Lawyers Continue to Move Toward the “Papermore” Office?

At least ten years ago, Nicholas Negroponte was talking about the move from a world of atoms (stuff) to a world of bits (data or electrons). In the world of electronic discovery, speakers constantly refer to a study that suggests that 93% of documents created today will never be printed on paper. You see concern everywhere about the amount of trees being cut down to produce paper.
On the other hand, lawyers love their paper. In that context, it was a little sad to run across this item on the ABA’s Site-Tation that says, well, just let me quote this:

According to the 2006 Legal Technology Survey Report, 61% of attorneys save email related to a case or client matter by printing out a hard copy.

As John McEnroe might say, “you cannot be serious.” Actually, it’s probably a good thing that we didn’t find the percentage of lawyers who later scan those printouts of emails as TIFFs to reconvert them to digital form.
In fairness, the ABA’s Legal Technology Survey is decidedly not a scientific survey and these results should not be taken as pure fact. However . . . lawyers do seem to be swimming against the side.
Given that experts like Ross Kodner have been talking about the “Paper LESS” office to large audiences for many years, these numbers are a little distressing. It looks like Ross and others have more work to do to get the message across. This isn’t even a step toward a paperless office – it’s a move toward a “papermore” office.
When people outside the legal profession ask me, as they routinely do, why lawyers are not moving into electronic discovery, this story and statistic may be “Exhibit A” in my answer. If you are looking to hire a lawyer for a litigation matter that requires electronic discovery, asking whether they use this approach might be an eye-opener.
By the way, one of the major lessons from the Katrina and Rita disasters was the vulnerability of paper records in disasters.
Why do many think that lawyers are slow adopters of technology? Now you have an idea.
This item did give me an idea for a potential killer app for lawyers – a portable printer for Blackberries. Think about it.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Learn more about electronic discovery at Dennis Kennedy’s Electronic Discovery Resources page.
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Bridging the Widening Communications Gap Between Lawyers and IT Departments – Article

[Note: This is another in a continuing series in which I am reposting some of my original drafts of published articles.]
Over past couple of years, I’ve found that the parts of my presentations that get the most response and generate the most questions are the parts where I talk about ways that lawyers and IT staff can better talk with each other. I’ve gotten the clear impression that there is a lot of pain and misunderstanding out there. The following article addresses the IT/lawyer communication divide from the point of view of the legal administrator and focuses on the role legal administrators might play in improving this dynamic. The article originally appeared in the March/April 2006 issue of the ALA’s Legal Management magazine.

Bridging the Widening Communications Gap Between Lawyers and IT Departments: Some Simple Starting Strategies
We are finding that moving technology projects forward in law firms is not as much about hardware and software as it is about trying to get lawyers and IT departments to communicate in ways they can each understand.
Lawyers and IT people will universally agree that there is a wide communication gap between them. As firms try to bridge that gap, they may well find that the key to getting lawyers and IT departments together in the role legal administrators can play in the process because they have learned, sometimes painfully, to communicate with both groups.
A Question of Language?
The gap between lawyers and IT people is based on language. Both groups are known for using jargon excessively. More precisely, both will lapse into jargon when unsure of themselves or nervous. Lawyers speak in jargon, but use words precisely, both in their work and in general conversation. IT people also speak in jargon, but are not as precise with words in general conversation. However, IT people are quite precise with words within their discipline.
In both cases, the imprecise use of words may lead to statements and conversations that do not make sense. This annoys both lawyers and IT people, and members of both groups tend to get frustrated quickly. Things go downhill from there.
Lawyers with the most helpful and effective secretaries and the best relations with other staff members invariably have one thing in common. They spend time explaining the whys and providing the bigger context to others. I cannot count the number of IT people who have told me that they wished they knew more about what lawyers did so they could implement the most useful technology for them.
What Are the Hurdles?
There are three traits most lawyers share that make solving the communications problems difficult.
1. Lawyers really do work hard. The law is a high stress profession that places huge demands on lawyers. Every lawyer has developed techniques to deal with these demands. If a new technology project doesn’t work well, they get further behind the eight-ball, and you may have disrupted their coping mechanism, putting even more stress on them.
2. Although all lawyers are certainly capable of learning technology, the fear of technology is common among lawyers. Although lawyers do not like to look bad or foolish, there is also a genuine fear of technology out there.
3. Lawyers, by training, are critical and, at the same time, they are comfortable working with drafts. Even if they like something, their natural reaction is to find some flaws and comment only on negative aspects. They will change their minds as they see ways to improve the final project and often will criticize exactly what they told you to do earlier, because they see it as a draft in progress.
Strategies and Tactics for Bridging the Gap.
Legal administrators play a unique role in this process for a number of reasons. First, they have already had years of experience bridging the gap between lawyers and staff and, probably, between IT departments and staff. Second, based on my experience, legal administrators have the ability to schedule mandatory meetings that lawyers actually had to attend. Third, legal administrators know how to make meetings work, even if it’s just seeing that there is food there.
Here are my best tips on helping this process:
1. The Communication that Matters Most is Lawyer to IT Staff. The best thing a firm can do is to help the IT department understand the business of the law firm and the nature of the practice and work that lawyers do. Part of this process is to make it clear that lawyers in the same firm may do very different work. IT people can be surprised to learn that not all lawyers try cases. Set up a series of lunches where lawyers talk about and answer questions about their work.
2. Do Some Project Reviews. The military evaluates engagements in detail after they occur to see what lessons can be learned about what went right and wrong. Law firms rarely do that with IT projects. Schedule some review sessions after completing IT projects to get lawyers and IT people talking about what worked, what didn’t and how the next project might be improved, in an objective, rather than a crisis, setting.
3. Encourage Regular Conversations at Times Other than Crises. Consider this example. A lawyer waits until the last minute before printing 5,000 pages of documents due in two hours. An IT staffer simply calculates that, at ten pages per minute, it will take at least nine hours, and tells the lawyer it cannot be done. An argument ensues until someone intervenes and figures out a work-around. Both lawyer and IT staffer form low opinions of each other and vow never to speak to each other again. Getting conversations to happen outside of crisis settings must be a priority.
4. Take Advantage of the Natural Go-betweens. There are lawyers, usually young lawyers, who really “get” technology and can talk easily with IT people. There can also be IT staffers who talk easily with lawyers. Those people should be encouraged to be go-betweens and to survey and communicate the wishes and concerns of each group.
5. Use Food as Bait. I am hesitant to draw general conclusions about groups of people, but my experience with lawyers and IT people is that both groups cannot pass by a conference room with free food on a table. A spread of coffee, juice, bagels and donuts to start a day will work wonders at bridging the gap between lawyers and IT departments and getting the ball rolling.
Conclusion.
There should be no higher priority in legal technology at law firms today than getting lawyers and IT staff talking with each other on a regular, meaningful basis. Legal administrators have the best shot of being able to talk in the language of both groups and bringing them together. The job is not an easy one. I recommend looking for small victories based on the ideas in this article and your own experience, and then building on them. It is an effort that is well worth making.
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[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Learn more about legal technology at Dennis Kennedy’s Legal Technology Central page.
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Podcast: A Web 2.0 Primer for Lawyers

A Web 2.0 Primer for Lawyers” is the name of the newest episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast. In the podcast, Tom Mighell and I introduce the concept of Web 2.0, give some examples, discuss what Web 2.0 might mean for lawyers and give you some reasons we are excited about this technology. The show notes also contain an extensive list of links to our favorite Web 2.0 resources.
A Web 2.0 Primer for Lawyers” is episode #4 of The Kennedy-Mighell Report – a podcast on legal technology with an Internet focus.
Here are links to our previous podcast episodes:
Episode #3 – ABA TECHSHOW Wrap-up
Episode #2 – Podcasting for Lawyers, Live from ABA TECHSHOW (a recording of our podcast presentation)
Episode #1 – ABA TECHSHOW Preview
Thanks to Evan Schaeffer for inspiring me to finish editing this episode and get it posted and to Adriana Linares for taking the picture of Tom and me you’ll find with the show notes.
Download or subscribe to the podcast, or get more info about it, here. The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast is also available through iTunes.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Learn more about legal technology at Dennis Kennedy’s Legal Technology Central page.
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A Primer on Proper PDF Redaction

I see that once again material that someone thought they had redacted in a PDF file has been easily exposed (story here). This happens with enough frequency that it’s good to remind people that you really need to understand and follow specific directions if you want to redact materials in PDF files.
Fortunately, Adobe’s Rick Borstein has done an excellent job of explaining exactly what you need to do if you want to do this type of redaction in posts here (be sure to read the comments) and here. Rick has done a great job of explaining how best to use Adobe Acrobat in the legal profession on his blog and elsewhere.
If you do any kind of redaction, you must read Rick’s blog posts. There’s no need for you to be featured in the next newspaper article on this type of mistake.
By the way, since a reasonable first step to take before attemting to redact a PDF would be to Google “redacting PDFs” and the first result there at the time of this post is one of Rick’s posts, and you’ll also find some other good resources, it is surprising that these stories are still occurring.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Learn more about electronic discovery at Dennis Kennedy’s Electronic Discovery Resources page.
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Is There a Digital Dashboard in Your Future? – Article

[Note: This is another in a continuing series in which I am reposting some of my original drafts of published articles.]
You see a lot of discussion these days about digital dashboards and their potential. For examples in the legal profession, see the stories here, here and here. Another good overview is here. It’s not a complicated idea.
Anyway, I mention the dashboard concept because back in 2000, Microsoft was talking about a Digital Dashboard approach that excited me as much as any technology innovation I had seen to that point. And I wasn’t the only one. I wrote the following column, one of my favorites, back in May 2000. It was even reprinted on the Microsoft website for a time. Then, Microsoft dropped the initiative. I mean, it all but disappeared off the face of the earth.
I still like the article. With the idea of dashboards making a comeback (and justifiably so), I thought I’d reprint the article, even though the references are out of date. The concepts are still valid, and it’s a window, if you will, on an interestiing approach to technology that once burned bright, then faded away, and seems to be reappearing.The title question is still a valid one. I also think that today’s approach to using Outlook interfaces in law firms confirms my prescience about that issue, even if I was 5 or 6 years ahead of time.

Is There A Digital Dashboard in Your Future?
[NOTE: This article was originally written in 2000 and the specific product discussed in the article no longer exists.]
Microsoft’s Digital Dashboard points to the use of Outlook as a major development tool in the integrated Microsoft environment. And, in some ways, Digital Dashboard gives a glimpse of how Outlook might be used in the case management context using custom programming.
That said, there are two issues worth noting. First, Digital Dashboard is a high-end, sophisticated technique (although the actual dashboards can, if well-executed, be both powerful and simple, a combination that always attracts my attention) and requires the newest versions and most likely outside consultants. Second, there are the security issues that have been plaguing Outlook lately, which have to be addressed.
On the other hand, for those of you who live in your e-mail program, this approach, rather than the browser-based intranet, may be especially appealing because it recognizes that e-mail is the killer application of the Internet rather than “surfing.” As I say in the article, Digital Dashboard may give you a chance to get your own personal view of your information realm. By the way, for those of you who have programmed yourself to hate everything Microsoft, think in terms of the PIM or e-mail program you use rather than Outlook and see if the idea has any traction for you. I’m really intrigued by it.
A few months ago, I saw a demo of an application that gave me a glimpse of the computer desktop of the future, one in which incorporation of the Internet, personalization, integration of applications, and knowledge management appear at our fingertips. More important, at least to me, it showed a way to get some control over the tidal wave of information that seems to wash over us every day
The application is called “Digital Dashboard” from Microsoft.
In simplest terms, a Digital Dashboard is an entry screen or starting page built into Microsoft’s Outlook 2000, the e-mail and personal information manager that comes with Office 2000. Many people are using Outlook these days for e-mail, address books and calendars. If you are one of them and you are familiar with the “Outlook Today” screen, you will quickly understand the Digital Dashboard concept. For the rest of you, here’s a little background.
For several years, people have talked about intranets. Intranets are web sites accessible by members of a single organization. Intranet advocates have long championed intranets as a way to use the browser interface (typically Internet Explorer or Netscape’s Navigator) to provide easy access to information within an organization. Especially as people got used to full-time access of the Internet, the thinking went, the browser would be the program that people used most frequently and, therefore, the browser would become the primary tool to access all information.
A funny thing has happened on the way to this intranet vision: e-mail. It is not uncommon these days for attorneys to receive over 100 e-mails a day. Increasingly, the program we “live” in everyday is our e-mail program, especially when, as in the case of Outlook, it also contains our calendar and address book. The last several versions of Outlook have contained a feature called Outlook Today, a simple start page that gives you summary information about and access to your e-mail inbox, a week’s view of your calendar and a list of today’s tasks. Generally, the reaction of Outlook Today users is positive, but they wish it could do more.
Digital Dashboard takes the Outlook Today concept to the next level. You can think of a Digital Dashboard as an infinitely customizable version of Outlook Today or you can see it as the “dashboard” that gives you a view of and control over your information domain.
Here’s the trick Rather than use the browser as your primary access tool, Digital Dashboard uses Outlook and takes advantage of Internet functionality and features as well as the programming and integration underlying Outlook.
Digital Dashboards allow you to do two important things. The first is that they allow you to customize and personalize your view of “your” information, whether locally or on the Internet. The second is that they also allow you to pull key information out of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, databases and other applications and make that information available to you at your fingertips.
Think of your Digital Dashboard as your own personal web site (like http://my.findlaw.com – a site every lawyer should know). But it’s better than a web site because it also gives you access to your inbox, calendar and contacts, as well as every other feature of Outlook, including the powerful “public folders” for collaborative efforts. You can set up the views of those features you like and size them and move them where you want. You can add links to favorite Internet sites, stock or news tickers and even audio or video (a current camera view of your commute anyone?)
In addition, you can pull information from other applications, such as spreadsheets, PowerPoint slides and database reports, and make them available from your Digital Dashboard. Even better, you can place a chart tied to a spreadsheet or database on your Digital Dashboard and have the chart adjust to reflect the current figures in the underlying program. If using, for example, a time and billing program that is compliant with standards Microsoft uses, a managing partner could track at a glance work in progress, accounts receivable and the status of collections in the form of a chart that is always viewable right on the Digital Dashboard.
Each Digital Dashboard may be customized and personalized for each individual or you might roll out a firm-wide template. I have only touched the surface of the possibilities of Digital Dashboards, but I see a lot of potential.
The drawbacks? A Digital Dashboard is a high-end application that probably makes the most sense in large and medium-sized firms, although it certainly can be used by a small firm looking for an edge in technology. It is a strictly Microsoft application and requires Outlook 2000 and Office 2000. Powerful desktop computers and full-time high-speed Internet access are a must, but these are increasingly commonplace. Outlook users must also pay attention to outstanding security issues.
Although Digital Dashboards are based on HTML and other common web programming techniques, I think it will be rare where you will not want bring in an outside Digital Dashboard developer. The good news, though, is that I’ve talked with a number of Microsoft developers who like the potential of Digital Dashboards and can’t wait to get to work on development projects.
Are Digital Dashboards the solution for you? Those of you on an up-to-date Microsoft platform or planning to move there should take a hard look at the Digital Dashboard. You can get more information and examples at [Note: Link has been dead for many years].
The Digital Dashboard is an idea that had an immediate appeal to me and one that has stayed with me and become increasingly interesting. I like the idea of a development that focuses on the primary screen I live in everyday in a way that makes it more organized and more useful while giving me access at my fingertips to the information I need to use. And that is where the promise of Digital Dashboard lies.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Learn more about legal technology at Dennis Kennedy’s Legal Technology Central page.
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