Technology Choices for Newly Solo Lawyers

The ABA Journal has just posted my latest legal technology column. It’s called “Going Solo on a Budget,” and it’s part 1 of a two-part series on technology for new solos and small firms.
The legal profession is not exempt from the current economic turmoil. I wrote the introduction to this column before the last big wave of layoffs, so it feels even more true now than when I originally wrote it: “Given the current economy, odds are there will be many more lawyers in solo practice at the end of 2009 than at the beginning. Change might come about by choice or by circumstance—the “suddenly solo” phenomenon—as news stories are illustrating all too well.”
In the column, I focus on how a new solo, especially one who is transitioning from a large firm, needs to think about technology and set priorities. I wanted to focus on the questions to ask.
I highlight three key questions:

First, what is your practice area?
Second, what is your expected volume of clients, work and documents?
Third, what is your budget?

Over the years, I’ve become convinced that “volume,” meaning number, amount and the like, really does drive technology choices. Think about it.
Although I would refer people to resources like Carolyn Elefant’s great MyShingle.com, and The 2009 Solo and Small Firm Technology Guide (by Sharon Nelson, John Simek and Michael Maschke), and, of course, Ross Kodner’s writing on solo and small firm technology when making specific technology choices, I tried to give some general technology recommendations in the article.
I also suggest that adopting a client-focused strategy when making technology choices is a solid approach for new solos.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by getting quite a few positive emails already in response to the column. It seems like it touched a nerve, especially as more lawyers face layoffs, layoff rumors, firm closings and other uncertainties.
Take a look at the column and let me know what you think about it. If you plan to attend ABA TECHSHOW next week, maybe we’ll get the chance to talk about the article or other technology issues. I’ll also note that Tom Mighell and I are hosting one of the “Taste of TECHSHOW” dinner events on April 3, which will give you a chance to talk with Tom and me about collaboration tools and other technology topics in an informal setting.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog; Follow me – @denniskennedy
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. Twitter: @collabtools
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Recent Microblog Posts – March 26, 2009

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 to give you a flavor of what expect:

Rob Patterson asks what will happen when your newspaper and TV station die? – http://bit.ly/RrzJ7 – Great St. Louis examples
Dave Pollard on how to save the world by asking the right questions – http://bit.ly/njGLy – What’s holding you back? [Really looking forward to seeing Susskind’s keynote presentation at ABA TECHSHOW 2009 next week. See you there?]
Carolyn Elefant reviews Richard Susskind’s great new book from the solo perspective – http://bit.ly/wfAs – great comments to the post
How do you know if you should be a lawyer? @allisonshields has written post that I recommend as a starting point. http://bit.ly/aD3tk
My latest ABA Journal column is now out and it’s about making technology decisions when starting a new solo practice – http://bit.ly/l79uj
Nancy White on stewarding technology for community – http://bit.ly/1XPOMY #collaboration
Ken Adams and Harry Angel on Contract Lifecycle Management and Symfact – http://bit.ly/15LFRv – I wrote about CLM at http://bit.ly/1yejz1
Via Brett & Kate McKay – The Unclassified Laws of Etiquette – http://bit.ly/IpvyK [E.g., "Never make yourself the hero of your own story."]
Lisa Haneberg on the “new business acumen” – http://bit.ly/23qhdO
Ron Friedman asks “Can lawyers continue to be late adopters?” http://bit.ly/6Li0C – What if the market really has changed?

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog; Follow me – @denniskennedy
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. Twitter: @collabtools
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Recent Microblog Posts – March 17, 2009

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 to give you a flavor of what expect:

Dave Pollard on places to intervene in systems – http://bit.ly/74eOa – effectively bring about change in organizations, groups and projects
Will @denniskennedy be at #Lexthink Innovate? You betcha. I’ll be there on Sunday, March 29. Can’t wait. Hope to see some of you there.
Dave Pollard on an information diet – “less overall, more slowly and carefully selected and ingested.” http://bit.ly/lQKVh
Dare Obasanjo on social software and feeds replacing email – http://bit.ly/g9Jf6 – I plan to touch on this topic in my #techshow sessions
Bas de Baar’s free e-book, Project Shrink Linear Edition: project management, OODA loops, resilience and more – http://bit.ly/ijF8e
Niall Kennedy’s “anatomy of cloud computing” post provides a good intro and overview of an important concept – http://bit.ly/Uufie
Reading Chris Brogan’s list of 27 things to do before a conference will help you get ready for #techshow – http://bit.ly/hIwPF
Mary Mack’s new post “Please forward to the newly laid off” is timely, wise and generous, and a treasure trove of tips – http://bit.ly/Bf8E8
A legal tech tool to watch in law department space: Law Department Desktop – http://bit.ly/mvHGk (Hat tip to Forrest Morgan) #collaboration
Finished R. Susskind’s new book, “The End of Lawyers?” – IMHO, Susskind’s keynote presentation alone is reason enough to attend #techshow.
This is not a drill – @jordan_law21 on lawyer layoffs – http://bit.ly/QFUC – “We are totally unprepared for this phenomenon”
Two new #collaboration tips articles (http://bit.ly/5fum and http://bit.ly/3KAMG) preview #techshow presentations from @tommighell and me
Adam Smith, Esq. on “the great de-leveraging” – http://bit.ly/QAZth – a must-read, especially for non-equity partners at big law firms
Leo Babauta on how to write quality posts when you have a day job – http://bit.ly/152rna – very good advice
Mary Abraham on rethinking your routine – http://bit.ly/EUVvK – small decisions with big results

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog; Follow me – @denniskennedy
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. Twitter: @collabtools
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A Little Too Close for My Comfort

Anyone else notice this phenomenon lately? I’m starting to wonder if it’s a symptom of the economic turmoil.
Here’s what I’m talking about:
You are driving on a highway and cars are moving at 60 – 70 miles an hour. Then you see one of two similar things happen:
1. A car comes up behind another and begins to follow at a distance of one or two car lengths.
2. A car changes lanes roughly one or two car lengths in front of the car in the other lane.
Often this occurs with no other traffic around.
When it occurs to you, it’s scary.
I see this every day, it seems. For example, tonight someone cut over into my lane with what I would gauge was one car-length to spare (at 60 miles an hour).
Is this phenomenon a response to economic stress? Do people think the laws of physics no longer apply to braking distances? Is this just a St. Louis phenomenon? I’m curious. And I’m not the only one who has commented on this lately.
This is also something different that tailgating out of road rage (I saw an incident of that recently and that’s really scary to see). People appear to think that they are driving normally.
I welcome your thoughts.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog; Follow me – @denniskennedy
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. Twitter: @collabtools
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Recent Microblog Posts – March 4, 2009

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 to give you a flavor of what expect:

Erin Doland on making time for organizing your work and office and the unexpected benefits – http://bit.ly/cKnXi
Megan McArdle has some inspiration if you are laboring over an appropriate disclosure statement for your blog – http://bit.ly/aYmrI
From Adam Pash / Dan Koeppel: use a “tangents log” to get more done – http://bit.ly/ysxI8 – might as well do something with those tangents
RT @kevinokeefe: Beer for Bloggers at #techshow in Chicago looks to be on for Friday April 3. Bar tab picked up by ABA Journal & LexBlog
Joe Hill’s series on innovation models – http://bit.ly/Hv53o
Stuart Henshall on Bruce Sterling on the cloud and the Transition Web – http://bit.ly/8zfi8 – “There’s gonna be a Transition Web.” [Note: This strikes me as a very important idea.]
Reading Richard Susskind’s new book – “The End of Lawyers?” [Note: Expect a very positive review soon.]

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog; Follow me – @denniskennedy
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. Twitter: @collabtools
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