The Future of Legal Services – Putting the Consumer First

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 (]
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Bringing Presentation Technology into Your Practice – Article

[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 (]
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Blawgspace is a Generous Place – Round 2

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 (]

BlawgThink – Initial Post-conference Results

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 (]

BlawgThink – Day 1

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 (]