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Dennis Kennedy

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Archive for November, 2005

The Future of Legal Services – Putting the Consumer First

Tuesday, November 15th, 2005

Tim Allen, Chief Executive of Busines Integrity, the maker of DealBuilder, pointed me to a new article by the renowned legal futurist Richard Susskind called “Backroom boys lead ‘positive disruption’” in the UK Times Online (free registration required).
Tim noted that the Susskind article talks a lot about Clayton Christiansen’s ideas about innovative disruption, a subject we had discussed in the recent session on e-lawyering Darryl Mountain, Marc Lauritsen and Richard Granat led at the ABA Law Practice Management Section’s fall meeting in Philadelphia.
Susskind’s article references a white paper I recommend to you prepared by the UK Department for Constitutional Affairs called “The Future of Legal Services: Putting the Consumer First.”
The money quote from Susskind’s article:
The top US law firms are hugely and satisfyingly profitable. Accordingly, they seem to be moved to change more by the threat of competitive disadvantage than by the promise of competitive advantage. Without hunger for change, without the worry of being left behind by the competition and, vitally, without clients clamouring for new forms of service, it will be business as usual for the US legal behemoths for many years yet. They will wring every last cent out of the increasingly unsustainable practice of hourly billing and will steer well clear of innovative IT.
Susskind notes that the difference in innovation in UK firms stems from something called “maverick management.” He describes this as:
The reality is that the overwhelming number of innovations (often documented in this column) have evolved from the efforts of mavericks within law firms — energetic, often eccentric, frequently marginalised, invariably demanding, single-minded individuals who pursue ideas that are regarded in the early days as peripheral, irrelevant and even wasteful. But the mavericks persevere and in their dining-rooms or studies at home they beaver away, creating new forms of service for clients. Gradually, their innovations came to be recognised as significant and even client-winning. And soon, everyone claims that the mavericks had the firm’s full support from the outset. A new discipline thus emerges — maverick management. This is the art of nurturing and encouraging mavericks, giving them space to innovate and wrapping some strategy and structure around their innovations only once their ideas have fully gestated. Mavericks are the research and development departments of many law firms.
Important stuff, as is the work Tim Allen is doing. Thanks for pointing out the article and for the great conversation we had on these topics in Philadelphia.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
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Bringing Presentation Technology into Your Practice – Article

Tuesday, November 15th, 2005

[NOTE: This is another in the series of repostings of my previously-published articles. An earlier version of this article appeared in the Febraury 10, 1997 issue of Lawyers Weekly USA. Please note that parts of this article are dated, but I've not updated it to give you a sense of history. I like this article for two reasons. First, the ten tips about doing presentations I give at the end of the article are still good ones today. Second, it shows how enthused I was about the use of PowerPoint back in 1997 – an enthusiasm that's continued to this day, even though my PowerPoint techniques have changed quite a bit over the years. As always, it's a matter of choosing the right tools and using them well. I'm always experimenting. At BlawgThink, I did a presentation using the presentation mode of MindJet's MindManager program and I really liked that approach for that audience. In the Open Space approach we took on Day 2 of BlawgThink, using PowerPoint doesn't make sense because everyone is both speaker and audience member and there is a conversation rather than a lecture. I sometimes hear or read people who condemn all PowerPoint presentations and PowerPoint itself. While there are plenty of bad PowerPoint slides, I generally think that people who dismiss PowerPoint as all bad haven't seen people who can really use PowerPoint well. It takes practice, ability and understanding of audiences to do PowerPoint really well. If you haven't seen PowerPoint used really well in the legal setting, I recommend that you attend one of Craig Ball's PowerPoint sessions at the ABA TECHSHOW or wherever else he may be delivering it. That will give you an idea of what can be done with PowerPoint in the hands of someone who really gets it.]
Bringing Presentation Technology into Your Practice
You have probably noticed the growing use of projection panels and projectors at seminars you have attended lately. Improvements in technology, some price reductions and the visible benefits to speakers’ presentations have hastened the adoption of this technology. If you speak in front of groups of people – and what lawyer does not – you will want to take a look at what now is available in presentation technology.
I am a big fan of presentation technology. In fact, given diminishing attention spans of audiences, I predict that soon no one will be able to give a presentation simply by standing alone in front of an audience and expect to keep his or her audience’s attention. In almost every case, your presentation will be improved by the use of presentation technology.
Presentation equipment may be either (1) a projection panel used in combination with an overhead projector or (2) an all-in-one projector. In each case the panel or projector is connected to the video output of your computer (typically a laptop computer). Once everything is connected, you can display whatever is on your computer screen in an enlarged form upon a projection screen in the same way you can show transparencies on an overhead projector. Anything that you can do on your computer, including animations and sound, may be seen and heard by your audience.
[Note: this article was written in 1997 and the marketplace has changed dramatically. The following section on hardware is interesting historically.]
Projection panels are small panels about the size of a laptop computer screen which are placed on an overhead projector so that the projector’s light source shines up through the panel and projects the panel’s images onto a projection screen. Panels once dominated the presentation market. They are generally cheaper than all-in-one projectors, lighter in weight and easier to transport (as long as you don’t have to carry your own overhead projector with you). Panels range in price from about $3,000 to $7,000 for a quality active-matrix panel. Do not consider passive matrix panels because their quality simply is not adequate. A high quality overhead projector will cost another $500 to $1,500. You will definitely want to use a high-quality overhead projector with a panel. The overhead projectors we remember so well from eighth grade science class will not provide sufficiently brightness.
All-in-one projectors combine the panel technology with a high-intensity light source in one unit. All-in-one projectors have recently become very popular and are predicted to capture 75 to 80% of the presentation hardware market in the very near future. Generally their displays are significantly brighter and sharper what you can get with a panel using an overhead projector. They are also relatively compact and usually have built-in multimedia capabilities (speakers and audio/video inputs). Typically, all-in-one units range from about $5,000 to $10,000, although while researching this column, I saw an ad for an all-in-one projector on sale for $3,000.
One of the newer newest developments is called digital light processing ("DLP"). DLP is a technology which uses thousands of tiny mirrors to project an image. The projected image is brighter than the LCD technology which is being used in most panels and projectors. DLP units tend to be more expensive than LCD units.
Manufacturers of presentation hardware include Proxima, Sharp, In Focus, Boxlight, Canon, NEC, Sanyo and 3M. Most companies seem to have a number of models at a number of price ranges. Because a panel or projector is not a typical consumer item, you will probably buy your unit on the basis of a demonstration by the vendor in your office rather than by going to your local computer store. This approach is a good one because you will want to see each model in action and learn whether it will work with your current computer and with you.
Other features which are available with your presentation hardware include an infrared or remote mouse or other remote control so that you can walk around the room or away from your computer and still control the computer and the presentation, and in some models, software or an electronic tablet that allows you to write or draw on what appears on your screen during the presentation. Some projectors allow you to run a version of your presentation on a floppy drive built into the unit in case you have a problem with your computer.
The most significant technical issue to be concerned about is ensuring that the display of your laptop computer (typically VGA or SVGA) matches the display of your panel or projector. Most presentation panels and projectors have a VGA display. Newer notebooks which have SVGA (better) displays cause problems with VGA panel or projector. In most cases, the problem is that the panel or projector will not display anything at all.
There are two solutions to this problem. You can purchase a more expensive SVGA panel or projector or, less expensively, change the video display of your computer to VGA. It is not difficult to change your computer’s display from SVGA to VGA, once you have learned how to do it. On the other hand, if you find the problem 5 minutes before your presentation and do not know how to change those settings, you may have a disaster.
Since you will likely be buying your panel or projector from a vendor who has demonstrated the product to you, you should insist that they ensure that your panel or projector works perfectly with your laptop computer. If the laptop computer you currently own does not do that, consider buying a laptop computer dedicated to use for presentations.
Another important consideration if you travel a lot is the weight of an all-in-one projector. These projectors have gotten much lighter in the past few years, but can still cause arm strain on a long trek through an airport. Newer models, however, can weigh less than ten pounds. The near-universal presence of projectors at most facilities can alleviate the weight problem by eliminating t he need to carry your projector with you to every presentation. Another alternative is to purchase a carrying case with wheels for your projector.
[Note: this article was written in 1997 and the marketplace has changed. The following section on software is interesting historically.]
Presentation software programs are extremely easy to use, allow you to include some impressive effects with the simple click of a mouse, look great and generally work as tools should work. Presentation software allows you to generate presentation slides with colorful backgrounds, bulleted text, graphics, animations and a wide variety of transition effects. The universal comment I heard about presentation software was how easy the programs are to use. There are probably four major programs designed for presentations and graphics – Microsoft’s PowerPoint, Lotus Freelance, Harvard Graphics and Astound.
Microsoft’s PowerPoint is the most commonly used presentation package and, even if you do not use it, you will want to save your presentations in a PowerPoint format to make it easy to transfer to others. PowerPoint is a very easy to use program.
However, since you’ll be able to display whatever is on your computer screen, any software program can be used for presentations. For example, in a talk about the Internet, you might be live on the Internet showing web pages to illustrate your points. Another example is using your presentation hardware to display language that was being negotiated and revised in a conference room with all attorneys able to see the changes.
Presentation software can be used to create a set of slides which highlight your main points and become your speaking outline. You no longer have to read your speech and guarantee that you will lose your audience or refer constantly to your outline. In most cases, the room will be set up so that you can look at your laptop computer in front of you on the podium while your audience sees your computer screen displayed behind you on a large display screen. As a result, you can talk to your audience without any need to turn your back on them to point to text or graphics on the display screen.
New presentation technology will give you more control over your presentation, allow you to create better and more impressive presentations at a low cost and generally save you the embarrassment of dropping overhead transparencies or having slides upside down or out of sequence in a slide projector. However, like any new technology, presentation technology also opens the door to new concerns. There are more things that can go wrong.
Here are a few tips from my experience with presentation technology:
1. Arrive early to check all the equipment at your presentation site and make sure that your presentation looks the way that you think it should look at the site. You can make adjustments to improve the visibility of slides, change background colors or font sizes, or move screens and projectors.
2. It’s better to be safe than sorry. I take two backup floppy disks of my presentation slides and a set of transparencies. You may also want to take along extra cords, outlet strips, extension cords, bulbs and a few tools. And, as I’ve learned, a small screwdriver.
3. Make sure that your screen saver program is turned off. It is embarrassing to have cute screen saver images appear just as you are ready to make a major point.
4. Do not run your laptop computer off its battery. Use the AC adapter. Don’t ask for problems.
5. Do not use all the features of your presentation software in your first presentation. Use these features and effects gradually and as they make sense for each presentation. If you use a lot of effects and features, the medium, as Marshall McLuhan said, will become the message. People will remember the effects and the capabilities of the presentation program and not a word of what you said.
6. Practice giving your speech while using the equipment. You need to get the feel of using a mouse and changing slides.
7. Keep in mind the audiences point of view at all times. Think about the backgrounds that you are using and be sure that the text can be read. A rule of thumb is that if you can read the text eight feet away from a 15 inch monitor it will probably be okay.
8. Do not overload each presentation slide with information.
9. Use your slides as a speaking outline and move around, if you can, while you speak. You will give the impression of speaking extemporaneously, enhancing your authority, when your actual speaking outline is appearing on the screen in front of everyone.
10. Anticipate the unexpected. I learn something new about potential problems every time I speak. [NOTE: Yes, every single time.]
Attorneys speak in front of people on an everyday basis. Everything that you can do enhance your ability as a speaker will work to your benefit. This technology can definitely enhance you speaking abilities and you should look into it if you have not already done so. One final bit of advice: your image will be a reflection of your ability to present, your presence and charisma, and the presentation technology you use. There are a number of places in legal technology where you can choose to "go cheap," but presentation technology should not be one of them.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/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.

Blawgspace is a Generous Place – Round 2

Monday, November 14th, 2005

If you asked me to pick out my favorite blog posts on this blog, I know that a post I wrote in December 2003 called “Blawgspace is a Generous Place” would always, always be on my list and I recommend that you read it.
On my plane ride home from BlawgThink last night I found that when I wasn’t looking forward to getting home to my wife and daughter, I was thinking about that post.
There was a session on Saturday morning, which we had called a “Five by Five” where five of the first and best legal bloggers were going to be asked five questions as an introduction to the day of Open Space discussions. Matt and I were to be the moderators. Just before the session, I talked through the way we would handle the moderating with Matt and how my goal was to stay out of the way of our speakers. I was going to ask the first question and we then alternate asking the questions.
Matt surprised me (and for those who saw my surprise, I can assure you it was genuine) by asking the first question and turning the session into a Six by Five by telling me that I was part of the panel when he asked the first question. When he started asking the question, I couldn’t believe that he had forgotten the sequence we had talked about moments before. Of course, as soon as I felt a microphone in my hand, I was ready to join right in.
At more points than you can imagine, I looked down the line of speakers – Ernie, Marty, Sabrina, Tom, Carolyn – who I now know so well and have admired so much for so long, and realized that I am the “baby” blogger among them and that I truly felt honored to be with them and thankful for all the help and friendship they’ve given me and so many others over the years.
The word I also think about with them is “generosity.” There is a generosity in sharing information, insights, time, experience, wisdom and friendship. They and the other “First Ones” of legal blogging – we wish that all of the others in that first group of legal bloggers could have been there, especially Denise Howell and Sherry Fowler – created something unique and special in the world of legal blogging. It’s something that made me want to be part of it and to carry on, in my imperfect way, the generosity, helpfulness and sharing that they have always shown.
What’s really cool is that each succeeding group of legal bloggers have shown that same generosity, a willingness to help others and a tendency to push toward new forms of collaboration. I get so much energy and so many new ideas from the newer bloggers. They are show their own kinds of generosity and also seem to be reaching out to build bridges and create new kinds of relationships. I don’t want to mention names (because this post is already long and the young bloggers love to tease me about my tendency to write long posts), but examples would be the role Evan Schaeffer has played in helping law student bloggers and almost everything the RethinkIP guys have done (even teaching me Skype instant messaging so I can hang out with them in real-time).
These days, you can get all wrapped up and even exercised about the blogging phenomenon, blogging as a marketing or even whether everyone should or should not be a blogger. So much so that you can forget that blogging is ultimately about people and people who care about words, getting the word out, about causes and getting the word out, and about helping people and getting the word out.
From BlawgThink, I ‘ll remember many things, but the ones I’ll carry with all involve people and people meeting people.
As just one example, I knew that BlawgThink was going to be the first in person meeting between Ernie and Marty. From the time I first saw Ernie in Chicago, he kept saaying “I can’t wait to meet Marty.” He kept asking when Marty was getting in and what time we’d get to meet him. I started joking with Ernie that he was acting like meeting Marty was like meeting the one of the Beatles. Ernie said, “No, it’s better than that.” Of course, even as I teased Ernie, I couldn’t keep from saying, “Marty is such a great guy!” and trying to be sure that I was there when they first met in person.
The meeting was magical, in case you wanted to know. And, one of these days soon, we’re all getting out to California, or wherever, to get the whole Between Lawyers group together.
It’s easy to get over-analytical about blogging. Today, I see blogging as being about good people with good hearts trying to do good things and make this world a little better place who have found a communications tool that works for us. We don’t always succeed and blogging may well not be the right tool for everyone, but sitting on that panel Saturday morning made me feel like I had found a great place and a great community of kindred spirits, and that Blawgspace in 2005 was still a generous place.
As I’ve also said in another of my favorite posts, which referred to the great song “People Get Ready” – you don’t need a ticket, just climb aboard.
Thank you to everyone in any way involved with BlawgThink (especially JoAnna), everyone who has helped on inspired me with my blog, and to all the readers of this blog. And to Matt, I think we really did something we can be proud of – there could have been no better partner to work on this than you, my friend.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog)]

BlawgThink – Initial Post-conference Results

Sunday, November 13th, 2005

I’m tired, but it’s that good kind of tired.
Let me point to a few other bloggers:
Dave Gulbransen’s excellent work at live-blogging sessions on his Preaching to the Perverted blog. Thanks – I really enjoyed getting the chance to meet you.
Fellow St. Louis bloggers George Lenard and Michelle Golden offer some reflections. Let’s get that St. Louis lunch scheduled.
Today – some wind-up, some continuing discussions, some rest and getting back to be with my wife and daughter, who I very much wish could be here with me.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

BlawgThink – Day 1

Saturday, November 12th, 2005

A few observations:
I find myself saying “thank you” so many times at BlawgThink. I’m so pleased with the job our presenters have done. Question: Does blogging, as a communications tool, also help make people great presenters?
As we hoped, we have as engaged and active an audience as I’ve seen at a conference lately. There has been a really good exchange of ideas and information. A number of attendees and speakers have posted from BlawgThink and I encourage you to search them out.
I learned tons of things today – from the sessions, from the attendees and just from hanging out with everyone here.
My biggest smile and “thank you” was for the moment when we got Ernie, Tom, Marty and me together for the first time (and Ernie and Marty met in person for the first time). It was also the first time we’ve ever had four of the five of us at Between Lawyers together in person. Thankfully for Denise, we considered, but decided against, making a late night call to her from all of us.
I’m looking forward to a full day today of talking with this great group of people here at BlawgThink using the Open Space method.
Back to work on the event.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

If You Get a Last-minute Craving to Attend BlawgThink . . .

Thursday, November 10th, 2005

(and I can see how you might), Matt has the details on what to do here.

Thinking About BlawgThink

Tuesday, November 8th, 2005

[Note: On what I'm sure will be the last eighty degree day of the year in St. Louis, I took a long bike ride. As long-time readers of this blog have learned, my long bike rides often lead to long blog posts. I think that this one is worth your time investment in reading it, but wanted to give you warning that it's kind of long.]
One of the smartest moves Matt and I made when putting BlawgThink together was to bring in event planner JoAnna Forshee to handle many of the details for us. If you are ever planning an event, JoAnna should be on your short list of people to talk to.
Matt, JoAnna and I had our last conference call today before BlawgThink. When we hung up, I decided to take a long bike ride, like a long exhale after a period of really hard work.
My wife always tells me to take more pleasure in what I have accomplished and not focus so much on things I haven’t gotten done. I thought I’d try that exercise on the bike ride.
It always seems that when you work on a big project, there are really two projects – the one you initially envisioned and the one that you really have produced.
I wanted to leave the fantasy project behind and get more fully focused on the reality.
The initial vision, or the fantasy, of course, is vital to the process. It gives you the motivation, the vision, the goals.
I took a quick look at some of my early notes on BlawgThink and set off on my ride.
What struck me, as I rode, was that the reality of the BlawgThink we have created is far more like the initial vision than I thought. In several important ways (speakers, sponsors and quality of attendees), it exceeds what we mapped out initially.
As I rode, I decided this was good. I also owned up to the fact that both Matt and I could fill a whole stadium for an event and still be thinking about “the ones that got away.” As I rode, I laughed about that and decided that my wife was right – I could let the fantasy event blow away with the wind and focus on what we have accomplished.
As people who know us can see, Matt and I really like working with each other on these things. I appreciate greatly Matt’s enthusiasm, passion, endless great ideas, boundless energy and capacity for hard work, and his ability to live on the telephone. Together, we’ve developed a knack for bringing people together, for making things happen, and getting people to think seriously about ideas, innovation and action.
As I rode, I then started to think more specifically about the actual BlawgThink and I allowed myself, finally, to get excited about the event.
My focus of BlawgThink has always been Day 2. It will be my third experience with Open Space Technology. Open Space is like HTML was for me when I first learned it – I want to do everything in Open Space. I’m so intrigued by the approach and what it accomplishes. The fact that we have a leading Open Space facilitator, Michael Herman, to run Day 2 is one of the coolest things we have put together. Personally, I’d consider going to an Open Space event on any topics, but to go to one on blogging-related topics is a can’t miss for me.
There is a core notion of Open Space that the people who are there are the right people to be there. It’s an amazing group we’ve put together for Day 2. As Mick Jagger might say, wild horses couldn’t drag me away from the opportunity to be part of that session. This is a unique chance to take part in a discussion of legal blogging with a group of legal bloggers at a point where most of us agree the world of legal blogging is about to change and move into a new direction. Everyone has to make their own choices in life, but, if you are passionate and care about what you are doing in blogging, it has to be hard to stay away. I couldn’t do it.
As I rode, I realized that my experiences at BlogWalk 6 and LexThink 1.0 with Open Space give me a different perspective on Day 2 than others.
So, I turned to Day 1. Here, it struck me that we had really accomplished something. I’ve been saying lately that we have an amazing set of speakers. Hyperbole? Perhaps. But, it seems like a good adjective. I’m not sure where the future of blogging will lead, but I don’t know that you’ll ever again get a set of speakers comparable to this group on this comprehensive set of topics.
Here’s what I see.
You start the day with a choice of (1) long-time legal blogger Brandy Karl giving a blogging 101 talk; (2) leading blog advocate and designer Kevin O’Keefe talking about using blogs for marketing; or (3) long-time blogger and now FeedBurner executive Rick Klau talking about RSS feeds.
Take a break and your choice becomes: (1) one of the acknowledged best writers among legal bloggers, Evan Schaeffer discussing writing great blog posts, (2) Matt Homann talking about using blogs to create a professional impression and build reputation, and (3) a great teacher and one of the first education podcasters, Steve Dembo, teaching about podcasting.
Move on to your choice of: (1) Henry Copeland of BlogAds giving his highly-regarded talk on the “Zen of Blogging”; (2) highly-respected patent Blogger talking about how to put together a practice-specific blog; and (3) in the session Matt and I most wanted to put together for BlawgThink, leading KM experts and bloggers Jack Vinson and Jim McGee discussing collaboration, internal blogging and KM implications (wow!).
Then break for lunch and talk with other attendees and speakers and learn about our sponsors and the great attendance prizes our attendees get – free licenses to MindManager Pro and ResultsManager (yes, you have done the math correctly – the retail value of these licenses exceeds your registration fee).
Then jump back into it with your choice of (1) noted law librarian bloggers Dianne Murley and Bonnie Shucha introducing you to the world of RSS feeds and news aggregators; (2) search engine optimization expert Tim Stanley explaining why Google loves blogs and other issues; and (3) highly-regarded web designer Peter Flashner showing you why blog design matters.
Catch your breath and then choose between: (1) learning about the new world of group blogs and witnessing the first live performance of the RethinkIP group, Matt Buchanan, Steve Nipper and Doug Sorocco; (2) gaining Ernest “Ernie the Attorney” Svensen’s observations from his years of blogging and his recent journey through Hurricane Katrina; and (3) law tech guru Jeff Beard and I discussing some of the advanced blogging tools you can use to improve your blog for you and your audience.
But, there’s more. Move on to choose between: (1) learning about blawgs for firms of every size from Carolyn Elefant, Patrick Lamb, Cathy Kirkman and David Bowerman; (2) ethics experts Ben Cowgill and Will Hornsby discussing the current state of ethical rules for blogs; and (3) ABA webmaster Fred Faulkner leading a discussion on “how did they do that?” about features of blogs that you have seen.
Then, we do something that I think will work really well. Michael Herman will lead a session using Open Space that will help us pull together what we learned today and get us thinking about Day 2.
On Friday evening, we focus on helping build new friendships and learn from each other by putting together small dinner groups led by our speakers.
I may be biased, but that’s a great program.
We’ll kick off Day 2 with a tribute to the feature that helped Matt Homann develop his reputation – a Five by Five, in which Matt and I will moderate a discussion with some of the most-respected of all of the legal bloggers – Sabrina Pacifici, Carolyn Elefant, Ernie Svensen, Tom Mighell and Marty Schwimmer to help us gain some insights and kick off the discussions on Day 2.
As with any event I get involved in, I want you to be tired at the end, but that good kind of tired.
As I rode on (to continue the bike ride metaphor), I then thought about where we are in legal blogging today. In the conversations I have with bloggers, there seems to be a sense that we are definitely reaching a turning point where we move into a second generation of legal blogging. It’s perhaps hard to pin down what this transition will be, but I suspect it will involve some of the following: (1) group blogs and other collaborations (for example, RethinkIP and Between Lawyers), (2) a much greater focus on RSS and use of RSS feeds, (3) loose networking of various kinds (the Law.com blog network; the Law Profs network and other future networks); (4) combinations that cross legal blogging categories (expect to see law librarians, lawyers, law students and, I hope but am somewhat pessimistic, law professors putting together efforts based initially on blog combinations); and (5) the adoption and creation of the web tools known under the category of “Web 2.0″ and other experiments with technologies that might be considered “e-lawyering” (the PatentMojo experiment is the first and best example – the jury is still out on that Lawyer X experiment at Between Lawyers).
Although I’m reluctantly to saddle these trends with a moniker, you can think of these developments as Blawg 2.0. In many different ways, these developments will be the subject of discussion at BlawgThink by some of the people who are moving these trends forward.
If you think simply in terms of blog collaborations, I’m looking forward to having the RethinkIP group, LexThink and four out of the five of the Between Lawyers group meeting face-to-face for the first time and getting the chance to talk about our experiences in collaboration with Jack Vinson, Jim McGee and others.
There will be a lot of energy there.
Here’s what I think. If you have read all the way to this point, are a blogger or planning to be a blogger or are greatly interested in the blogging world, I suspect that you are now wishing you could be there. If that’s the case, let Matt and me know. We’re happy with where we are, but we do want to enable the people who are meant to be there to be there.
And, as I finished my ride, I realized that, once again, long bike rides lead to long blog posts.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
This post brought to you by LexThink!™ – The Conference, Re-imagined. LexThink! – Think big thoughts, do cool things, change the world. November 11 & 12 – LexThink’s BlawgThink 2005.

A Prudent Approach to Legal Technology Spending in a Slowing Economy – Article

Tuesday, November 8th, 2005

[Note: This is another in the series of my previously-published articles that I'm reposting on my blog. An earlier version of this article appeared in the April 16, 2001 issue of LLRX.com and I've left in some references that are historical – anyone remember that Y2K thing? This article sets out two important themes in my writing about legal technology that still carry through my writing. First, there is a notion of "prudence" that should be applied to technology investments. Second, the elements of portfolio theory play an important role in making technology decisions and are part of my notion of prudence.]
A Prudent Approach to Legal Technology Spending in a Slowing Economy
An interesting new survey of 300 IT and business executives from Information Week magazine reveals that, for the first time in the four-year history of the survey, more than half of the respondents say that their technology budgets are either flat or declining. Just three months ago, that percentage was only 28%. Since law firms tend to be more conservative than businesses in general when it comes to technology spending, expect flat or declining technology budgets at many law firms in the current slowing economy.
The Information Week survey indicated that cuts are coming in custom software development and large-scale PC rollouts. Investment is continuing to flow into intranets, extranets and enterprise projects.
Whether from a recession or simply as a result of concerns about a recession, we are likely to see a pronounced tendency toward retrenchment in technology in the legal profession. Firms that have recently sunk large sums into network and hardware upgrades and Y2K-motivated projects are, frankly, looking for a breather.
Some effects are easy to predict: delays in moving to Windows 2000 (or XP), fewer hardware upgrades and a general willingness to push “enterprise” projects such as overhaul of document management systems off to a later date. There will also be a more hard-headed approach to requiring projects to be justified in terms of investment.
Does it make sense to buck the trend and invest in technology now to take advantage of some unique opportunities rather than to focus only on retrenchment?
In slow economic times, there are deals that can be made. Hardware and software vendors are more willing to bargain. The best consulting firms have more time available for new projects. Lots of talent is becoming available as dot-coms burn out.
There are extraordinary technologies now available that will revolutionize the practice of law over time. Investing in a few of them now could have dramatic payoff in the future. Taking advantage of the current market can help a law firm or individual lawyer get positioned for a “21st century practice” and be ready when the economy takes off again or help cope with an extended slow-down.
A Portfolio Approach
The key: being willing to think of technology in terms of investment. I like to think of technology investing as a form of portfolio investing. Much as we rebalance our investment portfolios in changing economic conditions, the same principles apply to technology investment.
If we learned anything at all in 2000, it is the importance of having a diversified investment portfolio that is line with our notions of appropriate risk. We tend to find a mix of low-risk, medium-risk and high-risk investments that fit our personalities and risk-tolerance levels. The best investment portfolios, over time, must include elements from each category. The interesting conclusion in modern portfolio theory is that the most prudent approach, over the long term, includes a reasonable proportion of high-risk, high-return investments, regardless of the investment climate. In a slow economy, sticking with a diversified approach is mandatory.
Investing in technology requires a similar portfolio approach.
The more technology options you can consider, the better. Gather a list of potential technology projects. Do a little brainstorming and include projects that are innovative and “push the envelope.” Then sort them into categories based on the risk and potential return you assign to them. Focus on what makes sense for you, not on what “everybody” is doing.
You or your firm can decide on a conservative or an aggressive approach based on your personality or tolerance of risk, but the portfolio of projects you decide on must be diversified and contain some higher risk projects if you are to be prudent – an interesting paradox. A more conservative firm might try only a few high-risk technology projects and concentrate on “safe” projects. A more aggressive firm might decide that “safe” projects in this environment are the most dangerous of all and adopt a much higher-risk approach.
Here are six areas to think hard about when developing your technology portfolio:
1. Technology That Cuts Costs
If the economy slows, cost cutting is an important strategy. Does a Palm device or a Blackberry e-mail pager make more sense than a new notebook computer? Does scanning documents rather than storing them in your Class A office space make good economic sense? Will intranets save you printing, paper and copying costs? Will extranets save you long distance, Fedex and copying costs? More important, will offering an extranet save your clients on those costs?
Here’s a simple example: my brother-in-law, a solo in California, invested in a high-end notebook computer and speech recognition software with the hope that it would help him enough at the start of his practice that he would not have to hire a secretary for a least a few months. The $4,000 invested in that approach saved him six months of a secretary’s salary and benefits and played a key role in getting his practice off the ground.
2. Technology That Makes You Indispensable to Your Clients
You will want to hang on to your best clients. Look for technologies that help you do that by providing better service and saving your clients money. Extranets are the obvious approach to take, but web sites, e-mail newsletters, wireless technologies and contact management software offer significant opportunities.
3. Technology That Helps You Get New Clients
What does your web page look like? Is it working for you? Frankly, it had better be. A great web page works for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A bad web page works against you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The choice is yours.
Contact management software and better use of e-mail programs also fit into this category.
4. Technology That Helps You Move into New Practice Areas
Every law firm or law practice has a treasure trove of useful information, forms and the like that can help you move into new practice areas or find productive niches. In general, the technology category that helps you exploit this information can be called “knowledge management.”
Whether you use case management programs, databases or other software tools, you need to learn what you do best, what you have done before and whether you can reposition yourself to take advantage of that internal knowledge to target new markets or to establish yourself firmly in the best part of an existing practice. Even simple document assembly applications will help you mine your expertise. Web pages, obviously, play a key role in establishing new practice areas and strengthening your position in existing niches.
5. Technology That Helps You Recruit and Retain Great People
Talented people want great technology. Here’s a hypothetical: Imagine that you are a bright young attorney. At firm A, a team of lawyers using CaseMap to develop trial strategy and put together cases. At Firm B, you get all the legal pads you want. What firm do you choose?
Law students don’t like to find that they are taking a step backwards in technology when they join a firm. Lawyers who grow to use technology don’t like to fight every step of the way to get basic tools. Look for ways to use technology to attract and keep good people.
6. Technology That Makes You Saner
Two words: remote computing. Do you want to shovel your car out after a snowstorm or do you want to stay home and telecommute by modem? Do you want to have to cart around boxes of documents or do you want to carry scanned images of all those documents on one CD-ROM? Do you want a case management program that shows you what you need to get done, gives you information you really need and also puts that information on a Palm device for you?
Identify sources of real aggravation and deal with them. If you are overwhelmed by e-mail, learn to use the management features of your e-mail program. If you can’t convert documents you routinely receive because you have an old version of Word or WordPerfect, step up to the plate and get the new version. Efficiency and productivity are great goals, but the best technology makes your life simpler and easier.
Concluding Thoughts
In a slow economy, you need to make smart choices about technology. Focusing hard on return on investment is important, but not if you are using that as an excuse to shut down technology investment. A better approach is to get a lot of options on the table and consider their likely risk and potential return. Then prudently pick a diverse portfolio of technology investment projects and step boldly forward. Not all of them may work, but the diversification will, and you’ll find yourself well positioned for the changes to come, both in the economy and the practice of law.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/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.

Randy Holloway and I Are Interested in a Big St. Louis Tech Event – How About You?

Tuesday, November 8th, 2005

Randy Holloway at Microsoft is looking for feedback on the idea of staging a low-cost tech event (perhaps on Web 2.0?) in St. Louis. Count me in. It’d be great to have a big, cool tech show in the middle of the country,
Randy says:
“If a free (or very low cost) technology conference were hosted in the St. Louis area (or perhaps at a nearby university), would there be any interest? Something like this takes about 100 people to gain critical mass.”
If interested, please respond to Randy’s poll or or email at the addresss he gives in this post.
Randy is a great guy and very passionate about blogging, technology and the tech community. You might enjoy the podcast Randy and I did together a few months ago.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/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.

BlawgThink 2005 – Sponsor Update

Tuesday, November 8th, 2005

Matt and I are so pleased with the response to BlawgThink 2005 both inside and outside the “blogosphere.” We are amazed by our speaker list, have a stellar list of attendees and anticipate two truly valuable days for everyone who will be there.
We are also grateful for the generous support we’ve gotten from sponsors, who are making this event possible. We’re happy to have attracted support from a great mix of blogging, innovation and technology companies who are enthused about hte world of legal blogging.
We’ve posted information about our sponsors on the LexThink blog, but I’d like to give a shout-out, as they say these days, to our BlawgThink sponsors: Intel (our platinum sponsor – see the resource center for lawyers accessible at http://www.intel.com/business/smallbusiness/wireless/benefits.htm) and, in alphabetical order, Box.Net, CasePost, Gyronix, LegalZoom, MindJet, Netcentrics and Six Apart.
As you may know, MindJet and Gyronix are providing attendees with licenses to their great software products, MindManager Pro and ResultsManager, respectively.
A number of other companies are providing giveaway items and prizes for drawing.
As I’ve mentioned, Matt and I have turned our focus to the event itself, but would be happy to make time for inquiries from new sponsors and your request for an invitation to attend.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/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.