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 the ‘Articles’ Category

Saving Face: A Simple Facebook Privacy and Security Primer

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

My latest technology column for the ABA Journal is out. It’s called “Saving Face: 5 tips to better security on Facebook .”
For a while, I’ve been concerned about the cavalier approach that many people, especially lawyers, have taken to privacy and security on Facebook. As Facebook approaches 400 million users, there’s little question that most of us need to address these concerns. As Facebook and other social media platforms continue to make changes to their privacy approaches and default settings, security and privacy has moved out of the realm of “set and forget” to something that you need to revisit on a regular basis.
I’ve wanted to write something simple and basic about how to understand and deal with these issues – or at least to make a good start – and point people in the right direction.
This column was my opportunity to do that. I’ve been gratified by the requests for reprints and the numerous comments to the article already. I recommend reading the comments because there some good insights and tips in the comments.
I went for a simple five-step approach. Not too many and just enough to make it easy to get started and make a difference,
The five steps:

1. Use a strong password and change it on a regular basis.
2. Review and make appropriate changes to your privacy settings.
3. Be discriminating in your use of Facebook apps.
4. Take control of what others can put on your page.
5. Consider using “friend lists.”

To make myself clear: This is serious stuff and you had better pay attention to what’s going on and what the implications are when you venture into the world of social media. A few basic steps will make a world of difference.
The money quote:

And I cannot stress too much the need to always use good judgment when using social media.

For more detailed advice and instructions, I like Leah Pearlman’s and Carolyn Abram’s Facebook For Dummies® (updated in November 2009) – an inexpensive way to protect yourself against embarrassment at the least and real serious damage at the worst.
Tom Mighell and I also talk about this and related topics in our new podcast, “Social Media Common Sense.”
Check out my new column. Let’s all be more careful out there.
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[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
Listen to The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast on the Legal Talk Network. Twitter: @tkmreport
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My Latest ABA Journal Technology Column Introduces the Mobile Platform

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

My latest technology column for the ABA Journal is out. It’s called “Going Mobile: Your future work platform is on the phone ” and it takes a practical look at what is starting to seem like a smartphone revolution.
My goal in this column was to provide a simple introduction and primer to what Tom Mighell and I have been calling the “mobile platform” on our podcast. We are moving to a world where smartphones are commonplace, where smartphones run applications and give us anywhere, anytime Internet access, and, as a result, the everyday world of technology use seems to be moving us to working on our smartphones.
In the column, I offer a gentle introduction to world of iPhone and other mobile apps, the implications of anytime, anywhere access, and how expectations are changing and will continue to change. The idea is that you need to start looking at your smartphone to do more than handle email and make calls.
I highlight three key developments:

1. New expectations of availability.
2. Moving from synchronization to realtime access.
3. The “apps” phenomenon -using a smartphone to perform computer-like functions.

I end with four simple and gentle suggestions to get started on the mobile platform. None of this will be big news for heavy smartphone users, but it’s meant to be a primary for the many lawyers who are upgrading or moving for the first time to smartphones rather than standard cellphones. On the other hand, it might give you an outline for making the argument why you need a new-generation smartphone – iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Palm or other platform. I do hope you’ll like the column more than the first commenter, who seemed to be a little underwhelmed.
The money quote:

Mobile is an area of technology where you don’t realize that you have a need until you understand what’s out there. Even a simple application for timekeeping can have great benefit if it helps you contemporaneously track time that you might otherwise forget.

Check out my new column. I also recommend a podcast on the mobile platform that Tom Mighell and I recorded a few months ago.
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[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
Listen to The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast on the Legal Talk Network. Twitter: @tkmreport
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Windows 7 for the Legal Profession – My New ABA Journal Tech Column

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

My latest technology column for the ABA Journal is out. It’s called “Lucky No. 7?” and it takes a practical look about how to think about moving to Windows 7. Or not.
I leave the work of writing an actual software review of Windows 7 to others. I’m more interested in helping people get prepared and make a good decision about what they will want to do.
One of the most interesting developments in legal technology over the past few years is the way law firms decided to stay with Windows XP and not upgrade to Windows Vista. Even though Vista was Microsoft’s most controversial operating system release, the refusal of most lawyers to move away from Windows XP has left them in the interesting positon of considering leap-frogging Windows Vista and moving directly to Windows 7. As the column points out, this “skip” upgrade is the most difficult one to make.
In the column, I outline my approach to moving to new operating systems. In a nutshell, I don’t like to upgrade the OS of computers I use on a regular basis – I definitely prefer to move to a new OS by buying a new computer with it pre-loaded. There are lots of good reasons for that, and that’s my best advice for moving to Windows 7.
I offer in the column some useful resources, tips and suggestions. My conclusion is that, probably sooner than later, you’ll be moving to WIndows 7, which really does seem to be having a smooth rollout, if you stay in the Windows world. This is especially true if you are in the market for a new computer.
The money quote:

My perspective on operating systems is that they are simply platforms for running what I really care about—applications. The more transparent and unobtrusive the operating system is, the better I like it. And Microsoft seems to have succeeded in making Windows a more transparent operating system than ever before.
Also, the release of Windows 7 has raised the question of whether we are seeing the last major desktop operating system release. As people use the Internet for more applications, as in “software as a service” or cloud computing, the browser becomes the most important software on a computer. And browsers run on any operating system. Meanwhile, smartphones have also become an important computing platform.

I actually wrote the column a few months ago, and I’m pleased that events since I wrote the article have more or less confirmed what I wrote at the time. I was a little nervous about that.
If you are thiniking about Windows 7 for yourself or your firm, I recommend that you check out my new column as a starting point. I can also recommend a podcast on WIndows 7 that Tom Mighell and I recorded a few months ago.
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REMEMBER: It’s “By Request December” at DennisKennedy.Blog. I’ll be answering reader questions all month about legal technology, blogging, social media or whatever topics interest you. Send me your questions. I’ll be starting to answer them 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
Listen to The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast on the Legal Talk Network. Twitter: @tkmreport
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Creating a Mobile-ready Version of Your Website or Blog

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

My latest technology column for the ABA Journal is out. It’s called “Mobilization” and it focuses on whether and how you should create a “mobile-ready” version of your website or blog.
The premise of the column is that, increasingly, people are using browsers on their mobile phones to access websites and blogs. Unfortunately, most websites and blogs are not optimized for mobile phones (think small screens) and often contain design elements and features that do not translate well to the mobile phone screen. Even if you have few visitors using mobile phones to access your pages today, that number will be increasing.
The question becomes: do you really want to provide those mobile viewers with a bad (even unreadable) experience? Is it possible to optimize your website or blog for mobile phones and/or to create alternate versions of pages for mobile phone users?
The column provides you with an overview of a couple of routes you can take and shows how quickly and easily you can create a mobile-ready version of your blog or webpage. As an example, I created this mobile version of my blog in literally a few minutes using a free Mofuse service for blogs.
Have you tried viewing your webiste or blog via a mobile browser? It might be a good idea to try it and check out the column for an overview of the options you have to cater to the new mobile audience.
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REMEMBER: It’s “By Request December” at DennisKennedy.Blog. I’ll be answering reader questions all month about legal technology, blogging, social media or whatever topics interest you. Send me your questions. I’ll be starting to answer them 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
Listen to The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast on the Legal Talk Network. Twitter: @tkmreport
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Broadening Search: Is Google Enough?

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

My latest technology column for the ABA Journal is out. It’s called “Broadening Search” and it focuses on shortcomings people are finding with an over-reliance on Google search and covers some alternatives to Google for certain types of searching.
As I like to say, “The next generation of search is arriving, if you know where to find it.”
In the column, I recommend that you assemble a toolbox of search tools and then choose the best tool for the job at hand.
I introduce you to tools you might want to learn more about: from Bing to Twitter Search to specialized search tools to Rollyo to Dogpile to Mahalo to Sensebot. I wanted to sketch out how broad the search landscape really is.
As I say in the article, “I worry, as should you, that a total reliance on Google will give you a limited or distorted view of the Web. You want to choose the best tools for the job at hand. It’s a new generation. Try out a few new search tools today and compare the results.”
The details about the tipsse tools are in the article, of course, which you should now check out here.
[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
Listen to The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast on the Legal Talk Network.
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Fighting Flabby Files – Reducing the Size of Files You Send

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

My latest technology column for the ABA Journal is out. It’s called “Fighting Flabby Files” and it focuses on the growing (pun intended) problem of people sending large files as email attachments.
I show how some low-cost and free alternatives can alleviate daily hassles large files can cause.
With corporate inbox caps, ISP limits and more people receiving email on mobile devices, large attachments can result in difficulties for your recipients.
I focus on two simple approaches – reducing the size of the files you send and sending large files outside the email system.
The article includes some tips on shrink large files, especially PDF files. Effective use of PDFs can really help address the large attachment problem.
I also point out some free file transfer sites that allow you to upload your file, send an email that contains a link to the file, and let your recipient download the file from the Internet with almost no burden on the email system.
Simple tips, simple approaches and great results that will reduce your email burdens.
As I say in the article, “It’s a great example of small, simple technology improvements that have a big impact on the daily practice of law.”
The details about the tips are in the article, of course, which you should now check out here.
[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
Listen to The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast on the Legal Talk Network.
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Working in the Cloud – Lawyers and SaaS

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

My latest technology column for the ABA Journal is out. It’s called “Working in the Cloud” and it focuses on the area now known as Software as a Service (SaaS) or hosted services or cloud computing. In fact, it’s my effort to make the concept of cloud computing accessible and understandable to the average lawyer. It’s probably well-known than I’ve long been a fan of the SaaS approach, but this column is intended to provide a balanced discussion of the concept.
After sketching out some history, I cover the general benefits and concerns about the SaaS approach and give some suggested tips when considering this approach:
1. Ask “compared to what?”
2. Do your due dil­igence.
3. Know your SLAs.
4. Deal with confidentiality.
5. Plan for transition,
6. Start small.

The details about the tips are in the article, of course, which you should now check out here.
[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
Listen to The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast on the Legal Talk Network.
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A Crowdsourcing Experiment: Help Me with Topics for Upcoming ABA Journal Columns

Monday, July 20th, 2009

I find it much easier to write columns than it is to come up with topics for columns. My usual trick is to brainstorm a bunch of topics and then put together a calendar of topics for several months in advance.
It’s that time again for my technology column in the ABA Journal (latest column here).
However, this time I’d like to try an experiment in “crowdsourcing.”
I’m inviting you, as a reader of this blog post, to join in an experiment in helping me put together a list of future topics.
The idea of the column is to cover technology topics of general interest to the practicing lawyer. Topics should not be too specific or too tied to a single product. I don’t write reviews.
Here’s an example. The last column I wrote (which is not yet published) talks about ways lawyers can avoid sending huge attachments by email. More than likely, my next column will be a look at “next-generation search” and alternatives lawyers might consider to Google.
If you’d like to participate (and part of this experiment is simply to see if anyone will), you can do so in several different ways:
1. Post a comment to this post with your suggested topic(s).
2. Email your suggested topic(s) to me at denniskennedyblog @ gmail . com.
3. Tweet your suggested topic on Twitter and include either @dkennedyblog or @denniskennedy in the text of the tweet.
Thanks for your help.
I also have another “crowdsourcing” opportunity. Tom Mighell and I have a segment in our podcast, The Kennedy-Mighell Report on the Legal Talk Network, in which we answer questions about legal technology submitted by our audience, You can also use the methods above to send me questions that we might use in that segment of future episodes.
[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
Listen to The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast on the Legal Talk Network.
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“Lean Legal Technology” – Making Lemons out of Lemonade

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Let me add my “me too” to the many accolades for the new issue of the Law Practice Today webzine with its focus on tips for “suddenly solo” lawyers. “Suddenly solo” is a phrase that refers to lawyers (increasingly these days long-time law firm partners) who find, often with little warning, that their law firm no longer needs or wants their services. In today’s economy, these lawyers frequently find that rather than moving to another law firm and a comparable position, their only option is to start up their own solo practice.
The issue has many useful articles and I expect it to receive many pointers as the “go to” resource on the topic.
The article includes a new article from me called “Lemons, Lemonade and Lean Legal Technology – A Shoestring Approach to Legal Technology for the Suddenly Solo Lawyer.” My friend Wendy Werner, who is doing a great job as editor-in-chief of Law Practice Today, called me one day and ignored my protests that I had no time to write an article for this issue and planted the seed for a topic that intrigued me.
The idea behind the article is to try to scope out how little a lawyers who finds himself or herself suddenly solo might actually need (as opposed to want) in order to get a new practice off the ground.
I offer a list of twelve steps to consider:
1. Take a Deep Breath. Really.
2. Take an Inventory of What You Already Have.
3. Go on a Treasure Hunt.
4. Identify Your Software.
5. Take a Hard Look at What You Really Need to Do Your Work and Manage Your Practice.
6. Match What You Have to What You Need.
7. Make Lemonade Out of Lemons.
8. Free is Good, Especially for Software.
9. Turning Technology into a Utility Cost.
10. Find Internet Bargains.
11. Develop Your Internet Presence.
12. Think About Technology Selection as a Process.
Interestingly, when I thought of using the term “lean legal technology,” I did a quick search on Google to see how the term might have been used before. Apparently, it hadn’t been used before, at least accrding to Google, so maybe I coined a term as part of the article.
Anyway, the articles represents a fresh approach to some of these legal tech topics and I hope the article is helpful to some lawyers trying to make it through a tough period.
Read the article and let me know what you think.
[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
Listen to The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast on the Legal Talk Network
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Using Technology Audits to Save Money in Law Firms

Monday, July 13th, 2009

My latest technology column for the ABA Journal is out. It’s called “Countdown to Savings” and it focuses on ways that law firms can use technology audits, from the simple to the complex, to get information that they can use to make good business decisions about technology.
The idea is that too often law firms make guesses about technology needs, Even a simple counting can give you a numerical / factual basis for making better technology decisions. As I commonly do, I wanted to focus on the business side of legal tech more so than on the purely technical side.
My sense for the value of tech audits stems in no small part from my own experience one day at a former law firm. Our one-person IT department left without warning and I spent the day with a consultant brought in on an emergency basis struggling to answer basic questions like: how many PCs on your network? what version of the network software do you use? how many users do you have?
It’s a lot easier when you have the numbers upon which to base your decisions. Here are two examples.
First, note how your decision-making changes when asked to approve a purchase of a new scanner when you know that you have two aging scanners versus learning that you have six of them scattered around your office. Your decision might move from whether to purchase to whether to move locations and better deploy to match workflow.
Second, note how your decision on who gets to use a software program for which you have 50 licenses changes when you know that you have 24 users as compared to 48 users.
I like the way tech audits can be used to gather “actionable intelligence” to help you make real-world decisions. The column sets out the wide range of technology audits you can use – from the simplest (running a free tool to find out the hardware and software on your computer or walking around and counting PCs) to the most complex (sophisticated network audits or security audits run by outside experts).
The decisions that I think tech audits can really help you make are those that save you money. And that’s a good thing these days.
The response to this column surprised me. I had a larger than usual number of emails, all quite positive. Yet, if you visit the article (and I hope you will), you’ll see a couple of quite negative comments.
I note these comments because they surprised me. In fact, I had to re-read the article (in part because I actually wrote it several months ago and my columns usually get edited for space reasons) after I read the comments. Substantively, I have no problem with the comments although I do think they take me to task for a postion I did not and would not take – they emphasize that there are definitely audits that lawyers will want either their IT department or outside technology consultants to run. I think my article actually makes that point, but the comments provide some good emphasis. No, what surprised me was the condescending tone of the comments, from people apparently so new to the legal profession. I know that I still have a lot to learn, so it’s interesting to see the level of confidence the commenters already have and the tone and attitude they are willing to take at this point in their careers. I’ll let you be the judge. I’ll probably write a response to the comments at some point.
The comments seem to take the position that lawyers should never do anykind of tech audit and that all audits be left to tech professionals. I’m not sure that I can agree that it makes sense for a small firm to hire an outside expert to count the number of scanners it has or do other simple counts. Perhaps I used the word “audit” too imprecisely, but I think there are many ways we all can obtain the types of actionable numbers we need to make business decisions about technology.
Check out the column and see what you think.
[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
Listen to The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast on the Legal Talk Network.
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