Law Practice in a Time of Great Economic Turmoil – Roundtable Discussion

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The graphic above is a tag cloud from Wordle that I generated from the article, What Should You Do Now? A Roundtable Discussion on Law Practice in a Time of Great Economic Turmoil, which is just one part of an excellent new issue of the ABA’s Law Practice Today webzine that you should run, not walk, over to see. Your time spent there will be well-rewarded.
The roundtable article arose from an idea I had to put together a roundtable discussion of some of the most interesting thinkers (and doers) on law practice management issues about the most top-of-mind topic of the day – what should lawyers and law firms (and the profession in general) be doing in this tough economic times?
I wanted to pull together some practical answers to some of the most basic questions that everyone I knew was either grappling with or trying to pretend didn’t exist. The latter is more common, while the former is more recommended.
My practical problem was pulling together a group of experts in the face of a very tight deadline. Fortunately, I found a group of eight who were as generous with their time as they were with their expertise and insights.
Frankly, it’s a stellar cast: Tom Collins (formerly of the Fabulous More Partner Income blog, who I coaxed out of his novel-writing retirement), Jordan Furlong, Patrick Lamb, Bruce “Adam Smith, Esq.” MacEwen, Patrick McKenna, Edward Poll, Allison C. Shields and Merrilyn Astin Tarlton.
And this stellar cast delivers well beyond my high expectations of them. I play the role of moderator and tried to ask the questions that seem to be on most lawyers’ minds.
Here’s a summary of the piece:

The economic turmoil rumbling through the land has lawyers facing layoffs, uncertainty and flat-out fear. In this roundtable discussion, our panel of law practice management experts share their expertise, wisdom and practical tips about what you need to do right now.

There are six parts to the conversation:
1. The Nature of the Crisis – Uncharted Territory.
2. Tell-tale Signs – When Do You Need to Act?
3. Taking a Prudent Approach – Setting the Right Priorities.
4. What Steps Do Make Sense? Some Practical Advice.
5. Predicting the Future.
6. Best Practical Tips.

There are many, many “money quotes” from this article, but let me give you this one from Merrilyn Astin Tarlton:

Convene a meeting of your firm’s decision-makers tomorrow. Agree together to cease hand wringing and start planning. Don’t leave the room until you have a short list of things that must be done and the names of the people who will do them – plus a deadline. Hold each other accountable. Switch from saying “What are we going to do?” to “Here’s what we’re going to do!”

As we say in the article, panic is not a strategy.
I’m proud of this article and highly encourage you to go over to the article and read it from beginning to end. Even better, work your way through the same questions I asked the experts and come up with your own answers to both those questions and the fantastic list of hard questions that Patrick McKenna provides as part of the article.
I put the graphic of the tag cloud at the top of this post for three reasons. First, I’m really intrigued by the visual summary of the article that the tag cloud provides (note that the importance of the word “clients”). Second, the graphic was left off the end of the article, making my last comments in the article quite confusing (at least until it’s fixed). Third, to prove that I actually do know the difference between tag clouds and cloud tags, even though I have a tendency to type “cloud tags” (and I hope to get that corrected in the article as well).
Highly, highly recommended. And just one more example of why I love roundtable articles.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Now Available! The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Visit the companion website for the book at LawyersGuidetoCollaboration.com.
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Recent Microblog Posts – November 20, 2008

DennisKennedy.Microblog is a supplement to this blog that can be found on Twitter at @dkennedyblog. I invite you to become a follower. An explanation of the microblog can be found here.
Here are posts from the microblog for the last week or so:

What Should You Do Now? A Roundtable Discussion on Law Practice in a Time of Great Economic Turmoil – http://bit.ly/9hy0
James Jones discusses Hildebrandt’s client advisory on these dark economic times for law firms in a must-listen podcast – http://bit.ly/MFgA
Ernie the Attorney discusses recent decision on lawyers producing printed emails in discovery – http://bit.ly/uuG4 Earth to litigators . . .
Lifehacker has a great tutorial on freeing up memory using Windows Task Manager – http://bit.ly/2MfW – very useful tips
One Laptop Per Child “Give 1 Get 1″ program now available on Amazon – http://bit.ly/10iKF
Joel Garreau on what to do with big box stores in what might become the post-mall period – http://bit.ly/11QCJ and http://bit.ly/pMQG
Alan Weiss shares some of his Million Dollar Consulting College notes – http://bit.ly/8I6Y – plenty there to make you think.
This picture of 22 boxes of printed emails suggests that the era of electronic discovery might still be a ways off – http://bit.ly/147xp
Lifehacker has great tips on speeding up the startup process on your PC – http://bit.ly/kue9

Let me know what you think about the microblog idea.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Now Available! The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Visit the companion website for the book at LawyersGuidetoCollaboration.com.
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Recent Microblog Posts – November 13, 2008

DennisKennedy.Microblog is a supplement to this blog that can be found on Twitter at @dkennedyblog. I invite you to become a follower (recently went over the 100 follower mark). An explanation of the microblog can be found here.
Here are posts from the microblog for the last week or so:

Greg Lambert checks out a new semantic search engine called Cluuz – http://bit.ly/D8Hf – mixed results for my taste, but interesting
Taking a writing break after finishing a column on tech audits and a roundtable article on law practice in a time of economic turmoil.
Bert Decker on my favorite rule – the Rule of Threes – http://bit.ly/EiSB
JP Rangaswami writes about “Faster horses in the age of co-creation” – http://bit.ly/3NHN – lessons for lawyers who want to keep business.
Paul Lippe interviews Richard Suskind on the end of lawyers & future of law practice – http://bit.ly/ZO2e – see Patrick McKenna comment too
Rajesh Jain sums up Web 2.0 Summit – http://bit.ly/sX8r – take special note of “web 2.0 for verticals” and “big bets” sections of post.
Thought-provoking – Jordan Furlong on social proof, law practice management and getting the opposite of what you want – http://bit.ly/kSy7

Let me know what you think about the microblog idea.
A special happy birthday greeting to my brother-in-law and photographer extraordinaire, Dan Donovan, pictured here as we compared notes on the iPhone and iPod Touch at a family get-together back when the weather was warmer than it is now.
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[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Now Available! The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Visit the companion website for the book at LawyersGuidetoCollaboration.com.
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Recent Microblog Posts – November 6, 2008

DennisKennedy.Microblog is a supplement to this blog that can be found on Twitter at @dkennedyblog. I invite you to become a follower. An explanation of the microblog can be found here.
Here are posts from the microblog for the last week or so:

What is the potential of Obama’s campaign network in running the government and the country? Rob Paterson on Change.govhttp://bit.ly/WIQA
@matthomann‘s 10 Rules of Legal Technology – http://bit.ly/39syy – a great list, but I still have to talk Matt out of his keyboard obsession
Check out the potential of Twitter on election day at Twitter’s election page http://bit.ly/4fXCzH and search page http://search.twitter.com
Cloud computing and The Big Switch – http://bit.ly/4lpCQw – I like Thierer’s notion of “pragmatic optimism” on this key trend.
Ed Poll and Adobe’s Rick Borstein cover what’s new (and cool) in Acrobat 9, with a legal focus – http://bit.ly/2wS5Y4 – highly recommended
Just finished Charles Morris’s The Trillion Dollar Meltdown. I expect the roller coaster ride will continue for a while.
Can lawyers and instant messaging be a happy combination? My latest ABA Journal column offers a a quick IM primer – http://bit.ly/hCMCG
The Hildebrandt Client Advisory attracting so much attention – http://bit.ly/49uYg9 – law practice in tough times. Whatcha gonna do?
Ron Baker on the future of the firm: Profitability = Intellectual Capital x Effectiveness x Price – http://bit.ly/3soY3s

Let me know what you think about the microblog idea.
Also, Tom and I have started to do some regular posting at the Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration blog. I invite you to check it out and add it to your RSS reader.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Now Available! The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Visit the companion website for the book at LawyersGuidetoCollaboration.com.
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Make Time to Vote – 2008

Two things I’m sure of as election day approaches.
The first is that I wish Missouri had early voting.
I’m planning, instead, to use the less desirable Missouri “early morning” voting alternative and to post on Twitter (@denniskennedy) with my observations from the polling place.
The second thing is that I don’t understand why anyone would sit this election out. One pf my favorite authors, William Gibson, has the money quote on participating in this election, whatever your choices might be:

Don’t be a part of that part of the electorate that, for whatever reason, intends to vote, but doesn’t. Whichever way this election goes, you will not want to journey into your personal future, the future of the United States, or the future of the world, without having cast your vote in this election. If I know anything about the future, I know that. Either way, you will not want to have not been a cog, however microscopic, however essential, in this magnificent and beautifully-intentioned mechanism. If you’ve already taken advantage of early voting (of which I am a huge fan) and have the time to do so, please help as many others as you can to vote. Whatever the outcome, you will always count yourself a better person for having done so. (emphasis added)

Count yourself a better person and be counted.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Now Available! The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Visit the companion website for the book at LawyersGuidetoCollaboration.com.
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