Technology-Lawyer

Dennis Kennedy

Technology Law and Legal Technology. Dennis Kennedy is one of the few technology lawyers who is also an expert on the underlying technologies. Dennis an award-winning leader in the application of technology and the Internet to the practice of law. DennisKennedy.com gives you access to a wide variety of Dennis Kennedy's resources on legal technology, his writings, his well-known blog, DennisKennedy.Blog, and information about how you can have Dennis speak to your organization or group.

Dennis Kennedy is one of the most knowledgeable legal technologists you will find. - Michael Arkfeld.

Dennis Kennedy, a lawyer and legal technology expert in St. Louis, Mo., has been a significant influence in the ever-evolving relationship between lawyers and the Web. - Robert Ambrogi

Archive for February, 2007

AICPA’s Top Ten Technology Initiatives – Where’s the EDD?

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

If you’ve ever heard me speak about electronic discovery, you know that I always suggest that EDD is a small piece in a much larger puzzle or records management and compliance, and that others, especially other professional service providers, do not place the same emphasis and priority on EDD that lawyers do. I also conclude that there’s something lawyers can learn by viewing EDD in that larger context and through the eyes of others.
Here’s an excellent example. Take a look at this article on the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants list of Top Technology Initiatives for 2007. It’s interesting to compare this list to my recent article on legal technology trends for 2007 (although, in fairness, I was trying to make a realistic trends that would actually happen, not an aspirational list of what should happen).
Information security tops the list (for the fifth straight year), and my search of the article finds not even one mention of electronic discovery.
However, and this is the key message, the list includes no less than five items that are part of the bigger records management framework into which electronic discovery fits: compliance, IT governance, controlling information distribution, archiving and retention, and content management.
EDD is a big issue, but it’s only part of a huge set of issues. The legal profession needs to take that they see the whole forest and not just the electronic discovery trees.
The AICPA list gives an instructive look at another perspective and, as such, I recommend it to your attention.
[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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Dennis Kennedy’s Legal Technology Trends for 2007 (Short Version)

Sunday, February 11th, 2007

[Note: For those of you following this series (see previous posts), I present the short (just slightly more than 1,000 word) version of my 2007 legal technology trends article. If you've read the long version, you'll see how dramatically the piece got changed in order to the meet the "keep it short" requirements most people like today. The versions to me are different - they serve different purposes and one is not necessarily "better" than the other. However, I will mention that I cheated a little bit in this experiment. My first edit took the article to roughly 2,500 words and that might be the best version. You probably will see that version published somewhere soon.
I welcome your comments and look forward to the discussion the posts might engender. I also hope that someof you find them an instructive look into my writing process. Also, note the disclosure statement at the end, which applies to all parts of the series. I'm interested in developing a good disclosure statement that will work both now and in the future and would appreciate feedback on what I've tried here.]
Seven Legal Technology Trends for 2007 – Widening the Digital Divide in Law Practice
By the end of 2007, we will be talking about a clear and growing digital divide between technology-forward and technology-backward lawyers and firms and a subtle restructuring of the practice of law.
The uncertainty and confusion over new Microsoft versions and electronic discovery will create a a lull in legal technology. Some will take advantage of that lull to re-evaluate and refocus, but many will not. There will be many opportunities to increase your competitive advantage, especially for lawyers, firms, and technology committees who keep their focus on the following seven trends.
1. Reacting to Microsoft.
With a new Windows release and a new Office release, Microsoft will be the center of attention in 2007. Deciding how to react to Microsoft issues will top most agendas.
A. Upgrading to New Microsoft Versions.
Windows Vista has a welcome emphasis on security and Office 2007 has a new interface and document format. Vista will probably require hardware upgrades. The decisions won’t be easy, but they can’t be avoided and will dictate other choices.
B. Macintosh and Linux.
One reasonable reaction to Microsoft is to consider non-Windows operating systems. The Intel-based Macintoshes have changed the thinking of many lawyers about Macintosh. Linux has an excellent track record, especially for servers.
C. Open Source, Freeware/Shareware, and Web 2.0.
There are often cheaper alternatives to Microsoft applications. Low-cost programs and web-based services have become realistic options, especially for small firms and solos.
2. E-Discovery – Evolution, Not Revolution.
Less will happen in e-discovery than most people expect. Lawyers will try to delay the day of reckoning, but the tectonic shift to e-discovery is underway.
A. Tools for Everyday Cases.
Most litigation matters involve only a small number of electronic documents and email. For everyday cases, lawyer-oriented litigation applications like CaseLogistix, all-in-one “EDD appliances,” and the use of Adobe Acrobat 8 with the new CaseMap 7 will draw much attention.
B. Litigation Support Managers.
Law firms need a skilled person at the intersection of litigation and technology. The growth and professionalization of litigation support managers will be the most important EDD trend in 2007.
C. “Big Iron” for Big E-Discovery.
Most law firms will decide that they cannot host huge amounts of data. Much will happen with data repositories.
3. Making Sound Business Decisions about Technology.
The best firms will apply business principles to make sound decisions about legal technology past, present and future.
A. Audits and Cost Savings Efforts.
Too many firms have little idea of what they have, how much they spend, and what they are getting for their money. Now is the time to inventory, measure and assess what you have, and then save some money.
B. Applying Honest-to-Goodness Business Principles.
Business principles actually do apply to the practice of law. Traditional business approaches and tools now used in other professions will increasingly be applied to technology decisions.
C. Outsourcing Revisited.
Should all of the technology services your firm provides be handled internally? Answers will vary, but outsourcing will pick up momentum.
4. The Security and Disaster Recovery Combination.
The nature of security has changed, for the worse. Security and disaster recovery require continuing attention and are inextricably related.
A. Recent Redefinition of Disasters.
Expect to see some new twists on what “disaster” means in 2007. Test your assumptions. More planning is definitely better than less planning.
B. Applying Recent Learning to Setting Priorities.
Learn some lessons from recent events and take some actions based on what you learned. A good disaster recovery plan is always being rewritten.
C. The Combo Disaster.
Are you prepared for disasters or security threats coming at you in combinations? A security compromise can cause a spiraling set of technical and other problems, especially if confidential data is exposed or stolen.
5. Portability Becomes a Priority.
Lawyers need access to the Internet, their offices and other resources on a constant basis, and others need similar access to them. Portability will become a significant factor in every legal technology decision.
A. Movement to Laptops.
Expect to see more lawyers than ever carrying notebook computers, and we’ll definitely see more lawyers with Macintosh notebooks.
B. The Decline of the Blackberry?
A number of forces at work – WiFi, the need to read attachments, spam – suggest the high point of Blackberry use by lawyers might be behind us.
C. Encryption Arrives.
Portable devices of all kinds can get lost, stolen or damaged. The move to data and drive encryption will pick up momentum in 2007.
6. The Internet is Back.
The Internet never really left, but it will be getting more attention from lawyers.
A. Yellow Pages and Local Search.
There has been a dramatic movement from yellow pages to search engines to find local products and services. Lawyers will need to re-evaluate how best to use the Internet to reach the target audience.
B. Creating a Meaningful Web Presence.
Have you looked at your firm’s website lately? Law firms will be sprucing up and revamping their websites, with blogs, podcasts and video integrated into existing sites.
C. Email Alternatives.
Perhaps 90% of email sent over the Internet is now spam. Expect to see movement to email alternatives like RSS feeds, instant messages, extranets, shared workspaces and other options.
7. Collaborative Tools and Toolboxes.
People work together. We will see the move toward collaborative tools and toolboxes.
A. Document Tools.
Especially for transactional lawyers, there is a new set of skills for document preparation, editing, sharing, and even signing that must be mastered.
B. Let’s Conference.
Expect to see strong growth in the surprisingly affordable alternatives to the traditional office meeting, from conference call services to videoconferencing.
C. Web 2.0.
Web 2.0 refers to a set of lightweight Internet applications that let you share information and work with others. Of these tools, lawyers will gravitate to blogging, RSS feeds, and possibly wikis (see, for example, Wikipedia).
Conclusion.
It will be easy and even prudent for law firms to move slowly on technology issues in 2007. At the same time, however, some law firms and legal departments will modernize the practice of law, improve client service, and creative a competitive and technological gap between themselves and most other lawyers, firms and law departments. On what side of the gap will you be?
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Dennis Kennedy (dmk@denniskennedy.com) is a well-known legal technology expert and computer lawyer based in St. Louis, Missouri. An award-winning author and a frequent speaker, he was named the 2001 TechnoLawyer of the Year by TechnoLawyer.com for his role in promoting the use of technology in the practice of law. His blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/) and web page, (http://www.denniskennedy.com/) are highly regarded resources on technology law and legal technology topics.
[DISCLOSURE: I have, have had, and might in the future have modest financial relationships with some of the companies mentioned in this article. I don't think that any of these relationships have an impact on my judgments, but you might, and I encourage you to do your own research on products and services, whether mentioned by me or anyone else. There is no more important skill we can have than the ability to read critically.]

[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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The Next Step in the Legal Technology Trends Article Experiment

Saturday, February 10th, 2007

I hope that you have been enjoying the 5-part version of my legal technology trends article for 2007 that I’ve been running on this blog. Here’s what the next step will be.
I wanted to take the series and turn it into an article for publication, and open up the hood and give you some insights into how I write articles and work with these materials.
Where do I start?
I wrote the version of the trends piece that you’ve been reading and it took on a life of its own. When I finished, it was roughly 7,000 words.
Houston, we have a problem.
The sweet spot for print articles is 1,000 words. Back in the days of Law Office Computing (which unfortunately ceased publication last year), they would run 2,500 word features on legal technology on a regular basis. 1,000 words works well as a one-page article in a tablod-style publication.
For Internet publication, size is not a practical limitation, since there is no page limit. As you may know, I always prefer Internet publication these days, and my new articles usually go to LLRX.com or Law Practice Today, where I regularly co-write a column called “The Strongest Links” with To Mighell. Both are excellent web publications. The ABA Law Practice Management Section is about to launch a new webzine, Law Technology Today, that will also likely be a place that I publish articles.
That said, 7,000 words is way too long for a stand-alone article.
So, I thought for a while about what to do.
As I was writing the article, I decided to write it “fat” and let it go to the 7,000 word range, to say what I wanted to say, and then decide what to do with it.
As I mentioned in the introduction to the series, the wisest move would have been to write the article as a white paper for a vendor. An article of that length is perfectly appropriate as a white paper.
The full article also works for me as a seminar handout, a promotional piece, a white paper for my business, or, as I chose, a series of blog posts. None of those uses are mutually exclusive.
You may also have noticed that the article is written in a modular way (numbered list), with three sub-trends for each trend, and generally three points under each sub-trend. That looks suspiciously like the structure of my presentations. If the average speaking speed around 150 words per minute, you’ll see that I also have the script for a 50 to 60-minute presentation. In fact, there are some anecdotes and examples that make more sense in a talk than in an article.
As an side, I really like my current approach to designing presentations and slides, and owe a tip of the hat to Cliff
Atkinson’s Beyond Bullet Points for the style and method. As Tom Mighell can verify, I’ve given a presentation with the same set of slides, taking almost 90 minutes in one case, and comfortably in less than ten minutes in another.
Using that script, I can also record a podcast or audio program to use for a webinar or CLE download (see, e.g., Digilearn or Factum).
There’s also a lot of reusable material in there first draft that can be turned into blog posts, developed into articles, and used later. There are also some new ideas that I may turn to later. And, there are the seeds of some things that will turn into the book Tom Mighell and I are writing.
Lots of potential uses. So, the effort will not go to waste even if 80% of it hits the cutting room floor when I turn it into a publishable article.
Let’s look at the job of turning it into an article. My goal is to get it to 1,000 words. That’s going to be hard work. It’d be much easier to get it to 3,500 words (or 10,000 words). Because it’s modular, I can cut the article by cutting the number of trends, if I get desperate. However, “Five Trends for 2007″ doesn’t work like “Seven Trends for 2007.”
Here’s my working approach to cutting down the article:
Introduction: 150 words (very difficult for me – I like to write long introductions)
Conclusion: 100 words or less.
Seven trends: 100 -120 words each. (Yikes.)
But each of the trends has an intro and 3 sub-trends. That means 25 words for the lead-in and 25 words on each sub-trend.
That will take a lot of cutting and deciding what’s most essential. As I like to say, it’s easier to write longer than shorter. At least for me.
Unfortunately, the seven quick predictions at the end will have to go and will be the first deletions.
I have my work cut out.
And, I have some work to do in the article. As usual, I’m all over the place in first person, second, person and third person, and need to clean that up. I’m thinking that the real theme of the article is something a little different than what I started it out to be. And the trends don’t connect as well as I’d like. I also know from some of the feedback that I’ve gotten that it’s too easy for people to misinterpret some of my points.
In the next post, you will see the 1,000 word version of this article. I’ll be very interested in your feedback.
After that, it’s time once again for the DennisKennedy.Blog Birthday/Blogiversary Week, the annual celebration of both my birthday (February 17) and my blog’s birthday (February 15). The blog was born in 2003. I was born a few years before that. Expect a lot of fun and surprises and, as usually, I’ll do as many “By Request” posts as I have questions this week. The real purpose of Blogiversary week is to say thank you to readers of this blog.
Until then, I’ll note that 1,000 words is, ironically, the length of this post.
[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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Dennis Kennedy’s Legal Technology Trends for 2007 – Part 5

Saturday, February 10th, 2007

(Part 5 of a 5-part Series) (Explanation of series)
Seven Legal Technology Trends for 2007 – Widening the Digital Divide in Law Practice
Seven Trends for 2007, Number 7, Bonus Predictions and Conclusion.
What specific trends must lawyers watch in 2007? I suggest that seven trends should be on your radar screen, and the agendas of your technology committee. Here are trend 7, 7 bonus predictions and some conclusions.
Trend #7. Collaborative Tools and Toolboxes.
Last and by far not the least of my seven big trends for 2007 is the move toward collaborative tools and toolboxes. In our electronic world, people work together, even if separated by geography or other differences. Documents move over the Internet. Documents are shared on the Internet. Collaborations tools have been built into Office 2007, Adobe Acrobat 8 and other standard legal tools.
If you are looking for one trend to explore and take advantage of to set you and your firm apart from the crowd, this is the trend on which I suggest that you focus.
Within this trend, I’ll highlight three sub-trends: (a) the need to learn document collaboration tools, (b) increased conferencing, and (c) the exploration of Web 2.0 tools.
A. Document Tools.
Gone are the days of the typed document or the simple word processor document that is laser-printed and mailed. Today’s documents are electronic. They are shared, and several people often work on the same document. It’s not enough anymore simply to be able to type an edit a document.
Today’s documents might be redlined in a separate program to show changes between drafts or Word’s “track changes” might be used to show how different people revised a document. Documents might include comments, highlighting, or other markup. With my Tablet PC, I can even write comments on a document with electronic ink. I might keep a set of versions of the same document or protect a document so no one else can change it.
Especially for transactional lawyers, there is a new set of skills for document preparation and a whole new set of issues to consider, from designating what is an “original” to determining how electronic signatures work to handling metadata and other hidden data associated with documents. Metadata in documents may reveal revisions, comments and other information about a document. It’s an important issue in electronic discovery and garnered some headlines in 2006 for mistakes made in handling it. Expect more of those mistakes and headlines in 2007. If you want to pick one area to get more training on in 2007, I recommend that you choose these document collaboration features.
B. Let’s Conference.
I sometimes feel that the practice of law is turning into a series of conference calls. If I’m not dialing into a conference call, then someone wants to do a webinar, a Webex meeting or a GoToMyPC demo. Videoconferences are becoming more routine.
Every lawyer deals with an increasing number of people who do not want to come to the lawyer’s office. Technology certainly creates alternatives to the traditional office meeting. It also places pressure on lawyers and firms to provide those alternatives. In my years of practice, I’ve never found more than a handful of lawyers who could successful place callers on hold, conference others into a call, and get everyone back onto the call successfully on the first try. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them.
There are now a variety of free and paid conference call services that let even a solo put together professional conference calls with 800 numbers and meeting IDs, and no need to learn how to put people on hold. Inexpensive web cameras let you videoconference. Webex and GotoMyPC let you create webinars and webconferences. There are many other tools in this category.
Remote access to your office lets you work from home or the road. You can set up discussion groups, email lists, wikis and other communications tools in a variety of inexpensive ways. Extranets. Microsoft Sharepoint, Adobe Acrobat, and other social software tools also enable group discussions synchronously or asynchronously, and simultaneous access to documents. Expect use of these tools to grow quickly in 2007.
C. What’s This Web 2.0 I’ve Been Hearing About?
I realized as I wrote this that every article I’ve co-written with someone in the last year or so has been written using a Web 2.0 tool. In the majority of cases, it was Writely, which is now part of Google Docs & Spreadsheets. Web 2.0 refers to a set of lightweight Internet applications that essentially turn the Internet into a software platform.
There are many examples of Web 2.0 tools, with somewhat exotic nomenclature: RSS, wikis, AJAX, Flickr, and many more. What each has in common is that it offers a way to share your information with others on the Internet, to work with others, and to do “mashups” or combine different tools and data together. An example of a mashup would be to use Google Maps to show on a map where toxic substance spills occurred. Perhaps the best example of a Web 2.0 tool is the Wikipedia, a collaborative encyclopedia built by volunteers.
Of the Web 2.0 tools, lawyers probably have used the combination of blogging and RSS feeds more than anything else. There have been some experiments with wikis. In 2007, we will see lawyers, like many others, moving toward some of these Web 2.0 applications.
Seven Bonus Predictions.
1. Podcasting and Video. In much the same way that lawyers surprised people with their adoption of blogs, lawyers will make significant moves into podcasting (audio) and Internet video, as they use these tools as educational platforms and, to a limited extent, for marketing purposes. Expect to see some firms create recording and production studios.
2. RSS feeds become a much more common alternative to email newsletters and routine communications with clients and co-counsel.
3. The consolidation of EDD vendors will continue at a dizzying pace, EDD vendors will increasingly offer consulting services, and we will not see a case in 2007 that offers much clarification on some of the unclear parts of the EDD rules.
4. The hottest software product in the legal market will be Microsoft Sharepoint. I continue to believe that lawyers will find Microsoft OneNote to be a desired tool, if their firms allow them to consider it.
5. The number of stand-alone blogs by lawyers will probably level off, but blogs will be incorporated in limited ways into many law firm websites.
6. A consensus on the use of data encryption will emerge by the end of 2007.
7. Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell will write a book on one of these key trends (the number 7 may be a clue) that will likely become one of the biggest trends in 2008.
Conclusion.
2007 will be a year of slow, but significant, changes that will begin to restructure the practice of law. Uncertainty and confusion over new Microsoft versions and electronic discovery will create a bit of a lull. Some firms will take advantage of that lull to re-evaluate and refocus making solid business decisions, but many firms will not. More than any other factor, this will lead to a growing digital divide between the technology-forward firms and the technology-backward firms, with fewer and fewer firms left in the middle, which probably will not be a great place to be over the long term. Security and portability will be important watchwords. However, the place to watch is the Internet and the tools to consider carefully are the collaboration tools. It might be a slow year, but it should not be a dull year. There will be a lot of opportunity for firms wanting to increase their competitive advantage.
(Stayed tuned for what will become the final version of this article.)
I invite your comments and feedback on this article-in-progress.
[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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Dennis Kennedy’s Legal Technology Trends for 2007 – Part 4

Friday, February 9th, 2007

(Part 4 of a 5-part Series) (Explanation of series)
Seven Legal Technology Trends for 2007 – Widening the Digital Divide in Law Practice
Seven Trends for 2007, Numbers 5 and 6.
What specific trends must lawyers watch in 2007? I suggest that seven trends should be on your radar screen, and the agendas of your technology committee. Here are trends 5 and 6.
Trend #5. Portability Becomes a Priority.
Lawyers live a professional world where they need access to the Internet, their office and other resources on a constant basis, and others need similar access to them. Work is increasingly done from wherever we are, not just in the office. We work at home, on the road, from coffee shops, in conference rooms and other “non-desk” places. Expect to see portability, in its many forms, become a significant factor in every legal technology decision in 2007.
Within this trend, I’ll highlight three sub-trends: (a) the continuing movement toward laptop computers, (b) the possible decline of the Blackberry, and (c) the arrival of encryption in the legal profession.
A. Movement to Laptops.
In law firms, there has been a small trend by IT departments to move lawyers away from laptop computers to desktop computers, which lawyers have resisted. Almost all solo lawyers consider a laptop computer as essential to the way they practice. The prices of laptop computers have dropped dramatically over the past few years. There are also some developments that suggest that, at long last, Tablet PCs may make inroads into the legal profession, but probably not in a significant way until 2008.
The often underestimated value of notebook computers is that they let you take your entire office with you wherever you are.
As WiFi Internet access becomes more ubiquitous, a lawyer with a portable computer can do everything he or she can do in the office from wherever he or she is. You can handle your email, deal with documents, do legal research and even make phone calls with a notebook computer. With files on your notebook or readily accessible from your office, you really can work from anywhere and eliminate the need to go into the office.
Expect to see more lawyers than ever carrying notebook computers, and you will definitely see more Macintosh notebooks being carried by lawyers, especially solo and small firm lawyers in 2007.
B. The Decline of the Blackberry?
You have heard the stories of how attached lawyers get to their Blackberries. I’m going to use the term “Blackberry” here in a generic way to mean a portable device that works as an email pager or combination email pager, phone and PDA.
There are a number of forces at work that suggest to me that we may have seen the high point of Blackberry use by lawyers. First, spam has diminished the utility of email as a communication channel. Second, important emails for lawyers often have important attachments that cannot practically be read on small screens. Third, a notebook computer with WiFi access can do so much more than a Blackberry. Fourth, new cellular access plans really do give you Internet access from anywhere. The list goes on and on.
I don’t expect to see any big move away from Blackberries in 2007. I simply suggest that we have seen the high point in their usage and lawyers will begin to look at other alternatives – that is, devices with a greater range of functionality. Watch for how successful the iPhone launch is this summer to get an indication how this trend will break.
C. Encryption Arrives.
Portability is no panacea. Each development in technology raises its own set of issues. Portable devices of all kinds can get lost, stolen or damaged. Support for portable devices is more difficult than with desktop computers.
Lawyers have not stepped up to the issue of encryption for many years. The old ABA ruling on encryption of email has been interpreted to mean that lawyers do not have to encrypt email or any other data. The times have changed and that position will be re-evaluated in 2007, especially in light of data losses from laptop computers in 2006.
Expect data and drive encryption to become a significant trend in 2007. I’m not sure that we’ll yet see email encryption, but, if you can carry all of your office files with you on a notebook computer or external hard drive, don’t you need to think seriously about encrypting or otherwise securing that data?
The answer is “yes.” Fortunately, a number of tools exist. Some are free. Certain versions of Windows Vista also have encryption tools built into them. I don’t expect lawyers’ use of encryption to become routine in 2007, but it will become much more common, especially if we get a few more headlines about data losses.
Trend #6. The Internet is Back – But It Never Really Left.
Web 2.0. Blogging and podcasting. Software as a Service. Web services. Online tools. Search engines. The Internet is part of the fabric of legal technology. Many lawyers complain not seen much new and exciting about the Internet in the last few years. In my own case, I think much new and exciting is always happening on the Internet.
In 2007, the Internet makes its mainstream comeback as lawyers begin to see and take advantage of Internet tools and opportunities that other businesses have been taking advantage of for the last few years. The Internet never really left, but it will be getting more of our attention.
Within this trend, I’ll highlight three sub-trends: (a) growth of local search, (b) updating your web presence, and (c)
moving to email alternatives.
A. Yellow Pages and Local Search.
Some of the most fascinating statistics I saw last year involved the dramatic decline of the use of yellow pages to find local products and services and the move to search engines to find the same information.
Here’s a story to illustrate the trend. The other day our dryer broke. I went out to where there used to be a laundromat, only to find it was no longer there. I called our thirteen-year-old daughter at home to see if she could find another one for me in the yellow pages. I tried to talk her through where to look in the yellow pages, and she said, “Dad, let me just find one for you on Google.” She did, along with directions via Mapquest.
I suggest that this movement away from the yellow pages (they really are hard to use) will become even more common in 2007.
Given the disproportionate use lawyers make of yellow page ads, lawyers will need to re-evaluate how best to reach their target audience. The answer is increasingly going to be through some form of Internet presence – website, blog or otherwise.
B. Blocking and Tackling – Creating a Helpful Web Presence.
Not much has happened in the world of lawyer websites for many years. In fact, you can read the articles I wrote on the subject in the late 1990s and find that most of the same principles and techniques still apply. Yes, blogs have come into play in some exciting ways, but only a small percentage of lawyers have blogs, although with great impact and results.
The vast majority of lawyers have websites that are dated, unattractive, not regularly maintained, and not especially relevant to their target audience. Law firm websites, as a general rule, also make it difficult to get contact information and other basic information.
In 2007, we will see a somewhat surprising move by law firms to spruce up and revamp their websites in light of the growing role of the Internet in the way people shop for and purchase services. In most cases, we will not be talking about introducing some kind of Web 2.0 presence, rather a focus on the basic blocking and tackling necessary to have an effective website. There will be a great focus on traffic and analysis of numbers on the website. We will see more blogs, podcasts and video on law firm sites, but largely integrated into existing sites, with a greater emphasis on publishing information relevant to the likely audience and with a concern for giving the website a contemporary look and feel.
C. Email Alternatives.
For all I know, email may die in 2007. Depending on what study you read, perhaps 90% of email sent over the Internet is now spam. Add to the that all of the unwanted emails your friends, family and colleagues forward or carbon copy you on and you find that simply finding the email you need to attend to has become a chore. On top of that, spam filters battle to keep up with spammers while, in the process, blocking emails that we want to receive.
Studies now indicate that teenagers really do not use email. They are using instant messages, texting or phone calls. I suggest that this points us to where we are moving.
Expect to see movement to email alternatives, especially for communications where email is not the most effective vehicle. RSS feeds and newsreaders are great alternatives to email newsletters. Instant messaging plays a growing role in business communication, and I’ve found a good number of lawyers who have clients who want to communicate by instant messaging. Blogs, wikis, and collaborative spaces offer attractive alternatives to group discussion and collaboration and are more effective than email. Email is broken and lawyers should be considering appropriate alternatives.
(To be continued in Part 5)
I invite your comments and feedback on this article-in-progress.
[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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Dennis Kennedy’s Seven Legal Technology Trends for 2007 – Part 3

Thursday, February 8th, 2007

(Part 3 of a 5-part Series) (Explanation of series)
Seven Legal Technology Trends for 2007 – Widening the Digital Divide in Law Practice
Seven Trends for 2007, Number 3 and 4.
What specific trends must lawyers watch in 2007? I suggest that seven trends should be on your radar screen, and the agendas of your technology committee. Here are trends 3 and 4.
Trend #3. Making Sound Business Decisions about Technology.
If 2007 will be a lull for many firms, then it makes sense to take good advantage of this interlude rather than to sit idly
by. My next big trend for 2007 will be the efforts the best firms will make to apply business principles and make sound decisions about where they are, where they’ve been, and where they want to be with technology. In part, this means bringing technology committee issues into the executive committee, or making sure that managing partners get involved in technology committee efforts. More than that, it means taking a hard-headed business approach to technology efforts and deciding what place legal technology should have in today’s law firm.
I’ll highlight three sub-trends that largely continue some existing trends, but will pick up momentum in 2007: (a) audits and efforts to find cost savings, (b) applying traditional business principles, and (c) refocusing on outsourcing.
A. Audits and Cost Savings Efforts.
This trend cuts across all firms, big and small. Too many firms have little idea of what they have, how money is being spent, and whether they are spending too much or too little for what they are getting. It is the rare firm that benchmarks how its technology compares to that of competitor firms.
No one likes the word “audit,” but, especially in a lull, technology audits make good sense. If you are not upgrading and installing, it’s a great time to inventory, measure and assess what you have, and compare it to your strategic plan. You do have a strategic plan for technology, right? Even the simplest software audit that identifies the programs that you have and determines whether your licenses match your programs can provide excellent information for moving forward.
The emphasis should be on cost reduction. And remember that cost reduction and cost savings are a more thoughtful process than simple cost cutting. Are you paying for software no one uses? Can you gather information about costs that will help you accurately consider hosted services or leasing? If you know that you must invest in new technology in the not-so-distant future, doesn’t it make sense to pay for part of that future with cost reductions from outdated or inadequate legacy technology? I doubt that there are many law firms that do not have fat that can be cut out of their technology budgets. If you don’t do it now, it might not ever get done.
B. Applying Honest-to-Goodness Business Principles.
Firms that audit and measure technology will have a solid basis for making business decisions. If you do not measure, you cannot make those decisions. In 2007, look for an increase in the application of standard business principles to legal technology efforts.
Can you determine the return on investment (ROI) of various technology options? Can you determine what legal technology projects have been successes and failures? Does it make more sense to lease or buy? What is the total cost of ownership for technology in your firm in the past, and what should it be going forward? Who makes decisions and how?
Expect to see an increased emphasis on tradition business measures, business processes and standard business approaches. For example, I like the idea of looking at technology as an investment portfolio, assessing risk and return. Others might look to Six Sigma, theory of constraints or other popular business approaches. In 2007, the seat-of-the-pants or let’s-buy-what-they-bought approaches will become the domain of those firms on the wrong side of the digital divide.
C. Outsourcing Revisited.
What is the business of a law firm? What is the core business of your law firm? For example, are you in the business of hosting massive amounts of your clients’ discovery data? Firms have looked at outsourcing over the years, and the results have been a mixed bag.
In 2007, however, the outsourcing trend will pick up momentum. Make a list of all the areas of electronic discovery your firm will be involved in. Add help desk, software management, security, disaster recovery, training, hardware acquisition and maintenance, and all the other parts of your technology operations. Are those all functions a law firm should be providing?
The answers will vary from firm to firm, but the question must be asked and, increasingly, the answer will lead firms to outsourcing options.
Trend #4. Security and Disaster Recovery – The Necessary Relationship.
I’ve long been concerned with the approach many lawyers and law firms take to security issues. I read recently about an unprotected, unupdated Windows computer being attacked and compromised within a minute of being connected to the Internet.
With “zero-day exploits,” malicious payloads on malware, and organized attacks, the nature of security has changed. Cyberterrorism is not just a purely theoretical threat. Security problems can create disasters as easily as natural forces can.
In 2007, there is a growing realization that security and disaster recovery must be top priorities that require continuing attention, and that the two areas are inextricably related. While we cannot predict the future with certainly, there’s little doubt that we will see some unexpected security and other disasters that will cause serious problems and be largely unexpected.
Within this trend, I’ll highlight three sub-trends: (a) redefining the notion of disasters, (b) using recent learning to set priorities, and (c) the growing association of security and disasters.
A. Recent Redefinition of Disasters.
Both 9/11 and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina brought public attention to the assumptions we make about disasters. Can we really assume anymore that our building or even our city will remain after a disaster? In 2006, St. Louis had two “freak” storms, leaving me without electricity for 10 days in a five-month period. Normal backup and disaster recovery plans would reasonably treat electrical outages as being a transitory or short-term issue.
If you watch the television show “24,” you know that there are whole categories of disasters we haven’t yet seen and hope never to see. There has also recently been a lot of discussion of pandemics. Firms have been brought to a standstill by computer viruses. I’ve been surprised lately by the number of people who have told me that they have had periods of days where their email systems were not working properly. Imagine what a serious security breach or total compromise of a law firm’s network might involve. What about the simple loss of a lawyer’s notebook computer?
Expect to see some new twists on what “disaster” means in 2007. While you cannot plan for it all, 2007 is a year for more planning rather than less planning.
B. Applying Recent Learning to Setting Priorities.
It should be no surprise to find that we have short memories when it comes to the last disaster. As the latest disaster recedes into the past, other urgent priorities take the place of disaster recovery planning. There’s a certain inevitability in that.
However, you must try to learn some lessons and take some actions based on what you learned. I’ve learned over the past year that law firms in the Gulf Coast region of the United States are always concerned about offsite and online backup and are more receptive to hosted software services than lawyers in other parts of the country. Firms that have been shut down by viruses pay far more attention to Windows updates, antivirus programs, backup and computer usage policies than firms that have not. Firms with email problems in the past often have moved to email fail-over backup systems based on those experiences.
Let me offer my personal history as an example. For six days last summer we, and 40% of St. Louisans had no electricity. By the way, that also meant no Internet access. The cause was a freak storm that was not likely to recur. Since I’ve spoken and written about disaster recovery, I wanted to draw my own lessons and make some changes based on what I learned. And I did that. However, I also assessed the risks of another extended power outage and decided that the risk was small enough that I did not need to take other steps. Five months later, we, and 205 of St. Louisans, lost power, in this case for four days.
Some of the steps I took in the summer worked well for me and there are other things that I wish I had done. I’ve learned some new lessons (for example, I’m not sure it makes sense for any lawyer not to use a notebook computer) and I’ve reassessed what I’m doing in light of the risks as I perceive them.
In the event of a major disaster, the gap between the technology-haves and have-nots will be clearly illustrated.
C. The Combo Disaster – Is Security the Biggest Disaster Issue?
The idea of “cascades” has become important in both security and disaster recover. We tend to think in terms of single disasters with single solutions. But what happens when disasters or security threats come at you in combinations or as a cascade where one event triggers other events? Another analogy might be “swarming” attacks.
With “phishing” and other organized, social-engineering attacks, the bad guys take advantage of the disorder and disarray caused by a disaster or ongoing response to a disaster to create further problems or break through unsecured access points. As an illustration, the goal of introducing Trojan horses into your system is to create a platform from which the attacker gains further access at administrator levels, to gather valuable information that can be used or sold elsewhere, and to turn your system into a controllable platform for further attacks.
The result is that a security compromise can cause a spiraling set of technical and other problems, including massive public relations problems if confidential data is exposed or stolen. In 2006, we saw several headlines about loss of personal data on laptop computers that were stolen. Those headlines should give plenty of warning to those considering security and disaster recovery planning.
(To be continued in Part 4)
I invite your comments and feedback on this article-in-progress.
[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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Dennis Kennedy’s Seven Legal Technology Trends for 2007 – Widening the Digital Divide in Law Practice – Part 2

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

(Part 2 of a 5-part Series) (Explanation of series)
Seven Legal Technology Trends for 2007 – Widening the Digital Divide in Law Practice
Trends Number 1 and 2.
What specific trends must lawyers watch in 2007? I suggest that seven trends should be on your radar screen, and the agendas of your technology committee. Here are trends 1 and 2.
Trend #1. Reacting to Microsoft.
With the double whammy of a new Windows release and a new Office release, Microsoft will occupy a lot of legal mind space in 2007. My first trend simply notes how deciding how to react to Microsoft issues will be the 800 pound gorilla of legal technology in 2007. Note that I emphasize reacting to Microsoft, not necessarily moving to new versions.
Within this trend, I’ll note three sub-trends: (a) deciding whether and when to upgrade to new Microsoft versions, (b) investigating whether to move away from Microsoft environments, and (c) the growing role of free, Open Source and Web 2.0 services.
A. Upgrading to New Microsoft Versions.
Much time will be spent in 2007 making decisions about moving to Windows Vista and Office 2007 and when to make that move. While it is common advice to wait to install new versions of Microsoft programs after the release of the first service pack, I’ve been surprised by stories of large law firms that have made no efforts whatsoever to explore moving to these versions yet. Decisions on these products will not go away. It makes good sense to get started on thinking about these issues sooner rather than later.
The focus of Windows Vista is on security, for good reasons. Given the need for security at law firms, consideration of Windows Vista should move up toward the top of the agenda. It is clear that Vista, in most cases, will require new hardware purchases. Firms that have recently purchased hardware may not be in a position to move to Vista. Firms ready to purchase new hardware will need to think carefully about Vista. At a minimum, buying Vista-ready hardware will be a priority.
Firms still running Windows 2000 need to realize that they are now two operating systems behind, and that Windows 2000 support will be going away soon.
I’ve said that Office 2003 is the version of Office that works best for lawyers. It’s also four years old. Office 2007 has a radically new interface that I believe might work well for lawyers, a new document format, enhanced collaboration features and other new features. I expect to see a relatively slow adoption of Office 2007, but given the history of security issues in Office, moving to Office 2007 may be the prudent approach in 2007.
The decisions here will not be easy, but they won’t get any easier by ignoring them or deferring them indefinitely. With the expectation that the corporate world will go slow on moving to new versions, law firms have less pressure than usual on these upgrades, and that’s a large part of the reason I’ve described 2007 in terms of a “lull.” It will be easy not to make the upgrade, but will it be wise for you?
B. Macintosh and Linux.
One reaction to Microsoft that will become more common in 2007 is serious consideration and possible movement to non-Windows operating systems. That’s becoming a reasonable response to the complexities of living in the Windows world and the growing use of the Internet as a platform for the work we do.
The Intel-based Macintoshes, with the ability to run Windows and Windows programs in a virtual machine or to boot up directly in Windows, have changed the thinking of many lawyers about Macintoshes. The Macs have excellent reputations on usability and security, perhaps the two biggest issues for lawyers. As we do more work on the Internet, our capacity to work on the Internet, more so than our operating system, becomes the biggest factor in what our computing needs are. Lawyers who examine closely what their needs actually are beginning to make the move toward Macintosh, and the number of Macintosh resources for lawyers, including blogs, will surprise many lawyers.
Similarly, Linux or other Unix-based operating systems have excellent track records, especially for servers. In the right settings, they may become reasonable alternatives to Windows.
Frankly, the legal practice is a Microsoft world, and I don’t expect to see that change dramatically in 2007, but given the complexity and potential costs of moving to new Microsoft versions, we will see greater attention on non-windows options. By the end of 2007, I would expect to see a noticeable increase in the number of lawyers using Mac notebooks.
C. Open Source, Freeware/Shareware, and Web 2.0.
Expect lawyers and law firms to take a closer look than they have ever done to several other alternatives to Microsoft software. Traditionally, lawyers have shied away from these alternatives In large part, these products will gain attention because of their cost, or, more accurately, their lack of cost. It should longer be a surprise that outfitting a new computer with the software you want will cost more than the cost of the hardware. In 2007, Open Source, freeware/shareware, and Web 2.0 services will become part of every software discussion and begin to appear as part of the software equation in many firms. Small firms and solos will lead this trend.
Open Source software is a class of software licensed under one of the Open Source licenses. Open Source software has a number of distinguishing features, including the availability of source code, the right to modify the software, the authorship by a volunteer community of programmers, and other elements beyond the scope of this article. I suggest that you read my article “Best Legal Practices for Open Source Software” for background on the licenses. Linux and the Firefox browser are examples of Open Source software.
For our purposes, the most interesting aspect of Open Source software is that you can download and use it for free. Many Open Source programs have been around for a while and have become mature and competitive offerings. You might consider Open Office as an alternative to Microsoft Office or Gimp as an alternative to Photoshop, for example. There are also many Open Source utilities and specialty programs, such as timekeeping programs. As a result, lawyers looking at the costs of updating Microsoft programs may look to Open Source alternatives.
Similarly, in almost every category of software there are free or “try before you buy” low-cost programs available for download. These programs are commercial programs rather than Open Source programs. Usually priced below $30 or so, these programs might help lawyers accomplish specific tasks or fill specific needs. For example, if a lawyer only needed to create simple PDF files, he or she might find a free or low-cost program for that purpose rather than buy Adobe Acrobat.
In 2006, Web 2.0 services burst onto the scene. In simplest terms, Web 2.0 services are web-based applications, in nearly every case free, that allow you to work as if you are using a desktop application through your browser. These are lightweight applications that lack all of the bells and whistles of your desktop programs, but have all the features you need to get most of your work done. A classic example is Google Docs & Spreadsheets, which lets you create and work with documents and spreadsheets on the website, share them with others, and export them to Word and Excel.
Each of these categories offers you realistic options to Microsoft products, while leaving you with the question of how do you want to balance costs, features, compatibility and other issues. Small firms and solos have been blazing the trail in these directions, but expect discussion of these alternatives to become part of the Office upgrade question in 2007, and as part of other discussions as law firms consider expensive commercial software options.
2. Electronic Discovery – The 8,000 Pound Gorilla?
If Microsoft update questions lead the way for legal technology in 2007, then electronic discovery is a close second and may actually turn out to be a larger gorilla in the room. That said, I am going to be a bit of a contrarian by saying that we will see less happen in the area of electronic discovery than most people expect in 2007. The ability of lawyers and law firms to resist the move to incorporating electronic discovery as part of the day-to-day practice of law is legendary, and they still have a few tricks up their sleeves to slow down this process.
However, let me be clear that, as has been said before about the Internet, we overestimate the short-term impact of electronic discovery, but we greatly underestimate the long-term impact of electronic discovery. I’ve read recently complaints of attendees at the LegalTech New York show that 90% of the vendors called themselves e-discovery vendors, with the implication that EDD was being over-sold and over-hyped. There is a clear resistance from lawyers to electronic discovery and sometimes this attitude is manifested by referring to EDD as a fad or hype.
While, as I’ve said many times before, the concepts in electronic discovery are straight-forward and EDD should be seen as evolutionary rather than revolutionary, the details, the tools, the practical questions, and the application of law and rules to specific facts can be confusing, complicated and challenging. However, we are not going back to a world of paper-based discovery. The e-discovery ship has set sail, and the wishful thinking of resistant lawyers will not turn it back around.
Unfortunately, things will not get any easier for those trying to navigate the seas of e-discovery. The industry trends of dizzying consolidation and new entries will continue and will no doubt keep us all confused as to what choices are best.
Within this trend, I’ll highlight three sub-trends: (a) an emphasis on basic EDD tools for small cases, (b) the growing role of litigation support managers, and (c) the availability of “big iron” tools for e-discovery.
A. Emphasis on Basic EDD Tools for Everyday Cases.
There’s a running joke that, if you talk to a hundred EDD vendors, every single one of them had some involvement in the discovery for the Enron case. Let’s face it, in the vast majority of litigation matters lawyers handle do not involve terabytes of data and exotic issues. They involve a limited number of electronic documents, some email, and maybe a spreadsheet or two. The total dataset may range from a few hundred to a few thousand documents. That’s still a lot to handle, and that’s where we will see a lot of action in e-discovery in 2007.
In this area, I see growth in the litigation database management applications. This category used to be dominated by programs like Concordance and Summation, but we’ve seen the rise of programs that emphasize the litigation management aspects and de-emphasize the “database” look and feel of programs in this category. CaseLogistix is a great example of the lawyer-focused approach to the new generation of programs, with a lawyer-oriented interface and consideration of how lawyers actually work. Look for more programs (and software services) to take this approach, and for more focus on project management and work flow in these programs.
For standard cases, you can make the argument that a simple “all-in-one” basic EDD tool would be the way to go. I’m intrigued by the appliance approach here. What if you could buy a “box” loaded with the tools you need to do a reasonably good job with electronic discovery on regular types of cases? Cricket Technologies’ Cricket Box is one example of a company producing an EDD appliance, with the basic functionality many firms will need. A web-based “software as a service” approach might also be attractive for these purposes.
We’ll also see creative uses of tools that lawyers already use, often in combinations. Adobe Acrobat 8 has added a number of features (including redaction and Bates stamping) with lawyers in mind that make it an attractive tool for small e-discovery cases. If you combine CaseMap and Adobe Acrobat, you might well have a powerhouse set of tools for the majority of your standard EDD cases.
B. Litigation Support Managers – The Next Generation of EDD.
2006 was a watershed year for the litigation support manager at law firms. It became clear to leading law firms that they needed a skilled person placed at the intersection of litigation and technology. This person might be an experienced lawyer or paralegal with a good understanding of technology or an IT person with a good understanding of litigation matters. No matter what the approach, leading firms realized that ad hoc, unfocused and multiple-headed approaches to EDD would not work.
The growth and professionalization of the litigation support manager role will be the most important trend in EDD in 2007. In a short time, there will be a clear gap between firms with litigation support managers and those without. For any firm dealing with electronic discovery, the decision how to create and fill a litigation support manager position should be number one of the priority list. These people will be at the point in connection with clients, courts, vendors, consultants, IT and lawyers, and the importance of their role will only increase.
An interesting parallel trend that recognizes the role of skilled people in EDD is the provision of consulting services by EDD vendors.
C. “Big Iron” for Big E-Discovery.
While the majority of EDD cases do not involve massive amounts of electronic data and documents, the big cases definitely do, and the talk of terabytes of discovery data is all too true. Some of the most interesting long-term trends in electronic discovery – EDD becoming a subset of records management and compliance initiatives, and movement of big records and data vendors into EDD – will happen at the high end of EDD.
The trend I’ll be watching is what is happening with data repositories. Most law firms will eventually decide that it is not realistic for them to host huge amounts of data within the firm. Data repository vendors offer hosting services for gigantic amounts of data, with high levels of security, uptime, access control and other features, including search and project management tools. I’m intrigued by what’s happening in this area and the implications it might have for the future of litigations and the court system.
I recently got a demo of Catalyst Repository Systems‘ new offerings in this area. While I was pleased with the emphasis on speed of searches, I was truly impressed with the sub-second results on highly-complex search requests. Again, this appears to be an area where firms that move in this direction can create a significant competitive gap between themselves and firms sitting on the sidelines. This area may also be one where clients will drive what law firms will do.
(To be continued in Part 3)
I invite your comments and feedback on this article-in-progress.
[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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Dennis Kennedy’s Seven Legal Technology Trends for 2007 (Part 1)

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

(Part 1 of a 5-part Series) (Explanation of series)
Seven Legal Technology Trends for 2007 – Widening the Digital Divide in Law Practice
Lawyers and law firms have an uneasy relationship with technology. Never known as “early adopters,” lawyers approach technology with wariness and often see technology as a necessary evil. There is, however, a general consensus that, good or evil, technology is a necessity in the modern practice of law.
William Gibson has famously said, “The future is here; it’s just not evenly distributed.” In the practice of law, the future is starting to arrive, but it’s definitely not evenly distributed. The variations in use of technology from lawyer to lawyer and from firm to firm will astound even the casual observer.
What, then, should we expect to see in the use of technology in the practice of law in 2007? In this article, I explore the seven top trends I see in legal technology for 2007.
2007: An Overview.
As an overview, my sense is that 2007 will be another year of a technology lull, in some ways much like 2006, with much less visible movement in legal technology than you might expect, but potentially large structural changes happening under the surface.
Conditions are ripe for a slow-down. With new versions of both Microsoft Office and Windows arriving, there is a general wait-and-see attitude, especially because Windows Vista will require new hardware purchases in most cases. It is rare to see an article on Vista that does not advocate waiting until the release of service pack 1. I tend to be a little bolder – I know that Microsoft employees have been using Vista internally for a long time. Electronic discovery exerts both a push and a pull on technology for law firms. Yes, it is a driver, but with consolidations among vendors, unresolved questions, and a confusing tools market, choices in this category are difficult.
It will be easy, and, in some cases, prudent for law firms to move slowly and cautiously. At the same time, however, some law firms and legal departments will be taking advantage of great new technology opportunities to modernize the practice of law, improve client service, and move toward something that I and others have called “Law 2.0.” As a result, they will creative a competitive and technological gap between themselves and most other lawyers, firms and law departments. By the end of 2007, we will be talking about a clear and growing digital divide between technology-forward and technology-backward firms. It will happen slowly, barely perceptibly in some cases, but we will see evidence of that growing evidence of that gap as the year ends.
In general, lawyers and law firms will do well to use this general “lull” in 2007 to plan, to make good business decision about what they have and how to move forward, and prepare to move forward at the time of their own choosing. The legal technology landscape is becoming much more complicated than it’s ever been.
Seven Trends for 2007.
If that is the big picture, then what specific trends must lawyers watch in 2007? I suggest that the following seven trends should be on your radar screen, and the agendas of your technology committee.
(To be continued in Part 2)
I invite your comments and feedback on this article-in-progress.
[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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Announcing a Blogging and Writing Experiment: Seven Legal Technology Trends for 2007 (A Series of Blog Posts)

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

I’ve written my annual legal technology trends/predictions article for 2007 and realized that, as in some prior years, it had taken on a life of its own. It’s quite long, even by my standards. In retrospect, I realize that I probably should have found someone who wanted me to write the extended version as a white paper for them. For the curious, my 2006 article is here, and there’s no question that there is some significant overlap (even in the phrasing, as I now notice), and that the delays in Windows Vista and Office 2007 moved some of my major 2006 predictions back to 2007. 2007 strikes me, like 2006, as a sleepy kind of year in legal technology – for most, but not all, but interesting nonetheless.
I plan to chop it down to a normal size for a published article (1,000 to 1,500 words), but have been thinking about ways that I might put the whole article out to the world. Hmm, how about on my blog?
I’ve never done a multi-part series on my blog before (even though I probably should have with some of the longer posts), so I’ve decided to take that route.
I also thought that readers might be interested in seeing my process in taking an extended piece and turning it into a publishable article. It’s always easier for me to write a longer piece than what I need and to cut it back than to write something exactly in the final format. I often use the parts I cut out for blog posts, starts for other articles, or in presentations. Some of it just disappears on the cutting room floor, often deservedly so.
So, here’s the concept.
Starting later today, I post the first of what will probably be a five (maybe four) part blog series of my article tentatively titled: “Seven Legal Technology Trends for 2007 – Widening the Digital Divide in Law Practice.”
After I finish the series, I’ll post an edited, more or less final version, and see if there is any publisher interest in publishing/reprinting the article. That will be an interesting experiment for me to see how blog publishing might impact other publishing.
I will also invite your comments and feedback on the article as it appears, so I can see what works and what doesn’t. It’s somewhat more than a first draft, but there’s definitely some work that could be done to it (but that would make it even longer).
I plan to post the article sequentially over the next few days and not interrupt the series with other posts. If I post on other topics, I’ll do that on the Between Lawyers blog (which could use a few new posts). At the end, I’ll put together both versions into a downloadable PDF.
As an aside, I’ll probably speak only on a limited number of topics this year and a presentation based on this article will be one of them.
When I’m finished, it will be time to start my annual birthday/blogiversary week, a long-standing feature of this blog that, and it’s hard to imagine this is possible, is even more misunderstood than my Blawggie awards. Think of it as a DennisKennedy.Blog reader appreciation week where I try to step out of the usual format, have a little fun, and generally thank my readers. Hey, it’s way better than a pledge drive. One of the things that has worked really well over the years has been letting vendors do free license offers and other giveaways to my readers. If you are a reader who works for a vendor and wants to try to do something along these lines, please let me know.
Next up: Seven Legal Technology Trends for 2007 – Introduction and Overview.
[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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Creating an Electronic Signature Stamp

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

Adobe’s Rick Borstein has a great how-to post on creating and using signature stamps in Adobe Acrobat on his blog and it’s called “Creating a Transparent Signature Stamp.”
An electronic signature stamp can be a very handy tool these days, and using a transparent background solves some frustrating problems that can arise when using a signature stamp.
The best thing is that people are gradually starting to realize the great flexibility that the electronic signature laws now give us (see this article for a primer on electronic signatures under U.S. law) and slowly people are starting to accept electronic signatures as being the equivalent of “wet” signatures, something U.S. law has provided for several years.
This method will also help you with some of the electronic filing issues Ernie Svenson raised here and here.
Rick’s post will help you turn your signature into a work of art and practical and helpful tool at the same time. It’s a great example of how small and simple uses of technology targeted at something that helps you everyday can bring you more benefit than elaborate technology “solutions” directed at problems that you aren’t quite sure really even exist.
[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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