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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 the ‘Client Driven Technologies’ Category

Looking Back at (and Looking Forward from) ABA TECHSHOW 2009

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Episode 2 of The Kennedy-Mighell Report Podcast is now available at its new home on the Legal Talk Network. In this episode, Tom and I talk with our guest co-host, Adrian Linares, about our take-aways from the recent ABA TECHSHOW 2009.
As I mention in the podcast, TECHSHOW reminded me of one of the recurring themes in my work – that legal technology (and information technology in general) is always more about people than it is about the technology. I recommend that you give the podcast a listen to hear our reactions to TECHSHOW and about some of the social aspects of legal technology today. Note also that we are looking for audience questions to answer in future podcasts.
I’ve been meaning to write a wrap-up post on my TECHSHOW experience, and this seems like a good place to do that.
As I first made my way to the TECHSHOW floor, I immediately saw Tom Mighell and Adriana Linares at the Conference Concierge booth and I felt like everything was in the right place in the legal tech world. From there, it was on the Twitter session and the three-day whirlwind that my TECHSHOW visits have become. I think that I did a good job of trying to visit with everyone I could, but if I missed you, it wasn’t for lack of trying, just a shortage of time.
My one disappointment at TECHSHOW was not getting much time on the exhibit floor to visit with vendors. I had a great conversation with Rick Borstein of Adobe about some ways to use Acrobat 9 (think portfolios and RSS feeds) and have some great suggestions to try. Otherwise, I got the chance to visit with my RocketMatter pals, Larry and Ariel, JD Supra, TotalAttorneys, Clio and Thompson West. I learned some interesting things, some potentially practice-changing, but didn’t get a strong sense of where the vendors are at today. As others have mentioned, electronic discovery is definitely a big item these days on the vendor floor.
As I was lamenting the lack of exhibit hall time I had on Friday afternoon (as the exhibit hall neared closing time), I ran into my friend, Andrew Sandler, at LegalQB, who was busy at work shooting videos of vendors and creating a virtual exhibit hall. You could go to the LegalQB site and mouse over vendors on the floor map and get info and see videos of vendor reps answering basic questions about products and services. The idea is that, at your own pace and without being bothered by sales pitches, you can learn about a vendor and come to the booths that interest you armed with basic knowledge and knowing what questions you have. Cool idea. Even cooler, LegalQB plans to make that info always available outside the conference setting. Andrew shot some video of Tom and me talking about our book and podcast that will be up on the LegalQB site. Give LegalQB a look.
I really enjoyed the three presentations I gave, two with Tom Mighell on topics related to our book, The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies, and one with Joel Alleyne, who was excellent to work with as a co-presenter, on a “client-focused” approach to collaboration. I’ve put up stripped-down black-and-white versions of slides from two of the presentations on SlideShare (here and here) as an example of how you can use this online tool to share presentation slides. There was a fair amount of twittering during the sessions and legal blogger extraordinaire Allison Shields has a nice summary of one of the sessions.
Tom and I did a roundtable session on collaboration tools, where we experimented with some “unconference” techniques. After introductions, we found that two of the attendees were actually on opposite sides of some matters. We took the opportunity to break into groups and discussed what, to me, is the hardest, but very common, collaboration situation – collaborating with people on opposite sides. While I’d characterize the success of the experiment as mixed, the planned 5 to minute discussion went much longer and people had some good ideas. I learned a lot. Then we discussed some questions about confidentiality and encryption, Google Docs, SharePoint and some other specific tools.
As a presenter, doing three presentations in a row reminded on the need to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, and to protect your voice, especially on the night before. I was a little lacking in both departments, but left with my voice pretty much intact.
We gave away copies of our book – meaning the book and the new 2009 update on CD – at each of my sessions. After very limited success with the “trivia question” approach last year, Tom and I have done the book giveaways by finding the person in the audience who is newest to the legal business. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well this approach works (it always narrows down to one; trivia questions often draw many simultaneous hand-raisers). The rest of the audience stays interested and there is a good feeling in the room for the winner. Several people came up to me after sessions to say how much they liked this approach.
We heard from several sources that collaboration was a hot topic and that our book sold well. That’s always good to hear. As I mentioned, there’s a new CD update for 2009, with a new chapter of tips, new developments, forms, audio and more. We also took advantage of the opportunity to lobby our ABA publishers to release the book as a Kindle experiment. I’m not sure that we made much progress, but let Tom or me know if you would be interested in a Kindle version of the book and we’ll keep pushing our publisher.
The Sessions. For many years, my friends have discouraged me from attending their sessions, saying “you already know this.” That’s not really true, but I know what they mean. I’ve noticed that I attend fewer sessions at conferences, in part because the best learning really does happen in the hallways and lobbies outside the sessions. I also have a unique position where I can talk to many of the speakers outside the sessions, especially at TECHSHOW where many of the speakers are friends, but for any attendee, access to speakers at TECHSHOW is second to none and one of the big plusses of the show.
There were two sessions I attended that I wanted to note. The first was the Twitter session at the start of the conference. While, admittedly, sitting by Jordan Furlong was guaranteed to result in Twitter shenanigans, and it did, it was fascinating to observe the twittering during the session and how the #techshow hashtag moved up to the #3 trending search term on all of Search.twitter.com during the session. While I liked the session, my sense by the end of it was that I’d probably focus more on the whys, hows and so whats of Twitter if I ever presented on the topic.
The other session, which I think was the centerpiece of the conference, was Richard Susskind’s keynote speech. I posted my notes from the session here, so I won’t go into any detail here. A few conclusions – buy the book (The End of Lawyers?), read the book and discuss the book with others. I enjoyed getting a couple of chances to chat briefly with Richard. I compare the book favorably to Tom Friedmann’s “The Earth is Flat” in that pulls together and synthesizes a lot of important ideas that people have been tossing around, systematizes those ideas in highly understandable ways, and provides a single point of entry for those new to the discussion. The presentation was excellent on so many levels and gave me many touchpoints to tie into my presentations the following day.
Probably my favorite part of the move of TECHSHOW to the Chicago Hilton has been the willingness of the TECHSHOW chairs and ABA Law Practice Management Section to open up a suite to attendees to hang out in the evenings. As I mentioned before, the access to speakers is a huge selling point of TECHSHOW.
Anyway, I spent more than a few hours at the suite on the evenings I was there and appreciated the chance to talk to others about technology and other topics. On the first evening, I found myself in a great conversation with Marc Lauritsen, Jordan Furlong and Ariel Jatib in which we were trying to predict what the next wave of lawyers’ use of the Internet would be. If websites were generation one, and blogs were generation two, was Twitter the start of generation three? Maybe. We went well beyond that and the conversation was worth the trip for me. The Twitter length summary of what’s next from our conversation – audio/video (the easy answer), SMS as a platform, and automated decision-making / legal risk management.
Thanks to Adriana Linares, Kevin O’Keefe, Ed Adams (my “boss” for my ABA Journal tech column) and others who organized events like Beer and Blawgers, the great dinner events, and other activities. One of my favorite TECHSHOW moments was at the Beer and Blawger event, where bloggers/twitterers who knew each other by reputation got to meet in person for the first time. It was funny and cool at the same time to hear people shouting, “Oh my God, you’re @legaltypist!” or @econwriter5 or other Twitter handles. It was also fascinating to see the difference in approach of people who brand their names on Twitter (e.g., @denniskennedy, @tommighell, @jimcalloway) as compared to those who use handles.
Tom and I hosted a very nice dinner at Catch 35, a very good seafood restaurant with a very memorable bread pudding dessert, where we talked about Kindles and a bunch of other topics. Thanks to all who signed up for our dinner.
The last day of sessions ended with the speaker luncheon and the passing of the torch from the current board chair, Laura Calloway (fabulous job, Laura!), to the next board chair, Debbie Foster, and the first meeting of the new board. As a former board member, I always enjoy that tradition.
On Saturday afternoon, I had the rare chance to sit down and talk for a couple of hours with my friend and honorary cousin, Dan Pinnington, something we haven’t had the chance to do for a few years. Dan, along with Reid Trautz, has co-written a new book , The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success, which is chockful of law practice management tips (more than 700) and is a must-read. Lots of great info in it and they have a website for it at http://lawyersuccesstips.com.
I made the comment in my presentations that, especially because of the economy, TECHSHOW was a gathering of the right people at the right place at the right time on legal technology. I suspect that the ideas, relationships and energy generated by TECHSHOW 2009 will one day be seen to have played an important role in the evolution of the practice of law toward the ideas some of us loosely call Law 2.0.
Toward that end, I end by pointing to the continuing Twitter conversation that began at TECHSHOW and has keep going at a great pace ever since. It can be found by searching for “#techshow” (or just “techshow”) at Search.twitter.com. You can even join in this conversation by adding the hashtag #techshow to your related tweets. It’s definitely a space to watch.
A big thank you to everyone for making this one of my best TECHSHOWs of the ten or so I’ve attended. As I said, legal technology ultimately is more about people than technology.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Check out the new The Kennedy-Mighell Report Podcast on the Legal Talk Network.
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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Law Department Technology 2007 – Survey Says . . .

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

Anthony Paonita has a good article called “Legal Departments Tell Firms: Get on the Tech Train” about the role law departments are taking in driving technology in law firms. I’ve sometimes referred to this a “client-driven technology.” Definitely an area to watch and the article will give you something to think about. It’s a companion piece to the results from Corporate Counsel’s fourth annual survey of law department technology. There’s also a small quote from me in the article.
Highly recommended.
[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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What is Contract Life Cycle Management and How Does it Fit into Legal Technology and Law 2.0 in 2006?

Monday, January 2nd, 2006

Michael Kraft and Robert Enholm, in their excellent “GC Tech Wish List for 2006,” talk about contract life cycle management (CLCM) in terms of “applying technology to the contract process from letter of intent through negotiation and execution to performance, amendment and contract renewal.” They also say, “The emergence of enterprise resource planning software over the past decade has helped businesses with “workflow” processes, and GCs are exploring how to apply these principles to the activities of corporate law departments.” And CLCM is one good example.
In short, CLCM is about finding ways to look at the contracting process as a business workflow process that can be tuned in ways that benefit businesses rather than as a series of independent, unrelated legal projects.
It’s a difference that, as they say, makes all the difference.
I’ve been thinking, off and on, about CLCM over the past few years, including most recently in some discussions I had involving a large company that wanted to get some control over a very ad hoc approach they had to generating first drafts of standard documents. The business case for CLCM is pretty easy to make.
When I think about contracts (or other legal documents) as part of a process, I invariably think about the potential role of document assembly.
I’m not surprised that Kraft and Enholm move in the same direction in their article. They say, “‘document assembly software’ is coming to be seen as merely one link in the chain of the contract management process. GCs must be alert to opportunities to use this technology to expedite contract management process.”
The “one link in the chain” is the important part of this quote. Too many people I talk to see the goal of document assembly as being to generate finished documents with a “push of the button.” That’s not it at all. My goal is always to generate significant improvements in generating first drafts – versions of documents that are in “good enough” form that you can start immediately to do custom work and tailoring. People who look for the 100% solution from document assembly are inevitably disappointed and forego the benefits that 80%, 60% or even 20% solutions can bring them.
In a way, they remind me of people who see the benefit of electronic discovery only as a way of finding “the smoking gun.” Long-time users of electronic discovery rarely talk about “smoking guns.” Instead, they talk about the benefits of productivity, efficiency, organization, streamlining, telling a better story and focusing on the key issues. In other words, there are substantial benefits that flow from improved processes and procedures.
Document assembly brings with it a set of similar benefits beyond the “push button drafts” that most people concentrate on. They are similar to those you find in electronic discovery. Kraft and Enholm mention these other benefits: “GCs that effectively adopt these tools can conserve legal resources and time — and contribute to the competitiveness of the company.”
I’ve seen the benefits of document assembly coming in not just efficiency, but standardization, quality control, consistency, training, and effective use of learning from previous deals and documents. In fact, I’ve sometime described document assembly software as a tool for applied knowledge management. As you think in terms of CLCM, you will start to see the role that document assembly might play in the process.
Kraft and Enholm go on to say, “‘Contract process software’ is perhaps an apt label for the products that bridge document assembly and contract management.”
In 2005, Cisco’s NDA Central project (demo and white paper accessible from DealBuilder here (free registration required) has deservedly garnered a lot of attention. NDA Central took an undisciplined method of handling simple legal projects and used document assembly as a tool not just to create legal documents, but to manage and improve a business process with positive business results to the company and improved workflow and higher-value work for the legal department and outside counsel.
Again, Kraft and Enholm, “GCs want help from outside counsel to establish processes and protocols, help draft underlying documents and maintain the systems in our ever-changing legal environment.” Here’s the key to CLCM and the new approaches to using technology in the practice of law starting to be known as Law 2.0 – there are clear benefits to both clients and lawyers. Often, it allows the lawyer to do higher-level work, often the type that the client really wishes the lawyer had more time to do.
Kraft and Enholm provide an excellent, brief introduction to an area that could become as significant to transactional corporate lawyers as electronic discovery is to litigation lawyers. The rest of their article is well worth your while to read as well.
What do I think of the interplay of CLCM and document assembly and the potential that it has? Let’s put it this way, if I spent the whole of 2006 working only on these types of projects, 2006 would be a great year indeed. This is one topic you’ll being hearing more about from me in 2006.
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[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
This post brought to you by Dennis Kennedy’s legal technology consulting services, featuring RSS and blogging consulting, technology audit, strategic planning and technology committee coaching packages especially for medium-sized law firms (15 – 100 lawyers) and corporate legal departments.

Outside Counsel / Inside Counsel Partnering Through Technology – Article

Monday, December 19th, 2005

[NOTE: This is another in the series of repostings of my previously-published articles. This article was written in 2002 in connection with a presentation I did on "client-driven technologies." I became quite intrigued with the DuPont Legal Model and other efforts that I thought would change the nature of the practice of law. This article was written from the perspective of law firms. Today, I'd be more likely to take the point of view of the corporate legal department. Most of the same principles still apply today, although perhaps with a bit more urgency.]
Outside Counsel / Inside Counsel Partnering Through Technology Toward the Virtual Law Firm
Fifty-five percent of corporate legal departments considered firing one or more law firms in 2002, down slightly from 62% in 2001. The leading reason, by a significant margin, was “lack of responsiveness.” Add Enron, pressures to cut legal costs on the part of clients, increased rates and demand for billable hours on the part of law firms, and increasing movement of lawyers and law firm mergers to this mix and you get a volatile situation.
Both law firms and corporate legal departments desire stable relationships where work can be done at a high level, responsively and in a way where law firms can be profitable while a corporate legal department can control costs.
There have been a number of significant efforts at “partnering” between corporate legal departments and their core law firms to create these types of stable relationships. The classic example is the famous “DuPont Legal Model” developed by DuPont and its outside law firms beginning in 1992. The DuPont Legal Model grew out DuPont’s attempt to reduce the number of law firms it used (then over 300) to manageable number (currently 35) and, in the process, take advantage of a variety of techniques to improve the delivery of legal services.
The core elements of the DuPont Legal Model are (1) a business focus on DuPont’s legal issues, (2) an ongoing work process reengineering, (3) a commitment to cutting-edge technology, and (4) a shared culture of efficiency and cost control.
All lawyers who have corporate clients would be well advised to meditate upon these four elements.
Among other things, the DuPont Legal Model has resulted in the creation of the DuPont Primary Law Firm Network, an early form of a “virtual law firm,” a collaborative team of law firms and service providers who are willing to and do work together. DuPont believes that the next step beyond simple “partnering” is the collaborative work team and that turning partnering relationships into collaborative work teams offer great value.
Consider this description of a “virtual law firm” (http://www.dupontlegalmodel.com/files/onlinelibrary_detail.aspibid=14) [Note: link no longer works – unable to find new link to white paper):

The virtual law firm connects lawyers electronically and culturally. Through the use of applied technology, such as extranets, integrated case management software, computerized databases, electronic invoicing software, document imaging, cell phones, personal digital assistants, and trial presentation software, team members in different geographical locations can perform legal work efficiently and cost-effectively in a shared environment. But this technology still depends on the human element and on the willingness of committed participants to implement and use it constructively in furtherance of an articulated vision and clear goals. In a virtual law firm, participants must share a common culture.

This description raises many issues and is an excellent basis for your discussion of this topic. I also want to emphasize this comment from DuPont's white paper:

"Without the benefit of sophisticated technology, neither the concept of the virtual law firm nor the DuPont Legal Model could exist."

This article will focus on the technology side of moving to partnering then to collaboration and to virtual law firms and perhaps beyond. There are also very difficult issues raised by taking these steps, competitively, economically, culturally and otherwise that also deserve very serious deliberation. I want to sketch out some key questions for you, some areas worth exploring more and some practical tips for getting started or moving forward.
1. Ask Your Clients. A recent survey indicated that over 90% of corporate general counsel would respond to surveys from their law firms. A tiny fraction of law firms use client surveys. Are there clients with whom you can extend existing relationships by means of technology or current technology cooperation into greater partnerships? Are they aware of initiatives like the DuPont Legal Model? Might they be considering such initiatives without including you in the discussion?
2. Listen to Your Clients. I have heard many stories of companies all but begging their law firms to cooperate on technology. Note that the number one reason law firms get fired is lack of responsiveness. If you survey clients, you must follow up. Find out where they want to go, what their priorities are and what they want to accomplish with their legal services. Of course, you will want to get a clear idea of where you fit into that picture. A very important lesson from the DuPont Legal Model is that clients are not necessarily adversarial with their law firms. Cost cutting may not be the primary concern and companies are willing to explore creative fee arrangements that may be more lucrative for law firms while maintaining a more stable relationship. Don't assume; ask.
3. Learn The Playing Field. You cannot move very far toward implementing client-driven technologies if you do not know what technologies and capabilities your firm has or can obtain. It is rare to find a firm that is using or is even aware of all the capabilities of its software and systems, let alone to find lawyers and firms who have a good understanding of all the new developments in legal technology. In addition, it is vital to understand what software and technologies your clients use for their own work and how they would prefer to interact with you. You might use surveys, meetings with the client or meetings between IS people to compare notes on what software and systems are used.
4. Find Ways to Cut Costs and Improve Profits. How much good will it do you to have your client telling peers and colleagues that his or her lawyer actually came to him or her with a way to cut legal costs? Likely areas of potential include identification of lower level work that can be commoditized or value billed, improved communications, hosting databases or eliminating the need for duplicate systems. Consider the issue of electronic billing. Corporate clients are bemused by law firms' reluctance to move to electronic billing. They see electronic billing as a way to streamline procedures and cut their own costs while at the same time improving the cash flow of their law firms by speeding up the payment cycle. Isn't this win-win? It is certainly worth taking the time to consider fully.
5. Get IS Departments Talking. Exchanging ideas and creating good relationships between your high-level IS people and the comparable client IS people will ultimately be a key to any successful efforts in this area. Do they know each other now? Do they meet with each other? Can you facilitate that in constructive ways? This effort will help resolve existing problems, result in shared knowledge and set the stage for more extensive efforts.
6. The Extranet Family. A key concept in collaboration has been the use of private, shared web sites commonly known as extranets. Extranets can take many forms – information portals, access to files and communication, case monitoring, document libraries and virtual deal rooms. It is important to realize that clients do not need the same features or even a full-blown extranet. A virtual deal room that simply gives access to documents in a case or transaction may be a perfect introduction to the use of technology for both a firm and a client. The time and cost savings of not Fedexing documents can be a measurable means of showing return on investment. Another idea gaining some momentum is the "project portal," an extranet dedicated to the work and resources in connection with a particular project.
7. Apply the 80/20 Rule. The 80/20 rule definitely applies in this area. The idea is that, as a general matter, 20% of your efforts will get you 80% of your results. You want to identify and act on that 20%. Which ideas make the most sense in your current context? From your point of view, which initiatives will best address the common reasons law firms are fired (improving communications to avoid "lack of responsiveness" issues) and hired (how can you show your expertise and understanding of the client's business?)? Do these initiatives cut costs or enable creative billing approaches? Do these approaches connect the client to you and make it harder for the client to leave? Are these approaches useful to other clients? Finally, are they responsive to your client's own list of priorities?
8. Make a Plan. Obviously, these kinds of initiatives cannot be done on a "back of the envelope" basis. Written plans are appropriate. In this case, educating your client is a form of marketing. Implementing the systems may an element of firm survival with a client in addition to solid marketing. The more you show your knowledge of the options, your familiarity with what others have done and the benefits for your client in the form of a well-conceived plan, the better shape you will be in. Part of any plan should be a method of measuring results.
9. Make it Reusable - Think Different. Some of the initiatives you take can be reused. Some aspects might even be licensed as moneymakers for your firm or even sold as products, either by your firm or jointly with a client. Be alert to intellectual property issues and opportunities, as well as reusable methods to implement similar projects for other clients. Databases of knowledge and expertise may also serve you well in the event of departures from your firm.
10. Make it Sticky. Stickiness is a term that is sometimes used in connection with web sites. It refers to a site's ability to keep a visitor on the site for a significant time and to visit multiple pages. By using technology to address key concerns for clients and to make it easy for them to work with you, you can also create a "stickiness" in working with your firms and your systems. As a result, you increase the costs and effort for a firm that wishes to take a client form you.
Conclusion. The DuPont Legal Model began in 1992. More than 10 years later, DuPont and its primary law firms are still working out the model for a virtual law firm. It is not realistic for you to expect that you can jump immediately into a virtual law firm model. For one thing, the cultural and economic issues alone are too complex. But you can definitely take advantage of opportunities to collaborate with clients to put down the technological underpinnings that can lead to such a model and, in the interim, provide significant benefits for both law firms and clients, including, in some cases, allowing your firm to survive and do work for its biggest clients. If you do not address these issues, your clients may dictate the answers for you, and, lately, that may mean that they think about firing you.
Ten Practical Tips for Technology Partnering Initiatives.
1. Educate yourself. My web page at http://www.denniskennedy.com/resources/legal-tech-central/clientdriven.asp is a good starting point. But it takes a lot of work to get up to speed on technology alternatives. Hiring appropriate expertise may be desirable in many cases.
2. Thoroughly understand the DuPont Legal Model. Your clients may approach you about the DuPont Legal Model before you approach them. They are reading about it and hearing about it in seminars. A great resource is http://www.dupontlegalmodel.com.
3. Send a survey. Statistics indicate that the vast majority of clients are willing to respond.
4. Listen to what your clients are already saying to you about technology. Lack of responsiveness is the major reason law firms get fired.
5. Give your clients new ideas to think about. Clients cannot know everything that is available. Give them some great suggestions. Clients appreciate creative solutions. Be the first to mention the ideas.
6. Get the right people involved. Are you the right person for this initiative? Who is? What role will your IS department play in the initial phases? I suggest that a high-level IS person be involved at the earliest opportunity.
7. Facilitate relationships between your IS people and the client's IS people. Here is a simple test. Ask the head of your IS department how many of the heads of clients' IS departments are in his or her contacts list. I bet it is too small a number. Are there ways you can get IS people to get together on a regular basis. Presentations by your IS group to client IS groups may make sense.
8. Find creative ways to control costs. Clients like law firms that are creative. They are also under pressure to control legal costs. Technology may allow you to show you are good at both. Controlling client costs is different from cutting your fees and profits.
9. Use technology initiatives in a way to increase the costs for a competitor to steal your client away.
10. Lead, follow (closely) or get out of the way.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
This post brought to you by Dennis Kennedy’s legal technology consulting services, featuring RSS and blogging consulting, technology audit, strategic planning and technology committee coaching packages especially for medium-sized law firms (15 – 100 lawyers) and corporate legal departments. More information on the “Second Pair of Eyes” packages for legal technology audits and strategic planning may be found here (PDF).
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The Future of Legal Services – Putting the Consumer First

Tuesday, November 15th, 2005

Tim Allen, Chief Executive of Busines Integrity, the maker of DealBuilder, pointed me to a new article by the renowned legal futurist Richard Susskind called “Backroom boys lead ‘positive disruption’” in the UK Times Online (free registration required).
Tim noted that the Susskind article talks a lot about Clayton Christiansen’s ideas about innovative disruption, a subject we had discussed in the recent session on e-lawyering Darryl Mountain, Marc Lauritsen and Richard Granat led at the ABA Law Practice Management Section’s fall meeting in Philadelphia.
Susskind’s article references a white paper I recommend to you prepared by the UK Department for Constitutional Affairs called “The Future of Legal Services: Putting the Consumer First.”
The money quote from Susskind’s article:
The top US law firms are hugely and satisfyingly profitable. Accordingly, they seem to be moved to change more by the threat of competitive disadvantage than by the promise of competitive advantage. Without hunger for change, without the worry of being left behind by the competition and, vitally, without clients clamouring for new forms of service, it will be business as usual for the US legal behemoths for many years yet. They will wring every last cent out of the increasingly unsustainable practice of hourly billing and will steer well clear of innovative IT.
Susskind notes that the difference in innovation in UK firms stems from something called “maverick management.” He describes this as:
The reality is that the overwhelming number of innovations (often documented in this column) have evolved from the efforts of mavericks within law firms — energetic, often eccentric, frequently marginalised, invariably demanding, single-minded individuals who pursue ideas that are regarded in the early days as peripheral, irrelevant and even wasteful. But the mavericks persevere and in their dining-rooms or studies at home they beaver away, creating new forms of service for clients. Gradually, their innovations came to be recognised as significant and even client-winning. And soon, everyone claims that the mavericks had the firm’s full support from the outset. A new discipline thus emerges — maverick management. This is the art of nurturing and encouraging mavericks, giving them space to innovate and wrapping some strategy and structure around their innovations only once their ideas have fully gestated. Mavericks are the research and development departments of many law firms.
Important stuff, as is the work Tim Allen is doing. Thanks for pointing out the article and for the great conversation we had on these topics in Philadelphia.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
This post brought to you by Dennis Kennedy’s legal technology consulting services, featuring RSS and advanced blogging consulting and technology committee coaching packages for law firms, corporate legal departments and other professional services providers.
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Extranet Basics: Taking a Step Toward a Client-focused Practice – Article

Sunday, October 30th, 2005

[Note: This article, written in 2000, may have been the first place where I started to set out my notion of "client-driven technology." I recently enjoyed a compliment from an extranet vendor about how he had pointed many people to this article over the years. Extranets may now be the easiest way for law firms to provide clients with something they really want by offering a helpful technology. As recent surveys show, extranets are still not used very often by law firms,]
Extranet Basics: Taking A Step Toward a Client-Focused Practice
When we think about technology, we usually focus on ways to make our practices more productive and our lives easier. These are important goals, but in this column I want to shift our usual focus away from ourselves to our clients. As the legal profession sees growing competition both internally and externally, retaining existing clients will become increasingly important to many firms’ survival.
An Internet application called an “extranet” may prove to be an excellent way for many law firms to use the Internet to improve the attorney-client dynamic and retain current clients.
Everyone is familiar with the Internet, the giant global network of computer networks. And nearly everyone has used an Internet browser, such as Internet Explorer or Netscape’s Navigator, to find helpful web sites. Some of you may even be familiar with “intranets,” or large internal web sites within a single firm. The former Latin students out there will not be surprised then to find that extranets refer to private web sites that are directed to one or more outside entities.
An extranet is a private, secure web site that, while available over Internet through a browser, can be used only by a limited audience to whom you have given the necessary permissions. Conceptually, there are two types of extranets. The first is a standard web site that has password-protected private areas of content and features. The second is a web site that gives password-protected access to limited portions of a firm’s intranet or internal computer network.
The key difference between an extranet and a web site is that an extranet is secure. No one gets access unless permitted.
A law firm can use an extranet to open access to a controlled number of outsiders, typically co-counsel and clients. An extranet also allows you to customize the levels of access and the amount and type of information made available. Since an extranet is programmed like a standard web site, you can have text, graphics, audio, video, message boards, chat sessions and any other Internet feature on your extranet. In other words, you can personalize an extranet specifically for your client, not unlike the My Yahoo web site.
A few examples are in order. On an extranet site, you might make sanitized versions of research memos and updates to articles available to clients only. You might make copies of all a client’s documents, including drafts in progress, available only to that client. In litigation, you might give a client access to deposition transcripts or even video of depositions, or share all case information with co-counsel. An extranet might provide a client with instant access to time and billing information, electronic bills, and message boards to leave comments for attorneys. Rather than preparing huge closing binders for real estate deals, a firm could instead give a client an electronic copy on an extranet. An extranet might provide clients with updates of legal developments and summaries of cases of interest.
The beauty of an extranet is that your clients require no technology other than a computer, an Internet connection and a browser. And they can access your extranet from any place they can access the Internet.
Extranets have become popular in the corporate setting and, as a result, law firms are getting pressure to offer extranets. As the Internet increasingly changes our expectations about customer service, lawyers must keep up with developments. For example, many consumer web sites show you how many units are in stock before you order and let you track your shipment with the click of a button. Why shouldn’t a client expect to click on a button and see current billings and work in process?
Extranets can be developed internally or “outsourced” to a company like LegalAnywhere that provides a packaged solution. As an extranet gets more complex, or ties into your computer network, you will need a higher degree of sophistication and programming, but standard approaches can serve you well as you get started.
Extranets require commitment. They must work flawlessly. They require that you pay attention to message boards and update content regularly. As you provide features and your clients use them, your clients will suggest new features and expect you to add them. Adding video, message boards, chat rooms or other features can place demands on your systems and your people.
Costs, not surprisingly, will vary, but your first extranet can serve as a template for many other clients.
While I believe that extranets offer a way for firms to innovate and even transform a practice, let me focus on the practical – cutting costs. There are two sides to this cost-cutting equation. With an extranet, you can readily find savings in paper, printing and copying costs, long distance, overnight shipping and postage costs, and travel costs. Moving to a form of electronic billing may help you be more efficient in billing and collecting from your clients.
More important, however, is to focus on the ways an extranet can save your clients money. Can you save them copying, printing, shipping, long distance and travel costs? What if you offer a discount for moving to electronic billing? What client will not like a lawyer suggesting ways to save money?
Extranets can also help you market to your clients. By keeping them informed and making them aware of all your services, you add value to the relationship. An extranet can tie a client to your firm, not just to the attorney with the personal relationship. If a client gets used to the benefits and conveniences of its customized extranet, the client will find it harder to go with a lawyer who is leaving your firm or to another firm without the same level of service.
Clients do not like it when they feel you are not paying enough attention to them. An extranet that keeps them up-to-date, provides them with news and developments and even allows them to collaborate on projects and documents will show your clients that you are paying attention.
If you get the underlying concept of extranets, you should already be generating some good ideas. Extranets are increasingly common in class action cases, multi-state complex litigation and general corporate representation. Extranets offer a way to move toward a more client-focused practice and should definitely be on your technology agenda.
An earlier version of this article appeared in the March 15, 2000 issue of The Indiana Lawyer.
[Originally posted on Dennis Kennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
This post brought to you by Dennis Kennedy’s legal technology consulting services, featuring RSS and advanced blogging consulting and technology committee coaching packages for law firms, corporate legal departments and other professional services providers. And, of course, consulting on extranet options and opportunities.

CFO Magazine on Lawyers for Less

Tuesday, October 11th, 2005

As you know, I pay a lot of attention to articles on developments in the ways the nature and dynamics of the practice of law are changing with the push of clients. With all of the recent talk about “Web 2.0″ among bloggers, maybe it’s time to start talking about Law 2.0. I’m now starting to see more discussion of these issues outside the traditional legal and law practice management resources.
Here’s a good example. The latest issue of CFO Magazine has an article called “Lawyers for Less,” by Russ Banham. The blurb for the article says: “Large companies are opting for cheaper, more-predictable alternatives to the traditional billable-hours approach.”
In one sense, the article covers familiar territory, if you are familiar with the territory – developments in recent years at DuPont, Tyco, Cisco and FMC Technologies. However, I don’t mean that as a criticism of the article – not that many people are familiar with these developments and the article tells the story of these developments as well as I have seen it done.
In another sense, the article becomes much more interesting. It’s in CFO magazine, not a legal magazine. The website lists the article in the “Procurement” section, suggesting the nascent trend of viewing legal services providers as just one more standard type of vendor that can be managed and brought under control. Lawyers, predictably, struggle with that notion.
If I were a CFO and read this article, there’d be no doubt that I’d be talking to my legal department about this article and ways we might implement some of the techniques in the article.
A couple of money (perhaps real money) quotes from the article:
“Companies ‘already view their law departments as cost centers. They need to look beyond that and bring predictability to them,’ says Fred Krebs, president and chief operating officer of the Association of Corporate Counsel.”
FMC Technologies Inc. CFO and senior vice president Bill Schumann – “I want low cost first and cost certainty second, and I’m not sure the traditional billable-hour format provides either.”
“With Cisco Systems’s adoption of fixed-fee arrangements for ‘the vast majority’ of its business with outside firms, says general counsel Mark Chandler, ‘one effect has been a new focus on technology.’”
I really like that last quote.
Take a close look at how the law firms of the companies mentioned in this article have changed their practices. That’s one of the big messages in this article.
This article earns my “highly recommended” seal of approval and might actually start people thinking a little harder about something like Law 2.0.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog)]
This post brought to you by Dennis Kennedy’s consulting services, featuring RSS and advanced blogging consulting and technology committee coaching packages for law firms, corporate legal departments and other professional services providers.

Fourth Generation Legal Technology

Thursday, September 22nd, 2005

A quick check of Google and Yahoo today showed me that no one has used the term “Fourth Generation Legal Technology” or “4G Legal Technology.” I want to lay claim to the phrase to describe a collections of ideas I have.
Here’s what I’m thinking.
I’ve been speaking and writing for a while about the third age of legal technology (the allusion to Babylon 5 is intentional). The first age is secretary or staff focused. The second age is IT department focused. The third age is lawyer focused – when the goal is to get the tools lawyers need into the hands of lawyers.
I was stopping there. When I recently spoke about this in a presentation I gave, I noticed that I was trying to crowbar the idea of “client-driven” or “client-focused” technologies into my description of the third age and it really didn’t quite fit.
It struck me today (it takes time for ideas to percolate for me these days) that the age when legal technology has as it primary focus clients, clients’ wishes and clients’ needs was in fact a fourth age, at least in my way of thinking.
For the last few months, I’ve been reading John Robb, William Lind and their work on Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW). It’s given me a lot to think about.
It strikes me that “generation” is a better word to describe what I see happening in legal technology than “age” or “stage.”
It also strikes me that some of the ideas of 4GW analysis – Open Source principles, decentralization, fast innovation, non-traditional fluid forms of organization – also apply in my ideas of client-driven technology (see the other posts in the Client Driven Technologies category of this blog).
This subject, this phrase and this combination of ideas really intrigues me and gives me, I believe, a framework to pull together some ideas and concepts that I’ve been working with for a number of years. Expect to hear/see much more from me about this (Fourth Generation Legal Technology, 4G Legal Technology, 4GLT) in the coming months.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
This post brought to you by Dennis Kennedy’s consulting services, featuring RSS and advanced blogging consulting and technology committee coaching packages for law firms, corporate legal departments and other professional services providers.

Client-Driven Technology and the Cisco Model

Wednesday, September 14th, 2005

Jason Krause’s new article “The Cisco Way” in the September ABA Journal is an absolute must-read for any regular reader of this blog. I’ve written on a number of occasions about to what I like to call “client-driven technology.”
This article will help you understand how clients to a far greater degree than lawyers wiill change the legal profession, in technology and in more fundamental and structural ways. I’m very confident in that assessment and prediction.
However, I don’t want to delay you in reading the article (it might be only available for about a month to non-subscribers).
Here’s one of many possible money quotes from Mark Chandler, Laura Owen and others at Cisco quoted in the article:
“In the past you would say, ‘I hope there’s one firm big enough to do it all for me,’” Chandler says. “Not anymore. Now technology lets you pick and choose and bring together the best in each area.”
Give that quote some serious thought.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
This post brought to you by Dennis Kennedy’s consulting services, featuring RSS and advanced blogging consulting and technology committee coaching packages for law firms, corporate legal departments and other professional services providers.

A Practical Example of Why Talking to Your Clients about Technology is Important

Wednesday, November 10th, 2004

Mike McBride of the Life of a One-man It Department nicely sums up the problems lawyers create for their clients by (1) not understanding the technology they use and (2) not checking with their clients about technology preferences and problems.
Interestingly, he blames law firm IT people rather than lawyers. My guess is that the IT department at the firm he deals with has made several efforts to educate lawyers about this very issue, probably with light attendance by the lawyers.
The money quote:
“Can you please train the lawyers and legal assistants that you work for to actually attach a document when they’re sending it to an outside entity, like the one I work for? I’m really tired of getting yelled at by my users because they can’t open the attachments when all that really got sent to them was a link to the document as it exists in your document management system. Obviously, from here, that link is useless.”
The lesson here for clients is that you need to raise these technology issues with your lawyers when they happen. Law firms will address these issues when they are pointed out to them. Don’t assume that lawyers are aware of these issues or are doing these things only to irritate you. Your best approach is to talk with your lawyers about the programs, formats and other technology preferences that you have.
I have long suggested that IT directors of clients talk with IT directors of their law firms on a regular basis to address these types of issues and share best practices.