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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 April, 2007

E-Discovery Roundtable Podcast/Transcript Covers Important Territory

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

If you’d like to get a good survey of the big picture and trends in electronic discovery from a variety of perspectives, let me recommend that you check out a new podcast (and downloadable transcript) that Xerox has posted on the Big I, little t Blog. It’s a fascinating discussion that I was invited to participate in, but, unfortunately, unfortunately was not able to attend.
Here’s a representative sample from the transcript:

Mike Maziarka: It seems to me that something that we haven’t touched on is that there’s also employee training that’s necessary here. That, you know, I think part of this is we’ve become reliant on tools such as email as a conduit for communication rather than a truly what it is, a document creator. And that I think training needs to happen in organizations to say realize that when you use email and when you use some of these tools, you are creating a document that, you know, if you don’t want that to be read at some point in the future should never be created to begin with. And it’s not just true of email, but also IM is another area that we really haven’t touched on today that as you start to use these tools, you’re creating a record of something that has happened. And I think that that’s something that organizations are also going to have to address is we’ve become very reliant on these tools and maybe we need to back-off a little bit to the degree to which we use them.

Xerox’s Craig Freeman certainly asks some excellent questions that the rest of us should be look for answers to. There need to be many more of these kinds of conversations. The blog offers a place for continuing the discussion through comments. Highly recommended for both the content on this topic and an example of how companies can use blogs effectively.
My only quibble is that I wish that the podcast was available as a downloadable mp3 file, but providing the transcript is an excellent idea. [UPDATE: Thank you Xerox for making the mp3 download link available at the podcast link.]
Speaking of roundtables, it’s always interesting to go back to the granddaddy of all electronic discovery roundtable articles, A Gold Mine of Electronic Discovery Expertise: A Conversation Among Veterans of Electronic Discovery Battles, and see how it has stood the test of time as it approaches its third birthday. Quite well, I think. I’ve been toying with the idea of revisiting that article and doing a roundtable with the same people and adding even more experts. Let me know if you might be interested in reading a new version of that article or becoming one of the participants.
[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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Resisting the Temptation of Declaring Email Bankruptcy

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

Dealing with email can get you down. In one of the key moments in Internet history, Larry Lessig famously declared email bankruptcy, announcing that he had gotten so far behind in answering email that he was simply going to start over fresh.
It’s a tempting thought – and something I’ve given a lot of thought to lately. There are undoubtedly several of you now reading this post from whom I have an email that needs a reply. I’ve been describing my inbox as a cringe-inducing zone
However, Anne Zelenka has some great suggestions to reduce the burden and offers some promising alternatives to declaring email bankruptcy in her post “Before You Declare Email Bankruptcy.”
One of Anne’s suggestions makes the money quote:

Create a folder or label named with a date in the future, maybe a week or so, or two days if that’s the most you can stand. Move everything from your inbox into there. On that day, look at the messages. Do you need to respond to them now? Many of them no longer require a response, having been already dealt with or made obsolete by intervening events.

That’s all true, but the best advice in her post might be to open up other options for people to connect with you outside of email.
The email bankruptcy option, however, remains an enticing one, especially in weak moments.
[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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Green Legal Technology: Is the Time Ripe?

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

A bunch of us have been talking and writing about “green legal technology,” which refers to using law office technology in more energy-saving and ecologically-sensitive ways, i.e., green computing.
From turning your computers off to better power management to server virtualization to software as a service and hosted applications, many things are happening in this space. It’s definitely become one consideration that should be on your list as you consider your technology options inside and outside your office. I recently saw a blog post about a new computer bag that was covered with solar cells so you could charge your notebook computer and accessories. There are philosophical and economic rationales for green computing.
As an interesting (at least to me) aside, I was doing some research for a new page on green legal technology resources I want to add to my website (and for a future Strongest Links column Tom Mighell and I have been discussing) when I found, to my surprise that a Google search on “green legal technology” had zero hits. I believe that I’ve officially coined a new term.
It’s funny how Google has changed the landscape for neologisms. If you think up a new term and “google it,” and you get no results, you really do feel like you’ve coined a new term.
Admittedly, I’m no Denise Howell, who coined the word “blawg,” but I’ve come up with the occasional new term over the years, at least according to my Google searches at the time the terms appeared to me in a burst of light.
Who can forget my classic “Blawg City USA“? I really liked my terms “fourth generation legal technology” and “4G legal technology,” both homages to John Robb, and subjects that I want to revisit and write about in depth one day soon.
In the past year, I hit on the new terms “electronic discovery 2.0,” “edd 2.0,” and “litigation 2.0,” quite a run. I was the #1 result on “e-discovery 2.0″ until recently. I’m not sure that I coined that one last summer too, because I don’t like to use the term e-discovery, but the reference in this post suggests that maybe I did. While I wish I would have coined “Law 2.0,” I first saw that from The Wired GC, so I like to give him credit whenever I can.
Ah, if as a result I could amass even 1/10 the fortune Denise Howell has earned from coining the word “blawg” . . . .
Yes, that’s an inside joke that I’m sure Denise will appreciate (listen to an earlier audio version of same joke).
I suspect that of all my clever new terms (blawgilicious, blawgadelic, the list goes on . . . unfortunately), it’ll be Blawg City USA that I’ll be most known for. The other ones seem to get thrown into the conversation (a good thing) on a regular basis and it’ll be easy to forget where they came from – or, maybe not, thanks to Google’s servers. See Mark Cuban’s interesting take on that point. It’s the conversations that the terms start that matters most.
I seem to have let this post drift away from “green legal technology,” but I’ll follow-up on that idea soon. “Green legal tech”? Just checked – I got that one too. What new terms should you be coining?
[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 Good Introduction to PowerPoint 2007 for Lawyers (and Others)

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

Brett Burney is one of my favorite reviewers of legal technology products. He has a new article on PowerPoint 2007 that serves as a great introduction to the new version of PowerPoint, PowerPoint 2007 Takes on the Fear Factor. Brett highlights the features, developments, and issues that will most interest lawyers.
The money quote:

When you give a presentation, most people plug a projector into their laptop. When you launch your PowerPoint presentation, a carbon copy image shows on both your laptop screen and the projected screen. This may be fine for most folks, but the Presenter View can make you look like a superstar. While the projector continues to beam your formal presentation, the Presenter View on your laptop screen shows you a) the current slide, b) the notes you’ve written for that slide, and c) the next several slides coming up. You can jump to any slide without having to exit out of your presentation, and the Presenter View displays a big, fat timer to keep you honest.

Good article, with lots of good illustrations – something to keep in mind for your next PowerPoint presentation. The article is also notable for one of the rare links from a Law.com article to one of my articles (and my most popular article ever, at that). It’s nice to see legal publications link outside the family every now and then.
[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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Are Lawyers Doing Work That Should Be Done By Machines?

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

Good question. Important question. Maybe the Big Question.
Ron Friedmann offers his insights into the question in a post about an article in which Cisco’s Mark Chandler raises the question in the context of document review in electronic discovery.
The money quote from Ron:

I’ve written previously that the choosing the best document review approach – US contract lawyers, offshore lawyers, or software – is an empirical question. Chandler adds anecdotal evidence that computers do better than humans, at least considering cost.

I ruminated a bit about the question outside the context of electronic discovery in one of my favorite posts on this blog from 2006.
The money quote from that post was:

At TECHSHOW 2005, Marc Lauritsen was reviewing the histroy of legal technology and made a comment about tasks that it made sense for computers to do and tasks that it made sense for humans to do. It struck me then, and does even more so today, that part of the reason we see dissatisfaction and burnout in the legal profession is that, arguably in many cases, lawyers are still doing work as humans that should at this point be done by computers, [rather than having computers do the work to free them up] to do more of the creative things that play such a big part in being a lawyer. Properly understood, we should be trying to use technology to enable us to move in that direction.
In his email, Gates says: “In this New World of Work, repetitive, uninteresting tasks like moving data from one system to another will be automated and employees will focus much more of their time and creative energy on work that generates real value and growth.”

Important question. Maybe a Law 2.0 question.
[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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Do Excerpt Feeds and Poor Sound Quality Podcasts Have Something in Common?

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

There’s long been a debate over whether to distribute your RSS feed as an excerpt feed or a full-text feed.
I started out with an excerpt feed because I enjoyed writing a customized “excerpt” as a teaser. I didn’t use the standard automatic “first 20 or 50 words” excerpt that people commonly use today. I switched to a full-text feed because I preferred full-text feeds from other blogs and sites. And because I sometimes spent more time on writing the excerpt than the full post.
There are good reasons that you might choose to distribute a full-text or an excerpt feed. Excerpt feeds require that a reader click-through and visit your blog. Full-text feeds let your readers read the full post without going to your blog.
Over the years, people who use newsreaders to consume RSS feeds often reach a point where they feel that they have subscribed to WAY TOO MANY feeds. They then decide to prune their list of feeds. Historically, one of the easiest ways to cut the feeds you subscribe to is to delete those that offer only excerpts of posts.
The reason should be apparent. You save yourself the time and effort of clicking through to see the rest of the post. If you read feeds offline with a stand-alone reader, as I often do, then you will prefer full-text feeds because you can read everything in the post.
How does this relate to podcasts?
I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately. At the birth of podcasts, I had reservations about them. No, not about their utility and value – I could see that from the first podcast I listened to (an interview with William Gibson).
My concern was managing them. In iTunes, your collection of podcasts can taunt you by noting that you have 33 days of podcasts to listen to. Since you listen in real-time, you can build up a daunting pile of unlistened-to podcasts.
Once again, you face the problem of pruning your collection – this time of downloaded podcasts.
As I’ve mentioned before, I normally use the “shuffle” feature on my iPod when I listen. I’ll start to listen to something and quickly decide whether it interests me at the time, and then either listen or move on.
Once I listen to a podcast, I generally delete it in iTunes. If I’m not interested in it, I usually delete it too.
When I feel I have too much on my iPod (it’s pretty full), I’ll start to delete podcasts. The length of time I’ve had them is one factor, but that’s not the best way to eliminate podcasts. I might not have listened to an old podcast because of its length or other reasons.
What I do find is that if I take a quick listen, and maybe fast forward to a few random spots in the recording, I can gauge the topic, the style and definitely the sound quality.
In part because of the high bar NPR sets with the sound quality of its podcasts, especially in comparison to some of the poorly-recorded, unedited podcasts you can find, I’ve started to use poor sound quality as a quick way to determine whether to delete or keep podcasts around for later listening.
In a funny way, poor sound quality in podcasts has become the analogy of an excerpt feed in a newsreader.
Has anyone else has noticed a similar phenomenon or used a similar approach?
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Like what you are reading? Check out the other blogs where I post – Between Lawyers (feed) and the LexThink Blog (feed).
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Reports of Death of PowerPoint Greatly Exaggerated?

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen blog is one of my current favorite resources on presentation techniques. In his recent post “Is it finally time to ditch PowerPoint?” he has a thoughtful and compelling response to the often curmudgeonly pieces I often see about PowerPoint, the program, being the cause of the demise of good presentations, communication, and even civilization, and proclaiming the death of PowerPoint is nigh.
The money quote (although you really should read the whole post):

Suggesting we abandon PowerPoint because it’s often (usually?) misused and abused to produce awful presentation visuals is like saying we should dump the idea of 24-hour cable news because so much of it is vacuous rubbish. But whether we’re talking about bad TV or boring presentations, shouldn’t we blame the content producers not the content medium?

It’s not like we’re blaming the hammer for badly-built houses. And, as I suspect anyone who has been to high school, college, and law school in the US might well agree, the chalkboard and chalk have much more to answer for when it comes to boring presentations than bad PowerPoint slides.
I’m reminded of an article I wrote on tips for lawyers using PowerPoint that I wrote close to ten years ago that has long been and still is one of the most visited pages on my website. I find it interesting to see that although my actual techniques have changed quite a bit since then (I like to avoid bullet points completely now), I still use the basic principles in that article. I ended that article with:

While PowerPoint will not take the place of communication skills, it can be a great tool for enhancing and improving your skills. You can learn to be a great presenter through practice, repetition, hard work, study and the right tools. Keep in mind, though, that the best speakers are the ones who are able to speak in a way that is most congruent with their own personality. The more authentic you are the more effective the communicator you are. The power of PowerPoint is that it gives you the flexibility to use your own style and get your message across to your audience.

Reynolds’ conclusion is an excellent summary of where we are at today with PowerPoint:

So, is it finally time to ditch PowerPoint? Hardly, but it is long past time to ditch the use of the ubiquitous bulleted-list templates found in both PowerPoint and Keynote. And it’s long past time that we realized that putting the same information on a slide that is coming out of our mouths usually does not help — in fact usually hurts our message. Next time you plan a presentation, then, start by using a pencil and pad, a whiteboard, or a stick in the sand — anything except jumping headfirst into slideware on your computer with its templates, outlines, and content wizards that may point you down a path you wish not to go. And as you examine your work from previous talks remember this rule of thumb: if your presentation visuals taken in the aggregate (e.g., your “PowerPoint deck”) can be perfectly and completely understood without your narration, then it begs the question: why are you there?

In my PowerPoint tips article, my eighth point refers to using the technique of storyboarding before you launch into slides. Interestingly, I was using mindmapping at that time as well, but didn’t think that I could discuss it meaningfully then to an audience of lawyers. For those presentations where you actually determine that using a slideshow is the best way to go, it’s what happens outside PowerPoint before you start into PowerPoint that will most determine how successful your presentation (and your slideshow) will be.
I’d now add an 11th tip to my old article: never stop trying to learn new things and experiment with ways to reach your audience.
[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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Legal Technology Grab Bag – A New Podcast

Sunday, April 8th, 2007

Tom Mighell and I recently had the chance to talk about the recent ABA TECHSHOW, legal technology trends for 2007, current developments in electronic discovery, and our upcoming book on collaboration tools for lawyers. We recorded the conversation and it’s now episode #5 of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, a legal technology podcast with an Internet focus.
It’s a wide-ranging conversation, but I especially recommend the section where we talked about electronic discovery. Has EDD been oversold, or undersold? Have the December 2006 amendments to the FRCP reallychanged the approach lawyers do or do not take to e-discovery? I hope our conversation starts some other discussions on these topics.
Look for us to produce these podcasts on a more regular basis. If you haven’t listened to earlier episodes, let me especially recommend the episode on Web 2.0 for lawyers. Let us know if there are topics you’d like us to cover.
Link to Episode 5
[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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Has Blogging Peaked?

Thursday, April 5th, 2007

First it was Peak Oil. Is it now Peak Blogging?
Steve Rubel asks some fascinating questions and has some thought-provoking analysis about the current state of blogging in his post “As Daily Postings Slide, Blogging Peaks.”
I’ve always thought that the blog statistics were not a solid foundation on which to build a whole house of conclusions, but there’s certainly enough history to at least track some trends and draw some general conclusions about trends.
Rubel focuses on blog posts per day, which he calls “the most critical measure as it relates to blogging” and notes that posts per day have been dropping. This raises the quantity vs. quality issue, but it’s intriguing to focus on this metric.
The money quote(and something to think about at a number of different levels):

Clearly people are publishing in other places and it’s taking their time away from blogs.

I was thinking about today because I’ve had a string of calls asking me for quotes on a variety of topics. I typically won’t blog about those topics until the article appears. I’m also doing more podcasts and publishing in other outlets. That’s not exactly what Rubel’s point was, but I’ve noticed that my posts per week, a more useful metric to me, has been dropping from about 5 to more like 3. That’s still within my original target range of 3 – 5 posts per week, but an interesting trend.
I’m not quite sure what to make of blog peaking or peak oil, for that matter. If blogging is “peaking,” what comes next?
As an aside, my unscientific survey of law-related blogs suggests the number of blawg posts as been noticeably increasing lately.
[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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Impact of Windows Vista on Electronic Discovery

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

As we wait for the wave of adoption of Windows Vista to wash over the computer landscape, we have a little time to contemplate the impact of Windows Vista on electronic discovery. Does anyone think it won’t make lawyers jobs in electronic discovery even more complicated.
Litigators might start their reading on the subject with Craig Ball’s “Microsoft Brings an Altered Vista to EDD.” Follow that up with Jeff Beard’s “Vista Shadow Copies — Helpful to Users, Even More to EDD Recovery?” Both will give you a good start to thinking about Vista’s impact on EDD. It’s always good to plan ahead.
Hmmm, I wonder if “shadow copies” will get more attention on 2008 than metadata.
Electronic discovery is an ever-changing universe. What will be the roles for lawyers who won’t or can’t keep up with developments?
Craig Ball also talks a bit about Vista and EDD in a very good edition of the Lawyer2Lawyer podcast on Electronic Discovery Misconceptions.
[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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