Talking Legal Tech

Last night, I had a great time doing a presentation on legal technology for a practice management class at St. Louis U. Law School. As an aside, I love the idea of law schools experimenting with practice management courses.
One of my favorite parts of the recent Missouri Solo and Small Firm Conference was the presence of a good number of law students from different Missouri law schools who attended the conference in connection with summer classes. I enjoyed getting some of their perspectives on the use of a variety of new technologies. In fact, everyone in the class last night had been at the conference.
I decided that it made the most sense to do a Q & A session and go wherever the questions took me, although I did feel a bit like a high wire artist about to take that second step (the tricky one) as I stood in front of the class with no slides or notes.
But, it was great. There were plenty of great questions that more than filled the time and I learned a lot by hearing more about their perspectives.
I also got to talk about blogging, because there were several questions about that. I realized that it’s been quite a while since I’ve actually talked about blogging as part of a presentation. It’s always been interesting to me how some of the long-time legal bloggers seem to rarely get asked to speak about blogging. Be that as it may, I really enjoyed the chance to share some of my observations and insights about blogging.
This was the third presentation on technology I’ve done in the last few weeks that turned into a Q & A session. I’m liking that approach. As a presenter, it keeps you on your toes, and as you try to give your answers some structure and continuity, it’s fascinating how themes reveal themselves and you often find new connections and insights.
Ross Kodner and I did a session that was pure Q & A about legal tech at the Missouri Solo and Small Firm conference and we were both surprised at the directions it went (and how we continued it into our long conversation at lunch).
But, as Ross describes so well in this post, the session that surprised us was the Q & A session we did on electronic discovery that we never planned to be a Q & A session.
Both Ross and I have a bit of a reputation for having a few more minutes of material planned that actually fits into the allotted time. This was no different, but I was still surprised when Ross said he had 75 slides for our 60 minute session.
Almost immediately, though, we got questions from the audience. Every time we started to move back to the slides, we got more questions. Eventually, we looked at each other and decided to go where the audience took us. Ross noted that we actually showed only 4 of the slides. But, it was fun, informative and we got lots of great feedback. I told my wife about an older lawyer who came up to me later and thanked me for the presentation and for explaining the topic in a way that “an old guy like him” could finally understand. I told Colleen that it was such a great compliment that if I never talk about e-discovery again, I’ll know that I went out on top with the last one I did. Ross’s post makes similar observations about the session.
This sessions show to me why I’ve always been so intrigued by Open Space Technology, unconferences and other informal sessions. There’s a fascinating dynamic and energy and you never know quite where it will go. I’ve long felt that, especially for a topic as difficult and complex as e-discovery can be, bringing people together with no set agenda and getting people to talk about what’s on their minds might be the most useful session you could have. Whether in the context of LexThink or elsewhere, I could never get traction on that idea, so it was nice to find some confirmation in a way I didn’t intend or expect.
Oh, and after talking with law students about technology, lawyers haven’t seen nothing yet when it comes to the ways technology will change the profession. I’m very interested in seeing what the new generation of lawyers will bring to the profession, and hope that I can participate and assist in that process.
Talking legal tech can be quite fun.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
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Six Steps to Becoming a Google Master

I’m surprised how often I hear lawyers say that they want a document management, knowledge management, you-fill-in-the-blank program “to work just like Google.”
As regular readers of this blog know, I don’t fall into that camp. I have been known to mention that I’d like advanced search tools from Recommind, Attenex, DolphinSearch and others to come in personal versions that individuals (oh, say, like me, for example) could use.
My own private opinions about Google search aside (I might write about them some day), it’s very clear that Google is quite popular among lawyers. In the “60 Tips” sessions on legal technology at continuing legal education conferences, it’s now standard to see several Google tips.
Yet, many lawyers do not seem to use Google in effective ways. In fact, they seem to use it in strikingly ineffective ways.
So, I thought I’d share some of my favorite Google tips in my new technology column for the ABA Journal, Become a Google Master.
You will likely be familiar with some or even most of them, but, as with the best tips, several of them, especially the first, are self-updating tips that will keep on giving.
The overview:
1. School it.
2. Quote it.
3. Plus or minus it.
4. PDF or PPT it.
5. Blog it.
6. Advance it.

The details, of course, are in my article.
Will this make you a Google master in one sitting? Nah, it’s a journey, not a destination. As I say in the article, “Ah, Grasshopper, with these six simple steps you can jump to the head of the class and move forward on the path to Google mastery without any concern about a query or Boolean deflecting you from your path.”
Note: Twitter users can find me at @denniskennedy.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
Now Available! The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Join the book’s Facebook Group here.
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An Illustration of the Beyond Bullet Points Approach to Presentations

I’m back home after having a great time at the bigger and better than ever Missouri Bar Solo and Small Firm Conference. It once again lived up to its reputation as the premier conference of its kind in the US. But don’t take my word – just count the number of people from other state bars who come every year to learn ways to improve their own conferences. I may do a blog post or two later this week about my experiences there.
Today, I thought it might be interesting to share some details about one of my presentations. The presentation was about “Internet presence” for lawyers and the ethical issues affecting the ways lawyers now use the Internet.
As many of you know, I’m a big fan of Cliff Atkinson’s Beyond Bullet Points approach to PowerPoint presentations and have used his style for several years.
Too often, the BBP approach gets over-simplified and described as slides with pictures and few words.
Certainly the initial reaction can be that you are seeing the opposite of the dense, text-intensive slides that lawyers often use. But I think that misses the (bullet) point.
The fact is that you can do a great presentation with great slides, terrible slides or no slides. The key is the presentation itself and the context in which it is given.
The great value in the Beyond Bullet Points approach is in the way it helps you create a compelling story, organize it well with an audience focus, and keep the focus on the presentation, the presenter and the slides, in that order.
The part of BBP I like best is Atkinson’s approach to starting out your presentation. It creates a structure that I really like.
I reproduce the draft of the intro I used for this presentation to illustrate the approach. I say draft because I changed it slightly to adapt to the the audience I found in the session.
I don’t have the book at hand, so I’ll lay out the steps in my own way. You’ll want to read the book.
1. Set the scene. Cliff refers to this as establish the “when” and “where we are”. Because you can’t be sure how you will be introduced (even if you write it out and hand it to the moderator), I usually combine this with a quick statement of my bona fides (why people might think that I’m someone they should listen to). If I didn’t do that, I would have started with the sentence that begins with “Currently.” This works as a “hook” into your presentation.
I said:

“My first presentation on using the Internet for marketing and the ethical rules that apply was in 1996. I had been looking at the issues before going live with my first website in 1995. Much has changed since then, but it’s also been an area of surprising stability, until recently. Currently, we are at a time when we see changes in both the rules that apply to Internet marketing, and other Internet usage by lawyers, and, more significantly, changes in the technologies and options lawyers now have to use the Internet to communicate and collaborate. In a real sense, we have to deal with two moving targets.”

As an aside, I realized that if I gave this presentation on a recurring basis, I’d use the “two moving targets” as both a subtitle for the presentation and as a visual motif or theme for my slides. This reflects Atkinson’s approach of finding and using a unifying simple visual theme to connect your slides and reinforce your main points.
2. Who are we? The “who” part of the intro also provides a quick and early answer to the all-important “what’s in it for me?” question that your audience is thinking.
I said:

“As practicing lawyers, we all have similar goals – wanting to participate in the real benefits of using the Internet for marketing in proven ways to an audience that increasing seeks information online and doing so in an ethical way that meets all applicable requirements.”

3. Point A. Where do we start from? Sketch out the place the audience starts from and what we all have in common. Another way to look at this is that you are setting out the problem.
I said:

“We’ve reached a point, as you’ll see today, where we have a solid understanding of what Web 1.0 ethical compliance requires.”

4. Point B. Where do we want to go? I sometime think of this as the answer to the “so what?” question. You can also see this as setting out the resolution of the problem.
I said:

“We also want to move to a point where we can have a strategy and approach that will keep us comfortably in compliance as the Internet landscape transitions toward what is often referred to as Web 2.0 and beyond.”

5. What we’ll try to accomplish today – getting from Point A to Point B. What we will accomplish or try to accomplish in this session – moving from Point A to Point B (or at least closer to Point B) in practical ways. Coming full circle and finishing the setting of the scene.
I said:

“When you leave this session, you will have a better sense for the popular new forms of Internet technology lawyers, and, as I’ll discuss, especially solo lawyers, are pioneering today, the potential benefits of using these technologies, the old and new ethical challenges, and some useful guidelines, directions and action steps for using these technologies in ethically compliant ways.”

As I said, I really like this approach, and think it works for me, but there are obviously many ways to give great presentations. The BBP method gives me a great structure and organization, whole giving me great great freedom and flexibility within the presentation itself.
See what you think. Then read the book. And remember that there’s more to this than simply using pictured with a few words. Will this approach to creating an introduction help you in your next presentation?
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
Now Available! The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Join the book’s Facebook Group here.
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Calling All St. Louis Bloggers: Helping with the Housing Crisis

Robert Paterson writes one of the blogs I really enjoy reading. Today, he posts some sobering statistics about the housing crisis, with St. Louis showing up higher on the list than any of us might like to see.
He has also done some cool work with St. Louis public TV, KETC. He is working on a new project that combines these two areas and is looking for St. Louis bloggers who might me able to help him. Read the post and see if this is something you might be willing and able to help Robert with. If so, get in touch with him. In any event, his post is a must-read, whether or not you are in St. Louis. It will also be interesting to see if and how blogging and the Internet can be used to collaborate on these kinds of projects. Please help put out the word.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
Now Available! The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Join the book’s Facebook Group here.
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Legal Ethics, Blogs, Facebook, and Other Subjects at the Missouri Solo and Small Firm Conference

How do lawyers moving into the world of blogging, social networking and Web 2.0 applications comply with ethical rules? How do you manage an increasingly complex Internet presence professionally and ethically under rules written for much simpler times?
Sara Rittman, Missouri’s Legal Ethics Counsel, and I will discuss these and other related questions in our session called “Ethical Tips on Creating an Internet Presence: Websites, Blogs, Facebook and More” at the Missouri Bar’s 13th annual Solo and Small Firm Conference.
I’ve been upping my social networking efforts in preparation for this session.
If you want to follow me on Twitter, you can see my Twitter tweets here. I’ll try to post to Twitter during the conference, despite my woeful record as a liveblogger.
I’ve also created a Facebook group for the conference that I’ll show in my presentation. A special thank you to some of my blogger pals for helping me “seed” that group.
You can also add me as a connection on LinkedIn or join groups for the book “The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies” on both LinkedIn and Facebook.
For a few thoughts of mine on legal ethics and lawyers using video, see my video on the topic on YouTube.
I’m also doing two presentations with Ross Kodner, which will be lots of fun. We’re presenting on e-discovery basics and, in what should be a great session, doing an unscripted “Tech Talk” Q & A session in which we’ll try to answer whatever questions our audience throws at us.
I’ll also moderate what promises to be an excellent “60 tips” session with Ross, Ellen Freedman and Nerino Petro.
I’m looking forward to all the sessions and hope to meet some of my readers there. Perhaps there will be some livebloggers there. (Speaking of liveblogging, a special tip of the hat to liveblogger extraordinaire Doug Cornelius for covering a very interesting Enterprise 2.0 conference today).
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
Now Available! The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Join the book’s Facebook Group here.
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