Legal Knowledge Management: “Why Can’t it Work Like Google?”

KM guru Jack Vinson has posted two sets of excellent notes from the recent knowledge management conference put on by the Ark Group. I thoroughly recommend Jack’s posts (and Ron Friedmann’s thoughts from the same conference) to you.
I wanted to discuss one common comment that Jack highlighted. He wrote: “‘Why can’t it work like Google?’ in response to focus groups. This is a familiar refrain everywhere.”
There are a couple of areas of legal technology where I feel like a real contrarian. For example, I not only do not think that WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS was the pinnacle of word processing, but, coming from a Mac environment to WP 5.1, I never did like it. Them’s fightin’ words to some lawyers, but I believe that it’s best for everyone to use the tools that work best for them.
Another area where I am a contrarian is that, unlike most lawyers today, I’m not a huge Google fan. There, I’ve said it.
Over the last weekend, I was using Google to try to find quickly some articles on the ways law firms are using outsourcing. To put it mildly, I did not have a lot of success.
Since I’ve been using search engines since almost before search engine existed, I’m usually reluctant to blame my research skills for the problem. In fact, I knew that Google would have problems finding what I wanted, as it did a while back when I was searching for information on of counsel agreements.
It was shortly after I had my Google troubles that I read Jack’s post.
It’s easy to get all wrapped up in Google and treat it as the only tool in your toolbox. However, there are other tools that make much more sense, at least to me, in the KM context. Lawyers should remember the maxim about every problem looking like a nail when the only tool that you have is a hammer.
There are concept search tools like those from Recommind, pattern search tools like those from DolphinSearch, and visual search tools like those from Attenex that, to me, are infinitely more interesting in the KM context than something that works like Google. In fact, I’m intrigued these days by what you might be able to accomplish by turning some of the state-of-the-art electronic discovery tools to KM work.
If you are in the “why can’t it work like Google?” group, I invite you to extend your search to some of these other search tools and see if you might change your mind.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
Learn more about legal technology at Dennis Kennedy’s Legal Technology Central page.
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Second Thoughts For Law Firms with One-Person IT Departments

I’ll occasionally tell the story of the day the one-person IT department at one of my old law firms quit, leaving us with a manila envelope with his pager, keys and a memo with a few key notes for us.
I’ve talked with quite a few lawyers over the years who work at a firm with either a one-person IT department or an IT department that they feel is woefully understaffed.
That’s why Mike McBride’s great post “Some thoughts about one-man shops” struck a chord with me today. Mike writes the Out of the Frying Pan, and into the Cube blog, and works at a mid-sized law firm. He formerly wrote the Life of a One-Man IT Department Blog, which I read for several years.
The money quote:

Despite my best efforts to work on preventing break downs, to proactively deal with training issues and database maintenance, and to try and suggest ways to improve the state of the technology (which were mostly ignored anyway), most of the people I worked with saw my role as little more than sitting around waiting for something to break. A view that was obviously shared by my supervisor and other senior management, given their refusal, six months later, to actually hire another IT person because “we really wouldn’t have enough for them to do”.
Which would be fine, had they not allowed me to simply walk out the door and take most of my knowledge with me. They’ve gotten away with that, because in the interest of parting on good terms and not wanting to leave the handful of very good friends I made while working there left hanging, I agreed to be “on-call” for them in case of emergencies or to do some things that they would have had trouble doing on their own, for 6 months or until they found a replacement. One week from today, the 6 months will be over.

A highly recommended read for anyone in a small or mid-sized law firm. Does your disaster recovery plan take into account the possibility of essential people not being available?
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
Learn more about legal technology at Dennis Kennedy’s Legal Technology Central page.
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Curl up with a Good Book this Weekend

Rosa Say has done a cool thing on her blog by getting a bunch of bloggers to let her know of posts where they reviewed books they liked. She’s then posted a list of of those books and excerpts of the review posts. She calls this the 2nd Annual Love Affair with Books.
The result is a great reading list. Take a look at the post and make a list for your next trip to your favorite library or bookstore (or Amazon). You’ll also find some new blogs that you will want to check out.
My contribution was my review of Cliff Atkinson’s Beyond Bullet Points.
I’d like to thank Rosa for inviting me to join in and for creating a cool way to use blogs in a helpful way that benefits her readership greatly. Happy reading.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
This post brought to you by LexThink!(R) – The Legal Unconference. Ask us about private LexThink retreats and conferences for your firm, business or organization. Coming soon – LexThink Lounge – April 19, 2006.

St. Louis Blogger Lunch Today

By a string of coincidences and an exchange of emails, I ended up at an impromptu lunch with four St. Louis bloggers today. It was so much fun that we are talking about making it a regular event.
We also want to do a St. Louis blogger meet-up one of these days soon and get even more of the St. Louis bloggers together.
We had three BlawgThink alums (four, if you count me) – Michelle Golden, George Lenard and Marianne Richmond – and Microsoft’s Randy Holloway (who wanted to attend BlawgThink but had other commitments).
Meeting other bloggers is my favorite part of blogging.
I’m pushing Randy to see if he can get the keys to one of the meeting spaces at Microsoft’s offices here in St. Louis to host a blogger meet-up. Watch for more details. Maybe I’ll finally get my chance to meet my favorite St. Louis blogger, Shelley “Burningbird” Powers, in person if we can put this event together.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
This post brought to you by LexThink!(R) – The Legal Unconference. Ask us about private LexThink retreats and conferences for your firm, business or organization. Coming soon – LexThink Lounge – April 19, 2006.
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Smart Man Online Interview

I’ve long enjoyed Yvonne Divita’s Lipsticking blog, so it’s an honor to be interviewed by Yvonne for her “Smart Man Online” feature today.
I talked about a number of topics and talk quite a bit more about writing and blogging than I typically do on this blog.
If you don’t already read Yvonne’s blog, shame on you, but go ahead and check out the interview and sample some of the excellent material she has there on Internet marketing to women. I got to meet Yvonne at the first LexThink conference, but I was a fan of her blog long before that.
Thanks, Yvonne, for all your kind words and giving me the chance to be one of your “smart men online.” It’s a blogging honor that I truly appreciate.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
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