happen? Is a joint “task force” that meets regularly the right approach? How can you make sure that the right people are working together to get things done? Are written plans and timetables appropriate?
9. Keep the Momentum. Talk is cheap. If you are the one who did the talking, you need to be the one who makes sure that the work is getting done.
10. Finish Projects. The technology landscape is littered with the wreckage of uncompleted projects. Finish some projects. Celebrate their completion. Reward accomplishment.
11. Measure Results. How do you know whether this idea worked or not? Can you measure results? Communicate the results to clients.
12. Take It to Other Clients. Some of the initiatives you take can be reused. Some might even be licensed as moneymakers for your firm or even sold as products. Be alert to opportunities to implement similar projects for other clients.
Then, repeat the process, over and over again. Get the word out on what you have accomplished, but focus your articles and press releases on what benefits you bring the client. As a result, you will address the leading reasons clients hire and fire lawyers, help clients contain costs, cement client relationships and position your firm well for the future. And, that is not a bad return on investment. Client-driven technology initiatives are a great bet to place in today’s legal market.
Ten Practical Tips for Client-Driven Technology Initiatives.
1. Educate yourself. My web page at is a good starting point. But it takes a lot of work to get up to speed on technology alternatives. Hiring appropriate expertise may be desirable in many cases.
2. Ask your clients. Surveys show that most are willing to respond.
3. Listen to your clients. Enough said.
4. Give your clients new ideas to think about. Clients cannot know everything that is available. Give them some great suggestions.
5. Get the right people involved. Are you the right person for this initiative? Who is? What role will your IS department play in the initial phases? I suggest that a high-level IS person be involved at the earliest opportunity.
6. Facilitate relationships between your IS people and the client’s IS people. Here is a simple test. Ask the head of your IS department how many of the heads of clients’ IS departments are in his or her contacts list. I bet it is too small a number. Are there ways you can get IS people to get together on a regular basis. Presentations by your IS group to client IS groups may make sense.
7. Find creative ways to control costs. Clients like law firms that are creative. They are also under pressure to control legal costs. Technology may allow you to show you are good at both.
8. Use great results as a way to publicize your client, not yourself.
9. Use technology initiatives in ways to increase the costs for a competitor to steal your client away.
10. Lead, follow (closely) or get out of the way.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
This post brought to you by Dennis Kennedy’s consulting services, featuring RSS and advanced blogging consulting and technology committee coaching packages for law firms, corporate legal departments and other professional services providers.

Taming the Email Tiger – Article

Friday, October 14th, 2005

[Continuing the email theme, here is an article on email management that I wrote in 1998. Some of the references are outdated, but the basic principles of email management have not changed too much over the years. Spam and, increasingly, spam filters have diminished the value of email for business purposes and greatly added to the difficulty of managing email.]
Taming the E-mail Tiger
Many attorneys are finding that they increasingly rely on communication by e-mail. They are also finding that at times their e-mail mailboxes look as if a blizzard had hit them. It is not uncommon to find attorneys who receive well over a hundred new e-mail messages a day.
Internet guru Jakob Nielsen in the September 19, 1999 issue of his essential Alertbox newsletter ( notes that surveys say that whether people get 10, 100 or 1,000 e-mails a day, they all say that the number they get is "overwhelming." The volume of e-mail will only be increasing. In the same newsletter, Nielsen stresses the importance of "protecting your mailbox."
In other words, you want to manage your e-mail before it manages you. I sometimes call this "taming the e-mail tiger." Fortunately, most e-mail packages, especially newer ones, provide you with valuable management options. You can also use techniques not specific to individual programs to take control of your e-mail. A great idea is to implement these techniques while your volume is low so that you can have them in place as your e-mail volume grows.
There are four points in the e-mail process at which you can have a significant impact on e-mail management: before a message sent to you, when you send a message, when or as you receive a message, and when you store or delete a message. An approach that attacks each of these four points will bring you the greatest benefit, but taking steps at any one or more of them will also help you.
Before E-Mail is Sent to You.
The strategy here is to reduce the volume of unwanted e-mail and make sure that the messages you want come to your main mailbox.
There are several sources of heavy e-mail volume.
Using the Internet for commercial services or buying products is likely to result in your e-mail address becoming available to direct e-mail marketers who will hit you with all kinds of commercial e-mail, commonly known as "spam."
A second potential source of high message volume is an e-mail discussion list. While these discussion lists can be enormously valuable if they relate to specific topics of interest to you, some of them can generate hundreds of e-mails on a daily basis or when a heated discussion is going on.
A third source of e-mail volume can occur if you indiscriminately make your e-mail address available to clients, friends, co-workers and everyone else you meet.
The best first step for you to take is to have both a "work" e-mail address and a "home" e-mail address and make every effort to limit the use of the work address to business-related e-mail.
Obtaining free e-mail addresses has become an easy thing to do. Yahoo and Excite provide free e-mail addresses. and the ABA can even provide you with a more upscale-looking free address.
After obtaining a "home" e-mail address, use it any time you are asked to supply an e-mail address for commercial or informational purposes that might lead to spam mail. Use your work address only for important mail that you want to handle in the work setting.
Blocking certain types of messages can also help you. Your Internet Service Provider, your firm’s network administrator and some e-mail programs, such as Outlook, can set up "spam filters" to block e-mail from certain locations or with certain words or phrases in the subject line or body of the message. Look into what options you might have available.
Consider the potential volume of any e-mail discussion list before you subscribe to it and resist the urge to subscribe to every interesting discussion list you find. A good option that many discussion lists have is a "digest" subscription – you receive one large e-mail a day containing all the messages posted to the list that day topped with a table of contents.
In short, being thoughtful in how and to whom you give out your e-mail address can go a long toward protecting your mailbox and making your mailbox manageable.
Managing Your Outgoing Mail.
The first decision you must make is whether you want to keep copies of all the messages you send. I cannot imagine why you would not, but I have been surprised by several lawyers who did not want to keep copies of the messages they sent.
Assuming that you decide to keep copies of your outgoing e-mail, how do you do so? Most newer e-mail programs automatically store copies of all your sent messages, usually in an easily accessible folder called something like "sent mail." In some programs you have to turn that feature on, so don’t assume that copies of your e-mail are being kept. In my experience, about 30 seconds with the manual or a help screen and clicking in a checkbox or two will enable this function.
Some e-mail software (usually older programs) will not store copies of your outgoing e-mail. The easy solution is simply to send an extra copy of each message to yourself. The best technique is to send a "bcc" (anachronistically, "blind carbon copy") which does not show your recipient that you are doing this. Some e-mail programs do not have a "bcc" function, so simply "cc" a copy to yourself. You’ll get the copy, but your recipient may notice that you sent the copy to yourself.
You can also save yourself a lot of time and trouble with e-mail addresses by using your e-mail program’s "address book." Rather than try to remember and type in individual addresses every time you send an e-mail, put the addresses into the address book under the person’s name. You can then select the person’s name off the list when you send an e-mail and have the e-mail address automatically entered for you on your message.
A final, important technique for managing outgoing mail is to make good use of the subject matter line and use descriptive phrases that will help you locate what is in the e-mail. Too many people use no subject, terms like "message," or clever phrases, and then have difficulty later finding the message later. While the more powerful e-mail programs have "find" functions, it may be difficult to remember the exact words you want to search for. A good subject line also helps your recipient notice your message and manage it appropriately.
Managing E-mail When or As You Receive It.
Your e-mail program will put all your new e-mail into a "new mail" folder or an "in box." The contents of that folder are what you see when you open your e-mail program. Most programs give you many options to create additional folders and move mail among them. More powerful programs allow you to set up routines known as "filters" or "rules" that will automatically handle e-mail based on directions you can establish.
The first technique that you want to use with incoming messages is to delete everything that you don’t need to keep and all "junk" mail. Change your mind or make a mistake? Many e-mail programs can be set to keep deleted mail in the "recycle bin" for a period of time (including forever) before it is irretrievably deleted. In other words, you have ways to undelete if you make a mistake.
Therefore, it pays to be aggressive in deleting mail from your in box. Deleting unnecessary messages will reduce clutter and make it easy to find the messages you want to find. Similarly, dealing aggressively and immediately with your e-mail by replying quickly or forwarding messages can help you manage your in box.
A second important technique is to select the best "view" for your e-mail. I’ll use Microsoft Outlook as an example. In Outlook, you can set up a "tri-pane" view that shows all your mail folders in one pane, the contents of your Inbox or the folder you have selected in another pane, and the first roughly 20 lines of the selected message on your screen before you even open the message. Using this tri-pane view can help you scan e-mail messages quickly and delete spam or other messages.
In addition, Outlook has ten ways to view e-mail (by sender, by topic, last seven days, unread, etc.) and gives you ability to create custom views. You are highly likely to find a view that can help you best manage e-mail. You can also sort within the views in a number of ways.
You will definitely want to create additional folders and organize your received mail in folders. Choose the approach that works best for you. I prefer to create folders for individuals, groups or projects. I like to be able to go to a folder called "Newsletter" and know that I can find all the e-mails I’ve gotten related to this newsletter in one place. Others might prefer action folders: "reply needed", "ASAP", "to file", et al.
The simple fact is that any of these folder techniques will help you greatly and organize old mail while keeping your in box clean for new mail.
Once you create the folders, you simply move relevant messages into each folder after you have received them.
"Rules" or "filters" can make this task even easier. Some e-mail programs allow you set up rules for dealing with e-mail. Generally, these are simple "if-then" rules like "if subject line contains the words ‘get rich quick’, then delete message on arrival" or "if sender is X, move message to X folder on arrival". Outlook has a great feature called "organize" that simplifies the creation of the most commonly used rules.
This technique can be a very powerful way to manage e-mail. Many people especially like these rules for e-mail discussion lists because they automatically move all the discussion list mail to a folder. The folder contents can then be read at leisure and the list messages do not overwhelm your in box.
If your e-mail program has this feature, it’s well worth your time to learn how to use it.
Storing, Archiving and Deleting Old E-mail.
On several occasions I’ve talked with an attorney who commented on how "slow" his or her e-mail program was performing. When we checked, the slowness was the result of a "new mail" folder or "in box" that had thousands of messages going back several years.
While from a management standpoint, the easiest thing to suggest is to delete and archive old messages, deletion and archival raise some thorny issues and there are many nuances.
Recent court cases indicate that old e-mail can come back to haunt you, either because you still have it or because it has been deleted. Just ask Bill Gates. Keeping all old e-mail can also, over time, take up storage space. There is developing law in this area and a lot of subtle issues. I will not make any blanket statements, but will suggest that you are well advised to pay attention to these issues now and consider adopting firm-wide policies on e-mail storage and deletion. [Note: Email retention and deletion policies have become immensely important over the years.]
Two other points to consider:
First, as significant matters and details are handled increasingly by e-mail, it is vital that these messages become part of the client or case file. Or that you know that they exist and can locate them immediately when they are needed. What if your client provided key information to a summer law clerk by e-mail and you are unaware of it and then cannot find out once you do become aware of it? Think carefully about ways to integrate e-mail into your case management or document management systems.
Second, remember, as I suggested earlier, that deletion does not mean that a message is "deleted." Even if you go to a policy that mandates, for example, annual deletion of e-mail, you will want to make sure that it is fully deleted. There are software programs that can ensure that your deleted messages and files cannot be later retrieved and meet deletion standards set by the Department of Defense. These types of products should be considered if you adopt such a policy on deletion.
E-mail is a marvelous tool, but it raises a number of its own problems. With a few relatively simple steps, both e-mail issues and e-mail itself are manageable. Keeping in mind the idea of "protecting your mailbox" and taking advantage of some common sense techniques and a few features of your e-mail programs, like rules, of which you might not have been aware can help make your life a little easier.
This article appeared originally in the November 16, 1998 issue of Lawyers Weekly USA and was reprinted on several occasions.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
This post brought to you by Dennis Kennedy’s half-day electronic discovery seminar – “Preparing for the New World of Electronic Discovery: Easing Your Transition from Paper to Electronic Discovery.” Contact Dennis today for more information and to schedule a seminar for your firm or legal department.

BlawgThink Updates

Thursday, October 13th, 2005

Matt has posted a number of updates on the BlawgThink 2005 conference over at The Nonbillable Hour.
One that I want to highlight is that we have decided to make available a one-day option. If you are interested in a more traditional seminar approach with specific sessions, you’ll like Friday’s set of structured sessions. If you want to spend a day having conversations with other bloggers on subjects that interest you and the group in a more free-form style (or you can’t take Friday off work), Saturday’s session will be just the ticket for you.
Of course, I recommend the two-day option, but the one-day option makes sense if, well, you only have one day.
Coming soon: more speaker announcements and more details.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
This post brought to you by LexThink!(TM) – The Conference, Re-imagined. LexThink! – Think big thoughts, do cool things, change the world. November 11 & 12 – LexThink’s BlawgThink 2005.